I have registered for the NAMI Walk. For anyone who doesn’t know, NAMI stands for National Alliance for Mental Illness. I’m trying to raise money, and all of it goes to NAMI! As I don’t know a lot of people in real time, I thought that I would reach out to those of you who followed my blog. All of you would understand the toll mental illness takes on the person suffering and the surrounding friends and family members. You don’t need to pledge much to sponsor me. Every little bit helps! If you’re willing to donate to this awesome cause, please visit my NAMI sponsorship page HERE. Thanks, everyone!!
“Self-hatred is only hating a thought you have about yourself, and thoughts can be changed.”
You know how some people will ask how you’re doing, and when you start to tell them honestly, they respond in irritation with, “Everyone’s got problems!” Whatever the context, I’m quite sure all of us have heard this from time to time. Either directed at ourselves, or someone else who can’t seem to keep it together.
I was pondering this the other day. Yes, everyone has problems, but why do they seem so HUGE for some, myself, at times, included? As I type this, I realize the answer is obvious, but it seemed novel to me at the time. Yes, everyone has problems, but not everyone is equipped to deal with their problems. Not everyone has the tools to solve their problems and keep them from returning.
Up until recently, I thought it was impossible for ME to learn to use these tools on a regular basis. I knew that the way I was raised caused me to wrongly react to things, but I also thought that I could sit back and blame the way I was raised. I was not taught how to deal with many situations. I was not taught how to act in interpersonal relationships. I was taught to be critical and negative so as not to become disappointed. That doesn’t mean I can’t change any of that, though. Yes, I had a screwed up childhood. No, I do not have to have a screwed up life.
When I started reading “You Can Heal Your Life”, I was depressed and angry. I was considering starting to self harm again. I thought there was no way out, and nothing I could do to change anything. I had tried desperately to change what I said and how I acted. All I managed to do was frustrate, become angry at, and blame myself for not being what I thought I “should” be.
As I began reading, though, my outlook started to change. I realized I had the ability to change what was going on with me. The author says that one has to change how they think about themselves before they can expect their lives to change. I thought it was a lot of touchy-feely-sit-around-a-camp-fire-naked-and-cry-while-singing-koom-by-ya kinda thing. It seems silly that just being nice to yourself and liking yourself is going to change anything. It seems IMPOSSIBLE to me, as a borderline, to even begin to show self-love. The entire concept seemed foreign.
It starts off with baby steps, though. Not being critical of yourself, not having negative views about yourself, only telling yourself nice things, repeating affirmations, etc. If one goes through life thinking they are shit and don’t deserve happiness, they will never obtain happiness. If one thinks that everyone is out to get them, that is what they will see in their life. What you view about yourself will manifest in your life. I KNOW this seems crazy, but it really seems to work!
Think about it, though. If you believe, deep down, that you will never be happy, how will you be able to LET yourself be happy? Letting yourself be happy would go against everything you truly believe! If you believe everyone is out to get you, that is all that you will see in each interaction with people.
Conversely, if you tell yourself you deserve to be happy, it will come. If you tell yourself that you love yourself, you will not see a need to be overly critical. If you forgive other people for their faults, you’ll be more able to forgive yourself the faults you possess.
I have been repeating affirmations to myself over the past week. “I completely love and accept myself.” “I deserve to be _____, and I accept it now.” “I am willing to release the need to be unworthy. I am worthy of the very best in life and I now lovingly allow myself to accept it.” I think you get the point. I have seen a difference in how I treat myself since I’ve started doing this. I have been showering on a daily basis, and using smelly bath stuff. I have been using lotions. I have been exercising some. I have been eating better. I have been sleeping better. It’s like I finally convinced myself that I am WORTHY of being treated well, and I am doing that for myself. The above things have been difficult for me in the past because I never thought I was worthy of anything other than pain and misery, and that’s how I treated myself.
I have also been treating other people better. I do not get as frustrated with my coworkers, and I have not been lashing out at Crazy Jay. I do not look for the negative in everything and find ways to tell others that they’re wrong. I am not as critical, and am more willing to over look things others do that bother me.
