I think I need to have a conversation around avoidance with Dr C… I find it difficult to go in after a week and try to delve right into difficult stuff. I tend to talk about the weekend and allow the session to veer from the heavy things I’ve been holding onto for the week. I was able to eventually mention the memories from the weekend, but I didn’t talk about it to the degree I wanted to address it….
Tag Archives: self esteem
Thank you for the wonderful words of support around my last entry. You all rock and know how to make a girl feel loved! the entry came about when thinking about the question of why goodbyes are so hard. I’ve been told I have a particularly difficult time with them (they can be excruciating). There’s more to my reasoning than what I talk about there, but I’m not ready to express that publicly just yet (it’s nothing major, just a confirmation of what I’ve suspected in relation to where my attitudes originate)…
I do have to admit though, I’m feeling like a fraud reading your amazingly wonderful comments. The inner critic doesn’t even let me finish reading before she starts on her tirade: “drama queen! You’ve made people lie about wanting you around. You’re fishing for compliments. This is so manipulative. You know you’re not worth anything to anyone. Even L just stays out of pity. People don’t actually like you, they just think you’re pathetic and a decent charity case…” She drones on and on, but you get the gist.
I do my best to block her out and counter her words. Compliments are really difficult for me to take, but I’m learning. So thank you again for your wonderful words of support. They spark my inner critic, but they also help shut her up. You all have no reason to lie. There’s no obligation to like and follow my blog. She needs to stop talking and take a seat for a while 😉
I’m not sure what it is. I’m trying to figure out the driving force behind this intense desire to see TM again and to try to talk about this again. It always kicks in. Once I open the door to starting to talk about anything vulnerable at all, I need to just be able to spill it. All of it. At one time.
I feel this desire to talk myself into exhaustion. It’s like all this stuff needs to come out of me and into… I don’t even know. Someone who can safely hold it? Someone who can throw it out? Someplace other than myself, but also someplace safe.
It’s not attachment related, because I have no attachment to TM at this point. (Actually, I think this need to divulge is stronger before I know the person… maybe. I’m not sure though, since I know this urgency is also there after I’ve grown to know and trust the therapist). Maybe it really is just related to a need to share this with another safe (neutral, non-judgemental, uninvested) human being, to not being alone with it all…
I find myself trying to think about history and diagnoses, and how this desire (though gods, does it ever feel like a need) fits into the puzzle. is it part of the ptsd, the bpd, the self esteem issues, the anxiety? What? Where does it fit? Is it legit to talk about and ask for? Is it just part of the human condition to need to be able to be completely honest with someone? I know there’s thoughts floating by that contradict one another right now. One questions if anyone would actually like me as a human being if they knew everything, every dark secret? Would I still be worthy of breath if they saw the real me? Another thought wonders if they may be more OK with the concept of me as a human being if they knew all the motivations and fears behind everything I think and do. One thought looks for validation while another thought is sure judgement will follow. Will I turn out to be the horrid person I’m afraid I am if you see everything that makes up “me”? Or will it give you a deeper understanding of all that appears to be random craziness and weirdness and awkwardness? Please don’t hate me, but please prove my fears right, and prove them wrong, and hate me, and…
There’s so much inner conflict around my self-worth. There’s all these years of that little voice saying I’m worthless and stupid, but it’s being countered by the voices of everyone who has tried to convince me I have value. It’s very loud and confusing. Sometimes one is winning, other times the other is. Right now, I think the voice that whispers “they will (should!) hate me if they knew everything” is the driving force behind the need for disclosure. I want validation that the voice is merely a fear, and not reality. And I need to find that validation. Right now, no one knows everything. No one has all the puzzle pieces with all the disconcerting revelations, so I’m not sure they wouldn’t hate me if they knew everything. But I’m also not sure I would believe they knew everything if they didn’t hate me (because how can you look at me, all my dark secrets and blackness and not hate me, not think I’m vile and disgusting and scary?)… I think I need people to prove I’m worth life, but I have a feeling I won’t believe them unless they say I’m worthless. It’s a wonderful little trap. “Please, please, please say I’m an OK human?” You’re an OK human being “Fuck you, you don’t really know me unless you hate me! (But gods, please know me and don’t hate me)”…
Didn’t really have a direction for this piece when I started other than wanting to try some techniques I’d seen in a tutorial the other day (I spent the better portion of a morning watching various YouTube art journal tutorials. There are still several more I would like to try, but I have to figure out how to MacGyver some supplies because I just can’t afford to go out and buy them).
This piece wasn’t working out as nicely as it had for the YouTuber that posted the tutorial, but I was able to make it my own.
