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I hope you are doing well this week.
It has been a difficult week for me.
In regards to my fear of being powerful, i don’t mean it in the sense of controlling others or having status. I mean it in the sense of of a fear of feeling like I matter or have worth.
This week has been a rollercoaster I meant to post here sooner in the week. I am meeting up with my mentor (old therapist) today for some tea. Hopefully i can get some guidance on where to go from here.
As soon as i got in my car after my last client this week, i immediately burst into tears, and remained in a triggered state for a about 2 hours that night. Despite my clients actually making big improvements, and expressing gratitude for the service i provide, I felt awful hearing about their good fortune. The main trigger for me at work is discussions of money. Some of my clients make 2x-4x more money than me, yet I can barely afford to pay my bills each month on my therapist income. I didn’t take a single week off work last year, and I cant say enough just how exhausted i feel. Hearing about people who make double my income by sitting at a desk and sending emails all day is making me bitter.
I’m starting to have regrets about choosing this career path, and im beginning to become jealous of other’s peoples good fortune, which leads me to ask myself questions like “what am i doing wrong? why don’t i deserve to have a saftey net? am i stupid? it must be because im worthless?” So this week has been a real challenge to remind myself my value as a human being is not determined by dollar signs.
The other thing i haven’t really talked about is dating. I met this wonderful girl about three months ago with the intention of just being friends since she is polyamarous. We have spent alot of time together and she is genuinely a kind, vulnerable, and empathetic person. I told her last friday when i seen her that i wasn’t exactly feeling an attachment to her, but i really like spending time with her and hanging out. Sunday she told me she had covid, which is okay she’s doing alright, but i’m going out of town next week and she’s leaving for California soon. When it hit me that i wasn’t going to be able to see her i became very sad realizing i do have an attachment to her and will miss her. It also sparked up some jealousy, since she lives with her partner (whom i’ve met) and they get to see her where i wont.
All this to say i’m quite a mess of a person right now. From my basic needs to my needs for love everything’s fucked. I’m so tired.
On the bright side i have been very intentional in trying to soothe myself when these negative beliefs and heavy emotions are overwhelming me. There’s a real battle going on inside of a part of me that does not want to grow past the safety of telling myself i’m worthless and the mature part of me that knows i’m worthy and lovable. I need support at this point for the latter part.
When i’m in these mood swings/emotional breakdowns i have been talking to the hurt parts of myself from the inner parent in me, saying things like “there’s nothing wrong with you, you are lovable, you are worth more than any amount of money, etc” all while having rapid flashbacks of painful memories. I swear I am trying, as bad as things may feel for me right now, i keep reminding myself i am leaps and bounds from the person i was just 5 years ago, i don’t cut anymore and i’m way more self aware, and i’m trying my best most days.
I’m also wondering if cutting back from alcohol, porn, and weed while increasing the frequency of my meditation and journaling practices has anything to do with the intensity of the emotions i’m experiencing right now. I don’t feel numb at the moment, i actually feel very present with every inkling of feeling/thought/sensation that arises in me. I do feel like i need some kind of break although the next two weeks are packed for me, with a training and then taking my licensure exam the week after.
I have felt that sensation of being called to do something in life. It’s strange that you ask me this today because it’s something I have been thinking about lately. One of the things that I have enjoyed during long periods of time alone is the eventual tapping into something other than myself that fills me with vitality, purpose, and motivation. I used to wonder if it was some kind of grandiose thinking or mania that comes from being depressed for long stretches of time but there’s too much humility present in whatever it is im receiving, and these periods of silence and solitude in retrospect have been where some of my most creative visions and best life decisions have come from. It is a deeply spiritual experience for me that I long for through my numbed-out days. My call is to learn each day how to get back in relationship with this part of myself? Part of the universe? God? So that I can manifest that love in the world. My daily drive is to learn to live in faith. I feel I’m at the edge of some kind of spiritual growth that I’m afraid of, if I can only let go and trust then I believe I can have a great loving effect on the world. I’m afraid of being powerful.
I suppose erasing fears and living in faith is my call. I live out of curiosity to see what great things can happen if im not afraid. Easier said than done of course
Thanks for checking on me. Unfortunately i did not attend the group, or anything else i was invited to last weekend. My feeling of “I don’t belong” got in the way and led to me declining to hangout with friends on 2 occasions and attend the group. My roommate was out of town so it was just me and the dog. I did alot of reflecting on my relationship with fear and shame.
