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Anita – how do I find my joy again?

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  • #358598
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hello Anita,

    thank you for your response – you are really funny!  It’s so nice to actually have something to laugh about in my life again.

    I just want to let you know that I cannot reply in more detail until later, perhaps even tomorrow as I have a lot to sort out right now.  I also want to let some time pass after my very long and intensive talk with my friend yesterday, so I have both first impressions and later considerations to relate.  It was generally very positive though.  How my life is suddenly coming to life again!

    Juanita

     

    #358602
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    You are welcome and take your time, all the time that you need to sort out things and post again when you are ready.

    anita

    #358737
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for saying I am a good person for taking care of the baby birds.  I am beginning to see myself more positively again but it is very nice to receive a compliment.

    It was a rather nerve-wracking experience with the little dears until I got the hang of it and then it was simply amazing.  Seeing how those tiny birds adapted to accepting food from me in such a short space of time made me reflect about myself as a baby.  I thought, this is what it means when we read about attachment theory, the way that a human baby’s instinctive urge to survive causes them to also adapt to whatever it takes to survive – those behaviours which become so maladaptive in later life, just as it would be disastrous for wild birds to think I were their mother.

    Apart from the magic of the experience itself, I also received another gift on that day.  When I took the baby birds to the bird sanctuary, I met the lady who runs it and we chatted for a few minutes.  It was a brief but very moving experience for me, standing in this atmospheric nature reserve in a ravine, very verdant and wild, creepers and vines having conquered both buildings and trees, the exotic sounds of birds echoing all around, and this admirable, tiny lady in her soiled work clothing, clearly having had some battles that day!

    As we spoke, I felt how much she is a part of that place and how she is living her vocation.  It filled me with inspiration and I realised whilst speaking to her that this is what I am searching for: work which really has meaning.  Her work in saving endangered birds and wild animals from extinction is valuable beyond words.

    Although I was always top of my year in most subjects at school, I could never bring myself to feel motivated to climb any kind of worldly career ladder whatsoever, and consequently had begun to feel saddened not to have reached any heights in my life by this time.  But meeting this lady confirmed to me that, for me personally, it is the right thing to search for my fulfilment in areas which allow me to be living my vocation, and contributing something meaningful to the community of living beings on this planet.  So that was a very unexpected benefit!

    But now on to the subject of my husband (though hopefully not for much longer).  As usual, I adore your direct and precise comments, but especially had to laugh about your advice to assume that when he opens his mouth, it’s a lie!  Well, I can laugh about it now, yet at the same time, thanks to your clarity, I am starting to acknowledge just how much damage the fog which he continuously spews out did indeed really cause to my emotional and mental health.  Even in speaking to therapists or friends, no-one else has so far supported me to draw a solid line between myself and his unacceptable behaviour.  He makes a point of being so charming to others that most people didn’t even take me seriously.

    I really felt it was meant to be that I was given such clear proof of his lying from a neutral but qualified person (policeman). I also find the lie itself really borders on Münchhausen Syndrome or God knows what you call someone who is really so fantastic (as in fantasy) in their lying.  It gave me the creeps and this was exactly the feeling I had when I first decided to separate a year ago, due to some of the things he said.  Just too weird.

    The next time we telephoned, he immediately brought up the subject of the (supposed) disinfectant action.  I just let him ramble on without joining in, just “uh, uh, well who knows …”, and then when he ran out of steam I redirected to issues we needed to resolve.

    Thank you for explaining how he could have developed this behaviour.  You are so accurate!  One thing I noticed in the last years is how he seemed to intentionally cause chaos in my surroundings by moving my possessions around, so that I could never find anything.  I found this very frustrating but also disempowering.  I called it “controlling by chaos” (he denied it), which fits with your suggestion of his intention to control his mother by confusion (lying).  I know there actually was one particular situation he remembers where she was screaming hysterically at him, though he generally can’t remember his early childhood.  His siblings report that there was always screaming going on in the house between their mother and her mother-in-law, and he can’t stand it if people raise their voices at all.  So spot on.  However, all the siblings lie.  One brother even said in front of me when my husband said about not having managed to get someone to do something, “what’s wrong with you, we [family name]’s are professional liars – why didn’t you just lie?!”  As if it were something to be proud of.

