Former Attention Seeker

By Johnria Deberry

You ever met someone that craved attention and was always seeking approval? Well, for 15 years of my adult life, that person was me.

I longed for attention, and I did not care if it was harmful or unhealthy, as long as I was getting it. I loved the pity that I received when I was down in the dumps. In my mind having people feel sorry for me made me feel loved and consoled. I felt like the only time people cared for me was when I was going through my mess. If someone was around to give me empathy, I was there to receive it.

Not properly dealing with past issues from childhood caused me to become an attention-seeking adult. My deep-rooted insecurity and lack of self-esteem consumed my emotions, causing me to believe that I did not deserve happiness.

While growing up, I was the “good child.” My grades were excellent, and for the most part, I followed the rules and did everything right. Yet, I always felt from deep within overlooked. Although I was far from perfect, occasionally getting into typical childhood mischief, but nothing major, it-still-was-not-enough.

It was my brother who was the “free-spirited” one. From my perspective, he received a lot, if not all, of my parents’ attention. I wanted to be a shining light in their eyes, too, so upon entering my adolescent years, I began to get into trouble. I didn’t care that I received unfavorable attention from my parents; I was happy that they noticed me. I felt that I had to be disruptive with minor delinquent behavior to obtain the heartfelt recognition I longed to experience.

Depression and sickness were the manifestations of my issues. At the age of 10, I developed chronic migraines that continued into adulthood, and by the age of 12, I became immune to Ibuprophen because I took them regularly, with the hopes of ending my life.

As I got older, I sought attention by pursuing relationships with men that I knew were toxic. My self-esteem was nonexistent, and I just wanted to feel loved. In these relationships, I endured every form of abuse except physical. I stayed in relationships and caught whatever toxicity came my way because of the ounces of attention I received.

Although I desired more than anything to fill the void in my heart that had been present since childhood, I continued entertaining toxic relationships from 19 to 34. I stayed in relationships for years with the wrong men and had the nerve to marry one.   

In 2016, I met Freedom Coach Nataushia Miller. That year she launched her Fear to Freedom Boot Camp (now called Freedom from Trauma Boot Camp), and I enrolled. During the Boot Camp, I realized that God could only fill the void I was trying to satisfy. I was able to unpack all my mess and start my healing process.

The first thing I had to do was repent. I realized that I kept God on the back shelf and only took Him down when I felt I needed Him. During the Boot Camp, I came to see, know, and understand my worth, and God loved me even in all my brokenness. I begin to spend time with God daily. With the Boot Camp and my new prayer life, I uncovered my fears and my triggers. I learned how to combat the spirit of fear successfully.

For anyone going through something similar where you see yourself using your soul wounds to gain attention, remember that God loves you, and He is the only one you must please. He is the only one that can fill any void you have in your heart.  You have a purpose in life, and God is here to help you fulfill it.

Johnria Deberry is a woman of faith, Author, Speaker, Non-Profit Consultant, and Grant Writer. She is the Founder of Younigue Diamonds in the Rough, a mentorship program for teenage girls. She is also the Founder of Deberry’s Non-Profit Consulting Group, LLC, where she guides you through the phases of establishing your non-profit organization: From Start-Up to Legacy Ready.

Contact Johnria: info@deberrysnonprofitconsultinggroup.com

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