January 11, 2020 at 6:15 am #332663
I will re-arrange/edit the order of the sentences in your yesterday’s two posts: my dad said when I was a child, he said that nobody likes me. It really hurt. I was bullied by teachers and peers for being gay. The bullying stopped, but it continued in my mind. I see myself as harshly as my bullies saw me. My mind insists on seeing myself in the worst way possible. When people compliment me, I resist it a bit but it feels good. I wish I could feel good about myself without compliments, feel good just being alive. Most of the time I don’t.
My input: our brain connects things throughout our earlier childhoods: your father said nobody likes you.. meaning he too doesn’t like you, does it.. then a teacher and students bully you.. understandably (the child thinks, I imagine), since nobody likes you, you are not likeable. Maybe you don’t bother telling your father, so you are alone with these “depressive moods and intense self-hatred”.
If our brain was a room of electronics, we could figure out the logic of things, go in that room and rewire everything, disconnect this and connect that. You’d disconnect the wires between father and god and <i>you</i>. You will disconnect wires between feminine behavior and shame, between homosexuality and disapproval, and make way better connections, connections that fit reality and feel good. You would then exit the room and all is well.
But our brain is flesh and blood. The connections there are made by multiple complex and intricate biochemical processes that the best psychiatrists cannot re-arrange (take the edge of, tranquilize, yes, but not undo connections and create new connections).
Let’s say you attend psychotherapy with the greatest therapist in the world, most educated, most accomplished, respected and whatnot. And let’s say, in ten long sessions with him, he tells you that you are fine the way you are, that your father was wrong and so were the bullies, and the abuse was wrong, and he will explain to you how it all happened in your brain, how the depressive moods and intense self hatred came about. Those ten sessions will not undo the old connections or create new and lasting connections.
It is not that your brain as an individual “is insistent on me seeing myself,,”, all brains are insistent. Once a self image was formed, it stays, because connections don’t get undone spontaneously, or because some time has passed, nor do they get undone by drugs, or by willing them to be undone, or by logic, or by reading amazing books, or by most new experiences. Compliments and new achievements don’t undo those early connections either.
What can be done: we can take on the years long and difficult process of disconnecting and reconnecting our brain, the rewiring of that flesh and blood organ. We can work on this rewiring our whole lives but our success will be partial.(There is simply too many connections there and we don’t have .. I am guessing hundreds of years that it would take). But partial rewiring, if we aim at what is high on the priority list, is good enough.
The process involves this crucial element: we have to persist in the process while we feel badly, while we feel that excruciating shame and self hatred, we have to keep going, believing that in the future we will feel better. We feel badly, we then feel good and think: oh, I got it! From now on I will be feeling this good, but no, next we feel badly again.. and good and badly again and we have to continue regardless.
Right above is where most people stop, they figure it’s not working because they still feel badly.
The process is about new experiences, but experiences that we choose and direct thoughtfully. I will stop here, and if you want, we can continue to communicate here.
anitaJanuary 11, 2020 at 10:46 am #332709
You capture well what I indeed experience. The detail about reliving more than just one’s dry words is true, but what struck me is your very accurate description of how “we feel badly, we then feel good and think: oh, I got it! From now on I will be feeling this good, but no, next we feel badly again.. and good and badly again” Very true, and funnily enough I had a conversation just the other night whether my parents suggested things never truly get better (not what I’m suggesting you’re saying). Your explanation of how connections in the brain are impossible to rewire with just logic also makes a lot of sense to me.
I’m also truly sorry to hear that so much of your life has been characterised by misery. I can only send you my best wishes for peace and hope that you have someone in your life as kind and non-judgemental as yourself.
It’s about the process, not the destination. I am aware of this. I am trying to accept that I perhaps won’t ever feel okay about myself the majority of the time.
I don’t want to seem stubborn, but… now that we’ve talked a bit about all that Anita, I wonder whether you still think the way I feel about my parents’ mortality is something that can only be solved by working on past traumas? If so, I think I am probably missing something and I’m sorry 🙁January 11, 2020 at 11:13 am #332715
Thank you for your kind words and good wishes for me.
“I am trying to accept that I perhaps won’t ever feel okay about myself the majority of the time”- from my experience I do feel better about myself the majority of the time, way better. It just took a whole lot of time and a whole lot of work staring in 2011.
I don’t feel euphoric like I thought I would (I expected a heavenly destination to the healing process, but now I know that .. well, there is no heaven, really). Often I am content, although some anxiety is still my experience.
“I wonder whether you still think the way I feel about my parents’ mortality is something that can only be solved by working on past traumas?”-
– the extent of how much you worry about your parents’ mortality will significantly lessen if you work on past trauma and if you learn and practice emotional regulation skills as well as interpersonal skills (a good therapist should teach these to the client).
anitaJanuary 11, 2020 at 2:29 pm #332745
Thank you Anita. I’m really glad to hear that you are content most of the time, not only of course for your sake but also since it gives me more hope for the future. A healthy dose of optimism is a powerful thing, isn’t it?
I’ve decided for sure I am going to start therapy when I move house in March. I spend so much time thinking about saving the world, but I realise I cannot help a single soul without putting my own needs first, and if that means such time-consuming resorts as therapy then that is that and I needn’t complain. I think it’s hard, perhaps especially as a man, to accept that you are a human being with emotions and that it’s really okay to need help and to ask for help. But I’m ready now.
Thanks and best wishes— you are really a kind soul 🙂January 11, 2020 at 2:45 pm #332749
“A healthy dose of optimism is a powerful thing, isn’t it?”- yes it is. I like the way you write.
And you are very welcome. I just hope your therapist is good enough, hard working and generous with his time, his efforts and his empathy. It takes a dedicated, hard working, honest client and therapist to make therapy work. Do post again anytime you’d like to post. I will be glad to read from you and reply every single time.
anitaJanuary 12, 2020 at 10:03 am #332883
I’ll try to get a good one!
Your existence is very appreciated. See you around 🙂January 12, 2020 at 1:32 pm #332923
Your existence is appreciated as well. See you around!