Sunday, January 19, 2014

On learning to not feel like a monster

I'm not really sure how to start this blog post.  Should I start with a couple stories?  Or how about an explanation of my personality?  No?  How about I just jump right in?  This is a really personal post, a stab at vulnerability, but I've been mulling over it since I've started exploring this part of myself.  And in speaking with loved ones, I've discovered that I'm not alone.  Just today I was having lunch with a friend who empathized with me, but who has also found the strength that I've only yet to start exploring.  I hope this post proves beneficial to others, because, yes, I have found others who can identify with me, but I still think there are a lot of other people who are still in hiding.  And that's not fair.  So here we go.

Something I've learned recently about myself is that I repress my emotions in sacrifice for others' needs and wants who I care about.  I've mentioned this before, but now I'm actually doing something about it.  And it's hard.  Like always having to reassure myself hard.

As far as I can remember I have wanted others to be happy and feel loved.  And wanting these things for others isn't a bad thing at all, in fact it's quite good.  But the way I go about loving and caring for others is rather unhealthy for me.  I, essentially, don't let myself live because I'm so preoccupied with others.  I don't allow myself to feel, or think about what I need, or to think about what I want.  There are so many things about myself I want to explore, but I've been putting them on hold trying to make others' happiness a reality.  And I do all this without telling anyone, because love doesn't boast, and unconditional love doesn't do so seeking something in return (and I would never want anyone to feel like they owe me).  That's how I love others, but it's costing me my self love.  I don't want others to feel imposed on or inconvenienced so I don't bother them with how much I care (more like obsess about whether or not their happiness is intact) about them and how I need/want their friendship (or their help), so they won't feel pressure from me (pressure to what? I don't know).  And in doing that I isolate myself because I am not willing to put myself out there and be vulnerable because I don't want to be annoying or be thought of as needy, so I won't make the first move in asking for friendship and time and energy from the people who I care so deeply about.  That being said, it is heart-crushing to not have that love, respect, concern, thought, and consideration I have shown and felt towards someone who I have deemed as friend reciprocated.  To love and to not be loved back is destroying.  And that's how I feel, used and destroyed and misunderstood.  Not by all who I love, but many.

So now I'm trying to flip the script, kinda.  Instead of pulling a Bruno Mars, catching grenades and what not, I want to show love to others and not internally be destroyed.  This looks like me taking the initiative when trying to get together with friends instead of waiting to be called/invited and then being devastated when (always when and never if) I'm not thought of.  This looks like NOT telling myself they probably don't want to spend time with me so I shouldn't even bother to ask.  This looks like having enough respect for myself to hold back on/from relationships that make me go back to my old self-sabotaging ways.  This means saying 'no.'  This means not worrying about everyone I care about to the point where I literally worry about them in my sleep (i.e. one time a friend and her husband were having problems and he made her feel unsafe to the point where she slept elsewhere and I had nightmares about her running from him for a few nights).  This means saying yes to my needs and wants.  This means being more vulnerable with people who I trust and feel safe with and perhaps widening that circle a bit.  THIS MEANS A LOT.

Those things are fine and dandy, but they scare me.  This is new territory and, frankly, exploring it makes me feel like a monster.  My whole life I have shown love by putting others' needs and wants ahead of mine and put my needs and wants by the wayside.  And I've done this willingly.  I've done this because that's what I've been taught love is.  So now that I'm actually trying to consider my needs and wants, I feel selfish.  I feel like I bitch, I feel like a monster.  I feel like this selfish monster who's only concerned for herself and pays no mind for others' needs or wants.  I feel like the bad guy.  And it is an exhausting struggle to try to constantly convince myself that it is more than okay to say 'yes' to me while convincing myself others will likely not suffer in my doing so.  It is an exhausting inner fight to force myself to actually think about my feelings.  It is an exhausting battle to stop myself from automatically choosing what will make others happy and actually consider how I think/feel about the situation.  It is just plain exhausting to retrain my head and heart to stop people pleasing and allow myself the freedom to just be.  You know what?  It's worth it.  I'm worth it.  And, like my friend tells me, sometimes you have to put yourself and your needs first in order to keep sane, especially when others haven't been doing so for you.

This self-consideration/love frontier is intimidating for me.  It's forcing me to stop and think about how I fit into the picture.  And from my perspective it looks like withdrawing from some relationships that have done more harm than good because I have given and given and have never felt loved in return.  But everyday I wake up and remind myself that I'm no monster for loving myself and one day it won't all be so hard.