Author Archives: wonderfulshantelle
My true desire is a job where the work revolves around my efforts. I have not usually dealt well for a long time with a job where I am being babysat.
I work independently as
- a grad student
- as a post-secondary course director
- as a yoga instructor
The whole content of my work is sourced by me. And the timelines, although there is a general schedule and deadlines in each of these contexts, are a result of what I produce.
After a few years of examining my past (and current) relationships, behaviour patterns, and emotions, I find myself still often extremely constipated when it comes to decision-making. In the past day or so I’ve discovered that my issue is an even more subtle decision-piece than the making of them. As I was reflecting yesterday on my feelings of frustration, unproductiveness, self-sabotage, and inertia, I asked myself which decisions do I want to make? I could not think of an answer.
I can feel the desire, the very strong desire to choose decisions that I want to make, to make some mysterious unrevealed decision… But inside I have an incredibly strong uncontrollable avoidance to even admitting what kinds of things I want, or what kinds of declarations I want to make. I am afraid to even make a statement or be open about what I want.
This is absolutely traumatizing to hear, to think, to discover, but also huge when it comes to getting past it. Yesterday I started listening to a couple of books on trauma (one by Besser van der Kolk, and one by Peter Levine) and will be doing a level one Movement For Trauma Certification next weekend. These things are in part for my own education about myself and for my own emotional health and recovery, but they are also to build on my qualifications for teaching yoga and perhaps coaching people who are also trying to recover from emotional trauma, and change their behaviour patterns, ways of thinking, and lifestyles. As is said by the wisest coaches and therapists, one cannot as effectively help others until you have done the work yourself.
I think indecisiveness is probably a common problem regardless of the kinds of baggage we have. But if you don’t know what kinds of things you are in decisive about, if you feel a block about even declaring what it is you want to make decisions about, that is a deeper level of scary and frustrating.
I now know that I, myself, am not making decisions or talking about making decisions about things because I can not (or am blocked from) identify(ing) what it is I want to make decisions about. I can’t identify these things right now because, in part, my personality has been to be quiet about my feelings my thoughts my desires. But I am also having difficulty, especially, because when I was a child I learned that those I would share my wants or preferences with will dismiss or contradict me/them, condescend, ignore, or resist them (maybe because they don’t want any responsibility for my needs or wants). Having these emotionally abusive experiences when I was young taught me that my existence was less important than a lot of things that were going on with the people around me (i.e. my parents). I learned that what the relevance of what I want and how I felt were measured against someone else’s rules, someone else’s mood, someone else’s expectations, someone else’s awareness, or interests. That meant that, for example, what I had for breakfast how it was prepared, how long it took me to eat it, how I should eat it were all things that learned I did not have the freedom to make decisions about because the responses of me choosing things different than those that were expected by those supervising me included anger, disdain, or emotional or physical punishment. Things that were as basic as breakfast in my every day life were things that I come to understand I did not have any control over. If I couldn’t make my own decisions about what I was going to eat, how I was going to eat it, when I was going to eat it, how I would like it prepared for fear of harm, hate, disapproval, it was inevitable that decisions any bigger or more complicated would feel intimidating, overwhelming, and most likely impossible. And this next point is very important –> Eventually, I think I just gave up on identifying things that I wanted to make decisions about because the pain of the awareness of what I wanted and the feeling of powerlessness to say it or act on was unbearable.
Right now, if I knew what I wanted to make decisions about, or could admit to myself that I wanted to make a decision about something, life would feel just a little bit (maybe a lot) easier. I just know that after coming to this realization and doing just a little searching I found a small solution that will help me to start to heal this huge, gaping fear wound and scale this mountain of what has become skillful self-sabotage. Not being able to identify your wants and needs out of fear of what you might say or do about them is really the most debilitating thing I can imagine feeling…because it means you are…not…living…(!). I don’t have to imagine this feeling. I feel exactly that.
