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Sexual orientation confusion has destroyed my life

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This topic contains 77 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 3 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #196405

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Hello there,

    I have been a silent reader of Tiny Buddha for a while now (great, great website) and just stumbled on your forum here and thought I'd share a problems over my identity I have been experiencing for a while now.

    I am a woman who has just turned 30 this month. A couple of year ago life was going Great! I found my passion of being a psychologist, went to school, got my degree and then got ready for starting my own practice. Life was seemingly perfect! Then out of now where I started inquiring about my sexuality. I am a virgin and whilst I won't get into detail about my sexual orientation issues (as I've noted that forum rules state that this is family friendly and I have not ever did anything nor desire to with anyone but have watched stuff that I'd need to explain if I was to discuss what is causing my confusion over my sexual orientation)  overall i started developing an identity crisis when reviewing things I've watched, thoughts about for the past 15 years that made me question if I was a bisexual or a lesbian (nothing wrong with that, but I have never felt any desire towards any woman I've ever met in person nor have I ever crushed on a woman I know and see in person).

    This sexual orientation confusion lead me to abandoning my dreams. I have spent the past few years now really down about myself. My main issues are:

    1)confusion over my sexual orientation. This confusion results in feeling of confusion, anxiety and sadness over not knowing who I am.

    2)I've let confusion ruin my life. I keep thinking of questions like: how to continue following my dreams despite feelings of uncertainty, confusion, anxiety and doubt? Anyone have any insight on this?

    3) Feeling hypocritical! How can I draw up support plans and helps others as a psychologist when I myself am drowning in my own misery. This bit here is the reason I've abandoned working on my dream career as I feel insincere about helping others when I myself am not even able to help myself. How can I draw up support plans when I myself have no such support plan?

    If anyone has any insight, it would be greatly welcomed as I am really now trying to work through this so I can resume living.

    #196451

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    My input will be on two issues: first is the sexual orientation part of your post; the second is the real issue- anxiety.

    The first part: without going into detail, I understand that you watched sexually graphic images or videos of lesbian sex and felt sexually stimulated as a result, correct? Assuming I understood correctly, such stimulation does not indicate sexual orientation. It may very well be that the sexual activity itself that you watched stimulated you, not the gender performing those activities. What indicates to me that you are not lesbian or bi sexual is what you wrote here: “I have never felt any desire towards any woman I've ever met in person nor have I ever crushed on a woman I know and see in person.”

    Second part: you wrote that “Life was seemingly perfect” before the sexual issue. You got your degree and was ready to start your own practice. I am thinking you suffered from anxiety earlier in life. Maybe that anxiety was dormant when you went to school, that being a student fit well with you, minimal anxiety. Considering starting your own practice, after school, awakened that anxiety.

    Awakened, your anxiety quickly attached itself to the sexual orientation issue, found home in it, so to speak. The “uncertainty, confusion, anxiety and doubt” you experience is this anxiety.

    If you gently explore that anxiety, or re-explore it, maybe in therapy, you can expel it from that home that it found and place it where it belongs, where it originated and what it is really about. Then you can manage it and start healing from it.

    You wrote: “This bit here is the reason I've abandoned working on my dream career as I feel insincere about helping others when I myself am not able to help myself”- getting help from a therapist, to start or re-start your healing will give you the valuable, irreplaceable ability to better understand and better help future patients or clients in their struggles with anxiety.

    I hope you post again with your thoughts and feelings.

    anita

     

    #196535

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

     

    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for your reply and insight.

    On the sexual orientation issue: Yes, you are correct. But I also used the content I watched to  have thoughts about being with intimate with a woman and climaxed to such thoughts on and off for 15 years. I have also had thoughts about men but didnt reach climax. I am a virgin by choice who has never desired an actual intimate relationship with anyone. I do reconise that I do find men attractive in a dating type of way an do recognize a libido but no such desire to actually go any further than thinking of stuff in my head.