I picked up “purple” distress paint yesterday (woohoo for 50% off coupons and the honoring of competitor coupons). I thought it would be more purple… it’s really mauve. Oh well, live and learn. Anyway, I picked it up and got to work on the base coat. I still have to learn how to work with it better, because I wanted a different background texture but it dried too fast in some spots and way slow in others. I also have to figure out how these distress stains work with the paints. The stains come out super dark on paper, but not so much when used over the paints (should have remembered they have a “resist” effect on the stains). It’s ok though, because the stain I used muted the horrifically bright background.
It took a bunch of digging around, but I finally landed on a decent silhouette from which to create a mask (reverse of a stencil) for the figure on the right. [Useful tip: those plastic page dividers work well for stencil-making. I would suggest ones that are slightly thicker than the ones I snagged from the dollar store though, because these are pretty floppy and flexible. Just trace or draw out your design and cut with an XActo knife]… I started by tracing around the mask with charcoal, but it didn’t stand out enough. I tried to fill with gesso, but then disliked how light it was. Finally I covered it in black paint (ahh… so much better!). By then though, I had gone outside of my lines quite a bit and it looked like the black sludge creature from the first season of ST:TN that killed Tasha Yar… yes, I’m a huge Trek geek, but that wasn’t the look I was going for. I put the mask back into place and decided to try to give the woman a “glow” (or in this case, a shadow?). I painted over the edges of the mask with am antiqued bronze color. I kinda wanted her to look like she was draining light rather than emitting it (like a black hole). Again I lost the definition of the figure, so once the paint was dry I outlined her in white charcoal. She kinda ended up with a glow, but it reminded me of backlighting, so it worked.
I added the drips and spats. I added more washi tape (new-found appreciation for the stuff), and then I added the words. I was limited by what was on the stickers I have. It took me about 40 minutes to settle on the ones I did use, but then I ended up disliking what it said, so I covered over it. First I tried writing other words over the stickers, but I didn’t like those either. Finally, I settled on ink drops to totally obliterate the words while keeping the boxes… I kept the words inside the silhouette, but had written over them as well, then removed the writing. You can still see both the original words and my own if you look at them hard enough.
Much playing, tweaking, and waiting-for-things-to-dry later, I ended up with this. I try to be lighter in both color and content sometimes, but it’s just not me. I also found I really am not feeling this mauve color much. I’m sure L will end up being the one to use it more than I do… branching out in my art just doesn’t work with me when it involves stepping out of my color-pallet comfort zone. Oh well.
Aside: I think I write so much about the process for these journal pages not only to remind myself it’s often a frustrating and imperfect process, but to show that, while pieces don’t always turn out the way you want, they can still end up decent. One of my biggest challenges is dropping the notion of needing “perfection” from my work. I tend to have a picture in my head that I want to create. I’m slowly becoming ok with the result being different from that picture. One of the things that the woman who teaches the journal workshops always reminds us is to just keep going. Even if you think it’s ugly, just keep adding and tweaking. Eventually you will love the result… it’s more about the process anyway.
Most artists (people) don’t admit the blunders and frustrations of the process (life), they simply show the (happy) end result. Art (life) is rarely that neat and tidy. There are lots of bumps and dips and spins along the way. Projects (goals) start out one way and end up totally different sometimes. That’s just how it goes. We need to remember that. And that it’s ok…
I finished this today…
I wanted to keep the tissue paper with words visible, so I did the left side in charcoal and crayon. Turns out it also works for the concept of not having “the full-color photo” when you only see what someone presents to the world. You have to see the darkness as well as the light to be able to see the real picture. Seeing just what’s presented to the world is lacking in substance…
… and it’s not what you may think: I told my wife that I had actually seriously considered giving up our little dog on more than one occasion. The people who know me in real life would know how incredibly out of character this admission is, but the rest of you may not quite get the full impact. My animals are my children, and my dogs are held highest of all of them. My little dog (we shall call him “Fred” to protect his real identity) is joined at the hip to my lab. He would not know how to survive without her (he is a totally different dog when he is separated from her, shaking and moping even when it’s just for a few hours). When he’s near her though, he is a little punk. He has been known to kill cats, and will try for the kill any chance he gets. We had managed to get that under a measure of control a while ago, but he’s back to his antics again (totally our fault). Recently, out large male cat has decided to move in with a couple at the other end of the neighborhood. We think this is because a few weeks ago, Fred managed to slip between my legs and chase the cat, most likely cornering him and hurting him in some way. After that incident, the cat refused to return to the house. Today, we had to go pick him up after the couple trapped him in their garage. I feel bad for him (and our other cats). They are social. They miss spending time with us. They miss the cuddles, and so do I. I really love Fred, but he’s such a pain in the butt. I won’t actually move to give him up (I would also be forced to give up the lab who happens to be my favorite dog), but I just need to remind myself that consistency matters a lot, especially with Fred. There are some dogs you can be more lax with, but then there are the ones that will become a menace if allowed to take any hint of leadership. Sadly, we give Fred a lot of room to walk all over us. I need to remember what my trainer friend told me and keep him on a short leash (figuratively).
