Forum Replies Created
April 8, 2021 at 2:27 pm #377378
Dear Anita and Teak,
Anita, I think that you have hit on something really important here. My craving for love and affection will hopefully change over time, and as I grow, assuming my husband grows as well, I may find being with him more satisfying. I know he is trying, and maybe we can grow together. I am going to reflect on that and talk about it with our therapist.
Something wonderful happened this afternoon. I am in a Facebook support group for people who have been through a traumatic birth, and today someone posted asking if anyone had given birth in my area. I replied that I had, and we ended up chatting for a while. It was so wonderful to connect with someone from that group one on one, since it has been a great source of support for me. We decided to try to get to know each other better and help each other out. Interestingly, she also suffers with addiction problems but is in recovery. There is something so helpful about sharing with someone who has been through a traumatic birth. It is such a specific experience with such profound emotional consequences. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to talk to this person, and I look forward to getting to know her better and hopefully be a source of support to one another.
I love the idea of doing some artwork around my inner child. I used to pain a lot and I stopped when my son was born. I have been thinking about restarting. My initial idea was to paint myself as a monster. But I like this idea much better. Thank you.
I hope you are both doing well, and again thank you for this discussion.
IlyanaApril 8, 2021 at 11:06 am #377368
I want to share again.
I had therapy today. During my session, we did a visualization in which I held little girl me in my arms, told her what she needed to hear, and flew around our history and future together. When I was done, I wrote her a short letter telling her that it wasn’t her fault, and that her daddy did love her. It was very powerful.
I am feeling optimistic today. I have so many steps to take, but the journey has started. Big and little me will travel together to the mountain, and we will get over it to a happier life. I feel like I can sustain belief in this image if I keep taking steps.
I want to keep reaching out to the people around me, and I want to be able to sit with the discomfort of having my marriage be a question mark. My instinct is just to leave, but I know that the way to manage future regret is to see how a happier me feels in the relationship. If future me doesn’t think she can stay and be happy, she will leave. But present me just can’t know.
I am feeling almost grateful for the cognitive problems I am having, even if they are not reversible. The only thing I valued about myself was my intellect. The only way to get through to me and push me to make changes was to threaten it. Of course it might be that something more serious is going on than I understand. Maybe it is even something that will kill me. But even if that’s the case, maybe especially if that’s the case, my new goal of a contented life is worth pursuing.
Thank you both again for your support. It is very meaningful to me.
IlyanaApril 7, 2021 at 12:39 pm #377342
I am doing a bit better. I had a second MRI today, and talked to my doctor. It’s too soon to have any results, but we are pretty confident that my cognitive problems are due to my long-term depression. He said that if that’s what’s happened, my brain can heal. It might take a long time, but I might get better if I can get my depression under control.
I have been trying to reach out to people more, friends, my father, and especially my sister. I have let people in on what’s going on with me. I am actually feeling right now like the depression attacking my brain was the best way to get my attention and say: “YOU ARE NOT OK”. It feels like a giant wake-up call, one that I am hoping is the first in a series of steps that leads to a happier and more peaceful me. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, and I still have all my bad habits, though I am working on reducing my substance use. I know it will be hard, but all I can do is push forward.
My son seems depressed to me. He keeps saying that life sucks and that more bad things happen than good things. I am worried about him. But he is talking to me about it, and last night he said I helped him, which made us both feel good. We are in family therapy to help heal the fractured connection we formed after my traumatic birth, and I am hopeful that if I get better, it will have a positive impact on him too.
So I came here for hope, and I found it. My struggles aren’t over, but they don’t feel insurmountable anymore. My sister suffered a terrible trauma 5 years ago, and things looked very dark. But she took a long series of very small steps, and now she is flourishing. I am hoping that with support I can get there too.