    On anxiety: Yes, you are correct in that I have suffered from different types of anxiety in the past (health being a main one) but it has never really ever debilitated me because I always found a solution to my problems i.e. the doctor would conduct a health check and inform me that nothing was wrong. In the case of sexual orientation, people have told me based on the above I should now come out as bisexual or lesbian and that it doesnt matter if I do not desire women outside of such thoughts often accompanied by what I've watched.  The fact that it has been going on on and off for 15 years has also made me think if it indicates that I am bi/lesbian. The confusing feedback on this issue and the general fact that sexuality seems overall a “its entirely up to you to define yourself” type of subject has left my anxious mind run rampant in this type of vague subject matter.

    I know I graduated from psychology program but no such therapy was ever provided as part of our course and as I am currently low in cash so I can't afford a therapist. Do you think this is something I can work out on my own via reading books etc?

    #196567

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    My understanding/ guessing based on these two posts, at this point, is that you got scared in the context of your childhood relationship with your parent/s and have avoided close relationships since. I think emotional intimacy scares you. The sexual orientation- that is not the issue, it is emotional intimacy.

    It is similar to this, a wild example: you are on the beach facing the ocean. You want to find out if once you get to the water you will float (homosexual, let's say) or sink (heterosexual) or if you float and sink (bi-sexual), but you never get into the water because it is too cold and you are afraid of the cold.

    You wonder, you entertain the thoughts, got really hooked to the idea of floating in the water, but these are only thoughts, ideas, images, a mental exercise.

    Let me know what you think?

    anita

    #196613

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Thanks Anita.

    My parents and my family in general have never really displayed emotional vulnerability, however, I have not subscribed to this way of living. I can acknowledge that emotional intimacy with a partner is something I see in so many ways as a risk that I would have to make on someone special, I think that's a normal outlook for many who care about the choices they make in life. Whilst I am definitely very choosy with what my ideal partner would be like, I guess in a lot of ways I feel no urgent or pressing desire to actually go out and form relationships in that way with anyone. I have pictured things in my head on and off for 15 years and so I do have a desire but for some reason I could happily live my life single and remain a virgin and feel no void whatsoever. Which makes me think that if it was my upbringing that caused this wouldn't I feel a negative emotion towards not being with someone? I would never consider therapy for being single because I really am happy with being this way. I do not leave the door closed on that maybe this change in the future, who knows? All I know is that I am at peace and really enjoy my own company. In fact as sad as it may sound I am way more happy than a lot of married people I know who are utterly confused as to why I do not feel sad about being single and a virgin at 30.  I can picture thoughts in my head and then go about my life feeling no desire or sadness over not making any of those thoughts come true. If I am honest I care more about my career and life goals than I do about forming intimate relationships with people.  Not pursuing those things are the key things that cause misery because so much of my life mission is tied into my career and other goals.

    With all the above noted, I am worried that my issue really is a superficial concern on exactly what my sexual orientation is. Does knowing my sexual orientation matter if I am not interested in being with anyone? No, not really. But does it matter for me to have some sense of clarity on my sexuality? Yes. And yet I know no one can tell me what I am and deep down I know my true feelings but its the need to analyse the past 15 years and what those actions mean despite how I truly feel that fuels this anxiety. I can make sense that this is irrational but I also have a pressing desire to understand it all.

    I really liked your analogy, I really believe that I would be happily okay with  not getting in the water and spending the rest of my life on a beach. I'd feel no negative emotion to having not tested the waters. If the analogy was based on pursuing my career or other goals in life, I would feel awful about staying on the beach.

    #196635

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    I would like to summarize your three posts so to understand better: for 28 years or so, your life “was going Great!… seemingly perfect!” Your passion was psychology, you went to school, graduated and got ready to start your own practice. On the sexual front, from about 13 years of age, on and off, you entertained and used sexual images and thoughts of lesbian sex for sexual release. All through the years, up to today, you did not have an intimate/ sexual relationship with a woman or with a man.

