One's self concept is sometimes aligned with how others perceive you; sometimes it's not.
Straight from my journal, live and in living print.
I spend more time explaining and defending my emotions than expressing them.
The cycle is this: people are curious to know what’s wrong with you. At first, they’re concerned and all ears. Their advice is sympathetic, sometimes empathetic and tender. Time passes and they become fatigued with YOUR sadness. They want you to hurry up and get better so they either A) don’t have to hear it anymore, B) don’t have to see you hurt, which bothers them, or C) a little of both.
"And when I laugh or smile, they're so relieved; I just want to punch a hole in the wall."-Starr (General Hospital)
Some withdraw from you gradually. For those that stick around, they begin to let you know somehow that they think it’s time for you to move on. You’re not healing fast enough for them. They become pushy, impatient, irritated and pressuring. It made logical sense that you would be sad, but now they believe you’re doing it to yourself. Somehow, it’s YOUR FAULT or YOUR CHOICE that you’re not happy yet. You’re “dwelling,” not trying or holding on to your pain because you’re “comfortable in it,” as uncomfortable as you are. They begin to assess, misinterpret, misunderstand and/or judge your every action and statement. If you disagree with any of their theories or opinions in any way, you’re being resistant to change or argumentative. They become more agitated with you and sometimes hostile. In all of their responses and body language, it seaps out what they REALLY think of you, your situation and how you’re dealing with it. You feel everyone is officially tired of you. With no one to turn to, you shut down. You finally do what everyone has been wanting you to do- shut up. Some people isolate themselves and kind of become a loner, while others put on the happy face everyone’s been waiting to see. People start to think you finally “got over it” since they haven’t heard about anything in a while, but you know the truth. The pain tucked away.
"What about the plans that you left behind…what about the promise that you made to stay with me ‘till your dying day, said you’d never go away…they’re just things that people say…”-Lady Antebellum
I was listening to Christina Aguilera’s “Back to Basics” album, in which there are few songs inspired by her relationship with then-husband Jordan Bratman, with whom she had a son. Aguilera croons about how negatively different her life would be without him and how he “saves her from herself” and so on. I love the songs, but after I got through singing along and loving them, I thought “Wow. She made some powerful statements and yet, they’re not together anymore.” More than likely, if Aguilera’s current relationship goes well, there will be new odes dedicated.
I honestly wonder how people keep their faith in the existence and/or longevity of romantic love after hearing and giving so many professions. Don’t declarations and professions lose their meaning, power and potency the more you hear or say them? Do they or don’t they? Forgive me if I sound a little jaded or cynical (which I am), but I’m trying to figure out how to wisely operate here. Someone told me they love me. And while I still believe that to be true, they’re not in my life anymore at all. So what am I supposed to do when the next person tells me they love me? Walk on air and feel like I have a partner in crime like I did the 1st time? Shall we remove such declarations from our mouths altogether? Should we reword them? Should we say “I’ll love you until the irreversible or unforgivable happens” instead?
Just to be clear, my ponderings on this topic didn’t start with my broken heart. Prior to, I always thought it was silly for celeb couples to do magazine cover stories about their love as if they couldn’t breakup. Unless they were discussing something specific, such as how they handle long-distance or how one mate battling an illness has impacted their relationship, I thought it was pointless and the couple would feel stupid for parading their relationship around later on. Last summer, when “Nick and Vanessa’s Dream Wedding” aired on TLC, I watched TV personality Vanessa Minnilo giddily prance around in her wedding dress and sing to her new husband Nick Lachey “you get to have this forever.” Earlier in the special she touted to others “I’m going to be Mrs. Lachey.” It felt strange to hear her say all of this. I thought “how can she be so proud and sure? She says ‘I’m going to be Mrs. Lachey’ as if there hasn’t already been a Mrs. Lachey (Nick and songstress Jessica Simpson split in 2005 after 3 years of marriage). People promise before family, friends and God (if they’re Christian), to support, love and protect one another, only to rip each other to shreds, become the one their spouse needs protection from and split years, if not months, later. The divorce rate is through the roof. Granted, few promise forever without the intention of trying to make forever happen, but it just doesn’t. It’s funny how you can build such a life and a history with someone, and with just a few words or actions, it can all go away as quickly as it came. It makes you question your senses and your ability to decipher what’s the truth and what’s a lie; what’s dependable and what’s not. Everything seems so futile afterward. Can’t help but ask are “I love you,”“you make my life better” and all that other stuff just things that people say?
Straight from my journal, live and in living print.
