Notes to Self

March 7, 2014

Deliver me from evil

Deliver me from the communication evil that befalls my marriage. Help me chose the right words and impart the appropriate inflection and intonation.

As the adage says – it’s not what you say but how you say it. It’s evidently all in the delivery.

 

I had a phone session with my therapist the other day. I simply do not feel like I can take off of work – feel like I have too much to do, too much responsibility and lose too much time pumping.

He had the following things to say:

  • My marriage is laden with communication issues and they need to be resolved.
  • What me and my husband say, and what is heard, are very different things.
  • Both of our feelings are hurt and he’s not informing me when his feelings are hurt so we can’t discuss it and pain just festers.
  • I assume I understand his thought process. I most likely do not.
  • Furthermore, we do not understand each others intentions, motivations or understanding of situations, events, etc. But we think we do.
  • We need to develop new ways of communicating. We most likely need couples therapy.

 

I don’t disagree with any of that. Relationships are a two-way street and problems can never be one person’s fault. I also think that we hold our own life frustrations so close to the surface that it’s hard not to hold the other person somewhat accountable for our emotions (i.e., our response/reaction must filter through these frustrations and thus carry a part of the anger).

Here are some examples:

My husband commented that I have criticized him for cooking. I do not recall doing this, although I do recall being annoyed that it seemed he waited until we got home to begin cooking. From my perspective, when I get home I am hungry. My daughter is also very hungry. He is unemployed and I don’t see why he couldn’t start cooking earlier. So we either wait for dinner, and get more and more annoyed, hungry and cranky, or we eat snacks to hold us over…but then aren’t terribly hungry for dinner. We also then go to bed shortly after eating. But I have no idea of what he did that day such that he couldn’t start cooking earlier. I never asked. I never wanted to ask. How on earth would I phrase that conversation so that I didn’t hurt his feelings and simultaneously start an argument? So I say nothing, but get annoyed. This happened last night. And I didn’t handle my anger very well. I am sick (head and chest cold) and extremely tired. I just wanted some dinner. I am also annoyed that I am overweight, can never seem to eat well balanced meals and the summer is coming so I will again have to suffer through the heat and humidity in jeans (no, I would NEVER show my legs!) and constantly be reminded of the fact that I am fat and disgusting. So the fact that he didn’t have dinner ready reminded me of all of these other negative things and that’s really why I was angry.

On top of that are my feelings of jealousy  and “it’s not fair” and, more importantly, self-blame of what am I doing wrong?, all of which get intertwined with my frustration about the state of my house, my lack of personal time and the constant drain on my body and mind. I have said many times that on the occasion where I actually get some time to myself, the cat is then all over me. It never ends. So when I start thinking about the things that need to be done, I start feeling like my husband doesn’t do enough – e.g., housework. I feel like he gets to do whatever he wants during the day without any demands on him or his time and I don’t ever get that. So I get angry about the clothes still in baskets, the overflowing garbage cans, the cutting boards that haven’t been washed for weeks (over a month?) and the mess everywhere. And I think he should take care of it – it’s only fair. But I am also struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a woman, wife and mother. Don’t all other mom’s have immaculately clean houses, never a mess anywhere, dinner always prepared ahead of time? Aren’t they all a healthy weight and not a complete embarrassment to their daughter (forget that she’s only three)? I am clearly doing something wrong if this is the state of my house and my life. I am clearly not adequate and clearly failing miserably. All of this anger and frustration (ok, let’s face it, it’s anxiety) get turned to jealousy and anger towards my husband.

On top of all of that, I then struggle with how much of my feelings are “acceptable”…am I asking/demanding/expecting too much? Shouldn’t he be doing this stuff (note the extreme use of “this” as all encompassing!) or am I being unreasonable? What the hell is normal? I just assume that everything I think and feel is irrational and extreme. So now I don’t trust anything I think or feel and get even more angry and anxious that I can’t figure that out. Another layer to work through – more emotion to coat my words.

So when I open my mouth I have already assumed the response based on this crazy thing that I do. It will always be my fault. I am always to blame. I become more and more defensive, anxious and angry. I don’t know which way to turn or what to do.

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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.

September 1, 2013

Low self-esteem can be exhausting!

Something relatively minor happened at work on Friday and I am still obsessing over it. I have lost sleep because of it.

I have learned by now that when I can’t “let something go”, its because I haven’t resolved it for myself.

