Forum Replies Created
November 3, 2019 at 11:20 am #321125
No rush. Take your time. Enjoy your weekend. -BOctober 31, 2019 at 11:33 am #320729
I’m back. Busy week but things are winding down. 🙂
I see some similarities in our 5 year old selves, for sure.
Let me tell you a little about my mom. She’s a good person but let’s just say motherhood wasn’t her strong suit. She worked hard in her job, did the grocery shopping, got us kids where we needed to go, made dinner after work each night, never hit us or was physically abusive in any way, but I can’t recall having one meaningful conversation with her my entire childhood. She was a mother on auto-pilot. No doubt there are far worse moms out there but at one point I gave up, stopped trying to connect with her, felt anger instead (and showed it), and it happened somewhere between ages 9 and 11. My dad was different. He was busy too but he’d make time. He was/is optimistic, glass-half-full. We’d have important conversations and he’d always look me straight in the eye, but it didn’t happen enough as he was working a lot too. Anyway, I think my 5 year old self craved and needed a closer relationship with my mom, but life isn’t perfect.
I believe that the longing for attention from my mom made me an overachiever and more sensitive and anxious than I otherwise would have been. That’s my unprofessional opinion.
I felt safe and comfortable in my home but I did notice that other homes operated differently. I had a couple friends who were constantly doted on by their moms, would run crying to mom for every little thing (minor skinned knee, spider in bedroom, etc.) and I can remember thinking “what’s up with that??” Then there were some other friends who had aggressive, angry parents or siblings and I didn’t like being in those homes, wanted to leave, and was always relieved to walk back through my doors, back home where things were normal to me, but far from perfect.
I never had a sincere, true connection with my mom until we were much older when I finally understood what was going on with her, and when the pretending became harder for her. My mom’s childhood was as bad as they get; it’s a wonder she was/is able to function at all. I feel nothing but love and compassion now, well and also sadness for what could have been. But back in those days that generation of parents didn’t admit weakness. They pretended everything was okay and kept themselves protected in suits of armor like yours.
But I was affected. It changed me.
There are times when I find myself on auto-pilot, not present or engaged, so I check in with myself, become aware of what’s going on with me. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of becoming what you experienced growing up, and when it happens you can’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.
You felt “the need to be accepted…that I had to try all the time to be seen and that just me alone was not ever enough.” Those were my feelings too.
Anything you’d like to share about your mom?
So you believe your 5 year old self would be disappointed in you and I disagree. It’s my experience that kids that age don’t think that way. For them, hard feelings last about 30 seconds. Resentment, judgement, bitterness, overanalyzing haven’t set in yet. Five year olds just want everyone to smile and be happy. I think your 5 yr old self would be so happy and proud that you showed up to parent night. You ask what my 5 year old self would think of me? Same thing — happy I showed up, and proud to show me her classroom and schoolwork and introduce me to her friends, regardless of mistakes I’ve made that she knows about.
There’s no such thing as a perfect childhood. I missed out on things I really needed but I also was spared awful things that other kids got. Ironically, I believe I’m a far better person than I might have been had I had a perfect childhood. My struggles have taught me things I’d never have known without them, lead me to places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
There were many years when I was very disappointed in my mom and boy did I show her, and she blamed herself, which of course made things worse for both of us. She knew she was different than those doting moms. She knew something was wrong but she was deeply wounded, and the way she coped was to make sure we had those things all kids need — food, clothing, shelter — and then dove deeper into her career where she felt less of a failure. That was her way of escaping her pain.
BOctober 28, 2019 at 3:47 pm #320299
You are welcome, and thanks so much for your update.
Interestingly they are all behaving as if they did nothing wrong. Maybe that’s what happens in “groupthink” situations. Nobody learns anything. Too bad for them.
I messed up, betrayed confidence… We’ve all done what you did. They have too!
I truly feel like I’m in a place of control and strength over my mind… That’s awesome. Well done!
BOctober 28, 2019 at 3:14 pm #320297
No worries about the delay, and I feel I need one myself now in order to fully process your words; they’ve given me a lot to think about regarding my own 5 year old self. Thank you.
Neil, have your daughters communicated to you (in actual words) that they are disappointed with you? Have your parents, siblings, ex-wife, girlfriends, co-workers, boss, or anyone else?
