Reflections on some not so awesome memories

Video

I have had this song come up several times on Pandora lately. I initially really liked it because it’s got a lovely piano playing in a predominantly minor key and the singer’s voice matches the tone of the song so well. I like the bridge transitions, especially the way she transitions from the bridge to the chorus by using what I’ve always thought of as chunky, melancholy chords. It’s one of those songs that kind of makes me want to cry, but that’s because the song is intended to elicit such emotions. That was all I paid attention to the first half-dozen or so times I heard it.

Then I listened to the lyrics. I was in the shower, my thinking place, and just sort of stopped to actually hear the story Ms. Grey painted with her words. It was sort of like getting punched in the gut. Or maybe the throat.

I’m sure I’ve referenced it a few times here, though nothing overt or glaringly obvious. My ex was something of an ass to the Nth degree. If it weren’t for the fact that he was in the Army and it’s a big no-no to get an Axis II diagnosis a psychiatrist would have diagnosed him with Narcissistic Personality Disorder with Antisocial (personality disorder) Traits. In case you don’t actually want to read the wiki articles about those two disorders, just know that they both are pretty much what they sound like they are. He was charming, suave and subtly manipulative the first 6-12 months that I knew him. Then he not-so-slowly transformed into something of a clearly manipulative, emotionally and mentally abusive, controlling, delusional, lazy-ass, *insert your favorite descriptor for a waste of space here* moocher that I had the pleasure of having to deal with outside of work. Except he was really great at sleight of hand maneuvers so that I and anyone casually interacting with either of us wouldn’t realize something was going on or that it whatever they noticed was my fault, my failing. He even managed to convince me that all our problems, his problems really, were my fault. He couldn’t keep a job because we lived too far away from all the places he could work. He lied to me because I wasn’t strong enough to deal with or know the truth. It was my fault that he turned to one of his exes for support, talked shit about me and was making promises to leave me and go off with her as soon as I was “strong” enough to not kill myself over him. The list goes on and on and on.

How does it relate to the song? Well, note that he started out only subtly off. Then he turned into the sort of person that I never thought I would attach myself to. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I didn’t actually deserve to be happy. I really was the cause of so much misery and heartache. The fights were all my fault. The things that went wrong were my fault. I just wasn’t enough. I failed again and again when I tried to make anything better. I was never good enough. I never knew what I was talking about, even when I did. I deserved all the bad things that happened, all the lies, all the half-truths and misdirection. It was what I knew, what I expected and it was, as so often happens, normal, comfortable in that horrifying sort of way. I wasn’t happy, but I knew the routine, I knew how it would end, change was scary. I accepted everything because, well, what other choice did I have? (I know the answer now, but not then.)

Except that I (finally) got space and time away from him. I lived half-way around the world from him and discovered that I could actually be happy. It took over a year, but I gathered my courage and told him I was no longer going to be his thing to manipulate. I left him. And I suppose that is where my story differs from the one told in this song. She doesn’t leave at the end. At least not yet. I escaped. I found a life that I am happy with. I found people who love and support me and whom I love and support.

Sadly, that doesn’t keep me from going back to those memories. I still have times when I revert to behaviors I learned while in that relationship. I suppose I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all? We’ve each got our own demons, some are just more obvious than others. I just wish they couldn’t haunt us after we have exorcised them from our lives. Their shades can be just as painful and scary as the demons themselves were.

Right. Well, something more pleasant to come in the near future. Probably something about Anomalycon or the zombie apocalypse or something.

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An Uncomfortable (Impossibly So) Feeling

Brene Brown is a therapist/researcher that I was recently introduced to through TED Talks and work. There are several patients that we currently have at the residence who have appeared to benefit a lot from this woman’s work. Honestly though, I think it is helping some of the staff more. Partially just through being out there. We struggle working with some of our patients who have particularly powerful and ingrained, negative thought tracks. It just doesn’t seem as though our typical DBT/CBT therapies are getting through to these patients. They “know” the words, they “know” the actions, they “know” the coping skills, but they haven’t been able to embrace them and open themselves up to the scary, dark places in the center of their beings.

