Tag Archives: self-loathing

a safe space for shame

I really miss De sometimes. I miss having someone I trust to talk to (even if it was frustrating at times).  I miss feeling safe with her, knowing that even the really shameful stuff hadn’t changed her opinion of me (she said it hadn’t and I believed her despite what my head was saying at the time).  I miss having a safe space to let out the shameful stuff, because so much is surrounded in shame… I miss being able to write about what was bothering me, and know that she would read it.  We would address stuff as needed, but I was able to communicate in ways other than simply speaking (where I often get tripped-up).  I think I can bring myself to ask for that with TL, but not sure she can accommodate it…

De & I had gotten past the awkward “getting to know you” stage.  We actually did some work.  She heard, read, and held stuff that I had not ever told anyone else.  I felt safe enough with her to take an honest look at what I was getting out of the crisis cycle I tend to fall into. I felt safe enough not only to write it out, but to share it with her.  I learned something from all that shameful sharing… and I got some measure of relief from it.  There’s some weakness with secrets that saps their power when they are shared.

Stuff definitely came up that we didn’t get a chance to cover, or that I didn’t feel finished with, but at least it was safe enough to start on it.  I’m not sure how long it will take to get to a similar point with TL.  I wish I could say that all that shameful and difficult stuff could be set aside until after the move, but it still haunts me.  It’s itching to be addressed. It floats through my head, and comes back as incredibly strong tidal waves of emotion. I don’t know what to do with it at first. It catches me off-guard, and I don’t know what it is while it’s happening.  I’m getting better at identifying it in hindsight though.  Sadly, that doesn’t help in the moment. I still get bowled over and sent flailing when it happens (case in point, last night with TL).

So yeah, I miss De a lot. I wonder how she is doing, and if she likes her new job, or if she regrets her change in focus. I wonder if I’ll ever bump into her before I leave the state (doubtful, since I don’t often go downtown). I wonder if she’s happy to not have to deal with me anymore.  I feel like such a bother so much of the time.  I’m sure there’s a measure of relief for her.

It’s weird, because I have never really missed a therapist this much.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this type of transference, and to this degree… well, scrap that, maybe with JJ & JF way back in the day… but that was easily 15 years ago.  I haven’t felt this way about a therapist in a long, long time.  J (couple’s therapist) was different. There was a very definite sexual attraction (on both L & I’s ends) because she’s a really attractive, confident, and personable woman.  I know that even L’s therapist had said that most people were attracted to J not only for her looks but her personality.  She has this air about her that draws people in, and they want to spend time with her.  So yeah, the transference with J was very different.  The stuff with De was more parental, then changed to younger sibling.  I went from her feeling like a safe care-taker, to feeling like a safe person I wanted to take care of. And it has not faded yet. I’m desperately searching for that safe base again. I wish it was easier to find.  I wish the places I looked for it didn’t trigger me so heavily… ugh! it’s all so frustrating.

I really want to be ok trusting TL.  I want her to turn out to be someone I can work with while I’m still here. I’m tired of simply biding my time.  I hate the flashbacks and the anxiety and the depression. I hate the struggles with the urges to self-destruct.  I need to get over them.  I’m sure it won’t happen completely in the time I have with her (it hadn’t happened in all these years of therapy, why would now be different?), but I need to try.  I think opening the door on some of that stuff with De increased the urgency I feel in needing to address it.  I was looking through my entries to De, and I think there’s a more recent one that I really want to share with TL because it explains so much of what’s going on right now for me (or at least the motivations behind all of this).  I just hope I can gather the courage to not only go back, but to also read it to her.  It’s a giant package of embarrassment wrapped in shame and padded with guilt.  If I can get past all the defenses around it, I think it would be really good to attend to it.  I just need to find the courage to face it with TL (again, that urgency to talk about all this stuff.  I don’t know if it comes from the deadline to our work together, or from knowing that I have carried it for so long). I really need to share it and look at it for a change.  I had shared it with De, but we didn’t exactly do anything with it other than me answer a few of the questions she had… and then we got into some details about where the roots of those feelings might lay, and it morphed into dealing with the memories and feelings admitting all that stuff brought up, instead of addressing what was written).

