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Feeling unappreciated because of my ex.

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  • #386016
    canary
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I spent a lot of time thinking about my situation after I made the post a month ago. I’ve come to this conclusion.

    At the time I met my ex and we were friends, I noticed that he was genuinely trying to improve his life. At first, he had low amounts of empathy and would manipulate teachers or students for small gains, or humiliate people for his own entertainment, but after a while, I noticed he was trying to be kinder to people and learning to be more empathetic. He genuinely had a heart that cared. I know this because when we were still in the beginning stage of our friendship, he cared so much about me and would check up on me regularly. Even if he didn’t know how to empathize fully, his actions were showing that he cared.

    So up until the middle of our relationship, he was treating me very nicely. There were definitely some incidents where he would have no remorse, show little care for me, someone, or a situation, it really bothered me but I would talk to him about it in hopes he would understand. The reason I stayed even after seeing him act very rude sometimes, was because I could tell he was genuinely trying to be better. I would notice improvements and every time I told him that I needed some extra love & care, he would try his best to give it to me.

    In December 2019, we were both going through a difficult time in our lives. We were both struggling with our mental health, I was struggling with my anxiety + depression, while he was struggling with undiagnosed hallucinations, epilepsy, depression, etc.

    After thinking about what had happened during December 2019 – April 2020, I realized that we were in horrible mental states and we were struggling to survive each day let alone give each other love and support in the relationship. I was expecting to receive love & empathy when I was going through a tough time, and my ex basically overworked himself and was burnt out from trying to take care of himself + take care of me. This led to us having arguments and it became very toxic. He had reached his limit and was expressing himself through anger and short temper, while I was expressing myself through sadness and frustration.

    When we reunited in February 2021, he was still going through a rough time. I remember him telling me about his emotions and what he was going through. We were communicating nicely until around April, he started getting frustrated with me because I would tell him that he is acting very rude and he reached a point where he stopped caring about how he was acting because he was dealing with a lot of mental stress. So he had priorities, obviously, if you’re having a lot of mental stress, you start acting rudely towards people.

    I hope that makes more sense.

    #386017
    canary
    Participant

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by canary. Reason: repeated post
    #386019
    canary
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    I don’t believe that is the reason for my feelings. I have friends that understand my psychological problems, way before I met my ex. I’m referring to “the part of me” that is my personality that my ex understood and reciprocated his energy with me.

    #386023
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear canary,

    I don’t believe that is the reason for my feelings. I have friends that understand my psychological problems, way before I met my ex. I’m referring to “the part of me” that is my personality that my ex understood and reciprocated his energy with me.

    Okay, so there is a part of your personality that no one understands but your ex, however it’s not related to your psychological problems but something else.

    I do water down my personality in front of people because it takes a while for me to warm up enough to be myself completely, but I don’t believe it’s a bad thing.

    How would you be like if you didn’t water down your personality? How would your expression look like?

     

    #386024
    anita
    Participant

    Dear canary:

    You ended your post with: “I hope that makes more sense”, just as you did with previous posts to me. And yet, to me: you did not make any more sense than previously, the contradictions remain, the inconsistencies and the … something-is-not-right, something/a lot-is-missing feeling in me remains. I hope other members are able to make sense of what seems to me as no-sense, and I wish you well.

    anita

    #386062
    canary
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    I am not exactly sure how I’d act if my personality wasn’t watered down. I believe I’d act  relatively the same if I was with strangers and mutuals.

    I think all I desire are friends that accept and appreciate me the way I am, my full personality that I don’t hide. I don’t have many friends, especially close friends, so I feel that’s why I am thinking about my ex because he was the one of the only friends I could be myself with and express a different side to me.

     

    #386063
    canary
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Please explain to me what you are not understanding? Would it help if I rephrased what I wrote? I understand its confusing and it is for me too but I wrote what made sense to me.

     

    #386067
    anita
    Participant

    Dear canary:

    I explained myself previously as clearly as I can. Like anyone else, I don’t understand everything about everyone.. and so, like I said in my previous post to you: I hope other members are better able to understand you. It is too difficult and too unpleasant for me to try.. again.

    anita

    #386068
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear canary,

    I think all I desire are friends that accept and appreciate me the way I am, my full personality that I don’t hide.

    he was the one of the only friends I could be myself with and express a different side to me.

    I am trying to understand which part of your personality is the one you hide – is it the quirky side that “makes jokes and acts weird”?

    #386079
    canary
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    Yes. I don’t feel I can be my complete self in front of others. So I feel I have to hide that part of me (making jokes and acting weird) from others.

    I have something to add.

