• jess

ABA and Trauma; Imposter Syndrome erupts

Let me just take a moment and say… Motherfuckers, I’m tired. I’ve been back in school for a little over a month now, working towards my Masters in Science in Applied Behavior Analysis.


No, it’s not that taking one condensed class at a time is too much. No, I’m not one of those kids who freaks out about taking notes on everything and preparing for a proctored exam like my life depends on it. No, I’m not even working in an ABA setting, getting slapped and peed on by autistic children like the other people in my class.


But, that’s sort of the problem.


While they’re all working in ABA, getting educated in ABA at the same time, I’m… well, learning about ABA and Trauma at the same time, completely separate of one another.


Reading and writing for school before I hang up my backpack and try to put something totally different together for Traumatized Motherfuckers. (Oh, and throw in two jobs and a severely disabled puppy at the same time.)


But the point is, I’m the only fucker in my class who’s well, a Motherfucker.


No one else has an interest in this complex trauma overlap - and that definitely extends all the way to my teacher. I get the vibe from her that I’m barking up the wrong tree with my ABA education relating to Trauma, and I’ve gotta say, there have been times when it’s made me stop and question everything.


Right now, Trauma and ABA are an emerging “maybe,” at best. No one is talking much about it. No one has a program to address it. No one is acting as an expert to guide the way. Not to say that it isn’t happening, but at this exact moment, my future in the field is unwritten.


Sure, I don’t take the easy road very often. But of course, it bothers me that I’m working towards being in a specialty that hasn’t necessarily crossed over to include PTSD quite yet.


Are we right on the verge of it? Oh fuck yeah. But at this point, can I even find anyone to supervise me while I try to figure out how my classroom reading intersects with my real life Trauma fuckery? Oh fuck no.


Not only does this interest segregation cause me to do work quintuple-duty, but at the same time… you know, I have these ongoing sentiments in my head that I’m fucking everything up for myself and handing more ammo for humiliation to my enemies. The usual. That I’m not good enough at even talking Trauma to think I should be making this podcast, let alone trying to push this topic into the arena of a whole other field of Psychology. That all my classroom peers think I’m a fucking nutjob every time I post to a discussion board and link my answer back to PTSD instead of autistic kids.


Annnd sure, that might all be true. But why do I take it so hard that I can ruin my week worrying about what some anonymous names on a janky college discussion forum think about my half-assed response to a textbook prompt?


I’m guessing that it’s nothing new for any of us.


It’s probably for the same reason we can never relax in our jobs. The root cause of our inferiority fears in social situations. The underlying mechanism that makes us feel like we’re bound to be “discovered” or “outed” in any number of settings. The logic that keeps us from trying anything before we really even get started.


Yeah, it’s this fucking imposter syndrome.


You heard of it? Why would you have, who the fuck are you to know anything about psychology? (just kidding)


So, here’s the thing. This is definitely nothing new in my life. I would say that most of my existence could be described by the phrase, “I shouldn’t be allowed to do this,” even in the most inert settings. In general, I feel like I should be kept alone in a cage where I can’t affect anyone with my opinions or potential influence. No one should trust what I have to say or think. I’m really not good enough at anything for anyone to take me seriously.


Annnd so you can imagine how I did while I was working in cellular research.


DID I ever feel comfortable or capable? You’re fucking right, I didn’t. “You’re going to let me do what with these chemicals? I’m in charge of these cells staying alive? Tomorrow I’m learning how to operate a microscope that cost how many hundreds of thousands of dollars?” Yeah, I don’t think my experience in academic biological research was as confident-boosting as it was prematurely panic-inducing.


When I started MANAGING the lab, you can imagine how much larger that complex became. Now I’m supposed to direct people on how to be safe and perform research properly? I’m 24 years old, I can’t manage my own goddamn life, and I should be telling these postdocs who’ve been in science longer than I’ve been alive how to clean up their benchtops? O-kay. Who the motherfuck thought that this was a good idea?


In short, it was six years of waiting to be found out as a fraud.


I’m sure this is nothing new in an academic, science-based environment at a major land grant university… but, uh, it hasn’t changed in any realm of my life.


When I was trying to make art independently in my basement, did I feel like a joke calling myself any kind of “visual artist.” Yeah. When I started writing about Trauma and recovery, did I have many months of inactivity because I told myself I had no fucking right to put my words on the internet (as if anyone else has a problem with it)? Yip. When I found myself managing logistics in a craft brewery, was I convinced that I had no knowledge to facilitate success at the job? Mhmm… though that may be true.


Now, as I’m trying to fucking podcast my life experience with a mix of research and community input, am I consistently doubtful that anyone should ever listen to this nonsense I create? I think the answer is obvious.


And guess what, this mutual interest in ABA and Trauma is not going any differently. Lord knows, I’m just stumbling through these two psychology focuses, hoping that I can figure out how to help anyone in either and both. Keep the two as separate as possible, because you shouldn’t be opening your damn mouth in the first place.


Who’s interested in hearing your complex trauma and ABA musings? Likely, nobody. Who are you, thinking that you’ve found some magic grail of unexplored brain rewiring? Nobody. I’m definitely nobody. And no, fellow classmate, I’m not going to tell you what my podcast is called. I’d rather die.


But, you know, I’m sick of this.


I’m tired of feeling like an imposter. I’m sick of fearing people’s internal judgements. And, I’m exhausted trying to treat these intersecting worlds as though they need completely independent focus to sustain some undeveloped precedents that I don’t personally subscribe to.


Just like the day that I started this Trauma project in the first place and decided, “hey, how can I make it as polarizing as possible,” I think I need to swallow a big pill of “fuck off, inner critic,” and let myself be as vulnerably humiliated as possible. None of this has ever been easy. None of this has been conventional. None of this has been a deterrent to outside judgement from others.


And that’s always been the point.


So, Fuckers, I guess I’m here to 1) tell you that I have a horrible imposter syndrome, too, just like most of us, 2) I’ve never shaken the feeling of being an idiot throughout all of this, I just ignore it and hit “post,” anyways, and 3) I need to start talking more about ABA in this Trauma life, and vice versa.


This trauma-mama is fucking tired. And tired of pretending that I’m not trying to force a new field of psychology to develop, I guess. Just like starting this stupid Trauma recovery project that somehow is still constantly growing and developing despite my best attempts to embarrass myself into oblivion… If no one else will do it - hold my beer, I’m on it.


Welcome to season three of Traumatized Motherfuckers. AKA - the ABA reckoning.


Know that none of this has been planned. Know that I only started what I call “season” two because I hated what was already called “season” one so much. Realize that I’m now starting “season” three because, again, I’ve seen (and lived) the errors in my initial actions which were largely based on the anxious feeling of if-I-don’t-just-do-this-right-now-it’s-never-going-to-happen… and, as I’ve promised since the first episode, this was going to be a live experimental shitshow in figuring out what the fuck I’m doing…


So here we go, my traumatized frans. I’m doing it again. Taking a step back, analyzing the mess of a life I’ve created for myself in anxious tailspins and shame-based flailings, and making necessary adjustments instead of shutting down. Plus… uh… I maybe have a producer now?


Inner critic and imposter syndrome, git fucked.


Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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