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What if you are the toxic person?

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This topic contains 291 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #280585

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I don’t have the title of it in mind, but one of the guided meditations by Mark Williams is about dealing with thoughts, not getting stuck in them but instead noticing a thought, then observe it in a detached way, seeing it floating to the outside, through a window. It’s been years since I listened to it but I hope you can locate it and listen to it. If you do, will you tell me how it felt for you?

    You did practice repeatedly correcting your thoughts, that is good. If you can incorporate detaching yourself from thoughts (my paragraph above), that will help as well.

    You wrote: “I learned to not trust myself and my own feelings”. Can you tell me more about who taught you to not trust yourself and your feelings and how he/she taught you that?

    You wrote: “I have so much self-doubt and shame”. Can you tell me the earliest circumstances in your life when you felt shame?

    anita

    #280621

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I can look for that meditation later. There is one called “listening and thoughts”. Maybe that is the one.

    Today I was feeling a little bit better, more calm. After work, I went for a long walk. The bad thoughts still are there though. What I have started to notice lately is that all my negativity and anger is directed towards myself. Meanwhile I barely got angry at the two men that hurt me. Instead I tried to understand them. Even if I could feel the (emotional) pain they had caused me in my body. And with the first one especially, even after he had so obviously mistreated me. My therapist suggested that this was so i could feel in control of the situation, but I don’t completely understand it yet.

    About not trusting myself. I am not sure, but it could be because my parents are so overprotective. My father is scared of everything and expects something bad to happen always and everywhere. I think I told you already about how my sister went for a on-the-job training to another city? My father was very worried and thought that the company was not to be trusted… My sister even said that maybe he thought it was related to the mafia… He sometimes has some crazy theories like that. And if not, he is definitely always listening and talking about bad news. And judging others harshly for their misbehaviour, while not being able to take criticism well himself. So I think I might have learned that fear-based thinking from him.

    When there was a conflict, there was very little understanding and negotiating. It was more of a “his way or the highway” kind of situation. At the same time he also wasn’t consequent with his punishments. I think my parents, they didn’t know how to be parents. And at some point they kind of gave up, I think? And they left me and my siblings to ourselves. At least I know I didn’t have much guidance during my childhood and teenage years. But I also didn’t trust them and didn’t take them seriously after a while. We lived under the same roof, but we didn’t even eat together (when I was a teenager), because we all came home at different times. And I didn’t care for their opinions anymore (they were too narrow-minded).

    And my father, like I told you before, he didn’t like me. At least, it felt like that. Once he said to me “You are a disgusting person, who hates herself”. Now I think, that he was maybe talking to himself there, not being happy with himself. So if you hear things like that, I guess it doesn’t exactly help with your self-confidence. I remember being unhappy as a child. So unhappy, that I thought about suicide even when I was younger than 12 years old.

    And there were also those arguments with my sister, where she went to seek my father’s help. And as I remember it, he was always on her side. So my feelings were not respected or disregarded there. My feelings also were disregarded when it came to the religion issue. They had no understanding for my point of view, I was just supposed to fall in line and be a good presentable daughter of a pastor. Of course I understand that this was my father’s job, but they could have handled the situation better. They could have tried to understand me and put less pressure on me. There just was no way for me to find my own path…

    Hm, I don’t know if that answers the question or if I rambled along for too long.

    About shame. I don’t remember many examples of when I felt shame at a young age. I know I was overly sensitive. I was always scared for teachers to criticize me or call me out even in elementary school. And if it happened, it hurt more than it should.

    The children in elementary school didn’t like me, I was always the weird one. They once called me “monster” (but the word in German is much more derogatory). And the teacher heard it. Even then I said to the teacher that it is no problem, because I didn’t want to be disliked more by my peers I think? So that pattern of minimizing the abuse of others is very old…

    Once, when we visited my aunt, I got scared of her father in law. I said to my mother: “I am glad that I don’t have such a bad grandpa”. And my mother told it to my aunt and they laughed about it, and I felt very ashamed. I guess I got ashamed over little things. Somehow I cannot come up with a lot of examples.
    One thing is for sure. The message I got from everywhere was: the way you are is not right. You shouldn’t be so shy, you should be more confident, you are too sensitive, you cry too much, you are too fat, not pretty enough, you shouldn’t get angry, you are not good enough in school… But there was not much guidance on how to deal with those things.

    I still feel like I am complaining when I write about these things… But I think what you wrote earlier is true, that these experiences have shaped me and damaged me. And both of my siblings have problems too.

    But I want my future to become better. I want to be at peace with myself one day. And make better decisions for myself.