The event happened, I reacted, called a few folks, got a resolution and yet I am not done with it.

The issue, I realized this morning, is the way I treated myself when the question first arose. The doubt and worry I had about something so minute. When I talked to a friend/co-worker she told me what to do and it was that simple, yet I was envisioning everyone thinking I was a terrible person! And so I made it a bigger deal than it was, and now I am angry that I did that.

My husband said to focus on the fact that I have recognized his and how that is furthering me along the “road to recovery”- that I am becoming a better person. While I agree, I still can’t stop being completely annoyed.

It isn’t just the event and the ridiculousness surrounding it, it’s that I think so lowly of myself and that I let my family continue to treat me so poorly to encourage the low self-esteem for so long. I am tired of finding more ways and further reaches of how my poor self-image affects my everyday life. I am not surprised by the effects, just where it comes up and how it then affects me.

I am just tired of it. I want to be “normal” and not think twice about little stuff. I want to stop doubting myself so quickly and I want to stop obsessing when I do.

I’m just tired of it all.

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

In War, inside

I remember the day I was listening to the radio and a song by The Who resonated most amazingly; “I don’t need to be forgiven”.

I have been searching for the fundamental (irrational?) thought that will lead me to victory. Maybe there isn’t one, but I am finding one that is very influential: while I do not believe I did anything wrong, I have not forgiven myself.

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!

December 21, 2012

Where you end and I begin

According to my therapist, when children are young there is not much separation between them and their primary caregiver(s) (i.e. parents) – they see themselves and their world through their parents. It is the job of the parents to reflect back a positive image of the child (so the child sees their self in a positive way) and as time goes on, the parent must allow the child to develop into an individual – to separate from the parent. This involves allowing the child to differ in opinion and “rebel”; to be unhappy with decisions made by the parents and to voice such opposition. However, the key is for the parent(s) is to maintain love for and acceptance of that child no matter what (you know, unconditional love).

 

Evidently, many parents fail at this. Instead of viewing their child as a separate, discrete individual, they see the child as an extension of themselves. And they expect the child to act accordingly. My therapist likened it to how one might expect an arm to move as you tell it to and imagine how upset you would be if this arm went left when you told it to go right. How dare it not do as you instructed!

 

In my quest to figure out WHY I have the thought processes and behaviors that I do, I am trying to understand the connection between my parents parenting and my current mental state. I do not feel that I can change until I understand why, to the extent that I can.

I am struggling to draw connections between the parenting I received and the thoughts I now have to change. I imagine there is a flow chart that can be drawn – some way to schematically show the if/than arguments.

 

My parents were never happy with what I did, how I behaved or dressed or talked. I was never what they wanted me to be  – regardless of the situation or conditions. I was always lacking something – I didn’t get all A’s or the haircut was nice but my mother would have preferred something different. Of course these are the stereotypical things that parents say – that most folks discuss in therapy. But taken together, over a lifetime, and mixed with other major traumatic events in my life (which I believe were inevitable consequences of circumstance), I am left with this:

1) I do not trust my own judgement, which causes anger and frustration (the death spiral)

2) I do not think I am worthy of love or have any right to ask someone to do something for me (I build walls and don’t let people in; I have no pride)

3) I am not, and never will be or could be, feminine, pretty or sexy (I never look in mirror’s and go through mental hell when I have to wear anything but jeans)

4) No matter what I do, try to do or want to do, I will fail (I have no hobbies or goals in life and no sense of accomplishment)

 

Up until a year or so ago everything I did was done to make my parents and sisters happy. For example, even after I moved out I would mow the lawn, rake and shovel. I would sometimes send my husband (much to his significant dismay). I listened to complaints and ran errands and let them blow me off for someone (or something) else (and never said a peep). I did it because it made them happy and that meant I was good and maybe they would love me. I beamed whenever I was told how helpful I am! This would make me want to do more.

But I am now realizing how much of my actions (or lack thereof) were done just to take care of their mental health. I won’t argue or speak up for myself because that angered them. I won’t tell them my opinion or not go along with their plans because that angers them. I will stay close to home so I can take care of you, even if I hate this damned state. I will put up with the hurt and criticism, judgement and insults – because you are family and, as you have always told me, all I have to count on in this world is my family. When no one else will be there, you will. I view myself according to how I think my family would view me and the decision I am about to or have just made. And since their view of me is/was never favorable (unless I had just done something for them and in accordance with their preferences), then all I think is that I have and will fail.

