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Brian

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  • #86873
    Brian
    Participant

    Lady Nadia,

    Yeah, that is a rather large lie on her part. I guess, then, what do you really want? If you sincerely wish to let go of her, find a way to tactfully say so, whether by text or in-person or whatever. Perhaps say something like “It seems to me that you’re avoiding me, and that things aren’t what they used to be. If this is the way things are going to be, I cannot be your friend.” Those are likely hard words to write, of course. But your anger and disappointment sound justified, and if she’s fabricated much of her life and isn’t interested in repairing things, you’re probably better off without her in your life.

    Losing a friend is difficult, but to me it sounds like you’ve mostly lost that friend already…or rather she, with her behavior and making things up, has lost you :/

    #86800
    Brian
    Participant

    Thanks for the kudos. I’ve been in therapy for about 19 years (which is an *awfully* long time to be in therapy…they say that the goal of therapy is to be out of therapy), and have taken co-dependency classes, DBT, and get reminded every week of using the DBT skills to get me through. I do use the skills on my own, except when I think I don’t deserve to be happy (as I explained above of course).

    I think I do have an excellent therapist, and I do think I’m a very intelligent client (sounds a tad smug or arrogant, but whatever). My previous therapist (about 10 years ago?) seemed sad that I was leaving her for a male therapist (since I have issues with my dad, and wanted to challenge myself with a male therapist…I don’t generally feel comfortable around men).

    But my issues are still here, and I’m still learning. Just this morning I was at the gym and was noticing more and more ways how judgmental I am when it comes to new things–I always assume the worst. I could just as simply assume the best, or something in between. But I have to work at that part; assuming the worst is part of my nature, informed by my core beliefs. So when I go out I have to consciously say to myself “this is going to be ok, I’m going to face this”.

    #86761
    Brian
    Participant

    I’d say it’s literally mind boggling šŸ™‚

    #86741
    Brian
    Participant

    jack,

    I couldn’t see much good in what I was doing, because I was barely doing anything. However, today I went to the gym and feel much better. I still need to do more, but I need to celebrate the “small” victories.

    anita,

    As I responded to jack, I made the decision to go out and do something positive. And it worked. I need to keep up the going-out. My therapist and I both agree that I have a highly exaggerated sense of safety. I’m still not getting what I want socially, but I guess that simply means I need to make more efforts, regardless of the depression that deepens when I stay home and all the accompanying negative self-belief thoughts that come with hiding. I think maybe I can come to believe that it’s not my fault by rewiring my neural pathways–i.e., by acting opposite to the fear and depression and doing things. Easier said than done of course. It’s also discouraging when I reach out to people I know who are going through the same kinds of things I’m going through and they don’t respond…makes me feel unwanted and abandoned. On the other hand, if they are going through the same things I am, perhaps they are in precisely the same mental space I am: not wanting to do anything and hide. That could easily result in them not choosing to do things, just as I chose not to do things for a few days.

    #86333
    Brian
    Participant

    Hey lexy99,

    I have the same issues. I’ve been single for something like 7 years; last time I went on a date was probably 3 or 4 years ago. I’m still trying the online thing, but it seems the women that are interested in me are not women I’d be interested in, and vice versa. But the few times that it came to “where do we go from here” (i.e. “do you want to meet?”) I’ve felt the anxiety and written things like “just interested in discussing things” or something.

    I wrote that because I was doing what you describe: what-iffing. What if I hate her personality? What if I *like* her personality, and then I have to change my whole life to accommodate a relationship?

    Your what-ifs all seem to go down a fearful road. It may take some work, but can you replace the fearful what-ifs with positive thoughts about dating, even if you don’t believe the positive thoughts? Stuff maybe like “Ok, I just arranged a date, it makes sense that I’m afraid, but I can do this anyway, and I may even have a good time. At least I will have gone on a date. I can do this!”? Breathing exercises can help as well. Perhaps breathe deeply and think to yourself “I am strong. I can do this”? Making this part of a daily routine can really help; 2 months ago I was a disaster of hurtful emotions, and practicing what I just described as well as being in the moment helped tremendously…I still practice the breathing every night before bed. It’s easier now that it’s become routine.

