What to do when you feel life is unfair?

So I have been harboring these feelings quite long in my life. I used to be jealous of girls who were popular and smart. It felt to me that they had it all. I never wanted them to do bad, I just found it so unfair that while I had struggle, everything came so easy to them. Furthermore, their beauty and popularity actually even motivated teachers to treat them better. So I felt like I was working for nothing and nobody cared about my hard work. Those who already had so much just continued to get more.

My opinion is that life is unfair and it is better for ourselves that we admit this. It was much easier for me to accept it in terms of social class. I found it extremely unfair that some people are born in really bad economic conditions and others can enjoy the riches. Furthermore, those that are born economically privileged do not want to admit that they have a privilege, but instead keep saying that the poor just did not try hard enough. This was easy for me to accept because it felt clear to me (unlike to so many other middle class people).

However, it has been a real challenge for me to accept that even though I was born to lower middle class parents, I had so many other challenges which I have had to overcome.  I had a pretty bad childhood, especially when compared to other middle class members. Furthermore I have had several health conditions which I have struggled with my whole life and I have had many other troubles just coming to me when grownup.

It is usual for me to get an unempathic attitude from other people. Similarly than with social class background, people who have been lucky in life, either by having good parents or just getting good opportunities without much effort, do not want to admit this. Instead, they go out of their way to say that you must have just not worked hard enough, be good enough or are making a fuss about a small thing.

However, I understood that it was not only other that treated my problems that way. I, myself, treated myself in this manner. I would often put myself down for not having come further in life. I would tell to myself when I was feeling bad about another unluck that I am just making too big of a deal. That my emotions are wrong. That somehow maybe I have not worked hard enough…

Lately I have come to understand that I have actually reason to feel under privileged. I have had much more trauma and drama in my life than most people I know. In fact I still have more unluck than most people next to me. I think allowing oneself to accept that yes, life is unfair and sometimes one really has bad luck, will set you free in many ways. You will stop blaming yourself for the things which might not be your fault to begin with. You will stop taking responsibility for many things which might have been outside of your control. Of course I do not advocate victimization here, but I think our society often times blames people all too easily of victimization. Sometimes people really are victims and then it is a real assholish move to tell to this person – well you should have done X differently or you just did not try hard enough.

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It is Ok to want to be loved

I think current self-development literature is often counterproductive towards those with low self-esteem and feelings of unlovability. Namely you can read from everywhere how you need to love yourself first, how other people cannot be solutions to your self-esteem issues and how in general you should just work harder on yourself if you feel that way. Let me tell how these sentiments have impacted me.

First, they have made me feel ashamed for wanting to be loved. You feel as if there is something so deeply wrong with you for not feeling it inside you and for seeking other people to love you. Second, they have me be stuck with guys that were either totally unavailable or ultimately did not love me. I just assumed that me feeling unloved in these relationships was my deep personal problem and maybe, actually these guys did love me, I was just too needy. Furthermore, since I was notoriously broken and had this deep ingrained issue of not being able to provide for myself, what other people did, maybe I did not even deserve a loving man?

It is easy to stress on self-sufficiency and the need to love oneself and not be dependent on someone else’s love if you have had a good loving family. It is clear that if you felt support throughout your childhood, you also developed self-compassion, empathy and healthy self-esteem, so you probably do not need to seek for these feelings in other people. However, coming from that position and telling to people that spent their childhood feeling unloved, that they should not look for other people to feel loved is pretty short sighted. It is almost like telling to a five year old kid that they should just love and provide for themselves and be more independent and not rely on their parents. Usually that was how these kids that felt unloved got treated. They got told that their dependency needs as well as ingrained wish for love from their parents was inappropriate or downright bad.

So here is my suggestion as to what people that have felt unloved their whole life need. Instead of telling them to learn to love themselves, I think we should tell them that they in fact did miss out on something big. It is OK for them to feel unloved and look for love, because they in fact were never coddled and loved. There is nothing and absolutely nothing wrong with how they are feeling, because it is rather an accurate representation of reality. Hence, there should be no shame around feeling unloved. It should be acknowledged that there is a strong reason why someone does feel unloved and there is a strong reason for them to look for love outside. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved by other people, because most people that judge you for being needy or feeling unloved had the very same desires, the difference is just that those desires were met.

