Writing about the past can be a way of changing the future. Despite my initial misgivings about the day, I had a stellar eight hour shift. My boss was in a much better mood, my friend that I've been worried about and frustrated with opened up to me about how she's been feeling. I didn't realize she was depressed until some pieces started coming together for me. She's been distant, flat, foggy, and unmotivated at work. She told me that when our boss yells at her she retreats. It's abusive and she shouldn't have to put up with this type of behavior. When my boss yells at me I understand that it's because she's stressed and has toxic anger issues. It's not okay to yell at me either, but I can handle it since it doesn't happen often and I have a greater capacity to accept this type of behavior without internalizing it. She's the problem, not me.
Good news and why I'm writing this tonight instead of tomorrow. I also plan to write tomorrow, but this is fresh in my mind and writing things down helps me process them. I was reading an online blog awile ago and read the term avoidant. That triggered a response in me at the time, but today at work a woman that has some of the same issues I do started talking to me about a discovery she made. A customer flirts with her, but won't ask her out. She's stuck because she has to be nice to him, but he doesn't have to be consistent with her. Long ago I pegged him as emotionally unavailable. I recognize this because I'm not available either. Neither is this guy that I like which is part of what led me to start reading more on the subject after my friend brought it up to me.
She said that when she was a little girl she knew her father loved her, but she never felt as if she had his approval. Her issues stem from her relationship with her father. She feels like she needs the approval of this guy and since she's obsessed with him she scares him away. It's a codependent game and it's very unhealthy. She's trying to determine why this guy is recreating the issues she had with her dad, but she isn't sure what the actual trigger is. When I was talking to her I was thinking, the guys I go for aren't really like my dad. They tend to be introverted workaholics who are analytical and not as complicated as I make them out to be. They also tend to be extremely good looking with some quiet narcissistic traits.
These men are attractive to me because they remind me of my mother, at least that's my theory. My mom gets shit done. Regardless of what's on her list she tackles it. She's told me that I'm fat and lazy, in the past I believed her. She made it seem as if my father was lazy, but now that I'm older I can see that he also worked very hard, and he actually had a better sense of fun than she does. My father was an extremely gifted athlete. My mother is not athletic and claims not to be competitive, but the truth is she's not aware of how she's competing. My mother is a narcissist, but because a lot of the things she brags about seem to be humble, it comes across as goofy instead of harmful.
Who cares if this woman claims to make the best blueberry pancakes in the world? You might if you were her daughter because no matter what you make it won't ever be as good as what she would have made. My mother bakes well, but I'm better when it comes to presentation and flavor. When I was first married I baked my former spouse an apple pie. I made it from scratch because that's how I was raised, did I mention that both of my parents are perfectionists? It isn't worth doing if you can't excel, even if it's something as stupid as an apple pie. I'm not a pie person, my ex claimed apple was his favorite, but the pie got moldly before he took a bite. He viewed the pie as a way to control him therefore he wouldn't stick his fork in it.
Being young and foolish I thought there was something wrong with me. It was the last pie I ever made for him and it became the source of many a future conflict. It didn't matter what I made, his favorites went uneaten when I made them for him. Eventually I stopped trying to please him. Instead I went on these ever increasingly crazy quests for health and tried to please others. Then it turned into me making expensive and extravagant recipes for the people at work. I was desparate for approval, I thought food was fun, but I didn't understand that it was never about food, it was about my need for approval and affirmation. At 42 I'm still trying to fight with men who remind me of my mother which brings me back to the guy who works at Verizon.
Avoidants avoid things. Pretty straightforward assessment, but the catch is that they send out signals that are mixed or change. They may want you one moment and reject you the next. This creates a lot of anxiety for their partners or people who are in relationships with them. It may seem as if my mother wants me to come over because that's what she says, but the truth is more nuanced than that. A statement she made long ago illustrates my mother perfectly. She said it was more important for her to get what she wanted than for me to have what I needed. Yes, you read that statement correctly. A narcissist is incapable of much empathy so your needs don't matter or occur to them.
My mother was physically present, but emotionally unavailable. I grew up in a home with impossible and inconsistent standards, much like the homes where my children currently reside. The difference is I get some of these things and am actively trying to get professional help. A blog post I read said that you can overcome being a love addict. Apparently you can switch between being a love addict and an avoidant. I have some avoidant tendencies myself, the blog posts showed me some of the things I was doing and even better, has some strategies to help me overcome this problem permanently. Of course that won't be easy, but I'm determined to stop torturing myself like this.
The next six months are key. I have to focus on myself and break the addiction cycle. That means I won't be going out on any dates, no problem there because I didn't have any planned, but these next six months already seem like a very long and dreary existance. I want the excitement and drama. I don't really, but that's what's familiar to me. I hate having these issues. I can forgive my mother for being who she is. In the book I'm writing three of the main characters have a mother who was a quiet narcissist. She's dead in the book, but the problems she created by neglecting her children's emotional needs and physically abusing them live on in them.
Healing my characters helps me. I feel in control when I write which is probably why I have a tendency to do too much of it at times. I never had control when I was a child. When it was my birthday my parents asked me where I wanted to go out to eat. I mentioned a restaurant in town and they told me it was too expensive. That was probably true, but giving me the illusion of freedom before dashing it away was very damaging. Another time my parents gave each of us a Hershey bar. I ate half of mine and saved the rest for later. I didn't often get treats like that, I exercised restraint and delayed my gratification in a surprising show of maturity.