    If you do like him, you can still take it slow if you want to. But I suggest that, when you make a date, you do your best to focus on the fact that you’ve accomplished making one date as opposed to worrying about what might happen afterward. From your words, it sounds like worrying is what you do and what you’re used to. When the worry thoughts come in (“what if I don’t like him, what if I do?”), try to let them roll or slide away from you. Maybe visualize the thoughts evaporating, and then replacing the thoughts with either being in the moment or with positive thoughts like “I can deal with that when or if it happens”.

    If you don’t like him, you can be polite at the date, and be assertive later (perhaps online) about how you don’t think it’s going to work out. If he brings it up mid-date, maybe say something like “I’m not sure how I feel about this. I need time to think about it” and get back to him later.

    Are you asking about dating more than one person because there’s currently more than one guy you want to date? Given the anxiety you have about one date, I’d take it slow and schedule one date. But if you want to do two dates, I think that’s fine; a date is not a relationship, you’re not beholden to anyone else.

    Hope this helps.

    #85366
    Brian
    Participant

    Lidewij,

    Forgive me for the format, but several things you said jumped out at me, which I’ve put into two categories:

    “nobody knows what happens in the future”
    “everything seems so uncertain”

    “And Iā€™m too weak minded”
    “I’ve always been insecure”

    The first set is actually an expression of fact: nobody knows what happens in the future. Life could end in 30 minutes. Or it could go on for another 80 years. “Good” things could happen, “bad” things could happen. As a worrier myself, I’ve struggled to accept these facts, though I’ve worked to help myself do so.

    Which leads me to the next set: perhaps you *have* always been insecure. I have. But I would say that you’re not weak minded. That might be presumptuous on my part, but I think how you talk to/about yourself can really affect your mood and therefore your life experience.

    So, since the future is inherently uncertain, and you’re having trouble with hopelessness and depression, I would try the following, on a daily basis at least:

    Each night, before you go to sleep, breathe in for 4-5 seconds, visualizing the number “1”, and then exhale for 6-7 seconds from your mouth, feeling the air escape, and seeing that “1” in your head. Maybe even saying it quietly aloud. Repeat this for 2 through 10. Make sure to focus on the numbers (or your breaths, whichever you prefer); focusing on them means you’re not focusing on what may or may not happen in the future. Do this every day for a week or longer (I’ve done it nearly every single day since early September, and it has become part of my routine so that it doesn’t feel foreign or silly anymore). Also, envision yourself triumphing, succeeding at whatever you’re doing and whatever life throws at you. Do this daily too, or more than daily. The idea is to establish a routine and accept your reality as it is, without trying to change it. If you’re worrying, acknowledge that you’re worrying, and do your best to let that thought go in favor of practicing being in the moment.

    How often/how long do you meditate? The mind can go all over the place of course when meditating, depending on how much worry there is and what the circumstances are. This doesn’t mean that you fail at meditating. It just means that you’re still learning to live.

    Letting go of worry isn’t an easy thing. But the methods of getting there are simple, if not “easy”. Meditation/mindfulness helps people grow. I think it’s a lifelong thing for some of us. I know it is for me.

    #84803
    Brian
    Participant

    To your last post Perry:

    I’ve been told the same thing about myself. However, over the years I’ve become more open and more carefree, at least on the outside. I also relate to having to be the man who reaches out to the woman. This however isn’t fair, but it is a societal construct.

    How/when do you encounter women? From my own experience, creating a positive sense of self makes the anxiety lessen. Perhaps ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen. Or what’s the best that could happen. Would either of these results mean you’re utterly compromised?

