Why don’t I get lucky in life?

I recently read a forum post which made me think about how we cope with life’s challenges. I used to think that somehow, I was particularly cursed in the happiness department and the fate was throwing all these difficult challenges to me. Now I know that most difficult part of these challenges was handling my emotions.

I am not saying I had objectively no reason to complain.  However, this is not really the point. The issue is something in my childhood made me engage in magical thinking where I thought if I only could sort out the outside world….everything would be fine. You know if only I would be popular….if only I had friends etc…Lets not go to the extreme and claim that these things do not matter, especially when you are 13, but….they matter all the more if you lack resources to handle life’s challenges.

Crappy childhood usually does not make you tough, but rather vulnerable. But working through years and years of emotional issues makes you tough eventually. It also makes you look at life’s issues differently. I know for a fact that loosing my job or the end of a relationship would probably be less of an issue for me than for a lot of other people. Simply because I know that these things are replaceable. It is how you deal with losses that is important.

I find that basing your happiness on getting this one job or this dream house is a risky road. I have the experience of loosing several things that mattered to me throughout my life and I know that this is survivable. Unfortunately I don’t think I have a good recipe for achieving the mentality where life’s challenges would not be such an issue anymore. For me it has taken years and years of therapy. So I am sympathetic to other people who experience the same as I did, but at the same time I am also aware that the major issue is not the challenge itself but in fact the attitude. Life is going to be tough for some more than others. It would be naïve to hope that everything you encounter in life is going to make you happy and satisfied. People who have it good usually don’t have it good because they have no challenges. They have it good because they know how to handle these challenges.

 

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People that cannot make up their mind about you

So….I have spent my life running after wishy washy guys. The interesting part is that for most of my life I was blaming myself for their wishy-washiness. You know…if  I would only be better looking, more functional, more feminine whatever….they would not be doubtful…..or better yet, oh if I had not said this wrong thing or done this, they would be completely willing to be in a relationship with me.

I guess I am in the midst of break-through because for the first time in my life wishy washy guys are starting to annoy me. The motivation goes like this….I am a rather persistent person, meaning I can work hard for the things I want and furthermore, it never feels like super hard work for me. Others can wonder and tell me that I must have no fun in life, but for me working towards things I want has always come natural. I am this one person who achieves things not because they are most talented but because they are most hard-working. But….the drawback has been that I have also invested way too much energy into things which I should not have…

Take my previous relationship for instance. According to my ex for him the relationship was dead years before we broke up and he secretly hated me for not breaking up with him. Needless to say that throughout this period he behaved badly with me and really did not make any effort. Somehow I still kept on working because I simply did not want to give up. Whether I loved him or not was not even relevant at this point because I simply thought that if I work hard enough I can still get this thing to work. Alone…

I have held the same belief with wishy-washy guys…You know if I only work hard enough they will see how awesome I am and will want to commit to me. Needless to say that I also hold a secret anger when they don’t. I was angry at my ex for all these years he did not make any effort anymore.

I think it is starting to dawn on me that you can actually invest your energy on fruitless goals. My ex relationship for the last years was this fruitless goal. All these guys that cannot make up their mind are a fruitless goal. It is hard to work against the current. It is much easier to work for something in team. If you are trying to convince someone who is wishy washy to be in a relationship with you, you are working against the current. Why to make your life more difficult through this? The energy that you are wasting on trying to make things work with such people can be used for some other things in your life.

I think I have spent a lot of my life working against the current because this is how I was schooled. People kept telling me how I could never achieve things. My teachers never had much belief in me, my trainer was reluctant at first and I proved them wrong. But it is starting to dawn on me that if people do not believe in you, it is wrong people. My life goal should not be about convincing people to invest in me or believe in me.

Picture perfect lives and the death of intimacy

Modern life is screwed from the point of view that everyone is competing with one another for having more things, having better Instagram pictures….etc. I think the really screwed up message this sends is though – it does not matter how you really feel, it does not matter how your life really is….as long as your pictures are nice.

Such attitude makes people hide. Where I currently live, depression is a huge issue. I get the feeling that at least partially because people don’t even dare to talk to one another about anything really meaningful. Instead they spend all this energy trying to prove that they are normal. As long as the society and your ‘friends’ deem you to be normal, you are fine…

This is how you get these stories….but he seemed to be doing so well, I simply do not understand why he would kill himself. Or, but she had such a perfect life with such well-behaved kids and handsome husband.

Ever more I am noticing my role as a person to offer the alternative view. Not because I would want my random acquaintances feel for me for my difficult life….Quite the contrary, I think it is important that someone head up admits that they have issues. It actually takes soooo much more courage to admit that you have problems than to talk about your ideal life. This is true courage.

