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“Extreme childhood experiences can create extreme pathology.”
They really do. My mother experience’s with an abusive foster family was from early childhood, then she was taken back by her mother, who didn’t like her (and probably didn’t want her back but was pressured to). My mother’s greatest pain was the absence of love and support from her mother. She was thrown out on her 18th birthday and had to deal with it. Yet, she kept loving her mother, she kept in touch and kept sending her gift. Her mother was rejecting her love and her desire to keep in touch. At some point, my mother gave up, but she wasn’t over it.
A year ago, after 15 years of silence with her mother, she had news of her : she committed suicide and was successful. We learned a lot about her when cleaning up and emptying her apartment after her death. She was alone (avoiding people just like she avoided my mother, probably shameful or anxious), sick physically and mentally, turned to alcohol and to a lot of medication… We learned every single person we know about from my grandmother’s family turned to alcohol and had severe psychological issues, among those a lot of them were depressive and suicidal. My mother thinks there were big family secrets that were taken to the grave. My mother had quite a pathological heritage.
“One time when she hit me with her arm, she said: you are hurting my arms, look what you did to me!”
So typical, abusing you then making a role reversal…
Mine was more active on verbal abuse than physical, but her speech and attacks were interestingly reflections of what she feared to be attacked upon. She would verbally attack us, we would be upset, and without even having to throw anything back at her she would react just as if the insults she threw at us were insults we threw at her.
It looked like she wanted to be abused, sometimes. Honestly, she gave us all the information, she showed all her weaknesses, we could have destroyed her psychologically by aiming at her fears. But, why for? Children need and want a functional healthy mother, not an abused one that would have to deal with her suffering before being able to take care of them…
When we were young, we did throw back at her some of the unfair verbal abuse, with the hope it would make her understand she was being hurtful. Ignorant thinking, of course, it wasn’t a lesson she could learn from. We noticed so we stopped. We weren’t all in the same stage of maturity, or same emotional state, so there was always some to play along with her little game, unfortunately.
Trying to solve that, make everyone more sensible, and having less of everyone hurting each other, was upon me because I was the first to realize it was messed up. Even after we stopped playing along, she didn’t need us to hurt herself by hurting us. And she was very paranoid at us, she didn’t understand we just wanted her healthy, and non-abusive.
” At that time, where I was, parents owned their children. What a parent did to her/ his child was the parent’s business. No child protective services existed, and no police involvement.”
I think that time and way of thinking is responsible for a lot of pathologies, unfortunately.
“After she did NOT jump under a truck, I had to hear her talk and talk emotionally for hours until she was tired. Then at night and next few days she was eerily quiet.”
My mother did that too. Emotional talks for way too long, very incoherent, jumping to every misery she can think of. Repeating herself. Or, the extreme quietness, absence of response, silent treatment. Sometimes I had to check if she wasn’t dead.
“she gave you a job then, she .. sort of trusted you to do an important job, which fits with what I said before: that your sense of meaning and personal power is (still) in the household where you live with your mother and siblings, and not outside of it.”
Indeed, she did so. I refused it officially, yet I eventually integrated it despite not feeling ready. And well, I wasn’t very successful. Mostly, I failed. It was a mission I couldn’t succeed in.
You are right though, despite the failure there was some trust, even if it was misplaced it was there. She sometimes complimented me, even if it was on aspects she could make use of. She needed me to have power if she wanted to use me as a tool or a weapon. This power went right back at her when I decided I knew better than her and wouldn’t let her use me for unhealthy things anymore.
If my sense of meaning and my personal power is still in the household after all this time though… I don’t know how healthy it is supposed to be for me at this age and for my future.
“My mother was not… generous enough to entrust me with any job, to give me a meaning and a sense of personal power. She said that I can’t do anything, that I am a “Nothing”, and a “Big Zero”.”
How did you find your meaning and personal power? If you’re willing to share with me, of course. No obligation.
“and the part of you that is your mother’s little girl, who for a long time early on looked up to her mother, worshipping her.. what does that part feel for your mother (?)”
This was so long ago… I wonder. I think… I think the little girl is afraid. I find it scary how a person I needed to rely upon could behave like that. I feel betrayed by the parent I thought she could be reliable.
I am sad her good intentions were so messed up. Because my mother’s narrative was “You should be grateful, unlike my mother I didn’t abandon you, unlike my mother I loved you.” Indeed, my mother did the reverse, she possessed me like an object, refused me to grow as a person, wanted to keep me in her loving-yet-abusive prison so she wouldn’t be alone. She loved me as she would love a possession. I didn’t want this kind of love.
If she can’t love me the healthy way then I just need space from her. She’s sucking my oxygen and my ability to grow. Unless drastic changes happen, which I cannot hope for anymore, she’ll never love me the right way. So I don’t want her love and don’t feel comfortable loving her.
And I feel cruel for that, because she wants to love and be loved so bad. But she’s so sick in her way to do it, so destructive. While I do not agree with the abandonment my grandmother did to my mother, I understand how someone could reject love. I felt like abandoning my mother so many times, I gave up on helping her.
I do not want to reject the world and shutting myself down in isolation like my grandmother. But… better no love than messed up love. I am not one for abusive love, I am not one for codependency.
“fear and joy are both forms of neural/ chemical excitation. For the longest time I was very uncomfortable with both, and calm was my only objective.”
I might have been in this phase for the last few years. Might still be. I think I have mixed feelings between my need for love and my need for peace and calm. I used to reject love very strongly. Now I am mostly avoiding it very quietly.
Sometimes, I am secretly needing for love and comfort, but I keep it to myself, quiet it down. I don’t want to repeat my mother’s mistake. Until I learn how to love and be loved the right way I’m afraid to burden another human with my needs. I can’t afford to be needy. But at least I can give love and support to those I care about (and who I trust enough) without expecting anything in return. By doing that, I can at least feel some love without too many risks.
“Recently I am able to endure and enjoy… some joy here and there, like right now. It is a quiet, pleasant joy.”
I am glad you are able to feel more comfortable with those emotions. It is a sign of healthiness.
By right now, did you mean, while writing this message to me? Was it our discussion that made you feel pleasant joy, or am I interpreting it wrong? Either way, I am pleased you were able to feel a positive emotion while responding to me, as it probably means you aren’t uncomfortable with our talks.
I didn’t know about this similarity either before you mentioned the suicide threats. I thought back about whether or not I did mention my mother’s suicide threats in this thread, I guess I didn’t, or not explicitly. At a time, it would have been one of the first thing I told about her when I was able to open up. But I’ve grown tired of it.
Once, when I was sent to a worried school nurse in middle school, I had to reassure her, tell her the half truth that, yes, my mother was having hard times, but we were treated alright and everything would be fine eventually. Because I couldn’t risk me and my siblings to be sent away in an unknown place with strangers due to an unhealthy household. Our mother warned us about her own experience of being abused and exploited when she was sent away herself because her mother was too mentally sick to take care of her and her siblings. So we were cautious of that.
I guess I only started mentioning the suicide threats of her when passed majority and there wasn’t such a risk anymore. It was the first thing I told about her, because it was safer to tell about that than other things. Her suicide threats were more outstanding for me anyway. She wasn’t discreet about her depression and she liked to act publicly as a victim so she wouldn’t have minded as much.
The other things, like the verbal abuse, I didn’t dare for long. If I mentioned publicly something that might accuse her, she could have get back at me and tell publicly I was a bad person causing her intense distress. Telling people I was the reason why she was so mentally sick, and use my words as a proof of it.
I felt guilty for not feeling or acting compassionate towards her anymore, I felt guilty for the mean words I told her when she was hurting me, and I still felt a bit responsible for not being able to save her from herself too, so it was harder to mention anything that could hint into that. I was hiding a crime, almost, because I wasn’t able to tell if really I should have been sacrificing myself for her. I believed people outside would think I should have, because my mother was so confident about my responsibility in all of this. So I kept the most dirty parts of our relationship secret.
All my life, it was a choice between saving her or saving myself. I couldn’t do both. When I was young, I tried saving her and I noticed I was powerless, even when I prioritized her, because she was resisting and was out of reach. So I chose to save myself and bear with the guilt and accusations.
I was younger than you when my brain followed the thoughts of “so do it, do it already, just do it…“. Maybe middle school, maybe highschool. I tend to mix up my reaction to my father’s and my mother’s self destruction. Anyway, there are no doubts that I thought those things because I remember telling it out loud to my family. If it isn’t to my mother, it would be sharing my thoughts about the situation to my siblings. I was quite open about the fact the hurt needed to cease, one way or another. Even if it made me a bad girl for thinking life would be better without the self-destructive behavior of our parents, I had to speak up, because it felt true.