 

Action will correct my thought processes. My therapist says I need to stand up for myself and confront them when they say or do something I don’t like or when they ask of me something I do not wish to do. When asked why I don’t do this I said it is because it’s not worth the hassle. When I have spoken up I just get questioned more “well don’t you think that ___” or “why do you think that ____”. It’s tiring and I don’t want to deal with it.

So here’s another “cause” – they don’t listen and they don’t pay attention. The last time I went clothes shopping with my mother I was in the 6th grade. She pulled some awful, ruffled shirt off the rack and I replied (rather loudly) “do you really think that is something I would like?”. And that was that.  With all of the choices I have made with my daughter – they still question and criticize. They have not heard me or paid any attention such that they would understand and appreciate that all my decisions are based on what is in the best interest of my daughter, rather than what I do or do not want or what they expect. No, I will not wake her up from her nap so we can be on time for appetizers. No, we will not stay past her bedtime; she gets cranky and unhappy. We will go home so she can sleep.

Last night I was talking with my mother and she started lecturing in a very disapproving tone. I fell silent (as I have been doing – and then I just say I have to go and hang up). But then I thought about it and decided to “confront” her (and by the way, I should mention that confrontation scare the hell out of me – with anyone – my heart pounds, my voice quivers).  So I told her what I thought and she just kept challenging me and I realized that I didn’t know how to stop it. What did I need to say to get her to stop talking? My life isn’t your business unless I make it your business. And if you don’t like something it isn’t your natural right to tell me so.

I am seeing clearly how I have become what I am. The logic is unfolding and the consequences come forth as if challenging me to refute their existence.

Self-doubt; you are a product of not having been heard or given the opportunity to safely make mistakes. No, it would not have been tragic if the skirt I was trying to make didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I would have learned something from it. I would have tried again and become more skilled. Except I just gave up. Lost interest in trying anything since I would only fail.

 

Overall I am hopeful for my recovery. While I see there is a lot of active, in the moment work to do; I think I can change.

I need to change. I am tired of being negative and self-hating.

My daughter needs me to change. I need me to change.

I don’t feel that I have really worked through all of this information such that I feel clarity. But I am getting closer. This has helped.

Inch by inch, row by row…..

November 19, 2012

You’ll be the judge of my judement

I had a “breakthrough” in Therapy last week. I am still reveling in the realization.

I am a rather ‘black and white’ or ‘all or none’ kind of person. Either I am really busy or I am spending my day in front of the TV. Either I am being “healthy” or I am overeating. Either I was flawless or I completely failed. Get the idea?

Extremes. From one end directly to the other – no stopping in between.

And when I am forced to be somewhere in the middle I get angry, frustrated, worried, annoyed and, I guess scared.

This came up when discussing the amount of TV my toddler watches. I can’t handle it. The pressure of trying to figure out how much is too much or when is it ok and when isn’t it. I said I’d rather just throw the thing out the window than deal with this frustration!

Then we realized it was a matter of me not trusting my own judgement.

Avoid having to make a judgement call and life is fine.

 

There comes a time in our lives when we can no longer hold anyone else accountable for how we behave and think. That’s not to say, however, that they aren’t still the root cause.

In prior posts I have discussed this as well as the fact that lately I have been remembering things I long ago hoped I had forgotten. Like when my mother and I went to the eye doctor to see about getting me contacts (I was somewhere around 17 years old) and she told the doctor she didn’t think I would clean them well enough so she was opposed to me getting them. I will never forget how taken aback the doctor was. Here I was, almost college bound and my mother was doubting my ability to take care of (disposable) contacts! I can’t remember exactly what he said but I remember how it made me feel; triumphant. It wasn’t because I “won” getting contacts, but rather that I was defended and this ridiculous charge against me had been dismissed without hesitation from someone who hardly knew me. As I write this I realize that my feeling of joy at the doctor’s response was just as pathological as my feeling of despair at my mother’s initial claim. It all boils down to this:
What I think doesn’t matter. I am always wrong and everyone else is always right. I have poor judgement and I will always make the wrong decision.

 

My parents always doubted me. Always criticized and judged everything I did – from the way I brushed my teeth to the man I married.

I am left not trusting myself and not believing that I can and will make good decisions. And over the years it has become second nature.

 

For example, when I make a wrong turn or get on the highway in the wrong direction – I FLIP OUT!

