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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Australia
    Posts
    28

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    What's going on in my head is distorted thinking. I know this because I've been in this place before. Plus I'm halfway through a Psych degree, have been in therapy 3 years and will turn 30 in nine days time. All these things make me feel worse though. They make me feel like I should know better; I should have the maturity, skills, knowledge and resources to rise above this and not get sucked into the ideation yet again. That's a lot of "shoulds", I know! It appears it doesn't make too much difference though how much you know about the theory behind the reality.

    I joined this forum with the arrogant presupposition that I was going to post to help others, to give my opinion and to offer support. Now I'm eating humble pie and posting this in a last-ditch attempt to prove my twisted mind wrong. I'm NOT invisible; others treat me like I am because it was adaptive at one point in my development to become that way. I've spent the last 5 years trying to crawl my way out of a very safe, but anonymous pit. I want to be noticed and validated, but, as hard as I try, I'm overlooked...and invisible.

  2. #2

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    You sure do have a barrel of "shoulds"! Thing is, I think you realize those "shoulds" just don't exist in the way you're seeing them. No matter how much you know, how mature you are, or how many resources you can muster, you are still going to be you. Heck, we can't even run and hide without taking ourselves with us. ;)

    It's probably a good idea to get rid of that humble pie, as well. It's been sitting around so long it's grown mold! Each person who posts here, whether they know it or not, helps someone else who posts/reads here. It's a place to learn and grow with each other and through each other. That's what makes it so wonderful and you, kaht, are a part of it.

    You're not invisible, either. I "see" you through your post, and each of us can validate the reality of your posting here. We cannot, however, give you a feeling of validation. That, you must find for yourself through exchanges with others who feel just as you do. Believe me, lots of those folks exist, some of them post here, and even if we don't feel as you do, we've got our own warts to share. None of us is alone in our suffering. We just feel like we are until someone else pops up and says: "Yeah! I know exactly what you're saying!" That happens often, as you'll learn by reading others' replies to posts.

    Too often, we invalidate ourselves through self-criticism that isn't warranted. You're halfway finished with your degree. It really doesn't matter if you're 30 or 20, you're still on your way to better things for yourself. The tendency to sort the trees instead of enjoying the forest may be what's getting in your way. Give yourself the same credit you'd give another who has accomplished what you've accomplished. Personally, I think it's pretty awesome that you're learning, and growing, and becoming the person you want to be. That's what you're doing, you just aren't seeing it that way.

  3. #3

    "Shoulding" on yourself...

    ..."Should" should be a four-letter word. Anyone who deals with mental illness or destructive behaviors ends up "shoulding" all over themselves. To what end, is the main question? Are we trying to manure ourselves so we can grow things outside of ourselves? Do we enjoy the odor from it? Maybe we use "should" like bread-crumbs so we can find our way back to where we came from? (sigh) I think we "should" re-think all of the "shoulding" that we do, and maybe confine it to places that are more appropriate for such a huge pile of "should". What "should" we do? We "should" make sure we get enough of the right kind of food to nourish and improve our bodies. We "should" take time to look over all of our accomplishments that we have and hold up our heads in pride. We "should" look for ways to love on ourselves every day. These are the kind of "shoulds" we should pay attention to. All of the rest is just Bullshould.

    Be gentle with yourself,

    Allegro

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Australia
    Posts
    28

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    Hi ThatLady /Allegro. Thanks for your replies. You really DO see me ThatLady and it makes me feel so much more tangible. You're very right about the humble pie being a little past it's use-by-date :) I'm very quick to give all of myself to help someone else, but I don't afford myself the same luxury and don't often see that I deserve it from anyone else. When others are down they need tenderness, compassion, support; when I'm down, I need a kick in the pants. It's all a little skew-whiff (must be that pile of "should" allegro!). You see too that I have a black belt in self-criticism and you have a point when you suggest that maybe more of the validation I crave needs to come from within!

    I've always wanted to walk before I could crawl. Somehow I thought that I'd outgrow (both through getting older and getting educated) my way of being in this world. That I'd master the lifetime of abuse, insecurity, defense mechanisms, depression, suicidal ideation. Guess I "should" adjust my focus to take in the whole forest, be a little gentler on myself and just go back to trying baby steps instead of giant leaps for mankind. that's got to be a better kind of "should". Thanks for your insight and support.