Social anxiety and female competition

So social anxiety is something I have suffered from my whole life. Mind me, most of the time I was unaware that I was suffering from it, because I thought it was normal to every time when one is going to the party try to suppress the overwhelming anxiety. Try to tell to yourself that everything will be OK. I also thought  it was normal to always want to have some friend or boyfriend with me, as emotional support.

Let me tell you, this is not normal. This is not how most people feel. This is ultimately also not how I want to feel. However, I still feel that way.

Do not make a mistake of assuming that I am a bad communicator. I think I am actually quite good, socially. It is just that every time I go to social event, I remember my early and teenage years of relentless bullying and it my mind, it will all just repeat itself.

I really do not have good ten minute advice on how to combat the situation. Believe me, I, myself, am surprised that I still struggle with it, even after all these years of therapy. However, being aware of it, I will try to work on this next.

My anxiety is mostly about girls. I know, how to handle guys. Not a single guy has ever bullied me. I usually get along perfectly with guys (unless they are my boyfriends…..Ok that was a joke). But girls….

Take the last event that I participated. I was joking around with some guys and they made it more sexual than it needed to be. However, I caught all these judgemental looks from other girls. Well, mind me, the first girl was already judging me because of my profession, telling me that what I do is pointless. I mean, why? I still cannot understand what makes someone tell to the other person that their day job is not worth anything….

But the problem is, I feel threatened by the looks and by the words from these girls. It reminds me of my school years. I know that if one girl takes a disliking towards you, they will be able to collect a lot of their friends and convince them to hate you too. It is that simple. It never works like that with guys, but with girls the pack-mentality is just so much stronger. Plus, I seem to somehow be good at making girls my enemies and even after 30 years, I have no idea why and how. There is always this one girl at the party that takes an instant disliking towards me.

So, parties for me are stressful because of girls. If it was a party filled with guys, I would go there without a care in the world. I really struggle to see how come, my ’enemies’ are always girls. I don’t think it is because I am super charming or hot, there is something else at play here. I am not even sure if the solution to my problem would be to work on the reason girls tend to dislike me or to work on me caring so much and being intimitated by it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have good female friends. I am not one of those people, who hangs out only with guys, thinking that girls are stupid. In the latter case I would understand why other girls might dislike me, but currently it really is a mystery.

The gifts of child abuse

I think one of the signs that you are getting to the final phase of your healing is when you actually start noticing that your early life difficulties have brought you some innate gifts. I am not sure I am completely ready to write about the gifts I have gained through my experiences yet, but let that be my first attempt.

I feel that I can actually see the two worlds. It is difficult to explain this to a person that has not experienced it all. I can see the world of depression, self-hate, anxiety attacks and dysfunctionality. I can relate to all kinds of dysfunctional coping mechanisms starting from alcohol abuse and ending with suicidal thoughts. I can also now after years of therapy experience and see the world on the other side. The lighter being (I am still not finished with my therapy), the feeling of self-love etc.

I think there have been two radical changes of experience during the last year. The first one is moving from feeling incomplete and unlovable into actually feeling whole. This deep feeling of emptiness and sadness and wanting someone to love me so that this sadness would go away (only it never did), it is actually gone. The second change of perspective is moving from being terrified of being alone and being certain that I will never cope alone into being OK with spending time alone. Being OK with living alone and enjoying my evenings in solitude.

Most people that have two aforementioned gifts take it for granted and fail to ever understand other people that suffer from abandonment fear and unlovability. That is how you get stupid advices such as – you should just be yourself or have you thought of exercising more or drinking warm tea. The experience itself is soo alien to the ones that have never gone through it. Not often they also judge and look down on people that lead dysfunctional lives. The compassion is missing and even if it is there, there is a lack of understanding as to what one is compassionate about.

So, I feel I have been given a gift of seeing both worlds. This means that maybe once I have gone through my struggles, I can actually help someone else. I can definitely function as a non judgmental guide already now, but I think I still have a way to go. Not only can I understand and help others that struggle, but I also value the feeling of being complete, the feeling of being able to be alone. I have had to fight so hard for it that it feels nothing but sort of amazing. I doubt that average person gives much meaning to it at all.