My mother told me she would die and I would have to replace her, to be my siblings’ caretaker in her stead. She told me she might die before I would reach majority (but I made her promise to wait until then, something along the way of “you can do whatever you want after I am 18, but if you do it before there’s no way I’ll be able to be legally chosen as a caretaker”). I don’t know how old I was when she started with that, but it was too young. It broke me. I couldn’t worry about her when I had to worry about me and my siblings. I couldn’t be both a parent and a child, she had to chose, I had to chose. Well, in the end, I was a child trying to parent her mother with hope I wouldn’t have to be the parent of my siblings, not alone. I couldn’t be an adult if nobody was teaching me how. And my mother couldn’t teach me, she was behaving like an adult child.
“much of the fear is gone, much of that fear. And the depression too. The more I see the truth, the healthier I get. But.. nothing can undo those early years, nothing can undo the betrayal.” “there is an amount of fear that I can endure and still be Alive= not shut down.”
It is a relief. I am glad it is something that can happen. I am glad it happened for you. The past and betrayal can’t be changed. But if the consequences of this can be diminished enough to be alive, it is hopeful enough.
“I am not clear about what you mean, but if you mean whether it’s too late to love-and-be-loved by our mothers, my answer is a definite-and-forevermore: No.”
I am not sure about what I meant either. About what I would want. Love with my mother is more often poisonous than not. I think the part of me that is able to love her is the part who sees the human, not the mother. And I also don’t feel good about her love, and I won’t be able to feel good about it for as long she sees the daughter, the object, the reflection of herself instead of the person I am. I am able to see her as a person now, but I am unsure she will ever see and love me as a person.
Either way, I can live without that. I have my siblings. She’s not the only family member I can bond with.
I do hope someday I’ll be able to find love on the outside. Intimate enough non-romantic non-sexual love. Something that would not be objectifying, something that would be respectful, with safe boundaries, with healthy enough minds to allow that. It feels like a silly fantasy, it feels childish. It hurts. It is dangerous for me to want that, because it hurts every time I notice someone want something from me, something I can’t give or feel unsafe to give. Loving fully is giving someone the opportunity to twist it against me, to use me, or to leave me.
When someone is reaching my heart, the first thing I do to protect myself and to protect them and the relationship, is to imagine the absence of it, and accepting it. It allows me to make sure I’ll survive it, and to make sure I wouldn’t disrespectfully cross a boundary if someone wanted to leave me and for me to take step back. For me it is the healthiest thing I can do.
I do it openly. I tell to the friend who’s getting too close I would be ok with either outcome. I think, most of the time, while I find it reassuring, the friend may find it cold and worrying. If they have some kind of internal wounds they can take it like a personal rejection. It isn’t like that to me, for me you can both love someone and build your resilience against the pain that could happen related to the relationship. So I try to explain where I’m coming from to make it clear there’s nothing personal. I don’t think it is enough reassurance for people with too much rejection fear though.
In the end, I wonder if I’ll be able to fully trust someone again. Especially when it comes to be loved. It is easier for me to love than be loved. Or maybe this statement is inaccurate, as it is not easy to actually express the love, since it could hurt someone, or give them the opportunity to hurt me. The feeling is there, the expression of it is passing a lot of control check in order to keep everyone safe.
I feel safe loving without being loved back. I feel uncomfortable/weird being loved and not loving back. I feel both dreadful and unspeakably joyful at the idea of loving and being loved back. I think it’s a good way to summarize.
I see… It makes sense. Caring for someone become a weakness if the person happens to be destructive. And it is even moreso for children, who are so dependent on their parents. Especially their mother.
I can feel the fear, or the ghosts of it. I remember the many times I cried when my mother threatened her own life before my eyes and I had to convince her not to. Or the anxiety of thos times she would disappear after one of those scenes, and I wondered if she’ll come back or she was suiciding herself somewhere. I also remember when I ceased to care after too many times she played the same suicide threats game, when I started to held her responsible for her own behavior and well-being, while fearing that by trying to make her realize she had to change, I might actually trigger the actual suicide. It didn’t, thankfully. In the end it was the same threats repeated on a loop without much change.
When I got older she stepped up the game. But in the end it wasn’t the real thing. She managed to get some reactions, but not that much. Some times, she would pull a scene and leave a note accusing us for her death. It was something. We had to get rid of it just in case it would get us in trouble. We knew intellectually we did nothing deserving this guilt tripping and accusations. We only were protecting ourselves and refusing to take the responsibility for her mental health. But we still felt the weight of what she was trying to make us bear.
I guess even after I decided to not care anymore, even when I released myself from this caretaking role she forced on me, the fear was still there. It is hard to process and be alright when someone goes very far to make everything feel unsafe.
She is a scary person. She’s made sure to make everything feeling scary. Herself. The world. Myself. She made me feel bad and like a harmful person so many times during the process of extracting myself from her mental control.
Fear is easy to nurture in kids. Fear is a powerful. Fear assured her we wouldn’t leave her I think.
“I hope that you are okay if I repeat what I asked you earlier: to not express empathy for me”
It is okay to repeat yourself. I will try my best to keep it in mind. I want this conversation to be comfortable for both of us so I want to stand by your rules.
Do you think fighting the caring, fighting the the fear, is an hopeless fight? Once the “Caring = danger” formula has been feed by the parents to children, it seems like a tough belief to rewrite.
Probably no love exist without some kind of fear, there’s always a risk. But there’s a difference with a healthy/regular amount of fear coming with interpersonal relationships, and the terror of being possibly sucked into a living hell every time someone wants to get too close.
And when the person is actually one it is dark and unhealthy to care for, like ou mothers… We can only cope with it I guess? If caring wasn’t entirely killed by the repeated terror then probably nothing can get rid off this.
Thank you for your cautiousness. Your answer does not distress me. I have seen darker parts of myself than the one that might still care about my mother.
My relationship with my parents has always been a complex one. Once there was love, for sure, and if there are remains of it then so be it. My parents loved me and were insane/unhealthy enough to abuse me in spite of that. Even the few times it got physical, I never feared for my life. Only my mental health would be at risk.
I have been very frustrated by my parents, and it wasn’t even much about the abuse. They could have got away with that if they had healed themselves and stopped the abuse. Instead, my father went for self-destruction, and more aggressiveness. It was a disappointment, in the end, I could only accept what couldn’t change. I knew he would meet his death early enough, I was hoping it would be sooner than later when he made us suffer. His death was meet years later after I understood it’ll be coming for him, underwhelmingly. I wasn’t sad. It made sense, it was meant to be, it wasn’t a bad thing. My mother hit me for not being sad. It was one of the few times she actually hit. I wasn’t sorry.
Did I love my father? I did. He could be an awful person, but he had some interesting things about him. And he loved me. But I also know we would have had many exhausting arguments and fights between us if he lived, so I am not unhappy he is gone either. He actually took better care of us by dying than by staying alive. It sounds like an awful thing to say. But sometimes reality is awful.
I noticed the extent of my mother’s insanity and abuse way after I noticed my father’s. I had felt it before, but I didn’t understand it. The realization, when she became worse, felt like a betrayal. Interestingly enough, I felt less close and personal with my mother than with my father despite spending more time with her. The connection and betrayal were more about the fact she had protected us from our father to just… end up being like him, but more expressive, dramatic, and controlling? And lasting. She relied on us to survive. Her mental health wouldn’t allow her to be alone or without her children. So of course, she would not kill us. She would just break us then try to repair us as the savior she’s trying to play. Or break herself and accuse us of the crime if we weren’t playing along well. Once you understand how she works and protects yourself against her acting, well, she’s safe enough to be around. ONLY if she is under the illusion you are not escaping from her and she still holds you within her grasp.
Do I feel love for my mother? I can’t tell much, with the mixed feelings. I will be able to tell more after she’s gone. It is easier to acknowledge the love for an abusive parent when they are not a problem anymore.
I feel pity for her. I don’t think she’s very proud of what she is, and that shame makes her worse. But I can’t be in too much empathy when I am protecting myself. I really don’t want to repeat the story for myself. I will not fall into external abuse, I know better. But, bearing with household’s abuse? Sure it can be done, as long I gain something from it.
‘’On the other hand, in the outside world, people other than your mother (those strangers she claimed to have hurt you, protecting you against them before)- they may kill you’’
Here you have my brain who wants to make a lot of rational claims about the probability I could or not meet someone that could kill me. I will refrain from that, I guess, for now. Emotions and fears aren’t rational.
So, yeah… People from the outside world are less predictable than my parents, so I couldn’t protect myself as easily if they wanted to hurt me. In a deadly way or not. I am unsure of how to cope with this, if it is what is happening.
