Proud of myself

Most people around me these days have not had to fight the battles I have. They have no idea what it means to have their father yell at them for calling him father in front his colleague. They have no idea what it means to grow up with a mother who has anger issues and is neglectful.

Over last five years I have had to struggle a lot. When other people spent their money and time on exotic vacations, I was going through therapy and some pretty disturbing emotions. This is the route that the people around me will never understand. They will never understand how difficult it is to relive all of what happened in your dysfunctional childhood.

I am proud of myself exactly because I am not a drug user or being in a violent relationship. I am proud of myself because I am not on a regular basis feeling bad about myself and trying to compensate it with external validation. I am so incredibly proud over where I have come. The people around me and their healthy childhood just extenuate this fact. If I was still struggling with extremely low self-esteem and social phobia, I would never become friends or acquaintances with such people.

I know, I still have a way to go. I know I still have issues to tackle. But I can also see the immense progress I have made throughout the years. So, again, I am so proud of myself!

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Trying to control by being perfect

I have dedicated my life by trying to handle the chaos by working on myself. I tried to control my ex-boyfriends feeling for me by improving myself. I tried to control my current boyfriend’s moods by perfecting myself. This has been the only reliable thing in my life – my ability to improve and approach perfection.

See the thing is, I grew up in an environment where nothing was secure. My mother’s emotional reactions to me were totally random. Sometimes she would lash out because I had not cleaned floor, sometimes she would ignore the dirty dishes lying around. However, believing that I had no control over her anger outbursts and her infrequent praise, would have been too threatening. So I just believed that if I only work enough with myself, if I am only perfect enough……I will feel safe. The continuing instability at home was just a proof that I was not working hard enough.

I have reached to the point where the part of me who always tries to be perfect is crumbling. I am just too tired. I am realizing that me being perfect does not help me to control my insecure career neither does it salvage my emotionally instable relationship.

It is a scary thought. There was a reason why I was so invested in becoming perfect. Because the alternative was to face my powerlessness and the obviously abusive nature of my mother’s parenting. So I am getting glimpses of this insecurity now. My walls are falling……so does my ideal on achieving security by pleasing and not causing trouble.

Relationship with no expectations

I have noticed that when it comes to others expectations, my mother and my boyfriend are scary similar. Both hate being subject to any kind of demands and react rather aggressively on dependency and other people’s expectations. This is extremely problematic when you are raising a kid as witnessed from my childhood.

Understanding my mother’s problematic relationship with expectations has made me reframe the relationship and cut down any kind of reliance. It is not that she would not do things for me, it is just that this is in no way any kind of reliable source. Furthermore, I never know how and when she will react to me asking favors from her. So I generally do not.

After all the fight me and my boyfriend have had on the topic of expectations, I have taken similar kind of attitude with him. He keeps repeating that his problem is not in my expectations on him, but rather in the fact that I am unwilling to return any kind of favors, but this is just a mere circular logic. My boyfriend likes to keep himself independent and does not easily trust other people with anything. The more autonomous he is, the better. Hence, he does not even ask for anything from me and my attempts to do something for him usually end with me hearing how badly this was done. However, the unbalanced ratio of expectations in the relationship is working as a shield for him.

Avoiding expectations is one of the signs of commitment issues. Commitment phobic people do not want create any dependency in others, because that would make them feel overwhelmed rather easily. They are so afraid of being swallowed by other people and their needs that, they fight rather vigorously for their independence. It is usually subconscious procedure which is rationalized with different explanations such as – your demands are not reasonable; it is about how you express them etc etc.

Long story short, after I noticed the similarity and furthermore my adaptation of non expectations to my boyfriend, I also realized the tragic around the issue. Me adapting non- expectation attitude with my boyfriend has improved the relationship significantly, but I am not sure I want to live without ever discussing the future, without calling him when I need emotional support or without discussing finances or being taken care of when I am sick. However, as usual, we do indeed repeat earlier patterns in our life, because they feel so convenient. I have my own role in it – I am used to chasing people, longing for more commitment and attention. However, when I am not together with someone I can chase, my engulfment fear might kick in.

Are you attracted to critical people?

I am reframing several of my relationships in my life. I am noticing how my low self-esteem and my tendency to ask others for their opinions has attracted several people in my life who by definition are very critical of me. I look at my old friends and I get surprised by how they think is fine to relate to me and how they often times put me down in their way of relating.

