Dawson said those who grew up in broken homes should consciously avoid reading sub-text and over-reading situations.
We're all molded by our childhood and the people we grow around. It shapes our personalities and carves the pathway for our future. Dawson, an LA-based genderqueer writer, claimed that those who tend to grow up in unstable homes end up overanalyzing every small detail that happens around them and it goes on to affect their lives deeply. Dawson opened up about growing up with mentally unstable parents and how it shaped his life and relationships in a Tumblr post. Dawson said people who grew up in unstable homes and those who had been abused as children notice the smallest of things, and often end up overanalyzing them.
"One of the more valuable things I’ve learned in life as a survivor of a mentally unstable parent is that it is likely that no one has thought through it as much as you have," wrote Dawson. "No, your friend probably has not noticed they cut you off four times in this conversation. No, your brother didn’t realize his music was that loud while you were studying. No, your BFF or Significant other doesn’t remember that you’re on a tight deadline right now. No, no one else is paying attention to the four power dynamics at play in your friend group right now," added Dawson.
Dawson said the reason people pick up on the smallest of cues was that they had grown up managing people and their moods. "We magnify small nuances into major things, largely because small nuances quickly became breaking points for parents. Managing moods, reading the room, perceiving danger in the order of words, the shift of bodyweight... it’s all a natural outgrowth of trying to manage unstable parents from a young age," wrote Dawson.
Dawson pointed out that while it might seem normal to those who grew up in difficult households, there are many who don't. "I’m saying the overanalysis of minor nuances is a habit of abuse," wrote Dawson before arguing that he is trying to take control of his life. "I have a rule: I do not respond to subtext. This includes guilt-tripping, silent treatments, passive-aggressive behavior, etc. I see it. I notice it. I even sometimes have to analyze it and take a deep breath and CHOOSE not to respond," wrote Dawson, before adding that he consciously ignored the small things he picked up on. "Whether it’s really there or just me over-reading things that actually don’t mean anything, the habit of lending credence to the part of me that sees danger in the wrong shift of body weight… that’s toxic for me. And dangerous to my relationships," he added.
He said the decision to ignore sub-text was an important step in recovery. "The best thing I ever did for myself and my relationships was to insist upon frank communication and categorical denial of subtext. For some people, this is a moral stance. For survivors of mentally unstable parents, this is a requirement of recovery."
Dawson added that those who grew up in thought households measured their worth by their ability to manage people and situations at their home, before adding that it was a toxic habit. "We think people don’t care, that not noticing is a product of not caring because we have been trained in the toxic habit of measuring our worth by how well we manage others. And we imagine that everyone operates that way," wrote Dawson. "Other people don’t measure their caring that way. Your friends and family and loved ones….they care. Even if they don’t notice every tiny detail. They also don’t know how to read that things are not okay by the shift of your weight or a heavier than usual silence. You have to learn to speak it. I know it’s scary. I know it’s hard. But you have to learn to tell people “I am not okay. I need your help,” he added.
Dawson said he used writing as a tool to express himself and capture his emotions. “I’ve been writing since I was old enough to spell, it is at the core of who I am as a person. I always joke that I write my tangled experiences and feelings into straight lines…which is why I write so much about my personal experiences from abusive relationships. It’s self-reflection and catharsis and storytelling and poetry and sharing," Dawson told Bored Panda, before adding that he shared from his past in the hope that others who lived through similar circumstances can draw hope from his experiences. “I survived. You can too.” That’s the best I have to offer, I think,” said Dawson.