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Today I noticed very clearly all of a sudden that when I am feeling rejected or lonely or unloved I can turn for a feeling of self-worth to my school work. I was getting home from helping a friend and then journaling about a tenant issue and as soon as I drove my bike into the driveway I realized that my mind went right to getting on the computer and grading papers… For the feeling of accomplishing something. I am actually super sleepy and super down and wanted to make myself work with the understanding that THAT would give me cred.
Then as I was going into the house I think I thought of a couple of other ‘to-do’ type things that I would normally revert to as well…things that I learned at a young age would give me attention or a feeling of there being a point to me being here.
I journaled this morning about the fact that I am absolutely terrified to display a sense of self-worth. To defend my self worth, my feelings, my experiences, my needs, my quality of life. That is what paralyzes me… Which is why I am also paralyzed by someone being angry with me… I don’t think that I have a leg to stand on because what I feel or think or do, or the reasons why I feel or think or do something are not worth anything to anyone else.
And the scary truth is…that that is true.
So, when I came in the house, and when I looked at the mess that is my place…I actually just plugged my phone in and laid down on the bed. Because the thing I needed most was rest.
Michael Brown, in his book entitled The Presence Process, insight-fully and creatively plays with words in a way that privileges other perspectives on the ways that we think about challenging experiences in our lives.
‘Upsets’ or the moments in which we find ourselves feelings or experiences that provoke a less than happy reaction. Our focus in those moments can be resentments, resistance, feelings of victimization, frustration, anger, fear — and our actions reflect these negative perspectives on ourselves and our lives.
Michael Brown has decided to refer to these moments or upsetting events as ‘set-ups’ instead. The dictionary defines this term as : “an event the result of which is prearranged“. The meaning here connotes a kind of situation that one can not have any control over…specifically in terms of reaction or behavior. And the reactions or behavior are presumed to be associated with habits or patterns that are not optimum or to one’s advantage. A situation may catch you off guard or trigger you into reacting in a way that you are tricked into or unable to see the options for reactions that you may have.
For me, wow — I encounter so many of these a day, and most of them originate not with a particular situation but in the way I interpret the moment, the situation I am in in the moment, the expectations that I have that I am not aware of, and the outcomes that I am afraid of.
– I am alone in my place: it is upsetting because I believe that I am alone. It is a setup rather than an upset when I think differently about the situation
-this guy that I miss doesn’t communicate with me in a way that shows he wants to continue to socialize, or anything. It is an upset because I am lonely. It is a set-up because it challenges me to see that this lack of communication is freeing me up…
– I am planning to head out of town with a guy friend on the weekend and I am reticent because we have never been in the same place/time for days on end. I am afraid of being found out to be moody, or boring, or controlling or critical, or unfun, or anything bad. It is a set-up because I need to focus outwards, on the things that I will enjoy…that I want to enjoy. On my intentions for the trip. On how I want to enjoy the time, enjoy the time with my friend, discover things.
What do I have or what do I want to have to bring to a relationship?
- I want to feel comfortable about myself…
- the belief that I have something to bring
- the understanding of who I am in the world
- something that won’t change in a relationship
- I want to feel focused
- I want to feel decisive about my livelihood…
I do make them.
I do feel lots and lots of things.
I thought that all of those things were wrong or unnatural, or bad….because of the ways that people reacted to me when I was very young. And then as I grew older.
So, at a very early age, I began to punish myself for having all of those feelings, feeling all of those connections. All of it.
None of it was wrong. I didn’t know what to do with any of it because those who were supposed to care for me and guide me were busy doing other things.
Now, I am faced with more of my truths than ever before, no one to guide me in how to live with them from moment to moment.
Only some new insights.
My connections are true.
They are so varied.
And they are different with everyone.
Some of those connections…I should not pursue very far. Some of them I should.
All of them are creating me somehow.
If others do not like my connection with them, that is their thing. It doesn’t mean that the connection I feel with them is wrong. It just means that we are not on the same wavelength at the moment.
Others can’t seem to ‘get’ a connection with me. Because they are not connected with themselves. (Like, my mother.) I keep myself safe from those.
Feeling feels horrendous.
Yet, that has been the whole point of this past…however many years.
Taking responsibility for my feelings.
Be aware of what I am feeling.
And then letting it flow.
And making decisions based on how I feel.
And then allowing myself to not feel guilty or regretful or fearful after I have acted on the feeling(s).
It intensifies on a regular occasional basis. I try to imagine that it is not who I am. That it is not the same loneliness I felt years and years ago. But it is.