I CANNOT STAND IT when people will not let you acknowledge your sadness, anger or irritation. It INFURIATES me when I’m ranting about something or say I’m having a so-so day and people AUTOMATICALLY respond to my statement(s) with something like “it could always be worse,” “just be grateful you have another day” or “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and proceed to tell me I’m being negative, pouting or whining. THAT’S SO FREAKIN’ INVALIDATING! Furthermore, yes, it can always be worse, but that doesn’t negate the fact that the current situation sucks. Even if I make lemonade, the stuff is still going to taste sour. If someone survives a mugging at gun point, it could’ve been worse by them losing their life, but it doesn’t change the fact that a mugging is a traumatic, awful experience AND you’ve lost your belongings. If you want to help me the see the light at the end of the tunnel or feel hopeful, how about you let me rant, say “yeah, that really freakin’ sucks” and THEN offer some type of solution? And when you offer an anecdote, how about it be one that doesn’t involve me acting like the situation isn’t so bad (ex. “it could always be worse”, assuming I even want advice as opposed to just a listening ear)? Also, don’t tell a ranting person that they’re pouting, whining or negative- it’s invalidating and implies there’s something wrong with having a particular emotion. If you communicate to someone that it’s wrong to have an emotion, they will internalize their feelings and shut down. They won’t speak on or express it at all. So, now they’ll be pretending to be happy and deal with frustration privately (this can be especially dangerous if you’re dealing with a person with depression). It’s my party and I can cry if I want to.
Assuming you believe in God.
A friend of mine said something to the effect of “I have things I don’t like about myself and sometimes I don’t feel like I’m good enough.” In an effort to remind her that she is indeed ‘enough,’ I sent her a message with a verse from the bible. Ephesians 2:10 in the King James Version says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” That verse is powerful to me because it’s a reminder of something easily forgotten. We are the creation, evidence and artwork of an omnipotent being. That’s sounds pretty darn awesome to me. That being said, we may have things about our internal and/or external that we want to improve or deem to be flaws, but because of how we were created and who were created by, we have the potential for greatness- even in a small form.
What it sounds like when you speak
Straight from my journal, live and in living print.
I had lunch with friends and everyone was taking turns updating the group on what’s new in their lives. I hate the update merry-go-round, especially when things aren’t going as well in my life as I want them to. Not necessarily because I’m embarrassed about anything, but because I don’t always feel like getting interviewed about my life or going into some in-depth discussion. Save that for therapy. Anyhow, when it was my turn to update, I failed at ducking and dodging. It came up that I’m still heartbroken and hung-up on my ex. I then was given a sermon on how I need to move on and date some other guy to do so, which I’m already opposed to. I just want to be left alone. This is MY process and I can’t be on anyone else’s healing clock; everyone is different in what it takes for them to recover from and cope with loss. If I could be “over it” instantaneously, I would. Sometimes it makes me want to stay where I am emotionally because of external pressure. I want to move because I want to and I’m ready to, not because someone told me it’s time. I’m also over people telling me how much value and energy I should assign to this situation. No one gets to define what’s important to ME. Invalidating my feelings or what’s important to me isn’t going to make me feel empowered; it’s exactly the opposite. I feel bullied instead of supported.
Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey
“I talked to 30,000 people on this show (The Oprah Winfrey Show) and they all had one thing in common. They all wanted validation. Everyone you meet wants to know “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?”-Oprah Winfrey
Oprah said many quotable things during the final episode of her talk-show series, but out of all of them, I feel this one applies to everyone. We all may seek validation in different ways from different people, but the fact remains that we seek it…crave it. No one wants to feel invisible, invalidated, taken for granted or worthless. We want to feel like we make some type of impact. If we don’t feel or receive validation, it can affect our self-esteem or create emotional voids that we might spend a lifetime trying to fill. Feelings of invisibility can worsen particularly in times of strife, as one might feel isolated in their pain or stress. I’ve seen in my own life how invalidation has affected me.
For those of you who are wondering if you are seen, heard and valued and don’t feel like you receive the love and support that you should…There are many who share your sentiments, including myself. It sucks, I know. My only advice is that if you’re able to, address your feelings with those around you. Tell them you feel ignored or belittled. Tell them you want them to listen more intently or be more involved with you. Of course phrase it in your own words, but make sure the heart of the issue is clearly stated. If you’re dealing with people who really don’t give a Dereon` (Beyonce` fan joke), I honestly hate it for you because that makes the situation even worse.
I found that when all else fails, seeing, hearing and valuing myself FOR myself has made all the difference. I’ve bought myself flowers. I’ve dolled myself up and gone to movies and concerts no one wanted to see with me (it wasn’t bad at all. It was actually kind of fun). I’ve taken just my iPod and a couple of dollars and wandered around downtown to think and get some fresh air. One of the best days I’ve ever had was when I went shopping solo and then stopped in the park for a while to swing. It awesome being on my own time-table, having to entertain and amuse just myself and relive a childhood joy without being asked why I was doing it. The whole idea is to spend time with, cherish and reward yourself. When you have no else, you have you. Remind yourself of your talents and strengths. Look as far deep within as you can and find something you value about yourself. And if you think there’s nothing there, here’s another Oprah finale quote: “You are worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here and you being alive makes worthiness your birth right. You alone are enough.” I’m saying all this at the risk of sounding preachy and cliché. Sometimes we spend so much time pouring all of our energy, hope and love into others, that we forget who our true 1st-love is: ourselves. Some of us never get around to learning what self-love even is. YOU were/are your 1st love. You know you better than anyone else. You know all the absolute truths and secrets about yourself. You’ve spent the most time with yourself. If your reflection could talk would it say “Hey, what about me? You forgot about me. I need some attention too”? Pouring into yourself results in self-confidence, strength and sometimes inner-peace.
