Step 4: Column 4 Ya But…

Let’s talk about the inventory’s 4th Column: What Did I Do?  The key being, it’s my inventory, not theirs. Yet for years, I focused on what they did, not what I did. In the 4th column, this little creature on my shoulder begins to whisper.

“Ya but… (wheeze) the other guy is the problem! You’re just the victim, here. “

Sadly, I’ve believed this creature far too often. If you look at Column 2, you’ll remember I was overly competitive, compensating for being told that I should have been a boy. Until I wrote out the 4th Step, I carried this emotional baggage like a hard-earned prize.

“Ya but…they did this to you (slurp).”

If you remember the initial example, you’re smiling by now, thinking of the duck on wheels. The yellow pull-toy has rotted into the earth, but I was carrying the residual load of garbage from the incident for 50 years. Was this about the duck? No. I felt amply justified in being competitive with every guy in the neighborhood. I set out to prove something. I was going to prove I was better than anyone else. It doesn’t take a psych major to see that I had self-esteem issues.

“Ya but…you were only 4 (gasp) and he got your duck, remember?”

Was that Mom’s fault? Was that my brother’s fault? Were they really victimizing me or was I? At some point, I had unwittingly become a volunteer to my own entrapment of wrong thinking. Until I wrote it out, I never realized how much the issue fell squarely on my shoulders. I was still believing a falsehood. I do not have to compete for value… for self-worth. I have intrinsic value by virtue of being a creation of God. It was time to grow up and believe it. Certainly, it was time to stop blaming anyone else for my low self-esteem.

Usually, I can look at the Causes in Column 2 and see that:

  • I came to a false conclusion about my self-worth or
  • I chose to stay in abusive/damaging/unhealthy situations because I was determined to make it ‘work’ or
  • I was in some way refusing to look at reality or
  • I resisted making a better choice for a healthier life

I was never bound and gagged. I am stubborn. It’s one of my main character traits. Just look at my face in that picture. You’d think I’m the one being choked, wouldn’t you?  I had chosen badly and had come to a lot of wrong conclusions because I didn’t ask for help.

“Ya but they…”

I don’t hear anything, do you?


PS: In my traumatic experiences, those that formed life-long lessons and remain tender to the touch, I always responded with anger because I’m 100% a Fighter. (Later, I might realize I actually felt hurt, but not until much later.) I talk a lot about anger because this is my experience. But you might fall on the other end of the spectrum or somewhere in between. Flighters will respond to life changing events by feeling hurt. Much later they might realize they were angry as well. Be on the lookout for emotions that include guilt, jealousy, despair and self-loathing. All of these might be part of the process of dealing with a traumatic event.