Finally, I think that with child abuse and therapy comes a different kind of way of viewing your life. I see my life as a lesson. I am not looking for happiness, I am looking for growth. I am not sure if that is better or worse, it is just different. It is the way I have managed to handle therapy all these years, even when it was very difficult. I just kept comparing myself with myself one year ago and felt proud of my development. I still hold this approach. I think if nothing else, it helps me to make sense of other life difficulties as well. I see a lesson everywhere. I analyze a lot. I think ultimately this is going to make me me. This is who I am going to be and this is maybe how I can be useful for others as well, by helping them to make sense of difficulties as well!

Over-estimating the potential interest of opposite sex

I read about an interesting study on men frequently over-estimating the interest of a woman. It turns out that men that had anxious attachment were more often guilty of guessing that the woman was more interested in them than she actually was.

I have been soo often guilty of this. I have even made up relationships solely in my head. I have also convinced myself that the guy I was into was actually not happy with their girlfriend and harbored secret feelings towards me. All it took was really some flirting from guys side. Today I dare to admit this, even though I still feel that it to a degree shows me as desperate or at least as this girl with some fixation on chasing guys who are not really that into her. More importantly however, why do I do that?

I do not have a clear cut answer, so this will be more of a tentative discussion. So I think one of the reasons is me seeking approval. I want to be liked and appreciated. So if someone gives me even a tint of appreciation, I make this important in my head. I start fantasizing. It becomes a challenge to get more of this appreciation.

However, if it was only about appreciation, I would not dismiss guys who show obvious interest in me. But I think it is ultimately about challenge. I need to feel that it is not an easy appreciation. Otherwise, it looses its value. I imagine that guys whose interest is hard won, somehow are more special. If one really needs to work to be liked by them, then this liking is worth more, right? That means that I have more value???

I am sure that half of the time, if I actually did have a possibility to have a relationship with any of these guys, I would bail out. I would realize that I have grossly over-estimated my interest in them, just because I was so unsure about how they felt about me. So I am left to guess that it is all about winning the love of a distant and judgmental caregiver. Trying to gain the attention of someone who never really gives you enough, but might give you some hope at times.

Of course, people that actually really like you, hardly ever behave like that. But see, my caregivers, who stated that they loved me, did. So this is what I from now on equate with love. My mum would probably to a date not want to admit that her love is more of a selfish – what can I get out of you – attitude than any form of unconditional love. SO essentially there was a gap between her words and actions. As she continued to claim that she loved me, I learned to find really small signs meaningful. Meaning for me it is enough if someone flirts with me or says something nice. I mean, this is more than my mum has ever done anyways.

So my guess here is that people who were trained to accept little and who adapted for pleasing their caregivers in order to get even tiniest amount of appreciation, might end up overestimating the interest of the opposite sex. See, they never knew that their parents did not strictly speaking love them and that this is not by all means how most of the population expresses love. So thinking that the guy who sent you a smile and looked at you longer or a guy that added you to facebook must be into you, does not really seem like over interpreting the signs. After all, they were trained to be the detectives in finding the smallest clues in order to prove to themselves that their parents did not lie to them when they told them that they love them.

Dating ‘normal and healthy people’ after childhood abuse

I dare to say that an average person, by my age, has still not endured a lot of trauma and drama in their lives. I feel that some people are slowly getting there, having their marriages falling apart, dear ones dying etc., but…. Why do I care about the extent of trauma someone has gone through? Why would it even matter?

See there is this guy that is interested in me. He is pure and innocent. I can see that he has had a good childhood. One can see this from how a person behaves. There is certain optimism and idealism to him. Decency. All really nice qualities….but…..

I feel dark compared to him. No, I am not a bitter person, but I feel that my childhood and other traumatic experiences have left me with this darkness. This corner of knowing what bad people are capable of. Knowing what bad I am capable of. I have gone through personal hell and back. I have been extremely dysfunctional and fought my way through it all.

It is not that much that I believe he cannot understand. I believe that as an empathic person, even if one has not gone through it all, one could potentially understand. It is more like I am afraid I will make him corrupt. I will somehow spread the disease of darkness and trauma and rob him of his chance for someone who is as light as he is.

I don’t think he will reject me because of what I have gone through, it is not that. It is more that I am afraid that this darkness in me is looking for a way out and I will end up hurting him. Getting bored of him. Looking for some dysfunctionality. Wanting some strong emotions and wanting some messedupness. Wanting someone who can reflect me my messedupness and my past hurt.

So I really do not know. I think dating after dark experiences in life is tricky. Especially when you have spent so much time trying to overcome those and feel you have succeeded. You consider most of your previous pals to be annoyingly dysfunctional, but the new people are just too untainted.

