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  • #386641
    Neera
    Participant

    Dear Readers,

    I have had generalized anxiety disorder since the age of 15. I am now in my mid 20s.

    I first realized I had anxiety when I would overthink everything and I started to have panic attacks. I eventually went to counselling and learned coping techniques. These techniques greatly helped me. As time passed, my anxiety seemed to be under control and I was excited about new changes in my life such as graduating from high school, starting university and entering adult life.

    However, fast forward and I am now feeling the same anxiousness I used to feel. I start overthinking and I become an emotional mess. I mostly spend nights just crying and sometimes for no apparent reason. I have a loving family and a very understanding partner. I fear that I will become a burden for my partner because I keep becoming this emotional mess. Although my partner supports me, I still feel I need to start handling my anxiety better because it is not fair to them or myself.

    I know my anxiety stems from growing up in an environment where I saw domestic abuse. I also dealt a lot with emotional abuse. Although I genuinely believe I have the most caring family, I still cannot help but relive a lot of those moments as a kid, teenager and even in my early 20s where I saw all these fights. The issue is that now when things become stressful for any reason, for example my job gets intense or I am dealing with new life changes, I start to overthink like crazy. My mind is constantly running and assuming the worst. I feel stuck. I feel helpless. I want to escape my mind and silence my thoughts but its as if my body is frozen, I do not have control.

    The coping techniques I learned do still help me but lately I feel myself overthinking and crying more than usual. I also get sensitive over the smallest of things and for some reason I cannot take criticism in a healthy way. For example, if anyone close to me tells me I need to improve on something, I take it very harshly. I do not say anything to them but in my own head I get angry at myself. It is as if I force myself to be this “perfect” person and I get mad when I am not. Again, a huge part of this has to do with how I was raised. I always had pressure to be this “perfect” daughter and overtime I beat myself over it if I do not live to those certain standards.

    My family has changed and things have gotten better (less fights) and they understand more about mental health which before was hard for them because culturally they were so unaware. I guess my real reason for seeking some answer on this form is to figure out a way that I can stop these train of thoughts from taking over my life. I want to genuinely feel less stressed. I want to let go of my past in which I saw so much abuse but my mind will not let me…..

    How can I let it all go and just learn to be at peace with where I am now?

    Thank you in advance for taking time to read my post. Any reply will mean so much to me.

    #386644
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Neera:

    I still cannot help but relive a lot of those moments as a kid, teenager and even in my early 20s where I saw all these fights… I want to let go of my past in which I saw so much abuse but my mind will not let me.. How can I let it all go and just learn to be at peace with where I am now?“-

    – to let go of a past where you saw and experienced so much domestic and emotional abuse, and to be at peace, your present-life has to be free of abuse. But the abuse is still happening in your life: “My family has changed and things have gotten better (less fights)“: less fights means that there are still fights happening currently in your life. For you to lessen your anxiety, you need to be exposed to no fights at all.

    You can’t let go of a past that is still happening.

    I have a loving family.. my anxiety stems from growing up in an environment where I saw domestic abuse. I also dealt a lot with emotional abuse. Although I genuinely believe I have the most caring family, I still cannot help but relive a lot of those moments as a kid, teenager and even in my early 20s where I saw all these fights“-

    – a child cannot benefit from familial love and care in between episodes of familial abuse. For a child to benefit, the love and care have to be  fairly consistent and dependable. Otherwise, the child will keep wondering: when is the next time a fight will break out.. when is the next time I will be emotionally abused? What do  I need to do so that it doesn’t happen? Etc.

    The issue is that now when things become stressful for any reason, for example my job gets intense or I am dealing with new life changes, I start to overthink like crazy. My mind is constantly running and assuming the worst. I feel stuck. I feel helpless. I want to escape my mind and silence my thoughts but its as if my body is frozen, I do not have control“-

    – Currently, in your mid-twenties, you are re-experiencing what you experienced as a child and onward, when fights at home broke and emotional abuse took place: overthinking like crazy, mind running and assuming the worst, feeling stuck and helpless, frozen, not having control.

    I am guessing that you are living with your family of origin?

    anita

    #386650
    Neera
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for replying!

