May 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm #35935KumoParticipant
For a while I’ve been feeling like something in my life is not quite right. I am a college student and am currently staying at my aunt’s house in New York for the summer. But at the moment no one in my immediate family is in New York, and as far as I know many of my friends in NY are still in school finishing up their semester. Not wanting to be bored, I’ve tried to keep myself occupied in various ways; I would draw (drawing is my hobby), go out for walks or long bike trips, play Solitaire on my phone, but mostly I would be on the internet watching my favorite shows/applying for scholarships/checking emails and Facebook. For the last few weeks, whether I was inside or outside of the house, I’ve been feeling incredibly frustrated and very lonely. I had read some Tiny Buddha articles that stated that the best way to deal with an emotion is to feel it fully. And I started to think that a lot of what I’ve been doing was to avoid feeling lonely. So yesterday, like many other days lately, I spent the entire day alone in the house, since my aunt and uncle work and my cousin goes to middle school. But this time I made sure I would not go out, watch TV, use my computer or my phone. I also tried to meditate once, but I ended up thinking deeply about why I felt the way I did. I examined my relationships with family and friends and once I started with family, I cried. Then after lying in bed, trying to nap (but ending up thinking about it further), I cried a lot more, this time louder. And then I ended up realizing that I felt like no one needed or wanted my company.
I thought I was really onto something, so I dug deeper. And I started worrying that almost all of my relationships were unhealthy in a way. While I know that there are friends and family who do seem to want my company, I noticed that at times I would be very selective about who I wanted that caring to come from (which is what lead me to examine my relationships in the first place). Out of all of my relationships with friends and family (including relatives), I felt close to almost no one. And none of the people I felt close to at one point or another is near me right now. Within my immediate family, I have a mother and father, and three sisters (and two dogs). The only one I’ve really ever felt close to is my mother (and maybe the dogs, but I guess we’re counting human relationships right now). And I haven’t seen her since Thanksgiving. After we sold the house in the fall, she moved to Florida with the dogs. My dad and everyone else moved to different places as well; I went back to school in Massachusetts, my dad moved to new Jersey (and has a new girlfriend), one sister went to California, one’s in Europe, and one goes to school in Long Island, NY. The only one I’ve seen frequently is my dad, but he and I have a very strenuous relationship; we don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, and he often criticizes me in ways that hurt my feelings. He also doesn’t seem to be emotionally available, because whenever he asks me how I am, no matter what I tell him, he considers anything I tell him outside of physical sickness or distress to mean that I’m fine. To him, those things are only technical details that you probably wouldn’t share. My sisters and I aren’t very close overall; even though the youngest sister and I are close in age, I feel like we’re strangers now (although I can see that started happening years ago); my second oldest sister and I used to fight a lot, and even though she tries to keep in contact me more often and help me when I’m in trouble, I also feel like we’re essentially strangers; my oldest sister and I share some interests (like anime and some other TV shows), but I think that’s about as far as it goes. She can have quite an attitude, and I vaguely remember that I used to annoy her a lot. If she and I weren’t bonding over those interests, I’d most likely be walking on eggshells (same with the other sisters). Unless it’s my mother, I generally don’t want to talk to them, and hesitate when I’m asked to contact them for something or reply to them. And besides my mother, I don’t feel comfortable telling them many of the greater details of my life, especially the emotional ones (and I’ve had a lot of emotional troubles in the past year). At times I end up sharing more of these things with my friends, but other than that I keep most of them to myself (many times to an excruciating degree).