Maybe I can share an event that happened in my early childhood and that would fit the theme. I do not usually talk about it because I am over it and it already spread too much without my consent thanks to my parents, but it could hold helpful information.
I want to clarify: I do not particularly identify or feel emotional toward the event, but the aftermath can hint at how I shaped my mind around concrete, outsider aggression. After all, the first experiences are something that shapes the brain.
I guess I should make a trigger warning. If you’re very uncomfortable or distressed with mentions of child molesting you might want to skip the next paragraphs. Nothing graphic of course, but I don’t want to trigger anyone.
The story is short: I was between 6-7, playing with my sister outdoor alone in the neighborhood, and I was interrupted and molested by an unknown man who later was revealed to be living nearby. I got away with only a bit of molesting, he stopped because he was scared to get caught.
Personally, I felt lucky that this kind of assault didn’t end with me disappearing forever or being found dead in some strange place. My parents weren’t as happy. Understandable enough.
The guy was caught. I didn’t have much aftercare after the whole event, but I was mostly fine. I reassured myself by thinking : it happened once and I was lucky, it is like a lesson. And honestly, what are the odds it would happen again to me specifically? Probably it is a lifetime event. But let’s say it does happen again, if I’m unlucky. Now I know it’s a thing, maybe next time I’ll be able to react and fight back? Figure out a smart way out of this. And what if I am unable to make it safe? Well, I could die. If I die fast enough it’ll be over. End of existence would mean it isn’t my problem anymore. It wouldn’t like to die, especially in such unfortunate circumstances, but there are worse thing than death. Like, living in fear. I don’t want that. So I will stop worrying about the next time.
That was it for me. My parents needed more reassuring than me, so I showed them I was fine. I was even accused by my father of bragging because I expressed I was fine instead of showing trauma. That’s rude and insensitive of him, I think. I was confused and upset that my parents weren’t happy with me being fine. It was almost like they would have preferred for me to be traumatized. I chose to not follow their expectations because I didn’t want to suffer from any consequence. I really believed I was as fine as I could be and it was a good thing.
Too soon after the event, my father had contacted the press and made scandal over the affair, making the event public news in my village. I heard of it from a schoolmate I never talked to. The news was out. Now people that I didn’t know had thoughts and opinions of what happened to me. I had to live with that, and it was less comfortable than having to live with the memory of the event. It was in my power to cope with something happening to me. It wasn’t in my power to cope with everybody knowing it and having thoughts about it. It was upsetting. I thought they would forget, but it lasted. My mother reported to me about a stranger speaking of me about that event even ten years after it happens. I didn’t doubt her, as I myself heard people gossiping about it or had even been asked directly about it. I preferred the latter because at least I was given a chance to speak my mind, even if I wasn’t prepared to and was weirded out.
Silly enough, I was more able to find reassuring coping thoughts about the molestation event than I was about strangers talking about me behind my back.
Of course, I do not exclude the possibility that despite all my will to be strong alone and all my self-affirmations, I might have kept some unconscious fear in me from the initial event. I do not like the idea of that, because it would take back the power I gave myself and I’m unsure how to cope with the fact I cannot just decide to be strong, but I can intellectually acknowledge the possibility.
Whether the cause of my unsafety is the brainwashing of my mother about ‘’all the bad people’’ (that had started before the event, it’s her general mindset, my mother didn’t bring up the event as much as she could have surprisingly enough) or is the consequence of this event, or the bullying, or any other rational and irrational causes… I am unsure what strategy to adopt to deal with the outside world.
It is a complex issue. You do not have to bring solutions. I am good with just sharing thoughts and experiences. I’m alright with analyzes. My mind is strong and I don’t get distressed easily as you might have noticed. If anything, distress would probably not be so bad if it ever happened. As long it isn’t provoked by someone trying to harm me, I can deal with it. I wouldn’t avoid someone who isn’t bad for me. I do not shy away from difficult thoughts easily.
I am glad to hear from you again. I find it interesting how similar our mothers are. It is very rare to find someone with such a familiar experience.
“By excellence I mean your excellent adjustment to abuse/ coping with abuse, and living with a sense of meaning and power. It seems to me that the abuse itself provides you meaning and gives you a sense of power: you are the strongest in the context of your abusive household. It is outside the household where you are not coping well, where you feel no meaning and no power. “
I am indeed very well adjusted to this lifestyle now. I wasn’t always as calm and adjusted, but gathering helpful knowledge and finding a reason to bear with those circumstances, I ended up adjusting well. Mostly, my resilience relies on my choice of aiming at an art career. My current living condition is the optimal situation I can get to meet the requirement of low living cost, a lot of time to dedicate to my passion, and enough difficulty to keep myself stimulated/inspired.
When you know what you are facing and why you doing it, it is easier to deal with it than when you have no idea what you are facing and what for (which would be my situation if I were living anywhere else). I stay in this household as a strategic choice. Hopefully, it won’t be the end of it. Hopefully, I will be able to reach a point where I can take my leave too, and learn to feel strong enough in the outside world. I got myself mentally ready in the case it never happens though, and that makes me able to deal with my present situation.
‘’Evidence of your excellence as well are your very well-structured, grammatically correct, thoughtful, attentive, logical, smoothly-written posts from the very first to the last, evident of calm, organized thinking done while living with an abusive mother, never knowing when she will attack you or your siblings next.’’
I am at my best with forum threads because they allow me to not take time to write and rewrite, correct myself and try to make sense. I like doing that, it makes a bit of clarity out of my own chaos. It is soothing.
That being said, the fact I am (or appear?) very well structured for someone who’s been going through abuse and trauma is one of the reasons why I avoid therapy. I am uncomfortable with the possibility to have my difficulties invalidated just because I found a way to adapt to my circumstances a little too well. I am grateful for my adaptability to my current environment, but I am afraid it causes the unadaptability to the outside world.
My ability to sound collected makes my issues even more invisible to people. But they are still there. I feel like a fraud in both my functionality and non-functionality. When my issues come in the way, it feels silly and unreal. How can I be both so calm and so anxious? How am I able to take abuse so well and yet unable to face casual interactions with outsiders? How can I be so functional in a messy environment, and feeling like a mess in situations that seem manageable for other people?
My “excellence” in my messed-up environment feels both right and wrong. It is a two-edged sword. For my household it is working just well, in other circumstances it works against me.
“it is in their desire to possess us completely, in each and every way. Their parenting mission is to own, or possess our thoughts, our feelings, our perceptions, our understandings, our words, our actions, our friends, our associations with others, out minds, hearts and bodies… our everything. “
I do agree with your thoughts about our mothers. It is very objectifying. Her children are considered as an extension of her. She owns our victory and failures, she owns our suffering, everything we would try to build for ourselves was at risk to be possessed or broken by her. She used us to make her life worthwhile.
The things I ended up finding meaning into were safe. It wasn’t like she could reach or understand my feelings about creativity, psychology, or philosophical explorations. It was too deep for her who mostly cared about appearances and surface, so it was protected.
I think the things that weren’t protected (relationships, mingling with the outside world) were the things I explored less. I had a vulnerability and less disposition to explore those already, so I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it when, instead of support, I had extra risks with her around. Anyway, I wasn’t able to find enough meaning in the outside world to take the risks alone. Even now, as I might see more potential of meaning in the outside world than I used to see, I am still tied to my safer path. The appeal doesn’t match the difficulty and risks.
I do not know how to feel about all of that now. Part of me used to wish I was different, that I was more motivated to explore the outside world. And another part was worried the first part’s wish was due to social pressure. The need to find belonging somewhere is a bit desperate and chaotic, I am not comfortable with… this.
Yet I do not want to ignore the issue entirely, or I might end up very incapacitated in the future.
I really don’t know how much I am willing to invest and risk in the outside world. In my relationships with people. Am I willing to let other humans get close to me? Is it worth it? Even if my mother was gone, I am too guarded and cautious, too much focus on damage control. It is very complicated and exhausting.
What are your thoughts and your experience on this, Anita?
I read your articles on the concept of surrendering. It is clearer now, they are well written and helpful. I can see how letting go and accepting what will become isn’t equal to giving up, and is a more relaxed approach than clinging tight and focusing ourselves on the uncertainty. It will be helpful, as I think I have many fears and uncertainties to face. I think I somehow practiced something similar once, but it was with mixed feelings. I am glad to see a positive outlook on this.
You did give me a lot to explore, thank you for sharing your resources and your experience. I’m am trying to balance this exploration and self-care with the new work routine I’m trying to gain back now I am out of my last depressive phase. I will go at my pace, but I’ll keep going.