    #280633

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “I want my future to become better. I want to be at peace with myself one day. And make better decisions for myself”- this is all possible for you today: you can make today a bit better than yesterday, you can have a bit more peace today, at some part of the day, than you had yesterday, and you can make better decisions today, however small those decisions  may be,  than you made yesterday.

    Key is to notice and be satisfied with small, gradual progress, to expect feeling badly every day (unfortunately it is not avoidable to continue to feel badly every day when on the healing path), and over time because of making better decisions every day, because of functioning better bit by bit over time, your will feel better much of every day in a year or so, from today.

    “What I have started to notice lately is that my negativity and anger is directed toward myself. Meanwhile I barely got angry at the two men that hurt me.  Instead I tried to understand them… My therapist suggested that this was so I could feel in control  of the situation, but I don’t completely understand it yet”- when a young child lives with an angry, disapproving parent, it is too scary for a child to be aware that she is stuck with a bad parent, with no hope of change,  so she makes believe that her parent is a good, loving parent who can’t help but disapprove of a bad daughter.

    Believing this gives the child the opportunity/ power to change her life by changing from a bad child to a good child. If the child believed the truth, that is, that her parent is a bad parent, and his anger/ disapproval is not about who she is, then she has no way to change her situation. She is truly stuck.

    Does that make sense to you?

    anita

     

     

     

    #280715

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    the “sounds and thoughts” meditation was not the one you were talking about it seems. A window wasn’t mentioned there. I found the things he said there made sense, but I also have a hard time concentrating at the moment and a hard time to absorb the things he says.

    Making my life better every day sounds like a very good idea and like it could work. Just at the moment I feel very exhausted and overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel hopeless and I have a lot of self disgust. I guess I will have to start with very, very small steps. Today I have the interview for this program, where a mentor will help you with your career. Then I also want to study for a while, even if it is just for a short period of time. I have to just start. Clean up for half an hour. Go for a walk. I also don’t want to think so much about K. Maybe this can be a start.

    What you tried to explain there about my relationship with my parents, I can understand it on an intellectual level. It makes sense. I also read somewhere that you try to resolve your childhood problems in relationships. But emotionally, I don’t quite get it. Even as a child I disliked my father. He was just too unfair and unkind to me. He hit me and said terrible things to me. My therapist also said that, even if a child doesn’t like their parent, it still secretly wants their approval. But I don’t know, somehow the thought didn’t really sink in.

    #280735

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    Do you have any memory at all of looking up to your father, of feeling love for him?

    And do you remember how you felt and/ or what you said to yourself/ what thoughts went through your mind, as a child, at the very times when he hit you and said terrible things to you, or a few moments after?

    anita

    #280737

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    in my childhood I cannot remember such moments, I don’t think. Maybe I forgot. I also wasn’t very nice to him, I must say. Sometimes he helped me with my homework, but it was difficult as he is not so good at explaining and I wasn’t so interested in the subject. He tried to help me in his way, I think. For example he organized coaching lessons for the subjects I wasn’t good at.When I was little we went for day trips to places of interest, but I don’t know if I interacted much with him there?

    Now as a grown up, he has been kinder to me. Sometimes he can be understanding and gentle. I also admire how he stood up for his beliefs in a time where it wasn’t easy politically. Sometimes I sense his vulnerability and I feel compassion for him. But in my childhood there was not much mutual understanding, as far as I can remember. I think because of talking about my childhood more in therapy, old wounds opened again and I got angrier and more impatient with my parents recently. Why do you ask?

    I don’t remember clearly how I felt, when he hurt me. I think it didn’t feel good, it hurt me. When he said I blackmailed him with my crying, I then cried only when I was alone. As a child I felt like I wanted to break free, I couldn’t wait to grow up and move out. But when I grew up, I was pretty lost about what to do.

    #280751

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I ask because I am trying to  understand. In the past and most recently you shared that you disliked your parents early on, as a child, that you understood then that they were treating you wrong and you even exited their religion, a courageous act! It read throughout your sharing about your childhood and your relationships with your parents, past and present, as if you were and are a courageous, independent minded child/ adult who knew before and knows now that her parents were wrong.

    But then outside the context of your childhood and relationships with your parents, you doubt yourself so very often, suffering terrible self doubts, feeling such shame and disgust a with yourself (“a lot of self disgust”, you shared today), that it doesn’t make sense: the independent minded, confident child who knew her parents were wrong vs the dependent minded (what-do-others-think-of-me), excruciatingly lacking confident adult that you have been, particularly prior to the recent progress that you are making.

