I’m a brute.


This has been a cognitive distortion that has been haunting me for so long. Given the type of ACE I had, I became a ball of aggression because it was the only thing that worked. Reviewing in time, when I was 15, I believed I was someone very honest. And I was. I told exactly what I thought, until the day I hurt a close friend to the point she never spoke to me again and it crushed me. Since then I understood that I was missing a thing there in terms of sociability. I could sense I was perceived as that weirdo… for so long… I stopped caring. I was like either you can see the good person under the spikes, either you can go f*ck yourself.

Then across 21 I met F., with whom I stayed 6 years. A good friend and husband more than a romantic partner if I can say. Good and stable years. Stopped spiraling in emotional arousal and risky behavior, but started to shell. F. often told me that my demeanor often came off as arrogant because I didn’t pay attention to the cues. And that’s it. He kept telling me that, and while this was (and is) absolutely correct, it started to form a characterization of me as a Brute. When the relationship ended and I was released in the wild again so to speak, I could sense my spikes all coming back on my skin and coming off as arrogant if not obnoxious. While actually I was just disconnected, disoriented and circular. And seeing others getting away from irritated me and I didn’t even see that I was getting into stupid phony situations at uni because my classmates were very young and very high-school like (this in an executive masters… very bad luck).

D. aka evil brat aka the man who left a scar on my face and a broken thumb among other niceties, explored this vulnerability in me to gaslight me telling me that I was careless and selfish towards him and socially incompetent towards others.

So rationally I can trace back this distortion but it keeps resonating with other distorted beliefs, such as I’m not human, I am a sort of beast, a wolf raised by… not even wolves, just no one. A scared animal full of teeth, but certainly not a thing that truly belongs to humanity.

Deep inside, I have an big heart and will go immense lengths to help friends and people who need it. I also have a tendency to remain loyal even when it doesn’t really makes any sense anymore. The gentle side of the wolf full of teeth is a very caring Lassie, anticipating needs even before they manifest, cushioning places with minute. I think this is complicated by gender issues, too, as it’s not well forgiven for women not to be people pleasers. So in a sense I maintained more aggressiveness that I would even do normally in professional settings as to compensate that. Professionally it’s worked out really well but emotionally it’s a very lonely place.

Wondered if anyone else could relate. I don’t really know how to adjust this.

I want to replace this sentence "I’m a brute, a damaged wolf, a rabid vixen, a raging hyena" with something kinder to myself, but I’m really failing to do it so, while in general I’m quite good at challenging negative thoughts. Especially since someone (F.) who has supported me a lot but wasn’t very aware of what repeated words can do over time has used this vocabulary.


Since we are using animals as our personas, while you are a wolf, I am a lion. And in my younger years, I was a lot like you described. I may have padded my input a bit more as not to watch people bleed in front of me, but my motto became, 'don't ask if you don't want to hear my truth'.

My aggression without discretion came from that being the only way I knew how to protect myself. Underneath the roaring lion was just a kitty cat that wanted peace and space to figure things out.

I could become batshit crazy when feeling cornered. But I took my time if time was allowed to see where I could get out before it became vicious. I didn't like that part of me, but she was necessary for a long long time. I lived a crazy and dangerous street life that being passive meant 'weakness'. And even in my family, if you acted weak with my evil sister, you were just setting yourself up to be the one bleeding. I always picked her instead of me. She hated me anyway, so, other than ending up the scapegoat one more time, I really didn't care anymore.

I am an 'observer of life'. Here we call it 'hypervigilance'!🤨 Tho that has turned into a much calmer observer and less waiting to pounce. So I started asking people did they really want to hear what I thought or observed. Usually, the answer was yes, but thru that, I learned to take some of the sting out of my words. I didn't always have to be 'fighting to be heard'. It was a slow process. I do not like hurting people. But I also will not present myself as 'fresh meat'.

I once had someone tell me I was 'unapproachable'. Told them I would give that some thought. Turns out it was true if the person coming at me treated me as tho it was ok to gut me and not expect to be gutted also. It felt like a pack of hyenas all making noise and being frantic. Time for me to exit those sitations.

I learned to 'pick my battles'. I learned not everyone gives a shit what I think. I learned that walking away in some cases, made me the 'winner' without having to open my mouth.

I was the generation that was smack in the middle of old school and women's liberation. In some ways, it was very confusing.

So the bottom line for me was learning to fit inside my own skin. And if that meant there were occasions I would speak up or speak out, it was ok. I didn't have to hurt others to have a voice.

I still have to avoid people who use the 'I am fragile and will break if you get to honest'. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's manipulation.