I hope you are doing well,
I agree, it is really important to figure out what is hiding behind emotions like anger. Anger is a strong overwhelming emotion, it blurry the source of the issue, and the access to the inner wound needing to be soothed. No wonder you found the idea of going to the root helpful. Understanding how emotions work is very important to find a way to appease ourselves.
Honestly, all the movie is really well done and helpful. It goes through a lot of good points. The thing that has touched my heart was to see so much compassion. One of my fear that makes me avoidant of people is the lack of compassion and understanding of differences that I may receive. I had bad experiences with people in positions of authority when I was young. Teachers, doctors… And not because I was problematic, but their reactions towards my difficulties were harsher and judgemental than compassionate. It hurt my trust in people. So, witnessing caring, compassionate, and helpful people is very heartwarming for me. It shows other experiences, and I really appreciate it.
Ocean sounds are really nice for journaling indeed, I also like coffee shops/tea rooms sounds, rain sounds, fireplaces, and all these atmospheric videos. Meditations can be a hit or a miss for me, it’s very aleatory, depending on the meditation and my mood. There’s a lot of timing and compatibility factors I guess. But it is helpful sometimes so I keep trying them out and exploring. I searched the reiki asmr video. It was hard to stay serious at first, but the gestures are interesting, I can see how it can give a feeling of relief. Or some kind of an experience. It felt like tickles for me. It was a bit awkward, but interesting anyway.
I’ve got a question. What is the meaning/idea behind the “I surrender” mantra?
I equally think self-compassion is a way to become stronger and build a better armor/resilience. I’m slowly getting there. I am a bit shy in these practices still. I am going slowly. A part of me feels like a wild animal who is still wary and cautious. There’s a bit of an unknown/doubtful feeling about receiving love and compassion. Like suddenly it could be taken back, or used against me as if it could be a way to let my guard down before attacking me. Which makes sense, as my parents switched between awkward affection and abuse. Sometimes without a warning. And I’m coming back from a long time of being too harsh with myself to cope/prepare for the harshness of others, so it makes sense the progress will come in small steps. I need to experience healthy affection for a longer time before I am able to really believe it and trust it.
I think getting used to oxytocin again will be part of this process. I never thought of self-massaging before, it seems like a good idea to get used to touching without requiring the intervention of someone else. Thank you for the idea. I am feeling shy and vulnerable when touching myself in a comforting way. I know that intimacy with other people, even animals sometimes, can be a bit overwhelming for me. I can do it and appreciate it, but there’s a lot of mixed feelings, insecurities, and worries that can bleed into it. I’ll have to pay attention to that more. At least deep conversation is a form of intimacy I am able to have, and used to have, it’s my comfort zone.
When it comes to my needs from other people… I guess I would start with stability and safety (the basics that should be achieved through mutual respect and communication), and connection, a sense of belonging or acceptance I guess. I have that with some internet friends, or some friends from college I’m keeping in touch with, but I’d like to have it back into my life physically and in real-time. I can have that with my siblings, when we’re not too preoccupied. I hope someday I will be having that in a better environment. For now, I am not very open to meeting new people where I live. I do not like this place, and I do not want more connections in a place I do not want to be part of. At some point, I’d like to start over. It isn’t going to happen before a few years at least, but I want to see how I would be when I won’t be facing as much external negativity.
I think the thanks in advance is a good trick, I’ll be sure to keep it in mind while facing problems. It seems like a smart strategy. Mindfulness too, I am trying to get it into my habits.
I am unsure how you could help further, you are already doing a lot for me, and I am grateful for what you have done already.
I just watched it. It is very powerful indeed. It makes me feel better. It is very hopeful and shame-alleviating. Thank you for sharing it with me. I can think of some people to share it too, as they equally struggle with trauma. I’ll look into the Dr. Gabor Maté’s work a bit more, it made me curious.
I will equally look more into Kristin Neff’s resources. They sound practical and practical is useful.
Thank you for your compassion. I do know I didn’t deserve her abuse, she’s just lashing out her suffering on us and it’s mostly out of our control. There are things I could do to give her fewer things to criticize/abuse me about but, from my experience, it is not the healthy way to get there. These are things I could use improvement upon, but I want to do it for myself and at the pace my recovery allows me. I can’t push myself under the pressure of abuse and feel like it’s real progress when it’s done under rush and emotional neglect.
It is tiring how she tries to “fix” me. She’s ashamed of having produced an unfunctional kid (she liked it better when she could use me as a trophy and a personal success). I know I shouldn’t fix myself for her or anyone to deserve respect, compassion, and love, but it isn’t a great moment when someone is still trying to make me feel bad about myself and coming so strongly at me. She’s not sabotaging my healing entirely but it is a mood ruiner when it’s too recurrent. And the time I am resisting the abuse and protecting myself mentally against her is the time I’m not using to actually becoming more functional (for my own sake of course).
I am used to her aggressions and I am enough in control of my emotions to not fuel fire automatically (though she doesn’t need me to fuel it, she is paranoid and will hear what she wants to hear, imagine what she wants to imagine). Yet, even if I try to bring back some calm as much as I can, when she comes at me when I’m especially exhausted or when she’s been at it for too long, I tend to not have the energy to put up with her immaturity and aggressiveness in a way that would appeal to her.
I do talk and share the pain with some people, mostly internet friends who also had mothers who are difficult to handle. I don’t feel much like seeking therapy. I do not necessarily feel in a hurry. People are in a hurry in my stead and try to push me a lot lately. I don’t feel in a rush, personally.
I’m handling it fine myself, I don’t wait for the help of a therapist to help myself. The idea of retelling everything again is tiring, and the process of going through that repeatedly until I find a therapist who clicks is unappealing. If I were to chose what to spend my time on when I am going through rough times, I would rather do something that makes me feel alive and happy, which helps, instead of going through that therapy-seeking process that takes me more energy than it makes me gain.
It’s faster and more efficient to find the resources by myself and be proactive. I do not feel lost without a therapist at the moment. I think I have a good understanding of my situation, and of my possibilities, and the things I can do. It’s a slow process, but I am doubtful it’ll be enhanced that much by a therapist. I feel like by the time I find a therapist who can give me something I can’t already give myself by researching and being proactive, I’ll be healed enough to need a therapist even less. But if someday I feel limited with my resources I’m open to it. It just feels superfluous until then.
Otherwise, I am having normal reactions (being tired and having less energy) to abnormal situations (being abused). I’m not retraumatized, I am more jaded. Because I know how it works, I know how to be well defended. I may not able to feel joy when a period like this is lasting, but that makes sense. Anyone wouldn’t. But when it’s over I can resume my healing without being too affected, because nothing is new under the sun and I’m far enough in my healing to not regress that much every time sh*t happens.
I am sorry for everything you went through, and I’m glad these traumas are in the past so you can work through your recovery in better circumstances. Not being alone definitely helps, talking with you helps, the movie you shared did help me to feel less alone too.
I understand, everyone is different, and even there we may be at different stages of our healing journey. Or sometimes it’s just not the right time. Do not worry, your positivity didn’t make anything worse, I knew better than not to push when I notice external factors wouldn’t make it successful. And I don’t feel bad for that, I know it’s not a problem. I just already have tendencies to avoid negative emotions so it end up like that sometimes.
I checked out Kristin Neff, read her website, listened a few interviews she done on the subject, and tried a meditation on her website yesterday. Her content is interesting and might be helpful. Thank you.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to hope for too many improvements in the few next days. My mother have been acting up, verbally abusing me actively again. She went as far as actually hitting me yesterday. Nothing too worrying, I was able to protect myself well enough and she stopped after my siblings tried to film her violence for evidences.
She is threatening to report us to social workers for ‘destroying her mental health’, which is quite ironical since she’s been the one starting fights. She said she got her back covered about the abuse when we pointed out the irony (probably lied/manipulated someone by twisting the reality again). I don’t think she’ll really do anything though, as it isn’t a fight she can attempt without going down too. She’s just afraid of us reporting her for her behaviour so she’s trying to have the advantage by turning the tables, but I won’t be afraid. I’m tired though.
My siblings aren’t coping very well, I’m worried about them. I’m doing well enough all things considered but I’m looking forward to the moment she’ll move on from her crisis and stop jumping me everytime our path cross.
I hope I’ll have better news next time we talk,
I think so too. Mental health issues are a powerful enemy when not having the right tools or the right support, and usually it’s by looking to those who overcome it you can find some tools and hope, enough to try and see for yourself.
I think it is true sometimes, autosuggestion/permission can do the trick. I tried and it didn’t work. Or it almost worked, it almost got me in a positive vibe but reality came back. And I couldn’t exactly overlook it. I could cope with it, which I did, but giving myself the permission of being happy didn’t apply there. I will keep the advice for my better days though. I am glad this realization was life-changing for you.
