Alternate Reality

I have a need for approval, especially from authority figures.  I know this.  I know why too, I think.  Some are balms to the soul who embody characteristics that nourish me in ways I have yet to learn to nourish myself.  They are kind, supportive, encouraging, demonstrative in their care and concern, embracing…They are so incredible that sometimes I want to break down and cry in their presence because I am just so moved by their unconditional love.  Others have some of those qualities but they are further beneath the surface.  They are more forbidding and standoffish which only makes their approval that much more attractive.  Position of authority=superiority   Approval=equality with superiority     Equality with superiority= being good enough=being worthy

People tell me that I’ve got to learn to love myself and accept my mistakes.  But I don’t think it is a matter of accepting my mistakes, not yet anyway.  Right now and up until now the lens through which I see myself has been skewed.  If you asked me, and especially on a bad day, the person I’d describe would probably have the 7 deadly sins covered and then some.  I’d be the lowest of the low.  Learning to love and accept that person is not something I want to do.  What I need is to see more of my strengths as clearly as or more clearly than I see my flaws.

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A Person Shaped Hole

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Dad,

I miss you.  I miss just you.  I miss the times you,Teri, and I would spend together.  Now it feels as though we’ve fallen by the wayside, that we don’t matter anymore.  We try to make an effort but is it returned?  When we call you on the phone we don’t always want to talk to Rossana or the kids,  What do we have to say to them?  We want to talk to you, our Daddy.

I remember playing baseball in the yard with you.  I remember our old 80s t.v. and VCR.  I remember going to the movie rental place and Teri and I always picking out the same half a dozen movies.  Pete’s Dragon.  Thomasina.  I remember playing in the yard and smelling steak cooking.  I remember watching Disney movies and learning my ABCs with you.  I remember your purple Northwestern t-shirt that you wore until it practically fell apart. I remember going to work with you in Woods Hole to that building with the huge whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling and the hazardous material signs.  I remember the tickle monster before bed and the “world records” whenever we cleaned our dinner plates.  I remember pizza from Graziella’s (I don’t remember how to spell it.) and it sitting hot on my lap as we drove home.  I remember being carried in from the car as we pretended to be asleep.  I remember when you were gone.  I remember when things were no longer the same.

I miss the memories that never were.

Who heals the healer?

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Whom does the healer trust?  To whom does the healer pose the questions, the doubts, the fears?  Who sees the healer when the healer is no longer strong enough to prevent the world from breaking in?  Who is the shoulder to lean on?  Who is the confidant?  Who is the one relied upon?  From where does the healer derive strength?  Where and when is the mask removed?  When is strong not strong enough?  Where and when is honesty enough, to see all there is within?  Who sees the dark side?

Who heals the healer?  I want to be that person.  What need does this meet in me?

On Reaching Out and Challenging Fears

I had an experience this morning that was very affirming for me.   I decided to go to another location of my gym this morning.  Partially to just change things up but mainly because one of my favorite people was working there.  I agonized about going.  Yesterday I could think about the excitement and I could imagine the warm reception I’d receive and this made me happy and excited.  Then towards evening I began to doubt myself.  I’d tell myself how dumb it was and a whole host of other undefined thoughts and feelings.  This morning my anxiety was almost overwhelming until I posted a question on Facebook:  Why does stepping out of your comfort zone have to be so uncomfortable?  In response I received a number of encouraging comments from two of the trainers at my gym without them even knowing what I was talking about.

My fears are so all consuming sometimes.  My anxiety has stopped me from doing many things in the past because I feared what other people thought.  I was afraid of doing something wrong and most of all making a social faux pas.  God forbid I do anything that would make anyone see me unfavorably.  I would much rather be ignored or unnoticed than actively disliked.  I wait in the shadows oftentimes just waiting for a single ray of light to touch me.

And so this is where I stood this morning as I nearly let my fears paralyze me.  I partially calmed myself by telling myself that this particular trainer and friend invited me to visit this location of the gym, as if I had to justify my being there.  Showing up at the gym and being so warmly welcomed by my friend was such a relief.  It is indescribable how encouraged and affirmed I felt.  I reached out and my hand was taken.  It was a balm to my wounded psyche.  I live in terror of being hurt and so having my friendship returned this morning was like…I don’t know.  It helped.  Perhaps it is just the profound sense of relief talking but this morning really meant something to me.  I need more of these experiences.

I need more opportunities to bathe in the light that is a true soul friend.

The Unquiet Mind

friendship: noun

1 lasting friendships: relationship, close relationship, attachment, mutual attachment, association, bond, tie, link, union.

2 old ties of love and friendship: amity, camaraderie, friendliness, comradeship, companionship, fellowship, fellow feeling, closeness, affinity, rapport, understanding, harmony,unity; intimacy, mutual affection. ANTONYMS enmity.

There is this hole in me. A hole of doubt, of loneliness, of fear, of needing.  I keep feeding it, covering it up, distracting myself from it but it is still there, always there.  I do not know how to rid myself of it for good.  I do not know what it would feel like if I were able to get rid of it.  It is a part of me, this ever gaping hole of fear, doubt, and loneliness.  Perhaps the hole illustrates a lacking in me rather than a lacking in some outside thing?  A lack of feeling loved?  Worthy?  I don’t know.  An internal itch that can’t be scratched.  A hunger.  I wish I knew what I needed.

I could throw all of the new knowledge I’ve acquired about attachment theory and incompatible temperaments at it.  Knowing what is at the root of it does not change how I feel.  I want.  I need.

