How Can I Move Forward if I Can’t Trust My Inner Voice?

I have come to understand that it takes me a lot of time to process most decisions. It’s not that I don’t understand them – it’s that my mind needs time to explore and analyze the issue from different viewpoints, possible understandings – it needs to ask further questions. People don’t really like this. In the hustle and bustle of life, having someone hesitate to react, to want time to think things over, doesn’t settle well. Still, I am trying to quell my initial response. What may feel like anger when a friend does not react as supportive as I want, turns out to be fear that they may not love me. My feelings and choices, therefore, change drastically.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. I mean, that’s what I tell people and what I try to tell myself. But the truth is: I am terrified that no matter how much I process something, my answer will be wrong. And I have begun to realize that perhaps part of this “processing” has to do with the events from my past that have made me constantly question my choices, feelings, and thoughts. I worry that the processing might not be me trying to find the truth, but rather trying to push aside the doubts and the voices that tell me contradictory, “truthful” answers.

Since I was a child, people have told me that I am over-sensitive; I think too much; I over-exagerrate the impact of things; that my memories are embellished and magnified; that the things that happened as a child didn’t really happen the way I felt them happen. In short, that what I think and feel is wrong, misguided, naive, and warped. This all was supported by my low self-esteem, and growing depression and anxiety.

I stopped trusting my decisions. I forced myself into situations I did not want to be in; I pushed my feelings down; and I hated myself and felt so ashamed and disgusted at myself for even feeling what I felt. I lost all trust in my abilities to make decisions, to know the right thing to do – whether it is how to feel about what someone has done; how to react to something; what life decisions are “right” for me; if it’s okay to make decisions others think are wrong, etc.

I still constantly question what I feel. I wonder, is this real? Am I making this up? Why would I make it up? Am I being reasonable? Is this okay? Am I being a baby? What is the difference between what I feel and what is real? I question my choices because I question the validity of my inner voice.

I question choices as simple as what to eat or what to wear, as well as large decisions like what step I should take in my life. I have so many voices in my head telling me completely different “truths” while questioning each one of them. It’s like they are all yelling their answers at me and getting in side arguments with each other – in my head; at the same time; while I am trying to decide whether to leave the house or not. It’s exhausting.

It leaves me wondering which voice is authentic. Which one is “right,” and which one is trying to somehow lead me to ruin and self-sabotage. I get so far in my head about what is in my head, I find myself frozen, confused, panicked. In the past, I think alcohol helped slow my thinking down; allowed me to make decisions without actually feeling whether or not it was what I wanted – just doing whatever others wanted. It was a way of temporarily fleeing from the chaos of fear and failure that I felt constantly.

They say that in all real relationships you need trust. But if you can’t trust yourself, I don’t think you can trust anyone. I want to believe I trust people, but I constantly imagine what they must be really thinking in their head. They say they love me, that they understand, that they support my decisions; but maybe it’s actually disappointment, forced sympathy, perhaps adulation in hopes of getting what they really want. Which one is it? Is one simply what I want to believe? Should I trust what I feel? Or am I being naive, trying to believe something because it’s what I want to be truth. How do you know which “truth” is right?

If without trust you cannot have intimacy, authenticity, depth, love, or truth in a relationship, where does that leave me – with both myself and others? How do I move forward? How do I let people into my life and believe they are there because they sincerely want to be? How do I stop freezing up with every decision because I have lost the connection between what I feel and what I think? I believe that is the core of the problem. If your inner truth is found through mind and body, and you no longer trust your emotions, thoughts, or feelings, how do you make a decision?

This component of self-hate has stifled so much of my life and led me into traumatic events which I now have to face. It’s frightening and I’m scared.

At least I think I am.

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Looking in the Mirror: Seeing Yourself Through Others’ Eyes

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How do you like me meow?

I met with someone today who barely knows me. And while we were talking, she offhandedly said something like: “Don’t worry. Being you, you’re not going to have a problem finding a job and a place, or making friends for that matter. With your personality and energy  you’re going to do well anyway. I’m not worried.” Haha…what?!

I spend a lot of time worried about what people think of me, generally to an irrational degree. I fear they may see me and think: “Someone that ugly does not have a right to show her face without a hat or at least some makeup,” or, “You can just tell that girl is a loser. Plus, how dare she wear spandex. There’s nothing a gym can do about that ass.” And in my mind I’m convinced, just by speaking with me, the barista or Safeway checker will think I’m irritating, boring, arrogant, obnoxious, loud, overbearing, conceited, pathetic, opinionated, naive, pessimistic, and/or crazy. I guess the last one would be right given the paragraph above. LOL.

