Education About the Self

This semester I’m taking a class called Applied Psychology in which I have been instructed to treat myself as the patient, and apply each psychological method to my own issues.  It is, at once, quite illuminating and disturbing.

My term paper – shit that came up fast – was on the defense mechanisms I’ve employed throughout my life during difficult times.  This paper, despite the insistence of how likely I would be to procrastinate writing it, was actually very easy to compose.  It took me a week of not very dedicated work to apply each of the 14 defense mechanisms to some aspect of my past, and I, in fact, could think of several examples for some of them – in recent and distant past.  After working on that paper, I thought whatever subject the professor threw at us next would be a piece of proverbial cake – no problem at all!

Now, we’re figuring out our personality types according to several psychologist’s popular opinions of such things… and a spot on Jungian Archetype test result started up some pretty severe anxiety within me.  It’s kind of odd, because I just kept reading and thinking that this is fascinating.  “Yea, that’s right,” and “That explains a lot,” I found myself repeating more and more frequently.  As I read on, I found myself feeling shaky, reverberating from the center of my body outward.  It stole over me like a spider creeping in darkness, and before I realized it, I was gripping my shirt and gasping for air.

The thing is: the results weren’t at all disturbing!  A little surprising?  That they were, yes.  I have a personality type that is best suited, it turns out, to acting and technical careers.  I’m, apparently, best suited to low social and high danger positions… and not as suited to writing (though it’s not unheard of for this personality type to make a living as a writer… it is rare).  I found it enlightening.  I don’t quite know why it gave me anxiety, though.  It seems an unusual physical reaction.

Perhaps my professor will be able to offer some insight when I see him tomorrow.  It’s honestly too bad that I have another class during his only available office hours.

Anyhow, I’m mostly just speculating aloud here, as, one, it was a rather confusing event for me and, two, I haven’t updated in a while.  This post doesn’t seem to have an overarching theme, unlike my others.  Perhaps I’ll work it out in reflection at a later time.

I hope you’re all doing well.  Thank you for reading and have a lovely week!

Another Relationship Rant

Sometimes little things just annoy me.  This bothered me today.

“It’s good to see that you’re still alive,” says the woman who is likely my ex now.

So, I should probably start by pointing out that I’m a little bad at confrontation, and I’m still learning to say things like, ‘No,’ which is how every single one of my previous exes has pushed me around.  I mean, it’s really amazing how good I am at finding people who will, consciously or unconsciously, happily push me around and force me into doing the things they want me to do, and nothing else.

This last situation, she told everyone including her family that I was her new girlfriend before ever checking with me on the matter.  As stated in my last post on relationships, this is the second San Francisco area relationship where the new ‘love interest’ decided we were closer than we truly were – an assumption with which I am not okay.

Now, when she finally did ask if it was okay to call me her girlfriend, I felt a bit cornered into the new title.  After all, she ‘okayed’ it with me during a party at which all of her friends were in attendance, and I couldn’t very well pull her aside to discuss how unsure I was about being in a relationship, right then, particularly when she’d already told everyone there that we were.  So, coward that I am when it comes to confrontation, I nodded and added some related anecdote – an okay.

I sort of fell out of interest with her after that.  I tried really hard to be as attracted to her as I had been before that happened, even tried to blame myself.  “Oh, it must be my depression shutting me down, again.”  Now, yes, I have been rather depressed for about the past … 20 years or so.  However, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving, when she tried to push me to go to her family’s holiday dinner, that I started to figure out what exactly was going on.

I mean, a Thanksgiving invite can be a nice thing, and I would appreciate it if, upon telling her that I had been feeling depressed and being social at that point in time would be a bad idea for everyone involved, she had backed off.  Instead, she got defensive and moody with me because I didn’t want to go.  So, rather than endure a fight, I turned off my phone that weekend.  When I turned it back on the following week, I had a text message from her and several voicemails to which I still have not listened.  The text message asked if I had had a moment to talk, but had been sent the prior week.  I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation so I didn’t respond, which is – again – a cowardly thing to do, I admit, but it’s not as though she didn’t know what was going on.  I had outright told her during our ‘argument’ that I needed to be alone when I felt like this.  She deals with depression issues, as well, so she should have understood… or so I assumed.

