I’m in my mid-30s damnit.

Apologizing is hard.  Saying “thank you” is hard, at least it is for me, sometimes, when the debt is big.  Both “I’m sorry” and “Thank you” leave the sayer, at least me, vulnerable.  Both are some type of social debt.  For someone, me again, who has questioned their worth, “I’m sorry” and “thank you” and “please, can you?” are risky.

Apologizing is frequently as a result of a breach of social contract.  Apologizing puts a person into a vulnerable position by submitting to the other person’s …selfhood.  The other person has the right to deny the apology.  “No.  You have no right to my forgiveness.”  “You are not good enough for my forgiveness.”  That is what terrifies me the most I think.

There are also different kinds of apologies.  There is the “Oops, I’m sorry I stopped short in front of you,” the casual, “I’m sorry,” and there is the “I’m sorry.  I screwed up.  I did not accurately take into account your feelings. I require your forgiveness”  It is this latter one that leaves me feeling the most vulnerable because I screwed up.  I am not perfect.  I do not know the right things to do, or say.  I am still learning.  And what happens when that apology is not accepted?

Thank yous are also problematic when it is a big thank you, like when your Mom fronts the cost of new tires.  (Thanks Mom)  Again, for me, it is a question of self-worth, like I have to do, or be, or say something, to make myself more worthy of new tires.  I am lucky in that I have parents who can, and do, help me if and when I require it and yet I feel horribly guilty and unworthy every single time.  I feel the need to repay Mom every time and I feel stressed to the point where I almost wish I owed a credit card company or even did without the new tires.  I should be overwhelmed with gratitude, and I am, but at times I also feel near tears because I cannot yet manage all on my own.  I’m in my mid-30s damnit.  It is right that I repay my Mom but man do I hate being in debt.  Being in debt and feeling unworthy of that debt…that I am not good enough, hard working enough…no matter how hard I work I barely make ends meet.  Is this what being an adult is?  Is this what a “millennial” is?  I’m in my mid-30s damnit.

What about feeling the need to both apologize and say “thank you” at the same time?  Always worrying about whether you are doing enough, saying enough, working enough, at your job.  Please God don’t fire me, kind of work.  That’s where the “Please, can you?” comes in.  Please, can you reassure my scared inner child that she is worthy?  She has something to offer but she’s scared.  She’s scared you will lose patience with her.  Thank you for believing in her.  I’m sorry if she’s not what you wanted.  Please God don’t fire her (me.)

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The Lighter Side of Fear

There are only two energies at the core of human experience: love and fear.

Love grants freedom, fear takes it away.  Love invites full expression,

fear punishes it.  Love invites you always, to break the bonds of ignorance.

– Walsch

In therapy yesterday it was pointed out to me that I only see the negative side of fear.  Fear has been a major player in my life and, more often than not, I see it as a hinderance rather than a help.  Fear is thought to be so limiting and for me, most of the time, it is.  But in order to make friends with fear, my therapist suggested showing it some appreciation.  So I’ve created a pro/con list about fear.  This is a work in progress so any thoughts, insight or “Yeah! Me too’s” are welcome.

PRO

Fear kept/ keeps me safe.

Fear keeps me from eating too much.

Fear helps me get my homework done.

Fear helps me get my chores done, cleaning, paying bills, etc.

Fear makes me “productive.”

Fear keeps me employed.

Fear helped me to move out on my own.

Fear drives my quest for self-improvement, self-awareness, self-acceptance. (It’s kind of a chinese finger trap, push pull, ying/yang, circle kind of thing.)

Fear has helped me to survive physically and emotionally.

Fear keeps me from unsafe situations.

Fear allows me to reserve judgement.

Fear helps me care about my body and my life.

Fear helps me develop priorities.

Fear keeps me from spending too much.

Fear is a natural human emotion just like love, hurt, and anger.

CON

Fear is limiting.

Fear keeps me from making connections with people.

Fear prevents me/ makes it harder for me to ask for help.

Fear (often) stops me from doing things I need and want to do.

