April 15, 2020 at 5:31 am #349610NarsilParticipant
I had another thread on my OCD – for more than a year now I have been in an obsessive spiral with intrusive thoughts on my partner, my relationship and my life in general. It all started when I moved from London to Rome to move in with my partner. Something broke inside of me and so many things about my childhood and my insecurities came out. I decided to stay and fight it out with therapy – I am so committed to my boyfriend and I don’t want to give up on us.
But sometimes (when I am feeling particularly anxious) I wonder whether my problem is that I am not living my truth, and what does this really mean. Is my ‘truth’ that I can only be myself in London? Is my ‘truth’ that I want to go back and leave my boyfriend? Can my happyness depend on the place I live? I like my job here, and I like my house. I want to make it work but i have this intrusive thought that keeps getting under my skin.
I don’t necessarily need advice, but I would love your views on what ‘living your truth’ means and how much a city can influence happyness. I meditate and I feel happyness should come from within, but I still have doubts.
Thank you all! xxApril 15, 2020 at 11:12 am #349646anitaParticipant
“I would love your views on what ‘living your truth’ means and how much a city can influence happiness”-
– first I don’t believe in happiness, as an ongoing emotion; I believe that “happily ever after” fits the fictional narrative of fairy tales, not real life. Happiness/ joy is occasional at best and limited in time.
-second, what I learned is that as an adult, I kept reliving my childhood emotional experience. As I travelled and lived in this or that new city, I experienced the exhilaration of something new, a new beginning, but sooner than later, I felt the same as I did as a child. Living my truth (using your words) is being able to experience the here-and-now not as there-and-then, but as… here and now, a new reality.
I re-read your posts in your other thread. I understand that you don’t want advice, and I will not give you advice. Instead, I will offer you my understanding:
You started that thread January 21 this year, living in Rome. That was exactly ten days before the first two confirmed Covid-19 cases in Rome (Jan 31, 2020). Ten days before Covid-19 reached Rome, and before the national panic over the largest numbers of deaths in Italy at the time, you were already afraid. But not of a virus.
I bet you don’t feel fear of your mother now. Children repress overwhelming fear and as adults.. we forget that we were so intensely afraid back then. But I believe that Jan 21, you were afraid of the same person and same experience that you were afraid of as a child: “I had to be perfect to be deserving of their attention and admiration. If I took A- minus in a test, they would ask ‘why not A?’ My mom sometimes would even tear my homework apart if it wasn’t perfect. She would yell at me for taking a B… it was really my mom who did all the judging and pressuring and asking for ‘excellence'”-
– you were afraid then and afraid since of your mother pressuring you to be perfect, pressuring you to be worthy of her affection, otherwise, you get her rejection and aggression (yelling at you, rearing your homework), not her affection.
You wrote: “They are loving parents and show much loads of affection. I had to be perfect to be deserving of their attention and admiration”- you experienced two things with your mother: her affection and her rejection and aggression. An association was made in your child brain between affection and rejection-aggression.
Fast forward: you move in with your boyfriend who is very affectionate toward you, and for whom you feel affection, and boom!- the association is activated, and you experience your childhood fear of rejection and aggression: “the day we moved in together.. I had the worst panic attack I had ever experienced in my life.. I started vomiting, trembling, hyperventilating for hours”- your childhood emotional experience was activated, your repressed and forgotten emotional childhood experience erupting to the surface!
Having experienced such panic, your thinking brain has been trying to calm the terrified brain by removing you from the situation, where the association has been made, moving you out of the home you share with your boyfriend and out of the relationship with him, by focusing on his faults (“I focus obsessively on his flaws), by suggesting to you that you don’t love him anymore (“I am not attracted to him anymore… am not in love with him anymore”).
“every time he makes me laugh or I feel tenderness or affection toward him.. every time I feel warmth, something in my head snaps and I feel like I need to get out”- your brain snapping is the sudden reactivation of your early life association between receiving and feeling affection and fear (of rejection and aggression).
Your boyfriend did not introduce to you the experience of rejection and aggression, your mother did. Your boyfriend’s affection toward you (and your feeling affection toward him) within the circumstance of living together with no time limit, activated that fear.
Does this make sense to you?
anitaApril 15, 2020 at 11:37 pm #349796NarsilParticipant
HI again! It does make sense and we are working with that in therapy – it all comes to my fear of not being enough and having everything to be perceived as perfect from the outside. The thing is that I wasn’t feeling this way when I was in London, even though it wasn’t perfect there at all. Life was tough, I didn’t have much money, I felt lonely. But also powerful and independent and free. And I keep going back to that feeling and I ask myself what does it mean to live by your values and whether a place can really change the way you perceive yourself – shouldn’t I feel free, powerful and independent wherever I am? Does the city I live in really matter so much for my mental health?April 16, 2020 at 12:34 am #349802Soul-searcherParticipant
The thing is that I wasn’t feeling this way when I was in London, even though it wasn’t perfect there at all. Life was tough, I didn’t have much money, I felt lonely. But also powerful and independent and free. And I keep going back to that feeling and I ask myself what does it mean to live by your values and whether a place can really change the way you perceive yourself – shouldn’t I feel free, powerful and independent wherever I am? Does the city I live in really matter so much for my mental health –
Narsil this resonates with me so much too! I moved from my home town to the UK, and like you nothing was ”perfect” over there but i was happy, i felt independent and free too. I have been on and off in the UK for going on 6 years now and i still havent found my ”truth” as you put it so nicely.
I dont think it’s the place as such but how you perceive the place itself, i find that i am mostly myself in a place where i feel comfortable and that tends to be ”home”. We can all make a conscious effort in making a new place home, but i have really struggled with this. I get on just fine here, i have a steady job, a lovely house that we rent etc.. but am i 100% happy? No, and because of this i tend to have more of a negative mindset which affects me mentally and physically.
The answer to your question is basically yes, it does affect your mental health because we are allowing it too.
I know that i want to go back home and could not see myself living here forever, but i need to do things before i can.
xApril 16, 2020 at 8:10 am #349848anitaParticipant
“I wasn’t feeling this way when I was in London”- I believe that your great distress is activated in the context of a physical intimate relationship, not outside this context. When in London and in a long-distance relationship, you were not in such a relationship. When your boyfriend tried to live with you in London, he was unhappy, so the idea that you and him were going to live there forevermore didn’t sink in, in your mind. When you moved to Rome where he is happy living, the idea of you and him living there together and forevermore (being stuck in a relationship with him) sunk in and scared you, bringing about your great distress.
Locations do matter for a variety of reasons: weather, economy, culture, whether we have family there or not, and more. But I don’t think that your great distress in Rome is about Rome. I think it is about the idea that you and your boyfriend are living together and he is happy there, that made you feel that you are stuck with him, in a similar way that you were stuck with your mother.
You wrote about London: “Life was tough, I didn’t have much money, I felt lonely”- but life is tougher when you find yourself stuck in a relationship. Not having much money and loneliness are a walk in the park compared to being stuck in a relationship.
“Shouldn’t I feel free, powerful and independent wherever I am?”- that would be nice, of course. And it will happen when you adequately acknowledge, examine, process and resolve your early life experience with your mother, in your home of origin.
One more thing: the extent of your distress, the panic attacks, the intense anxiety in Rome, these cannot possibly be attributed to a mere move from once city/ country to another. It is not that you moved from a safe city (London) to a city at war, or a city where you were a victim of crime. So I figure, it has to be a result of an early life experience being activated (being stuck with your mother as a child).
- This reply was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by anita.