I find it interesting that this relationship to fear and shame has progressed and regressed at different points in my life. I think alot of it has to do with a lack of commitment to sit with and care for my own uncomfortable emotions, Which is made much worse by addictions(weed, porn, alcohol) fueling the shame creating a cycle of avoidance of self-love/care.
I even find it hard to reply here in a timely manner because of this avoidance/neglect of my emotional states. I really appreciate that you are responsive and attentive to me, as i need those role-models in my life to understand how to internalize that same responsiveness to myself.
I have made some progress this week with it. I try my best to just let go of making mistakes. This internal battle as i see it is one of imagination. It is hard for me to imagine being lovable, despite sometimes being awkward and misspeaking. It is hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to be there for me when i’m struggling. It is hard for me to imagine being able to improve myself without shame. However, i must begin to open my imagination to the possibility i can be loved by myself and others. My life depends on it.
I ran into a friend of mine at the bar this weekend, whom this summer i convinced to start therapy after I listened to them tell me their life story in detail. This friend’s older brother committed suicide about 10 years ago, and i learned this weekend that their younger brother two weeks ago also committed suicide. It broke my heart to hear this, and reinforced the idea that i must take care of this problem i have now. I’ve promised myself to never go as far as suicide because of the wake of pain it leaves for the living, but in other ways i engage in a slow process of destroying the vibrant inner life within me for the sake of some false sense of safety. There is a wealth of love, creativity, and joy within me that i don’t to tap into often enough, and need to start living in. I dont want to leave behind a legacy of sorrow and misery.
It is cold here in the 30’s but i’m still getting outside and running. No snow where im at.
After journaling some today and feeling frustrated again with my lack of progress in feeling good about myself, i realized I don’t exactly know how to feel good about myself without stroking my ego. Thinking about how attached i am to achievements, and concrete numbers for feeling good about myself. Being a therapist is the first job i’ve had where comparison to others, or having a concrete measure of achievement is non-existent and pointless anyway. I often leave work feeling confused as to whether I did anything worthwhile that day. Every other job i’ve had involved some kind of measurable outcome that i relied on to feel as if I did something productive that day.
For me to feel good about being a therapist I have to feel good about myself. My clients might leave the session feeling worse than they came in after looking at themselves for an hour. When i’m feeling good about myself and life i can recognize this as a necessary part of the process of growth and awareness, when i’m not feeling great i just think i did a shit job and suck at everything.
I have a problem of co-dependence. Either i am dependent on the approval of others, or i’m dependent on comparison to others. I really hate that I have this problem and believe it as the root of my anxiety, because i’m not getting approval from others and don’t want to compare myself to other people anymore, i feel I have no way to generate something that feels like love and validation for myself.
The result is i increase all of my addictions to feel “good” which have been pretty bad lately. If only i could change my beliefs about myself to be more loving where i didn’t have to exclusively rely on outside validation, i think i’d live such a more fulfilling life.
Thank you for your time and attention Anita, i Realize i write alot when i post here and i really appreciate you.
Im not sure i know what you’re talking about when it comes to anger. In general people describe me as being easy going and mellow. It has been some years since i remember expressing anger towards a woman, of the 3 times i recall all three involved me being lied to. I do have anger outbursts when i’m alone, i’ll scream most of the time sometimes hit something, never would i ever hurt anyone else though.</p>
What I find most disruptive to finding close relationships now is my lack of self-worth. I don’t see myself as someone who people would want to be friends with, i don’t understand what value i could bring to any relationship other than being a provider. I’m not fun to be around anymore, i’ve lost most of my playfulness about life. Everything has felt so heavy and serious for so long, i’m losing hope for the future. I continue to live out of obligation to prevent spreading pain to others. I feel tired, pathetic, worthless, unlovable, you name it. Therefore, I don’t reach out to people, and recently over the past few weeks have grown generally unresponsive and avoidant of other people.
I definitely do not anticipate connection anymore. In fact i actively anticipate that i wont feel connected at all regardless of the situation, which i’m sure doesn’t help either. Any time i do anything social with my roommate now i’ve noticed i remind myself going into the interaction “don’t forget no one actually cares about you or is going to care about you, don’t expect anyone to give you attention, you are here because they are being nice, so be grateful they are even willing to be around someone as sad and boring as you” The worst part is these thoughts are not outside of my awareness, i am very much awake, aware, and consciously feeding them, which i see as a huge red flag for how hopeless i feel about my life and future right now.