I feel like if I could find the courage to tell TL that stuff also, we could look at it, and maybe help me break out of this really self-defeating spiral I tend to get caught in.  I’m a believer in the idea that stuff comes up when you are finally ready to deal with it (well, at least when it comes to insight into behaviors).  I think I’m ready to deal with this, but I need to do it now, immediately, or I will lose the motivation.  At least, that’s the way it feels.  And I really need to know I can share it with another human being, talk about it openly, and not be overtly judged for it.  I know even the best clinicians have initial judgements, but it’s what they do with them, and how they deal with them that allows for a feeling of safety.  I know I jump to conclusions and judgements about others, but I am able to talk myself into a point of greater understanding and empathy after that impulse thought… would be great if I could put that to work for myself also.  Someone recently reminded me that we can be our worst enemies much of the time.  I know I certainly am one of my biggest critics at this point, and I judge myself infinitely harder that I would any other person on this planet.  It’s not because I have to be held to higher standers out of any inkling of “betterness”, but because I am so far below every other being on the planet that I must have higher standards if I am ever to even remotely get close to “normal, deserving human being” status… it’s something I hope to one day be able to work on successfully in therapy.  I know there have been times in the past that I was not this hard on myself, but those are hard to come by.  My default always seems to be self-deprecation and worthlessness to an intense degree.  De had pointed it out to me one session. She reminded me that I tend to get to a point of such all-encompassing worthlessness when I hit bumps in the road, it will take a lot of work to leave it behind.  She’s right.  I get there hard and fast at the slightest sign of stress.  I’m sure it hinders therapy often…

Anyway, I totally got side-tracked here.  My brain is slowly turning to mush at the moment, so I need to sign off.  I’m wholly impressed if you made it through all that.  I may have to come up with an award for that accomplishment. Maybe the “I can follow SJ’s rambling and tiresome posts” award… hmm…

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Translations from the dark side

Why is it that something genuinely supportive and helpful comes off as condescending and invalidating? What lens do I put on that turns all the nice into hate? I know my stress is skyrocketing, and that the depression is creeping back in. I guess that’s the lens right there: depression. I had reached out to someone in hopes of finding support, but all I read from their response was how wrong I was doing things, how deliberately miserable I am, and how inadequate I am. In actuality, their response was uplifting, supportive, positive, and understanding.  My head instantly turned that positive into disparaging. Even as I recognize this, my head is battling itself. There’s the side that is berating me for being inadequate and stupid.  Then there’s the side of me that is taking the response at face value and trying to convince that other side that it’s reading into things. Depression will do that to you. Self – doubt and self – loathing become a way of life.
So my eyes will read “you’ve had so much success until now, you need to focus on that” and my brain will understand “you worthless piece of shit, you can’t even get recovery right. I told you you’d never amount to anything more that a useless waste of space. People tell you all the time to focus on the positive, but all you do is choose to be miserable. You’re a horrid person. You deserve everything you get and then some” (note here that a simple line of text has been translated into a tirade of the self…).

I’m writing this and the voice in my head is reminding me how stupid I have become. This is all stuff I should already know. It’s not supposed to be such a revelation… when I try to change the voice, it gets louder, then more sly when the loud doesn’t work.  It rationalizes the negative self-talk and starts whispering little doubts “you have been really off lately,” “you’re such a flake , the driving is getting bad,” “pretty soon you’ll be completely worthless in everything”… it makes the negative sound like logical conclusions. It plants seeds of doubt “everyone can see you’re crazy. It’s written all over you.  Why do you think you can’t get a job?” “Even if you did land one, they’d notice the crazy and find a reason to fire you if you don’t end up walking out first because you can’t take it”

We went to a volunteer meeting tonight at the nature center. We got hugs from people we hadn’t seen in a while, and all I could think was that they were pity hugs. Like they knew I was crazy and wanted to pat me on the head for making it out anyway but figured a hug would be less condescending… I know they are all about the hugs anyway, but my head screamed at me that they knew and just felt sorry for me.

Mental illness, self-doubt, and self loathing have a way of turning even the most positive interactions into something terrible. I wonder how much of my therapy is viewed this way.  I know the obvious ones, but what about the things that don’t necessarily hit my awareness? What about everyday encounters? What if everyone is really a wonderful person and it’s all just me that views them as hating me? I know I really dislike spending time with G. L pointed it out that my disdain for him was very evident earlier today.  I tried to be nicer when we got back home, but I have a lot of work to do on that front. He may be a perfectly wonderful person these days (ok, that’s an exaggeration. He may be at least tolerable), but I only see him through these angry glasses. Everything he says and does I interpret to be mean and hateful so I respond in kind. Then I feel bad for being an asshole. The cycle begins again. I’m once again battling the translation of simple words. I’m twisting what I’m saying to prove to myself how worthless and horrid I am. I just don’t know how to stop it.  There’s only so much arguing one can do with oneself before a splitting headache ensues. I think it’s once again time for sleep.