    I notice your response to other members as well, so kind of you to take the time out of your day to help others.

    I did not realize it until you wrote it in your post that yes, perhaps because the fights still happen I feel this way. Sometimes even when my partner and I have minor disagreements, I assume the worst and my anxiety kicks in. My partner has recognized this and so we actively work together on having fewer disagreements. This has helped me calm down.

    I currently live with my partner. I moved out of my home almost a year ago. I started living with my partner 9 months ago. The issue is that I still live close to my family. I still visit nearly twice a week. Mostly because I have a younger sister and I want to spend time with her. But being at home I feel anxious and I have noticed that the days I am at home or when I return I am particularly more anxious. The problem is that I do not know when my family will have no fights at all. It has become better but I do not think it will ever disappear. I love them so much and I want to be there for my sister especially since she is still a minor. But I do not know how to have this balance. I do not know how to calm myself when the thoughts take over. And because of this, I fear it is affecting my relationship with my partner since when I am anxious I am overly sensitive and then even the smallest of things mentally affect me.

    Thank you once again.

    #386652
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Neera:

    You are welcome and thank you for your appreciation!

    Sometimes even when my partner and I have minor disagreements, I assume the worst and my anxiety kicks in“- it is very important that there will be no arguments/ no fights between you and your partner, no aggression at all. Disagreements really can be resolved with zero aggression. There are workbooks and books and online resources on how to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts without aggression. I will be glad to try and help you with any specific situation, if you’d like to share about a current or future disagreement with your partner.

    I started living with my partner 9 months ago. The issue is that I still live close to my family. I still visit nearly twice a week… But being at home I feel anxious and I have noticed that the days I am at home or when I return I am particularly more anxious. The problem is that I do not know when my family will have no fights at all“-

    – good to read that you are no longer living at home, but it is bad for your mental health to visit your home of origin as you’ve done so far, not knowing if and when the  next fight will occur. Do you think it will help if you make it very clear to everyone in your family of origin’s household that there must be no disagreements and no fights while you are vising, and explain to them why: that it harms your mental health and your relationship with your partner. (You can even reward them all with .. let’s say $100 a month if they succeed to accommodate you in this regard, if they need extra motivation)

    anita

    #386788
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Neera:

    I hope the above two posts by you are not the last I read from you; I hope to read more… how are you?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by anita.
    #386855
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Neera,

    I am sorry you’re feeling very anxious and sensitive, sometimes crying during the night, not being able to calm yourself down. What I believe would help you is to first have a clearer picture of your family. You say:

    I know my anxiety stems from growing up in an environment where I saw domestic abuse. I also dealt a lot with emotional abuse. Although I genuinely believe I have the most caring family,

    If you witnessed domestic abuse and were exposed to emotional abuse, then your family cannot be “the most caring family”. They might have had good intentions and didn’t know better, however damage and harm was done to you and your mental health. Your parents did that, with their abusive behavior. The first thing would be to realize that some of their behavior wasn’t loving and caring at all, and that you suffered because of it.

    That’s the first step – to basically admit that your family caused you harm, even if they didn’t intend to, and that there is a wounded inner child in you, which is still being triggered, as a result of the abuse that you’ve experienced. That would be the first step on your healing journey, I believe.

    Once you admit that, you can start working on protecting yourself (and your inner child) from further abuse, setting boundaries, etc. That would help you not to feel so helpless any more, but gradually feel more and more in control of your life and your emotional reactions.

    What do you think?

    #406631
    Neera
    Participant

    Hello Anita and Tee,

    I am so sorry I never got an email notification of your responses, and I did not log back in to check. The following weeks of my post were quite difficult for me and in the process of coping, I forgot about this account.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply back.

    My relationship with my parents over this course of time has not gotten any better, and unfortunately, it has gotten worse with my mother.

    I will first address your previous responses to my post.

    Regarding the disagreements with me and my partner, they have become minimal. Especially how we navigate disagreements, we both have worked on our tones, our communication, and trying resolve issues without aggression.

