Notes to Self

May 8, 2014

So what gives?

Filed under: Take a deep breath — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — me2self @ 10:22 am

I feel defeated today.

As if I lost the game; I am left with the shortest straw; I fell and cannot get back up.

Everyday I am wane somewhere between large extremes; on one side is the immeasurable joy of my family and happy, healthy children and on the other is our financial doom. In between are the daily struggles of stress at work, fatigue and being overweight and filled with anxiety. If I stop moving or focusing on a specific task I eventually start crying.

The question of “so what gives” is just as two sided – I have to wonder why we are suffering like this (both karma-wise and that a well educated, competent man cannot find work) and also what is going to give to prevent us from diving whole body into debt. Options all come with strings – sell the house but that takes money to first fix it up. Take the kids out of daycare and my husband can’t go back to school, which could help him find a job. Move to another state – lose the security of my job.

At night when I am nursing my son to sleep is the time when my mind most wanders about these troubles. I try hard to stay in the moment so I don’t waste these precious times on negative thoughts. But it’s hard to keep my mind on point.

I think back to when our current situation seemed like a nightmare that we’d never experience. I couldn’t have guessed that we’d be here. I don’t understand why. I guess I need a reason to help make it all make sense. I’ll never get one, which leaves me feeling so unsettled about it all; it means there is nothing for me to fix – no undo and no redo.

I grew up broke and so did my husband. I recall what we did and didn’t do and when we had our first child I was able to imagine the summer vacations I never got to do. Why yes little girl, we can go to Disney. But not anymore. No summer rental near a lake. No plane rides to fantastic natural wonders.

My grandfather used to say “Money can’t buy you happiness….but it sure helps”.

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April 4, 2014

Afraid to talk or have nothing to say?

Silence is difficult to deal with.

You wonder – is the person not talking because they don’t know what to say or do they not care to participate or are they actively shutting you out completely?

When you finally get the nerve to open a difficult conversation (albeit at maybe not the most appropriate time), it is a hard pill to swallow when the other person says nothing.

So, you know that wall of defense that may have only been a 12 foot fence? Consider my heart now surrounded by the Great Wall of China.

 

I have been thinking lately about how lonely I am. I lack a sense of true connection with anyone right now. Sometimes I want to pick up the phone or reach out for a hug and I can’t think of who would be on the receiving end.

 

I am at a loss in terms of my relationship with my husband. Not sure what to do to get back on the right terms. There isn’t a heck of a lot of time to talk and we are both tired and depressed. He says he’s afraid to say anything because anything he says will make it worse. But not saying anything makes me feel like he doesn’t care. We can’t move forward if we can’t talk.

 

Any advice is welcome.

February 25, 2014

It’s begun again

I am starting to (again) get angry at myself for making what I always deem as wrong choices (e.g., taking a different route to work and not sure it was any faster and maybe even longer….by 2 minutes).

I feel like I’ve taken a giant leap backwards in the progress I made over the last year+.

I feel like everything is always a fight or a hassle or a negative. I rush rush from this task or event to that one. If I spend time on one thing I feel like anxious about the other things I didn’t work on (like right now- wanting to get this off my chest and write in this blog but really I have so many other things I need to be doing; and the anxiety is just building). I constantly forget to do things and I seem to always have to pee!

Life shouldn’t be this kind of constant battle. I know I have my issues/pathologies and I am far from perfect, but why do I feel so alone; like no one has my back? And on top of it, I don’t feel like I deserve to ask for help.

It will be almost a year since I last spoke to my family members. I still don’t regret my decision, but I sometimes feel like I lost all my roots. Well, I guess I did! Ha! But how do I replace that or what do I build in its place? Who’s looking out for me?

I feel like if I don’t reach out to people I wouldn’t have any friends or communication with them. I struggle with always thinking people don’t really like me. I struggle with trying to figure out what “normal” is. How does a normal person react, respond or act in any given situation. I always feel like my thought and action is pathological. Everything I am and everything I do is pathological. I don’t know how to cope with that.

So the recent email from my husband, albeit riddled with whatever he brings to the table, has left me feeling like there is no possible resolution. If I am always to blame, if I am always wrong and always the problem…and if I can’t “fix” myself….

