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  • #90398
    Billie
    Participant

    I’ve been going through something of an existential crisis for some time and I really need help. I often think of seeing a professional but I am very guarded and I feel internet forums such as this one allow me to be as truthful as can be.

    First, let me sum up my crisis: I’m in my late 20s, I’m aware I have no ‘real’ crisis that threatens my life such as war or famine. I earn a good income, I’m in a relationship with someone who loves me, I have a roof over my head, when I eat I do it not just for sustenance, I can afford to travel, buy frivolous stuff, and I live in one of the safest and most modern countries on earth. Yet I can’t seem to drag myself out of melancholy. I really can’t explain it but I have been feeling low and aimless for a few years now with a few bright spots in-between.

    Basically, what has been eating me up from the inside is this: I don’t seem to have real suffering yet I am suffering on the inside, and therefore I feel like such a loser. And people talk about how happiness is a choice, that you can change your outlook on life by sheer willpower alone. I’ve tried doing that but for some reason it didn’t work. It makes me feel like a failure and question myself, what’s wrong with me??

    Tied to this depression is this inability to make peace with myself, with my past. The so-called acceptance and stuff. I have two major issues:

    1) My parents gave the impression that their love was conditional when I was growing up and it has seriously messed me up. I have a chilly relationship with my parents and siblings and now that we’re all adults, we try to be civil with each other but it all feels so fake and forced. My especially awful relationship with my dad has left me broken and damaged. He is the distant type, physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive, and my younger brother mimicked his behavior with me and no one interfered. As a result, there is this huge, bottomless pit in my heart that no amount of love will ever be enough to fill it. For years I felt unloved until I got together with my gf (yes, same sex relationship). The relationship is real, not just because I needed to fill a void. However, in the back of my mind I’m still longing to have a man in my life to love me, and it’s not because I don’t love my partner or that she doesn’t love me, it’s just that for some reason I want a man to love me (it’s not really about sex, I just want a father or brother figure who loves me, protects me, etc. All that bullshit.). I’ve talked about this with my gf (my relationship is the only functional relationship in my life) and she is so understanding to the point that she will allow me to be with a man (while still being in a relationship with her) if that helps.

    2) I have this huge birthmark on my body and it causes no real issues, just that it restricts my fashion choice. It’s very shallow yet I let it get to me so many times. I’ve been telling myself that my birthmark doesn’t stop me from doing anything, my arm can function just as an arm without a birthmark would but I can’t stop agonizing over how nice it would be to be able to wear a bikini or a strapless gown without being looked at like a freak. I’ve been reading about Nick Vujicic who has no limbs, for God’s sake, yet I still feel sorry for myself, and I hate myself for it.

    I’ve been crying a lot this lately because I feel like there is no way out. Everything that I do seems so pointless and I don’t know why I’m feeling this way when I don’t see a real reason to feel so bad about myself. Help please.

    #90402
    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Billie,

    There are three things going on here:

    1. It seems to me that you feel like you are all “set” yet you are coasting. You feel guilty for not having “true” suffering! May I suggest you take on A Mission in Life. A Cause. Volunteer. Give $$$ to charity. See if that doesn’t make you feel even a little better. (It might not!) But just going outside of yourself can’t be a bad thing. It won’t hurt and might help.

    Consider that you might not feel like your good fortune is genuine or “deserved” if your own family is down on you.

    2. You have a Father Wound. Millions of us have this. You are still young, so if you find an older brother, uncle or father figure, get closer to them, it won’t be seen as “weird”. My sister and I had adopted this old photographer, and even helped take care of him at the end of his life. He was ten times better than our natural father, and I still consider him an Uncle. If you join a church, especially a charismatic one, you can ask the clergy if they would be your “Spiritual Father”. They will know what you mean and be honored.

    3. You can get birthmarks removed. No shame in that. My DH gets skin tags and is always taking them off.

    Best,

    Inky

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 6 months ago by Inky.
    • This reply was modified 6 years, 6 months ago by Inky.
    #90408
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Billie:

    You wrote: “Basically, what has been eating me up from the inside is this: I don’t seem to have real suffering yet..” and “I don’t know why I’m feeling this way when I don’t see a real reason to feel so bad about myself.”

    You know and you do not know at the same time the nature of your suffering. You know your father abused you physically and mentally for one, that is the reason you are still looking for a man to love you. And yet you do not know it.