    Sometimes when remembering things like that I could then start to doubt myself again, like, “why the hell didn’t I get out before?”  But I now recognise that I was caught in my old childhood behavioural patterns and was incapable of standing up to his lying and naming it.  I obviously tried, but inside I was adhering to my mother’s old rule of “never dare question me!” “never dare speak out the truth!”  Somehow that made me voiceless towards my husband.  He invalidated my objections by never even addressing them.  It was as if I had never said anything and didn’t exist.  So I think it was pretty great that I went to him directly upon realising his lie and said, “why did you lie?” – but this time what I said was also a statement, whether he chose to answer or not.  That feels very good.

    My goal remains the same, whether his behaviour is purely unconscious or has some cold-hearted motivation too – I want to get to a place in my life where I have nothing more to do with him.

    Which leads me on to my friend/acquaintance and our prospective business, but I’m going to have to write about our developments tomorrow as I had a long day and am starting to flag.  Not surprisingly because it was all a bit trying, not least as she had a full blown toddler-style tantrum at me today.  Not exactly my idea of a business relationship!

    Juanita

    #358746
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    “a full blown toddler-style tantrum” thrown by a potential business partner would lead me to not actualize a business partnership with her.

    I read all your recent post, much of it a pleasure to read. I want to re-read it when I am more focused tomorrow morning and reply further the. For now, what comes to mind regarding the birds: anyone or anything that feeds them will do, no different than human babies: so dependent, so needy, anyone and anything will do. Those too weak don’t have the privilege to choose, and all babies, all young children with no exception are very weak and very needy.

    As an adult, I felt as weak as I did when I was a young child and I  looked up to other adults from the point of view of a weak, needy child, as if they were.. adults and I was still and forever a child.

    I hope you rest today, and I am looking forward to re-read and reply more to you in about 14 hours from now.

    anita

    #358804
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Anita,

    I’m very sorry to read about your childhood and that the feeling of weakness continued for you into adulthood.  I can certainly empathise with how that feels and how painful life is through this lense, though I would never have thought so to read you today, so I am glad both for your recovery and also for the hope which this gives to me.

    Your words have helped me to feel even more acutely just how weak and needy I was as a baby.  Perhaps this is why I feel distressed when I see situations where people seem to be unaware of the vulnerability of their children.

    I will hopefully manage to finally sit down and write to you in peace in another hour or two.

    Juanita

    #358809
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    Thank you for your empathy and I apologize for not coming back to you earlier, like I said I would. I forgot to do so and I don’t know why (I am surprised that) I forgot, because I did look forward to be back to you yesterday!

    This is further response to your previous post: I do think of you as a good person. The little birds, so needy, so  weak.. we really are responsible to take care of the weak and needy, ourselves and others. I think that you and I and many others are both: weak and needy and strong and resourceful, at different times, to different extents. But all of us humans, we all have an expiration date, we all have our limits.. we all get hurt, we all need help.

    The lady you met, the one who runs the bird sanctuary, “living her vocation”, which filled you with aspiration, and you realized that this is what you are searching for: “work which really has meaning“- you can fill your life with meaning right now, every moment of the day, not strictly in the context of vocation. This reminds me of a poem I want to share with you, one that was introduced to me by my then therapist, back in 2011 (my first quality psychotherapy, which is what started me on my healing process). It is called Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes. You can google it online, here is part of it:

    “Hokusai says look carefully* He says pay attention, notice* He says keep looking, stay curious* He says there is no end to seeing.

    He says look forward to getting old* He says keep changing* You just get more who you really are*… He says every one of us is a child* Every one of us is ancient* .. He says every one of us is frightened* He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.

    He says everything is alive-* Shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees*  Wood is live* Water is alive* Everything has its own life* Everything lives inside us* He says live with the world inside you.

    He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books* It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish* It doesn’t matter if you sit at home,* and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees,* and grasses in your garden.*

    It matters that you care* It matters that you feel* It matters that you notice* It matters that life lives through you…

    He says don’t be afraid* Don’t be afraid* Look, feel, let life take you by the hand* Let life live though you”.

