Me, Myself, and I

Brokenness

I haven’t written much lately. My husband tends to feel like he’s letting himself down when he doesn’t write for a long time, but for me it’s kind of a relief. I have noticed that I tend to write when I’m sad. Or angry. Or when I just need to process things that I can’t wrap my mind around. If I’m not writing a lot, it’s a pretty good indication that I’m doing well. I’m happy. I’ve got stuff figured out. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule…

I had surgery at the end of August and I was pretty dependent on J for most of my daily needs for quite a while. (That was horrible, by the way. I had no idea that I valued my independence so much!). But once I was on my own two feet again (albeit with some pain), I was much better.

And now here I am again, which means I need to figure some stuff out. Counselor says I need to cultivate a relationship with myself. I need to learn to love myself. Forgive myself. I don’t know how to do that. She also recommends I do some kind of art, because it’s a way to be creative and explore myself without the analytical stuff that comes out when I write. I don’t know how to do that either.

But I am learning to sew. And I bought glitter. That’s a start, right?

But what about liking myself and forgiving myself? What do I like about myself?

  • I’m very smart.
  • I’m great at communication.
  • I’m the best (job title) that (company name) has ever had. Their words, not mine.
  • I have moments when I’m really fun to be around.
  • I can make some people laugh.
  • I think I see a beauty in the world that others often miss.
  • I’m generous and kind.
  • I’m a great baker.
  • I’m creative.
  • I’m trustworthy.
  • I’m fiscally responsible.
  • I’m analytical (Yes, I like that about myself, but I certainly do have to keep myself in check in that regard.)
  • And what do I need to forgive myself for?

  • I’m not perfect.
  • I sometimes hurt the people I love.
  • I’m overweight.
  • I’m bad at keeping my home clean.
  • I’m not sure how to forgive God for His silence lately.
  • I’m not sure how to forgive God for allowing my mom to get sick.
  • I’m not beautiful.
  • I’m not as witty as I wish I was (…as I wish I were?)
  • I’m often lazy.
  • I frequently don’t do the things I “should” do.
  • Why does the bad stuff feel more potent than the good stuff? How can I choose to focus on the good things about myself, when they don’t feel as real or as important as the bad things?

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    The Onset of Ditziness

    Brokenness

    Yesterday J told me that he’s worried about me; I’ve been losing things lately. I regularly lose my phone, for example. In fact, J recently named it Waldo since I’m always looking for it. The phone is sort of funny, though; like an endearing quirk…but then I left my wallet somewhere. Unfortunately, the person who found it isn’t of the honest variety, and now I have a few minor transactions that I’ll need to dispute. It could have been a lot worse, but it was an emotional slap in the face. And then when J made his comment about being worried, I broke down. I know he meant it in kindness, but I felt like my competence was in question…and competence is kind of the only thing I’ve got right now. ..but not anymore. I’m ditzy and forgetful, and I’m ashamed of that fact. J thinks I’m just overwhelmed. I’m not sure, but he could be right.

    I am hoping that my new job, which I just started today, will be less stressful. Less hectic. Less political. Less drama. Initially it will be worse, though, at least in some regards. I had been with my last employer for over four years so I knew pretty much everything about my responsibilities. Doing something completely new today was quite a shock, like diving into a cold pool after basking in the sun’s warmth. I hate the learning curve, but I think — I hope — that this will be a good fit for me.

    The Rabbit Hole

    Brokenness

    I just finished watching the movie Lars and the Real Girl.

    Cinema speaks to me in a way no other medium does. Movies draw me in to their stories and out of my own head, like a small, much needed vacation. A break from my own reality. A sabbatical. And often times movies, like books, change me. They expand my horizons, grant me forays into another perspective, and sometimes–on very rare occasions–they teach me something about myself.

