If I Get It All Down on Paper It’s No Longer Inside of Me Threatening the Life It Belongs To

I started back in counseling in April.  At my last session my counselor told me my homework was to “process my shame.”  Of course she didn’t tell me how exactly to go about doing that. :/  My shame isn’t really about anything I have done.  It’s about who I am.  I broke down when talking about my daughter because even though I am not the best mom, I suck at everything else.  At least that’s my core belief at times.  Or more accurately I believe that everyone else believes that I suck.  And if everyone else believe I suck, then two other things must be true: 1) I really do suck and 2) I am worthless and have no love.

So I spent the afternoon writing all the ways I suck in order to “process my shame.”  Here it is.  Maybe you can relate.  There’s really no words of wisdom that accompany this or happily ever after epiphany of self-confidence, but I am somewhat calmer than when I started writing.  And tired.

I suck at being a girl.  I should care more about appearance and take the time each day to shower, do my hair, makeup, shave, wear jewelry, and make sure everything coordinates.  I should plan my meals and only eat clean healthy foods and exercise everyday so that I am trim.  I should be able to drink a socially acceptable amount of alcohol without having it affect my weight.  My nails should always be perfectly manicured and pedicured.

But I am none of those things because I like to sleep.  I like to spend time on Facebook.  I am too lazy to be a proper girl.  Not proper like Emily Post.  Proper like socially acceptable, accepted, liked, popular.  The kind of girl my husband wishes I was.  I am a consolation prize.  I am what people settle for when they can’t do any better.  I am always trying to make up to people that I am what they ended up with.  I spend too much effort and money on trying to make my husband happy.

This leads to the belief that I suck at being a confident, empowered female.I should have left him when I found out he had cheated on me.  A stronger, better woman would have realized her worth and left.  But I didn’t, and now I’m stuck.  Because I suck.  Because I suck at being a friend.  If I had more friends or more accessible friends I would have the support I had needed to leave.  I would have had somewhere to go.  But I suck.  I’m not fun enough.  I don’t go out as much as I should.  I don’t find joy in the right activities.  Standing too long at concerts hurts my back so I want to leave early.  I’m not doing enough.  I like to eat and talk too much.  I care too much what others think but at the same time I don’t care enough.

I don’t have a real identity.  Even my handwriting is inconsistent.  It sucks.  I can never be 100% real.  The “overseer” in my brain is constantly reviewing, judging.  Even while I write this I wonder if it’s poignant enough, visceral enough, relevant enough.

I half-ass everything.  I get so tired from my brain that I stop caring.  I care so much that I am too tired to care.  And I just want to go to sleep.  Or watch The Simpsons.  Or The Cat in the Hat on PBS.  I pretend to watch it for my daughter, but in reality I find it comforting.  And these days I will do anything that makes me feel comfortable.  I just want to be comfortable, warm, accepted.  I don’t want to plan or rehearse everything I say and do.  That’s why I like tequila.  I don’t care about what I say and do when I’ve had a margarita.  I understand now how people become alcohol dependent.  When you are so full of anxiety and intrusive thoughts that you will do anything to quiet your mind.

And now I need a nap, or just a chance to lay down and stare at the sky, or lay down next to my daughter.  I am comforted laying next to her while she’s sleeping.  Listening to her baby noises.  She is still perfect.  She doesn’t know how messed up mommy is yet, and my hope is that she never does.  I know the husband doesn’t want my issues to affect her, and he judges me because I still have anxiety attacks and lose my temper.  He has told me that I don’t have that luxury anymore.

 

Hmm.  Maybe I’m not the one who sucks.

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There’s Always Some Reason to Feel Not Good Enough, and It’s Hard at the End of the Day

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shift-mind/201307/low-self-esteem-missed-diagnosis

I have very little confidence and very low self-esteem.  I wonder if this is due to the anxiety, life experiences, or how I was raised.  So what does a good little anxiety-ridden girl do?  I Googled it, of course.  The article above poses the question in reverse.  Are we as a society over diagnosing anxiety when it’s our low self-worth that is manifesting as anxiety, depression, etc, instead of the anxiety causing low self-esteem?  The author of the article thinks so:

“I often see anxiety and depression occurring as a consequence of low self-value as well. A confident and secure relationship with your own self makes it less likely that you’ll suffer from these conditions (but, of course, doesn’t guarantee it). These afflictions can certainly exacerbate low self-esteem and mask the genuine source of the disorder, as they take center stage”

In the author’s scenario of the young man with social anxiety I see a lot of myself.  I don’t feel good enough most of the time.  I don’t like answering the phone or the door.  I rarely call people.  I’m not at the extreme this young man was, but I tend to isolate when my self-worth gets really low.