    I remember I’ve had anxiety since the 5th grade (10 years old). Then in grade 7/8, I started “breaking out of my shell”. I remember making the new girl in my class my friend, and I was able to be myself around her. I gained so much more confidence with my new friend, and eventually, my friend group got really big and I was friends with people that accepted me and appreciated my goofy side that liked making jokes. So I wasn’t anxious at all with my friends, if I remember correctly, I would only feel anxious when I was by myself in class or in front of strangers.

    But then I realized that sometimes my jokes would go overboard, and I would make insensitive jokes that I didn’t mean and hurt people’s feelings. This made me feel soooooo bad. I never wanted to hurt people’s feelings but my jokes hurt them. I hated that so much that I slowly became cautious of what I was saying, and then eventually developed so much anxiety thinking about what I’m saying and if I should say it if it’s funny or not, etc. I just stopped making jokes and I feel that part of my personality died.

    In high school, I had lots of social anxiety. I only had one or two friends from elementary school (the new girl that I was friends with), I considered her to be my best friend. I felt comfortable being myself around her and my friends but was so afraid to talk to other people and make new friends. Eventually, my best friend left me to be with her new friends and that made me feel so alone. I didn’t have lots of friends in high school, I made 2 friends in grades 10-11 but I didn’t always hang out with them during lunch. And the reason we became friends was that they took the initiative to come up to me and start a conversation, which I would continue. I don’t consider these 2 friends to be my close friends, because I can’t fully act like myself around them, which is fine, I still love them and care about them but I was a little bit shy with them.

    Then in grade 11-12 my ex-boyfriend and I met up coincidentally so then we became friends. He was one of the only friends that I could feel myself with. I felt comfortable with him and could act like myself fully, so my silly side came out and it was also reciprocated. We were best friends.

    Also, just to mention I had another best friend but she went to another school, so we didn’t hang out much, but we talk every day! I can feel myself around her, but since we don’t have the same sense of humor I can’t joke around with her much but I don’t mind at all, I love her lots.

    Lately, I’ve been feeling super anxious because I started school and I really want to make close friends. I went to a social event at school, and I talked to so many people! Before I went, I took deep breaths to calm my body down. Whenever I had to speak to someone, I could feel my heart racing, so I took some time to acknowledge my body reaction but went against it anyway. I spoke to people despite the anxiety in my body, and it felt great! I felt like I was being myself around these people because I was having nice conversations with them. It was with a small group of people so that’s why I didn’t feel super anxious.

    Now when I started school, I was too afraid to talk to people. I felt so anxious and awkward. Especially because there are just so many people and the lecture halls are huge.

    I really want to make close friends that understand me and appreciate me. I feel that’s why I keep thinking about my ex because the relationship and bond we had was so unique, and I really enjoyed it. I’m looking to make bonds with people but it’s so hard when I get anxious. On top of that, I’m a little shy so I can’t tell if I want to speak to someone or if I’m afraid of messing up (being anxious).

    I believe that is the reason I feel unappreciated and craving appreciation from my ex.

    Thank you TeaK for responding I gain a lot of clarity after writing down my thoughts and feelings, it’s hard sometimes figuring out the problem on your own and I appreciate talking to people about it.

    #386152
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear canary,

    you are welcome, and I am glad you gained clarity by writing down your thoughts and feelings and understanding yourself better.

    I believe that one of the key moments that stopped you from expressing yourself fully was when you sometimes went overboard with your jokes and hurt people. You didn’t mean to hurt them, you probably felt good and appreciated as a joke-maker, maybe you thought that this is why people like being around you. And so you “stepped it up” a notch,  you made your jokes even “juicier”. And then they became a little insensitive and some people ended up being hurt. It made you feel really bad and guilty, and you shut down as a result:

    Then in grade 7/8, I started “breaking out of my shell”. I remember making the new girl in my class my friend, and I was able to be myself around her. I gained so much more confidence with my new friend, and eventually, my friend group got really big and I was friends with people that accepted me and appreciated my goofy side that liked making jokes. So I wasn’t anxious at all with my friends, if I remember correctly, I would only feel anxious when I was by myself in class or in front of strangers.

    But then I realized that sometimes my jokes would go overboard, and I would make insensitive jokes that I didn’t mean and hurt people’s feelings. This made me feel soooooo bad. I never wanted to hurt people’s feelings but my jokes hurt them. I hated that so much that I slowly became cautious of what I was saying, and then eventually developed so much anxiety thinking about what I’m saying and if I should say it if it’s funny or not, etc. I just stopped making jokes and I feel that part of my personality died.

    So it’s like you opened up, felt loved and appreciated, and then bam – you suddenly experienced rejection. And this hurt you tremendously and caused you to shut down.

    I think it would help if you could forgive yourself for unintentionally making those insensitive jokes and hurting people. You don’t need to punish yourself and keep this funny part of yourself hidden forever. Because it’s an important part of who you are, and there is nothing wrong with it.