I’ll be back on Friday. I hope you have a good week!
BOctober 23, 2019 at 8:05 pm #319399
What behaviours and traits still show up in your life today that you can recollect from childhood? Do they serve you or hinder you?
I have never liked being the center of attention. I can recall having this feeling at age 5. I’m not shy, and I’m generally confident, but still, don’t throw me a surprise birthday party! I’m not sure if this serves or hinders me, it just is what it is, I suppose. I’m also on the analytical side which means my brain automatically tries to find solutions, look for patterns, connect dots, all in an effort to gain better understanding. I did this as a kid too. This hinders me in that I won’t rest until I’ve solved the problem, but it ultimately serves me because this behavior in part led me to the practice of mindfulness. I’m the only person in my family of origin with this trait by the way, and I am very good at math…haha. Lastly, I was and still am on the quiet side, I like to listen more than talk. This helps me in that I rarely put my foot in my mouth but it hinders me in my relationships with my girlfriends who want to talk about EVERYTHING.
I would love to hear more about you: how you are, how you are managing to keep moving forward, what you think and what you wish for the future?
I am doing well thanks. It’s like you said earlier we need to check in with ourselves, see how we’re doing, and I do that a lot. I close my eyes, take deep breaths, get centered, relaxed, and check in with myself. I’ve realized something about this process. The only way it really works for me is if I can see myself as someone I truly value, someone I have compassion for who deserves to be happy. I tell myself that there’s nothing more valuable to me at this very moment than me and my well being. And I put everything else on the backburner in order to look after myself for a few minutes. You ask what I think? I think that right now at this very moment life isn’t so serious anymore. And what do I wish for? I wish that I would always feel this way.
Maybe you could think of yourself as the little boy you were at age 5, how much you love and value him, how much he deserves to be happy, close your eyes and send that little boy all the love he needs, then forgive him for the mistakes he’s going to make.
I think all those things you mentioned…clarity, passion, self-love, peace…are within your reach.
BOctober 21, 2019 at 10:58 pm #319071
Your many gifts: talented writer, excellent communicator, marathon runner, intelligent, compassionate, grateful, practical, logical, sensible, plus all those gifts I don’t even know about.
And I’m guessing you are also a pretty nice guy.
You say that before you took your turning you were so happy, loved life, had passion, ambition and valued the important things. And then came the choice and everything changed.
Neil, think back, could it be that in addition to the passion, ambition and love for life, something was off, even back then? I mean, obviously, in comparison to how you feel today your life was better, but could it be that the reason you made the choice at all was because you saw it as a way out from your pain?
People do all kinds of things to escape their pain. And at the time of your choice, you had no idea of what was to come.
When we know better, we do better.
If you find yourself crawling under those massive regrets that have been crushing you and all of your wonderful gifts, and if you would like to post about those feelings, I will listen. I consider you my friend.
How are your daughters?
BOctober 21, 2019 at 2:51 pm #319021
Hey Neil – I’ll need 24 hours or so to get back to you. -BOctober 20, 2019 at 10:49 am #318815
You are welcome. I’m so happy you are okay. I was concerned that maybe you weren’t.
Gosh, anyone reading your posts can see your many gifts. Do you see them too? I really hope so.
Thanks for your questions. My life has been busy. How does that happen that life gets so busy? I’ve been consumed with all the things that each day brings — making a living, ensuring that kids (now young adults) are set up for success, keeping up a home, attending to aging parents, being a loving partner and good friend — it’s a constant juggling act that so many of us have, and some days I feel totally at peace while others leave me overwhelmed. I think that answers your “What have you done?” question. How have I grown? I’ve learned to better accept what I can’t change. You know how it goes — there’s so much pressure in raising kids nowadays, guiding them without controlling them, celebrating with them when they achieve their goals and supporting them when they don’t (ie, college acceptance letters, etc.). Realizing and also accepting that there are things we wish we’d done differently. Next question: my life is fulfilling and enriching every time I witness the people my kids have become. The one word I would use to describe this past year would be “humbling” and yes, that is satisfactory for me. I will keep at it, keep doing my best, knowing that I’m not perfect, learning as I go.
Since my “turning” I would say that I’ve gotten weighed down by the seriousness of life. I read somewhere that life really isn’t as serious as we make it out to be, but I’m not sure I agree with that. It can be pretty serious if you ask me.