So I want show people that you can talk about problems, issues in your life etc. without necessarily having to feel mortified about it. Having issues should be normal. Struggling, for the lack of better word, is completely natural. If people made it less of a taboo, I would argue we would all have it easier. I think that the whole idea that having problems is something shame worthy and for god sake should not find its way definitely not to your Instagram page, but probably even not to your common dinners with your friends actually exaggerates the whole issue. I mean, yes I drink wine couple of evenings during the week as a coping mechanism, I should not be wanting to hide it because I am so afraid of being shamed or, yes, I still struggle to get my finances together, again, I should not be so worried about hiding it. But the truth is that I think most people feel highly insecure talking about any of those issues, be those their own or these of their friends.

Feeling like there is something wrong with me

So apparently I have spent my whole life feeling and believing that there was something wrong with me. You know I always felt like somewhat of a misfit wherever I went. I spent good part of my twenties believing that if I look hard enough I will find some environment I belong to. Then I spent other part of my twenties addressing this feeling of misfit in therapy never quite understanding the deepest reasons for it. I feel I am finally getting it….

The thing is I never felt like others around me….They always seemed to find it easier to manage, to adopt, to work for their dreams, whereas I felt like there was some deep seated reason as to why I will never be like them. Almost like there was a reason why should have never been accepted to this world….

I have not yet explored the core reasons for feeling that way, but I suspect they go back to my mum comparing me to everyone else and finding me lacking in every aspect. She even regularly told me that she wishes X or Y would her child and that I should have never been born. So I am guessing there is quite easy connection to be made there…

But interestingly I never acknowledged the amountof self-punishment in me. Namely I punished myself for believing that there was something horribly wrong with me. I found different ways of punishment starting from eating disorder and ending with pinching pimples. It all felt satisfying. I know it must feel pretty bad as you are reading it.

I never really fully understood that this was one of the main issues. I just thought that if I spend enough energy to be like everyone else, I would somehow escape this feeling. This included trying to become what several ex boyfriends wanted me to be. I thought that as long as I am what they want me to be, I cannot be wrong or dysfunctional because someone else approves of me. Well I mostly failed because, oh surprise, you can never fully become what others want you to be. However there are different ways of interpreting the situation and of course I chose the one that entitled me feeling bad for myself.

So this is my current struggle….facing my feelings of wrongness and admitting that I have felt defective my whole life….

 

Emotional growth is a real thing….

So if you are the rational kind then the talk about emotional growth sounds like some new age bull…. Someone is trying to sell you. I mean, I am amongst other things highly skeptical so all the people that talk about spiritual enlightenment get screened thoroughly. I am not saying there cannot be any spiritual enlightenment, but someone who suddenly renames themselves Holy Grail and claims it is the beginning of their new self gets a very suspicious look from me. The reasons for that are complicated, but the most obvious reason is that change takes time. People that claim to have suddenly become a new person overnight….well I have not discovered such possibility yet…

That being said, something as fuzzy as emotional growth is starting to feel very real to me. Mostly because I look at the situations with other people from few years ago and I look at how I reacted. Take the situation with my ex best friend. I fled…I had plenty of reason to, because she was dominating and selfish but still I fled because I was so scared of her reaction. Today I would probably face the situation head on. I still think I made the right decision by distancing myself, but did not really execute this correctly.

My emotional growth is also visible from my interactions with my ex. We have contact due to our work. Every time we meet, my ex is trying to make things sexual. I used to feel flattered by it. I was so insecure that someone paying attention to me and sexualizing me was beneficial. Nowadays I just look at my ex and think that he should grow up. I also see the utter selfishness in his behavior.

Finally, I am starting to notice that other people are not as aware in social situations as I am these days. But my higher awareness has created certain standards which I hold people accountable for. I recently had someone disappear on me. I cared about this person and they just disappeared. Me, today, finds this behavior highly disrespectful and immature. I can understand disappearing on someone you have casually dated for couple of weeks and you cannot master the energy to have a talk. However, disappearing on someone who you have had two years of contact with, without explanation, that I find highly questionable. To me this means that you are not emotionally mature enough to have a decent conversation on what the problems in the communication are. Furthermore, I could understand the disappearing act if I was someone who is prone to making scandals, getting angry, being vindictive…I am none of those things. These days I pride myself for being quite reasonable in conflict situations. So it is hard for me to find excuses for someone disappearing. I know I would solve the situation in a different ways today….but maybe not two years ago though…

So what I am trying to say is that there really is such a thing as emotional maturity or intelligence…call it as you wish. But the good news is, you can develop it and grow emotionally through both your experiences as well as conscious effort which I have made during past years. Interestingly, never before has it seemed so relevant to be emotionally aware, I can see so many clear benefits for my life…for everyone’s life really.

