Acceptance towards your mistakes

I am going to describe the recent quite substantial experience I had. Namely, lately I have been walking around with this intense anxiety about being judged. I literally imagined every person at the street looking at me and coming up with all kinds of criticisms. I could not even attend social events because the anxiety got so bad. All I can say is that I guess the therapy really brought out these feelings which had been buried for years.

 
Luckily however, I finally figured out how to release this intense fear. It seems so obvious when I now think of it, but doing it was far from easy. Namely, I understood that there was almost no acceptance and forgiveness in my childhood. All the perceived and actual misgivings and doings were punished harshly. This was how I learned to treat myself as well, never giving any excuses nor understanding towards my issues. I kept mercilessly comparing myself with others and always falling short.

 
I understood that one of the central things I missed when growing up was someone coming and giving me a hug after I had for instance received a bad grade. Not someone telling me that if I do not start excelling at school I might find myself at the street at some point. It was not about denying that I had made mistakes, but rather accepting that I did those mistakes, but still being forgiven.

 
Similarly to my childhood, I myself struggled with forgiveness. I had hard time forgiving to myself for all the things I was not perfect in. I had hard time forgiving myself for the mistakes I did and instead tried to convince myself that those were in fact not mistakes. The point where I was actually able to admit that I have made mistakes, but not scrutinize myself for those, was the moment of release. I could literally feel the anxiety leaving my body and I understood, forgiveness and acceptance are the things I needed for all these years.

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Being attracted to inconsistent and (unstable) partners

For years I have been attracted to guys I could never quite figure out. They either sent out conflicting signals or remained unobtainable. I would say that before starting a therapy I was mainly attracted to guys who were never into me, but ever since I started therapy, my attractions have more been towards guys who actually did have some level of interest in me, but they were not quite consistent for various reasons. I think I have finally figured out the reason for this pattern.

See when I was a child, my mother was highly unpredictable. She could be one day in a good mood and be all nice towards me and the other day she could be extremely angry and threaten to kick me out. Such variation is also in fact very characteristic to my ex – Marc. There were days when Marc was the best boyfriend ever, he could give me massages, he would listen to my childhood issues etc. Then there were moment when Marc threatened to leave me or was ranging to the point where I was actually afraid of him. Then there were also period when Marc disappeared as he was visiting his home country.

This all left me very confused. I could never make sense of Marc the same way I could not make sense of my mother. Both had their great moments, so it was unfair to call them evil or what not. In fact during their moments of greatness they were way better human beings than I was. However during their low moments they were also way worse human being than I was.

See the problem with such relationships is that you can never really fully relax. You are constantly alert and unaware of what is coming. When I started dating Marc, I developed a habit, which I never had before with my boyfriends. When he did not call, I would get extremely worried. I thought that maybe it was sign of my neediness and I had just suppressed it with my former boyfriends, but actually it has more to do with me not knowing what was going on. With my consistent partners I could relax even when they did not call, because my first thought was not – oh god maybe they are angry at me, maybe they are going to leave me. However, with Marc I was constantly anxious about having potentially done something that angered him or pushed him to distance himself. It was the exact copy of my childhood environment.

However, it has taken me till now to understand this pattern and fully emphasize with how I have been feeling my whole life. In fact, since this is quite a new discovery, I am sure I will write a bit more about it in the future.

 

 

Rejection fear and social anxiety

I am currently working on something in my therapy which I for a long time refused to admit I have – namely social anxiety. See, my ex Marc pointed this out on regular instances that I have issues with small talk, networking, being social. I did not want to believe this, because before I actually left for my new country of residence, I had plenty of friends and acquaintances. Hell, even today when I can actually force myself to go out, people like me. I am funny and charming. However, every time I need to go out on an event where I do not know people or where I have not met those people for a while, I first need to have huge fights with myself.

So what are these fights about? I am afraid that people will judge me. There is always something which I think is substandard, so I get myself worked out about this perceived misgiving of mine and there we go. When I actually enter the event, all I can think of is how everybody will now be able to see this misgiving and how soon enough they will laugh and I am forced to hide in the toilet. There are just way too many social events from my childhood that ended exactly like this…

On side of this fear is hence me imagining that other people will always find me weird, out of the place; they will find something wrong about me and will relentlessly bully me because of this. The other side is that I am afraid I will have no possibility to leave. I have tried to avoid the events which tie me to the place my whole life. I need to have the idea that I can actually leave.