    I tried to communicate to both my parents that fights make me anxious, and how much my mental health is affected. My dad has been better because we maintain a healthy distance. I have learned the greatest way to have a good relationship with my dad is for both of us to give each other space. And in general, we minimize talking about topics that can cause an argument. It. has become very different with my mother. The fights are now much less between the two of them but now it has gravitated towards my mom and I have major disagreements and arguments. I know for my parents there is past trauma and they have managed to provide us with a good life, but throughout all of it, especially with my mom there is this strange energy that me leaving the home has caused.

    For example, most my childhood my decisions were based around their prefereces. The older I have got and tried to make boundaries, the more resistance they (mom especially) became. I drew a boundary with my mom and her abusive tone with me, which also involved swear words and yelling. After asking her repeatedly to talk with me more calmly, and to NOT name call, it does not work. A lot of the arguments use to be around me sometimes comparing how she raised my younger sister in contrast to me. For example, they allow her more freedom as growing up since she has always been the rebellious one. She never gets as angry at her then me, there have always been so many expectations. When I visit home I used to playfully make comments such as oh my sister is lucky you are being supportive of her moving out for college since it was so different for me. I was so guilt tripped at the time when I was 19 that I never went away, I stayed home, and endured more fights.  I agree there has been a taunt in my comment because when I look back to my growing years, I have always been emotionally manipulated, and there is some anger still there. But seeing how much those comments affected my mom, I have stopped. But it seems anything I say that remotely is different from what she wants causes a HUGE argument, and gives me terrible anxiety, followed by silent treatment from her.

    Recently, I bought a new place with my partner and it is under unexpected renovation which has delayed the move. Due to this, we have moved into my parents basement for close to a month–three more weeks left as the place is completed. I am thankful for their accommodation, but with me working from home it has caused more tension between my mother and I. I really do not know what I do that causes severe reactions–the words she says are so hurtful, and then later its like I need to try and get over it because she was angry. But these bursts of aggression happen over the slightest reason. My sister even spoke to my mom saying she needs to be more calm around me, my dad is always on my moms side so we do not bring up the discussion around him since he’s working till late evening. My partner has noticed tension between me and my mom. He is very supportive of me and just reminding me that soon we will be moved out but I feel so low and hurt by all this.

    Growing up, my mom was my idol, and my best friend. I never imagined our relationship would get so sour. I know she has suffered a lot in life, largely due to the fights between her and my dad, but she has some strange grudge against me. As if me moving out at the age of 23 I am 25 now, is something I need to be guilt tripped about. She always says oh you don’t even live here anymore why do you care about so and so, or you never visit (even though I visit one a week), and because I am living with them right now, anything she requests she wants me to do right away. For example, taking their dogs out for a walk, if I am busy and I ask why my sister can’t do it, my mom gets SO angry and lashes out. She never apologies and says I am in the wrong for questioning her, and then says she is always depressed so to leave her alone.

    I empathize with her but I am just tired. I want to have a good relationship with my mom. I spoke to my aunts, I am very close with them. They advise me to just maintain a healthy distance and overtime my mom will get better, and see me for a true adult. But I can’t help but feel why she is this way specially with me. My sister says its because they know deep down I can be emotionally manipulated, is this true? Can I do anything to make peace with the situation or try to solve it?

     

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Thank you in advance if anyone does reply to this.

     

     

    #406634
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Neera:

    Welcome back, almost a year since you posted last. Good to read that your communication with your partner has improved (resolving issues without aggression, excellent!) and disagreements in the relationship have become minimal.

    You shared that your relationship with your father improved as the two of you maintain a healthy distance from each other, giving each other space and minimize talking about topics that cause arguments. There are fewer fights between your parents but there are “major disagreements and arguments” between your mother and you. She yells at you and uses swear words, name calling you.

    “It seems anything I say that remotely is different from what she wants causes a HUGE argument, and gives me terrible anxiety, followed by silent treatment from her… the words she says are so hurtful, and then later it’s like I need to try and get over it because she was angry. But these bursts of aggression happen over the slightest reason… Growing up, my mom was my idol, and my best friend… She always says oh you don’t even live here anymore why do you care about so and so, or you never visit” –

    – maybe your mother is upset that she is no longer your #1, your idol and best friend, that you now have a partner who is now your #1 . Maybe she is jealous that your partner is your priority, not her. Do you think that this may be the case?

    anita

    #406638
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Neera,

    glad to hear from you again! I am sorry you’re going through these bitter arguments with your mother, and that you are forced to stay at your parent’s place for an entire month. I’ll try to give you my perspective on what is going on and how you might be able to get out of it…

    Growing up, my mom was my idol, and my best friend.