    So it is not only in the context of a vocation that you can live a life of meaning and inspiration but in all contexts of life. It is a matter of attitude that we live a life of meaning.

    You wrote: “meeting this lady confirmed to me that, for me personally, it is the right thing to search for my  fulfilment in areas which allow me to be living my vocation”- you said it yourself, living your vocation (what “matters is that life lives through you”, in the poem). And letting life live through you is something we can let be anytime. It is something available to us young or old, in any vocation or none at all.

    You wrote: “I am starting to acknowledge just how much damage the fog which he continuously spews out did indeed really cause to my emotional and mental health”- the damage of that fog some people create in our lives, is that it disrupts that flow of life within us. We .. stop noticing that we are alive and that being alive and what it means, to be alive.

    Regarding what you termed “controlling by chaos”, “his intention to control his mother by confusion (lying).. she was screaming hysterically at him.. there was always screaming going on in the house”- ongoing aggression in the home of origin is the number one source of our global human dysfunction and abuse. It starts there, children adjust there and then to that abuse and then, most often, perpetuate it.

    anita

     

    #358819
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Anita,

    no worries re. forgetting, it can happen easily enough.  I just assumed you must have something important happening and hoped it wasn’t anything stressful for your sake.  I am glad you are there today because I do have a lot going on inside which I am trying to sort out and would be very appreciative of your help.

    But first I must say that it is a lovely poem, thank you!  I shall write it up for myself.  I feel it very much expresses the essence of “just” being, which Western society has begun to forget.  It is for this reason that I wanted to start a new life where I could live from the food in my garden and at an altogether slower pace.  I always loved what the Italians call “dolce far niente” which translates as something like “sweet idleness”, but in the life I had before I had begun to feel like a bird in a golden cage and those moments became ever rarer.

    Although I have somehow managed to achieve living at least in some ways as I desired, for which I am most thankful, yet because of having lost all my money and now having debts, I often find it difficult to relax and just “watch the ants”.  I have unfortunately also needed a long time to get clear of being so “fogged up” (I just invented that yesterday and have to chuckle about it!) by my husband.

    This is why I jumped at the chance of a possible business union with a local person, as I so desperately need to gain an income and regain my independence, but after that drama scene I feel very put off taking the idea any further with that person.  I didn’t say more than an apology at the time and waited to see if she later apologised for her inappropriate over-reaction but no apology came.  I do not have any intention of putting up with more of that and will tell her so when I see her in the morning.  She had said to me before that she is quite impatient, but tomorrow I will tell her that being impatient is her problem and responsibility, not something she can dump onto me.

    I knew there was something about her which I had been feeling yet couldn’t put into words at first, which I will now try to relate although I don’t know if I’m going to find the right words.  This is already my third go at re-writing but I’ll have to post it as I need to get to bed.

    So … I am very sensitive to other people’s energy generally, yet I often have great difficulty in finding vocabulary to express what I am feeling.  But I feel it so clearly, as if it has its own language, or colours no-one else can see.  Anyway, so, I could feel something when she came the other day and I knew it was familiar but I also noticed I was reacting to it with feeling tenser and more hurried than usual.  I wished I could put a barrier between myself and that energy but I felt myself rushed along and just tried to go along with her, hoping it would get better (calmer) for me soon.

    As you know, it didn’t, and it wasn’t until this morning upon waking that I realised in an instant, the energy I felt around / from her is the same as my husband’s.  It is a person who has a lot of dynamic, active energy, but they are also impatient and dominant with it.  As such I like dynamic energy, but in the case of that woman or my husband, they sense that I don’t have that kind of openly dynamic energy and think they can “steam-roller” me.

    Actually, I do have a lot of powerful energy, but I learned to hide this due to it making me very unpopular with my parents and at school.  I always seem to have the alternating dynamic of people either discovering I am powerful – then I am told I am TOO powerful, or thinking I am not powerful, so they think they can walk all over me.