Moving onto friends, I realized that almost all of my relationships with them are not healthy; I feel close to almost none of them, and for almost every one, I’ve been such a people pleaser. From about kindergarten to the end of middle school, I almost always didn’t get along with my peers, and ended up fighting physically with a lot of them. I had some friends at times, but it was hardly consistent; either they moved away to a different home or school (and moved on I guess), or I fought with them and it didn’t last. The only time I saw some consistency is in my high school years. Many of my peers then were nicer than I imagined, and slowly I became friends with them. But by that time I’d already learned to keep my guard up around others, and I was slow to trust them all. I held myself back a lot, and many times when I spent time with them or when I did things for them, it was to make sure they wouldn’t leave me. I knew on some level that what I was doing wasn’t very healthy, but none of them really seemed to complain (I guess they didn’t notice) and I probably felt like this was as good as it was ever going to get for me. When we graduated and went to college, we all pretty much went our separate ways. None of them went with me to college, and I felt very lost and lonely for the first two years. We’ve still kept in contact with each other since then, but now we barely talk (which I guess is normal, but I didn’t handle that well). Although I admit only now that I felt a little empty about leaving each other at graduation, I became increasingly withdrawn in first two years of college. From that entire time up until my junior year, I realize that I kept a lot of that to myself and at the same time I let it consume me. I met many more people in college, but I’ve had such a hard time trusting and getting close to almost all of them. It wasn’t until I made some really good friends in my junior year that I started to change a little. I became more open and more trusting. I was able to confide in some, and have a good time with some others. But in response to many recent emotional troubles, the fear and the people pleasing tendencies strengthened once again, and I started to really dislike being alone. To some degree I’ve always disliked it, but I was used to doing it a lot when I was younger (I guess because I had to). I started doing things just to get attention (not anything particularly bad), like posting much of my artwork on Facebook (I like to draw and I go to school for Art in Game Development), or statuses that would hint I wanted some kind of response (again nothing negative). Regarding the friends that I’ve really gotten to trust and who were almost always there for me when I needed them, I started relying on them to make me feel better whenever I had a tough emotional problem, or just when I didn’t want to feel lonely. And at time when they wouldn’t respond or they’re busy doing other things/hanging out with other friends, I would feel rejected, and sometimes jealous. What’s more, for as long as I can remember, I didn’t particularly like fighting, but since my fighting days I’ve grown to detest conflict itself (another reason for people pleasing and holding myself back), and now I’ve started to hold myself back again and/or agonize over what to say to them when I wanted something from them.
But worst of all, I think that everything I’ve learned has lead me to realize that I do not love myself (or not much, idk). I’ve grown to overanalyze everything I do now, I have trouble believing in and trusting myself, and I’ve held myself and my feelings back so much that I’m not sure who I am anymore. I’ve also notably been increasingly occupied with making sure I don’t “waste time”. I have trouble relaxing, and I feel bad when i don’t do anything. Although this could also be a result of my rigorous college schedule, I think it runs deeper than that. I think I’ve taken on the need to do things as part of my identity. I mean, when I was in high school people started acknowledging my drawings, and even more so in college. I can’t honestly say I didn’t enjoy the attention, and even now, my Facebook profile is full of more pictures of my artwork than myself. Additionally, I returned to NY with the intention of improving my art portfolio, since I needed to do so before I could apply for internships, and I didn’t have time to do all of it during the semester. But before I could really start working on it, I needed to acquire some software and the necessary hardware. And since I don’t have the money to acquire some of those things, I’ve become very frustrated with my life and felt like I was wasting time, like my life was standing still. Knowing this, I think I let my artwork define me. Next to pleasing friends, it was the only other thing that I got a lot of positive attention for, and I guess the only other thing that made me feel important. After all, considering everything else that’s happened in my life, I felt like making art was the only thing I was really ever good at. But when I’m by myself and can do no artwork or cannot be with friends, I start feeling lost and frustrated and unimportant. And now I think it’s clearer to me that I’ve grown to need others and external things to validate me.