One of my kids is experiencing a recurrence of a physical illness that is worrisome. My husband and I and our family are taking it one step at a time.
What I find is that when we help others, we help ourselves. Thank you for letting me know that I’ve helped you, and you have helped me.
BOctober 19, 2019 at 11:58 pm #318763
How did I miss this amazing post of yours?
Did you ever wish you could just go back……back to a point in time where you started to feel this way and take a different turning?
Yes, I wish I could go back to the exact point in time when life became more serious than it was the moment before, but I can’t pinpoint exactly when that was. I remember being more carefree, adventurous, curious, but I feel that those things started to slip away at some point. I wish I could go back to that exact moment and not let it happen, take a different turn.
BOctober 11, 2019 at 4:15 pm #317379
P.S. Sorry, I meant partner, not wife.October 11, 2019 at 3:58 pm #317375
Your wife’s friends told her that they thought she’d be with someone more attractive than you (wait, do friends really say those things to each other?), and she then shares the information with you. Sharing that with you was hurtful and unnecessary, and not revealing why she would share it, leaving you to make sense of it on your own, was cruel.
What kind of person is your wife? Just wondering.
BOctober 10, 2019 at 1:26 pm #317187
Lol. I love Inky!October 10, 2019 at 10:58 am #317157
Your posts are really great, and I concur with Valora. Your wife may be nitpicking you about your looks because she’s not happy with her own. I think by age 60 many (but not all) experience a decline in energy and good health, feel less attractive, less creative and often dissatisfied with how their lives have turned out, all of which may affect libido. Sounds depressing I know (sorry!) but maybe this has something to do with your wife’s behavior. Everyone copes differently, I think.
BSeptember 27, 2019 at 5:57 pm #314785
I’ve read about people whose unbearable suffering resulted in a spontaneous spiritual awakening that totally freed them of their pain. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle is one such person, or so he says.
But not all of us are so lucky so we need to take matters into our own hands, take responsibility for our own happiness. Many of us will try some of the very things you mentioned: pills, counseling, big life changes, soul searching and gratitude.
Neil, what big life changes have you tried and were you truly committed to each? Progress doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a strong character to stick to a commitment. I read somewhere that it can take over two months for a new behavior to become a habit. We’ve got to be patient, give things time….and then see what happens.
I recommend making the decision to radically transform your life by practicing mindfulness, meditation, daily exercise, healthy eating, sober living, random acts of kindness, and focusing on helping others. Yeah, I know, blah, blah, blah, you’ve heard these words a million times but I truly believe that if you totally commit to each your life will drastically change for the better. You can’t do this half-way; you’ve got to be all in. I’ve listed 7 practices; that’s 7 separate commitments.
Difficulties (losses, betrayals, disappointments, fears, regrets, guilt, etc.) will of course arise and old familiar habits such as ruminating on your mistakes, flaws, and misfortunes will resurface, tempting you to ditch your commitments. But over time you may recognize these tendencies in yourself and get very good at averting them early on. Also, remind yourself that pain is a part of life, that to be human is to experience difficulties, and your difficulties are what will ultimately transform you. In other words, if spiritual growth is what you want then be thankful for your struggles.
Neil, I remember our earlier correspondence and how intelligent you are. Do you think it’s at all possible that your emotional suffering is a state of mind that you have the power to change if you are patient and truly committed to doing the hard work?
Maybe it all starts with one decision.
I’m glad you’re reaching out!
BSeptember 24, 2019 at 11:12 pm #314169
You come across as a kind and honest guy and as I reread my last post I realized I may have come across as harsh — I’m sorry. I realize now that you’re keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself and that the people you project your insecurities on are probably unaware of what you’re doing. I think a lot of people project onto others so it’s not all that unusual, and like I said before I think your awareness of the situation is so important. When you start to feel sorry for someone who is less attractive than the average person you can choose to step out of the narrative before it goes too far. Who knows, it’s possible that this less attractive person has a enviable reputation or skill, or a very loyal, wonderful group of friends, or can ace a calculus test without studying. Everyone puts a different value on various qualities and characteristics. Attractiveness isn’t a big deal for everyone.
I’m with anita…I’m glad you’re feeling better and I hope you keep posting.