Each day I do the best I can for my family. I work hard to make sure I always have a job (my husband has basically been unemployed for three years). For my children I am always trying to make sure that the tone in my voice and the words I use are loving, supportive and in their best interest (ok, I do lose my temper sometimes, get stern and threaten to take away her toys…). I try to make sure my daughter has activities to encourage growth in all aspects of development. It’s about what they need to grow up feeling unconditionally loved and with the self-esteem needed to be un-pathological (whatever – make up your own words and you’ll see how much fun it is!).

I am exhausted. I don’t have any outlet for stress and no time or mechanism for exercise. I am lonely. I don’t sleep well, I cry and lately all I do is eat (so not psyched about my fat). I guess I am depressed.

And no time for therapy. I think I am screwed. Worst part (ha!) is, I can’t even drink because I am breastfeeding.

February 22, 2014

There’s nothing to say

Filed under: Family, Relationships, Therapy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — me2self @ 11:15 am

“As you presented your argument, it is impossible to address it without making things worse.

This is big and beyond my ability to address fairly.  Your statements are unfair.  I fear it will do me no service to  return them in kind.

I am spending way too much time deciding how to address this.  Because I must.  Point by erroneous point, play armchair psychologist, or give you absolution for your misplaced guilt and take it all upon myself.

At the root of this email seems to be your feelings of guilt and unwillingness to let the past remain in the past.  You are also attacking to off-lay some of that guilt so that you can be free of the burden.”

 

This is how my husband responded to an email I sent to him.

 

I think I need to see my therapist.

 

February 18, 2014

It’s anxiety time!

Filed under: Take a deep breath, Whatever — Tags: , , , , , , — me2self @ 4:11 pm

The past two days I have felt like my brain is swirling around in my skull. Slight headache, tensed facial muscles and slightly blurred eyesight.

At first I thought it was a cabin fever from being stuck inside the house with two kids for four days (lots of snow!), but then this morning it hit me. It’s anxiety.

Since I can remember my family has never hesitated to tell me how impatient I am, how I rush to make decisions and how I have to fix things immediately. Well the jokes on them because all this time I have suffered from anxiety, not innate negative qualities resulting in my being a complete failure (or is the joke on me?).

Up until this morning I felt that my anxiety was focused on one event or issue; acute attacks which eventually pass when I feel resolution has been achieved. But now I feel inhabited.

I am disappointed by this development. I thought I was more accomplished than this in my journey to freedom from my pathologies of old.

I guess I should focus on the positive – that I am aware enough to have realized this. But I cannot, I am too annoyed.

July 30, 2013

because She said so

Saying it aloud makes it seem silly, obvious, as if I should have always known. But the complexities of the mind, the way we learn and the way every little experience has the potential to influence how our personalities develop…I didn’t realize it.

So yesterday when I finally made the connection, the impact was profound. I think it will take time to really understand, and then to change.

I believe beyond all doubt that I am a fat, ugly, disgusting whore who is incapable of being feminine or sophisticated; I am nothing but a bum and will always look like one, despite what I am wearing. I am a failure as a woman, which means I am a failure as a human.

I have lived my life in jeans and t-shirts, rarely venturing out of my comfort zone (and having great anxiety when I did). I’d avoid situations where dressing up was necessary. I never wore makeup. Never cared about my hair or nails. I did the bare minimum.

I avoided mirrors, would run out of bathrooms if another came in and I was trying to redo my pathetic hairstyle (barett, half way up). I felt I had no right to look and even less right to attempt to appear feminine.

I never had many friends. I constantly compared myself to other girls/women, telling myself how unworthy I was of their presence and friendship, and how less of a girl/woman I was because I didn’t dress nicely, do my hair, wear makeup, get my nails done or wear pretty shoes. I was not as worthy of a human being because I was not a good enough female. After all, I was used and no one wants a used person (yes, that is what my mother said to me when I was 13 years old after a very manipulative, abusive 16 year old boy took advantage of me).

I believe all this to be true because She said so.

That is the only reason.