    “Then our of nowhere I started inquiring about my sexuality” two years ago, questioning your sexual orientation. This “confusion, anxiety and sadness of not knowing who I am”  led you to abandon your dream of starting your own practice, working as a psychologist, and has ruined your life, you wrote.

    “I feel insincere about helping others when I myself am not even able to help myself… I am really now trying to work through this so I can resume living.”

    You wrote that you “never desired an actual intimate relationship with anyone… emotional intimacy with a partner is… a risk that I would have to make on someone special… I am definitely very choosy with what my ideal partner would be like… no urgent or pressing desire to actually go out and form relationships in that way with anyone…for some reason I could happily live my life single and remain a virgin and feel no void whatsoever…I really am happy with being this way.. I am at peace and really enjoy my own company… I care more about my career and life goals than I do about forming intimate relationships with people”

    You wrote that you have suffered from “different types of anxiety in the past… but it has never really debilitated me”.

    You wrote: “I am worried that my issue really is a superficial concern on exactly what my sexual orientation is… I have a pressing desire to understand it all.”

    My input:

    1. I don't think your issue is a superficial concern because you feel that it ruined your life (you used the verb ruin) and caused you to abandon your career and life goals which are of highest value to you.

    2. What you described is not that you have “no urgent or pressing desire” to form an intimate relationship but that you have no such desire at all (“no void whatsoever”)

    3. I wouldn't argue that a happy person, one with a great and perfect life without intimate relationships will form such anyway, not at all. I have no inclination to encourage a person to follow societal conventions of getting married and having children. Problem is that you are no longer happy, and you feel that your life has been ruined. And so, I suggest examining the following possibility that I will bring up, and hope to read your thoughts about it:

    Possibility/ my understanding: you already had an intimate relationship in actuality and that was your relationship/s with your parents. You also observed the relationship between them and those observations were part of what formed your experience of intimate relationships.

    In the intimate relationships you did have with one or two parents, you experienced hurt and fear that overwhelmed you. You found a solution to that fear and that is to withdraw from them. As an adult you continued to implement the same solution: stay away from intimate relationships.

    It worked for you well enough to state here that your life was great and perfect. And then, out of nowhere, this solution stopped working. The fear, that ongoing fear, put into some kind of a resting place for so long, reared itself from that resting place and dislodged itself. As it did, it quickly attached itself to the sexual orientation issue as its cause and reason.

    But this is not where it belongs, your fear, your anxiety. It originated in the early relationship/s with your parents. I think this is the place to examine and explore.

    anita

     

     

     

    #196637

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    More to the above: when your anxiety focused on your health, worrying about whether you are sick or healthy,  the solution that worked for you then (the solution that put that fear back to its resting place) was to see a doctor who told you that you are healthy.

    Now that your anxiety is focused on your sexual orientation, you are trying to find a similar kind of solution: figure out if you are homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual.

    Problem is there is no doctor who can tell you that you are one or the other. No testing to be done and as you inquired, you read that it is… up to you to decide.

    When your anxiety was about your health it was up to a medical doctor to decide. Now it is up to you. Without available and reliable testing that provides a Yes or a No result (such as, for example, testing for the flu), you are having a new difficulty: not being able to put your anxiety to rest.

    This is why, I think, without a way to put your anxiety back to its resting place (once you are convinced you tried and are unable to do so), you have to look for the origin of your anxiety, so to start the process of resolving it.

    anita

    #196701

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Thanks Anita.

    I will research further into my family history and life story, thank you for providing me the inspiration to do so.

    In your summary I would also include that I did also have thoughts about men but without watching stuff because I find a lot of male and woman intimacy displayed in these type of sexual content very male centered and aggressive. My focus on the thoughts about women is more so because with men my thoughts have always matched an attraction I could feel around men that I meet and interact with, with the thoughts about women it has never matched because around women that I have always met and interacted with I have never felt an attraction at any level. This is why this whole on and off 15 years issue has confused me around women because it doesn't match my feelings when I am interacted with actual women. The confusion has also started because others told me I was bisexual or lesbian based on the on and off 15 year thoughts and despite knowing that I do not desire women in any real form (outside thoughts) I am confused as to what other peoples feedback mean because I do not know much about sexuality. The definition of bisexuality and lesbian also doesn't help because it seems clear cut but then everyone is telling me my thoughts does equal attraction so it doesn't matter that I do not actually desire to be with a woman.