  5. #5

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    You're welcome. Oh, and by the way, you also have a great sense of humor. That's one of the best medications for depression I know of. ;)

  6. #6

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    hey kaht... welcome to the forums! I was aware that I said "should" a lot but I didn't really realize how much I am "shoulding" (lol Allegro) until someone pointed it out to me. I pretty much said what you were saying: I shouldn't be at this point in my 4th yr in univ., I shouldn't feel this way at my age (early 20's), I shouldn't be this messed up b/c I'm in Psych (too!), I should be happy about the things I have in my life, I should know better etc... and the list goes on. My friend was like.. "that's a lot of should's".. and I was totally taken aback. That is a lot of should's! So I finished one of my sentences w/ "I don't want to be at this place" and it made so much more sense, I don't want to feel like this for my own sake, instead of saying I "shouldn't" feel like this which is only really about other's expectations (or what we think their expectations are).

    All the things you've gone through, all the therapy, and your Psych degree, they'll make you understand things so much better... you'll be able to be so much more empathetic and understand other's suffering and appreciate your own happiness when you let yourself see it. Age is never a limit for education or pursuing one's dreams. I used to think by 30 people have their lives "figured out"- until someone told me, you'll never have your life "figured out"- it's a matter of constanct readjusting, learning, living. And I met people who are 30 or just turned 30 and I realized as much as they have done and have accomplished, they have a long way to go.. but that's life! If you had everything accomplished by the time you're 30, what'd be the point of living for another 30+ years???

    I've always thought too that my "knowledge" or understanding of things 'should' mean that I am able to fix myself. sigh. not so much if you think about. It makes me understand things better, but you can't really fix yourself in that sense. I feel like I'm very aware of things, but being aware sure doesn't translate into doing or even believing. You can post here and help people but "be helped" just as much.. we can all take something from each other... I definitely find myself in that position too, that there's some things I can help w/ and then w/ others I need help myself. That's normal though. In the end, you can only really help others if you take care of yourself 1st- it will catch up w/ you otherwise at least in the long run.

    You're definitely visible! Well, I don't know about the rest of the people but we saw you!! No hiding from us! :o)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Australia
    Posts
    28

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    Thanks Eunoia! You created a lightbulb moment for me with your response. I'd never thought of counteracting the perceived or real expectations of others (via "should statements") by putting myself back into the equation (via "need/want statements"). I'm aware of the dangers of "shoulds" and that they're prescriptive, but now I feel I have a tool to avoid them!

    A lot of my troubles stem from very high expectations of myself...by me and by others. I've always bought into those demands on my energy and my soul without really believing that it's valid for me to want anything different for myself. When one grows up being parentified it can be difficult recognising one's own needs and wants...they were always subjugated for the needs of others. When you throw in unwanted attention, it becomes clear why I withdrew inside myself and did all I could to make my way through this world unnoticed, silent...avoiding interaction.

    I'm starting to think that it's me who can't see myself. Not taking care of myself has caught up, but I lack the ability to know where to start. For instance, I've suppressed my emotions for over a decade...very rarely cry even when alone. I've felt for a long time that if I could just howl like a baby until there are no tears left inside, that it would help purge all the built-up emotional toxin and pain. I need that release, but I don't know how to allow myself to let go of my ironclad self-control. I've sat through years of therapy being relatively poker-faced, often dissociating and always disconnected. Slowly I'm coming out of myself, but if anyone knows how I can achieve expressing (other than through writing) my emotions. ... knows how to get me to cry bucketfuls or throw a tantrum, that'd be priceless!

  8. #8

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    I've always bought into those demands on my energy and my soul without really believing that it's valid for me to want anything different for myself
    yes, this is difficult... I'm in that position too where I'm trying to figure out what it is that I want to do, why, and for whom... and I find a lot of my time is spend running around trying to please others, giving so much of myself to something or someone, expecting something great, possibly 'happiness', to follow in return... but it rarely does if those things aren't what I want to do as well, and if they are, then there's always other things that I want to but am not, b/c others might not hold those things as high in terms of what I should be doing- there we go w/ the 'should's' again... it's kind of irrational to walk around, telling people what they"should" be doing.. the most anyone can do is offer their advice and opinion. so what's the point of getting stuck in running after someone else's goals for ourselves? how much of those goals is what you want and how much is what they want? you have to ask yourself, how much of should you want them?