When I pulled out that chocolate to eat it I was forced to share it with my siblings who had already eaten theirs. Instead of being rewarded for my prudent actions I was punished for them. My parents told me that I was being greedy and rubbing in the fact that I had half of a chocolate bar when nobody else did. That was untrue. Their half had already been consumed. When I was in eighth grade my dad came home and told me I had a paper route. Initially I didn't mind this as I viewed this as a money making opportunity. I've written about this before, but it was pivotal moment in my childhood, one that my siblings can't understand.
There were two banks on my paper route. I had a savings account at one of them, but my parents made me give the money I collected to them so they could put it away for me. That struck me as odd. I was an independent sort of kid, money was power. I saw that way back then. I've always had a sense of efficiency. It made a lot more sense for me to drop my money off at the bank myself instead of taking it back home to have my parents put it away for me. But once again I didn't have the choice. It was demanded and I delivered. Occasionally I would buy something for myself at the gas station. My sister stopped there on a regular basis, but I told myself that I was smarter than she was. I wasn't going to waste my money buying candy. I was going to save it up and buy something really cool. Or just save it for the sake of actually having money which is something my parents could never manage to do.
I will probably have vivid memories of hearing my parents tell me that the money I had been giving to them was gone. Without informing me they had spent it. They claimed that they used it for household expenses like food. That was another mistake they made. My parents fought constantly about grocery shopping. My mom was a real food person while my dad wanted to see a pile of chemicals sitting on his plate. My dad had an unrealistic notion about the cost of feeding five children while my mother punished us by making sure that we almost never got the same kind of treats the other kids did. The shame of having a nutritious lunch was almost unbearable at the time. A couple of sugary snacks would have gone a long way toward helping us socially.
Both of my parents are religious fanatics. They're extremists, my mom voted for Trump and she's proud of that fact. Religion was beaten into me from early on, I rejected it for a while, today I have a healthier relationship with it. I go to church, but I don't do much volunteering. When I was younger volunteering wasn't an option. We were press ganged into it and spent long hours doing all sorts of unpleasant tasks often without breaks or enough food not to mention the type of praise and rewards that should accompany such outings and events. We were the first people to arrive and the last people to leave. My parents would tell us to get ready to leave and spend who knows how long talking to their friends. I do this to my kids and it's still not okay. Old habits die hard and all that. But I'm working on it.
Despite the painful reminders I'm glad I'm getting this out of my system. That guy is triggering things from my childhood, possibly I'm triggering things from his. I regret most of my interactions with him, but I doubt I'll ever see him or hear from him again so I can put him behind me and go on with the recovery process. I sent a text to my therapist. I know she'll be proud of me for identifying what some of the problems were and be happy that I'm working so hard on me. Who would have thought it would be so much work to go out and have some fun? I need to focus on quality time with my children and girlfriends. This won't be as hard as I think it will be, but it isn't going to be easy either.
I'm getting a lot better at managing my anxiety. It's not going to be perfect. I have to let that go. I can start giving myself some credit for the work I am doing and the progress I've made. The hollowness is back, but I don't feel as blue as I did. I'm still trying to find the balance between products that level me out and stabilize my mood and those that drag me down too far. Today I spoke with a woman who wanted advice on how to help her children who were diagnosed with ADHD. A large part of the problem is her. She doesn't realize that they're that way because she is. I sold her a couple of things I thought may help and told her about the three books I routinely discuss when people ask me about this topic. Experience is a great teacher here. I have this problem, I live with it, therefore I have a lot of insight and strategies.
I'm exhausted from living this roller coaster of perpetual shifting emotion. I want there to be some magic wand a healthcare professional will wave that will transform me into a the parent and partner I long to be. I know I'll get closer to that goal, but I'll never arrive and that's okay. We're all works in progress. Tomorrow I have the day off. There are things I need to do, things I want to do, and things I know I won't do. I need to file my taxes. That's critical. I need to make lists of tasks that need to be finished. I need to get out and have some fun. I'm going to go to the knitting store, make some food and try not to stress about Friday.
Already I can see that going down to four days at work may not happen. My boss has told me it will, but every week there's some reason that I need to be working for five days. She needs me and I need off. We all need a break. I'm going to take a trip in May, but I need to get away sooner. I need to find a way to take a short trip and get more experiences that aren't associated with work or learning new things. I want to sit in an empty room that has white walls and patio doors. Food should appear when I need or want it. I need a break. I need to go back to the mental hospital. I don't want to do that, but I know it would be the best thing for me at this point in time. I'm out of control, but since I'm a high functioning out of control type people get fooled into thinking I'm better off than I really am.
Five minutes from now my mood will change. I don't want anyone to worry, I know this is a mode for me, but it's still pretty freaking serious. I can't believe I ever thought having children was going to work out well and be a good decision. I'm tired and need sleep. This was sort of a good idea and sort of a bad one. Everything is worse at night. Things will be okay. I'm an adult. I'm safe, I'm in charge. I made a mistake, but I learned from it and I'm moving forward. I hate being scared of myself. It's a terrible feeling to know that you hurt another person, but I can forgive myself. I have to, constantly beating myself up for everything helps nobody.
P.S. I feel better. Writing helps. This is why I write. The blog post suggested using the current experience as a muse to drive creative content. It wasn't very creative, but it was very cathartic. Going to bed now, can't wait to sleep in tomorrow. I wish I could sleep until I'm no longer tired. Wouldn't that be nice? #Goals
I just read my entry under Go play with the bears, all I can say is wow...