    So despite knowing that I will never experiment with a woman because I have never desired so, others feedback has made my anxiety focus hard on what others feedback mean. The anxiety isnt making me question if I know my true feelings or not (as just explained I am sure I am not attracted to women that I see nor do I have desire to actually be intimate with a woman) but it is making me question conflicting feedback and whether I understand bisexuality or the term lesbian i.e. should I now call myself bisexual/lesbian because others told me I am? Is bi/lesbian inclusive of just thoughts one has no intention to make real, then if so I am bi/lesbian? But if that's the case why is there not a consistent answer from other people-one group is telling me I am bi/lesbian, others are telling me that being bi/lesbian requires me to actually desire women that I see? Who is holding the correct definition on this? This is the root of the confusion.

    Also in your summary, I would also add that life wasn't always perfect for the past 28 years, I didn't elaborate but yes I've had other types of issues like an eating disorder that came about after dieting and ending up out of nowhere becoming a full eating disorder. I got through it but could not point to the reason I developed an eating disorder but my cousin who was also dieting with me did not.

    When it comes to my family, thank you for your analysis, I'll look into it further.

    I wouldn't say that I withdrew from my family or felt any hurt, I think I became conscious as a late teen that I was just way more sensitive than the rest of my family members but I still felt love and expressed love to my parents. My parents are from a different generation and had a hard life, emotional vulnerability was not something they were raised with but in no way did I as a child feel not loved, I felt loved alot and I seem to be the only one in my family who doesn't desire an intimate relationship.

    #196715

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    You are welcome. You asked: “Who is holding the correct definition on this (lesbian, bi sexual)? This is the root of my confusion.”

    I do not hold any certificate certifying me to hold such a definition, no formal education on the matter, no political association or position on the matter, nothing at all other than my understanding, and I will offer it to you, my definition of a lesbian or a bi sexual woman: a woman who was sexually attracted to an actual woman and had real life sexual interaction with a woman, and as a result remained motivated to have more actual sexual interactions with a woman or women.

    Regarding the rest of your share: you dieted and developed an eating disorder. Anxiety is like fire that catches anything in its way, igniting it. It can be a weak ember, you don't even notice it, but then, when wood is available nearby, it ignites it and the fire will be so hot and bright that you do notice it. It seems out of nowhere, but the ember was there all along.

    When you dieted, counting calories and/ or weighing food or restricting and  weighing yourself, etc., your anxiety, that ember, attached itself to these things and grew into a fire (an eating disorder). Similar to that ember igniting the sexual orientation into a fire.

    You wrote a couple of days ago: “My parents .. have never really displayed emotional vulnerability”, and most recently: “emotional vulnerability was not something they (your parents) were raised with”-

    If you would like to answer, please do: what of your parents' behaviors with you indicated their lack of emotional vulnerability and how did those behaviors affect your emotional vulnerability?

    anita

     

    #196763

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    You definition is most welcomed Anita. So would your definition of bisexual/lesbian not include thoughts/viewing one has had for a long time (in my case on and off, here and there for 15 years) that do not connect to any real desire for actual women?

    Regarding my parents, My dad died when I was 16. I watched him die in front of me very suddenly and I had to wake up my mum and family. I woke up in the morning to go toilet only to hear my father who was unwell for sometime call me for help. I went to him to help him up and he just laid back down and passed away. It was a difficult moment and no one in my family really talked about it. Surprisingly I handled it well, I decided to make the most out of life as a way to keep the legacy of my father alive, he really was a supportive and kind person despite being distant due too a long term health issue.