    This is very common, to know … and not to know something at the same time. In some part of your brain, you know. Other parts of your brain do not know. The emotion connected to the experience of having been abused by your father and by your younger brother is detached to a large extent from relatively dry, neutral memories of such abuse and bullying.

    Without enough of the emotion behind these memories, you don’t really know those things happen, or you don’t know enough. So you never process what happened adequately. Because living is not a dry, intellectual, neutral activity- emotion is necessary. It is who we are as we evolved from highly emotional animal stock. First there were instincts and emotions… then there was logic. Logic without emotion is good enough when you decipher how to operate a machine, let’s say, but it is not good enough to live a good life.

    How do you associate the emotions you really, really didn’t want to feel then and still don’t? Good psychotherapy will do. It will feel badly but you already feel badly. The foot is heavily on the brakes: No pain, no pain! is the motivation, automatic. It takes good psychotherapy. You can write more here if you would like. Maybe you can write about your experience with your father here but do it imagining you are a young child, using a young child language…

    anita

    #90409
    anita
    Participant

    * More: the reason I quoted you here: “Basically, what has been eating me up from the inside is this: I don’t seem to have real suffering yet..”- it lets me know that you don’t know that you HAVE real suffering- the suffering of past is inside your brain, still there. You look around you and say: I have enough to eat, I am not living in a war zone, not KNOWING the suffering of past is still activated. Since it happened during your FORMATIVE years, that suffering is part of the function of your brain and healing needs to be done. Your brain was formed with the abuse, hurt, suffering in it.

    and “I don’t know why I’m feeling this way when I don’t see a real reason to feel so bad about myself.” You don’t know that you are feeling this way because you were abused during your formative years, etc.

    anita

    #90410
    Mark
    Participant

    Billie,

    I feel like I know what you’re talking about. I’ve felt the same way in different seasons of my own personal life. I too come from a relatively stable background. The most difficult step for me was in realizing that my feelings were valid and I actually had a right to feel the emotions I was feeling.

    Just because you aren’t living in a war torn country, it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel the feelings you’re feeling. In fact, often when our base needs are fulfilled, depression can be stronger because we believe there should be no reason for our depression. Like the great Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt sang on To Live is to Fly:

    “We all got holes to fill
    And them holes are all that’s real”

    …and:

    “Everything is not enough
    And nothin’ is too much to bear
    Where you’ve been is good and gone
    All you keep’s the getting there”

    So true. Some day, you may find that the adversities and these experiences that you’ve had with your family brought the color to your life. It pays to look at things objectively though.

    Sure you’re allowed to feel the way you do, but what next. Knowing your feelings are valid doesn’t make them go away. I thought it was funny what you said about being able to will away emotions. It reminded me of an old Seinfeld episode when Kramer brought “serenity now” onto the scene…eventually, he and George’s emotions were so bottled up they exploded. Certainly not a long term solution. Focusing on the positive has merit, but it won’t get you there.

    You said that you were not quite willing to seek help outside of the forums. I’d invite you to reconsider. A counselor/life coach/therapist…can make all the difference. It’s really nice to have another person to talk to and who will listen to you completely objectively (a person without skin in the game). It’s often free, or paid for by insurance depending on where you live. Sessions are confidential, and they will typically go through what to expect in the first session.

    I think Inky is on the right track. It may be good to pursue something you’re excited about. There are so many blogs on “finding your passion”… When we take steps on the path we are meant to walk, when we stop trying to live someone else’s plan for us, joy tends to creep back into our lives.

    Your partner sounds really quite unique and understanding. I’m wondering about your impression of WHY you’re seeking out that male comfort and reassurance. This is one area counseling could help, but I’m wondering if it has to do with filling a void left by your father’s conditional love. I’m not going to pretend to know.

    The birthmark? I doubt other people are even as remotely concerned about it as you. We often hyper focus on our own issues and the truth is, other people are so concerned about their own faults to bother worrying about yours. Read the clasic play Cyrano de Bergerac. :)…or the modernized movie with Steve Martin “Roxanne”. The main protagonist lives with an unusually large nose…

    Anyway, I’m hoping that what I wrote will help you to look at your situation a little differently. Basically, your feelings are valid, these adversities may make amazing poetry some day, pursue something that lights you up with some of your free time, and don’t be afraid to get live 1:1 help. You can’t begin to imagine what your potential is until you open up and take the steps. 🙂

    Cheers,

    Mark

    #90411
    Mark
    Participant

    Very true what Anita says…about suffering

    #90476
    Billie
    Participant

    I did volunteer at an animal shelter few years back (I’ve been dealing with this personal crisis for a few years now). I volunteered my time as well as giving money but the people there were so negative that after 1yr+ of volunteering I just gave up because each time I came home I was left more exhausted mentally than I’d been before.