Based on what I’ve learned so far and what I feel, I want to feel better about myself and stop relying on external forces to make me happy. I also don’t want to keep going down this path because I feel like I’ll damage my relationships with everyone if I do. But I don’t really know where to start and that scares me. And on top of that there’s one thing I’m not sure I’m completely over: my childhood conflicts with my peers and family, especially my peers. When I walk outside now I distrust anyone who reminds me of the kids who hurt me. On another level, I feel contempt for my race as a whole, because almost everyone who treated me that way was of this race. And my aunt lives in an area which is surrounded by this particular race of people, including younger kids who still live under the aggressive culture that plagued me and many others. So every time I go out, I feel somewhat scared and I always want to go farther away from that area, though I’d have to go pretty far most of the time, so I often choose not to go out. I wan’t to relinquish all the feelings I have related to that conflict, and I read that let go I’d have to forgive the ones who did that to me. But sometimes it seems implied that to forgive them I must contact them somehow and talk to them about it (or just tell them how I feel?) And I have a problem with that for two reasons: the first is that I don’t know where any of my former peers are, since it was so long ago, and I don’t have any way to contact them. Additionally, other than those negatives, I don’t remember much of my childhood, and because of that I worry that may have repressed memories. I worry that would hinder the process, especially if I need to forgive certain members of my family as well. And generally speaking, if I should learn to generate compassion for them in order to forgive what they did, I’m not sure how to start, especially if I have repressed memories (which I’m not entirely sure of). And if I need to visit a therapist to deal with the memory issue, I don’t know I will ne able anytime soon, considering that I’m broke, my family is having a lot of financial problems and my health insurance has expired.
So, if I can’t do any of that stuff yet, what can I do in the meantime? I’ve read many articles on Tiny Buddha in the last few days but I really don’t know where to start. I also don’t think I should try to do everything alone (which is why I’m reaching out for help on this forum), but not many people are near me right now, and I don’t think anyone besides my mom (who is also not near me) will understand any of this enough to provide enough support.
So if someone here is willing to point me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it.May 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm #35940AnonymousInactive
I’ve read your other post and I truly feel with where you are in your life. As you yourself have recognized, there are deeper issues here at play than relationships with those with your friends and family. All of these are simply manifestations that have roots in your mind and the answers to your questions may not be found in online articles or forums. I don’t mean to discourage you from participating, but I do think that in addition to being part of this online community, a face to face conversation with a professional is needed.
Your family (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings) is the first place to turn to when expressing a need to see a therapist. I used to be weary of expressing my needs to my family because of what I perceived to be their financial issues, but I now know that had I actually told them I needed help, they may have been weary at first, but eventually would have helped me or worked with me towards finding a solution. If they don’t know you want help, they can’t even try to start.
You’ve reached critical point in your life where you are now, perhaps more than ever, willing to examine how your mind works and improve the quality of your life. If you ever have doubts about seeing a therapist or pursuing the need, remember, “Hell is a conversation with yourself about yourself” and nothing will ever replace the support you get from a face to face conversation.
Best of luck.May 22, 2013 at 3:17 am #35962KumoParticipant
Thank you very much for your response. I think I want to try that as well, I just hope my family doesn’t think I’m crazy lol. Have you actually gone to a professional? From your response it seems that way. If so, would you suggest I talk to any particular kind of therapist? Because I’m guessing they’re not all the same.May 22, 2013 at 6:13 am #35968AnonymousInactive
I’ve been to a few professionals and I’ll probably go back periodically for regular check-ups. I’m not an expert in the types of approaches available, but try a simple google search for local ones in your area and see if their profile speaks to you. How do they present themselves? What kind of issues do they pride themselves on being able to tackle? What’s their research history or area of focus?
Practical considerations such as time, money, and even gender (some people feel more comfortable sharing with men, others with women) need to be taken into consideration.
If you’re willing, open, and think it might be possible, try out a few before committing to one and always be open, honest, and transparent about where you’re coming from.June 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm #37305AndrésParticipant
I’ve also had a few issues like yours and I searched for a therapist in my college, I have to say I was lucky because in our first session he knew i was holding something back, he understood me and he said the right things in the right moment.
My advice is to go out and try to find someone that you can really trust, let yourself be emotional, open, everything because a therapist really can help you if you trust in them and believe me sometimes emotions are just too confusing to put into words, but with their help you can make some sense with them.