    I grew up in a positive family and I felt loved. My mum is a very kind and warm and selfless person. She really is a source of light. When I think back to their behaviors, I think my mum has done the best she has can in being just wonderful but I think I never really ever had anyone I could talk in my family about things and this made me, without knowing, isolated in my issues. I also think because I was raised one of the youngest that I grew up more sheltered than older siblings. I didn't have alot of responsibilities. I was also way more sensitive than my other siblings. The interesting thing here is that because overall my family has been positive with no serious trauma occurring at all, I wasn't able to see or feel any void was missing. I only remember being around 11 years old and turning to writing in my diary to express sadness I felt about moving to a new town and away from my friends. I had older siblings who would at times try to read my journals and I always turned to my diary as a way to vent. Maybe this was an example of feeling alone in my feelings? I also remember not enjoying high school and my mum repeatedly asking me why I had such a bad attitude. I kept telling her I didnt, but I also remember being annoying at that age-losing things and creating drama in the house by pestering everyone about where my lost items where. I think I had some internal issues at that age particularly due to the shock and adjustment of leaving our old home where I had my friends that I grew up with and really cared about and then this relocation to a strange home with a not so great new school. I didn't feel very understood at that age as I missed my old friends and was in a school a lot of kids with behavioral problems and as I was selective about the type of friends I wanted I spent the good first year of high school feeling quite alone but surprisingly I was very resilient about being alone as I preferred my own company over negative peers.  I would also say that feelings are not something discussed in my family. Family members including siblings act very aggressive whenever a criticism is pointed out. I would also say that my mum always had a way of advising/encouraging through highlight one's fault. As a hyper sensitive teen, I felt my mum kept putting me down. I now know she wasnt trying to put me down, it's just my mum was raised with that mindset that criticisms helps motivate others. In my case, I was someone who did best by positive encouragement.

    #196871

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    Regarding your first paragraph: According to my definition, according to what I believe is true, you are neither a lesbian nor are you bi sexual.

    The fact that you fantasized about lesbian sex for 15 years on and off does not indicate to me that you are a lesbian. Like you mentioned earlier, you perceive aggression in man-woman sex, and that sense of aggression is enough to keep you from fantasizing about heterosexual sex and keep to lesbian sex.

    If we were sexually what we imagine and feel stimulated by, then my goodness, there would be way more labels than the ones that already exist, many, many more.

    As to the rest of your post, I will respond to it soon enough in a separate post because I think it requires a separate post.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #196913

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    Regarding your last sentence: “In my case, I was someone who did best by positive encouragement”-  it is not only in your case, but in everyone's case. Criticism (outside certain contexts) and aggressive type criticism is helpful only short term, in case of emergencies. It motivates positively short term. On the long run it hurts every time.

    I took a break from your thread because I felt the magnitude of your emotional experience on the morning of your father's death. I am ready to develop my thinking about it:

    You got up in the morning, and like any morning, you went to the bathroom. You heard your father's voice, calling you for help, calling you personally. It was the last you heard his voice, wasn't it, calling for you to help him…

    You went to him, helped him up. As you did times before. But this time he laid back down and died.

    Just like that.

    You wrote: “Surprisingly I handled it well.” Surprisingly because looking back you figure it was a significant emotional experience, a very difficult one and you are surprised you handled it well.

    There was no talk about it with your mother, with family. You were alone with it, isolated. You were alone when moving, getting into a new school, alone and isolated.

    I think you adjusted very well to the aloneness of your childhood. To being alone in emotionally charged situations. You adjusted by not needing people, by being self sufficient. What can be wrong with that (one may ask)- if it wasn't for that ember of anxiety, there wouldn't be anything wrong with it. It is scary for children and scary for people (being the social animals that we are) to be alone, particularly when feeling strong emotions.

    That ember of anxiety, as  long as it is contained, you can live with it. Can you live well enough with that ember, as long as it doesn't catch fire, or as long as you can put out those fires quickly enough?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #197021

    anita
    Participant

    Dear seekerofsolace:

    I turned to your thread first thing this morning. Maybe the following will be helpful to you.

    You wrote: “as a child… I felt loved a lot… I grew up in a positive family and I felt loved…in no way did I as a child feel not loved.”

