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Growth Spurts

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lately, I've had a shocking number of "Aha!" moments about pretty big stuff. It makes me feel pretty justified to not be seeing a therapist because I can't imagine a therapist being able to keep pace, frankly.

It's exciting - I feel like the person I will become is being revealed to me, even if there's a lot of work to do between coming to terms with truths about myself or my past and transforming these into change. It also has involved more tears than I'd like to admit, as I recall and recognize things that are uncomfortable. But these painful feelings are not heavy...there's a levity brought, I think, by the productivity of these reflections. Each new realization is a puzzle piece in the mystery of my life...and I'm the Lara Croft of my own heart. Ha!

Here are a few biggies :

I realized that I only feel safe if I'm on my own. Introducing another person into my life, no matter how enjoyable their presence, adds a level of danger. Indeed, the happier having them around makes me, the more terrifying it is. When I think about romantic relationships, I have trouble believing that I could ever be safe - that I wouldn't, sooner or later, be betrayed and abandoned. As lonely as it may be to go through life on my own, it's the only way I'm truly comfortable - the alternative is fraught with anxiety and fear.

I realized that I don't believe someone will ever truly cherish me. As a child, I felt - at best - tolerated by my parents. My feelings and my well-being only mattered second to their own, and only when it was convenient and temporarily caught their interest. Surely, I wish to fill that void through other relationships. But I believe the best I can hope for is for someone to simply not make me miserable. To dream of someone who would actually take pleasure in my happiness, take my hurts personally, and who would reliably look out for me....it's just unfathomable. I don't think it exists. Maybe for a few lucky others, but not for me.

I realized that my natural tendency to get hung up on certain thoughts could be used to my advantage. If I can dwell on worries or hurt feelings, then I can choose to dwell on more productive, healthy thoughts.

I realized that the reason I don't think I could succeed, from my own side, in having a healthy family is because I feel like my cup is small. You may have heard a friend lament that they felt like they got so caught up in the stress of daily life that they neglected their relationship with god - that their cup was empty. Well, I am a loving person and I am a generous person. But I easily feel depleted, like I have nothing left, nowhere to draw upon to be able to love and be giving to others. I picture myself in the stereotypical juggling of household repairs, meal preparation, kids' soccer practice, and a job...and I expect that I would be an unsupportive partner and an insufficient mother, always struggling just to stay afloat. It seems like no matter how well I refresh my reserves, there is no lasting effect, like that energy leaks out the bottom as soon as I leave the spigot.

I realized that when I was a kid, the only time my parents smiled in my direction is when others did. They weren't interested in how I felt about music, I couldn't choose the kind of dance I studied, and they didn't care much about my work ethic...but when I was on a stage, my parents would forget all about how much they hated me minutes before, basking in the flattery of the audience. Figuring this out helped me understand a big part of what I don't like about how I behave as an adult - particularly in social situations. I think at some subconscious level I internalized those experiences to mean that people wouldn't want to be around me unless I could entertain them.

I've also realized that the reason I have such an inflexible need for honesty and respond so intensely to situations in which I feel like people are either denying or misrepresenting reality is because I grew up imprisoned by the collective delusion of my mother's mental illness and the adults who insisted that she loved me and I was just ungrateful/going through a phase/exaggerating.

I really don't know where all these new thoughts and insights are coming from....it's like lights are just turning on everywhere i turn. I'm amazed and looking forward to seeing what I can do with this new-found understanding.

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