Discovery.February 25, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy) | 20 Comments
(WARNING: This is a heavy post for me to write. And. There’s a lot of whining in it. Please, PLEASE, feel free to slip away. I promise I will not judge. But for me, I need to get this out and away and into some sort of written form. Since blogging is my therapy, too, this really is the best place to put it for me.)
I was talking, yet again, about grieving my aunt and cousin.
And it slipped in before I even THOUGHT about it.
I ended my whining about how hard it is on me with an incredibly sarcastic “Waaaaah.”
Said quickly, nearly under my breath, more to myself than anything.
My therapist didn’t miss it, though.
She said, Did you just disparage yourself?
I was sort of shocked, too. Sat there for a minute before I could respond.
Yeah. I did just disparage myself.
I do it all the time.
I often get annoyed with J for being so defensive so quickly. Because if I ask a question, no matter how damn hard I try to word it, to say it in a neutral voice, he takes it as criticism.
And at my angriest – because, yes, it pisses me the FUCK off, that I work so damn hard to phrase a damn QUESTION the PERFECT way so that he doesn’t react – I’ve wanted to let loose, to show him what REAL criticism is.
Because I grew up HOUNDED. I was told I was lazy, I was no good, I didn’t THINK, I didn’t work hard enough. I was going to amount to nothing if I wasn’t careful.
Those were the bad days.
On a good day, I was merely an idiot, I argued too much with my mom, I didn’t do a good enough job of being responsible.
Even now? My mom tells me this: We’re proud of how you’ve turned out.
See, when you’ve grown up where EVERYTHING is real, true criticism, you have to grow a thick skin. You don’t have the luxury of reacting to someone’s tone of voice, because you know it gets so much worse.
My mother hit me, she screamed at me, she lectured me about every. last. weakness of mine until she got foam in the corner of her mouth.
It was only after her own irrational, authoritarian anger was spent that I EVER heard the words “I love you.”
My husband has no sense of this. He doesn’t GET how much worse things can be.
Somewhere along the line of my life, I managed to take all the crap hurled at me from my parents and assimilate it into my person.
And it wasn’t until I was talking with my therapist that I realized WHEN it started.
Just after my second semester freshman year of college.
When Amy committed suicide.
I was so young, and so unable to cope. I was so GUILTY. Maybe if I hadn’t pushed her into the pool at my high school graduation party, or had been a better sister-cousin to her, or paid attention to that letter she sent me about how she was sleeping around her high school and everything seemed dim and gray, or when she told me that she had a suicide attempt and “was all better now.” Maybe I could have helped. If I had just LISTENED.
I rolled my eyes and went on loving the magic of my college in the spring.
I was so happy that year. Honestly, it’s the happiest I’ve been in my entire LIFE.
And then I went home for the summer. And within days, she was dead.
And my raging guilt over not doing anything to even TRY and help? I took that guilt and DID things with it. That guilt made me Responsible. It made me work hard at achieving goals.
Before her death, I was a lackadaisical student at best.
After? I made Dean’s List every semester. I took more credits than I needed, took on a nearly full time job on campus, and became the Fundraising Manager of my marching band. I joined a co-ed service fraternity. I took care of puking freshmen at house parties.
Like I couldn’t live my life for me anymore, I had to live it for Amy.
I was doing penance for all of the times I didn’t step in to help her when I could have.
It was an effective motivator.
But it never made me FEEL better. The guilt never went away.
And the presence of that guilt amplified all of my weaknesses, whether real or imagined, I heard as a kid.
If I had been the person I SHOULD have been, I wouldn’t feel guilty.
Maybe my parents were RIGHT.
Just before we finished this week’s session, my therapist told me this.
You have to learn how to love yourself. Even when you’re not running.
(This, of course, was said in response to me saying that I needed to get back into running, because it made me feel good.)
When I got up to leave, I couldn’t meet her eyes. I couldn’t leave that room quickly enough.
Ashamed that I’ve spent nearly 17 years trying to prove that I’m more than what my parents thought of me.
Ashamed because, by working so fucking hard, I give creedence to the things they said about me.
Ashamed that I can’t intellectualize this away.
Ashamed that once all the trappings of my life are stripped away, I’m just six year old girl.
Sitting in the corner.
Wearing a dunce cap.