Being attracted to the same type of guys – a problem or a solution?

So, I am especially attracted to one particular type of guys. The guys I long for are the ones that invest a lot of their self-esteem into doing things. Furthermore, they tend to feel like their worth depends on their achievements. Secretly, they suspect they have no value apart from what they do.

My ex was one of such guys. He liked attention. Hell, he basked in attention and I felt exhausted by his constant needs of reassurance and positive affirmation. Furthermore, I felt like he was putting me down in order to feel better about himself. He needed someone else as a negative example to feel positive about himself.

After my ex, I have been attracted to one similar type of guy (lets call him Philip). He disappeared on me. With him, the same patterns continued, he wanting positive reaffirmation etc. There was a significant difference though. He did not put me down. So in a way, I dare to say, he was a more developed version of similar personality type to my ex.

I am starting to suspect that the problem is not necessarily that we attracted to similar people, but the problem is on the level of health in these people. My ex and Philip had similar core issue – neither felt they were worthy. However, where my ex was in deep denial, Philip told me in all earnest how he never felt like he was good enough for his father. Furthermore, rather than engaging in the defensive strategy of putting me down in order to feel better about himself, Philip was more often honest when he felt rejected or worthless. That is what I call an upgrade.

Naturally Philip had his problems as well. More than anything else, the common line between him and my ex was the fact that I ended up reflecting a lot on how to fulfill their needs. I tried to be the supportive figure and enhance their self-image. At the same time neither Philip nor my ex really deeply reflected on my issues and asked how they could support me with these.

So, I think in the end it boils down to this – I think it is normal that we are attracted to similar type of guys. We have certain core issues and certain needs and these needs are mostly likely to be met by similar kind of people. However, what I would rather stress is, we need to pay attention to how these guys deal with their issues. Have they found healthy ways of handling their issues or are they trying to take them out on you? Are their issues overshadowing the whole relationship and making it impossible for them to be mindful of your needs? I think these are the main questions we should be asking, rather than blaming ourselves for being attracted to same kind of men.

How being critical about your dates can be a good thing

Couple of years ago my ex best friend blamed me for being too critical towards men and told me that this is the reason as to why my relationships do not work out. I had just complained to her about my relationship with my ex as well as told her why nothing would work out with a guy that was flirting with me at the time. I did not agree with my ex best friend. But as I tried to motivate to myself what was really behind my criticisms, I was tongue tied.

Today I can actually respond to that question. I, as a person, am largely motivated by fear of things not working out. I analyze situations and try to find the potential problems already before the situation has occurred. This approach naturally makes me want to take less risks, because I can already foresee all the potential complications. I am rather conservative risk taker.

Here is how the situation usually plays out in my dates. I see this guy, it seems he also likes me, but then my analytical mind starts to work. Oh, he told me some sharp things, I am not sure I could live together with someone who is just bursting out these insensitive things. Oh, he was late, do I really want to engage with a person that is chronically late.

Today, I know that the answer to these questions does not have to be – oh this connection is doomed from the beginning. But I also think that there are certain important advantages to my approach. I am constantly amazed by how some people find themselves in relationships with partners, whose personality traits they actually do not like. Furthermore, I am also amazed by how little people know each other and how easily they make decisions in regards to their relationships.

I can give an easy example as to how I today weigh my partner choices.

I have a friend who is interested in me. I think he obviously enriches my life as a friend, however there will be nothing between us, ever. I need to know him only two months to make this decision, because I can see that he is the kind of person that values self-sufficiency. He minimizes his material and emotional needs in order to be self-sufficient. I know my emotional needs and I can also say that they are probably above average. I can already foresee how this relationship would work out. I do not need to actually get into this.

So, I actually think that there is a difference between different ways of criticizing your dates. I think criticism as a tool for choosing who to date is a very good method, but I think it needs to be coupled with having a good idea on your needs and on who you are. Using the last example – I know my needs and I know that I would never be happy with someone who needs to constantly reinforce his individuality and self-sufficiency in the relationship. It just would not work.

So, one can say that I support being critical and weighing up the relationships from the beginning. Perhaps I am also a person that expects more from a relationship than an average john doe, so for me this step is extra important. However, I do think it would really help others as well to be more consciously judgmental of their dates.