    I always had pressure to be this “perfect” daughter and overtime I beat myself over it if I do not live to those certain standards.

    most my childhood my decisions were based around their prefereces. The older I have got and tried to make boundaries, the more resistance they (mom especially) became.

    So, as a child you loved your mother a lot, she was your idol and you wanted to please her. You did everything in your power to make her happy. Perhaps that was the time when your parents fought a lot, and since you mentioned domestic abuse – does it mean your father was hitting your mother? Perhaps you saw your mother as a victim and this made you even more willing to please her and not to upset her?

    When you got a little older, in your teens, and tried to assert your own will, your mother would get very angry with you. She would swear and yell at you. It didn’t help if you asked her to talk more calmly and not use swear words. The way you described her reaction, it seems like rage. Each time you bring up the slightest disagreement or critique of her, she gets enraged. And then afterwards she gives you silent treatment.

    That too is emotional manipulation – she practically shuts you down and you are “disarmed”, probably feeling guilty that you have “upset” your mother so much. The problem, the way I see it, is that with your overt or covert critique, you are trying to make her see how unfair she was during your childhood, how she was manipulating you, controlling you, and eventually emotionally manipulated you into staying at home instead of going to the university. You are always bringing up the same topic with her – comparing yourself and your sister – because you want her to finally admit that she wronged you. And you are still angry with her.

    You have all the reasons to feel angry and wronged – because indeed, you were, no doubt. Where you are making a mistake is to hope that she will admit that she wronged you. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll never hear that from your mother. She doesn’t seem to have the capacity to hear the slightest critique. She immediately goes on the offensive, going into a fit of rage, or giving you silent treatment. It’s a way to shut you up.

    The only healthy and constructive way to process your anger (which is justified, mind you!) is in therapy. Once you process it, you won’t need a “confession” from her, and you’ll be able to let her off the hook – i.e. minimize contact. You won’t need to visit once or twice per week, but you’ll be fine with meeting your sister elsewhere, e.g. at your place, once it’s finished.

    So the key, in my opinion, is to stop expecting anything from your mother, and process your anger and hurt in therapy. How does that sound to you?

     

    #406927
    Neera
    Participant

    Hello Anita and Tee,

    Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. Much appreciated!

    I would like to address both your responses in this post:

    Dear Anita,

    Yes, it is great my partner and I have improved our communication styles. However, I think living at home with my family is causing some issues in our relationship. It is more to do with communication again. I am noticing we are both becoming more irritable and lashing out at each other about small things which is unusual. I feel a lot of this is really because we are not in our own space so it is hard. And once we want to resolve things, it is difficult because my family does not give us the space. We did have a talk this morning about needing to have a conversation about improving our communication style again, but I think it is best to do this once we move out since right now we do not have the same privacy to do so.  We both have acknowledged our irritability and our doing some personal reflections in the meantime on how we can avoid such arguments. Do you have any other suggestions on what we can do?

    I do think my mom is unconsciously upset that she is no longer my number one. Especially because my time is divided between so many things. I am saddened by this because I would love to spend more time with her but I also need to focus on other priorities at the moment especially for the sanity of my mental health. And the hard part is that I try to have a conversation about this with her but she is always in denial and the conversation turns quickly on all the things I am supposedly doing wrong, and how it is all my fault. It is useless.

    Dear Tee,

    I believe you have correctly identified the parts I have been scared to admit myself. I did see my mom as a victim growing up. And the more I learned about domestic violence in school, the more I wanted to free her, but I did not know how. So I tried to be the partner for her that she needed, trying to be perfect and eventually it did wear me out.