I have more difficulty letting myself live my unhappiness than my happiness anyway. When I feel bad, I have difficulty releasing my feeling in a way that makes me feel better. I don’t let myself cry or grief properly. I bury it and sometimes it’s ok, sometimes it isn’t. Yesterday was one of those days, and it led to insomnia. But thankfully I was able to cry since I was too tired to control myself. I don’t know if it made me feel better, but it couldn’t hurt.
I think I have still a lot to figure out and heal before I can have more regular joy and happiness. Not that joy is entirely inaccessible, but it’s quite harder when dealing with issues or not knowing what you need to feel better. But that’s alright, I’ll get through this eventually. It’s just a long journey, and I’m still figuring out my needs.
I’m not feeling my needs concretely. Emotions (when I’m not burying them) do not always translate well into thoughts for me, and the only way I’m going somewhere through journaling is because I have intellectual knowledge and an analytical understanding of what is happening to me. Of want a normal human would need, and how it corresponds to my feelings. But it’s not very connected, even if it makes sense. And it is still very vague anyway, not practical.
My unsolved needs are probably what deprives me of joy so often. Because I can’t provide to myself what I don’t know I’m missing. But about vital things for my mental health. It doesn’t always hurt, but it is numbing.
Thank you for believing I have what it takes to keep going.
The beginning of Man’s Search for Meaning definitely holds so much suffering. Survivors have so much to teach us.
I am not sure the meaning I find in writing stories has a single big aim. It has a lot of small different purposes. Overall, I just like the process of creating stories.
There’s just so much beauty in exploring human lives and their journey through fiction. Each character and their stories have their own essence. Through them, we’re sharing bits of our findings, of our exploration of life and our understanding of it. Just like you want to show people how important it is to be selfish through your novel.
I find stories to be a powerful means of communication. There are feelings and experiences I wouldn’t be able to communicate as clearly otherwise, not the way I can through storytelling.
I like writing about very flawed characters, I find them beautiful in their uniqueness. I like figuring out how they try to cope with their difficulties, and where they find their strength. I especially enjoy writing on the dynamics of human relationships, and how characters find their place in the world and build their identity.
My current project is about two characters and how they encounter each other in their healing journey (in a challenging and loving way, but with some hurtful phases too). It happens in the fairy tale world, between an old witch with poorly healed trauma who thinks she shouldn’t be loved, and a child who’s neglected and acting recklessly, desperately trying to prove she’s lovable despite the disapproval she receives from people around. And it’s basically the journey of these two stubborn girls who need to heal from both the rejection and the equally traumatizing bad choices they make due to these rejections.
“In your instances of life struggles, your self has been put last by abusers and even by yourself. You must forge an identity out of the struggles you are facing. Get to know yourself, your thoughts, your needs as you are doing now in this forum.”
This is very true. It is definitely a good thing to acknowledge and change. I am looking forward to getting to know myself more, it should be very helpful to become stronger, and to nurture more self-love and self-esteem.
I agree with what you said about the negativity bias and challenging it. It’s just too easy at times to see the glass half empty, and it really doesn’t help with the mood. I definitely will try to put more praise positive reinforcement as I do efforts. And see all the encouraging signs.
I agree with self-compassion too. Love and compassion shouldn’t be conditional. We can do our best without menacing ourselves with self-abuse/self-neglect, and we don’t have to lure ourselves into the idea we will be worthy only once we achieved something. That’s not how it works. We need our self-love and self-compassion at every stage of our lives, and every step of our journey. We aren’t as strong or as resilient when we’re deprived of those, nor when we nurture the worries and negativity. We are worthy of love, we have always been, since the beginning, entirely, including our imperfections.
It is relaxing to think we are lovable as we are, and the rest of the journey and the solving isn’t something that changes our self-worth. It is a nice message to tell ourselves.
I definitely agree with your idea of selfishness. It is important. For long, I thought selfishness was bad, that I had to dedicate myself to my family, be the person they needed me to be, and it brought me pain and inability to build my “self” properly.
When I let myself be a bit more selfish after I hit the rock bottom and couldn’t care less if it would make me a bad person, I surprisingly didn’t become worse. I started to heal. And I learned later selfishness wasn’t bad at all. Being selfless hurt me and made me powerless, even unable to accomplish what I thought I had to do at the time. Being selfish made me regain control, it gave me more strength and positivity. I still had a lot to face but at least I was stronger because I could have my own back a bit more.
Despite the uncertainty of the future, I will not give up on myself anymore. And, as you said, I still have to get to know myself better, and build my “self”, because there’s no way I can know my needs and love myself in the right way without that.
Hi Sarah 🙂
I understand, it is very difficult to recover from not being in control. Mental illness is traumatizing in itself, for both the causes and the consequences. I send you a virtual hug. What happened to you when you weren’t in control doesn’t impact your worth as a person. You are a beautiful person, kind, intelligent and compassionate. What happens when we aren’t in control isn’t our true self (cringing over the past definitely shows it wasn’t you, it’s not what you were meant to be).
Our traumas and our disabilities aren’t our faults. We couldn’t prevent it. It is our responsibility to recover though. We might have been powerless when things happened to us, but now we can regain this power, and not let these events and conditions define our future. These obstacles are ours to overcome, but they aren’t making us less worthy.
When we look back at our difficulties and some of our past, and when we forgive ourselves for our imperfections, it allows us to become more understanding and compassionate towards others in similar situations. It is always good for people to see that, despite the hurting and the difficulties, one doesn’t have to go down and pursue the hurtful path their present/past came from. One can recover and try to be kind instead of repeating the hurting toward themselves and others. And by going for this recovery ourselves we might show a hopeful path exists and can be found. It is never easy, but it is worth it. And you can be proud of yourself for pursuing this. It makes me feel better to know people like you are out there.
I wish you good luck with your exposure therapy. I’m proud of you for all the effort you’ve been putting into your recovery. I’m sure it will work out well for you eventually. I am sorry your living situation isn’t ideal. Yet you seem to do your best to keep fighting for yourself and your future, so I believe all your good choices and efforts will lead you to a better place.
I started challenging my negative and fear-inducing thoughts through journaling. I find it helpful to reassure myself and try to convince myself that I can make it through despite my circumstances. Allowing hope while staying realistic is helping me to believe it.
I can believe there is a possibility of a better future for me. It is possible I learn to become more resilient and recover. I can’t picture it in detail as it is very far from my current reality, but I can see the seeds of it. And I can try watering it and be active in the process of healing.
After all, I was never able to imagine before where I would be now, and I used to be very pessimistic. And I was able to survive, find answers, find possible ways to become stronger, gain back a little bit of control and self-esteem compared to where I was years before. The wounds and consequences are still there and influencing my life, but they are other influences, more positive, that support me and help me progress a bit. So it is likely in a few years I will be further in my recovery. I don’t know how much. But I still have time. As long I keep trying to get better it’ll be alright.
“It’s perfectly fine to live how you want to live. But if it’s FEAR holding you back rather than simple disinterest then that is something to be worked with.”
I do think so too. Even if it can be hard to distinguish if the disinterest is caused by anxiety or depression from real disinterest. I mean, what is “me not enjoying something” and “me not being in the right mood to properly enjoy anything too challenging”? I can only tell from my limited knowledge and experience, and it is of course biased. I know things like that can and will probably change during the process of healing. I am bound to try things out of my comfort zone anyway, for exposure.
I don’t want to overwhelm myself by trying too much too early though. It could be counterproductive if forcing too much creates a negative experience and reinforces my discouraging beliefs only because I didn’t do it the right way. But I am trying to not be entirely resistant to the idea of change.
It’s quite confusing though, to not know what part of me is ‘me’ and what part of me is the consequence of wrong beliefs and unadapted coping mechanisms.
Anyway. To go back to Man’s Search for Meaning, I can see why you reference it so much. It is very interesting. I’m not far from finishing my reading of it. I can see how logotherapy can be effective as a way to become more resilient and face life’s difficulties. I do believe in the principle behind it, even if it seems like quite a challenging exercise to find meaning and keep it (or let it evolve/change/twist itself when necessary) during the turmoils of life. It is worth exploring.
“What is your first language?” I am french.
I wish you a good day,
Thank you for the facebook group.
“I’m sorry you have experienced such pain and turmoil. I have had generalized anxiety disorder then found it was related to trauma.”
Does the past tense mean you were able to recover? I can see how it can be related to trauma.
“What sort of catastrophizing thoughts are you having during your anxious moments? Maybe start by recording your thoughts. Let me know how I can help.”