People who deal with depression shouldn’t be judgmental about other people who deal with depression.  My dad understands when I’m ‘too busy’ to call him sometimes for months on end, because he has the same problem.  My best friend texts me every couple of months then disappears, and I understand no matter what I’m going through.  Sometimes, people who deal with depression really just need to disappear for a while and deal with it.  After all, it’s not as though I’ve never reemerged.  I always come back.

Today, two (or has it been three?) weeks later, I emerged.  I woke up and told myself that I was going to all of my classes no matter what.  I told myself that it was going to be a productive, social day.  I pushed myself out of bed, forced actual clothes onto my body, and shoved myself onto the bus; I was at school.

Now, I understand that I may not have been as communicative as I could have been.  I’m bad at talking about my own problems, or really anything that isn’t done via writing.  I also don’t like talking to people verbally who know anything about my communicative issues, because if it’s something they’re not going to like they always use my inability to communicate verbally on the spot against me.  So I write everything, I plan out difficult conversations with a list of points to address, or I simply write it down and give that to them.  I think I’ve developed a bit of a handicap by doing this, but it’s difficult to practice tough conversations beforehand so I don’t know how to improve this.

I had to go to the class we share together.  I almost talked myself out of it.  I went.

In this class, I have a close friend who almost made me cry when, upon seeing me, she gave me a huge hug, told me how much she missed me, and instructed me to sit next to her and tell me about the past couple of weeks.  So I did.  Fifteen minutes later, the probably-ex-girlfriend walked in, but I didnt’ see her at first.  All I know is that in the middle of the conversation she interrupted us to say, as sarcastically as she could manage, “It’s good to see that you’re still alive.”

Have I mentioned that I’m A.D.D., and that I’m bad at on-the-spot conversations and interactions?

My friend was still talking.  I managed an “Oh, hi!” to the probably-ex, turned my head as my friend kept talking (trying not to lose the thread of the conversation), and when I turned back, to let her know I hadn’t forgotten about/was not ignoring her, my probably-ex was already walking away – not my best moment.  I let her go; I was too distracted to think through it properly.

Then during a class that I really didn’t want to be sitting in, I started thinking.  I thought, wait a minute!  Granted, I never responded to her last text message, and it’s always possible that there’s a voice mail on my phone from her to which I have yet to listen.  She did not, however, send any messages to see what was going on with me.  She did not take into account the deep depression, which I did warn her about when it started.  She ignored the fact that I had mentioned I could not endure the company of others in that state, at-fucking-all.  She did not try to find out if I was better, or if I even received her messages.  She has also gone months without listening to her voice mails, missing several I have left her.  She’s ignored or forgotten about or simply not responded to texts I’ve sent her, as well as emails.  So, as an opening statement, I found her response today to be completely out of line, and really rather annoying.  That’s rich coming from you (we’re taking a Shakespeare class together… I’m allowed one cliche).

So I left class without saying anything to her, knowing that, annoyed as I was, anything that came out of my mouth was likely to be far too blunt and/or unkind.  I don’t think she deserves for me to be unkind to her, so I walked away.

I think she assumed my walking away was a kind of unkindness, in and of itself.  It could be perceived as such.  It could be.

The thing is: I’m so tired of people pushing me into doing something they want me to do without considering my feelings on the matter, and then getting all upset about something I finally do to stand up for myself.  It’s not my fault that I felt pushed into a corner, and trapped into a relationship with someone.  It’s not my fault that I need a bit more time, and perhaps some real moments to feel as though I’m close to someone new.  In fact, I feel as though that is how most people who live in reality feel about being in personal situations, with very few exceptions.

Why should I just automatically trust you when you went behind my back to create this situation, in the first place?  Why should I take your feelings into account now, when you didn’t bother to consider mine in the beginning?

I’m being blunt now, and that’s something on which I need to work, I know.  However, I think that it’s best if I work on it alone, without someone who’s trying to fit me into their fantasy world without bothering to considering the reality in which I live.  Relationships are mutual.  You cannot make someone live in your fantasy without considering theirs, and you cannot force someone to feel a certain way about you without earning at least some part of it.  Maybe, I just exist too much in reality?  And, maybe, irony is just really overrated.

Codependency

“Codependency is an emotional, psychological, and behavioral condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules – rules which prevent the open expression of feeling as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal problems.”
– Robert Subby

The groups of people who appear to have it include, but are not limited to, people in relationships with emotionally or mentally disturbed persons, people in relationships with chronically ill people, and caretakers of children with behavioral problems.