    You’d just need to know the difference between a harmless and a hurtful joke. Can you tell a difference now? Do you understand why those jokes were insensitive? If you do, you can set the intention to never hurt people again with your jokes, and to not go overboard. But you can still share that part of your personality – a funny, goofy part, who cheers people up and makes them laugh and have fun.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by TeaK.
    #386272
    anita
    Participant

    Dear canari:

    A few days ago I lost my patience trying to understand you because of what I wrote to you above, Sept 9: “you did not make any more sense than previously, the contradictions remain, the inconsistencies and the … something-is-not-right, something/a lot-is-missing feeling in me remains”.

    As I re-read your posts since December 2020 earlier this morning, it occurred to me as clear as day: the extreme contradictions in your descriptions of your ex-boyfriend are a result of Splitting. I am concerned that the following may be disturbing for you to read, therefore, you are welcome to stop reading right now, and if you choose to continue reading, please stop reading at any time if you feel too distressed. (From personal experience with members, I know that when reading something too distressing, members automatically stop engaging in the reading, so I am not too worried, yet I wanted to give you a word of caution anyway):

    Here is what Wikipedia has on the topic: “Splitting (also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole… The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are good or bad with no middle ground)…it begins as the inability of the infant to combine the fulfilling aspects of the parents (the good object) and their unresponsive aspects (the unsatisfying object) into the same individuals, instead seeing the good and bad as separate. In psychoanalytic theory this functions as a defense mechanism”.

    Your extreme fluctuations in your characterizations of your ex-boyfriend from Good to Bad and back to Good and back to Bad.. can only be explained by Splitting: your inability (so far) to see him as being a whole, cohesive person with desirable/ positive/ good qualities and undesirable/ negative/ good qualities. Instead you see him as Split into two separate images: one Good, the other Bad.

    In your December 2020 post you characterized him as Good: he was empathetic and tried to help you, but failed because you were too anxious and difficult: “I was becoming very difficult to be around.. he tried to be there for me,  there wasn’t a lot he could do“.. Fast forward six months, in July 2021, he is Bad: “He is a bad person.. he would never empathize with me“.

    Still in July 2021, you rationalized/ tried to make sense of the Split: “The man my hope is attached to is the man he was before he hit rock bottom.. he was selfless and kind.. but unfortunately, he does not.. care about anyone but himself“- he was Good before a rock bottom of some kind, and Bad after.

    “I kept bringing up the contradictions of your characterization of him, and you continued your efforts to rationalize/ to explain away the Split: “When I say my ex was very kind and selfless, I only mean he was that way to his loved  ones (1 or 2 people including me), not to everyone else.. He  is only a ‘good person’ with his loved ones.. and with the rest of the world he isn’t“- he is Good to a few people, Bad to everyone else.

    The Splitting is not limited to your characterization of him but of yourself as well: “in the beginning.. of our relationship I was not anxiously attached to my partner. I had my own sense of self.. this anxiety only shows up when I’m in a relationship with him“: one image of yourself is that of a calm young woman with a strong sense of self who became anxious as a result of your ex, and another image is that of a very anxious girl and woman, ever since the age of 10, if not before.

    Here is another Split regarding your self image, Sept 2021: “before meeting my ex, I struggled with low self-esteem regarding my physical appearance.. But, I still felt appreciated for being myself (my personality)“- one image of yourself is confident and appreciated, another image struggles with low self-esteem. In reality, you are One person with low self-esteem who felt better at one time about her personality than about her physical appearance, not Two people, one who suffers from a low self esteem, and another who enjoys a high self-esteem.

    my ex found my weird personality to be humorous and relatable“- another Split image, a “weird personality”, one to which a different self-image cannot relate to.

    Here is a Split in regard to your family: “I feel my family accepts me completely but they don’t fully understand me“- your family is split into two images: one completely accepts you, the other does not completely accept you.

    Back to your ex: “with my ex, I felt he understood some parts of me that no one ever understood before… ‘the part of me’ that is my personality.. I feel I have to hide that part of me“- different, split parts= different, split self-images.

    In quality psychotherapy, I hope that you will be able to bring all these split parts together and gradually build an understanding of yourself, of each one of your family members, and of your ex-boyfriend as whole individuals. (It’s been a long process for me to do the same, and I made a lot of progress, over time and work).

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by anita.
    #386413
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear canary,

    how have you been doing? I’ve come across a youtube video that talks about something similar that you’re experiencing – afraid to show your quirky side. It’s by Barbara Heffernan, and it’s called “Conquer your critical inner voice”. The part relevant for you starts at 3:55.

    Since you’ve been watching Therapy in a Nutshell, I believe Barbara Heffernan’s videos might help you too. I like them a lot.

    • This reply was modified 5 days, 7 hours ago by TeaK.
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