The things within ourselves we want to avoid

I think to a degree we all have certain emotions and situations we want to avoid in this life. You know the issues we really do not want to look into the eye. Instead, we do everything to either distract ourselves, forget about these issues or plain creating our life in a way that we never need to face those.

I still after years of therapy have things which really make me uncomfortable. I get extremely uncomfortable in new situations where I need to deliver. I am afraid that I will not manage and my first thought is to imagine myself as helpless. My second thought hence is to find someone stronger that I can rely on or who will take care of the issue on my place. This is a clutch and oh so automatic one. I can also instead just try avoiding the issue through either drinking, dreaming of the next great guy that is going to love me or just plain not looking at the issues in my life that need to be dealt with.

This spring has to a degree been about me looking at the issues in my life which I so strongly tried to avoid for the most part. I blamed my ex for my life not moving forward, but I never really wanted to see that I refused to actually see myself as someone who can actually do something about my own life. I am slowly getting there, but damn the idea is still making me uncomfortable, especially as I see how badly I have handled things so far. So in addition to feeling helpless, I now also feel guilt and shame to a degree. I put myself down for having behaved this way my whole life.

It is easy to fall back on old patterns and this is something I am still fighting. I know I need to start seeing myself as my own person, capable of taking care for myself. I need to start tending my own needs and put my life together in a new way which includes finding my own inner strength. Seeing where I have been wrong so far and addressing it has been one of the most powerful personal development steps I will ever take. But the truth is also at the same time very uncomfortable. I cannot avoid seeing it anymore, because I have already recognized it on a deeper level. But I still struggle both addressing the issue as well as just acknowledging it and forgiving to myself. Sometimes in the middle of this painful process all one just wants to do is to fall back on things which make us feel good. As the pain is increasing it does not seem like we deserve to feel this pain…so we want to escape.

If you cannot be happy alone you will never be happy in a relationship?

If you are least bit familiar with self-help literature, you surely have stumbled upon this statement. I have my own issues with that statement. I think our society is slowly moving from the community which ridiculed all the single people to ridiculing the need to be in a relationship. It somehow comes across that if you are not able to be self-sufficient, independent, completely happy within yourself, you somehow better not hope anyone is going to love you. Is this really the case?

 

I once heard my boyfriend telling me that if I cannot love myself, no one will ever love me. Oh well….I think it was a cowardly way of telling me that somehow I was responsible for him not loving me…Telling to a person that struggles with self love that unless they somehow magically achieve that state, no one is going to love them frankly is the worst you can do. Effectively what you have just done is not only told them that yes, no one is in fact going to love them, but they are to be blamed for that as well.

I mean, I get it. No one wants to be responsible for someone else’s self-esteem. No one wants to have to constantly say to someone who they are worthy and loved etc. It is tiresome. But I think somehow society is taking an issue on some complexes way more than others. I mean there are plenty of people that think they are worthless unless they achieve something. Somehow society not only does not consider this a problem, furthermore it is encouraged. Even if the roots of wanting to be successful are highly dysfunctional, somehow this is okay.

Now back to this ex of mine. I never took an issue on his problems. I was way too insecure at this point. If he had told me the same today, I would probably tell him that it sounds the same as me telling him that if he cannot be happy and satisfied while unemployed, no job will make him happy. I think this statement pretty much drives home the ridiculousness of the statement about not being able to be happy without a relationship.

Handling my emotions and emotional regulation

I have become to understand that I suck at dealing with my emotions. Somehow I have lived my whole life so far without ever fully acknowledging the fact that emotional regulation is something which I never learned. It really is a skill.

Instead my emotions are some odd variety of strong but not deep. As in I have dealt with quite strong emotions my whole life, but they have been exaggerated on a more superficial level. It sounds weird as I am trying to explain it, really…but lets explore further.

I have always had various crutches which I used in order to handle my emotions….Like buying stuff….like dramatic expressions of catastrophe to my friends…..or simply getting drunk. But you know I feel like even as I was expressing my emotions to my friends, I never really expressed the real, deep, underlying emotions…it was always some sort of an upper layer.

I think there are two reasons for that. First, I probably mostly did not even know what I was feeling. It is difficult to communicate if you have no idea what you feel and why and if you have tried to avoid your feelings your whole life. The second reason, I think, is because for a long time I avoided putting myself into situations where I would feel too much. Like I would avoid the real intimate connections because losing them would hurt too much. I subconsciously knew I would not be able to handle the pain. I don’t think I was wrong there.