Codependents frequently react to people destroying themselves by learning to destroy ourselves.

“Relationships are like a dance,with visible energy racing back and forth between the partners. Some relationships are the slow, dark dance of death.”
– Colette Dowling

Introspection: Broken

I’ve spend a lot of my time worrying about this silly aspect of myself that no one else is likely to notice or care about. Since childhood, I listened to my mother say that our family was cursed, and that curses follow three generations of children; I’m in the third generation. Since middle school, I heard my grandmother talk about how psychologically damaged all of us children are because both of our parents have mental problems of some kind or another, and our childhoods were all screwed up by their battles. All my life, I’ve listened to what other people said about me and my brothers, and so have they. We’re broken, we’re damaged; we’re mentally unstable.

It took having someone tell me that I was a ‘sad and broken’ woman for me to think, ‘Actually, you know what, I’m really not.” The words were spoken in anger, during a break-up, so they’re not all that reliable anyway, and I am aware that I’ve been going through some shit over the past few months that have really kept me stressed out, sick, and constantly on the brink of a nervous break-down. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but I got through it just fine.

Yesterday, my friend asked me if I was going to respond to my ex’s nasty remarks about me on a social networking site, and without thinking I just told her ‘no’ because I honestly could care less and because there wasn’t an ounce of truth in the post. She looked at me seriously for a moment, and then said, “You’re so strong.”

It’s funny. I never really thought of myself as strong before, but after so many different people pointing that out to me over the past year or so I kind of feel silly now because I never saw strength within myself. I only saw the problems that are my constant focus so that I can work on them, and systematically remove them. Strength? That’s a good quality, and I never really factored those into my self-assessments.

So there you have it: I’m strong, stronger than I’ve ever been, and looking back I know I’ve always been the strong one in my family. I’ve been everybody’s rock for so long that I still subconsciously look for people who need to lean on me because it feels strange to be this free of outside burdens. That’s a trait on which I should be focusing, and will during the years to come. Because my path is going to require strength along with a few of my other good traits (determination, stamina, passion, patience, silence, and the child-like wonder with which I often view the world around me) to reach my ultimate goals, and allow me to continue the ongoing battle with life’s struggles.

It’s also interesting in retrospect that those seven good traits I wrote up there were written on the fly, without thinking, just typing my own thoughts as fast as I can to keep up. So I’ve known about them, I just pushed them aside for what other people have told me my whole life, which is silly because those people don’t know me half as well as I know myself so their perspectives should not be held in higher regard than my own, and that’s what I need to keep in mind for the months and years to come.

Fresh eyes: such a good quality with which to continue the long and arduous journey ahead.

Thanks for reading my introspective nonsense, and have a lovely day!

Bleeding Heart

There’s a kind of healing in endings. It slips into the soul, stitching openings that have been lying open for so long I’ve barely noticed them pouring blood even though it’s made me weaker and weaker. The needle stitches them shut for me as I close a chapter of my life that has remained open for far too long, and the sudden sharp pains, new to me, feel like horrible new wounds larger than the last. You can live with certain kinds of pain for so long that you become accustomed to their existence, festering though they are.

The painful chapters in my life that have occurred over the past year or so were never fully put to rest. I kept checking on them, feeling the pain but telling myself that I was strong enough to take it. I didn’t realize what I was doing until a pattern in my life recently jumped out to slap me in the face. It’s time to stop caring so much for the happiness of others that I forget to take care of myself. Especially when so many of these people do these things to themselves. I’m no one’s mother, nor their guardian angels. I have set far too much aside already to take care of people who seem incapable of doing it for themselves. I’m sick and tired of having that responsibility. It’s destroying my soul; it’s eating at my heart. And these people keep proving time and time again that they don’t deserve the time or the love I continually give them, yet I keep doing it, knowing they’re only going to rip me apart again, and seemingly helpless to prevent it. I simply cannot take anymore. I’m done.

Is it difficult to live for yourself, making people prove themselves before you trust them? Because I think that is what I should be doing… though I don’t really know how. Remaining open to life and experiences and people, while still making them prove themselves before trusting them… it seems an impossible combination.

I have simply run out of ideas about what to do.