    I feel like i can relate to the character Lars. Like me, he’s lonely. He’s broken. But as much as I feel compassion for him, I also envy him in a small way, because he can afford to lose himself in his delusion. He has the luxury of going a little crazy. And when he does fall into that rabbit hole, he is so very well supported and loved by his community.

    I don’t think I have that luxury. I feel like I have to always be strong, in control, and competent. I don’t feel like I have the option to be weak. I’m not allowed to be needy. But I am. Oh how needy I am! I need companionship. I need love. I need to feel like I have worth, like I’m important, like I matter.

    I wonder what would happen if I just let go of it all. …if I let myself fall into my own rabbit hole of mental/emotional illness… Would people surround me in kindness as they did with Lars? Would I ever find my way out?

    My Illogical Feelings and My Excessive Use of Ellipses

    Brokenness, Musings, Work

    So much has happened in the past few months. So many times I have thought that I should write about this or that. Visiting my mom… Spending time with my sister and brother… Interviewing at the nonprofit and the disappointment of not being awarded the job… Interviewing at the real estate firm and the joy of being offered (and accepting) the position… The strange dream that seemed so profound, but oh so confusing at the same time… My birthday and the perplexing cocktail of disappointment and happiness that surround all my recent birthdays…

    So many things I could have written about, but the moments all seemed to slip by. My life is slipping by.

    And now here I am, finally writing, and I don’t know where to start. All I know is that I feel sad. Lonely. …and I don’t know why. I have been shown so much love recently, so my feelings are not justified. And yet, it IS how I feel. I want to analyze my feelings away, but I can’t because there’s no logic behind it all. It just is this way… I just feel this way… I just am this way… Without explanation. And why am I finally writing now when I should have written all those other times when I actually had something to say?

    (Aside: I like to analyze my feelings when I’m low because, I think, I’m more comfortable in my cerebral mode than in my feelings. I may have already blogged about this. It’s been so long, and I just don’t remember.)

    So there you go. I’m sad. For no apparent reason. (Yes, I know. “Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are.”)

    Identity Crisis

    Brokenness

    I finally went to see a counselor yesterday…for just me, not for my marriage.  I’ve been wanting to for, oh, several years.  Now that the first appointment is over, I find myself wondering why it was so hard to just GO.  I told myself that I couldn’t afford it.  Probably true, but at this point I’d rather go into debt than not see someone.  I need it that much.  I told myself that I didn’t know how to find the right person.  Also true, but what’s so inherently terrible about finding a couple of wrong therapists in the pursuit of finding the right one?

    All excuses.  I’m not sure whether my reticence was a result of laziness or fear.  I know that therapy (no matter what kind) is hard work, and maybe I just felt that I simply couldn’t add one more emotionally draining task to my load.  Hogwash, of course.  If my life is really so overwhelming that adding one more thing seems impossible, then that’s all the more reason to go to counseling.

    So, I met my new counselor for the first time yesterday, and I am astounded by how helpful it was.  I know that I have a long and painful road ahead of me, but already I have learned something about myself that explains a lot.  (I know that the left-brain/right-brain theory is very over-generalized and not really truly accurate, but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s just accept the concept to a certain degree, because it has brought such a clarity to what I perceive to be my essential problem.)  I am not whole.  I have become segmented.

    As a child, I used to pick up my pencil with my left hand (which is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain), but my teachers trained me to be right handed.  I have always felt that I was right-brained, as well, because I am naturally a creative and intuitive sort of person.  I’m very in touch with my emotions.  Art was always my favorite subject in school, and not just because it was easier than, say, math.  I also sang a lot throughout my childhood and high school. Yep, right-brained.