Here’s something else COMPLETELY CRAZY: Crappy things have happened this past week, but I am not really bothered by them. Jay and I have had a tiff or two, but it was quickly nipped in the bud, and I didn’t brood about it all day. I am not as stressed out at work, even though there is a HUGE invoicing mess that I’ve been dealing with. Everything seems to roll off my back much easier than it ever has in my life. Maybe this is what my unconventional therapist meant when she told me to “be an observer”. It’s like the bullshit that other people throw my way doesn’t even touch me.
I guess maybe I should have started with this next part. Then maybe people would have read all the way through. I am not struggling and straining to “get through” each problem that comes my way. I do not have to bite my tongue or deeply consider what I say. Because I have changed my outlook on things, and the way I view myself, it’s not hard to be nice, because I FEEL nice. It’s not hard to contain my frustration, because I don’t FEEL it anywhere near the same level I used to. It’s not hard to “act” happy, because I AM happy. I am not trying to twist my mind into doing something that it doesn’t want to do. I am in the process of retraining my mind so that it wants to do what I want it to do, and not just react to things that trigger childhood memories. I changed my fundamental beliefs about myself and my life, and I have seen an almost immediate change. It helps that Jay is going through the same book as me, and is seeing things the same way. Even if he wasn’t, though, I think I would be ok. I think I am going to get through all this. In fact, I can see it as I look over my shoulder, getting smaller in the distance. I AM going to have a full, happy life. I AM worthy, and deserve good things. I AM lovable and capable of showing love. I AM willing to release the negative patterns in my mind. Holy shit…I think I can do this thing, after all.
Soooo…It would seem that I’m toying with the idea of forgiving “the snapperheads” (as Crazy Jay would say) who screwed me up in the past. This would include everyone that I’m harboring resentment against, but it would start with my parents.
I’m reading “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. It was recommended to me by my unconventional therapist. I’m not too far into this book, but I feel like it has already changed my attitude about certain things. I’m learning the benefits of self love and positive thinking. “Self love” is hard for a borderline to feel, but there was a brief paragraph in this book that caught my eye.
“Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Well, I guess she has a point. I HAVE been incredibly hard on myself all of my life. I don’t particularly like how my life is going right now. Something needs to change. I have tried a lot of things to try and change my thoughts and behaviors, and nothing has really worked. Why not give being nice to myself a try? It couldn’t hurt.
Back to forgiving snapperheads
The thought is that, if one is holding onto anger and resentment, not only can they make themselves physically sick, but they are exerting a lot of unnecessary energy. One keeps the negative energy and emotions in their body, and it just continues to make their life difficult.
Not only that, but expecting perfection from your parents is a sure-fire way to never expect less than perfection from yourself. How can you love yourself and not be critical if you expect yourself to be perfect? I know when I place expectations on myself, I’m constantly kicking myself and feeling like a failure. It’s better to remember that, just like you, your parents are frightened, injured people. They have been damaged in their lifetimes, and are only able to teach their children what they have been taught.
In order to free ourselves from the negative patterns in our life, we need to learn to love ourselves. Before we love ourselves, we must forgive those who have harmed us in the past. Now, I’m still a little leery of this “forgiveness” sticht. I talked to my unconventional therapist about this last night. She cleared a few things up for me that might make this a little bit easier.
Just because you forgive a person does not mean you are saying what happened is ok. You are not condoning their behaviors. You are just making the conscious decision to not spend any time or energy being upset by this person’s actions. The past cannot be changed, but we can change our future by adjusting how we think about things. If we are constantly thinking about how horrible people are, and about the evil things that have been done to us, our lives won’t be very fulfilled. We will hold onto hate and anger, and never flourish into the person we could have been had we been born into a loving environment.
I was also assured that just because one decides to forgive another does not mean that person has to be in their life. I can accept that my parents were raised a certain way, and act a certain way. I can decide that I do not want people who act a certain way to be part of my life. I am not judging them, angry, or hating them, I just do not want the negativity they bring as part of my little world. I can forgive them and work to heal myself without judging them or including them in my life.
I really want to heal from my past. I want my future to be different than where it seems to be headed. I want a full, happy, positive life. It will be difficult for me to show self love. It will be difficult for me to forgive my parents, and keep in mind that that means no pent up anger towards them. It will be difficult for me to focus on the positive, and keep the negative out of my life. It’s difficult, but not impossible. I am committed to being different. I have tried a lot of different things to try and change myself. Nothing’s worked so far. Time to try being nice to myself, and show a little forgiveness.