Interestingly my social anxiety has really skyrocketed during last years. I am not quite sure why that is, there could be numerous reasons, starting with the fact that I have had very few social events during the last years and ending with the fact that my ex has done quite a bit to increase my social anxiety by pointing out all the ways I misbehave. The explanation that I secretly hope could be used is however that this fear is now finally swimming to the surface and I am able to deal with it. It was not like it was not there before, it was just that I was constantly pressing it down. What I am hoping is that with some work I can finally say in half a year or so, feel that I can enter to the random social occasion and just feel good and not have to worry about what other people think of me.

The types of relationships you have with trust issues

I am currently working through what I believe to be the last part of my therapy – trust issues. As I am going through this, I am also starting to notice an interesting pattern in my past relationships. Largely my relationships can be divided into two. An important note here is that I am talking about the relationships that actually existed and not the one’s I was having in my mind with all these unavailable guys. Anyways the two types can be described as follows: the relationships with somewhat emotionally available guy who was clearly more interested in me than I was in him and the relationships with guys who for some reason were not very emotionally available or interested in getting to know me.

This revelation seems currently big and transforming to me so let me continue by describing those two types of relationships in further detail.

Lets start with relationships with guys who were emotionally available, but not really completely down to my alley. So I have two guys in particular in mind when thinking about this category. Both in a way are sweet guys who showed affection towards me. Approaching them was easy, because I could see that they were interested in me. Naturally I had some anxiety, but still I ended up dominating these relationships big time, because I was the less interested side. I could flat out disrespect these guys, because sometimes their emotional availability seemed like a weakness to me. Furthermore their keen and loving interest towards me made them ‘low’ in my eyes. I always connected it with approval seeking and to a degree, I think it also was. Both guys must have sensed that my interest towards them is somewhat smaller than their interest towards me and tried to compensate it with some forms of approval seeking. Naturally, at the time I had no idea what was going on. Oh no, I went around and lamented about some perceived betrayals that these guys had brought about also describing all the moments that they hurt me. Little did I know that I probably hurt them much more.

So lets now focus on the other group. See these guys were safer, because they actually did not seek for deep emotional connection. Instead, they somehow felt also safe in a more superficial relationship. They were not interested in what I felt or even to some degree who I was. Rather they were negatively surprised that there was more to me than the nice and shiny exterior which I presented to the world. It became to annoy them because it meant work. All the feelings, all the layers of meaning – that was not what they signed up for. I was left confused and frustrated, not acknowledging that this was exactly what I signed up for. Their unwillingness to go and explore made me feel safe. They could never find out about real me, because they did not have skills nor interest to do so. Instead, I would know everything about them and again, dominate the relationship.

In both cases I was in control. In the first example because I did not have equally strong feelings towards the guys and in the second case, because the guys never knew the real me. The topic itself is wide enough so I will probably need to eloborate in further posts about some underlying issues related to those two types of relationships. However, for some reason I suspect that these two types are not only characteristic to me, but also to some other people that struggle with letting go of control.

Lack of borders and yearning for unavailable men

I am currently working on discovering why I have always been turned off by available guys. It might sound funny for some, but I am sure there are people that can relate to the feeling of wanting to run if someone comes on too strong. Suddenly you feel the urge to run for the hills to only later complain to your friends how everyone is so unavailable and how your relationships never go anywhere. Exactly….

So here is the thing, probably, relationships that go nowhere feel safe for some people, including me. But why? Well, I am starting to realize that in my case, because I have a need to be in control. I like to be in total command of my surroundings.

This is funny, because I never considered myself a controlling person. To be fair, my wish to control hardly ever includes other people. My wish is to control myself and to not let anyone else control me.

The reasons behind this wish to stay in control are to be found in my childhood. My childhood can be described very well with one of the most recent events concerning my mother. Namely, I was busy having a work call and I warned my mother that I will need about an hour of peace and quiet for that (I am on a vacation visiting her and my homecountry). What happened was that first my mother needed to storm in to water the flowers. I was annoyed and voiced my opinion. However, that did not really stop her. Next she needed to come in to vacuum the floor the very moment I was talking. Finally she needed to interrupt me to ask me something. When I then refused to stop talking to my colleagues and answer to her question, she stormed off angry and slamming the door and now she refuses to communicate with me.