    And you wrote: “but I think I never really ever had anyone I could talk in my family about things and this and this made me, without knowing, isolated in my issues…I didn't feel very understood… feeling quite alone… feelings are not something discussed in my family.. family members including siblings act very aggressively…my mum always had a way of…putting me down.”

    Being emotionally isolated, misunderstood, not helped, not comforted when feeling intense fear, hurt, anger, sadness… the child learns to be afraid of her own feelings.

    You wrote: “my family has been positive with no serious trauma occurring at all”- your family was not positive because criticism and aggression were part of the interactions. For an emotionally isolated, uncomforted, misunderstood child any criticism is major and no aggression is small or not serious.

     

    You wrote:  “I also remember being annoying at that age- losing things and creating drama in the house by pestering everyone abut where my lost items were” – this was probably your anxiety, you felt anxious about losing your items and you tried to get your family to help you calm down your anxiety. Your mother, other family members, didn't understand that you were anxious, thinking that you were annoying. You were indeed, misunderstood.

    You were anxious then about your lost items in a similar way to being anxious later about your health.. later, about your weight and most recently about your sexual orientation.

    The way you adjusted to your childhood anxiety, to being overwhelmed with strong emotions with no help, is to remove the painful emotions away from your awareness. That made you resilient, able to survive and do some things successfully, for example, to graduate school successfully.

    Staying away from intimate relationships (“never desired an actual intimate relationship with anyone… emotional intimacy with a partner is something I see in so may ways as a risk”) has been a way to avoid the criticism and aggression you experienced with people in your family and to keep awareness of unpleasant, strong emotions away.

    But our pain does not disappear, no matter how well we put it away from our awareness. It pops up and says: I am here! And it seems “out of nowhere”, but it is always there, someplace.

    Quality psychotherapy is the place where, in that safe context, gradually, those once overwhelming emotions can be brought to your awareness, and you will then find that peace and solace you are looking for.

    You will be able then to open that practice you dreamed of for so long, to help future clients integrate their strong emotions into their awareness and reach that peace you have earned yourself, through your hard work, persistence, perseverance and courage.

    anita

     

    #197059

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    Anita, I see that you are providing support to a number of people on this forum and I personally just want to say that you are highly appreciated and I am in gratitude for your time.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the sexual orientation issue, it has helped me out. And by fantasizing, am I correct that you understand that these were thoughts I had whilst awake and therefore thoughts that were in some way or form intentional (as opposed to dreams one has when one is asleep)?

    I am also very sorry if writing about my late dad triggered you in anyway, I feel I have healed from that experience and so can often talk about it quite openly.

    Before my response below, I just want to say that I am working on saving up now to book a psychotherapist session in due time. My current salary isn't enough at the moment but if I save for a few months I think I can book a few sessions in.

    Yes, you are right in that my family were and are not always positive. I used the term positive to weight up my overall experience. Yes, indeed there were many moments were I needed someone to talk to. I got older and realized that it wasnt so much that my family were operating from an intentionally malicious or crude way but rather more a case of them not having the tools or the knowledge to reflect on their behaviors. A lot of this comes from upbringing and access to education, the latter was something I was afforded that my parents were not and I truly mean that overall my mum was not always harsh or critical and if she was I now know she was only trying to help in a way that she thought is how you help. I just disagree with her methods but I believe my access to education and more privileged upbringing has allowed me to disagree.

    When discussing my teen years, where I felt I was acting wrong was in the way I would disturb everyone sleeps by asking everyone where my notebook was that i left on the dinner table the night before. I was 12/13 and my behavior in being moody and rude and disturbing others sleep was selfish, however, yes I do believe it was a reflection of unresolved tension within. Could I have benefited in someone talking to me about my behavior in a way that was constructive and termed so as to make me aware that I was responsible for looking after my own things and also someone who enquired why I was reacting in such a way over something that would not cause the end of world? Absolutely, I would have loved that. But at that age I was not able to articulate any of this or understand why I felt the way I did. My mum and older siblings would just remark that I had a bad attitude and was moody. This made me more upset. I also developed escapist habits such as drawing fictional characters and pretending to be them in my mind. This lasted a long time and now that I think of it I truly believe it was my way of escaping into my own little world.