So I am opening myself up to the dangers of real world and noticing how terrible I am in dealing with my own emotions. Furthermore, noticing it just makes me freak out more as I am now intimately aware of not having full control over my emotions and not being able to deal with them in healthy ways. So yeah the whole emotional self-regulation seems to be a new topic for me and I am guessing that if you have used bad strategies (eating, drinking whatever) your whole life, it really takes time and effort getting it right.

Helplessness and codependency

I am currently starting to question myself as a person in different kind of relationships. Few days ago I complained to a friend of mine that I feel I am not bringing much to my relationships and that I am mostly taking. One would say – a typical codependent relationship where I am someone who is being taken care of. And yes, I have been in this place several times before. However, at this point I was still under the impression or was trying to somehow please these other people as well. Now, when the masks have fallen I just feel plain selfish. Other people keep telling me that I am not, but I really cannot shake the feeling that somehow they don’t even comprehend the extent to which I am.

My ex, with his many flaws, I think got this evaluation right on me. He complained that he was giving me much more than I returned. I think I need to agree with him, however the reasons behind it are probably more complicated than just me being selfish.

I am realizing that I don’t think I have much valuable to give to people. I have grown so used to seeing myself as helpless and somehow non functional that I really see myself as this tornado causing harm to other people. Yes, I have several good qualities and I am a quite tornado, I am not a needy, demanding, drama causing tornado, but I feel I am the kind of, I am too helpless to take care of myself tornado. Seeing yourself from this perspective is not the most flattering thing.

I think in the end, why I feel that way and why I have adapted such behaviors throughout my life is because my mum felt so afraid that she will be abandoned unless she makes it clear that I am absolutely helpless without her. That involved different strategies. It involved doing some simple things for me and questioning my abilities to do that, like ordering taxi when I would go to the airport. But it also involved telling me that without her help I would have never learned things, for instance take her statement that I would have never learned how to read, had it not been for her. She painted this image of me as completely talentless and helpless struggling person who was in desperate need for someone to be there for her. And then she used this to manipulate me, by counting all the favors she had done for me when she needed me to do something. She threatened to abandon me, knowing fully well that because of the dependency she had created, these threats would be much more effective. Mind me, I doubt that it was fully conscious strategy, but stil….

So to this day I am someone who is used to seeing myself as helpless and prone to mess things up. I have built my life around this idea, being afraid to immerse myself fully in a grownup life and looking for partners that would be willing to take care of me. To be honest I am not sure if this belief is even fully reversable, because it seems to be the bottom layer of my whole personality. See dysfunctions can be the building grounds for most of your personality. In my case, I have developed my social skills, my empathy, my charm, my humor and my cuteness to compensate for this helplessness and to find such caretakers. I have no idea how far I can go with changing my belief in terms of helplessness and how it might affect the rest of my personality.

 

Feeling like you are all wrong

So I have made some pretty big discoveries lately and hoefully also big leaps in terms of my recovery. I had a fight with a friend that made me feel like a weeping toddler and pushed to figure out why I felt so out of control. There it is…..

You know these people that make you feel like you are some knock-off copy of themselves. Like you are the Chinese version of whatever technical product there is….Yes, my mum and my ex where those people. It was not only that they criticized me, they wanted me to become them. They scolded me about things they were good at, letting me know how horrible I was compared to them. They did not pay attention on things I actually excelled at. Furthermore, when I said something good about myself, both were quick to put me down.

Essentially I think there are two reasons why someone would do that. The first one is, that probably both have so low self esteem that they needed to constantly put someone down in order to feel good about themselves. They also needed to rationalize that the way they are, is good. Their character traits are the ones one should aspire for. So naturally admitting that someone else would have character traits that are valuable, but which they did not possess would make them so insecure that they could not let it happen.

The second reason is that it is about control. You are making the other person part of yourself. You push them to aspire for becoming you, through critizing the things you are good at and they are not. By focusing on your natural talents, you are always one man up.

So I realized, I have spent my whole life feeling like there was something wrong with me. Like somehow I did not measure up, character wise. I still have little belief in my positive traits, the ones which neither my mum nor my ex acknolwedged, and I tend to treat them as worth very little. I have spent my whole life trying to focus on things which I was perhaps not naturally the best at, just to please someone (or not even please, because they were never pleased). I am instantly critical about any of the good traits I possess which my mum (and my ex) did not. For instance I know I can be pretty charming if need be, but I just see it as superficial and vain.

To be honest, correcting this seems like quite a bit of work from my end because I will need to start actually analyzing and acknowledging what I am naturally good at.