It is clear that my mother is someone who does not accept no for an answer. Furthermore, she cannot stand someone not tending to her needs whenever she feels like it. Finally, your needs, for her, are something to be stepped over without any concern.

It is pretty easy to see how this lack of concern towards my needs and the demand that her needs are to be taken into account every waking moment might motivate me to avoid closeness. Closeness with other people in my mind has equaled to me needing to abandon my needs in order to please the other.

Now this has lead to me longing for romance and love, but still being somewhat hesitant to let anyone close enough so that they could recreate the situation I had to suffer throughout my childhood. Unavailable guys hence seem to be perfect for giving a hint of relationship, but never really coming close enough to seriously scare me.

Wanting someone to fight for me

I am realizing that part of my addiction towards unavailable men or men who blow hot and cold is, that I finally want someone to come for me. Instead of chasing my unavailable parents, I want them to chase me. I want to prove to myself that people do care and are willing to go extra mile for me.

Never before have I realized how much it hurt that my mother was willing to threaten me with abandonment during our fights. I felt like I was a commodity that could be easily cast away. Just as long as I am useful and compliant I am worth keeping, but as soon as I am not useful anymore, well – bye bye.

So I want to reverse the pattern. I want someone to care about whether they are losing me or not, instead of me constantly fighting for their love and care. I want for the first time in my life feel that I am in control, instead of constantly worrying about others abandoning me.

Quite ridiculously though, I am seeking this feeling of control, appreciation and loyalty from all the wrong sources. I am seeking this for people who are unavailable or used to being in command themselves. I am repeating the old patterns of chasing someone’s love and loyalty. No, not only in love relationships, but also in friendships. My desire to have someone fighting for me has lead me to people similar to my parents (yes also my unavailable father who kept showing up once in a while, wanting me to convince him to visit me more often). Somewhere there is a hope that once I get these people to chase me, all the evils of my childhood will be undone.

Bullying and feeling unsafe in the world

I am currently working on my feelings of unsafety and I am realizing how threatened I have felt my whole life.

I have been bullied, pretty much all through life. Even during my adulthood people have given me shitty treatment. I was constantly scared when going to parties and new social surroundings – what if I will be casted out and bullied again? In my mind I have always been this helpless four year old child.

My bullying started at the age of four when I moved together with my grandparents and had to move to small town. I was the new kid, easy to pick on because my mother had just moved away to another country and I found readjusting really complicated. From there on everything continued like a bad dream. I moved again, to the foreign country to live with my mother. Naturally I was again the new kid. Then I moved again and again. Altogether I moved four times and each time I had to deal with hostile kids. As if this was not enough, I also got a huge scar to my face which made me excellent laughing material even for strangers at the street.

By the age of fifteen I had seen it all. The bullying just continued and continued. I became so scared that it was obvious from my behavior and even strangers could pick it up. This how I also attracted several pedophiles who harassed me (luckily the worst it ever got was dry humping). In addition the whole situation at home with a mother who had moments of rage did not help either.

Needless to say that I have carried this fear with me for years.  For years I avoided passing my old school. Now I avoid going back home. Every time I go there I imagine someone meeting me and starting to bully me again. Even though I feel quite lonely in where I am right now, I am scared to return to my home country. Scared of those people who once bullied me telling me – I told you that you will never amount to anything. Scared of my friends giving me judgmental looks (I unfortunately chose multiple friends who were extremely judgmental of me).

Yes. I am scared of people. This is me in the beginning of solving this issue so I assume there will be more of such posts where I try to understand and reconfigure this fear.

Difficulties in enforcing the borders

I find enforcing borders still somewhat an alien concept. It is as if I have read somewhere that I need to enforce borders in order to make other people respect me, but something inside of me still wants to say “yeah, but what if they abandon me”. As a result I feel as an impostor most of the time – it is like telling yourself that you really love veggies, because you know that they are good for you, but on the inside you would just want fries.

This ambivalence sometimes creates contradictory situations where I have enforced a border and then start acting the ways which shows that I would want to take it back. This is not made easier by the fact that the price I pay for my borders is sometimes losing the people who have been in my life for a long time. These are some really difficult choices to make.

Lets take one example from my work. I am leading a group and yesterday was a deadline for one task. However, naturally the task was not delivered. I really had to convince myself to send out the email today which asks people to send their contribution at least by Thursday. I noticed similar self-doubt lurking in – am I doing the right thing, what if this messes up my relationship with my colleagues once and for all. What if what if….