My low self-esteem and the tendency of these people to be critical of me once formed a perfect system. They reinforced the whole continuum. On one hand, I was convinced that I needed these people to tell me how to live my life and that I should be grateful that they are willing to bare me. On the other hand, me asking for constant advice and acting helpless made these people feel important and made sure that their attention was directed away from their own problems. They always had a comparison with me which assured them that they were at least better than me.

I am slowly cutting such people out of my life. I am slowly trying to surround myself with people who are more supportive of me. Who instead of judging me, offer me support when need be and give me space if I need to figure things out on myself. I, myself, try to show up more in these relationships as well, offer my support. Move away from my helplessness to fully participate in reciprocal relationships. I am taking steps from becoming an adult, not someone who needs to be guided and taken care of.

The development of self-esteem in therapy

One of the key topics for all the therapy patients is self-esteem. Or well….the lack of it. I always assumed that I had the lowest self-esteem possible, after all I loathed myself when I started therapy. I recently realized that this might not necessarily have been the case.

Even when my ex told me that he is not sure if he loves me, however would be willing to continue and see if he can develop these feelings for me, I instead decided to break up. Even though I hate changes in my life and I had moved to foreign country to be together with my ex, I somehow found enough strength and self-belief to say – I am worth better than this. I imagined my whole life being spent with someone who takes our relationship only as a duty and I decided, even I deserve more.

What exactly I deserved, was really unknown to me at this point.  I also ended up pining for my ex for two consecutive years, thinking that I have lost the love of my life, but at least, somewhere inside of me I found so much self-belief to do what needed to be done.

So, I am thinking, many of us, even really badly abused, still have some remains of self-esteem left. The problem is that these might be activated only in the case of real crisis. Mostly, these ruins of self-esteem are covered by all the other stuff about how worthless we are. So, the therapy is about peeling off these layers of negative self-talk, so that we can finally get access to our self-love.

Why am I thinking about this now? Well, because I made massive breakthrough in my therapy – coming terms to my feelings of rejection. I am finally actively using the idea of relying on myself to define my self-worth, instead of needing to find some external source. I do not want to get ahead of things, because I still believe that some  work needs to be done, but overall it feels pretty great.

Trying to ‘prove my value’

 

I am noticing how I have an uncanny habit of trying to attach others to me by providing some service to them. I do not trust them to want to communicate for myself, so I make up some stupid reason – offer something to them. It is quite sad actually, because I am totally missing all the signs about how unimportant I am in fact for this other person. I assume that because I have done some favors to them, I must be accepted and appreciated, but often times come out feeling cheated.

Behind me providing help and favors is me needing to control the relationship. Well, at least to a degree. I am thinking, if I only prove that I am valuable and resourceful enough, this other person will also be convinced and start communicating with me. Needless to say, that this has not been my experience in the past.

What usually happens is, I formulate one sided relationships. Relationships that have me in the role of pursuer and the other just waiting to be approached. I am starting to feel more and more desperate in the process and try to push more, whereas they are just continuing their blissfully ignorant existence, because for them I never qualified as particularly important. It is like I am desperately trying to buy some love and appreciation. I can work long hours, be the most responsible person out there, for what? – just to be accepted to the group. Unfortunately if you approach the matter from this perspective, what people start to appreciate you for, is in fact your resourcefulness and not you, yourself.

The problem is, I think I have no idea how to ‘make’ someone value me without trying to provide anything for this person.

Rejection and loss of intimacy in the relationship

I have been recently thinking about my rejection issues. I am discovering how I have closed down in my relationship, because I have felt so rejected for long. I never wanted to acknowledge this, because I always wanted to be the one ‘who has it all together’. The fact is, I do not. I feel the pain and I feel rejection.

So what is my rejection in my relationship about? It is about me feeling less than….because despite five years, my boyfriend is still assessing the relationship. It is about me hearing from him constantly how I should change myself. Somehow he always has some issues to bring up, issues that are not related to him, but to me.

People have told me that, if somebody tells you that you have to change for them to be able to commit to you, this person does not really love you. This, is starting to dawn to me as I acknowledge how rejected I feel because of his constant critical comments. I am withdrawn.

I guess the real problem is that I let him or anyone else tell me what I am worth. That I just do not go away. The pattern is changing though because I refuse to change myself according to his wishes now. I tell him off quite directly. I am digesting the issue…. Wondering what makes somebody be so critical towards someone they claim they love. What makes them constantly tell that they need to assess the relationship.

That however, does not mean it does not hurt.