    I’ve tried opening myself up, enrolling in a foreign language course, attending makeover workshops, none worked. Each time I came home feeling exhausted, deserted, empty, like I don’t see the point of it all. Why do I bother trying to do all those things?

    Just to clarify, I don’t think I feel guilty because I don’t have true suffering. Rather, I feel confused because my life is good by anyone’s standard yet I am discontented and I don’t know why. All I know is that, for everything that is going well in my life, I just can’t seem to be happy. It’s like my brain is diseased. I was happy when Kirsten Dunst came out about her depression. She’s by all account successful and has a better life than most people, yet that doesn’t exempt her from feeling low.

    The part that bothers me the most is how I keep longing for a boyfriend even though I have this very good girlfriend who still adores me, tells me I’m beautiful, tells me she’s lucky to have me, and she always takes my feelings and desires into account, even after 8 years together. I know a lot of people who would kill to have a partner like that and here I am, wasting it all away just because she doesn’t have a penis.

    I’d like to reiterate that I’m not confused about my sexuality. Few years ago I had what you would probably call a mental breakdown. It was so severe that my gf and I separated for a week. During which, I hooked up with a couple of men I found from Craigslist. I consider it my rock bottom. It makes me sick to my stomach how careless and stupid my action was, all because I have this stupid Father Wound I was trying to heal.

    I want to ‘adopt’ a father figure, believe me, but years of abuse from my father and brother have left me with a damaged self-esteem that makes me uncomfortable around men, especially if they are nice. If a man is being nice to me, I have to get away right that second, my brain just can’t register the stimuli, I would literally run away from them and then go to the bathroom and cry. Also, deep down, I would always question their sincerity. Why would a stranger care about me? My own dad and brother don’t, and they are my immediate family.

    And this worthless feeling extends to my birthmark as well. I keep thinking, if I had a father who showed me unconditional love, that he’d love me, birthmark and all, then I wouldn’t have this much of an issue with it.

    FYI, Inky, I know you can get some birthmarks removed but mine is the cafe au lait type and it is extensive, it covers parts of my limbs, back, and torso. If I dressed conservatively (say, anything you’d wear to the church), you wouldn’t be able to tell at all. I’ve of course researched about how to get rid of it (internet + see a doctor), they all say they can try lightening it with laser but it will have to be done in sessions, it will be expensive, and it will re-appear after a few years. Seems like much ado about nothing so i always decide against it in the end but every now and then, it gets to me, you know.

    #90496
    Billie
    Participant

    FYI, I have a younger sister whose experience with our father and brother is completely different. I’d like to think it’s because I was there as a buffer that after my father was done taking out whatever his issues were on me, my sister then got to experience the gentler version of him. She is also friends with my brother especially because they are only 2 years apart and share the same social circle. My brother can get protective of her sometimes. While as a firstborn, my parents always told me to take care of my siblings so they end up see me as a guardian and not a sister.

    #90528
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Billie:

    You are presently still deeply HURT by your father’s rejection and mistreatment of you. You are still angry that he treated you, maybe still treats you that way. You still need and want him to accept you, to love you.

    This is very unfortunate that you suffered a father like that. It was not your fault. The suffering you experience, the discontent, you can change that by HEALING from the injuries of your abuse by your father and lack of love in your childhood. Healing with good psychotherapy so to gain insight, skills… to confront core beliefs, test their reality, change those that are not true.

    Volunteering will not help at this point, neither will the best girlfriend in the world… nothing will except in the context of you getting on the healing path with good psychotherapy.

    anita

    #90532
    Christina
    Participant

    Billie,
    I also had an abusive dad and it was older brother who also abused me without interference. And what’s crazy is I also volunteered and then worked at an animal shelter and quit because it was too depressing and exhausting and everyone there was angry all the time. I still have a lot of fear of men, I don’t trust them and I am always on guard.
    Thank you for writing in, I connected with a lot of what you wrote and am going through a similar crisis. Good job, good pay, minimal interactions with abusive family, I’ve tried hobby after hobby… I don’t know why I’m not happy and why I feel like life has no meaning.
    What do you think about Anitas idea that the abuse is still depressing you even though it isn’t happening anymore? People talk about ‘processing’ the abuse but I don’t know what that really means.
    Good luck, I hope things become more clear for the both of us.
    Christina