    I allowed that to an extent with my husband because I was so hopeful of receiving his love.  I know now that this was all due to my childhood programming and I sure as hell ain’t doing that again!

    What I have additionally realised is that being dominated by supposed “friends/family” who are also unfair to me is a repeat of my childhood role in my family.   My sister also has exactly that same kind of very active, dynamic, steam-roller kind of energy and always demanded to get her own way, and if she didn’t get it, she’d go to my mother and I’d get a beating.  It was “normal” in my family that I’d be punished unfairly for things I hadn’t done.  It was also “normal” that I had to pay my way for everything whilst my sister had everything paid for.

    So now I’m thinking it looks like I’m still playing out this role with other people, obviously unconsciously, but I want to stop immediately!!  I am wondering how do I do that??  How do I at least begin taking steps to change this?  Perhaps you have some ideas?

    I hope I’ve written coherently enough.  I am very tired.  Please receive my heartfelt thanks for communicating with me about these things, Anita, it is the most enormous relief to know I can write to you about them and be able to learn and take comfort from your answers.

    Juanita

    #358820
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Anita,

    just to say that I really appreciate all you wrote in your last post about living in the moment.  It was nectar to my soul and I need to remember this daily.  This equals being me and being happy.  You are right that the fog of confusion separated me from living my being.  I don’t want you to think your words weren’t registered by me.  I feel a lot of pressure to resolve the other situation for myself though.

    Juanita

    #358823
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    What happened is that I submitted a post to you yesterday, so my name appeared to the right of the title of your thread on the page of topics. If it was you who submitted last, it would have been your name visible on the page of topics, and that would have gotten my attention. In the future, if my name appears to the right of your thread title, and you see that I’ve been  active for a while,  but didn’t responded to you, feel free to add a short post to your thread, so to get my attention, I’ll appreciate that.

    As I read the rest of your post I could see that I will need to re-read and reply in the morning, especially since there is no rush (you going to bed after submitting this post). So, I will place a note by the computer with your name on it, so I don’t forget to be back to you in about 15 hours from now.

    anita

    #358853
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    I just wanted to let you know that it is taking me more time to reply to you, as I am finding particularly interesting things in my reading and re-reading of your posts of yesterday and today.

    anita

    #358857
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Anita,

    thank you for taking the time to re-read my posts, that’s very kind of you to put so much consideration into your answers.

    In the meantime I can tell you that I managed to resolve the situation with that lady.  I was intending to at least make the comment for her not to expect others (me) to automatically have to put up with her impatience and its consequences, but when we met I first allowed some time for small talk, however we then got into a situation where she was talking about interests of hers and I just encouraged those interests and decided that, as forewarned is forearmed, I will save my comment for when she is actively behaving impatiently or trying to push me around.  I will simply apply my right to set a boundary to dominating behaviour “in situ”, which I think she will probably register more closely as linked to her immediate behaviour.

    I noticed that her interest in plants is already waning because it all “takes too long”, in her words.  So I’ll make a graceful exit, allowing her to follow her interests and I’ll follow mine.

    Reflecting back on the tone of her voice and the kind of unfair criticisms and comments, I could hear the voice of my mother too.  It has been a little depressing and yet at the same time I am quite pleased that I was able to react, if not instantly, then very quickly.

    I just wanted to let you know about that.  Our posts may cross but I want to go now and visit my neighbour who has been in hospital and just got back.  I tend to be quite reserved but I hope to encourage them (an elderly couple, the man was sick) to ask for assistance, as I would gladly help but don’t want to just “assume” and overstep boundaries by mistake.  It’s difficult to figure that out as people here say things to be polite, rather than just being direct, which I find difficult to navigate sometimes.

    Juanita

     

    #358861
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    * Please take all the time you need to read this very long post before you reply.

    You wrote to me yesterday: “I always loved what the Italians call ‘dolce far niente’ which translates as something like ‘sweet idleness’, but in the life I had before I had begun to feel like a bird in a golden cage and those moments became ever rarer”.

