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It’s like there are two of me

I fit in with school friends but not with family. Why can’t I be myself at home? Our elder suggests a few ways to find your voice wherever you are.

Dear EWC:

From the title you might think I have multiple personality disorder, but I do not. I just feel like at school I am someone different then I am at home. At school you could call me weird, unique, or someone who does not care what you think. At home, I am quieter, and well, normal. At home it’s just that I feel like I have to be less myself then at school. I know this sounds stupid and wierd but I don’t feel accepted at home.

At school my friends are um…unique like me, weird even. At home I just feel quieted, ignored, and sad. I am not depressed, I am just sadder. At home I get yelled at all the time and I get punched by my brother. I would not call them abusive, just not so nice. At school I feel like, who frickin cares? They don’t matter; they are just random people I am forced to be associated with. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I just feel that at home I can’t… I can’t believe what I want, I can’t do what I want, or really anything. I can’t be me. I’m just wondering if I am two different people for others or for myself? Thanks for answering.

Grandpa-Matt replies:

Rest assured, you are very normal, and not suffering any mental or emotional disturbance, as far as I can see. I have answered over a thousand such questions about the use of coping strategies such as yours. When we adjust our behavior according to our desire to create safety for ourselves or where we believe some negativity exists, it is called an excellent defensive move.

In school, you experience acceptance, safety, and a sense that you fit in with your peers. If that were true at home, you wouldn’t have been forced to wear a mask of protection, or build a wall of passivity and inauthenticity. In a way, it is your successful method of establishing an effective personal boundary. See http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/personalboundaries.html

We all have the ability to adjust our presentation in the world according to our experience of what is needed to fit in. We behave one way with authority figures, a different way with our peers, another with the opposite sex, another with family members, and another with strangers, etc. They are all facets of one personality with excellent coping skills. While I am not a therapist, I believe there is opportunity for you to further develop your power to speak up for yourself when you feel disrespected. As long as you can be tactful in your presentation, practice standing up for what you think is right. Good luck.

Letter #: 452368
Category: Self-Improvement

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