    You mention self-confidence as the crux. I agree. It is possible to build self-confidence. I think I wrote a lot about that in my first post. Maybe build yourself up a bit, in manageable pieces. What would a small step look like for you, either in your own confidence or in seeking a woman? Meetup.com has a lot of..well…meetups, where you can join a group and meet with that group around a common interest. It might be scary at first, but if you persist it gets easier.

    #84754
    Brian
    Participant

    It’s pretty clear that you don’t actually want to be alone. Being content with who you are is another matter. I had my first serious relationship when I was 22, I think. I’ve been single for something like 13 years. A big reason for my being single that long was because I thought nobody liked me. Turns out I was so severely depressed and isolating that I hated myself and didn’t want others to see me…when in reality I really *did* want others to see me. After high school, I had a fellow graduate tell me that I’d “be surprised” by the number of women who were interested in me. I didn’t notice any of this…I was too busy literally looking at the floor and avoiding eye contact. Not saying this is your situation; just relating what I’ve become aware of over the years.

    “Besides, Iā€™m not sure why any girl would want me”…I think maybe you could make a list of things that are positive and likable about yourself. Do you think you can do that, write it down, for yourself? Fostering positive things about yourself, even if you don’t believe them, can help build you up. It’s likely that women will gravitate toward you if you’re confident and self-secure…but women can only gravitate toward you if you put yourself in situations where you’ll meet them. That might go against your desire for staying home (what does staying home do for you? Maybe make a list of those things too; then make a list of things that are likely to happen if you go out), but the alternative is very likely you staying alone.

    Consider me a cautionary tale, if you will: I’m 39 and it seems every woman I run into is either married or has kids (or wants kids)…I want neither. I began fostering happiness in earnest almost 2 months ago–my outlook on life has changed dramatically for the healthier. So, if you don’t want to be single when you’re 39, don’t wait to build yourself up and maybe take some positive risks with going out šŸ™‚

    #84382
    Brian
    Participant

    yoda,

    Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you have hit it right on the head: you’re heartbroken. Having your ex wife be with someone else, after 20 years of marriage, is certainly very painful. Grieving about it helps. And you’re right: your heartbreak is not for her to fix. I must ask about the questions you’re asking: you’re asking her questions now that she’s with this other guy? If so, I wonder if you are allowing the wounds to rule you. It sounds like it.

    I won’t pretend that I’ve been in this situation. I haven’t. But I do know what it’s like to dwell on something so completely that I wanted to commit suicide. I think that two things may help you: allow yourself to grieve for the loss of your wife in your life. It hurts. You may never get her back. It’s like a death, when someone you love dearly leaves. Grieve, but also practice helpful everyday skills–being in the moment, looking around at your surroundings, distracting with positive coping mechanisms (such as reading, going for walks, exercise). Say to yourself “I can handle this” or “I’m in pain, but I will get through” or whatever other positive statements about yourself…even if you don’t believe the statements. You can try imagery too: imagine yourself succeeding. What would success look like to you? Being free of the suicidal thoughts? Calm?

    I don’t know if what I’m about to say will help, but I see a therapist (perhaps seeing a grief counselor or therapist may be a good idea for you?), and about 4 weeks ago he suggested many of the same things I’m suggesting to you, because I found myself up in my head, torturing myself to the point of thinking there’s no way out. If you don’t already practice such things, it’s going to feel awkward and useless probably–that’s how I felt 4 weeks ago. But the more I focused on getting out of the house (positive distractions, like the gym and friends), the more I went to bed each night and practiced conscious breathing (I still do this every night), the more I envisioned me succeeding, the less suffering I experienced.

    Sounds like suffering is enveloping you. Try to practice the things I’ve mentioned. Try to honor yourself–you were married for 20 years; she must’ve seen something in you that was good. Try to find that goodness in yourself, and amplify it with practice…but do it for yourself, not for her, if you can. The idea is to soothe yourself…you very much need it. Try not to deny the pain, or temporarily allay it by asking her questions. Feeling your feelings, and building yourself up, will help you.

