Figuring out how to get your needs met through other people is very complicated.  What do I have the right to ask of them? What can they give me and do I have the right to it, I wonder.  In the same respect, I wonder, what do I have to offer them?  What can they get from me?  Obviously there is something they are getting from me since they insist on spending time and enjoying that time with me.  That people like and enjoy me is a continual amazement to me.  You mean I don’t have to be this wonderful spectacular straight-A perfect person and I am still liked?!  I can be lazy and selfish and, dare I say it, HUMAN, and people will still like me?  This sounds all very selfish and I don’t intend it to be.  On the other hand, I don’t believe in altruism either.

My therapist and I talked about how people, women especially, don’t ask for what they need.  We just expect people to be mind readers.  We live with the absurd beliefs that, “I shouldn’t have to ask!” and “If I have to ask it doesn’t mean as much.”  I remember reading once, in a book about people with low self-esteem, that people with low self-esteem often set up little tests for people, usually without their knowledge.  Like, “if so and so doesn’t invite me out after work today then everyone hates me.”  Does so and so know you want to go out with the group after work?  We have to teach people what we want and need from them.  Maybe ask if you can join the group after work.  It might take a few times but sooner or later they won’t give a second thought to inviting “Sally” out for drinks on a Friday. (This is an awkward thing for me to do and I should practice what I preach, but oh well.)

There are some people you can go to for certain things more than others.  My therapist put it this way, “If your tooth hurts you don’t go to a foot doctor; You go to a dentist.”  I can go to my Aunt (I think) for things I might not would not go to my mother for.  Judgements from my Aunt mean something but they are not so utterly earth shattering as judgements from Mom have been because I know my Aunt still cares about me.  She might shake her head at my untidy tendencies, unwise purchases, and timid behaviors, but I know, I feel, that they don’t change the way she generally feels about me.  With Mom there are a lot of qualities I admire and appreciate (my goodness do I appreciate them!) but there is also so much fear and pain there.

It is a foreign concept to me that people will like me no matter whether I feel myself to be a failure or not.  Just because there have been times I’ve despised myself, my weaknesses, and things I’ve seen as failings, does not mean other people see me that way.  Interactions over the past year have really opened my eyes to people who actually see me as a valuable human being.  I’ve been punishing myself for so long and so hard…It is like a orphan who has only lived in the cold with a scratchy wool blanket believing that is all she deserves because, according to her, she is not smart enough or worthy enough to even dream of a warm fuzzy blanket.  A warm fuzzy blanket is such a foreign concept to her she barely has any idea that it exists let alone that she might be worthy of it.  All she knows is that the wool blanket is not enough and she feels overwhelmingly guilty because she believes it should be enough.

So I have a hard time understanding, conceptualizing, and believing that I have something to give to people.  For so long I have lived as if I had to apologize, fix, make better, compensate, explain, and sacrifice so that others would be happy and I would justify my inclusion, existence, wants, needs, etc.

This year 2014 will be a year of forgiveness for me.  I will forgive myself for being so hard on myself.  I will forgive myself for being so afraid and living in fear for so long.  I will forgive myself for living as if life is a hardship rather than something to be enjoyed.  I will forgive myself for allowing the actions and behaviors of others to hinder my growth.  I will forgive others for not being in a place where they can work on their own issues.  I will forgive myself for not being more accepting.  I will forgive myself for believing I should be anything other than human.  I will forgive myself for trying to reason away my emotional needs.  I will forgive myself for not being able to take a more proactive approach to getting my needs filled.  I will forgive myself for not taking responsibility for my life choices.  I will forgive myself for not making the gift of myself, my presence, my being, more available to people.


Off Kilter

My internship supervisor wasn’t happy with my performance and essentially she fired me at the end of this semester, last Thursday.  Because of this, my status as a student was in question.  My school supervisor didn’t want to fail me because she knows how hard I have tried, how far I’ve come, and what my performance has been like during our weekly supervision meetings.  I think the fit between my site and I just wasn’t a good one.  I also know I have some, at times severe, social handicaps to overcome.

When I was “fired” last week I was left reeling.  I was so knocked down and disoriented because all the plans I had made had  suddenly just come to an abrupt and unfair end.  Luckily I had a friend to help me see that this wasn’t the end of the world.  It is just a detour, and a scenic one at that.  My school advisor was also a great help to me in providing options that weren’t so scary and were actually exciting once my world stopped spinning.

Reception of the news that I would not be graduating in May with most of the rest of my class was greeted neutrally by other classmates with some even supporting my enforced extra semester in between internships 1 and 2.  So this Spring instead of continuing with internship I will be taking an art class and an Independent Study in Art Therapy.

I still spend a lot of time occasionally fearing what other people will think.  I have felt this experience as a failure and it is only through repeated support from peers and coworkers that this has decreased.  When I mentioned that I would be taking an extra semester between internships on the phone to my Mom the other day, I am glad she didn’t ask for details, even though I am sure she wanted.  My Aunt commented on how relaxed or relieved I seem about it.  I know that my being “fired” a great weight has been lifted off of me but I feel guilty for what basically seems like an indulgence of my avoidant tendencies.  I am, however, excited by the opportunities available this coming semester.  And yet I am anxious about being ready to approach Internship 2 in a better way than I approached Internship 1.  Will I be able to handle it better by the end of my semester off?

I don’t think I have really allowed myself to feel and process the shock, anger, and feelings of guilt, I’ve experienced since last Thursday.  But then I wonder am I more resilient now than I was in the past?  Can I really have accepted and accommodated my new change of circumstances so quickly?  I have been tempted, at times, to beat myself up for failing where so many of my classmates have succeeded.  I am getting better at fighting this off though, by allowing myself to feel the relief and excitement.  It is difficult because relief and excitement feel so good, but I try not to indulge myself in those feelings too much because I know there is a lot of hard personal work ahead of me this semester.  I try to question myself, that if this were a physical illness would I be feeling guilty and ashamed as I took the time to heal?  If this were a physical illness, would I see myself as failing, as being weaker than or not as good as my classmates?