It was an “ah-ha” moment laden with pain. My body cringed as my mind tried to make sense of the simple truth. Because She said so. I could almost see the words come out of her mouth and pave the neuronal pathways that caused the morning tears and tantrums as I went through my wardrobe desperately trying to find something to wear that would take away the negative thoughts and feelings. Day after day the struggle to hide behind cotton and somehow cognitively ignore my own body.  “It’s bad enough you look like a tramp but now you have to dress like a hobo too!” she said one day. Every time I got my hair cut, with a new do, she’d say “oh, well I would have done something different, but if you like it.” Miss Manners was always turning over in her grave at my existence. I stopped going shopping (clothes) with my mother when I was in the 6th grade or so – after she pulled out some frilly shirt (for the hundredth) and I replied “do you really think I would like that?”. It was clear she didn’t know me, didn’t approve of me and wanted me to be something else.  The messages of “I do not approve of you and you are not good enough” came from all directions in various forms. The eye rolls when I came down the stairs. This ’tisk’ when I got a little dirty (as a child mind you).

It was all there, all the information I needed to realize that no, there is and was nothing inherently wrong with me that makes me less of a human or woman. Stop hating yourself and thinking you are undeserving of anything but abuse. Stop trying to fix yourself or deny yourself fundamental love and appreciation for the individual you are.

I look at pictures of myself from when I was a child/adolescent and feel such great, deep sadness. As if I see my potential dying. As if I could have been great but it was lost and I am doomed to being….me. I hate that feeling. I hate thinking that I am nothing but a shell of a person who was wonderful.

And to think that I believe all this to be true simply because She said so.

I don’t know how long it will take me to fully appreciate this realization. I am still in shock. I do know that it is the beginning of brighter days ahead. I just need to figure out how to let all of her words go; how to dust off the little girl that needed love, encouragement and support, and emerge the person I am, that I have always been and will finally love.

July 16, 2013

Obligation

I haven’t spoken to my family for four or so months now.

Within weeks I noticed how much happier of a person I was. I am still finding ways where I am “healing” and am becoming a different person. For example, whenever my husband was in a bad mood I always assumed it was my fault and that he was resenting me and would eventually leave me. I would then try to make him feel better, which ultimately angered him (like everyone, he just wanted to be left alone!). But the other day, when he was tired and cranky, I didn’t blame myself. I didn’t try to fix it and I didn’t think he was going to leave me. I just recognized that he was in a bad mood and that was that. When I realized this change I was floored…first, I never realized that I was doing this and, second, never imagined the link between how my family treated me, how I interpreted their treatment of me and how I applied the effects to every little aspect of my life.

I have received a few emails (“thinking about you…”) and calls (they never leave messages) but I don’t respond. I have nothing to say.

However an email I received (well, was copied on) the other day threw me for a short loop. Evidently my mother required surgery and, based on the little bit of information I received, I can only surmise that she has some form of cancer (pre or very early stage). I had to stop and really think about how I was going to respond. How does illness and death change a relationship, and should it?

I’ve always been there for my family. Done everything I could (above what was needed). I can’t think of anything that needs to be said or done or what would be worth reopening communication. I feel settled in my relationship with all of them, to the extent that until they change, I have nothing to say. I don’t have regret. Death is only a problem for the living. I don’t have to resolve anything with her from my perspective. I think people go to ill and dying relatives with which they severed ties because they need closure or resoluation for something. I don’t.

But the legacy obligation (haven’t you heard that blood is thicker than water and family is all you’ll ever really have?) made me initially take pause and wonder if I should change my approach. But as I worked it all out, I realized that the culture with which I grew up…do it because it’s family and that’s all you’ll ever have…I’m done with that. How I respond to them and how I treat myself as a consequence of the interactions are two very different things. Until I can stop beating myself up for every little thing, I don’t think I can be with them. They destroy me.

All of this change I am encountering – it is powerful stuff. As powerful as all the damage that was done. I am proud of myself for finally being true to me; standing up for myself and my well-being. These are enormous, positive changes that are making me a better person and better wife and mother.

April 16, 2013

A portrait of resistance

It occurred to me yesterday that I have been slowly uncovering all these varying coping mechanisms or ways that my parents shaped my thought processes but I don’t really have a general idea of what a picture of me would look like.