Knowing that I admitted out loud that I have considered re-homing Fred has messed with my head a bit. Like I said, my dogs are my kids. To seriously think of giving one up has only ever been admitted when I was suicidal. I have moved more times than I can count to be able to keep my pets. I have bent over backwards and given up a lot to have them in my life. To know I actually thought of re-homing that little punk because he upsets the rest of the family dynamic has my head spinning…There’s a voice in my head screaming at me; telling me I’m worthless and useless and I just don’t care. There’s judgement beyond belief for even having the thoughts. There’s fear and resentment, and there’s anger. The anger comes not only from what other people think of all the animals, but also from my changing attitudes. They still fill a void, but I’m finding that they also create a whole lot of drama. My depression makes it hard to motivate to do anything beyond the basics for them. They are going stir-crazy, and we are all slacking on the training (especially for the puppy). I find myself becoming angry at them for misbehaving when it’s all my fault for not being consistent and giving them what they need. I’m turning more and more into my father, and I hate myself for it…
I look around myself and see all this material crap that I really don’t want anymore. It feels like all of this is weighing me/us down. I wish I didn’t waste money on a lot of this crap. I wish I didn’t have piles and piles of “junk” lying around… I wish I had motivation to take care of things. And I wish I knew how to remember to save money. The animals need more flea stuff, and they need to get out of the house. If I had the money, I would have gotten the puppy training also. There are a bunch of behaviors I just don’t know how to tackle anymore, nor do I have the energy to try. The same with Fred. And I hate myself a lot. I know I made this commitment to them, but I’m not following through… I know the steps to take for some of it, but the energy and motivation disappear quickly. The more I fall into the cycle of wanting to do things but failing, then being hard on myself for it, the more I just feel like crap about everything. I start spiraling down a litany of things that I see wrong with myself: my weight, my social life, my motivation, my lack of working, my self-worth, my worth to others… De is right that I get trapped in my thinking and it just makes everything worse. But then there’s that tiny voice in my head that whispers possible solutions… Maybe it’s time to start with baby steps to fix things…
I have a knack for working with animals… and people. I have found that my success comes from careful (and often unconscious) observation. When I worked in animal control in college, I was the worker with the reputation for being able to handle and calm aggressive and anxious dogs and cats. I would take the time to watch them and pay attention to their reactions to things. Most of the aggression came from fear, so I would volunteer my time and sit with the animals for hours on end, alternately talking to them and just going about my business nearby. I instinctively made my posture non-aggressive (see, leaning to tip-toe around abusive and explosive adults can help with something). I brought animals out of their shells, and worked with them to mold the aggression into acceptable and wanted behaviors.
I have found that most aggression comes from fear. The fear may be deeply rooted and hidden, but it’s almost always there. I have found this true with my reptiles as well as my mammals. I have a snake that will strike wildly whenever I go into her enclosure for any reason. I am working on hook training her and getting her used to handling. When she does not feel cornered or uncomfortable, she is a cuddle bug (yes, snakes do cuddle, they like the warmth after all). By using less intimidating body language and actions, I can communicate to her that I will not try to eat her or harm her in any way.
I think the same is true for people. I think we are either so wounded or so terrified of being wounded that we often lash out in anger. I think the anger is a defense mechanism. People don’t have time to get under your armor if you are busy throwing out spikes. They can’t get close enough to hurt if you run around bearing your teeth and pushing everyone away.
I think this relates to self-harm in some ways. Self-harm is a form of aggression, only against yourself. It is the result of anger and fear turned on the body. It can be preventative – no one can hurt me as much as I can hurt myself; I’m going to get hurt anyway, might as well get a jump on things. It can also be reactive – I screwed that up, so I deserve to be punished for it. Both inadvertently work to keep people at bay. The concept of self-harm is a scary one. Most people will cringe at the thought, and bolt at the sight of it. They will over- or under-react to the news, but rarely be helpful in their reactions at first. Those of our family and friends that have dealt with it in the past react a little better (we have given them reading materials, access to our treaters, insights into our pain), but they still give distance, or at least that is what we hope – that is what I hope. I don’t want questions about my scars. I don’t want to launch into my story with everyone that notices. Why write a blog you may ask? Well, I still want to tell my story, but I like the measure of anonymity the internet provides. I can give you glimpses of my inner crazy, and you won’t change your opinion of me if you see me on the street. If you don’t look closely at my arms, you won’t guess that I struggle (ok, if I’m crying my eyes out, you may have a clue, but that’s rare, especially in public). If you don’t see me on the psych unit, you wouldn’t know I can barely make it through a day without craving peace at least once.