    What happened to that confident child who figured out early on that her parents were wrong– why has she feeling that she is wrong every step  of the way in her life as an adult?

    anita

    #280767

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    even as a child, I wasn’t very confident. I wanted very much to be confident and thought that being confident meant being loud and rebellious. So I tried to act like that, I even kind of took pride in having bad marks, to not been seen like a nerd. I was very confused and didn’t know that you can also be calm and confident at the same time.

    But in my teenage years, I also was very afraid of boys. It seemed impossible to me that one could like me, When someone suggested that a calssmate was interested in me, it seemed so unrealistic that I thoght they were just making fun of me. But thinking back later I thought that maybe he could have been interested.

    My teenage and childhood years have been very much consumed with my own personal religious war against my parents. I made fun of my parents with my friends. For example when my father proclaimed that one of my favorite TV shows was linked to a cult. Especially back then they were very close-minded with their religious beliefs, today it has improved a little bit. And I was more influenced by my friends and Televison, so I had a very different world view. They grew up in a completely different time (GDR) under very different circumstances (both grew up on a farm) and we couldn’t understand each other.

    Sometimes I stood up to my parents. I told them that I didn’t want to go through with confirmation, but in the end I caved in. The same with religion class. At a certain age, you are supposed to choose freely between religion class and ethics class on your own. But I had to go to religion class, even though I didn’t want to. Sometimes I rebelled against them. I secretly watched forbidden TV shows, I hit them back when they hit me or told them that I hated them ( I am not proud of myself for that, but I was an angry child). Most of the time, I rebelled in secret, not openly. Often I also did what they wanted, but had negative and angry feelings about it.

    I think as a teenager I was more convinced of myself. Then it didn’t go well with my career and my self-esteem became lower and lower. I was so afraid of the future and had existential fears from an early age on. Everybody was asking about what I was going to do with my life and I didn’t know the answer. I felt shame about being financially dependent on my parents still. And relatives also made such comments. Now I wish I would have just been a little bit more patient with myself.

    As I grew older, I also became more understanding of my parents. I wanted to take on responsiblity for myself. Maybe I took it too far.

    Also, I think in my early twenties, I think a shift in my thinking happened. One of my best friends didn’t call me or stay in contact anymore. She had been very important to me. Maybe it was just because we lived in different cities. But it hurt me very much. I wondered if I had shared too much about my problems with her. I made a vow not to be difficult anymore, to be nice in any case. Maybe it had something to do with this? Be friendly, don’t be negative is what I wanted to be. It took me a long time to find  a friend I truly cared for after our friendship had ended.

    My recent experiences with men also didn’t help. The way that first man treated me, I think it hurt me a lot. Otherwise I would have probably not given in to have sex so easily with the second one. Because with the first one, I said no at first. I pushed him away at first. But he didn’t stop and then I gave up. There was resistance on my part, but it wasn’t strong enough. And this pattern happened over months. But of course, he is not the root of all my problems, I don’t think. But as a teenager, I always wanted to wait for the right one. But then, when I had waited for so long, I felt kind of left out and desperate and lonely and wanted to make my own experiences… But I found the worst person for that.

    Overall, I am a living contradiction, I think. My emotional problems, they started as a child. I don’t think I was that confident. Only sometimes. And I think I was on my own side more. But also I was confused about how to behave, their was no real role model there…

    I don’t quite understand myself sometimes. I think I still have that strong side in me though.

     

    #280801

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    Maybe I understand better now, at this point, this morning: I think it is that youthful love of life, or call of the wild, that energy of youth. It doesn’t die easily. You were mistreated as a child, no doubt. I also  have no doubt that like all young children, you too looked up to your parents, at first, the first years, loved them intensely, wanted nothing more than to please them. Then you rebelled and I find it admirable. Not all children rebel, but you d id. And then life wore you down, exhausted that youthful energy, that call of the wild (I watch our neighbors’ dog Hunter and see his call of the wild, every day as he goes out and about to explore).

    Life wore you down, that friendship you lost, that first man, his mistreatment of you, his severe disrespect  of you, wore you down, robbed you further of that youthful energy.

    But it is not too late, this youthful energy is not dead, it has been revived recently, you being on the healing path. And I agree with you: “I think I still have that strong side in me though”!

    Do you think I understand correctly?

    anita

    #280803

    anita
    Participant

    * did not reflect under Topics

    #280991

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    what you wrote there could be the truth. When I was younger I had so many dreams about travelling, writing books etc. But at some point it stopped being important. I got this feeling like: “I wish I wouldn’t wake up in the morning anymore.” I felt like nothing mattered any longer. I didn’t feel much.

    I have been through a lot, lots of bad experiences. But I want to work on myself to improve my life and get better in the future.