I keep coming back here, and specifically talking with you Anita to feel some kind of empathetic connection with a human being, even if it largely one-sided and we won’t ever meet in person. It is still helpful to write here soley for the encouragement to keep trying. I have worked hard to create connections in my in person life to varying degrees of success.
I will keep trying, however i need to be courageous enough to risk my safety in the false-self image i have created and be vulnerable. I have these ridiculous expectations that I should’nt need other people ever, that i have to have a partner my friends and family would approve of, and that i have to be extremely successful and recognized as a leader in my career. It’s so silly and exhausting.
Thank you for your reply and i hope you enjoyed your walk! 🙂
the part that sticks out to me is “treatment focusing on connecting with self and others” I look back fondly on my experiences being in group therapy for about 6 months when i was 24. That time period was the most transformative in my life by far. During that time i was more willing to take healthy risks. I had significantly reduced my cannabis use, was in great physical shape, decided to go graduate school, was racing my bicycle, reading & meditating everyday, started my own group, and began seeing myself as a person with value. Ever since then i feel like I’ve been chasing that high and have fallen short of having a stable sense of self.
I will be attending a mens group this saturday with my old therapist, im hoping this can be an opportunity for a new start. I’m also thinking about trying to start a support group for therapist, as i’m realizing its hard to find help as a helper without being judged.
A lack of close intimate relationships is probably the thing that hurts the most in my life, It makes me cry just typing that out because out of all the work i do on myself close relationships have been the hardest to manifest. It makes me feel worthless. Nothing new there.
Trying to fix this problem is killing me. I’ll spend an entire day alone trying to figure out “what can i do to find people to connect with?” and not get any closer to a real answer other than dating apps, which is futile, a partner is not going to fill the need for a community. When i have my weekly emotional breakdown, i’ll scroll through my phone looking for someone to talk to and don’t feel comfortable calling anyone, so i don’t. I suffer alone, every time. It has to stop because it’s starting to get scary for me in those moments as i spiral into hopeless self destruction
Thank you for the well wishes Anita! I also hope you are doing well
I’ve been doing alright lately. One thing that has been on my mind is how i spend my time. I condensed my schedule to 2 long days/per week instead of working 3 days. This has allowed me to be more efficient with my time and minimize switching between different tasks on work days. This has been a welcome change for me as i have spent way too much of life in service to others at the expense of my own health. However, what i’ve discovered is that i don’t know what to do with myself. I have 3 free weekdays and the weekend also, which i struggled to fill with anything that felt meaningful to me.
in the mornings on my non workdays, i am practicing day trading from about 8-11am. then im free to do whatever i want. My plan was to get into a craft that i could also make money from like restoring furniture, or making skateboards. However, i didn’t feel motivation to do those things. When i thought about how i could spend my time the recurring theme was a question of “is this activity the best use of my talents?” While some other people celebrate my talents and abilities it sometimes feels like a burden to me, because what if i choose the wrong thing and there was some other thing that could have been the thing i was supposed to excel at and devote my energy to. Then i end up feeling overwhelmed which leads me to addictive behaviors or depression and doing nothing at all, except feeling like a failure for not choosing a path.
I realize this is a privileged problem i have, but having this much free time for the first time ever also made me realize how empty my life feels. I don’t feel a part of anything. I have friends but none i feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with. I spent most of that free time in isolation (the recent covid spike didn’t help either). I guess i’m realizing without being a workaholic I don’t have much to celebrate in my life, i spend alot of time alone trying to figure out “what the hell is wrong with me now?” or when the weather is nicer i’m out skateboarding 3 hours a day so i don’t have to think about my lack of meaningful relationships, or activities. I’m looking for some guidance on how to find the path i was meant to follow, not the one that has been prescribed for me by family, and society.
Thank you for your reply and explanation.
I suppose i don’t agree on what little distant relationship i have with my parents as the main cause of my current suffering. It feels like coping with loneliness is the hardest part of my life, and what i need the most help with. I will continue to search for answers.
Thank you so much!
- This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by noname.
Anita thank you for you well wishes.