I don’t know what my thoughts are, I think I get anxious before I am even able to form a thought. Or my anxiety distracts me from my own thinking, I am not sure. Most of the time, I have no one to talk to about my anxiety who won’t brush it off in an unhelpful way, so I don’t bother putting it into words. I think it’s a general fear that something will go wrong and that I will not be able to control the situation well, though.
“CBT might be helpful but it doesn’t work for everyone. CBT is cognitive behavioral therapy which I’m sure you’ve heard of. Challenge those negative thought patterns by first identifying them and naming your feelings.”
I heard of it indeed. I have been searching for this type of therapy at first but wasn’t able to find an accessible one, where I live there are more psychoanalysts. So my researches on this one weren’t very successful. Still can try to challenge the negative patterns by myself though.
“Meaning- I know you are fearful of social situations but what about them is scary to you? Let’s break it down.”
Sometimes, it’s because I don’t trust myself to know what behavior is expected of me and be able to behave well. Sometimes, it’s because I fear something unpredictable will happen, like having a stranger trying to small talk with me. Or a friend asking a question I am uncomfortable with. Or having to face choices, I hate choices.
When I don’t know the person enough it is impossible to be comfortable around them, there’s always unpredictability and I dislike and fear unpredictability.
“Same goes for your depression. What thoughts are you having at this time?”
It is a bit hard to differentiate the thoughts that trigger my depression from the thoughts that are caused by my depression honestly. But there are thoughts like “It’s never gonna change”, “Whatever efforts I make doesn’t change my situation significantly enough”, “Does it even worth it?”.
A big one, that I don’t seem able to fight, is my apathy for a lot of things. They are a big reason why I don’t go out to begin with. I am pretty much uninterested in the things happening outside. Anything costing me money is a big no to me. And the things that are free, well. I can live without it, I have my own way to be entertained alone, in my home. Making the efforts to do things outside and taking the risk of making a bad encounter doesn’t seem to be worth it.
I know it probably prevents me from good encounters, but I don’t believe much in good encounters in the place I live. Neither do I believe I would be able to make the best of it anyway. I am very suspicious of anything that seems good, I am expecting a catch hiding somewhere.
I only go out when I am forced to. Or when I am forcing myself in an effort of trying to do the ‘normal’ thing. I don’t enjoy myself, I just don’t question it and deal with it until it’s done.
The only reason I would want to be cured of this is to not feel ashamed from being a shut-in or to not feel anxiety from going out after months of not being out. Or to not feel like ‘not going out ever again’ could be a doable option for me. It’s just about not having to deal with the bad consequences of this, not because I feel like there’s something worthing it for me out there. I have no motivation for all this. I just to the efforts because I’m trying to be rational, but I’m afraid if I don’t cure this at some point I’ll be apathetic to the point rationality will not matter. Faking normality will not matter. Healthiness could not matter. It’s to avoid ending up to this point I make effort. But that’s really the only motivation there is. And it isn’t enough…
“There’s worry journaling where for 20 minutes you just write everything that you are worried about like a brain dump.”
I’ll recall this next time I am worried. Thank you.
“I have focus issues too due to stress and learning disability. I have ADD but it’s also trauma related. I’m figuring out how to navigate that myself. It sounds like things are just overwhelming to you and you’re having trouble functioning.”
Yeah they can be sometimes. I hope things will go well for you as you learn to navigate these focus issues. It isn’t easy.
“I think it’s time to ask for help. Professional help. You’re not in complete control. Try to find a therapist who specializes in trauma. That would help. Be upfront about your needs for feedback.”
I will try searching more. I hope I will find it. For sure this time I won’t forget to be upfront about my needs as I don’t have the patience to waste my time by being unclear.
“There’s also exposure therapy. Make small goals for yourself. Instead of jumping to attending parties or talking on the phone, see if you can go to a public place for an hour. Things like that. Come up with some doable goals but also don’t feel bad about yourself if you don’t make them happen. You don’t have to work like a machine.”
Yeah, I am trying that. I don’t say no when my friends want to go out in public places for that reason. I am able to do it. I don’t have panic attacks or anything. I am just numb. Just like I had always been most of the time when being out. I prove myself I can still force myself and do it once in a while. But it doesn’t make me want to do it more. Even the beautiful stuff outside doesn’t worth it that much.
I guess my issue is more that I don’t want to, rather than “I can’t”.
“If you ever want anyone to read your scripts, I can be a good coach or cheerleader (not an editor though lol).”
Thank you for your offer, it’s nice of you. English isn’t my native language though, and since my scripts aren’t in English I’m not going to take you on this offer, but thank you anyway. 🙂
“I’ll reread Man’s Search for Meaning and let me know your thoughts as you do too- either here or on email.”
Alright then. I listened to it further. He mentions the notion of ‘provisional existence’, which is a term I never heard before, yet it describes very well how I felt during most of my time while growing up. I had this uncertainty I would still be live until adulthood. Once I became an adult, I understood it would probably be better trying to live a good life until death finally came, as it could happen later than I thought, but imagining the future is still a hard one to get around. Especially since I still can’t assure my own survival yet.
“Keep thinking about purpose. It’ll help you through the depression. I know it helps me.”
I’ll be trying. Sorry for the later reply than usual. I got a bit stuck figuring out the thought I had during anxiety and depression.
I hope you’re doing well,
- This reply was modified 3 months ago by Linarra.
“So what would you say are your disabilities? What aspects of every day life are hard for you? Are they learning disabilities or trauma based or both? Do you have anxiety or depression?”
I have anxiety being out in a crowded space, interacting with strangers. Simple things as going to see the doctor, or go to groceries are taking so much energy out of me I tend to avoid them. I am also scared of phone calls, especially when they are formal and administrative. I freeze and my brain has a hard time functioning well in presence of a perceived authority.
I also feel anxiety when my friends are asking me to hang out. The kind that makes me apprehend before, be on edge when I’m out and need time to recover after I went out. I always felt like refusing/avoiding going out with my friends, but I learnt to say yes anyway since they are not bad people. If I said no every time I had anxiety at the idea of going out, I would probably never be out at all. So I am able to go despite that, it is just very difficult, and the perspective of that being my daily life again, while I know I was able to do it when going to school, doesn’t make me want to go on with life.
When I am at home, I don’t feel anxiety, unless it is triggered by my mother or a visitor. The latter isn’t a common occurrence, as we have a tacit rule of not inviting people home. I can be a bit jumpy though, at home or outside, sometimes I am just tense and my body reacts like I’m being attacked for no logical reason, even when I know I am safe. I noticed it as something unusual as I was at college, I felt silly to be so jumpy around people and a place I had no reason to be. I don’t remember if I was always like that but never noticed before.
I don’t think I have specific learning disabilities, as my school grade were mostly correct, but I have focus issues due to my anxiety. I have a hard time listening and gathering information when a stranger is giving them to me, or be able to process/react accordingly. It makes me slow, and more anxious. I had unprecise negative feedback about my efficiency when I tried doing temporary work at a factory, so I probably didn’t fit well because of that. Honestly, I can’t even consider jobs that require actual social interactions with customers AND coworkers. Coworkers are already too much of a worry for me.
For my seemingly depressive phases, they come in phases, during those my energy jar is lower, I feel like sleeping/resting despite having just woken up in the morning. I have a harder time gathering motivation for my usual chores and work. Though, phase or not, I usually have a hard time taking care of myself and my environment. More often than not it is a struggle to achieve all my daily chores without feeling like giving up halfway. I keep trying, but I feel bad when struggling with those. My low energy/motivation seems like laziness, yet I know I’m putting more effort I was able to years ago and I had made progress. It just doesn’t seem enough.
“What does a typical day look like for you?”
I woke up early, usually before the rest of my family (except my mother sometimes), and I eat my breakfast peacefully. It is an important ritual for me, I like a quiet peaceful morning. Sometimes my mother will join me, thankfully she’s usually in a good mood during the morning and wants a positive interaction with me. I give it to her, as I don’t mind her when she’s not awful. Most of the time, though, I’m alone and I like that.
After that, I try to work, unless I am in a bad mood or end up distracted. I like working in the morning when I have a full day ahead. If I have a successful work session it gives me energy and a good mood for the day. If not, I know I can still try again in the afternoon. I usually stop working because I have to make lunch. I try to do other chores as I go around lunchtime but I am only able to do so when someone isn’t distracting me around. It is more difficult to work on chores when my family is around being noisy.
The work of the afternoon is a bit depending on my energy level, if I can’t go at it I well rest before I work, if I can I’ll try working until I’m tired/interrupted. After that, I just relax and see if I feel like working more after.
That being said, when I am in a depressed phase my work time isn’t that clear, I procrastinate and I can be grateful for managing to get chores done.