    It took me a week of practicing mindfulness, meditation, imagery etc to see significant improvement in my own situation. Each person is different, and each situation is different. It may take you longer, or it may not. But the important thing is this: there is really only now, and if you’re focused on now, and not thinking about the pain or judging yourself or the situation, you cannot suffer. Being in the moment, the “now”, is typically quite difficult for a lot of people in Western society (myself included), but with practice it can be done.

    Best wishes.

    #83983
    Brian
    Participant

    I have a friend who went through a similar situation–they were engaged, she broke up with him and blamed him for a lot of stuff, then she got together with his longtime best friend. My friend wound up growing and learning a lot about himself.

    However, I’d say that right now you are very much in the grieving part of it. No one has died, but it’s like a death, to have your girlfriend leave and your girlfriend and your best friend betraying your trust, and then leaving you out in the cold. It really hurts.

    What I’d suggest is finding a grief counselor or therapist (if you don’t already have one), and let yourself feel the feelings. Don’t try to push them away or bury them. Let yourself safely grieve, if you can. There is nothing wrong with grief. There is nothing wrong with tears.

    I know this may seem impossible, but try to focus on the present instead of obsessing. If the present moment hurts, grieve for it. Distracting in a positive way also may help: things like going for walks and looking at the environment around you and concentrating on the sounds, smells, feel.

    It’s possible they may never come back to you. You don’t have control over that. The only thing you have control over is what you do with your feelings. They hurt, but as I said, they really should hurt. Being in pain, torn up on the inside, is a normal response to something like this.

    Is there a peer support phone number in your area? Perhaps you could talk to someone about it sooner rather than later.

    #83633
    Brian
    Participant

    Those are good questions raised by Matic. I’m wondering what you can do (or are already doing) to put yourself forward with strength. What thoughts do you have when you go on a date/consider going on one?

    #83416
    Brian
    Participant

    Sarah,

    I can very much relate to carrying stuff around from childhood, stuff that I don’t need anymore or don’t want. It’s a hard way to live, being worried because others worry about you. Given all that you wrote, it does look to come straight from your mother. I gotta agree with anita: you need to have your mother out of your life. Don’t give her a way back in (such as “Can you call me every other day?” or something similar). From what you write she seems utterly poisonous to you. Do you think you can do this? I really hope so.

    How much do you practice breathing and/or meditating? With practice, these can help too. But removing your mother from your life certainly seems to be the most important single thing you can do right now.

    #83325
    Brian
    Participant

    Saiisha,

    I haven’t tried visiting per se social places by myself. That might be a good idea to see how I cope with the emotions, because if I go by myself I can leave at any time. On the other hand, going with friends pretty much means I’d be practicing coping while in the moment–which would be a very valuable thing for me to do. I can cope in the moment alone, but when alone I’m not potentially disappointing anyone else; with a friend, I can practicing coping with any real or perceived disappointment.

    I guess I wouldn’t say I “thrive” on social situations–I’d say that, right now, I desperately need to be social so that I’m not staying up in my head and worrying and producing panic. I don’t work, so that’s something that would occupy my time if I did (which makes me think of your volunteer suggestion). The prospect of work is a whole other can of worms. The last time I worked with any regularity was 2008. This is also about fear: fear of authority figures, disappointing others, my own stuff exploding to the surface and making me a sobbing mess and/or lashing out at others. At three of my previous jobs I got angry with the store manager, a supervisor, and a customer respectively, and in the first two instances I told them to go eff themselves. That’s not how I want to act. And it’s all about my fears and depression and immediate judgment of authority (this comes from my dad being terribly unsupportive in every way except money) being not expressed and held in until it bursts.

    I have a few supportive friends, but not ones whom I’m close to. I mean, I tell them things, ask for help, and they help the best they can, but just about none of them truly “get” me, or if they get me they aren’t communicative anywhere near as often as I’d like (with one of them it’s been two months at least, another a couple weeks). And when I say “desperate”, I’m also desperate to be held. I can hold a pillow and cry at night (which I did last night) and breathe and work to comfort myself, but it isn’t the same as another person wholly understanding me and holding me. I want to feel the love others have for me, but if I can’t seem to feel that for the time being, I want to be held and comforted. Basically I want what my parents couldn’t or didn’t give me.