This is what I have so far:

I am a judgmental person (to myself as much as, or more than, to others) because I was always criticized and I learned to be critical.

I have this idea of how the world should work and if people don’t fit my schema then I get angry; much like how my parents and sisters got angry if I didn’t act the way they wanted me to.

I have anxiety, probably because I was never allowed to have my feelings, show anger or voice my disagreement with decisions made without regard to me.

I believe that I will always fail at everything I do, because nothing I did was good enough or the way they wanted it.

I believe I am unworthy of unconditional love and I am only as good (or loved) as what I can do for people, because I was not good, and did not deserve support and encouragement if I strayed from their idea of who and what I should be. The more I did for them, in the way in which they wanted it done, the better a person I was and the more loved I was (and by the way, this is still going on – I was recently kicked off the will because they felt they couldn’t rely on me any longer. A few years ago they kicked my sister off for similar reasons.).

Hmmm, I can’t think of any others right now, although I know there are more.

So I asked my therapist, if I feel like I will always fail at everything that I attempt, why do I try? What makes me have initiative and drive? What makes me continue to take chances and try new things and put myself out there? Why didn’t I just settle for something safe?

His only response was that people often have this core that is resistant. It survives and continues on regardless.

So, instead of painting a picture of my faults, here’s a picture of my resistance:

I have been married to a wonderful man for almost nine years; we have been in love for sixteen (we dated 7 years before getting married).

I have a beautiful, happy, healthy little girl who knows she is loved.

I have a few really good friends and am making more.

I have a job in which I am respected, relied upon and am really good at what I do. I will be promoted soon.

Even though I don’t like what I see in the mirror, I know it’s a superficial disgust and that the person standing there is really a beautiful, kind, loving, intelligent and wonderful person.

Even though I think about the time I spent sad and broken and how that may have kept me from being more than I am now, I also remember the moments that I shined and stepped out of my shell to be truly magnificent.

Despite the lack of consideration, respect and care that my family showed me, I am a caring person who considers other peoples feelings and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt (at least once because I’m not a fool!).

I am not who they are.

I am not who they want me to be.

I am me.

I survived and I resisted.

My picture of resistance is colorful and blooming everyday. It’s made of tears, fear, anxiety and sorrow but it smells like love and joy (and it tastes like coffee).

How about yours?

 

April 15, 2013

A year’s worth of work

Today I realized that it has been almost one year since I returned to therapy. I was surprised by this information, although not in a bad way – just seems like the time went by quickly (but doesn’t it always!).

However the more important bit of information is how this years worth of work was put into action yesterday. And I am quite proud of myself!

My mother stopped by for a visit yesterday, unannounced. I believe this is what you call an ambush.

She walked in demanding to know why I have cut everyone out of our lives. I am not joking – from the moment she entered the room she said “what is going on” – and she wanted the truth, mind you.

She continued to tell me how everyone is so pained and no one understands what’s going on with me and why would I do this to them (note the assignment of victimization here).

I told her that I was busy today and I didn’t want to discuss it right now. I told her that showing up, unannounced to have this conversation was selfish.
She told me that she figured it was the only way I would talk. I told her that didn’t make it right.

Despite my telling her I didn’t want to talk she continued to press. She continued to demand that I do as she commands.

I told her that no one hears or listens to what I say. She said she heard me and she was listening. Yet she pressed on and demanded me to respond. (So she basically admitted to ignoring me, evidently without it registering in her selfish brain that she did so).

Finally, when she said something that really got me really angry I stood up and told her it was time to leave.

I was filled with anxiety and had to breath deep and quickly for a little while. I was a little shaky from the confrontation.

But I had stood up for myself in a way I don’t think I have ever done before. I stated my position and stuck with it. I didn’t cave to her demands. I didn’t give in because that was what they wanted.

I recognized the conditions of this event almost as soon as it started. I saw it for what it was, factually, and didn’t get tied up emotionally.

This wasn’t someone who cared about me or my family. This was someone who cared about her.

I wasn’t being approached out of concern for me, I was being approached out of selfishness and self-centeredness.

It was a good moment for me, to assert myself, protect myself and finally, after so many years, not give up myself to meet their demands.