I don’t know how to love with my whole heart.
How could I? Raised in an uncaring home,
Affection was foreign. Coldness I knew.
I learned to be critical and hate-filled.
I lived on anger and disappointment.
Resentment and hurt were my company.
Loving touches, hugs, kisses, “I love you”
Were not what I knew. Harsh words, angry stares –
These were my normal. A life lacking warmth.
I felt like a stranger in my own home.
The child who could not understand love
Grew to the woman who could not show love.
I stay withdrawn and reserved. Scared. Hiding.
Even if I wanted to venture out,
I’m ignorant of how to show I care.
Unsure of what to do or how to act.
I sit to the side. Alienated.
I ache to reach out from behind this wall.
I long to show you the love I feel.
Crazy Jay and I met with our therapist last night. I’ve been calling her “new age therapist”, or something like that. I think I’m going to change to “unconventional”, instead. Anyway, we were talking about how a lot of the issues Jay and I both have now are a result of things done to us throughout childhood. Unconventional Therapist was telling us that we need to go back and heal our inner child so that our adult selves can be healed. Now, this is the kind of thing that I used to think was complete B.S. “Heal your inner child”? Gimme a break!! What kind of mumbo-jumbo is that? Just be an adult and deal with this!!
Of course, that could be (and probably is) the voice of the fuckers who raised me. They didn’t believe in therapy. They weren’t convinced of the legitimacy of They looked down on people with mental disorders, telling me that if I was depressed, it’s because I “wasn’t trusting God enough”. That’s nice. And so helpful. Way to make a person who already feels shitty into even MORE of a failure.
I think Unconventional Therapist is absolutely right that Jay and I need to heal our inner child. I mean, the way we react to things now is directly related to our experiences in childhood. Jay tells me all the time he feels like a financial burden, even though I keep telling him to shut his whore mouth. I have never thought of him as a burden, and I hope I don’t ACT like I think he’s a burden. It clicked for us last night, though, that Jay’s father always made money an issue when Jay was growing up. His father was constantly talking about how much things that Jay needed cost. No wonder he now sees that he is using money and not putting any in the kitty, so he equates that with being a burden.
My distaste of being touched stems from my childhood sexual abuse. I feel hands on me now and essentially think I am a child, being abused and touched against my will. Of course, that is not a conscious thought, but that is why I don’t like hands on me now. The thoughts, feelings and ideas we have reinforced as children come out when we’re adults. I have so many more examples of how things in childhood shape my thoughts and actions now, but I think I’ve made my point.
Jay told Unconventional Therapist that he didn’t know how to heal his inner child. That he didn’t even know what this looked like. I’ve had several weeks to digest the “heal your inner child” thing, but this may be the first time Jay tried to apply it to himself. I told him that his inner child and my inner child (Little Jay and Little Meg) should have a play date this week. Do something childlike and silly. I suggested going to a playground and swinging. The teeter-tooter would be fun, too! Unconventional Therapist suggested we may like to try some art projects since we both thought coloring in coloring books would be enjoyable. Art projects may be too lofty of a goal, but I could sure mess around with some Play-Dough!!
This week Jay and I are both going to focus on “going back” and taking care of Little Jay and Little Meg. Unconventional Therapist said our goal is to “go back”, “pick up” our little inner selves, and tell him or her that we will protect them. That we are there to take care of them. We aren’t terribly sure how to attempt that quite yet, but apparently the first step is doing activities our inner child would enjoy…hence the play date. It was also suggested that we go to the children’s section of the library and check out some kid books, but then that would entail brushing elbows with ACTUAL children.
I’m looking forward to letting out Little Meg. I think this could be fun. It will be nice to focus on small enjoyable activities throughout the day instead of the many stresses of life.
I’ve been feeling really low these past few days. Apparently the solution is to “just snap out of it.” Damn. Why didn’t I think of that?