I have been reading over your response for a few days now. I arrived Wednesday night stayed for thanksgiving and left Friday morning. I no longer allow my mother, father, or sister to steal my empathy. I don’t talk to my mother at all unless i’m in person with her, and I watch closely my reactions to her distress so to not push my needs aside. I have no empathy left for my parents whatsoever.
Me and my sister were downstairs in the kitchen thanksgiving day cooking food, my mom calls my sister from upstairs on the phone, crying hysterically with no explanation saying she wouldn’t be attending thanksgiving then rudely hung up on my sister. Anita, I am %100 truthful with you that i couldn’t give a damn whether or not she attended thanksgiving or not. My sister noticed i was lost in thought for a few moments about a half hour later, and asked what was on my mind, i told her “i was just over here thinking about how i can be more empathetic with myself”
These are the reactions i have to my mothers pain now. It is simply a reaffirming reminder to give myself the love i missed/am missing out on. Same goes for my father. There was another incident a few months ago where she sent me and my sister a long angry text message complaining about how we dont have a relationship anymore. I never text back, I woke up that morning read it and didn’t give it a second thought. I reminded my self then to keep focused on my needs.
I’m not sure how to communicate that i am more detatched from my parents than i have ever been. I don’t make plans with them, i don’t talk to them when im not in their physical presence whatsoever, and even when i am in their presence I dont respond to their bullshit. Its like i have a third person view of myself and the effects it will have on me in these situations so i don’t engage at all.
I’m going to keep seeing my sister. I may even be in the presence of my parents 2-3 times per year. I can assure you i could care less what happens to them anymore, I think about my parents death from time to time and wonder how i would feel, there are no loose ends for me. My sister has finally got into therapy and is starting to move the same direction i have been for years now and she no longer tries to mediate for any of us.
I hear your message loud and clear. I suppose i’m really wanting help getting my emotional needs met without having to compromise myself. I hate that everyone acts as if we don’t need other people. If human beings didn’t help each other we wouldn’t of survived this many thousands of years. Yes i understand co-dependence is a thing, and that’s not what im looking for either, been there done that.
I just really want to come up with a strategy to help me get my social/emotional needs met other than “don’t talk to your parents” I get that. I want to help myself either let go of the longing for a partner/love or find a way to soothe the pain of loneliness. The best strategy i have come up with has been being with my wounded child self and attempting to empathize with it. Nowhere in that process am i telling myself to empathize with my parents, quite the opposite. When i grieve my childhood now, it’s not from a place of “it was your fault you weren’t loved” yes im still angry about it, but i’m not waiting on my parents to repair it or placing my empathy with them. I am worried about me and only me. When i grieve i just want to figure out how to have hope for a different future, that i won’t always be unloved.
Do you have any strategies for working with loneliness?
- This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by noname.
Thank you for your reminder to take care of my body Grace.
I actually do very well with exercise and diet, unfortunately it is not enough to help overcome feelings of inadequacy. In fact I have been obsessed with exercise to the point where it was unhealthy, again because it was coming from the a wounded place in me, the part that didn’t feel good enough.
okay thank you for the reassurance. Sometimes I don’t know if fully experiencing my emotions is helpful because I haven’t been doing it most of my life. Like you say it matters what part of me is holding that experience for me. The approach I have been taking has been to try to step into the nurturing parent role within myself and console my wounded child. Sometimes that means I end up going deeper into a feeling, I may cry harder., which usually starts when I try to be compassionate towards my pain. In the past I would shut it off more quickly with an immature parent part of myself, which helps me function and get work done, until it all becomes too much and I can’t ignore the pain anymore. So I appreciate you letting me know I’m on the path.
it is difficult to find people who are willing to talk about this kind of stuff. My friends are great but most are not doing their inner work, or when I do bring up this kind of thing to people it can be over their heads and they don’t understand where I’m coming from. It makes me feel isolated often.
I’ve been doing Dopamine fasting the past week, basically giving up all addictions for a week (porn, sex, alcohol, internet, tv, video games) and I didn’t realize how much I have been relying on distractions to regulate feelings of loneliness, low self esteem, and meaninglessness in my life. I’m very motivated to make some changes in my life right now. I feel like I need to grow because I’ve felt stuck for the past couple years. One of the things that bothers me the most, is my avoidant personality. I must look/seem inviting because people frequently talk to me but I don’t know what to do unless I’m solving a problem for them. It’s almost like I don’t know how to connect with people unless they need something from me, when people just genuinely want to be friends it’s like I don’t know how, but this is exactly what I need in my life. I don’t need to be taking care of anymore peoples problems than I already am.