    In a reply to another member today (I am extracting your life experience, best I can, from your reply to the member), you wrote: “feeling disempowered.. I reacted by becoming introverted when living at home.. the feeling of a caged animal.. If you have ever seen how magnificently powerful wild animals become totally apathetic when they are resigned and hopeless behind the bars at the zoo?..  need more freedom… fear that it is not okay to need more freedom, because it conflicts with parental and possibly social expectations”.

    I will now look for your previous expressions regarding being a powerful wild animal in a cage. The following are quotes from what you shared with my comments in parentheses:

    June 5: “I must let go of the hope that my mother will ever love me (caged in that hope), and I think this has set me up to end up being stuck for years now in a relationship which is not working (caged in a dysfunctional relationship with a man). In fact, my whole life is stuck. But letting go of that hope makes me feel really frightened (frightened to leave the cage). I know I absolutely have to get out of the stagnation (get out of the stagnation/ cage)… I’m letting these precious days pass by unlived (the experience of life in a cage, a severely compromised life, an unlived life)… I have somehow got stuck in a place of fear .. a kind of paralysis (caged in a hope, caged in fear)”.

    June 6: “I do actually literally still feel visceral fear of my mother when I think of her.. my inner tension increased enormously since being with my husband… recently.. I became confused and depressed.. I realised I was stuck in the same loop with him as with my mother= still hoping. I was suffering so much (stuck/ caged in hope, experiencing fear and tension, confusion and depression)… I don’t feel angry towards him as I do with my mother (anger is in the mix of that caged-in experience), but I realised that hanging on to hope or anger is just messing my life”.

    “I do have contact with ..mother.. but they don’t want to know about how I feel. It’s forbidden to speak your truth anyway (the famous saying comes to mind: the truth shall set you free, and it just occurred to me that you may still be obeying your mother’s rule that “It’s forbidden to speak your truth”, that you probably told her your truth but she responded as if you said nothing, or she attacked you for what you said, so in your mind, unless she hears you/ unless she accepts your truth, your truth doesn’t exist, it is not valid).

    “I’ve been eternally hoping my mother is going to love me.. thinking about the way she treated me, and still does treat me (the fact that you are still in contact with her, enough contact where she is still treating you in ways she treated you before, means that the very contact with her is making your exit from the cage highly improbable, says I. You may be feeling anxious reading this, and if so, relax best you can: you don’t have to end contact with her just because I am suggesting it, of course).

    “I had so far not connected the dots between my mother’s lying and the lying of partners (By tolerating your mother’s lying, you had a lot of practice in tolerating lies from other people as well).. And indeed there is a kind of unspoken law in my family that you are not allowed to ‘say it as it is’.. my mother, indeed the whole family, was lying all the time (the price of being a part of your family has been to lie and to tolerate lies).

    “I was the scapegoat and was subjected to all kinds of unfair treatment, but it was always portrayed differently and I wasn’t allowed to ‘say it as it is.. I’m just learning to say, they were blatantly lying in my face!! (I am thinking of the comfort of family, and how scared a child is to be separated from her family, so much so, that she will pay any price to stay with her family/ to not be left alone)

    “I do believe it must be less painful to live with the truth.. than living in this eternally painful place… I have already survived so much (survived life in the cage), I do believe I deserve to have a ‘happy ending’, even if it is in solitude (the happy ending is exiting the cage. In the poem I quoted from yesterday, it says every one of us is ancient, every one of us is a child: in your sixth decade of life, you are still the same child afraid to be left alone by her family).

    “They (parents) mercilessly squashed my creativity. I still don’t quite dare to live it, though it’s like an ocean within me and I long to be creative (Your creativity is your magnificent, wild power you referred to today: “how magnificently powerful wild animals..”, and the merciless squashing of it is here: “..wild animals become totally apathetic when they are resigned and hopeless behind the bars at the zoo“).

    June 7: “she (your mother) saw my creative talents as unacceptable competition (you want your mother on your side, so you remove the competition: see, mom? I am not creative, I am not a threat: please love me).

    June 16: “I could never bring myself to feel motivated to climb any kind of worldly career ladder whatsoever (when you don’t have the experience of opening the door of the cage and taking the first step away from it,  and slamming the door shut behind you, so that you can’t step back in there- you can’t visualize taking steps way ahead of the one you didn’t yet take).