So I keep reading the literature on borders and try to test around with those. However, I am afraid that I leave a rather wishy-washy impression for the outsider as my borders appear in random places and sometimes rather strongly. I suspect that it will take years for me to get right as it took years of bad treatment to lose all the borders to begin with. It sucks and makes for a lot of confusion for both you and others, unfortunately. Furthermore, I feel that in some relationships the disrespect has become so big, that it will be impossible for me to claim respect now. That probably means giving up some more relationships in the future. This unfortunately does not make one feel as if one is improving their life, but rather as if things are only getting more difficult.

When you seem to not get out of the viscous circle of commitment phobes

This post is going to be rather personal. I am dealing currently with my anxieties and issues around the fact that I am soon probably the only one in my close circle that does not have a family. Sometimes I keep asking myself where did I go wrong? Sometimes I also keep asking myself, is it already too late for me?

My commitment issues have pushed me to be together in non-commitmental relationships. Hell, in my first relationships I did not even want to tell to anyone that I was in a relationship. No wonder that the relationships did not take off. My last relationship has had its own non-commitmental quality as my boyfriend has kept telling me that we will discuss family next year. Now that the next year argument does not fly anymore, he conveniently shifted the argument to – we will discuss family if you agree to move to my home country. Note that nothing says that we will actually have a family in this case, it is more that this is a precondition to even start a discussion.

To be honest I am sad and scared. In my heart of hearts I understand that moving to another foreign country for a guy who so far has not made any significant commitment would be another mistake from my side. See this is exactly what happened with my ex. I moved, he did not have to make any significant investment and was even reluctant to promise me anything when I moved. Somehow I keep putting myself to these situations and honestly I am tired of it. It is not always courage that saves the day, some risks are honestly stupid. In hindsight I would say that it was stupid to move to another country for someone who did not make any commitment.

Yes, I keep hanging out in these relationships, even though I also at the same time feel sad. The last phase is to figure out what attracts me to these guys and how to get passed it. One thing I know, I am so exhausted of such non-commitmental relationships that soon I am rather willing to be single than invest my energy into someone who keeps telling me that things will change if only….

Sometimes you just want things to change. You want them to change quicker than they do. I want my life to change. I want to change the kind of relationships I engage in. But I seem to be psychologically tailored towards wishy-washy guys and seem to be struggling to make these changes. To be honest, my belief in my capability to recognize a decent guy has gone down a lot. I am struggling with my dark foresight that the next relationship will just be much the same. The problem is also that it is not like these guys outright tell you that they have commitment issues (or maybe they have those with me). No, they keep telling you something about the nice future. I do know it has worked for some girls. The nice future aspect has never worked for me. SO you never know when to give up. I have been postponing giving up for so long that I am starting to question my ability to move on at all.

 

Expectations and the fear of expectations

They say that one of the reasons behind commitment phobia is a fear of expectations. I can honestly admit that I have kept my partners away from my life in order to avoid facing their judgement. I did not want them to witness what a mess I was. Eventually I had to still let someone see this mess – my current boyfriend and even he agrees that I was a hot mess when we started living together.

The funny thing about this fear of disappointing others is hence that it is completely justified. You do not want to go into a relationship warning your partner about you not having your life together. So when is the good point to tell them that well, actually……you have a depression or you are bad at housework etc etc.

In my case I am slowly facing the fact that I will never become a good family person. I believe that ship has sailed. I can try to compensate as much as I want, I can go to psychologist and I can heal my wounds, but there are some things I cannot change anymore. At least that is how I feel.

I grew up on my own. Or as my boyfriend likes to say – among cats. He has on multiple occasions compared me with a girl from a jungle – the one that has no idea how a family life should function. I have no idea how to conform to common meals. I still struggle cooking regularly. I have a tendency to hide myself behind my work. I struggle spending intimate time with my boyfriend. There is just too much to compensate for.

Family matters. Not only for psychological health, but also for our lifestyle. I have spent 30 years living like an hermit. The fact that my boyfriend is not the greatest fan of family life does not help. I feel that for any random guy I would be a complete disappointment in terms of my household skills or the lack of those. I terms of what I cannot do.

I can feel quite confident today in my skills as a social being. As a seductress. Even as partially independent woman. But I am not sure if I will ever feel confident as a housewife. And the fact that I am so painfully aware of all my misgivings in this area does not help.