    The problem?  The professional world is more suited to left-brained folks.  I am very adaptable.  In school, where logic and intellect are prized over creativity, I learned to focus on using the left side of my brain.  And since completing my education, in my professional career, I have essentially trained myself to be exclusively left-brained while at work.  …So much so that I effectively become someone entirely different when I’m in the office…  It’s still really me, but it’s a different side of me that is completely disconnected to the other parts of me.  Case in point, someone at work will ask me on a Friday what my plans are for the weekend and my mind goes a complete blank.  It’s like I put on competency like a garment for the 9 hours that I am in the office, and I cannot switch out of that mode even for a moment to remember what fun I might have planned.  I literally have to whip out my phone and look at my calendar to see what the heck I have going on.  Same thing looking back, too.  “What did you do this last weekend?”  Complete blank.

    I’m not a ditzy person.  On the contrary, while at work I am highly competent.  Very efficient.  It’s not rocket science or anything, but take a look at my blog posts and see my analytical tendency.  I don’t wish to seem arrogant, and I certainly don’t think I’m anything close to a genius, but I honestly think I have above-average intellect (and all the tests I’ve taken support that assumption).  That analytical way of thinking that I’m describing, though, is not my normal.  It’s my learned way of thinking.

    So, I come home after work and I am exhausted after spending all day functioning in a mode that is not my natural tendency, and I crash both mentally and emotionally.  Then my depression joins the party and become completely useless.

    Aside: My poor husband.  He catches a brief glimpse of me in my work mode and he almost doesn’t recognize me.  Then by the time I come home, I’ve transitioned out of my left-brained mode, and I’m just a lump of organic matter, not even able to make a decision about what I want for dinner.

    And here’s the point of the whole post: No wonder I feel so broken and disjointed.  No wonder I can’t even take a simple personality test because I can’t decide which “me” I’m evaluating.  No wonder I feel panic when I try to define my identity.

    So…  My homework from my counselor is to sketch.  Or paint.  And throughout the day at work, I’m to ask myself how I feel.  Weirdest homework ever, hey?

    I am excited that I finally have something concrete that I can point to and say, “yes, this is what my problem is…or part of it anyway.”  Granted, I am a different person than I was when I was a child.  Perhaps I have migrated for good over into the left side of my brain…but maybe if I spend some time immersed in those activities from my childhood that I used to love, maybe I’ll feel a little more connected to myself.

    I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me, but …well, it doesn’t really matter.  It is enough that I understand.  And I am so thankful – so relieved – for the clarity and freedom I feel.

    Step 1: Choose to Like Myself. (I’ve failed already.)

    Brokenness

    I wonder how other people do it.  Others seem so put-together and strong.  Some people even seem to genuinely not care how others perceive them…Whether other people like them or not.  I’m not strong like that.  It matters to me.  J’s cousin-in-law (if there’s such a thing) has not returned any of my overtures of friendship.  She hasn’t responded to texts.  She hasn’t acknowledged my name change.  She didn’t send me a birthday or Christmas card and she didn’t mention that she received mine.  I wonder if I’m unlikeable and she’s decided not to waste her time on me.  I wonder if I’ve offended her somehow.  Maybe I’ve revealed that I’m too weak and insecure for her liking.  I’m not sure.  I know I should get over it and move on, but I keep returning to it in my mind and it hurts even though I try to pretend it doesn’t.  I don’t know whether to stop making the effort altogether – just let her be and not try to have a relationship, but something inside of me is repulsed by that idea because she’s family.  Maybe I’m over-analyzing everything.  Maybe she doesn’t have a strong negative emotion towards me…  Maybe she’s just too busy to send a text, or to send a card, or to send an email.

    How do I let it go?  How can I just choose to accept that she may like me but be too busy to show it, or she may not like me?

    I suppose that the first step (the first step to getting over it AND the first step to being likeable) is to like myself.  People like confidence in a person so long as it’s not arrogance.  But the bottom line is I don’t like myself.  I know I have lots of good things to offer the world, but it’s not enough to be useful.  I want to be loved.

    I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie the other day.  Great movie.  One of the things that someone said was that “we accept the love we think we deserve.”  Maybe that’s why I feel like J doesn’t love me even though he earnestly claims he does.  Maybe I don’t feel like I deserve his love so I mentally and emotionally reject the loving things he does and focus instead on the thoughtless things he does.  Maybe I’m filtering out the things that don’t match up with my beliefs.