I find also that I am thinking more and more about ending my marriage. Now is not the time to make big decisions, and I am committed to trying to make things better with my husband. I would like for my son to grow up living with both his parents. But the reality is dawning on me that it is possible that no amount of therapy and talking will make my husband capable of giving me the love and support that I crave. I don’t blame him for how he is, it has to do with his own old wounds from childhood, and I empathize with him. But at some point I will have to decide whether I can accept a relationship in which I feel unsupported. I believe that before I can make that decision, though, I have to learn to support myself and surround myself with other people who love me. I admire my husband a lot, and I think we make a good team. I would ideally like to stay together. I just won’t know if that’s possible for a while.
Thank you for checking in on me, Anita. It is greatly appreciated
I hope you are doing well.
IlyanaApril 5, 2021 at 6:52 pm #377262
Yes, if we try to change from the position of the judgmental inner voice who says “look at yourself, you’re horrible, be ashamed of yourself, you need to change ASAP!”, it never lasts for a long time, because in order to truly change, we need love and acceptance, rather than judgment and condemnation. The strict disciplinarian voice that pushes us to exercise or quit smoking is a part of the inner critic, and the inner critic is the opposite of loving and compassionate! That’s why after a while, we rebel against this strict disciplinarian (which often sounds like our strict mother, btw), and we go back to soothing and numbing our pain with substances and addictive behaviors. Until the change comes from the place of love for ourselves, it can’t be long-lasting.
This describes my experience exactly. I make changes from a place of shame and self-judgment, and eventually I get sick of it and give up. It’s like I just run out of steam on self-control.
I have a very critical inner voice, have had for as long as I can remember. I beat myself up for beating myself up. My inner voice is always harsh, always judgmental, never compassionate. I am finding little glimmers of compassion lately, but it is very recent. I would really love to find a way to be nicer to myself. It just hurts so much to be always finding fault with myself.
I have a new, trauma-focused therapist, and although I have only had three sessions, I can feel that she is a good match, and I believe that she will be able to help me with developing self-love and self-acceptance. I badly need the help. I have had lots of therapy before, but this therapist seems to have a very different approach, which is more focused on healing than insight. Of course I need insight into my past and my thought patterns, what I really want is to feel better in myself, better enough to not turn to so many substances.
Thank you again. This is so helpful.
IlyanaApril 5, 2021 at 11:22 am #377246
Dear Teak and Anita,
Thank you so much for your input. Sorry, Teak, that I thought your post was from Anita.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that my cognitive problems are psychological in nature. I am still waiting for MRI results, and I need a second one on Wednesday. It is not impossible that something is wrong, possibly caused by my substance use or history of being on a lot of psychiatric medications. But as I learn more about the likely cognitive effects of my depression and loneliness, it is really resonating with me.
I see that I need to parent my inner child in order to achieve the relationship with my son that I want. I also need to find self-love and acceptance before I can know whether my relationship with my husband is salvageable. I cannot expect to feel loved in my relationship if I am not giving love to myself. I am feeling very overwhelmed by the magnitude of that task. I have such a hard time visualizing a me that accepts and respects herself and her needs. But I also feel like I am seeing a tiny glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Thank you again.
IlyanaApril 5, 2021 at 7:13 am #377226
I have a pretty good relationship with my father now. I don’t always trust him, because he’s let me down before. But I decided the other day to reach out to him and tell him what I was going through with my cognitive issues, and tell him about my MRI. He was very supportive. He listened to and acknowledged my fears, but also encouraged me to not let them spiral out of control. He even offered to pay for my therapy when he found out I was struggling to pay for it.
He has definitely done a lot to hurt me in the past. He was in and out of my life, and there was child support battle with my mother in which he refused to pay and was pretty awful to me. But I can see that he’s trying now, and I am also coming to understand what a big role my mom played in our not having a good relationship. I always thought in black and white – I had one good parent who raised me and then died a saint, and one bad parent who abandoned me. I understand now that that’s not at all accurate. He should have fought to stay in my life – I know that if I gave my husband an opportunity to walk away from my son, he would never take it. But he also was no match for my mother’s anger with him, and I don’t blame him for retreating from it.
In therapy, we are talking about the little girl I was and how alone she felt. I want to give her what she needs now, but being good to myself is so foreign to me. I don’t know how to do it. The coping mechanisms I developed are not working for me – the substance use, the sedentary lifestyle, the dissociation. I am checked out of my life.