And for you folks who don’t necessarily feel like an apparition, be sure to take time to validate your loved ones. We all have 2 ears and one mouth for a reason. Internalize and absorb what’s being said to you, even if it’s a casual story. You’d be surprised how flattered people feel when you remember small details. Share in your loved ones interests and have them share in yours. Compliment and encourage randomly. Check on those you know that might be going through a difficult time. When you don’t understand or can’t relate to how someone feels or an experience they’ve had, ask more questions and let it be known you want to know more. Learn how to respectfully disagree. Don’t tell people how they should feel. Cater to and dote on every now and then. Go the extra mile. Yeah…that’s what I got for today.
Straight from my journal, live and in living print.
Have you ever been scared to be happy after you’ve been discontent for a long period of time? I’m petrified of feeling great again because there’s nothing like having the rug pulled off from under you and falling thousands of feet down a jagged, rough, dark pit and hitting a cold bottom hard- especially if that happens repeatedly in a short time. Yes, they say the best thing about being at the bottom is that there’s nowhere else to go but up, but once you get up….the direction down is a lingering option. Some of the most traumatized people can’t enjoy being “up” once they’ve arrived for steadily working in a paranoid manner to stay “up.”
After having a brief discussion about dating with a new friend of mine, he said “You seem like a really strong person.” Instantly reflecting on all of the moments where I felt weak in the last year, but yet very strong in identity and character, I responded “It depends. Everyone differs in what knocks them down or makes them weaker. I believe everyone is strong in SOME way or area.” We often like to measure and judge other people’s level of strength. We throw out adjectives like pathetic, spineless, cowardly, and fragile; forgetting times where we could be easily pegged as such. A breakup may be the end of the world for one person, and not a big deal to someone else. Having little money may turn one person’s hair gray, while another person doesn’t stress about it at all. Don’t be so quick to call someone weak; We’re all a little bit tough in our own way. It’s funny how the simplest things or conversations inspire a blog post, huh?
So I got my heartbroken a year ago and I’m still recovering. More than 1 person has suggested dating other people. I’m against that because I understand that even if you intend to have a casual dating relationship with someone, that doesn’t stop the possibility of an emotional attachment, on anyone’s end, from developing. I also know that if I want a committed relationship, it takes a WHOLE person with a solid sense of identity to make it work, NOT half. Whatever emotional work I need to do to feel more complete and whole again, I need to do it WITHOUT being in a relationship. Relationships take an enormous amount of emotional energy and commitment that one simply cannot offer when they’re still patching up and nursing a broken heart or trying to redefine themselves after pouring their soul into another person (and possibly losing sight of who they were in the process).
I’m a big believer in pausing and taking time to absorb the epiphanies that come after a life-changing or lesson-giving experience. When coming out of such an event, I believe one should take time to reflect, analyze, readjust and rebuild. What just happened to me and what am I supposed to learn from this? How did I get here, where do I want to go now and how do I get there? All too often, people continue about life without absorbing the helpful life tools that the experience presented. They may have an epiphany, but they don’t take time to figure out how to implement it. The end result is making the same mistakes over and over again and not developing into the person they were meant to be or doing what they were meant to do. In application to coming out of a relationship and going right into another, those who don’t heal up or “absorb the epiphany,” end up dating a person with a similar personality or bringing detrimental emotional baggage into the relationship. Emotional baggage comes in a lot of different forms, too. It can come in the form of trust issues, paranoia, codependence, or having unreasonable expectations of your partner (like subconsciously expecting them to fill your voids or patch up your heart; which only YOU can do).
Most people seek a new relationship (be it causal or committed) soon after a breakup because they’re having trouble dealing with the isolation of affection and attention. When you’re used to being flirted with, kissed, hugged, sexed, emotionally bonded or having constant company, it can be difficult to suddenly be without. Going on a date or having a new boo is like a warm blanket. Comfort food. A night light. It also boosts confidence as it gives the illusion that you’ve moved on. Having a new boo, despite how effective it may feel, cures the symptom (isolation of affection and attention) and not the illness (emotional brokenness, heartache, loss, etc.). Even in a casual situation, you run the risk of becoming dependent on flirtatious company.
I am going to be honest with myself: I’M NOT READY. I’m not ready for ANY type of romantic undertaking, and I refuse to engage with someone romantically in an attempt “to move on.” I refuse to make a band-aid out of someone. I refuse to engage being “half” a person. If I pursue dating or a relationship, I want it to be because of what someone is bringing to the table and I’m equipped to go forth, NOT because I need to try something to start over. Crawling up under another person is NOT the answer to healing. It’s an internal issue that requires an internal resolution.
My dump area for all my random thoughts, observations and advice that don't fit into the other categories.