I was listening to Teal Swan, after a Quick YouTube search for videos on trauma and indecision, and in the midst of her short talk on how to overcome indecision she mentioned how, if you pay attention to your indecision, allow yourself to be mindful about it, and think about what the worst case scenario is that scares you away from making a decision, you can discover not only your worst fears about making the decision and how to rationally question them, but you can also notice that your worst fear is a very clear indication of what you do want. ❤️ Wow, did I ever exhale when I heard that. At the end of a long dark tunnel there is the tiniest of lights.
So, in a situation where you are very aware that you don’t know which decision you want to make and can’t articulate a decision you would like to make, because you can’t possibly be clear about what you want out of fear, you can trace back to those feelings that are making that decision seem impossible and simply take note of what it is you’re afraid of, what it is you don’t like, what it is you’re avoiding. You can then admit to yourself, or articulate what is the truth of your avoidance – what you WANT! It is right there!
If I were to provide an example…(I’m going to try)…
So, last night I discovered that I do not have a clear, conscious, urgent desire that comes for a decision-making moment…I have a desire to hide my wants, my desires, my needs, a self-preserving desire to suppress them. If we start simple, like with…what I want for breakfast this morning, I know that I am often afraid to make that decision because I have old scary voices in my head that say things like, “you should have something cheap and small so that the groceries last longer”, or “you shouldn’t spend a lot of time making yourself something too nice or too delicious because you will cut into time for the other obligations you have today”, or “you shouldn’t make yourself something too good because you will be happy, content and will have kept it all to yourself, which is selfish. If someone else saw you put that energy into that for yourself they will wonder why you didn’t do it for them”. [Wow, I really have some unkind and neglectful voices in my head].
So, I often wait until the very last minute to decide what I will have for breakfast (well, to decide that I will have something yummy like french toast and eggs) so that… so that for the time between when I make the decision and when I make my breakfast I don’t have to listen to those voices criticize my choice.
The outcomes that are scary to me are criticism – more specifically in this case (the legacy of my spiritual health-deficient childhood) self-criticism and others’ disapproval. I think it is because they mean that I am unloved, that I am not loving, that I am unloveable. They made me feel unloved. The messages i) that my basic needs, and even my enjoyment cost so much that they are negative, unfavorable, not worth it…, ii) that I am selfish and don’t like sharing and iii) that I don’t care about other people missing out on something good…that I don’t care about others’ happiness or about taking care of others.
So, two things. One — to see if these beliefs are true or unfounded and what that means –Are any of these things about me true? Well, then and now…the value of my wants and needs did and do exceed the costs. I learned then that I was supposed to consider that they did not, and I need to get used to believing now that money or the amount of available resources does not define my value. Am I selfish and don’t like sharing? Hm. I was never selfish. I was a child. And even now I am not selfish. And…I don’t have to share MY food. I don’t have to share anything if I don’t want to. And not sharing is NOT always selfish! Do I care about others happiness? Yes! I feel so much sadness when I am around someone who is sad. I am extremely empathetic. But I don’t have to care about others’ happiness in terms of giving them something that is mine! And! And giving something away to someone else is not ever a solution to anyone’s unhappiness. Oh, and other people are responsible for THEIR OWN happiness!! Duhh!!
And the second of the two things…WHAT DOES THIS ALL TELL ME ABOUT WHAT I WANT?!?
Suffering through this trauma and fear and criticism and neglect, and suffering through questioning my worth, my kindness, and my empathy (around food) tells me that I want my desires to be unquestioned. The difficulties I have learned in relation to decision-making have revealed that I want to feel certain about my own wants and needs, and about my own ambition, and to step into and enjoy that certainty. I don’t want to feel guilty or to second guess gut feelings or excitement, or strong visions and ideas. I want only to be around others who do not question my needs, wants, preferences, and desires. I want to feel happiness related to them, only happiness, pride, enjoyment, joy, excited anticipation. I want to be around others who take responsibility for their own happiness and to whom it doesn’t occur to question my appreciation of or empathy towards them. I also want to feel a sense of entitlement that does not feel like satisfying myself means depriving anyone else of…anything.