So what do we do?  EMDR to challenge our beliefs about ourselves?  Meditation for acceptance?

On another note, if because I know I overreact and feel easily hurt, do I give people more leeway than I should?  Do I doubt my instincts and initial reaction and therefore let people treat me in a way that makes me feel even more worthless?  I know I don’t end relationships.  I’m always afraid I’m giving up before I should or being too something.  Too selfish?  Too emotional?  Too dramatic?  So I stay in relationships that drain me rather than provide me with energy.  I stay friends with people that I dread talking to.  Then I feel worse.  Then I feel bitter.  Then I feel like I’m not good enough to have happy friends.  Friends that are fun.  Friends that want to hang out with me because I’M fun.  Because at this point I’m not fun.  I have become a friend that drains rather than provides energy.  It’s a downward spiral.  Everything with anxiety and depression leads to a downward spiral.

What does it take to get us to stand up for ourselves?  To have the self-worth TO stand up for ourselves?  Why don’t we believe we’re good enough?

We Believed That We Could Change Ourselves, The Past Could Be Undone

I have this incessant need to have people like me. I insinuate myself into situations in order to have the most exposure to others, especially coworkers and friends of friends. I am annoying. I annoy myself. I worry that when two or more coworkers are talking in a whisper or low tone, they’re talking about me. I think often that I am purposefully excluded from work social happenings or friendships.
I have minimally attempted to leave people alone, keep to myself, only speak when spoken to or when I have a question or concern. Basically not try so hard to be liked. The adult me knows that if I just “chill out” ( as the hubs tells me daily) and stop trying so hard, life will be much easier and more enjoyable. Not everyone has to like me. And, better yet, it’s totally okay if some people don’t like me. “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” But needy teenager me is highly sensitive to and paranoid about rejection.
I was somewhat bullied in high school, except that’s not what it was called back then. It was just called high school. For most people, high school kinda sucks, but those people get over it. I’m a big girl now. I SHOULD be past that. I’m a married woman with a Master’s degree, a house, and a car. I have some good friends. I SHOULD NOT care about high school or coworkers or whether or not people like or include me. But I do. And, as my mother-in-law’s pastor once said, there is not a Book of Should.
So what do I do? How do I get adult me to have more influence over my behavior and thoughts than needy teenager me? I have no clue. I don’t believe in one ultimate solution or answer. So I meditate. I go to yoga. I take my meds. I try to keep to myself (mostly doesn’t work). I tell myself over and over that people don’t have to like me, and maybe if I stop trying so hard, more people will want to spend time with me. I stop seeking acceptance from others when I know I don’t totally accept myself. I stop believing that the decisions other people make have anything to do with me because I am not the center of anyone’s life except my own. I stop expecting unreasonable responses from people I know will never deliver, and I accept who they are because I want them to accept that this is how I am.
I have tons of self-help books that I’ve only partially read, but I hear they are good. One of them is “I Need Your Love. Is That True?” I attempt to implement the strategies I HAVE read in that book (about 4 chapters). But it’s a good question. Do I need your love? Probably not. I need MY love of myself. I need the love of my higher power, which I know I have. Before others can love and accept me, I have to love and accept myself. ALL of me.
We are human. Our neediness, clinginess, flaws, moods, mistakes, they are what makes us wonderful and beautiful. We are perfectly imperfect. Now as soon as I figure out how to start believing that, I’ll let you know.
P.S. As another example of seeking acceptance, I have my husband read most of my blogs before I post them.  I want him to read them and finally “get it.”  But he doesn’t, or more accurately he doesn’t get it the way I want him to.  And he won’t because that’s not who he is.  And I have to accept that and stop expecting him to suddenly be someone he is not.