    can't help you out w/ the crying thing... I can barely do that myself, which is quite strange actually when you know that you should be crying in a situation and all I seem to manage is to sit there and stare... I guess it goes along the lines of just feeling numb or empty. do you ever even have the urge to cry? what do you do when you feel it coming on? do you surpress it or you just don't feel like crying ever? I find that there's two extremes of emotions that might help in "letting things out": crying when things just seem completely hopeless, frustrating etc. and you just can't help it even if you want to or doing something you enjoy a lot w/ someone whose company you enjoy and just genuinely laughing and having a good time... at least it's a real emotion and not a surpressed one or a fake one. maybe learning to let yourself feel more emotions in general and becoming aware of how you feel in different situations could help you to let your guards down and cry if you feel like crying...??? I don't know, I know this wasn't much help but just know you're not alone out there.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Australia
    Posts
    28

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    Your posts are a help Eunoia and I identify with a lot of what you say, so thanks! ;)
    I find a lot of my time is spend running around trying to please others, giving so much of myself to something or someone, expecting something great, possibly 'happiness', to follow in return...
    Imagine what our lives might look like if we gave ourselves as much time and positive input as we give others?! When it comes down to it, I think I'm a people-pleaser because I crave validation, appreciation and kindness in return. Of course, that's not what I always get in return; some people take advantage of my nature or take me for granted. I need to learn to validate, appreciate and be kind to myself and put my needs into the picture, let alone put them first once in a while. When I do that, then I think I will be closer to living my life rather than living as the person I think everyone else wants me to be.

    It's difficult explaining my emotional landscape. I feel emotions, but it's like someone took to my affect with a rolling pin at some stage because it's flatter than flat!
    I guess it goes along the lines of just feeling numb or empty
    I agree! In fact, my numbness extends to a strangely high pain threshold too. Mostly my urge to cry feels like a pressure inside of me and sometimes works it's way as far as becoming a painful lump in my throat. It's not that I don't want to let it all out, but as soon as I become conscious of the need to cry, the tears evaporate. I just can't release it as much as I want to. Body and mind are not working in synchrony.

    My home environment involved a big game of playing "Happy Families". We all wore a smiley mask and had to portray the perfect family unit, but inside there were a lot of emotions very incongruent with happy, smiley or perfect. Being angry was frowned on and being 'strong' was encouraged. Now that I'm working on pulling that mask off and trying to be authentic and express whatever emotion I feel...it's like my body doesn't know how. It knows only how to act in order not to draw attention to itself: to stay vigilant, quiet, listen intently and smile.

  10. #10

    Join the dots and colour me in!

    you know what came to my mind when I was reading this? when I had just entered high school, my swimming coach was noticing how sick I looked (I was just getting over having the flu) and had this worried look on her face, and what did I say? Thank you! Of course, she thought I was nuts, to say thank you for her just telling me I looked like crap. But in a way, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've always done this, saying sorry for things I don't have to be sorry about and sometimes don't even have any relation to at all, saying thank you for things that I should not have to say thank you for, and just kind of having the general attitude that everyone's right, I'm wrong, therefore I have to strive to make things "okay"... but the biggest slap in your face is when you either realize you can't make things be okay or when you do and then you're still left w/ nothing. I can remember so many occasions when I put in 120% of my effort and committment and I barely got a 'thank you'... setting boundaries is such an important thing and I am trying to figure that one out... but I know if I knew how to do so, life would be a whole lot easier... allowing myself not to always have to be the one doing everything, being perfect, having all the answers, always being "okay" and "cheery". Whenever I try to explain to people that maybe deep down I'm not this "together, all happy go lucky" person, the general reaction I get is silence, wide eyes, and akwardness. So the subject is changed. Do you ever feel that?yes, our lives would be a whole lot more pleasant if being a people- pleaser wouldnt' be such a validating need... but how do you get to that point? is it really about being happy within yourself 1st?

    I've thought at times that if only I could go and talk to someone and cry... b/c that seems like it would be the only way to get people to listen... but no, even if I manage to cry by myself (rarely) as soon as "the moment" comes up, it's all poker face, even my ability to express myself seems to diminish... of courses, minimizing any issue I wanted to get at in the 1st place. my family is like that too... you have to look perfect, even if things aren't and telling other people about "problems" is not being competent etc... getting away from that mindset is a lot of work.. b/c as much as it's conscious, so much of it is unconscious and just very engrained too...

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