These were the words spoken to me by my therapist yesterday. I’m struggling, a lot, and needed that reminder. It’s times like this that I’m especially grateful for therapy and a great therapist.
My inner critic has been especially boisterous this past while, as have the critical voices from my childhood and beyond. Every attempt at positivity and self-compassion has been met with these negative voices shutting it down. Separating out the voices and recognizing which is my own inner critic, who is ultimately just trying to protect me, and which belong to those people in my life, who due to their own issues and projections have targeted me with their hurtful words, has been helpful.
“You’re useless, a waste of space, and will never amount to anything”, “you don’t deserve love, a hug, attention”. The voice of others. When these kinds of words come from people you love and are supposed to trust, who you are dependent on as a child, they build up and almost become like a part of you. It’s extremely difficult to challenge them.
“You can’t do this”, “it’s not good enough”, “you’re too much or not enough”. My own. To my inner critic I can say “thank you for trying to protect me, but it’s okay if I am unsuccessful at this. I’ll learn from it and do better next time”, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s good enough”. This voice is trying to protect me from rejection, shame and pain. See the difference? For me at least, it’s easier to deal with my own inner critic.
When I got home from therapy I was exhausted and wanted to take a nap. But the critical voices were so loud (“you’re just lazy, you should be working”) and I was struggling to tap into my own self-compassion. I then remembered C’s words “be kind to yourself”. In that moment I decided to pretend that she’s talking to me instead, and to speak to myself the way she speaks to me, with kindness and compassion. And it worked. So I ended up taking a guilt-free 90 minute nap, one I desperately needed. By pretending that C that was talking to me, I slowly started to find my own self-compassionate voice again. So that’s another simple little tool for my coping toolkit.
It’s so easy to get lost in all the voices of negativity. Both those around us and those within us. So if you struggle with this, maybe this concept can help you as well. I hope you have someone whose kind and gentle voice can help guide you in finding your own voice of self-compassion.
I just finished an amazing book by Donna Tartt titled The Goldfinch, and want to share a paragraph from it that sums up my feelings (and opinion) about life.
“Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence-of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do-is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me-and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death.
I know. Morbid and dark.
Emptiness is a part of me. Even in my happiest moments, it’s there, lurking in the background. Waiting. It’s almost as though that’s my foundation, with all the other emotions laying upon it, and then when those emotions pass I return to that foundation of emptiness.
I’ve had a couple of those nights lately where I’m crying in a dream, and wake up crying. The sadness overwhelms me. But once I’m up the numbness sets in, and I go through the day not feeling much of anything. Not seeing a purpose for this life. For existing.
I’m just at the point where I don’t expect good things to happen anymore. For my hard work to pay off. Hope feels like something not meant for me. Accepting where I am. What my life looks like. Going through the motions, doing what needs to be done, but not really caring.
What’s the point of hard work when the only thing that comes from your effort is more shit. Never feeling like you’re able to move forward, because things just continue breaking apart around you.
There are times where I feel nothing for people. Not even those I “claim” to love. This can last from hours to weeks. Sometimes I wonder whether I really do love after all? Then there are moments where I know I love that person/those people and I feel it, but that feeling can come and go so quickly sometimes.
I’m one of those people who almost never cry at funerals. Instead of thinking I’m at the funeral in order to say goodbye to someone and all of that funeral stuff, I’m dreading going due to the social aspect. It’s not about the person who passed away, it’s about my own social anxiety and unease. The exception was at my grandmother’s funeral, where I was in a dissociative bubble and so disconnected from everyone there that it felt I was alone.
When a public figure dies, for example by suicide, I don’t feel a thing. I don’t get why suddenly everyone is talking about it and seeming to genuinely feel sad about it. Sure, I pretend I care, and it’s hard (and shameful) to admit this, but I actually don’t. This always makes me feel like a hard, cruel person. Or not human at all.
I told my therapist this in our session last week. We were talking about my uncle who recently got diagnosed with cancer. She asked me how I feel. My answer? Nothing. I feel uncomfortable, but not sure exactly what that feeling encompasses. Where once I felt so close to my uncle and knew I love him, suddenly I don’t feel anything toward him. My therapist mentioned something about trauma and PTSD symptoms, but I can’t really remember what all she said… My mind and memory have been cloudy lately. Want to bring this up again in tomorrow’s session.
I saw there’s a new X-Men movie coming out in February, and just watched the trailer. When the first film of this movie franchise came out I was obsessed with it. I’ve watched the first 3 movies at least 40 times each, and the later ones about 10 times or so. Which is why when Jennifer Lawrence was cast in one of them a few years after the first 3 I was ecstatic. The point of bringing this up now is because while watching the trailer I got the same feeling I did all those years ago with the first film. These are my people. I’ve always felt like an outcast and “defective”. I would pretend I was one of those characters. My favourite used to be Phoenix (Jean Grey) and I took on that character. I was Phoenix. These days I still feel like a mutant, an alien on this planet. And this questioning whether I truly love is just one of the reasons for that. This new X-Men film is Jean’s journey on the “dark side”. Maybe I’m closer to that version of her.
Sometimes I feel like I have a lump of coal in place of a heart. That’s how I feel right now.
I’ve been struggling a lot these past few days.
My sympathetic nervous system and good old Amy(gdala) thinks I’m in constant danger. My emotions are all over the place. For a couple of hours yesterday I felt completely empty, then another torrent of emotions.
Reading my previous post back, I’m aware that my current emotions will pass, but then what? It comes back again at some point. Like the ocean and waves, it’s never ending. Like I told my therapist today, using coping tools and skills is hard and exhausting.
My sensory system is even more sensitive lately too. Everything feels brighter, faster, louder, leading to me losing my shit much much quicker. Anxiety is a bitch. And my trusty benzo’s? Well, no effect, they’ve been pretty useless. Although I wonder if they haven’t actually been working, and I would have been even worse without them?
Thank whoever for therapy today. It was intense, and most of it a blur, but C was once again very comforting and helpful. We didn’t do much “work”, as most of the session was focused on helping me get regulated and become present, but I was exhausted afterward. I still am.
At the end of the session I got nice firm hug from her. I needed that so much. Hugging a stuffed toy just isn’t the same as close contact with another human. Just as an aside, we don’t always hug after sessions. It’s only happened about three times because firstly, sometimes I’m too ashamed/scared to ask for one, while other times I just don’t feel the need. I wouldn’t like regular hugs, because then it just becomes like a routine and while I thrive on routine, this is something different.
I’m not looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning. Just the thought of another day gives me a sinking feeling. I could take the day off work, but even that feels depressing.
They say struggles make us stronger, but it feels like the opposite is true. I don’t feel stronger. I feel weaker instead.