Posted by: Judy | August 5, 2015

Schema 11…

11. INSUFFICIENT SELF-CONTROL / SELF-DISCIPLINE – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals, or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort-avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or overexertion—at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity. Yes. This has been hit and miss, over the years. I worked in Yellowstone, but it was a battle to stay. I wanted to quit because it was hard. My BiL told me I’d always regret quitting, and it would make quitting easier next time. It’s been a constant battle. Sometimes, successful; sometimes, not. I’ve finished and published books, but I’m at my highest weight ever.

Part of the struggle with this particular schema is the duality of many survivors… Started writing this as “We/Us.” Changing the approach to “I/Me.”

I hate pain and at the same time have an insanely high tolerance for it. I have figured out there’s actually a difference for me. I want to avoid the sharp, brief pain, like a needle. However, the uncomfortable, never-goes-away pain barely registers. I will do anything to avoid the first and don’t much notice the second.

I saw conflict treated like it was evil. Peace at all cost, including and maybe especially at the cost of goodness, light, and truth. If it was necessary to lie to maintain peace, then lie. If it was necessary take responsibility for something I didn’t do to maintain peace, then take it. If it was necessary to give up my faith, my hope, my peace, my joy, my personhood to maintain peace, give it up. I was evil for creating any conflict at any time for any reason, even if it was simply a difference of opinion. Mind you, I argued with my younger brother constantly, even knowing I would be in the wrong, no matter what. I didn’t recognize or appreciate the fighter in me. I learned the fighter was bad and needed to be squashed. At the same time, the fighter kept me alive.

I quickly learned that confrontation was tantamount to defying God. I was a horrible person for disturbing the peaceful tranquility of the family’s existence… slipped into a bit of snark, there. If I questioned anything, I was being difficult, bad, rude.

I was taught that everything was my fault. I was over-the-top insanely responsible. I learned that if I simply did everything right to the nth degree then everything would finally be wonderful. Since I was responsible for everything, is it any wonder I was sometimes arrogant and thought I knew everything sometimes?

I was expected to do everything demanded of me, regardless of how I was feeling. I wasn’t allowed to take naps as a child, to ensure I would sleep at night. I slept so hard, I couldn’t wake up, i.e., too many wet beds. Avoiding overexertion? I was so far into sleep deprivation I’ve never known what it feels like to be rested. I was held accountable for the state of NM’s happiness, EF’s peace, and knowing everything going on with every member of the family. Yes, maybe I complain about overexertion sometimes.

All at the expense of my personal  fulfillment, commitment, or integrity. Ya think?

I was selfish for wanting personal fulfillment; commitments were predicated on giving to the family first; and integrity was nonexistent. Where would any of those things fit into the insanity?

Hmmm… yes, this one actually makes me angry.

Insufficient self-control or self-discipline. Really?

I exercised enough self-control and self-discipline not to succeed in committing suicide. I exercised enough self-control and self-discipline to deal with starvation and being fed food that would make me sick. I exercised enough self-control and self-discipline to choose to not go to the store rather than take my abuser, as demanded by NM, to avoid paying the price. Impressive for a little girl to recognize the consequences of a choice NM gave me when she should have protected me. I exercised enough self-control and self-discipline to keep moving forward each and every day when each and every day promised the same insanity.

Yes, I made a lot of mistakes, but what could anyone expect when I had to teach myself HEALTHY self-control and self-discipline decades later when I finally figured out how messed up I was?

Am I good at self-control and self-discipline? It depends on your perspective of good. Do I exercise healthy self-control and self-discipline? No. I learned a lot of unhealthy habits over the years. It’s a bear working to undo and relearn. However, I am learning, which is exercising good self-control and self-discipline.

The problem I see with this particular schema is that it failed to acknowledge that self-control and self-discipline are learned, to a painful degree, to the specifications of the abusers. Survivors then spend the rest of their lives working to undo the unhealthy habits and make them healthy habits.

So, to the vast majority of survivors: Congratulations. You are amazingly self-controlled and self-disciplined. You didn’t murder your abuser, even though you repeatedly fantasized about it. You chose to not become an abuser yourself. You are choosing to work to become healthy. Good for you! Keep fighting for you!



  1. Your last paragraph made me laugh because I remember the horror of the dream I had as a 4-year-old that I squeezed my mother’s neck when she was attacking me, and her head popped off. I felt guilty for YEARS until my therapist pointed out to me that it was self-defense and what about the fact that she was trying to kill me in my dream, which was clearly a fear I held as a child.

    I’d still say self-control isn’t my strong suit, but I’m not drinking, so yay.

    You’re stronger than you think, my friend.

    • That last paragraph was kind of a surprise to me when I wrote it. 🙄

      Self-control is not your strong suit? Are you kidding? YOU RUN MARATHONS! You aren’t drinking and you haven’t for a long time! THAT IS HUGE! Speaking of you’re stronger than you think. 😉

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