Which battle is worth fighting?

I don’t like not understanding. I don’t like not being able to do what people I like and admire want me to do. It hurts. Not understanding and not being able to do what others want me to do hurts.

I wrote the above a few days ago. I was about to delete it when I realized it is relevant to something a friend and I talked about this morning. We were talking about things we do to gain affection and appreciation from other people. He said that I wasn’t used to people being nice to me just to be nice. I said I wasn’t used to recognizing that there is anything to be nice to me for. I have a self-worth problem that goes beyond simply not recognizing my positive qualities. But our discussion caused me to reframe my thinking by asking myself, “Will I ever be able to change my people pleasing, ingratiating, justifying, ways and beliefs?” And then I asked myself a question that really hit home, “Why am I fighting such a hard battle to make everyone else’s life easier?”

I’ve been so other focused for so long that I’ve forgotten or disregarded the fact that I am the most important person in my life. Everything in my life has been about not making waves for anyone else, fitting my wants and needs and desires to fit what they want, need, and desire, putting myself second, trying to figure out how to be me in ways everyone or anyone else would find acceptable, and sacrificing myself in order to make things easier for others. Recognizing or re-recognizing this is important, but something so ingrained in my temperament and ways of coping with the world, is something I have a hard time seeing how to change.

Summer Perspective

Today is my next to last day on vacation. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking the past few days, since my therapy session on Wednesday. I’ve learned a lot over the summer. I think I’ve become stronger as a person and I’ve started to distance myself from the anxiety I’ve been plagued with for many years. Some days, some hours, some seconds are easier than others. Some days I’m overwhelmed by it still. I’m more settled in myself and have learned that even if there are some things I could do better I am a good and worthy person.

My therapist and I have been working on dialoguing with my Inner Critic and Inner Child. She had been advising me to view my current self (reason) as a coach who decides when to put certain “players” (the Critic, the Inner Child) into the game. I am the coach who decides how to best use each player. But this metaphor wasn’t working for me or maybe I just wasn’t getting what she was trying to say. This past week a simple change in vocabulary brought new meaning into the metaphor. She suggested I use the Critic and the Inner Child as “input.” They can offer input into whatever I’m encountering but I am the one who makes the decision on what to do, how to react, and what needs are met. For some reason this was more clarifying and enlightening for me. I can listen to one side and the other and then judge what needs to be done. Now these emotional sides of me aren’t always nice and patient or reasonable but somehow this shift in perspective gave me a greater sense of control.

I am still nervous about restarting internship this Fall semester. Will I be able to maintain reason and clarity and not let anxiety and fear get in the way of what needs to be done? I waver between this confidence and fear. I know a lot. I know theory and compassion and the humanity of it all but will I be blinded by my uncertainty, by my fear? Will I be paralyzed like I was during my first internship? I don’t want to be. Part of me is also afraid of asking for what I want and need, which is close supervision, a guiding hand, someone I’m not afraid to go to to ask for help, someone who will be near until I feel strong enough to work on my own. Asking for help has always been a BIG problem for me. Asking for help has meant not being good enough, not smart enough, not worthy, an imposition, an inconvenience, an annoyance. I have been afraid to ask for help for the simple fact that I have been afraid I wouldn’t receive it.

And part of me is afraid that I haven’t made as much progress as I keep insisting I have, though I do feel differently than I did, I think. Have I done enough? Have I done anything? Have I just been pissing around and not really doing any work at all? Though I am still slipping and sliding I think I am making slow progress towards more solid ground.

The Inner Child is whining. She needs something. She’s lonely and wants to be loved.