It is not ok to hurt others. I never did like that part. I never got joy out of watching people keep setting themselves up to be the victim. Those I walk away from now.

Accepting this about myself and learning I did not have to stop being honest or stop taking risks, I did have to hone the message. There is a huge difference between being aggressive and being assertive.

I spent a lot of time in therapy finding out how hurt I was. And that my chosen way to handle that had outgrown its usefulness.

I accept that I do not see the world as others do. There is a sensitivity I rarely show even now because it makes me feel too naked. That's ok. I give myself permission to do it that way.

Hurting people hurt others sometimes. Not always. But when I am really hurting now, I take a low profile. I stay home or don't participate here on the forum. But I had to 'relearn' how to have my feelings and not wound others.

Don't know it any of the above applies to your post.


David Burns has some really good books on Distorted Cognitions.

Feeling Good and also Feeling Great!

If you are not up for reading then you can listen to all his podcasts here. They are a great distraction from ruminations. List of Feeling Good Podcasts | Feeling Good

If you want more then you can listen and watch him on YouTube as well.
Thank you @ms spock ! I’ll have a look on YT later in the day.


Ah- yes. Particularly when younger. I relate to this very strongly for my younger self and feel moved by your writing on this. I’m different now. My defensive shell that developed was also used against me by my caregivers to gaslight me that I was the problem.

now I look at it slightly differently. As a child I was a bit confused - like a pony living wild then suddenly brought in, bathed and paraded - then - chucked out into a feral existence again - over and over. It’s not surprising that I have a confusion of feral survival and ‘show ring’ manners. What matters is I have good heart and do not intend to hurt and no longer care to be hurt . Learning to mesh the survival attitude with the domesticated manners and let my integrity lead both should protect both me and others . It’s my aim. It’s very difficult for me, and for me having the right key other people in my life is important to enable that . One cannot be other than an independent survival animal without a pack. What ever animal we are - wolf, lion, human.


I can relate to feeling brutish in my younger days as a result of my upbringing. There are parts of me that still feel that way. It was/is a combination of feeling angry, lacking social skills, and having a torrent of needs and emotions that were unfulfilled. I don't think there's any easy answer to how to overcome it. One thing that I recall very distinctly which was a huge obstacle for me was deciding that I didn't want to be that way anymore. I had come to identify with it so strongly because 1. it was proof that my parents wronged me. If I let go of the anger and craziness, then it was kind of like absolving them of their crimes. Healing meant betraying my hurt. I also read that narcissists sometimes will self-harm to vicariously defile their parents and show them that they're bad. Maybe that was a bit true of me. And 2. As an adult and agent in the world, it was very, very hard for me to admit that my behaviors and actions were wrong all of those years. By admitting that my aggressive tactics were not working felt like I had to admit that my coping mechanism was wrong and broken, that I was wrong and broken. I think it's human nature to be egoistic, and I wanted to protect my ego and my choices up to that point. It took healing and a kind of humility to turn my back on the brutishness. Another aspect of it was that I was triggered to feel that I was turning my back on my brutish little inner child that felt so humiliated and bad. Part of healing was to embrace her within my wanting to do better; she was never meant to be humiliated and brutalized, and as a grown up, I had to get us out of the brutishness that others gave us. But I was the biggest obstacle towards that.


Just to say @ruborcoraxxx I don't think you could be as you are now (as I see/ hear you), and have ever been brutish. I'm not sure I even see people as brutish, more as sometimes gruff I would call it - and they turn out usually the best, as they will truly like you and open their doors and heart if they do, but not if they don't (no B.S.).

I do relate to not feeling ~human, exactly. Though not sure if I'd be animal, vegetable or mineral! Lol. Felt more like a 'dumb bomb', later. Always had respect for people who weren't or aren't a cottonball, because mostly I'm a cottonball. It's not helpful, really.

But a brute? I can't imagine how you could be. Enraged, passionate, defensive, etc, maybe you felt you needed or were some or any of those things, but a brute, no. Needless to say, as with many here without those experiences you couldn't understand and help the people you do here now. So it doesn't matter how you were, it matters how you are. If it took that to make you as you are, it made you someone very special and specially-qualified. 🤗


i would second @Rosebud corax. i do not perceve you to be brutish at all. as it turns out, arrogence is a delightfully human qualety. (although i do not perceve you to be arrogent, either. 🐯) i do relate a good deal to this. i have spent a long time and often still go back there.

i am a murderer, i am evil, i am the devil. i am a monster. inhuman. i wish i knew what the antedote is. but usuelly when i get in these states i try to counter them with very simple things. i am a person, i am sentient, i am alive. i try to do my best.

and regardless of what you are those are the things that matter. 🫂