    “Even in speaking to therapists or friends, no-one else has so far supported me to draw a solid line between myself and his (estranged husband) unacceptable behaviour (opening the door of the cage, stepping outside and slamming the door behind you is that “solid line”).

    “inside I was adhering to my mother’s old rule of ‘never dare question me!’ ‘never dare speak the truth!’ Somehow that made me voiceless towards my husband (Her rules are the walls and bars that keep you in the cage. Got to break her rules so that you can exit that cage, and make your own rules as a free woman).

    June 17: “I am very sensitive to other people’s energy generally.. I wished I could put a barrier between myself and that energy.. the energy I felt around/ from her (acquaintance) is the same as my husband’s. It is a person who has a lot of dynamic energy.. they sense that I don’t have that kind of openly dynamic energy and think they can ‘steam roller’ me (You are very sensitive to people’s energy, very empathetic. I  noticed it in your communication with me and in a reply to another member today, where you accurately sensed his energy  in his very short post, you sensed that he was upset with something that you wrote to him earlier. On the other hand, living in a cage does not allow you a free flow of energy, and in some major areas, your energy is blocked because of living in a cage. This blockage makes it difficult or impossible to accurately evaluate some situations and people.

    You wrote that some other people think that they can steam roller you. An  online definition of a steam roller: “a crushing force especially when ruthlessly applied to overcome opposition”- I suppose that’s how your mother treated/ is treating you still to one extent or another: treating you like you were the opposition that needs to be crushed/ caged. Crushed and Caged).

    “Actually, I do have a lot of powerful energy, but I learned to hide this due to it making me very unpopular with my parents and at school. I always seem to have the alternating dynamic of people either discovering I am powerful- then I am told I am TOO powerful, or thinking I am not powerful, so they think they can walk all over me (In the cage, you are not powerful. In the cage, you are Crushed and Caged. Maybe sometimes you are surprised when you experience that “magnificently powerful wild animals” power within you. Maybe others experience that power in you as well, at times. But this power has been generally restrained and therefore not available for you to use for the purpose of freeing yourself from the cage).

    “being dominated by supposed ‘friends/family’.. is a repeat of my childhood role in my family. My sister.. always demanded to get her own way.. she’d go to my mother and I’d get a beating. It was ‘normal’ in my family that I’d be punished unfairly for things I hadn’t done. It was also ‘normal’ that I had to pay my way for everything whilst my sister had everything paid for (We take in the normal of  our childhood just like other animals do. Other animals don’t have the ability to create a new normal for themselves. If they aren’t trained for a new normal, they keep re-living the old normal. We humans have the option to initiate and create a new normal for ourselves, but it is very difficult because our animalistic instinct is to maintain the same old normal for the rest of our lives.

    “So now I’m thinking it looks like I’m still playing out this role with other people.. but I want to stop  immediately!! I am wondering how do I do that? How do I at least begin taking steps to change this? Perhaps you have some ideas?”

    My ideas for a beginning:

    1. Develop tools and a plan to deal with the fear involved in exiting the old normal/ family role/ the cage.

    2. End all unnecessary contact with family members who perpetuate the old normal/ family role/ the cage.

    anita

     

     

     

    #358862
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    Yes, our posts crossed, I just read your recent post. Your thinking and behavior with your acquaintance reads reasonable to me. It is kind of you to visit your neighbors and offer your assistance!

    anita

    #358879
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Dear Anita,

    Wow! How amazing and how accurate!  I am deeply grateful for the effort you have made for me.  I will be reading through your post a few more times, but it has already brought up many memories and much understanding and I am just listing the connections as they surface and will work with all them and then get back to you.

    Juanita

     

    #358880
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Juanita:

    You are welcome, Juanita. Take your time getting back to me because when you do, I will probably need to read and reply to you thoroughly Friday morning (which is in about 17 hours from now). I will still be at the computer before the morning, but not likely to be focused enough to reply thoroughly. I know we are on different time zones (it is now 1:41 pm, Thursday, my time).

    anita

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