And yes, I know: others are too self-absorbed to pay attention or judge you. I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one. After all, I spend a lot of time watching people, their interactions, noting their demeanor. I don’t suppose it leads to judgement, it’s more like seeing how the “other side,” i.e. those that are not me, live. I will agree that yes, the fact that I think everyone is looking at me, even if what they are thinking is bad, is in and of itself self-absorbed. Huh.

I am, by nature, a pretty unoffensive person – sometimes to a fault. I try to be kind, patient, and thoughtful to people around me. I show deference to most people, deserved or not. I’m also that person who helps you when you’ve dropped something or ask if you need help if you look confused. I generally can’t help you if you need directions, but I can at least commiserate with forgetting where you parked your car and help you find it. The point of this all being, I don’t think objectively, that my behavior is off-putting. And yet somehow I am convinced that even while I’m helping someone or giving them a smile, they are just disgusted with me. And I think that’s really my inner self telling me I’m disgusting and then I misappropriate it to someone else. It seems the two sides of my brain – the pure and the evil – argue over the most benign things. And yet those are the things that make it so difficult to have the confidence to make a call or leave the house.

And then every so often someone I know, within the context of the conversation, describes me. Now, I take everything with buckets filled with salt, so I recognize that people don’t generally sit you down to tell you what a  loser you are. (Well, they have, but that was during my teen years.) I also know that these are people that love me even at my worst moments, or that they’re people who I pay to help me. I also think that sometimes a person wants something from me, so they say whatever it will take to get it. For example, at a bar when someone wants me to go home with them. It’s curious how amazing I am at that point. ;)

But sometimes, it’s someone I just met at a party, an interview, or a person that I’ve been taking a class with who I finally have coffee with. And the shit that comes out of their mouth. They don’t have to say it; it’s not part of basic decorum. And they usually have known me for a few hours at most and yet they tell me all these wonderful things about myself. (I know this sounds like bragging so please note this is a very, very rare occurrence.)

I don’t know if I have a face that says “I’m insecure, I need reassurance.” Or maybe my self-deprecating humor clues them in. But I pride myself on my bullshitting ability to hide my insecurities (most people assume I am confident,) and I don’t think people are listening hard enough to know that the joke is actually a real dig at myself. Maybe people don’t need much to like you. Or maybe they’re lying. I mean, we all do it: reassure a friend when we actually aren’t sure what we’re saying is true; compliment someone just to calm them down or to get ahead. That’s the politics of human nature and relationships. Maybe it’s from living in Washington, D.C. for a decade, but it’s just the way the world works.

I know that I’m damaged  from my childhood and my internal dialogue of hate, and when I look in the mirror I see someone who is a pathetic fraud. I even know that a lot of people most likely look in the mirror and judge themselves harder than anyone else would. And when my friends are doubting themselves, when they can’t see how amazing they are, it shocks me. How can they not know their worth? Why would they ever doubt that they were special and deserved so much in life,  even if they don’t always get it? But it’s easier to say it to someone else, than to believe it yourself.

I’ve been practicing looking at myself in the mirror. I know, this sounds really odd. But when I’m depressed, I can go weeks dodging myself in mirrors or reflections. There is something so painful in not only seeing the misery in my face, but in the hate I feel looking at this person who has ruined my life. So, I’m trying to practice looking at myself. I’m trying to become comfortable and accepting of the woman I see looking back at me. So far, it’s been really uncomfortable. I don’t imagine I’ll ever look in the mirror and think, “Who is the fairest of them all? Why that would be me!” But, maybe I can look in the mirror and acknowledge that there is something there of worth.

I wonder if one day I will look in the mirror and see something different than I see now? I wonder if one day I will look in the mirror and not be ashamed or disgusted?

I wonder if one day I will look in the mirror and see what others see in me.

A Moment of Hope Passed Me By Tonight

ok this might seem weird, but i had this feeling just now.

i’m starting to think that deep down i’m a free-spirited person. not that i want to live in the woods, but that i want to be open to ideas and people.

i think i might like adventure, learning, and even excitement. I like exploring and being challenged. I like making people laugh and being there for them when they need me. i like trying new things, i don’t think i like permanent things or dangerous things, but i’m thinking on a smaller level – like changing to a different style one day, cutting my hair, changing my makeup. dressing up for halloween. wearing a skirt and working it.