I think this tells me more than I can hear right now – the promise it holds and the potential for growth.

I think I am closer than I realize to looking in the mirror without disgust.

I think I joked in an earlier post about how long does it take to overcome, likening it to losing weight.

I don’t think I have “overcome” completely, but in this tiny amount of time (and really, one year is so small) I have made huge strides and I can’t tell you how proud of myself I am!

Yeah me!

March 25, 2013

Deaf minds, lose tongues

Life has been unusually demanding lately. Work got incredibly stressful after my boss was fired and time just seems to be less and less. I barely have a moment to breath let along write in a blog. But now I will take the time to unload an enormous weight.

About a month ago my family staged what I (somewhat mockingly) call interventions. They wanted to complain about how they aren’t vital to my daughter’s life. They don’t like how she treats them (i.e., that she doesn’t run to them, cuddle with them, always give them lots of smiles and giggles, sit on their laps and just think that they are the most wonderful grandparents and aunts that a child could ever have!) and how they just want her to love them. And, by the way, it is all my fault.

These “meetings” happened over a meal (there were two separate ones). Sometime into the meal I stopped eating and could no longer look at my food. Later I realized I had gone into “flight or fight” mode. Yes, in conversation with my family my primitive self-preservation mechanisms kicked into full gear. Not really all that surprising when I think about it, but disturbing nonetheless.

There are endless defenses I could give to their claims of my and my daughter’s wrong doings (e.g., you are a stranger because you never make time to see her, I don’t trust you with my child because you are selfish and manipulative, etc), but it really doesn’t matter.

Last week I received another ridiculous email from one of my sisters, telling me again how unacceptable the situation is. She copied the entire family. She used phrases like: ” [my daughter] does not look at me, runs from me, and has no interest in interacting with me unless I’m holding something she wants. The fact that you don’t try to change that behavior is also worrisome.” which only made it clear that my sister not only doesn’t understand one iota of a child’s behavior or needs, but is also a child herself. I am so tired of hearing my family complain about how my daughter doesn’t act the way they think she should act, doesn’t love them as much as they want her to and they don’t have the kind of relationship with her as other grandparents and aunts they know. Again, there are endless defenses I could give to their claims of my and my daughter’s wrong doings, but it really doesn’t matter.

So I responded to the ridiculous email in a manner I have never ever done before; with anger and “right back at you” blame. I said things like: “Your assessment of [my daughter] and our actions as parents is based on ignorance, selfishness and impatience. You make demands on [my daughter] and never question whether a baby or toddler can (or the important question is should they) meet demands. Despite my trying to explain this to you, you still demand. There is no instant gratification in this situation. [my daughter] is acting as she should at this age.  You adapt to her.  The two year old does not adapt to your needs.  They have yet to develop the skills to adapt to you.  If you stopped to think about it, I did encourage [my daughter] to interact with you. Using playdoh was a means to engage you two. It worked. You two were playing together. Did you not appreciate this or how much [my daughter] loved the animal you made her? She wouldn’t let go of it. Keep in mind that you complained a lot about how gross it was and made it clear how much you didn’t want to play with it. You almost seemed to resent having to do it. I picked up on that; do you think [my daughter] did?”

Her response was “Let me know when you’re ready to talk in a productive fashion”.

Nothing I said was heard; not one character imparted an ounce of doubt in her preconceived notions. I received additional responses with similar sentiments (we are not happy and you aren’t doing anything to make us happy!) from other members of my family. Lose tongues.

That’s why nothing I said or can/could say really matters.

My words fell on deaf minds.

 

And I haven’t anything else to say to them.  In a challenging enough time in my life I do not have the desire to surround myself with such negativity and selfishness. I cannot and will not subject my daughter to the demands of ignorance and close mindedness.

I wasn’t proud of myself for sending a harsh response but felt I needed to assert myself and make it clear that they are tiring out my patience. The only thing they are accomplishing is pushing me farther and farther away. The more they demand the less I will be a part of their lives. And when I do remove myself (and my family) from their lives, be certain that I will be accused of being selfish and childish and they will wonder why can’t I just be who they demand I be?

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