I don’t do weekends and vacations. I struggle with those kinds of schedule. Because when I’m able to be on a motivated/productive phase I feel frustrated to stop and focus on something else. I can be very obsessive when I am in a good work dynamic. And when I don’t manage to be productive I am frustrated with that and want to keep trying until it works.
“How often do you interact with your mother and father?”
I only interact with my mother for practical stuff, except when she wants to talk to me personally, but those talks aren’t a daily thing. My father died when I was 14, I don’t miss him. I interact more with my siblings than my mother.
“Lastly, what art do you do or are trying to do professionally?”
At the moment, I am trying myself at scriptwriting. And possibly hoping to get also some money done as a freelance illustrator. I am intending to try myself at making a webcomic after I finished writing my current project. Or, if I find out this medium doesn’t fit I can still go back to more traditional writing as I used to do when I was younger.
I have several strings to my bow, and I am flexible with my possibilities. I just know that :
– I need to tell stories (this is where I find the most meaning and entertainment, stories are everything to me)
– I kind of need drawing/painting (for a relaxing purpose more than something else, it is less fulfilling than writing but it’s part of my meditation and I’m skilled enough to do something out of it)
“What are things you like to do?”
I like to read/watch stories, to listen to podcast/interviews/videos as I draw (listening to something helps me to stay focus longer, and I like being educated and listeneing to people). I feel alive when I’m staying stimulated and challenged, like creating and solving problems. So when I need something I enjoy figuring out how to do it myself. Like sewing, web programming…
Whether it’s for practical sake or just for the curiosity/challenge. Present me a new craft/art form and I’m like a kid in a candy store. Now I know what I want to do though, I’m trying to stay focus on my current project. Trying to keep myself reasonable, disciplined and everything.
“I’ve become my own best friend. […] I have no one really to turn to as a support system like friends or family for deep stuff. It’s lacking in my life too. But I do things that I like each day. I do stuff I enjoy. I live MINDFULLY. I took myself to Barnes and Nobles the other day, wrote a letter to my inner child then cried in the bathroom. I came out and read some self help books and felt relief. I had no one to share this moment with but I knew that I was developing a sense of self out of the madness. I was becoming more authentic and real with who I am and what I strive for, BECAUSE I know what it’s like to be without love or support. I am alone but not lonely now. Solitude has become my friend.”
I am glad you found your way to turn solitude and yourself into your friends. It sounds like such a relief. You have come a long way. It is nice. Our own company is enjoyable when we’re treating ourselves as a person, and when we’re taking care of ourselves, doing what we’re meant to be.
I think the thing that keeps alive the loneliness for me, is that I wish I was able to share my happiness with people. When I am alone, I more likely to be relaxed and happy. When I am with people, I am more likely to be cautious and sad, or anhedonic. It is unfortunate, because I see people enjoying themselves with other people, making them happy, and I wish I was able to make people happy too.
“So something crazy happened to me recently. You know the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne? I emailed her team a sad email like “Why is there suffering in this world?” Well I got a personal response from Rhonda herself. […] I have bipolar and she said her daughter has a mental illness too. She gave some encouraging words and I got to tell her my views on life and God. So…you never know who you’re going to meet! […] I got insights from that moment that I was able to put into an email once I received Rhonda’s when I got home that day. It was in synch in a way- my thoughts from the day at the beach and the opportunity to reply to an email from her personally.”
I didn’t know of this one, I’m adding it up to the pile. I am glad you were able to get a response and encouragement from her! The world is really surprising when we try to reach out. Sometimes, the universe can align so well, but it is also because you have given the universe the opportunity for it to reach you back. You took a step and were rewarded.
“Here’s what I thought of that day- I am not the only one who feels this way. Everyone is struggling in someone. We are all linked, all connected by our human experience of suffering.”
It makes sense, suffering is everywhere. We are all challenged one way or another, life is full of hardship we can bond over when we share them. Though, from my experience, it feels sort of alienating when you have suffering experiences that aren’t shared and understood by people around you. Not everyone will have the same wounds, and communication can be difficult.
But we don’t have to belong with everyone to find people we can be connected to.
“I do believe it is possible for you to get out of this situation. I do believe that life has more to offer you.”
I do believe though, as you said, that life has more to offer to me. And that I have also more to offer to life.
“I know she’s in therapy but narcissists can manipulate therapists pretty easily. But it’s good she’s going at all. If you could write an unsent letter to your mom and dad, what would it say? Maybe make that your project this week. (You can share it here if you want to but don’t have to.)”
Yeah, I’m pretty sure her constant lying and masking don’t help her therapy. But, well, better than nothing.
I wouldn’t have much to say to them. I would say I am sorry their life hurt them badly enough that they rathered choosing an escape instead of healing. That I wished they had a better environment, in which they would have had access to better support, and built a better resilience.
I wish they didn’t have to hurt people to feel better. I would thank them for the moment they were good, for the love they gave us even if they also killed it. I wouldn’t forgive them for the way they hurt us, but I would say I am thankful I was able to learn from their mistakes. It didn’t go to waste. I would promise them I will not walk onto their path, and will try to be happy. I wonder what kind of people they would have been, if they had access to therapy and healing. But we will never know.
While I keep standing by the fact they hurt us and it shouldn’t be forgotten/brushed off, and I wanted them gone from my life if they stayed like that, I will still try to remember the few good things we shared. It is only fair, as they weren’t entirely bad. I’m not spending time resenting or missing them though, because I am too busy healing from the wounds they left on me for caring more than that.
“Keep therapy searching. It’s taken five years for me to find someone who gives good feedback. so I guess it’s hard out there. Try it anyway. I got some good meditations from a therapist. […]”
Thank you for the advice, it seems helpful to be able to ‘cast away’ the worries/negative feelings for later without actually burying them. It seems like a healthy way to not be invaded but without letting them untreated forever. Thank you also for the meditation, I will search more when I’ll feel in need of them.
“I love your openness to receiving advice and how responsive you are. I mean you are ON IT. For someone who is feeling held back in life, you have such a strong will. This tells me you are ready to heal. You are ready for life to change. You are ready for life to change you.”
Thank you. I am still trying, for now. I am still very held back, but I want to try to change. I am still overwhelmed by all that trying though. It seems to be taking a lot of my energy, and I am a bit worried about that. I might be doing it wrong.
“It’s beautiful that you’re chasing your dreams. We can’t know where that will lead us but it’s a very brave step. I’m proud of you.”
Thank you. No matter where that will lead us, I want to have tried to go for what feels good and right. If it doesn’t work, at least I will not have to drown under the thought I didn’t try everything that was in my power to not only survive but learn how to live. Surely I’ll be more resilient because of that, even if I fail, my self-esteem should get a bit better. I believe we always come out with a gain when we invest ourselves into something. It might not be what we aimed for, but new experiences shape us. And those we chose are even more meaningful.
“You deserve love. A love that is warm and enveloping and open and honest. You deserve someone to uplift you and tell you how wonderful you are. You deserve friendships you can share your deepest hopes and dreams and fears without shame. You deserve a mom and dad who save you, not scorn you. You deserve it. We all do”
Thanks. I am getting a warm feeling when I am reading this forum, I am glad this place exists. It is so strange yet so good. And I’m very grateful for the thoughtful, caring responses you provide. And I agree, we all deserve it. I wish there were more people thinking like this in this world, there would be less suffering and more soothing. But this is why we’re trying to heal, right? To be able to share love and good things with the people instead of repeating the negativity and the hurt we received.
“Ask yourself, “What am I here for? What is my purpose?” It’s not what you do but who you are that matters. It’s not if you have a conventional life but a life of conviction. Can you live such a life? A life that you choose?”
Since I came to the conclusion I could not live a life I didn’t choose and stay sane/good, hopefully I will be able to live a life I have chosen. Or will go down trying. We’ll see.
I will not pretend I know myself enough to be certain of what I am here for or what is my purpose. I am always discovering more as I am discovering life. So I will stay on the general statement I am here to pursue what is calling me and feels right for me, what makes me more resilient, and stronger to the unavoidable suffering life got coming for us. Maybe strong enough to bring some good into this world as I go, or at least to not add more suffering.
“I’m going to reread Man’s Search for Meaning too. “
Do not hesitate to share your thought on this book as you reread it then.
I wish you well,
“You aren’t just taking steps to healing. You are taking leaps. Pretty soon you’ll be on top of the mountain looking back on the person you are now thanking her for getting you here.”
This is a journey I already started years ago, so I am meeting less resistance than I was at the beginning. I already debunked a lot of bad beliefs and opened up to possibilities. Your advice couldn’t have reached my teenage self. I used to be very pessimistic, skeptical at any traces of optimism, I would have liked to be proven wrong but my pain and negativity would have put a big fight if told so without solid proof. I was too closed off to have been reached out. I couldn’t believe outside of my own experience and I hadn’t experienced enough good to believe good people existed. Or healthy people, for that matter. And if it existed I wasn’t one of that breed so there was little hope for me.