    Recently I got more in touch with my feelings again. I think it is because of talking to you and also my therapist.

    But at the moment those feelings are mostly negative, negative feelings about myself. I regret humiliating myself for a person that didn’t even care about me, just to not disappoint them. But this is in the past now, I have to move on from this. I have to forgive myself and be kind to myself. I really feel mentally exhausted at the moment. It would be nice to get away for some days… But I can at least go for walks or yoga class to calm down and heal myself.

    #280997

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You and I and lots and lots of adults share this experience of being significantly or severely harmed by our parents as children, and then as we become teenagers and adults, we don’t function well in life (the consequence of the said harm) and there are people in our adult life who will harm us more, and unable to protect ourselves, or being confused, not understanding what is going on, feeling guilty etc., more and more painful experiences take place in our lives. It is like a ball of mud going down a hill gathering more and more mud.

    Healing is about understanding the nature of the harm done to us, understanding who caused it and how, seeing that we were innocent as children, undeserving of the disrespect and abuse, feeling the hurt of betrayal by the parents we loved so much and still do, and proceeding to function better in life because our childhood hurt and fear and anger are all concentrated where they belong in time and place- there and then, no longer here and now, a constant in our lives.

    anita

    #281167

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I think I understood a few things better recently. Hopefully I can now make better decisions based on that in the future. But theory and praxis are still two different things… Maybe I just need a little bit longer than others, because I didn’t learn those lessons in my childhood and adolescense.

    Yes, I need to remind myself that this is in the past and I shouldn’t bring these painful memories to the present again and again in my thoughts. I’m only tormenting myself with this.

    Thank you for your helpful advice, as always.

     

    #281173

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome.

    Like anyone else, you learn faster than some, not as fast as others. But you are way ahead of those who don’t learn at all.

    anita

    #283771

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    recently I worry a lot again and I need to share it with someone.

    Some months or weeks ago, one of my flatmates asked me if I had seen her knife. She only owns one. I didn’t think much about it. But recently, I was cooking with my knife from ikea and another flatmates asked: “Have you seen the knife of this flatmate? She is missing her ikea knife?” And I asked: “Oh, like this knife?” And she replied “Yes, like this one” But I explained, that I owned this knife for longer. And looked in the community cuppboard, to see if it was there… And she said “Yes this is exactly where she always put it.”

    Now, after this conversation it seemed weird to me that she was asking again about the knife after so many weeks. And it seems now to me, like they think that I am stealing or something???

    Afterwards I looked through my whole cupboard to see if I had accidently taken the knife and now had two knifes, but there was none. And I started to worry, if I had stolen something, without realizing. They have a food sharing shelf and I once took one or two oranges from there. But I thought it was o.K., since it was the food sharing shelf, and why else would you put your food there?

    Also, we had to move out of the dormitory for a while some months ago, as they were renovating the dormitory. The administration said, that they would throw away everything away that was left over. On the last day or so, I found out that my pan was missing. I had already prepared my food, so I used a leftover pan. I asked one of the few people who last moved out, if it was her pan and explained the situation. She said it wasn’t and that it this point, I could surely take everything that was still there. So I kept the pan and also a few other items, as they would have thrown them away anyways. But now I was thinking about this and got worried. So I put the items I found months ago back in the kitchen yesterday, because maybe it was wrong to take them.

    But I realize, that this might seem even more suspicious to them, if they find out…

    Maybe this was the reason why the one woman behaved so weirdly to me. There was also an E-Mail about stealing going around back then. So maybe they think that I am a thief.

    Which I am not. I didn’t take the knife. Lots of people own things from ikea. But this all worries me so much…

    I definitely want to move away from here now. So far, I went to see one room in a flat that I would share with two other women. Maybe, if I live with less people, I could connect with them better and then we could understand each other better.

    Recently, I read “The four agreements” and it helped me a little to calm down. I reminded myself, that I did not take this stupid knife, so I have nothing to worry about.

    I guess I should calm down, I didn’t do anything to them. But instead it made me nervous and now I will seem more suspicious.

    The solutions could be:

    1) Try to act as normally as possible (but I am a very nervous person and this will be hard for me).

    2) Read books like the one by Miguel Ruiz to calm myself down and think more positive thoughts. Maybe after a while I can train my head to think in a more healthy way and respond more calmly to problems like this. Try to think about more positive things.

    3) Intensify my search for a new place to live. I have to move out from here in a few months anyways and I feel so uncomfortable here.

    I am sorry for the long rant… In the past I was made to be the scapegoat and now I feel guilty for things that I didn’t even do. I just needed to talk to someone…

    And how are you doing?

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Lily.
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