You know, many of the people who work in the field have similar thought patterns. Sometimes they are just as ingrained, sometimes they are more temporary or related to stress levels. But we all suffer from shame and the dialogue this woman is opening up for us internally as well as externally is just as powerful as those thought patterns, that self-talk.

This is especially on my mind now because I suffer from a sometimes immobilizing feeling of shame, sometimes mixed with guilt, sometimes just the shame. Which is more than enough on its own, so the guilt just ends up being icing on the cake. Last night was one of those nights where feelings of guilt, anger, and more guilt led to being overwhelmed with shame. Shame over many things, some of which I have some control over, others are circumstances which I just happen to be a part of and others are things which I have felt that same shame about since I was a young child.

Feelings of failing in my life because I have not achieved what I should have. Feelings of not being good enough for the good things in my life. Feelings of still being the terrified little girl who can never do enough or be enough to satisfy herself and her family. Feelings of guilt about some of my thoughts or recent failings at work and then shame over those, again, not being enough for what is needed.

I’m pretty sure it was disturbing for my husband. I do not know that he has really tried to comfort someone in that state. I also know that there is some frustration and exasperation over feeling like he has repeated himself several times throughout the last year, “You sell yourself short,” “You are worthy of being loved,” “You are good enough for me and this life,” etc. He’s damn good in knowing what to say and how to say it, and in moments of low self-esteem or guilt, I am able to recognize what he is saying and process and acknowledge them. But those times when I am trapped in the dark place inside my head and there is nothing but the feeling that I am not, nor ever have been or will be, good enough or smart enough or empathetic enough, nothing he says can break through. Actually, they sometimes make me feel smaller because then I feel worse for somehow having tricked someone into thinking any of those when I am not anything that he is saying.

I can recognize that shame is a very intense emotion and faulty, broken thinking outside of those times when I am experiencing them. At this point though, I am not far enough into my own recovery related to shame to be able to do much more beyond that.

There are several things I’m doing to change that. One is that I am reading one of Brene’s books right now. I am watching her videos. And most importantly I am talking about how I am feeling. I was more honest about how I have been feeling last night than any other time before. I’m writing this now. Both things were very hard, but I think there is something to the point that shame is more powerful when we allow it to isolate us and prevent any dialogue, any understanding. In opening up and being willing to share my experiences, I hope to diminish the power that my shame has had over me, to start those dialogues and work on my recovery.

Thank you for actually reading through all of this, and I hope that maybe there was something there to help you to acknowledge your own moments of shame or to be more open and empathetic to others who are experiencing it. Any comments or reactions or thoughts are greatly welcomed.

Yeah, it’s been a while

Have you ever stopped doing something and then felt guilty or like you’re going to get in trouble for starting back up on it?

That’s sort of how I feel right now. Actually sort of would be innaccurate in that it is understating my feelings.

I feel like that because I haven’t done any writing in so long. I feel like that because I haven’t done any exercising for the last four weeks. I feel like that because there are some friends that I haven’t contacted in months/years. I even feel like that because of needing to go back to school.

You see, I have all these ideas for things to do, things to write about, things to try or experience, but that guilt and fear stop them from being made into anything more than a few firings of neurons behind my eyes.

Some things I want to share include life-changing things like the fact that I got married last week. And this time around there is no desire to hide that or make less of it than what it is. Just writing about it here has sprouted several thought strands I could follow for this or other posts…

Other things are just plain goofy and fun things I have done recently and what sort of ideas have come from those. Example was Anomoly Con last weekend. Highly amusing steampunk convention with some really gnarly costumes and attire. That was actually the spark that made me decide to get over my fear and worries and jjust try writing again. I’m also debating whether I am willing to try my hand at the crazy hard thing that sewing is for me.

And then there are just those ideas or dreams that I would like to take out of my brain and examine and dissect and put back together or disperse in the wind, whichever is more appropriate.

And last but not least, it would be nice to have a place to vent and rant about various political and social issues that I have been unwilling to post on places like Facebook – to anyone on my FB please note that I post less than a quarter of what I read or hear about.

So… the goal is to look past my fear and just write. Maybe without a goal like posting daily or weekly or whatever I’m less likely to set myself up to fail or whatnot.