But I have started to allow myself to see that they may be a second life for me in the future. If I can heal, I could learn to love and accept myself and I could spend so much less time suffering. I want that so badly. But I feel frozen. When I try to make changes, it never sticks. I will quit smoking or start exercising and do well for a few months, but I always fall back down. My default position is sitting still and ruminating and poisoning myself. I just don’t know any other way to be. It is so frustrating.
Do you have any suggestions about how I can attend to my inner child, and finally do things differently?
Thank you again for talking to me, Anita. I really appreciate it. I feel seen and validated.
IlyanaApril 4, 2021 at 12:55 pm #377202
My mother was a complicated woman. She died when she was 47 of breast cancer, about 25 years ago now. On the one hand, it was important to her to be a good mother. On the other, she was emotionally not very supportive, particularly when it came to my feelings about my dad. She also intercepted letters and gifts that he sent over the years, because she said she thought it would confuse me and that I was better off without him. Her anger towards him was incredibly profound. When she had cancer and was going through chemo, she would puke in a bucket with his picture super-imposed on a cancer cell in the bottom of it. I believe that the anger at him was sometimes acted out on me, both because I have some similar features to him, and because I loved and missed him so much.
When I was a teenager, she went back to school to do an MA, and at that point she all but stopped parenting me, except to discipline me when I did something wrong (and I did do wrong stuff worthy of discipline). She tried to get me into therapy a few times, the last time it helped.
I think that in general I can say that you are right, I did not have a loving, attentive mother. I find this all the harder to grapple with, because I know I am neither loving nor attentive with my son. I want to be, I just don’t know how. I am taking steps to repair our bond, but it feels so forced. My greatest fear is that he grows up to be just as anxious, depressed, and traumatized as I am.
Thank you so much for talking to me. I am finding this really helpful.
IlyanaApril 4, 2021 at 11:44 am #377193
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t hate myself.
My father walked out when I was three, and I didn’t have any contact with him again until I was 10 or 11. I believe that gave me the idea that I wasn’t worthy of love or respect. I hated the way I looked. Instead of dark curly hair I wanted straight blond hair. Instead of hazel eyes I wanted blue ones. I wanted to be tall instead of short. I wanted to think like normal kids and fit in socially. I felt dumb and did poorly in school. I did really well in university, but before that I was not a good student, and compared myself with others who seemed to effortlessly write good essays and do well on tests.
I was always so scared, especially of being murdered or kidnapped. Everyone laughed off my fears, and no one talked about my father. No room was made for my devastation about his disappearance. My mom would tell me we were better off without him, that she had given him an out and he’d taken it. But I would cry at night and ask why he left me and why he didn’t love me. I don’t remember ever being reassured that I was good enough, that I was worthy of love, even if he wasn’t there.
These wounds are so old and yet so deep. I am really hopeful that the work I am doing in and out of therapy will help me to heal. I want a second chance at a happy life. I can see it, but it’s on the other side of that mountain I don’t know how to climb. I think that by writing this, and interacting with you is a concrete step I am taking. But there are just so many of them that need taking…April 4, 2021 at 8:09 am #377178
It’s just so hard. My whole life I have hated myself. The only thing I ever appreciated about myself was my intellect, and now it feels like that’s gone. When I look at my life all I see is sadness and addiction and chaos and loneliness. I see nothing worthy of love and acceptance. I am trying to take a leap of faith that doing therapy, sharing on this message board, and reaching out to people in my life will help, but I’m so sceptical. I can’t imagine what it would be like to love and accept myself. It’s such a foreign concept.April 3, 2021 at 12:26 pm #377146
Thanks for responding.
I know that my substance use is unhealthy, and that I do it to numb my feelings. I have tried to quit but I struggle with it. I also know that my substance use is not helping my cognitive issues. It just feels so overwhelming to contemplate stopping. These have been my crutches for so long, I don’t know how to deal with my feelings without them. I feel like self-acceptance is where I have to start.
I really appreciate the responses. It feels good to be seen, even if only virtually.