And my decision-making? Well, making a decision to have pancakes and berries and eggs and maple syrup and amazing tea for breakfast needs to come from a place of freedom inside me. I do have some work to do — work that I will happily do. I need to practice realizing and declaring what I want, with the awareness that I once thought that my wants were contingent, not guaranteed. I need to practice realizing that I have wants and what they are, and I have to practice feeling that they are certain, guaranteed, for sure, undeniable, 100% real.
I grew up in my mother’s vicinity. She acted like a person who went through the depression. Her mother was born during the “Dirty Thirties”, the years after the 1929 stockmarket crash.
My grandmother was a hoarder in some ways. My mother bought dozens of boxes of jello when they were on sale, 5 for 1$.
My mother’s voice and temperament still nag me from the inside. I have a fear that ‘there is not enough’ which is not mine. My self worth and my personal and professional lives have suffered because of this lie that losing money or losing a job is a decisive end, and that there is little or no chance to recuperate. Nothing is going to come along.
That is a lie.
When you’re used to living a lie, how does living the truth become a legitimate way…?
I am trying to get my ass up off the couch and do all of things I have to and want to do…
And the reaction inside is…’What for? What are you going to give me?’.
I have not been a good parent to myself. I realize that, for a lot of years I have waited for parameters from other people with regards to what I do and when I do it. There is a belief inside that there is a ceiling to how high I can go. And I have been bucking that belief inside myself as well… There is…like…3 people inside me. The one who wants love and affection, the one who wants to prove that I can do whatever I want when I want (bucking against being scared to expand and be productive and prosperous), and a parent who will not discipline, motivate, and care for me.
Right now I need my parent to get up and govern. But that part of me that wants to feel what it’s like to do whatever I want, on my own time is literally asking…’What will you give me if I get up and do all of that crap?’ (put clothes away, wash the dishes, wipe the floors, organize my calendar, etc.). I need to be the parenting self that plans to do fun things with (her little me) me. I need to promise that she will not have to do work forever. I need to promise her that I will recognize what she does and acknowledge it and praise her when it is the right time to do that. But I need to promise that I will be consistent when it comes to the routine of homecare, cleanup, work, fun, etc. I feel very out a practice when it comes to that.
How do I stay consistent?
I now notice not only how hard I work to receive a reward, to get somewhere good, but also how absolutely resistant (fearful) I am when something amazingly good comes my way. I get absolutely terrified.
Terrified of what?
Owing someone for that opportunity if I take it?
Afraid that I owe someone for that opportunity because they think they deserve it more than I do…?
I’m trying to make my way back to the surface, like a cork that’s been pulled down to the bottom of the sea for years and is not supposed to be waterlogged…but I am.
I am empathizing with a cold, intimidating person, a person who doesn’t deserve priority when it comes to my energy. But I am being human to another human being…
I just asked myself why.
And the answer was, “so that I can be a better person”…
I still don’t believe I am good enough
Do I believe that everything I do for myself is a burden?
It makes sense if I do.
I grew up feeling like I was troublesome. My needs were troublesome. Pretty much everything about me was troublesome.
Even feeding me was troublesome.
So imagine now I just thought about stopping to get my glasses fixed tomorrow at school. And it occurred to me that it feels so troublesome.
I think I feel that about most things about me. Most of the time.
I want to feel like everything about me is a pleasure.
…which means I love myself.
I respect myself.
– I work with my needs and my wants
– I acknowledge my efforts and investments.
– I recognize my emotional attachments.
– I am interested in my feelings… and I value and acknowledge them.
My entire life I tried to prove that I was not something burdensome, that I was not what they feared, that I was not what they imagined.
While the whole time I really wasn’t any of those things…
How do I live now, live with the understanding that I am not
– someones burden
– someones mistake
– someones risk
– someone who wants more than is available for them
I just go for it.
And distinguish who I feel I am from who others think I am.
I have two strong sides to me now.
– the newer learned and more authentic me
– the quiet invisible me that experiences relationships in fear and in destructive ways.
Going forward…I am going to:
– stop relationships where I feel like I slip into accommodating
– do things that I enjoy and find reasons to love myself.