Sometimes I wish I was the only one to have to deal with me. The only one to be affected by all the fucked up parts of me. I wish I didn’t have to see what I do to the one person who loves me. I think sometimes how nice it would be to be alone, so I don’t have to be the one to cause others hurt, anger, and frustration. It would be nice to be on my own, and deal with my issues when it’s just me that will be hurt. When there isn’t pressure for me to change immediately, even though I can’t. When doing the best I can do is good enough. I wish I didn’t have the responsibility of caring for another’s feelings. Of having to meet another’s needs.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine going through this alone.
Crazy Jay’s birthday was a couple weeks ago. Actually four days before our anniversary. I arranged for him and a friend to go rock climbing. Since I have an intense fear of heights (you have NO idea), I stayed on the ground with Jay’s friend’s wife. That was interesting. She is a psychology major. Working on her Masters, I believe. While we were sitting on a bench somewhere, she asked me what I’m interested in. What I like to do for fun. What activities I enjoy. My pathetic response still makes me cringe. “I’m not really sure what I enjoy. I pretty much let everyone else decide what we’re doing.” Even worse was when she asked me if I collected anything, and I had to say “no”. She knows Jay is bat-shit crazy. Now she thinks I’m a doormat with no opinion, I’m sure.
This has happened one other time. About a year ago, I was on my way to lunch with my boss. While we were waiting for the stop light to change, she asked me what I enjoy doing. What I do in my free time. Totally blank. I had no idea what to say. I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of, “Hmm, I don’t really know. I used to read a lot.” LOL I’m still palming my face over that one.
I have realized over the past couple weeks that, not only am I not really sure what I like to do, when I DO know something I like (like certain music, a specific restaurant, a type of book, various movies, etc), I am incredibly ashamed of it. I can be driving around the interstate, blaring my music (whatever fits my mood at the time), and as soon as I get off the highway and onto a smaller road around other cars, I’ll turn the music down. If my windows are open when I pull up to a stop light and the guy beside me has his windows down, too, my music gets turned down to barely above a whisper. At work, I used to let music play quietly through my computer. I could barely hear it, though, because I’ve been too embarrassed to let it play loudly enough for anyone else to hear. I started wearing earbuds so I don’t have to worry about it. A few months ago, one of the guys in the office said he was going to turn on music so we could all listen. He asked ME what kind of music I like. I didn’t know what to say. I was so worried I was going to be judged based on what I said!!
I’m afraid to give my opinion about whether or not I like something. I’m afraid to suggest a movie or a restaurant. What if I choose the wrong one? Then it’s MY fault. What if other people think I’m stupid based on my movie suggestion. What if I’m ridiculed for the restaurant I want to go to? What if they think I’m lame for the music I like?
I started doing some research on borderline personality disorder, which is something I haven’t done in almost a year. It was pretty sobering to read through the Wikipedia page and feel like it was written ABOUT ME.
According to Wikipedia:
“People with BPD have trouble seeing a clear picture of their identity. In particular, they have a hard time knowing what they value and enjoy. They are unsure about their long-term goals for relationships and jobs. This difficulty with knowing who they are and what they value can cause people with BPD to feel that they are empty and lost”
Huh, that sure makes a lot of sense, especially when looking back at my life. I have never really known what I wanted to do with my life. I shouldn’t even say “really known”. I have had no idea. My “ideal” career has always changed based on what people I had around me at the time. No to mention that I DON’T know who I am. I haven’t a clue (Jay, do you have a clue??). Nothing about me stays the same. My likes and dislikes change based on which way the wind blows. I’m not even sure if I DO enjoy things. I suppose I can look back and say whether or not I enjoyed it, but I have a hard time DURING the event knowing if I’m enjoying myself. If people around me are having fun, I just copy them. It’s not until I’m alone later and can reflect on things that I know if what I just did/watched/listened to/ate was something I enjoyed.
Another quote from Wikipedia that applies:
“People with BPD are especially sensitive to feelings of rejection, isolation, and perceived failure.”
So, I would guess that I have felt criticized and rejected in the past based on things that I expressed I enjoyed doing. *gasp* SHOCKER!!! My general past has been getting hazy lately, and I can’t think of a specific example (maybe because there are too many?), but I am quite sure that there were many times I was ridiculed and critiqued for my opinion on something, making me now very hesitant to express it, whether it be by letting people know what I like, or engaging in a discussion/debate based on opinions.