Anger boils to the surface in seconds. I scream HOW could I have done that! WHY don’t I know better! WHAT is wrong with me???

 

Self-beratment. That’s how I roll.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, but no worries, I’ll keep fooling myself for you so you don’t have to do the work anymore.

My internal dialog is insane. This morning I was looking for some food in the freezer and when I finally realized where it was I said to myself “It’s in that container you idiot!”

 

My parents still doubt my judgement. Everything I do with my daughter is criticized and questioned.

Although sometimes I make decisions and that’s that, most times I fret and worry and talk about it over and over and wonder and worry and get angry and annoyed then I cry and talk about it with other people and finally a decision is made but that’s not the end of it…I have to fret over the decision and how it will affect everyone else and was it the right one and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Then I worry that my husband loves me less because I am so crazy. So I start to seek validation from him.

How do I learn to trust myself?

 

On the path to recovery I am noticing every stone of self-criticism and self-doubt.

But the more I uncover the more angry and sad I become.

I scream HOW could I have let them do this to me! WHY didn’t I know better! WHAT is wrong with me???

 

What’s that saying – just being aware of it is half the battle?

July 16, 2012

Do you Death Spiral?

That’s what my husband calls it; a Death Spiral.

I start with one issue/obstacle/event and just pile on more and more until I end up in angry tears, blaming myself for ‘everything’ that is wrong and am unable to connect with the world around me. The trigger could be something as simple as running out of tissues or it could be a comment someone made (or what I inferred the person was really saying). Then I pile on the immediate (somewhat superficial) issues (e.g., messy house) and then get into the thick of it (e.g., I am a terrible mother because I cannot keep this house clean enough). As I go deeper and deeper I get more and more frustrated and angry. I withdraw and shut down. My cup runneth over with self-blame and criticisms. I can’t interact with my family and I sit trying desperately to keep it together enough that I don’t pitch a fit. I can’t find a way out.

Then comes the post-Death Spiral guilt.

I am doing it again and my daughter is picking up on my anger and frustration and now she is getting cranky and is a little nervous. I am teaching her to be angry and frustrated. I said I wouldn’t do this again but her I am – I am such a failure!

So I retreat (leave my daughter with my husband). I hide. Put a pillow over my head and hope the fighting stops. Cry a little. Scream a few times (into a pillow of course).

Then I hear my daughter crying – she wants her mommy. It’s not her fault I can’t deal with life. She needs me. So I go to her.

I try to put on a happy face and most of the time I succeed (she transforms me!). Or she will take a nap and give me some breathing time. My husband will sometimes talk me through (and out of) it. Eventually it dissipates. Sometimes I am left with defensive resentment, sometimes it helps clear the air. But I never feel resolved, just pacified.

I know it is just a matter of time until the next Death Spiral occurs. I need to stop them from happening. I don’t know how.

I realize it is happening. I realize it is crap that I do it. But once it starts….

I realize the flawed premise(s) upon which these Death Spirals are initiated. But I still believe there is some truth to them!

My therapist says I need to examine the facts surrounding each thought, determine if I really believe them and then go from there.

Obviously I am neither capable of doing this once the spiral starts nor capable of recognizing it before the spiral starts.

So now what?

I am worried that if I stop being so hard on myself I will become more of a failure than I already think I am (and then it will be true!). Note I say think because when I look closely I am relatively successful. Other than some challenges (e.g., my weight), I have accomplished a good deal (and don’t think too highly of myself!). Lower your standards and expectations and you will become what you fear. Does that even make sense?

I am a big fan of trying to answer the question “why”. I feel that if I understand from where an emotion/thought originates then I have a better chance at coming to terms with the situation. (yes, back to my parents). I recall getting to a point in my childhood where I couldn’t figure out why I was always wrong. It seemed as thought my parents were always telling me that what I did, thought or said was incorrect or not good enough, that I was making the same mistakes over and over and that I wasn’t paying close enough attention or giving it a good enough effort. But I didn’t agree and I never understood. I always looked for a reason as to why my parents thought I was so “bad”, and I guess I eventually just figured it was innate and out of my control. As a result (in hindsight of course) is my constant fear of being wrong and my tendency to admit my faults without hesitation (I will just offer up my short comings so no one can point them out to me later).

Which full circles back to my fundamental negative muse. I am failure.

Looks like I need more therapy.

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