    Yes, you are right. A huge part of me wants her to see all the hurt still in me but there is no point because we cannot see eye to eye. For her, she was a young, naive girl who got married to a person that was not right for her and it changed her world perspective. My mother has gone through a lot in her marriage and even in childhood. And this is something I do greatly empathize with her on. Especially the culture we come from, it is not easy and it has damaged the happy person she used to be.

    I suppose the best way for me to heal is therapy because the more I try for her to see what she did was wrong, and how what she is doing now is still wrong, the more strain it puts in our relationship. I am realizing that as unfortunate as it is, for me to have a healthy relationship with my mom, the conversations must be minimal, and my responses must also be minimal. I cannot express myself or explain myself because there is no point. I need to find a way to vent out my anger that is away from my childhood environment, and hopefully that can bring me to peace with reality.

    Thank again to the both of you so much. Looking forward to your responses.

    Take care,

    Neera

    #406928
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Neera:

    I will read and reply to you in about11 hours from now.

    anita

    #406945
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Neera:

    You are very welcome. You shared that you and your partner are “becoming more irritable and lashing out at each other about small things which is unusual“, and that you think that the reason for it is that you don’t have your own space (you live with your parents). I agree. No wonder the two of you are more irritable with each other and lashing out at each other: the irritation and lashing out in your home extends into your relationship with your partner, similar to how wildfire extends into its surroundings.

    Do you have any other suggestions on what we can do?“- living away from your parents (alone or with roommates or with your partner) would be best. But I understand if culturally and/ or financially, it is very difficult to accomplish. Otherwise, I agree with you that in regard to your mother (the main source of your stress): “the conversations must be minimal, and (your) responses must also be minimal“.

    I do think my mom is unconsciously upset that she is no longer my number one… I try to have a conversation about this with her, but she is always in denial and the conversation turns quickly on all the things I am supposedly doing wrong, and how it is all my fault“-  your mother is quite selfish, isn’t she, for (1) not wanting to share you with anyone, (2) not listening to you, not caring about unnecessarily hurting your feelings again and again… and yet again, causing and maintaining your anxiety by telling you that you do wrong and that everything is your fault.

    I did see my mom as a victim growing up… My mother has gone through a lot in her marriage and even in childhood“- when she was growing up, she was a victim of the grownups in her life. Later, she was a victim of her husband (domestic abuse), and now and for many years, she has been- not a victim- but a victimizer of her own daughter. Her daughter (Neera) is her victim. How is she better than her victimizers?

    “The more I learned about domestic violence in school, the more I wanted to free her, but I did not know how. So, I tried to be the partner for her that she needed, trying to be perfect and eventually it did wear me out”- your supposed role was to be your mother’s daughter, but you took on the role of your mother’s partner. This reversal of roles is common in situations of unhappy childhoods: the child is not free to … be a child. She has to be someone- something else. Notice: you wanted to free her; she didn’t allow you the freedom to be a child.

    For her, she was a young, naive girl who got married to a person that was not right for her and it changed her world perspective. And this is something I do greatly empathize with her on“- in her mind, she is still a young. In her mind, you were not (and are not) a naive girl, but a wrongdoer who is at fault.

    In her mind, so it seems, she is not only a young, naive girl who got married to a person who was not right for her, but also, a young, naive girl who gave birth to a person who is not right for her.

    You greatly empathize with her, but she does not at all empathize with you, does she?

    This reminds me what you wrote a year ago in your original post: “I have a loving family… I genuinely believe I have the most caring family“- do you still, do you believe that your mother loves and cares for you?

    I know that asking such a question can be painful for the one being asked. I asked the same question of myself years ago and answering it honestly- over time- set me free from a large part of my anxiety and invalid guilt (feeling at fault for everything) and shame (feeling not good enough, feeling badly about not being perfect).

    anita

    #406949
    Tee
    Participant

    Dear Neera,

    You are very welcome, I am glad it helped you.

    I did see my mom as a victim growing up. And the more I learned about domestic violence in school, the more I wanted to free her, but I did not know how. So I tried to be the partner for her that she needed, trying to be perfect and eventually it did wear me out.

    If there was violence in your family and your father was hurting your mother, your mother was indeed a victim. But the question is whether she needed to stay victim or she could have done something to help herself.