     

     

    #197067

    seekerofsolace
    Participant

    I also didnt mention that I looked after my disabled brother during 20's. My family saw that at the time I was unemployed and I helped him out (he need round the clock care). It was a difficult time in my life because I was struggling to care for him on my own. I talked to my family about needing extra help and it was met with negativity. I was in a dark depression because I was operating day in and day out with very little sleep. I had a breakdown and got help in the end but it was met with an attitude of “we've struggled our whole lives and we ask you to help in this one small area and you can't handle it”. It was not articulated but I knew many family members who have had tougher life experiences felt my privileged of growing up kinda sheltered was the reason for me not being able to cope. I took their reaction really hard and felt disappointed that they didnt understand that I tried but I was struggling. I forgave them for not understanding.

    I also now remember an incident that happened between me and my sister when I was around 7/8. I wanted to play with her and her friends and my sister who is a year older excluded me from playing for no apparent reason and with harshness. I remember reacting to it really badly and now that I think of it quite extremely. I cried very hard so much that I remember the incident very clearly. It obviously hurt me really bad that she did that. I remember telling my older siblings and them telling her off but I dont recall understanding why she did that, why she excluded me like that. I was a very sensitive kid and would always tuck my older siblings and little sister in bed despite being one of the younger kids. I always cared like that. My sister remarked earlier this year that I would always come home as a kid with a flower and show everyone the flower in my family and how they'd all think I was odd and that they would just grab the flower and rip it into pieces. I don't remember this happening. Most of my childhood feels like a blur. I do remember another incident as a child where I packed up my stuff and made a plan to leave home. I can't remember what drove me to do that, I'm sure it was an argument or something. I guess it was along the lines of feeling alone not only in my feelings but also in my sensitivity.

    When it comes to relationships, in a way all I see is more responsibilities and more time that I do not have. When I was younger I longed for my own space and as I got older relationships felt like more work and suffocating. I see the benefits being in a relationship can bring but I also see all the work and time it requires, which seems suffocating. I love the freedom being single brings. I love it so much that I can live happily this way forever. Deep down do I think I can open up to someone and be vulnerable? I think I can but I do not care for that type of intimacy. Because this isnt something that makes me feel down, I simply accept that remaining single is fine (if it starts making me feel down or I desire a relationship then I think that will be a time for me to really start working through what is stopping me but for now I do not regret being single all my life so far and feel no void).

    In regards to avoiding criticism and pain, I don't how much of this is true for me anymore. I like your input and that is exactly where I was a few years ago where I became distant with family but for the past two years I have gently let go of anger, sadness over the differences I feel with my family and learned to accept them for who they are and work on what we have in common (light conversation, bellyful of laughter's when gathered together reminiscing of younger years, our shared love of food and music). I released those emotions. I now welcome constructive feedback and brave criticism that isnt gently provided. I welcome emotional vulnerability (always have in a way). But I haven't looked at the little girl holding so much emotions all alone, I haven't reflected back on her and considered how my anxiety started then. its hard to go back because as a kid I didn't analyse things deeply and so trying to think of whether I was anxious or not is hard because I never experienced real anxiety until my late teens. Prior to that I was operating “fine” in the sense that I did not have a breakdown. Yes, I was alone in my feelings, yes I escaped in my own world via fictional characters that I drew but I didnt actually have a breakdown which is why I was existing quite well. I didnt suffer any depression during my early years but nevertheless I obviously have anxiety that is likely connected to my early years of feeling alone in my feelings.

    Its crazy that after 4 years of studying psychology, I never looked within. I thought I was okay and that a few anxious thoughts here and there were okay.

    Anita, you've been profoundly helpful. I dont want to take up anymore of your time. Thank you for giving me a lot to think about!

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