Fear prevents me from fully relaxing.

Fear creates doubt.

Fear causes me to isolate pain.

Fear (for me) is often an overreaction to a non-threatening situation.

Fear is not a reasonable judge all of the time.

Fear, anger, and frustration frequently go together.

Fear can cloud my mind.

Fear sometimes causes me to deny my other physical and emotional needs.

Fear prevents me from expressing those needs.

Phone Home

Feeling like I have to make myself “better” this morning.  Exercising, reading, cleaning.  I have cleaning in mind because if I ever get a cat I’m sure there are a lot of things for her to get into.  There is a lot of stuff that has just been sitting around because I don’t want to deal with it or I keep putting it off.  Goodwill clothing donation, papers to pick up, purses to finish cleaning out…

Part of me wants to talk to my therapist but I don’t know what about or why.  Part of it is just wanting to hear a friendly voice and because she told me I could call her if I needed.  I want to reach out to her but the boundary thing scares me.  It is the boundary that says, “A therapist can be called in between appointments for brief phone consultations but the therapist has to be aware that this privilege is not taken advantage of.”  She already extends so much of her time for me.  But the logical part of me says she wouldn’t offer if she didn’t mean it.  But another part of me says, she’s a therapist, not a friend to call up simply because you are lonely or in need of sympathetic human contact.  The logical part responds, “Isn’t the therapeutic relationship where clients test out new behaviors and new ways of being?”  I have so much difficulty making phone calls to people just calling, reaching, and talking to her would be a huge accomplishment on its own.

I keep thinking about the “honesty” thing my therapist noted during the session before last.  Honestly, I’m afraid she’ll think I can’t afford a cat and will be like Mom when Mom thinks I’ve made an unwise monetary choice or I’m even considering an unwise choice.  I’m hard enough on myself; I don’t know how I’d handle that kind of disapproval.  I keep imagining beating myself up for wanting something I “should’t” want or have.  And again it feels like a value judgement.  Jesus, transference issues much?

Honestly, I am afraid to call her without really having a reason.

Why I don’t love myself

Realization as a result of yesterday’s therapy session:  I continue to look for surrogate Mother figures because I am so mean and filled with rage and anger towards myself.  I look for someone to be kind to me, to tell me I’m okay, that I’m right for doing/ thinking/ feeling like I do because I try to figuratively beat myself up for my likes, dislikes, wants, needs, mistakes, failures, and I see no victories in anything.  I am very abusive towards my inner child.  I send her mixed messages and then beat her up for not understanding or for wanting or needing or hurting or celebrating.  I let her have fun by buying something we want and then beat her up for spending money we shouldn’t on something “stupid” or inappropriate or for using money that should have been better spent.

I look for surrogate Mother figures because I hurt myself so badly.  I punish myself, repeatedly, many times, every single day.  And so I look for someone who can take care of me emotionally even if they don’t know that is what they are doing.  A smile from one of these people is like water to a flower.  A kind word is like a hug.  A laugh, an exchange of a few words, a feeling of camaraderie, is like the perfect dessert, treat, or reward.  It’s why I look to bosses or teachers or gym trainers or my Aunt even.  They are people in “authority” to whom I can give my power away.  I let their judgement supersede my own.  But the light quickly dims from these encounters because I tell myself I should not, I must not, go fishing for these bright spots of refuge.  I must not enjoy them because I know the real truth.  The truth, I tell myself, is that I’m a whiny, needy, self-centered, greedy, good for nothing, ignorant, immature, child.  I am so mean towards myself for wanting these things.  For wanting to be told I am a good person, that I am loved, that I am appreciated, that I am worthy and valuable.  I’m an adult, dammit! I shouldn’t want or need these things!  I shouldn’t need other people.

But there is this little girl inside of me.  The emotional part of me, the “real” me, that does need these things.  She does need to be told she’s smart and pretty and loved and valued.  She needs to be told that she’s wanted.  And right now she is so incredibly hurt by the things I’ve been telling her and the anger I hold towards her.  And I realize I am reliving the past.