    I’m so broken.  I want to be fixed.  …but it’s become unbearably obvious that I cannot fix myself.  God help me, because I’m so lost.

    Starting Anew

    Brokenness

    It’s been a long time and I can feel the lack.  I lost myself sometime during the last decade and I think, in part, it’s because I stopped checking in with you.  I became so preoccupied with, I don’t know, trying to be happy in my marriage that I forgot to try to be happy just as me.  …I forgot to try to make sense of my own heartbeat and rhythms.  And now, I sit before you feeling like a child.  Vulnerable and lost and lonely.

    I feel like I have such big thoughts, and big emotions, but when I tried to sit down and write about them, I was overwhelmed with not having the right words.  I was crippled by insecurity, too.  Whatever I wrote wouldn’t be good, so why bother?  Well.  I think it’s time to get back to my own soul.

    I’m not very good at follow through, I have discovered.  I want to make a grand statement that I’ll check in every day for the next year, but I can’t promise that.  I can’t promise that I’ll even show up once in the near future…  …but I’ll try.  At this point, that’s the best I can do.

    Right.  So, with that out of the way, where to start?  The beginning’s been done before, but…maybe I haven’t fully dealt with all of that yet.  So, maybe I should start back then again.  A fresh start from the beginning for another new year (almost).

    My mom.  She loved me so much.  Still does, but it’s different now.  I feel like that song “Fix You” by Coldplay does a good job of explaining how I feel about my mom.  When tears are streaming down my face and I have lost something I cannot replace…  Well, my mom’s broken.  She has dementia and is lost to me.  It’s so heartbreaking to watch her demise.  She was so vivacious when I was a kid, but when I’m really honest, I don’t really feel like that’s how I remember her.  I remember her as a fragile, broken thing, even back then.  I don’t really remember much from my childhood prior to my dad’s departure.  J says I became alive when he left.  Like, I became an emotionally sentient being at that moment in my life.  I think he’s right…  Or maybe I am so messed up and compartmentalized that I just don’t remember who I was back then.  I think maybe, actually, that’s the truth.  I don’t know.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.

    When I think of my mom BDD (before dad’s departure), I only have a few memories, and those, not very vivid.  Like, I remember looking at her old gnarly shoes and asking her why she didn’t have newer, nicer shoes.  She told me that she had spent her money on us, her kids.  I remember then, thinking of the sacrifices she had made for me.  But looking back, I also have a kind of resentment too.  She didn’t take care of herself, and she blamed it on us.  Her underwear was perpetually holey, and it’s my personal belief that no woman should have holes in her undergarments.  She didn’t value herself enough to spend a tiny chunk of that change on getting herself the things she needed.

    I feel like I’m not allowed to harbor resentment against my mom.  Even as I type that, I’m trying to tell myself to forgive her, but …  How?  She lost herself in her own marriage and in her own role of mother, and I am mad at her for losing all those years.  For losing herself until DD.  Why couldn’t she be a whole person so I could have a good role model of what it means to be whole?

    I resent myself too.  Why did I repeat her mistakes?  I look at myself and I’m disgusted.  I am fat.  I have frumpy clothing.  I don’t like me, and I don’t blame me for that because I don’t think I’m very likeable.  I don’t feel worthy of love.  Intellectually I know that’s not true.  If someone I cared about said that, I’d hold her and tell her how special she is and how much she deserves to be loved.  I’d tell her that I love her.  Why can’t I give that same grace to myself?  Why do I have to be so hard on myself?

    I really miss my mom.  When I think of her, I can’t help but cry.  Why does she have to have dementia?  If she has to be sick, why won’t God take her home?

    I don’t have that answer.  I don’t think I have any answers.  That’s why I’m here.