And I’m so g-damn tired of this same crap coming up over and over and over…  I want to be okay with myself.  But I think part of my problem comes from believing that if I am okay with myself then I won’t need others, I shouldn’t need others to fill this hole within me.  For as long as I can remember I’ve been trying to reason away my need for others.  Because I am so easily hurt.

Emotions and emotional needs are irrational and unnecessary, therefore, I should not need others to validate myself, my self-esteem, who I am.  If I wasn’t so weak-willed and self-indulgent then I wouldn’t need outside reinforcement or affection.

These are the things I tell myself.  Supposedly, I cannot be any more hurt by anyone else than by what I already tell myself on typically a daily basis.  Somedays the internal monologue is louder (like today) than others.  It is on the “quiet” days I can almost forget that the hole is there.

“You’re such a f-ing pansy Laura!  She doesn’t give a damn what you think.  Who do you think you are to think you are important to her?”

“What a joke! You’re such a needy, clingy, bastard!”

“What a tool.”  “Such an idiot.”  “Lazy. Fat. Pig.”  “Weak-willed, self-indulgent loser.” “A disappointment” “Incompetent, ineffectual, nobody.”

I read a post somewhere online once that read, “I’m not listening to the voices in my head anymore.  They’re mean.”

End pity party.

Title: Optional

I wish I knew why I was tired so much of the time.  This morning I think I might be able to attribute it to the half Benadryl I took last night before bed.  99.9% of the time I can power through these days.  My off days range on a spectrum of feeling like a limp noodle (like my grandma used to say) and wanting to lay face down, in bed, and not move, having to psych myself up to do little things like homework and go to my job.  The degree to which I feel this way varies.  The amount of effort I have to put out varies.  Then there are the few, very few days, where I feel relatively good.  I can power through things and get stuff accomplished.  I don’t feel like all I want to do is veg out on the couch.  Although even on most of these days a nap looks good to me.

I have had my vitamin levels tested, all normal.  My thyroid (under active) is monitored once a year.  I am on anti-depressants/ anti-anxiety meds.  So what’s the deal?  Is it my allergies that are only partially mollified by the pill I take for them?

I have often wondered whether I am getting enough carbs and/ or protein in my diet.  I certainly drink plenty of water.  I have wondered whether I am getting too much sugar or too little, too much sodium.  I live in fear of gaining too much weight and yet at some point gaining muscle has become a vague sort of goal.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to relax my attention to my body weight/ image.  Even though my pills have relieved my anxieties ever so slightly I am still incredibly anal when it comes to the standards to which I hold myself.

All of the talk in the media has been about how to lose weight.  What about those of us who want to gain healthy weight?  (Or at least think they do)  I hate how much this has become a part of my life and that in an undefined way it has become a measure by which I judge how worthy I am and how good my character is.

How much protein should I have really?  How many calories should I consume really?  What can rid me of this apathy?

Evolution of a Future Art Therapist

For my Art Therapy with Children course this semester we are supposed to associate with a child volunteer in art making activities so we, as students, can get a feel for what it would be like to actually work with children.  The following is my self-assesment for the first week of our assignment:

I feel as if it takes a while for me to get acclimated to new situations, especially when I am nervous and uncomfortable going into them.  It felt disorienting to approach this family and then begin an art project with a child I did not know.  It helped only slightly that the family had participated in this exercise before.  They certainly have the advantage over me there.

My mind was a whirl thinking about what I should be doing, what I could be doing, what I should say, what I should not say, and being nervous about this new situation at the same time.  I felt as if I were blind folded in a dark room and spun around numerous times before being brought suddenly, blindingly, into the light.  I hardly had time to orient myself let alone make note of subtle disclosures made in the art work.  I cannot help but feel, “Am I missing something?”

Looking back on the “session”, I wonder if maybe I might have set myself at ease, and  possibly made progress with my volunteer, had I asked her permission to join in when she played with the modeling clay.  I wonder if this might’ve created more of a sense of friendship and alliance, which might’ve lead to more sponateous conversations.

My problem is that I do not know how to relate to children very well.  I feel awkward, at best, when engaged in interactions with adults, with kids it is a different kind of discomfort.  So many people seem enraptured by children; I am not.  I do not know how to interact with them.  I have a hard time accepting them, their lack of reason and logic, and I have long since passed understanding (and expressing) the pure unadulterated joy and silliness in which children seem to have an inexhaustive supply.  I don’t know.

I should’ve been more persistent in my questioning of R’s HTP drawing.  I should’ve questioned R more about her clay snails.  If I were more engaged there were probably a lot of things I could have explored more fully.  We could have “played” together rather than it feeling like exactly what it was, an assignment.

It takes a while for me to get used to people but if we are working together in a similar activity I have noticed it is easier.  The activity provides a purpose as well as a distraction.  In this case the focus isn’t entirely on one person or another.  There is little chance to dwell on awkwardness or discomfort.  So for me I know it would be easier if we, my volunteer and I, were creating side by side but would that really be helping her?  Or would not enough attention get paid to her and her expressions?

The best comparison I can make is one of a new pair of shoes.  They’re usually stiff and slighly uncomfortable when you first get them home from the store.  After a few wears they start to feel pretty good but they still have that unfamiliar new quality to them.  Then before long, after repeated wears, they are the shoes you wore practically all summer.  Except with relationships, especially in cases like this, there isn’t time for the relationship to get broken in.  As soon as you are used to each other and the real work might start to be possible, it is over.