Well, I’ve been trying to incorporate what my therapist and I have been talking about. I’m normal. There is nothing wrong with me. I was really happy yesterday for the most part. I felt good. Today, not so much. It’s like coming down from a high (or at least how I imagine it would feel like). From time to time things are still glowy around the edges but I can feel my anxiety and it feels like I’ve sat down hard on the cold, unforgiving ground.
I’m lonely. I know the only constant in anyone’s life is themselves. But I am not feeling strong enough for that yet. I want a kind, caring, loving, supportive, constant, presence, someone to comfort me when I struggle to go on. Someone to ground me. Someone to hug and hold me. I want to be someone to look forward to seeing me as much as I look forward to seeing them.
Just like I told my therapist that I am not yet confident enough to ask for what I need, I am not sure enough yet in myself to rely on myself for that care and comfort. Besides, “K” says it is something we all need. As humans we need other humans.
I just don’t feel right asking for what I need from people I admire. I am constantly drawn to people I see/ feel in mother/ older sister/ mentor roles, like my favorite gym trainer, or my bosses sometimes, or teachers, or my therapist, my Aunt, one of my favorite cousins…
Part of me feels like I can’t ask for what I want/ need emotionally from these people. There are so many shoulds and shouldn’ts. For example, as much as I might want it, I can’t be “friends” with my therapist. I need this connection with someone but I fear being hurt which is why I find withdrawal of affection or whatever, so devastating. (Like this slow withering of whatever kind of friendship I had/have with my trainer.)
I told my therapist once that one of my highest aspirations in school was to be “teacher’s pet.” We agreed it is/ was because I didn’t get what I needed at home.
I have a professor who
scares me makes me nervous. She is a funny, smart, insightful woman but I feel like there is a mean streak in her. I get the same feelings from her that I used to get from teachers in elementary and middle school who would call us out on and ridicule us in the middle of class for bad behavior or poor performance on an assignment. Maybe it is just something that gets triggered for me but I was really uncomfortable during some points of class last night. A classmate was singled out for talking in class. (Yes, even in grad school talking while the teacher is talking is frowned upon.) He said he was talking to himself. The professor said something smug like, “Well you’re obviously not talking to yourself since it was out loud.” But she also modified it by saying she does the same thing when she’s walking her dog and sometimes gets strange looks from people. It probably was not as big of a deal to my classmate as it was to me but it kind of made me squirm. I smiled along nervously with the rest of the class with a feeling of relief that it wasn’t me who was being singled out. Later there was another discussion that took place in a smaller group, as we were going over that week’s assignment, that centered around the use of cell phones and when it is and is not appropriate. The professor said we would encounter future clients who would bring electronic devices into session and we would have to deal with it just like she has to deal with us bringing cell phones and iPads and other devices into class and using them. She paused after this, I felt, pointed statement. And I felt ashamed of how my phone buzzed earlier with a text message while the professor had been making announcements at the beginning of class. It is not like I answered the text, which was only a notification that my work schedule had been posted, but whether the statement was aimed at me or someone else I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. I pretended to ignore the comment however and the moment passed quickly.
I guess this would happen no matter what class I was in…In fact other admonishments in other classes have also caused intense embarrassment for me even if they were extremely brief and not thought of by the the professor 10 seconds later. I guess I have a problem with negative attention of any kind. It makes me feel sick, nervous, and sad. And it often leads me down a path of mental self abuse that is hard to pull out of, especially if the attention is sustained or I feel that it is ongoing.
In any case this professor makes me feel really nervous sometimes, more so than any of the other teachers I have had in a long time.
I know I’ve written about this subject before but yesterday I encountered a new or different approach to a thought pattern that has plagued me for as long as I can remember so here goes…
For as long as I can remember I have held the belief or felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with me, with my likes or dislikes, my choices, the way I thought about things, the way I approached problems and situations, etc. I was retarded or slow or flawed or just not “normal” in someway. I am not capable of handling life the way others who are “normal” do. I was and forever would be fundamentally fucked and I would never ever be good enough for myself or others. Ever. Worst of all I felt/ feel I was a chronic (and still continue to be) disappointment to my parents. I lived/ live my life in a constant state of apology or justification. I have to justify every single aspect of my existence because I am simply not good enough. Ever. I don’t know if I can convey how absolutely devastating this belief is to an adult let alone a kid.
Anyway, through a series of questioning, combating cognitive distortions, and attempts to disprove my faulty thinking I came to accept the idea that maybe there isn’t anything wrong with me. I can’t explain how foreign this idea is to me. It’s like…suddenly after 20-30 years of living your life one way you find out you are adopted and everything you’ve ever believed about who you are and who your family is is wrong. I’ve adopted this idea that I’m wrong or bad or flawed. This idea or belief system (because that is truly what it is) has been ingrained in me for so long that the idea that I am okay, that my choices and preferences are totally awesome because they are mine, is utterly strange to me.
This environment of wrongness is one I grew up in. I’m not saying my parents did this to me intentionally, not at all. (At least not entirely.) I think this is why I found the teasing at school so hard to deal with sometimes. Many kids go through being teased because kids just generally suck at being compassionate humans most of the time. But for me it became so much larger in my mind because it reinforced the messages I was receiving from my parents and a few of my teachers. (Thanks to a good friend I made it through Middle School) God, I was so lost, hurt, confused, and lonely for so much of the time. I tried desperately to fit in but when I was rejected or rebuffed in someway it was blown way out of proportion because I was wrong, bad, stupid, and misread the social cues as a result of being deficient in some way…
Such a fundamental belief is extremely difficult to let go of but today, right now, that I am a whole, normal, good, human being, that has a right to her preferences, is a concept that lightens the darkness.