    You say that you learned about domestic violence at school, and tried to help her and free her. What kind of advice did you give her? Did you tell her to talk to someone and seek help, or to even divorce your father?

    I am asking because it could be that she had options to help herself, but she chose to stay in a dysfunctional marriage, and made you and your sister collateral victims of sorts, exposing you to domestic violence and horrible fights between her and your father?

    It’s no wonder that you did everything to please her and not to upset her, because you didn’t want to add to her burden of being the victim. It seems to me that you were there to meet her needs, instead of vice versa. When the time came for you to go to university, she emotionally manipulated you – again, using her “victimhood” – to stay by her side. This tells me that she mostly cared about herself and her needs, not about you.

    You said that your parents’ fights have subsided since then, and that your father is actually on your mother’s side when the two of you have an argument:

    The fights are now much less between the two of them but now it has gravitated towards my mom and I have major disagreements and arguments.

    my dad is always on my moms side

    How did this change in the dynamic between your parents come about? Is it maybe because your father is now weaker and perhaps sickly, and he depends on your mother to care for him? So he isn’t so aggressive any more, but became more tame?

    In any case, it seems that your mother still sees herself as the victim, but now mostly your victim, not of your father’s? She doesn’t want to accept any responsibility for any wrong-doings, and this is a typical attitude of a person stuck in the victim mentality. My mother is also like that – she would never in a million years admit that she did anything wrong in the way she raised me. Ever. She has always been and always will be the victim. Full stop.

    Instead of facing herself and acknowledging her shortcomings, it’s easier for your mother to shift the blame on you (or your father, in the past). Unfortunately I know this mindset very well… and yes, unfortunately this also means that honest conversation with your mother won’t be possible. Because she wants to remain the victim and she wants to keep blaming others.

    My mother has gone through a lot in her marriage and even in childhood. And this is something I do greatly empathize with her on.

    I also have empathy for my mother, since she was treated poorly as a child (her mother was even stricter and more judgmental than my mother was with me). However, at the end of the day, she is an adult and has the option to heal those wounds and not perpetuate the generational trauma. But she chooses not to. I can see that everything she does is a result of her childhood wounds, nevertheless those wounds (that she refuses to address) stand in the way of us having a close, heartfelt relationship.

    I know it’s hard for you because I am sure you want to be close to your mother, like I wanted to be close to mine. But it’s not possible…. It took me many years to finally see that, and to accept it. Nowadays I love my mother from afar, and the less we talk, the better it is. Because she would start accusing me and blaming me at the first chance she has. So I keep my distance to protect myself. Our relationship is very superficial and we don’t see each other often, since I live in another country. But that’s how it has to be, and I accepted it.

    On a positive note, it’s great that you have a very loving relationship with your partner. You seem to be able to talk openly and honestly about everything (unlike with your mother!), he is supportive and has lots of understanding for you. That’s very important!

    I am realizing that as unfortunate as it is, for me to have a healthy relationship with my mom, the conversations must be minimal, and my responses must also be minimal. I cannot express myself or explain myself because there is no point.

    Yes, that’s exactly the same experience that I had, and the same conclusion I’ve come to…

    I suppose the best way for me to heal is therapy because the more I try for her to see what she did was wrong, and how what she is doing now is still wrong, the more strain it puts in our relationship. … I need to find a way to vent out my anger that is away from my childhood environment, and hopefully that can bring me to peace with reality.

    Yes, I think therapy would be very helpful. Besides processing anger at your mother, I think it’s also important that you give love and compassion to yourself, to tell yourself (and your inner child) that you are lovable and precious and that you aren’t to blame for your mother’s unhappiness. Shower yourself with love, compassion and validation – to compensate for what you haven’t received as a child!

     

    #407442
    anita
    Participant

    I hope to read from you again, Neera. How are you???

    anita

    #409526
    Neera
    Participant

    Dear Anita and Tee,

    Hope you are both well 🙂

    Thank you for your responses. I am so thankful of the time you both take to write back. It has been a rollercoaster for me but things have finally settled down a bit. I would like to address my responses to each of you separately, but just want to emphasize on how much I appreciate your responses.

     

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