 

 

People for whom “NO” means “MAYBE”

Yesterday, because of some events ,I started thinking about borders again. I finally understood why I feel so unsafe around some people. Namely, there are people for whom “NO” means, I just need to convince her some more.

In the worst case scenario people who cannot take “NO” for an answer threaten to leave you or go into silent treatment, trying to ‘show’ you the consequences of you being so rebellious. In the more moderate case they just try to guilt-trip you by making you responsible for their feelings or convince you that you actually want to say yes.

To be honest, I have mostly encountered the border violations in connection to males that are interested in me. I can give you a standard situation.

A guy is asking me out.

I say, no I cannot, I am busy etc. (polite way to say I am not interested but OK, they do not have to read my mind).

They start convincing me that maybe I am not busy at this date and tell me what I am loosing when I do not come out with them. Or…they say how sad they are and how I should want to make them happy…..

I thought I must have some intimacy issues because I feel so uneasy around so many guys. But yesterday I started to understand that NO, actually there is a reason why I feel uneasy. Naturally I might overreact in such situations, because of my previous experiences. I am still wondering what would be the best way in terms of reacting or how to deal with these people in the future. Mind me, some of these guys I need to meet regularly either through work or hobby groups. So my verdict would be that since I am oversensitive, I need to observe person’s behavior a bit longer, to make sure my own fears do not push me to overreact. However, even a situation as small as the previous one seems to me a serious alarm signal. That because imagine the conversation:

I want to have sex.

No, I am not ready yet.

But I want to, you are making me sad now. We have waited for so long.

I still would not feel convenient….

A guy pushing himself on you…..

I am not making up this situation, this actually happened to me. What more, I continued dating the guy after that situation. Needless to say that the pattern that was visible in this encounter continued. I on the other hand could not understand why I felt so scared with him all the time. I had been just so conditioned trying to obey and please in such situations by my mum. At the time, nothing about this situation felt alarming, I was so used to going against my will. I thought I had issues feeling all anxious around this guy and that I should really work on being convenient with intimacy. Namely, I blamed myself. Like I probably blamed myself for my people-pleasing behavior my whole life, not really understanding that it was the reaction to all these violent acts which my mum threatened me with unless I comply.

What confidence can and cannot do?

In the world of self-help literature, I often stumble upon these cookie-cutter suggestions which lead you to think that all it takes is to be confident. As if there is this magic quality that successful people embody – confidence, and once you get there, you will be successful as well. I am not going to discuss here the fact that confident people usually embody other qualities which have made them feel confident in this particular sphere, rather I am going to give couple of examples from my life which illustrate how merely confidence does not cut it. Examples could apply to many areas of my life, but I chose to use dating in this particular post.

I am a rather sarcastic person and often use teasing in my communication with guys. Unfortunately in my particular country of residence, sarcasm and teasing tend to scare guys. Now over the years I have become more confident about myself and my humor which leads me to use it not more frequently, but perhaps more assertively. What do you think is the effect on my dating life and on the numbers of guys I can score?

When the first example was cultural, then lets also give a personal case. I have always been somewhat dreamy, inattentive and walking in the clouds. The difference is that these days I do not feel the necessity to constantly apologize for my inattentiveness. However, there are plenty of guys that cannot tolerate such characteristics in a woman. No, these guys have not started to like me any better after I stopped apologizing for my inattentiveness. They will still be judgmental about me. I also doubt that they will respect me more only because I these days feel better about myself.

My point here is that confidence can only get you so far. In certain contexts confidence can be counterproductive. You must all know someone who is crossly over evaluating their abilities in a certain area. What confidence can do, is make you feel more relaxed and less obsessed about other people’s opinion, however, in the context of dating, it will not automatically make you attract more dates. Often times there are certain other qualities which are extremely valued by the majority of men (frequently depending on a particular culture). So the lack of these qualities will probably make you the minority taste. If you are confident, it probably will not matter to you.

The problem is, a lot of unconfident people view confidence as something that allows them to compensate for their lack of confidence. This is a very confusing sentence, so let me try to clarify it further. If you lack confidence, you are immensely invested into how other people perceive you. You think that if they only liked you, you would feel better about yourself. My point here is that, confidence will not automatically make other people like you. What confidence can do, however, is making you invest less meaning to other people’s opinions. So there might not be a huge impact on your social life, but there might be a vast impact on how you feel internally.