I have dreams and desires that involve smiling and laughing and giggling. i imagine busy days and quiet days. i think i like pushing myself and getting that feeling of pride knowing i did something i was scared of.

when i was a little girl, before 8, i don’t remember a ton. but i remember that feeling like my head and my heart were just in a constant state of absorption. watching my parents, my siblings, my classmates, my teachers. arts and crafts, books, and boys. i think at the core, i was fire. like my sign, deep down, my leo was alive and roaring.

i’ll always know i’m imperfect. i know i will always fight societal pressures and question my decisions. i’ll probably always wonder about if i had turned right instead of left. i’ll wish my legs were longer and my nose skinnier. i will still cry because i don’t know how to change ignorant people and eliminate hate. that i can’t do more. that we are not learning from history and so indeed, we are repeating it.

now life didn’t turn out that way. i started to see all the bad around 8. then at nine my father got in an accident and lost his arm and became a very angry person. my siblings followed there paths and i was labeled quite and sensitive early. i always felt like i needed more, but felt selfish for asking for it. and so i turned in and i think those parts of me either died or wilted or just fell deep into the crevasses of my soul.

i just wonder: can you ever get that back? can you ever have a sense of wonderment? can you retrain your mind to find scary new things exciting, not anxiety-inducing to the point of fleeing the scene? can you go back and find parts of yourself and free them?

honestly, i don’t think so. but just for a moment, about five minutes ago, it felt like i could. and it was amazing.

Life’s a Bitch and Then You Die: The Struggle for Hope

I have really enjoyed writing this blog. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a complicated experience. Over the past few months, I’ve had to take breaks from both writing and reading. As much as I learn about myself and others as I read and write, it can get pretty intense and pull me down.

What I wasn’t expecting is that I’d miss it. Not only reading all of the intelligent, thoughtful, and real posts from all of you, but writing my own posts. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks and haven’t had time to sit down and think, let alone write. My meds have not been cooperating  so I’ve had some issues with kinesthesia, then we had to put my dog to sleep, and we had a family emergency and I was pulled from my daily routine to come and help out.

But interestingly enough, I’ve learned a lot from all this chaotic shit.

  • My family is amazing and I am so fortunate to have their support. Without their love, I’d have had a complete meltdown weeks ago.
  • Helping others can overwhelm my empathetic emotions and wear me down.
  • Helping others gives me strength, energy, and purpose, and helps keep the blues away. (Yes, I see the irony of those two statements).
  • If you love someone, set them free. (Ugh, I fucking hate cheesy analogies.)
  • Schedule, sleep, stress, change, and chaos can really mess with your illness.

In the past few weeks, my dog had slowly been getting sick: unable to keep food down; walk very well or far; and I was giving her pills and subcutaneous liquid injections daily while she vomited and shook. You could tell she was miserable though there were moments where I saw her personality pop up. I wanted her to get better, but each week, her test results would come back and she was getting worse, and honestly, you could tell she felt shitty.

I struggled to make the decision of when her life should end, but the doctor and my family (I was alone at the time so it was mostly by phone) was kind and helped let me know it was the right decision. This dog was my personal anti-depressant who helped me leave the house to run errands or take a walk when I was terrified to leave my bed. This horrible process made me realize that sometimes true love means letting go. I recognized that I was being selfish because I didn’t want to lose her even if it was the right thing to do. I also will be forever grateful that a family member agreed to take her and others listened as I sobbed on the phone for about two days straight before she was put to sleep.

At the same time, a family member down state became ill and I flew down to help out. Being here this past week has got me thinking – when I help others I feel a purpose to my life, while sometimes at home, I feel so lost, like I’m just taking up space. At the same time, it’s been difficult being here. There is obviously a lot of stress as we don’t know how ill my family member has become. We do know that she is suffering from memory loss.

You would think as someone who has been through ECT and major depressive episodes that have led me to lose two years of memories would make me more sympathetic and patient, but it can be frustrating to have the same conversation three times in a row. It’s also hard to help someone whose pride holds them back from accepting real help. And then I think of the similarities: I’ve had a difficult time letting people help me; I’ve been a bitch to them in an attempt to push them away; I was defiant in my unhealthy lifestyle that was slowly killing me; and I’m sure I asked the same question more than once in a 15 minute period.

As an empathetic person, I find myself feeling such sadness for her and also frustration because she’s not willing to fight or push herself to get better. And yet, it hits me that this is part of the disease. While no one has diagnosed her with depression (like she would ever admit it anyway,) when you turn society and people who love you away, when you live alone and spend days at a time without human interaction, you lose hope and social skills.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. We are taking things day by day and I try to be as helpful as possible from cleaning and cooking to filing papers and cutting her hair. And I wish I could do more. And yet I know that every day it’s also weighing on my own personal health. And I go back and forth between feeling selfish and knowing I can’t be as helpful unless I’m taking care of myself.

She keeps telling me “life’s a bitch and then you die” as if that’s a philosophy of life. And it’s tempting to agree but I know that I’ve worked too hard to accept that. It may be true that “it is what it is” but I can’t believe I am working this hard to keep my head above water, struggling to survive, for naught. Having my dog die has made me realize that many I love will leave me, no matter how much I need them. And I get it: life is a bitch, and I will die. But I have to believe that the love of others and the fight to put that bitch in a corner from time to time, makes it all worth it.