    #90539
    Mark
    Participant

    Billie,

    You may not realize it now, but it appears that you’re at the beginning of a grand journey. How long you sit at the beginning is up to you. Deep down, you probably feel something pulling you. You have some work ahead of you. It will take more than just looking at your beliefs and attitudes. You’ll also need to “do”. You can ignore or answer the call, it’s up to you. That quiet nag won’t leave you alone until you have the courage to act though. I was in a similar place in my early 20s. I ignored and avoided, and finally, almost 20 years later…after general drift, and failed relationships , I started the journey. Looking back, I see that I could have started much earlier. I waisted years, but really, it doesn’t matter. All we have is this present moment. What we do with it defines us in our future.

    You’ll probably hate this idea, but it sounds like at some point you will be confronted with a choice to forgive your father and brother…or not. What you do in that moment, will define your path. The way you’re feeling right now is just a result of what you’re choosing to hold on to. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting…or excusing. The only thing forgiveness means is that you are not going to let those experience continue to hold power over you. …it’s a letting go of the past. …it’s an opening up to yourself when you forgive. It’s an active process and not just an event, so if you choose to forgive, hang in there. The most amazing life is still ahead for you.

    #90540
    anita
    Participant

    * Dear Christina:

    This is a very tricky concept: being in contact with abusive family, let’s say you being in contact with your father, the “abusive dad” you mentioned. First I would ask: is his abuse in the past or is it still going? Let’s say he used to physically hit you when you were a child and has not done it for years. It means he no longer abuses you THAT way. But what about other ways? Let’s say as a child he hit you and called you humiliating names. Let’s say he does neither but he LOOKS at you with the same frown, same anger or disgust in his eyes presently. But he doesn’t hit you or call you names. See, because for years during your formative years he did all three: hit you, called you names and looked at you with anger and disgust in his eyes, NOW, in the present, when you see those things in his eyes, the other two things happen in your brain automatically. The hitting and calling name, recorded in your memory, get activated every time he looks at you that way…

    You may wonder: what if I am imagining he is angry and disgusted with me when I look in his eyes? Maybe he is not angry and disgusted with me since he is not hitting me and calling me names?

    Then I will ask: did he express remorse for having hit you and called you names? Did he express sincere remorse, taking full responsibility for his abusive actions and words? Did he offer to pay for you to go to psychotherapy so to deal with what he inflicted upon you? Did he himself go to therapy?

    If none of that happened, why wouldn’t his look mean anger and disgust? And isn’t the abuse, the MENTAL abuse, at this point, going on in the present after all?

    What do you think, Christina? I you would like, please answer here or on a new thread…

    anita

    #90542
    Mark
    Participant

    A word on forgiveness: You don’t need to have a conversation to forgive. You can simply, within yourself, forgive… You don’t need to be in the presence of the abuser to forgive. Something amazing happens when you let go of your attachment to such a negative influence.

    Even hints of forgiveness are helpful. You begin to recognize the man for who he is. more than likely, he was abused also. More than likely, he’s operating on what he knows based on his ingrained beliefs and emotions, however warped. To break the cycle by letting go has the ability to free you from those hurt and aimless feelings. Again, it’s a process though. I hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Mark

    #90548
    BenzRabbit
    Participant

    Billie,

    You have been given good advice above.

    I will only add that the reason you are not “at peace with yourself”, it is because the Universe is asking you to find your “inner” strength !

    Your past with your parents/family has left you with deep scars that no one from the outside can heal – you have to do this Yourself. You need to forgive/forget the past, and develop new courage to face life head on and find happiness !!

    You can do this on your own or you can choose counseling. Here is a link that will help get you started:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/culturally-speaking/201303/overcoming-the-pain-childhood-abuse-and-neglect

    Don’t thing too much about the birthmark – to our true loves/soulmates these things are non-issues and do not bother them.

    I pray you find peace and happiness soon !

    God bless !!

    #90742
    Billie
    Participant

    Thank you, all, for the kind words and the encouragement. I will try and get help.

    Hi Christina, it’s good to hear we have similar experiences. Never expected animal shelters to be full of angry people, did you? Me neither. It was a hard decision to stop giving my time and money but ultimately I need to take care of myself first.

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