I have a somewhat personal question for you. I rarely have the opportunity to openly talk to anyone who has done work on themselves and is older than me. I am doing alright lately, but i’ve been struggling with thoughts about approaching my 30th birthday in April. There are many expectations younger versions of myself had that are probably not going to happen by April. The big ones are…
1. Financial stability-not going to happen I am barely making more money than my expenses. I have no savings, and plenty of student loans. I’m mostly at peace with this one seeing as the American economy is cruel joke on people who work for a living, and I have been working/planning on financial stability and just getting started with a career. I feel like this will be solved in a year or two and I will no longer be cutting corners to live.
2. A job/career i feel good about-This one is also getting worked on I’m going to be cutting back to working as a therapist only 2 days a week because of the stress, and i want to make room in my life for more creative pursuits working with my hands. But, growing up as a “gifted” child put alot of unrealistic expectations on me about how i “should” perform out in the world. I’m learning to accept having an average career as a therapist is okay with me.
I know people don’t mean it this way but even people who love me and care about me frequently talk about my “potential” as if coming from poverty, living with PTSD, and getting a graduate degree with no help wasn’t enough realization of my potential. Don’t get me wrong i see myself as an intelligent multi-talented person but i no longer give a shit about proving this, I feel like my gifts may take longer to manifest into material reality than others, again which is fine. I still struggle with comparison to others in my life which i’m working on.
3.I’d have my life figured out-I thought by thirty my mental health would be alot better. I remember when i was 23 and broke up with my GF and was suicidal i told myself “just give yourself to 30 and see what happens then you can end it if life still sucks” Well 30 is near and my mental health has no doubt improved, I don’t cut anymore, i don’t act on suicidal urges, i haven’t been hospitalized since 23, i am capable of tolerating more pain, I know what to do in crisis situations with myself and others. However, in other ways my mental/emotional health is still not where i want it to be. I still frequently feel worthless and unlovable, i still struggle with depression, I still struggle with impulsive behaviors, and the hardest one i still struggle in relationships….
4.Relationships– This has been on my mind alot, one time you said something to me like if i didn’t have the type of relationship i had with my parents i probably would have been in a secure relationship by now. This stuck with me and the older i get i think your right. I have a disorganized anxious-avoidant attachment style which you are familiar with by now, the thing i want the most i fear most. Every time i have any romantic interest i am painfully reminded of my childhood pain. I get it, don’t live in the past etc. but these patterns have stuck with me and are starting to feel impossible to break. I’m at a point where i feel as if a meaningful relationship with a woman hasn’t happened by now it probably isn’t going to.
The other issue im having around this is being self-compassionate towards the pain i experience with this. Many people in our culture are highly critical of anyone seeking connection with others spewing off some version of “love yourself first…you don’t need anyone else to be happy” and sure i get it, but all ive been doing for the past 7 years is working on myself and without support from others it really hasn’t stuck that well.
It’s hard to feel lovable when the people responsible for teaching you love didn’t do it. Im wondering what the solution to this problem of feeling lovable is going to be? recently i have felt lovable and worthy at times, however when i’m triggered for whatever reason the grief and anger towards my parents return. I thought I had taken care of the grief associated with being neglected, but the more i learn about mental health and myself i realize my wounds are barely healed. I find myself crying for the childhood version of myself that was left alone as a baby while mother was passed out trying to kill herself. Recently i learned this happened multiple times throughout my childhood. I think the depth of the neglect is really starting to sink in with me. And as i work with children i see how delicate these young people are and how well they respond to the smallest amount of my validation and the difference it makes in their mood, it makes me wonder just how much of an impact never having a safe space in my life has had on me.
I know that was alot but what i’d like to know about your experience is
1. do you still grieve over your childhood? is it helpful to empathize with the wounded child in me?
I want to be clear i dont feel sorry for myself i am painfully aware people had it worse than me, but i am wondering if pain associated with my childhood should be ignored or felt
- This reply was modified 8 months, 4 weeks ago by noname.
Thank you for this reminder to stay present