I can't tell you how many times I've come into work expecting the world to end, only to find out I'm more of a genius than I give myself credit for, and what I thought was going to be a scolding, turns out to be praise.
My friend Dave once tried to compliment me, I snapped at him defensively, and he replied, "Oh yeah, you don't take praise well, do you?"
Growing up, nothing I did was ever good enough. It wasn't enough to put forth a good faith effort, to work as hard as everyone else. I was expected to be perfect. Better than anyone else, and faster too. Heaven protect me, if I got an average grade (that IS what a C is supposed to mean, isn't it, Average?). My father and I had an argument about his once in junior high. I'd brought home my first C, he'd gotten so pissed the threw me across the room. When I went to school the next day and tearfully begged the C-teacher to give me some opportunity to improve the grade, and was stupid enough to express my fears of why, my father was furious, and demanded I go to the school and retract what I had said, before he showed me what real abuse was like.
And they wonder why I gave up being honest with them, about my life, about how I felt. Maybe my mother isolated me so stringently from the outside world, not to protect me, but to protect them, from being judged on their parenting methods.
This causes me problems in the business world, where I have to try and fight my innante desire to hide problems from others. I know that most people in business settings will act rationally, and that the likelehood of physical retribution is small. But I am a man who is defined by his fears, sometimes, and so I don't talk as much as I feel I should, and function under an assumption of personal-guilt.
In my personal life, this expresses itself as a fear that my being a part of someone's life, is going to ultimately be a "bad thing" for them long-term. Take birdie, for example. For years, I unconciously avoided him, in no small part, because I was sure I had psychologically scarred him for life. The reality is he's doing wonderfully, good job, good car, lots of hot-chicks begging for his bed. But sometimes, I still worry. Will my lackidaisical attitude towards corporate life, ruin his chances of success? Do I encourage immature behaviors I should "know better" about?
Mostly I just wonder why he doesn't hate me like every other guy who knows me too long....
And at the same time, I know it's most likely all in my confused little head.