Friday, May 17, 2024

Note To Self - 10 Things I DON'T Hate About Me

If I'm honest, I wrote so much here today, not just because of Louisville news garnering national attention, nor even the disheartening news of finding the body of Shani Louk, though those things are important - but it's because I'm trying to distract myself from drowning under the weight of self-damnation today.

I realized several mistakes I made, today, and then beyond my embarrassment (which is kind of a chronic state for me anyway), beyond my anxiety, I then began going down an old familiar path of telling myself of how much I suck at life in general, and going over the long laundry list of things at which I suck. 

However, because others depend on me, I realized long ago that I need to cut short this line of thinking, which only leads to a downward spiral into shame, depression and thus immobility, so that I can be present for the things I still need to do - so I developed a coping strategy that is simply distracting myself from these feelings, as well as channeling that anxiety into something else. 

But the truth is -  distraction doesn't work for too long, either - those old "you suck" thoughts tend to creep back in and get even louder until I deal with them. 

Now, cognitive behavioral therapy will tell you to argue with yourself on those self-damning thoughts, but I find it difficult to find a good argument against why I don't suck.

However, I spoke to my little sister a bit about this today, about how we both panic when we realize we effed up and become overwhelmed by it, and where this comes from in our family.

We didn't point fingers at a who, just a what - a family mentality that only some of us have become aware of (through therapy).

Although my little sister and I had different experiences, growing up, in both of our experiences, a common thread is there was at least one dysfunctional family member - or members, in my case, as the family scapegoat - who would not allow you to NOT feel like a total loser because you made a mistake or had a poor moment (despite  the fact they had a "poor moment" nearly every day and couldn't admit or apologize for a thing, if their life depended on it.)

In other words, it was never enough to say "You're right, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that" - they weren't satisfied until you were curled up in a fetal position on the floor, admitting what a horrible human being you were.

And God forbid you really didn't do whatever it was or there was a reason you took that path - or worse - that what you said/did was in self-defense from them.

So you realized, over time, it would go better for you, them, and the whole family if you just convinced yourself everything is all your fault and you're just crap.

This is despite the fact that rarely is anything ever just one person's fault in groups, it's usually a group dynamic or mentality - but dysfunctional families like to believe there is. 

And oddly enough, scapegoats of groups are actually usually the most powerless and most vulnerable of the group -  but try telling that to dysfunctional families/groups that need to believe otherwise.

Because if they didn't have a scapegoat, they'd have to take a look at themselves, which is way too scary for such personalities, right? 

So if I tried to do the healthy thing instead of graveling for their forgiveness on the floor for hours, and instead said something like ...  

"Okay, I did this, I apologized profusely, and yet that's not enough.  It's not even about this one issue anymore.  Now, you're just running down a laundry list of how much I suck in general."

 "Yes, I effed up - but I'm not always an eff-up. You forget, I did THIS well" -

... these certain members would not allow it.  

They'd find a way to tear that one thing down, too, why it wasn't really a positive, because again, these particular family members aren't satisfied until you admit you're a horrible, selfish loser overall - and, of course, that your behavior existed in a vacuum -  no one else did/said anything just before that, particularly not themselves. 

So we talked about that old family dynamic, and our old responses to it - how those MUST be removed from new non-familial situations first, before reacting -  lest we carry in things stuck to the bottom of our shoes, into situations where they don't belong, like dog poo (which I also did today). 

Now, sometimes, after coming from a family like ours, we genuinely do gravitate towards similar abusive personalities out of familiarity, or even just run into another personality like that in happenstance - BUT - we can't assume that everyone will be like that. Sometimes it takes time to find out.

Or as my little sister put it (paraphrasing):  

"Admit your mistake and apologize, yeah -  but this isn't brain surgery, it's not literally a matter of life and death, here, not the end of the world, so no need to fall upon your own sword like a sacrificial lamb in a situation that may not require it."

"I get it, you overreacted to a mistake and it's embarrassing, I've done it too, but that doesn't mean you suck overall. Not everyone is like our family. You don't know yet, wait and see, maybe it'll blow over.  Maybe they're like normal people who realize you had a poor moment, but that there's more to you than one mistake, one poor reaction moment. "

And then of course I argued with that, because it's more than one mistake I make, thus making my own tally of wrongs 😂

Regardless, after this conversation with my little sister - thank you, R, love you - and after realizing that I was  trying to distract myself from self-damnation by channeling my anxiety into other things rather than deal with it - I decided I am going to write a list of some things that I think I can do well that I can refer to, regardless of what anyone else thinks, however short the list is 

Also, this list is not always/never, either/or - because no one is every always this or that, we all have poor moments and bad days. 

Regardless, I will refer to this list, going forward: 

1)  I am generally a naturally kind, thoughtful person, who gives others the same benefit of the doubt that I'd like  them to give me - even when others cannot, do not, and are not.  
(See, I want to argue with myself on this one already about times when I have let her rip on unkind people, but I'm resisting that urge!) 


2)  I am smart about certain things. 


3) I have a good sense of humor and can be funny. 


4)  On those rare times my anxiety doesn't overwhelm me, I can communicate well, particularly in writing.  


5)   I'm fair-minded and open-minded - I can usually see  where others are coming from/see many perspectives on issues, even if I don't agree  - so similarly to #4, when my anxiety doesn't short-circuit me, I can be very diplomatic, a good mediator, and actually diffuse angry people.


6)  Conversely, one of the benefits of having PTSD is that when there is an actual emergency, we can shut our anxieties and feelings off completely, go into autopilot - think faster and get shit done, when everyone else is panicking.  (Our brains learned to do this during original trauma).  
So though everyday life problems can make me shake, during an actual emergency, you'd want me, or somebody else with PTSD, on your side, because this is the only time we kick ass. 


7)  I can be good at comforting people when sad, hurting, sick, or embarrassed (just not myself).  


8)  I'm resourceful, I had to be - so I can quickly and logically solve problems (again, when my anxiety isn't in overdrive).


9)  Despite everything I've been through in life, I am not bitter - I still believe in kind people, as well as that kindness is the best response to cruelty - I refuse to catch their angry, bitter disease. 


10) If nothing else, I'm not fake - I'm pretty genuine. I will sing your praises all day, but if you do something I don't care for, you're probably going to hear about that, too, as gently as I can (usually). 


What you see is what you get, with me - for better or for worse  😂

So that's it.  

Yes, my list of flaws and mistakes is literally 5x as long, but I'm not going there right now, so can I just focus for two seconds on this list  of 10 things I DON'T hate about me?  

(And no - that question is NOT meant for certain abusive family members, former exes and/or former bosses.  In fact, y'all can STFU, still living rent free in my head  😂)

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