I’m not sure how to change these feelings. I guess now that I’m aware, like with everything else, I can start working on it. I have to say, though, that compared to all the other (MANY) issues I’m trying to sort out, this is very very low on my list of things to work on. I am trying to adjust the parts of me that hurt other people, and then maybe I’ll move onto the things I do that hurt myself.
I am being taught a lesson. Not a horrible or even particularly difficult lesson. It’s mainly just annoying. It’s annoying that I am bothered with this throughout the day. It’s also pretty damn annoying that Crazy Jay may be right. It’s rare, but it sometimes happens.
For as long as I can remember, I have been in the habit of apologizing unnecessarily. If someone felt badly about ANYTHING, whether it was my fault or not, I would apologize. When Jay and I first got married, he threatened to throw a penny at me each time I apologized needlessly. I think he finally stopped because his arm got tired.
I really didn’t think much else about it until around a month ago when Jay and I were in a session together with our “crazy” new age therapist. Jay said something about me apologizing all the time, and revealed that it made HIM feel badly. I was completely shocked. Why would he feel badly because I apologized? And it’s not like I really apologized that much…or so I thought.
There is a woman who has been working in the office with me for the past month or so. She does scanning, printing, and other basic admin duties. Upon first meeting her, I thought she was a strong, smart, capable, confident woman. After interacting with her more over these past six weeks, I realized that she has many of the same views about herself as I have about myself.
She obviously doesn’t think very highly of herself. She is constantly saying things like, “I know you think I’m stupid.” “Sorry, that was stupid.” “I can’t believe how stupid I am.” Things like that. Things that I am regularly running through my head, but am hesitant to say them out loud. I’m worried that someone will tell me it’s true. She talks about how she doesn’t trust herself to always accurately do her work. She regularly puts herself down. Now, I have realized that she does this to try and pull compliments out of people, so she’s not totally like me. She does, however, apologize ALL THE TIME.
I have realized that knowing this woman is going to apologize for the broken plate when I am the one to throw it against the wall has made me very aware of what I say to her. I still don’t have the “how” I say things down, but I am working on the “what”. Anyway, I had to tell her the other day that she was doing something wrong. She was out that day, so I opted to send her an email and thankfully avoid a face to face confrontation. The thing she had done was very minor, but it still needed to be addressed. It probably took me about 45 minutes to write a three sentence email. I was so afraid that I would devastate her with my email, I was trying to be incredibly careful. I know how she falls all over herself to express remorse when something happens that she DIDN’T do, so I was a little worried about how she would react when she WAS actually guilty of doing something wrong.
After thinking about it, I realized it made me angry that I was being manipulated in this way. I believe that she has been fishing for compliments and reassurance, and that is why she has been apologizing at every turn and putting herself down so much. I mean, if she REALLY believed she was so stupid and unworthy, she would keep it to herself…like I do.
After thinking about it MORE, I realized that have been just as manipulative in my constant apologies. I probably think even lower of myself than she does of herself which is why I don’t say all the negative things about myself aloud. Like I said above, I am petrified someone will agree with me. However, I have been feeling so badly about myself that I have been standing up to take guilt and take the blame for things that I have no control over. I apologize for the weather. I apologize if Jay spills his food. I apologize if something Jay and I have planned doesn’t work out. I have not been looking for compliments since I don’t believe them anyway, but I think I have been looking for reassurance. I would apologize and hope to hear, “It’s not your fault. Don’t feel badly.” Almost like I needed permission NOT to feel badly about anything and everything. It wasn’t even a conscious thought. It was just something that I did. And, of COURSE I apologized. I felt like shit about EVERYTHING. I think that even when confronted about all these excessive apologies, I probably said that I wasn’t doing it. I didn’t do it on purpose, and didn’t even realize it was happening.
Now, since the therapy session where I heard that Jay is bothered by my insistent apologies, I have tried to tone them back. I think hope that Jay would agree he has heard the amount of apologies diminish. After spending 10 hours a day with this woman in the office, though, I think I am going to be much more aware of the times that I apologize in the future. I hope that this will help me take the extra seconds to evaluate if whatever I am about to apologize for is actually my fault, or if it is just the ever-present bad feelings. Though I am working on getting rid of those, too!