Thankfully, I ended up in psychology major and was taught very interesting scientifically proven things that changed my beliefs had a great influence on my reality, and I also was exposed to kinder people. I was still in great denial of my trauma though, didn’t want to open that can of worms when I was finally experiencing positive things. When I quit college and was alone again, and back home, the real healing journey had to start though. It’s been 4 years since the beginning. I’ll be 25 soon. I am already thankful for some of my past choices.
But I’ve still a lot to do and to uncover as I have been alone on this healing journey, with my biases and fears. And without enough positive input from outside. This led me to another depressive phase with suicidal ideation, which I couldn’t let pass with how far I’ve come already. That’s when I decided to seek some hope and help on this forum. I didn’t expect it would help that much, I needed this more than I would have thought. Even when I opened up to my friends, nobody was able to help me reaffirming that what happened to me wasn’t in my head, that it was wrong, and that I didn’t deserve it. Then again, I didn’t go into the details of the abuse too much with most of my friends. I was too afraid every time I tried to put my reality into words.
My mother had made me lie and hide about the family situation for so long, I had to lie because if people knew she wouldn’t be the one to fall for failing as a mother, I would be the one to fall for being a bad kid. Or rather we would fall together, as I knew she censored me because she was also afraid for her reputation. I guess a part of me is still afraid that if I was sharing my reality people will think bad of me for what I went through, or wouldn’t believe me. It sometimes doesn’t feel real for me too, as I had to convince myself everything was normal and alright for so long.
That’s why it feels good to be able to tell things here and not be shamed for it.
“Sounds like your mom is a narcissist. There are support groups for that such as this facebook one”
Yeah, she does have those traits, and the link works thank you.
“Intentional or not that is abuse. She seems like a very sick person. She is the one who has serious boundary issues- both physical and emotional. You deserve better. And it’s okay to forgive yourself for not knowing she was using and manipulating you as a child. You had to be the adult, the emotional support. Reminds of that Kelly Clarkson song “Because Of You.” I hope you know that you deserved love and attention and emotional support too.”
She is very sick indeed. She has started therapy years ago, but the follow-up is irregular. She’s not at her worse at the moment so there are some improvements. She’s still very difficult to deal with, but I’m grateful for the lesser amount of drama.
I know this song by Kelly Clarkson. I related to it a lot. I didn’t know I deserved love, attention, and emotional support. Now I do, intellectually at least. Emotionally I am still unsure. I will try to not feel guilty or weak for needing that.
“The childhood messages you received as being a burden well you are just started to uncover and deconstruct them but it will take time. I would revisit this issue with a professional if you can afford one. If not, note this is a major healing milestone- just to acknowledge one’s own suffering in life is important. You know the causes. You just need to go through the actual awakening of the person you were born to be.”
It will take time for sure. I’ll still have to face some fears to manage to find a therapist. I started searching. I have tried seeing psychologists years ago but it didn’t work out well. They were listening but didn’t give much feedback. There was too much silence, too little reassurance, it stroke right into my wounds, letting my fears filling the absence of feedback. I just stopped, as they weren’t of any help to me.
Now I am searching for a psychiatrist. I didn’t start searching because I felt ready, I did it under the pressure of my brother and my mother who both wanted my disabilities to be diagnosed, so I could receive financial help until I manage to make a living of my own. I am worried, I am unsure how to approach it in a way that would work out well for me.
Until now I was able to progress better alone than with the psychologists I saw. I know therapy can be useful when finding the right one, but I know I can move forward on my own too, at least.
“So if they are triggering to you, remember that she will never change no matter what you say or do. It is not your responsibility to change her. You are her daughter but you are not hers. You belong to you. You do not belong to her.”
Thank you, this fact is clear to me. I had to assert it and repeat it to her enough to not doubt it. I would never give up myself to her.
“Forgive yourself for not being perfect or where you want to be at. Don’t associate it with your worth. The two have nothing to do with each other. You’ve lived through a lot and it’s still hard. But you’re not alone in this mess.”
Self-worth has been way more difficult to reaffirm. I was able to fight my mother about the abuse and possessivity. I was less able to argue when she attacked me on my difficulties. I mean, I argued, but my insecurities show I was still influenced.
She wasn’t the only one though. My father was also verbally abusive and the fact both my parents questioned my worth made me question myself. I considered they could be wrong, but adding the bullying and some insulting observations from some teachers definitely made me think there was some truth there.
Now, well… I guess there are a lot of judgmental people out there who have no idea of how destructive their behavior is. But repairing the idea of my self-worth is quite a lot of work. I’m trying, though.
I am glad I am not alone in this mess though, even if it’s unfortunate so many people went through such difficulties. At least not being alone gives some hope.
“I understand what it’s like being stuck. Networking is a really great tool to finding answers though. For example, I’m a writer so I network with #writingcommunity on twitter. Or I join support groups like The Soulsisterhood I mentioned posts ago. I tell others about my struggles and they offer solutions.”
Thank you for the tips, networking definitely is on my plan. I very much dislike being stuck so I’m always seeking solutions. the putting into action is still the hardest part, it is slow and there’s a lot of obstacles, but I’m not giving up. I believe at some point I will get there.
“I want you to try a visualization practice everyday. Focus on what you really want your life to look like. How would it feel like to be there? What would you need to get there? It doesn’t have to be a conventional life. Maybe you start a business or you partner with a person who has a following already or you build a brand rather than have a job. Fyi- I’m on disability living at home with my mom and I’ve used this time to build a brand image of speaker, writer and activist. I volunteer and am very involved. Volunteering is another way to get yourself in somewhere. It will also give you meaning and purpose to find things to do like this. You never know where it could lead. Maybe back to yourself.”
Thank you for saying it doesn’t have to be a conventional life (being forced into a conventional life is one of my fears, as I am unsure I would fit it and if I can find my meaning there). I am glad you were able to use this time to find a meaningful path and turn your life around. You deserve it. And it is nice to talk with someone who is allowing herself to become what she’s meant to be and follow her purpose.
I stay open with my options, as I know I have to be flexible in case I fail, but after my exploring my needs I chose to go for an artistic path, as it was a calling I was always aware of, yet that I always denied myself (while I followed a more conventional path because it was the ‘responsible’ thing and with hope I could escape my mother faster.) I’ve been learning and exploring for the last years, and my path is becoming clearer as I keep following my instinct and giving it my best shot, even if sometimes I am being hard on myself for not being able to make a living yet. It is a constant game of figuring out the next step, and fighting against my fear and low self-esteem. My mental health has improved as I followed this path, and my self-esteem too. It’s just not enough as I have been pursuing my calling in shame and fear of the judgment of others.
I will try to do more visualization practices, even if I do struggle to have clear visualizations. I want to be able to bring able to live my passions fully and shamelessly. I want to be proud of what I’m dedicating myself to, instead of feeling ashamed. My strength and abilities are expressing at their best when I’m dedicating myself to what I love, they are florishing and if I keep at it I will get farther than what I could have hope for myself. I already am way farther.
Stories saved me so many times, and I want to write stories that can move people and soothe their hearts. I want to figure out a way to be myself, find a place in this world, and be helpful. I want to reach some peace and stability while not denying who I am anymore. What I need to do to get there isn’t exactly clear, I am open to possibilities for as long they feel right. I think if I learn to listen to myself and my needs well enough, learn to stop working against myself with unhealthy self-talk, and if keep learning and figure out each step as I go… Well, I should get there, probably? That’s what I am hoping for at least.
“I’m here for you. I’m not going anywhere! So message here as much as you need. If you want to read Man’s Search for Meaning, let me know if you like it. The other two books are on Amazon just search the titles.”
Thank you :). I started listening to the audiobook of “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It is very interesting. I especially relate to the retreat in our inner world to survive the traumatic experiences. My inner world has been everything during most of my life, I relied on it a lot. I had the conversations I couldn’t have outside, I asked the questions that wouldn’t be heard, I found joy inside my own head when I didn’t find it elsewhere. And same when he mentioned finding joy in the beauty of the world, or art. These are important things that keep us alive. I am curious to listen further.
“Lastly, I know this is hard but see yourself. See your true self. See your beauty. See your worth. See that you’re a survivor. See that you mean something. See that you can make a difference. See that your story isn’t over yet. Because life has so much more to offer you. Everything could change tomorrow so why stop now?”
Thank you, I can see bits of it. And I believe it will become clearer as I try to keep healing and create a healthy path that respects who I am.