Even those that know me rarely ask about the scars (we are trained to mind our own business, and I doubt they really want an honest answer). They look past it. It’s scary and dangerous to be let into a world that allows someone to do so much physical harm to themselves on purpose. It keeps people from asking with any real honesty what my life is like. They anticipate a drama, so they avoid the inquiry.
The long and short of it is that aggression is a defense mechanism, as is self-harm. It keeps people away from the real you so they can’t reject you and confirm all that you fear about yourself (but in their distance, they confirm that you are not worth it, so it kind of just back-fires).
This train of thought was brought to you by the article I saw online this morning that named 3 small breed dogs as the most aggressive… It got me thinking about the roots of aggression, which lead me to the thoughts on self-harm… lots of branches, but really all the same tree
(I want to add also, that self-harm is not only engaged in for the reasons mentioned above, but they are some big ones. It can also be relief, a grounding method. It can be a visual and outward symbol of inward pain and turmoil. For me, it is mainly a release and grounding method. It also has the added benefit of being somewhat preventative in that I feel no one can ever hurt me more than I can physically hurt myself… it’s really figurative, because it doesn’t really hurt, and mostly it’s trying to prevent further emotional pain, but it has still been a reason in the past).
Ever have a day where you feel like shit? You’re thoughts would generally be along the lines of “I feel like shit today” Well, that would likely be your thought if you were not dealing with depression or PTSD or Bipolar or some other fun diagnosis… My thought would go something like “I am shit” and it wouldn’t be limited to today either… My self-esteem has been so low as to even categorize myself as less-than-shit for many years… It’s all in how you formulate your sentence, and the words you chose for it (consciously or unconsciously). You can take the meaning of a negative thought and ascribe it to the day, or to your whole being… It’s like Hiccup’s conversation his mentor in How to Train Your Dragon, only it’s all within myself:
See, now this right here is what I am talking about. If you ever want to get out to fight dragons… you need to stop all… this!
But you just pointed to all of me!
The dissatisfaction with myself can be huge and overwhelming… I think it’s a problem for a lot of people… It’s quite sad. Though I do not know what is worse: being dissatisfied with yourself and hating your core; or having everyone else be dissatisfied with you for who you are.
I read a post on a forum today where a woman asked if PTSD was commonly treated by advocating for a complete change in person: changing name and “killing” the person you once were… I have not heard of it as a treatment for PTSD, but I can see it as a way to cope with hating yourself as a result of the trauma. This person was one who had been deployed several times. I am guessing he participated in some acts that went so against his image of himself, that he felt the need to obliterate that person… I think I could see needing to completely change if I had killed innocent people, or participated in a war… It goes so against who I see myself being that I don’t think I could reconcile that with the actuality of having done it. While I would be more likely to make a less conscious split (ie: fall headlong into DID) than to consciously legally change my name and act like someone else, I could see it happening. When you see yourself as something so fundamentally different from the reality of the situation, I can’t imagine having to know that and live with it every day… I’m actually a bit surprised more veterans don’t come away with a DID diagnosis or go ahead and change their identity all together… but then again, I would never volunteer for “service”…
I’ve been struggling with coming up with something inspirational and deep to write. I’m at a loss. I’ve been distracted lately. I play with my animals in hopes of keeping the crankiness at bay, but it doesn’t work. I’ve been a bitch lately. It comes with the territory of being a woman – hormonal roller coaster every month; gotta love it. I thought walking the dogs would help, but I just caught myself being very short and rough with them. That is not “me” (at least not the picture I have of myself in my head). I try not to let my frustrations out on anyone, but I trip up and… well, it makes me angry at myself, once I get over being angry at whomever or whatever I snap on that is. I feel like shit and I want to make up for it, but that throws me into feeling like I’m just as bad as all the abusers out there. Then I’m reminded of my training: everyone’s actions are driven by a past. Everyone has a history that influences them. Everyone has a reason for their actions, no matter how awful the action, or the reason… I’ve been trained to look for the underlying motivation/trigger for the action… It helps me understand the world a little better. It helps me find compassion for others, but I still have trouble seeing myself in a less-harsh manner. We are our worst critics and greatest enemies. But knowing that and realizing that help to motivate for change. So I’m working to keep that little voice toned down. It is not easy, but I’m trying…