I grew up in a household plagued by severe mental illness. My mother would cycle in and out of delusional thought. She would occasionally scream at walls and then not remember it later. She could be say or do viciously cruel things. When confronted or even asked a neutral question like "are you okay", she would insist that I was the crazy one.
My father, who fought her mental illness for more than 2 decades, fell into depression and helplessness every time my mother slipped into paranoiac delusions again.
My sisters believed my mother. In order to believe her, they gave up or "forgot" their own reality to see everything through her ever changing filter. One sister gave up sanity all together and has lived her life in chronic schizophrenia. My other two sisters have "forgotten" much of their lives in order to keep my mother's version of things. They were literally made crazy by the world (and genetics) they received.
I've had therapists call my sisters and mother a "coven." I think it's a terrible use of the word "coven." I use it here to give an idea of how I felt as a young person.
They shared a reality that I could not understand or fathom.
Because of this, they were (and are) never, ever wrong.
Their view of everything, including things that happened when they weren't there, is correct.
And I am incorrect or simply delusional. Period.
This came to a head recently when I was trying to sort out something with one of my sisters. I was trying to sort out something I'd been told by her many years ago.
The incident in question? She said that she and her husband were attending a function (a wedding shower with our larger family) that we'd paid for, and they didn't show up.
I had called the night before and was assured that they would be there.
When they weren't there, I naturally called to ask when they would arrive. I was told by her husband that: "Today was a difficult day and we aren't going to be able to come."
Concerned, I called the next day to see if everything was okay. He said: "Yesterday was really hard. It's probably better that you don't count on us right now."
I wanted to clear it up because her husband had indicated in these conversations that my sister's anxiety had kept her from coming. I didn't want to pay for something if she would again get anxious.
She is clear that it never happened.
So, she asked her husband. He said that he didn't remember it either.
And, now, it never happened.
Not only did it not happen, I was clearly under the influence of our mother (who had disowned me nearly 20 years prior) or our other sister (who didn't attend the function.)
The message? I am either delusional or made it up -- like I made up the fact that we shared a room for 13 years or that our parents cut me off completely when I was 17 years old or...
My sisters are never wrong. Not ever.
The problem with never being wrong is that you never grow.
If you can never be wrong, you can't learn anything.
You are trapped in the understanding you gained when you made a decision or learned something. Your ability to take in information is checked against a filter that ensures that you are never wrong.
Anything that doesn't fit that filter either didn't happen or is someone else's fault. Period.
No one is right about everything all the time. No one.
But if you're blocking out the awful things you did or the delusions you believed previously, you have to be right all the time.
Otherwise, your personality will unravel.
The Templeton Foundation created the video above. It's smart and helpful.
I will also say this -- I live most days with a lot of intellectual freedom because I'm okay with being wrong.
I was wrong 100% of the time as a child.
I'm okay with being wrong sometimes now.
And in my "wrongness," I'm able to grow.
I wasn't always this way. I had to learn how to be okay with being wrong.
If you're looking to free your own mental chains, maybe it's time to learn how to be okay with being wrong.
Just a thought.
Interested in learning more? Go here.