    Incidentally, the friend I’m meeting later today and the friend I’m meeting tomorrow aren’t really huggy types, and one of them is male…I’ve had a difficult time being friends with guys due to the closed-up nature of my dad and how he modeled avoiding friendships (he still does avoid friendships, at almost 73 years old; I don’t even know if he himself is aware he avoids friendships. He probably doesn’t allow himself to even go there mentally).

    Anyway, the part about revelations…or epiphanies as I sometimes call them: I’ve had two since this whole thing started, and they came about either while I was using calming skills or immediately after. They’ve been about a couple weeks apart, I think. So I can see that about spurts šŸ™‚

    #83262
    Brian
    Participant

    Saiisha,

    I’ve thought about a real cat before. I’ve just come to enjoy the freedom of being able to come and go as I please without the extra expense (I don’t have much money), and I like having things stay where I’ve placed them (cats do love to mess with things). My apartment is also quite small, and I don’t know where I’d put a litter box or even cat bowls. I do very much loooove cats though.

    anita,

    To an extent, I have tried switching fear of the noise (and/or fear of panic) into feeling the sensations in my body and being aware of any noises. I know that denying the present moment with thoughts like “This shouldn’t be happening to me” (which I’ve been known to do) don’t help me, but focusing on where the anxiety is is also very painful. I’ll practice that though.

    #83261
    Brian
    Participant

    Saiisha,

    The activities I’m trying (and currently failing, but want) to do involve other people, yes. I spend far too much time in my own apartment, and have turned down or otherwise not contacted friends about hanging out on any kind of regular basis…until yesterday, when I had this revelation. I’d been drinking to get drunk so I can do what’s comfortable–being alone and playing video games. Being drunk also allays the intense loneliness I have. It does bother me that I spend time with so few people, but a fair amount of the time that has been my own choice. This revelation is very much me learning about myself and what I might like. I think the alcohol abuse over many years has been stymieing that, and I didn’t know just how much until last night. Lately when I’m alone I worry, but also use DBT skills and try to be in the moment, though I’ve had a very difficult time being in the moment over the years. Then again, this comes back to alcohol–I’ve practiced being in the moment intermittently for years, but always thought in the back of my head “but I can get drunk tonight, so I don’t have to experience the loneliness or try new things”…i.e. I don’t have to feel much of the loneliness, or face the positive risk-taking of doing new things with new people. Or with existing friends.

    I have activities I do when I’m alone (such as video games, helping others on TinyBuddha, watching movies), but I spend *far* to much time not being social and not trying to be social. The lack of alcohol in my life these days, combined with the extreme anxiety I’ve been under (as you read on my other post), brought the revelation to the forefront of my mind. What I enjoy, what helps me the most, is social situations–I’ve been so desperate for social activities, yet so scared of them, and abusing alcohol to where I didn’t care, that my desire to be social was blunted very much.

    I enjoyed video games as a child, but for the most part I didn’t love anything as a child. If you look at my”Apartment noise and fear” post in Emotional Mastery, I describe key points of my childhood. In a nutshell, it was hell every single day, and the only “safe” place was my room (though even that wasn’t always safe). I hid all the time. So that’s what I’ve been doing for so many years as an adult. Only nowadays such coping mechanisms no longer serve me. My life has been closed, and I’m hoping that with this revelation I can open it up.

    “When you can love yourself and who you are, others will come to you automatically”–I’m not sure how you mean this ultimately, because the way I see it is thus: if I love myself and who I am, I will seek out others, because that’s what I want to do. Though I do see that, if I’m in a lot of pain and hiding, people might not want much to do with me because I’m a drain. On the other hand, I’m honest about myself to friends. I don’t say I’m doing fine when I’m not. I’m being myself.

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