When I am encountering new people, new friends, new possible romantic interests…I get to this insecure place. Almost always. And I want to ignore that it is the same place I have been before. Because I don’t want to be the same girl I was way back when. Way back when I had no one. Way back when those I had were all I had…and their incomplete way of caring was something that I thought meant something about who I was.
I feel lonely meeting people who have had much better caring than me. I feel ashamed still, like I did when I was 9 years old…5 years old…when I took responsibility for not being supervised…When I learned that other people felt sorry for me…that they thought that there was nothing that could be done for a kid whose parents did not look after her.
Now…I see myself in comparison to others. Or I see my (non-)caring entourage in comparison with others’ caring entourages. And I guess the question is…can I see myself as a person who is something separate from the uncaring? Can I see myself as a person who is miraculously not the type of person who grew up neglected like I did? Is it possible for me to be that?
Will I always be ‘that poor girl’…whom someone looks upon and notices my weaknesses or instabilities and then ‘understands why’. Am I a really true strong and ‘everything’ person despite not having had those gaps filled in as a kid? Can one be amazing when one was not treated amazingly?
When nothing else feels good.
Because it is an admittance of how I feel.
Because it means I give in.
Because I deserve to cry.
Because whatever is making me cry needs to get out. Crying is a way to get that out…
Because it is one of the few times that how I feel trumps how I think I need to be.
How many times have I tried to write about what feels true for me? And felt it, and felt how real it was. And then changed gears right back to mask world, space suit girl. How can one live with their feelings all the time? How can one be aware and live with what one truly feels all the time?
How can I sit here and feel. And then act on my needs?
I need to be ‘in’ myself all the time.
A lot of trauma stuff is coming up today.
Realizing the fact that I feel unsafe almost everywhere.
Realizing that I don’t trust myself to put myself in a safe place. That I don’t know any safe places. Realizing that when I put myself near Gave…that I felt unsafe. Because I didn’t believe my own feelings. I didn’t trust my own feelings. And yes, my own feelings are real but not true. But how do I deal with that? My feelings are real but not true. When I do feel unsafe what do I do? How do I make myself feel safe? How do I make a space safe?
How do I accept that if I can not make a space feel safe that I want to leave?
I usually don’t feel an option…I don’t feel like I have a choice. So, I stay in an uncomfortable place.
GL, I feel more than a physical connection with you.
I have been afraid to reveal it. I know that I have been afraid to reveal it because I felt the feeling in my stomach when you didn’t ask me on another date. When you stood there and looked at me like you wanted it to magically happen by jedi-mind-tricking me. When you asked in a roundabout way…like you wanted me to say yes before you asked.
Because I feared you may exploit that.
The first night we spent together.
I went over to your house…I dropped an expectation then. An expectation that you would treat me well. I tried to hide that. I dove into what I thought was a crap situation and made it crap before he could. I just went to the bedroom.
Because I could not sit on the sofa and talk. Because I was afraid I could not stave him off. I was afraid I would lose the battle. So I just forfeited. I was so afraid to sit and talk. I was so afraid to face his pain. I was so afraid to make out with him and have to stop him from going further. I was so afraid to show myself, to show my awkwardness, to be awkward…uncontrollably, to look scared and vulnerable. I was afraid to react with trauma-stuff. I was afraid to be faced with being seduced. I was afraid of feeling the pressure to do more than I want to do.
I want more than sex meets.
I wanted more than tea at 8pm on a Sunday night.
I wanted to talk more. I wanted to see your face more. I wanted to walk more.
I’m not good at dealing with how I feel. I not good at revealing point blank how I feel.
I am terrified of someone’s response to how I feel. I’m so scared that your response will be really hurtful. Condescending, dismissive, erasive, patronizing, exasperated…
I feel more than a physical connection with you.
I don’t know what to do about it.
I feel that the fate of my feelings is at the mercy of…you.
Can something more come from just having sex?
I got my tea and carrot cake so that I didn’t have to wait for him to be nice to me. I didn’t want him to fail being courteous in front of me. I didn’t want to have to choose ‘no’ when he started to interact with me and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to have to face the fuck-ups. I want the nice guy, but I do not want to have to go through the not-nice-guy in order to get there. I am afraid of everything. I didn’t let him buy my tea because (he would feel entitled to something). To what? To the time we spent together going a certain way.
- I did not feel that I could choose to not enjoy myself
- I didn’t not feel like I could choose how much time we spent, where we went, how I reacted to him, whether I agreed with him.
- Just buying a drink or tea means I have to act a certain way.
I couldn’t say ‘I like you’ at the end of the date/meet. Because…I didn’t allow myself to believe that he liked me.
- I didn’t all
He didn’t like that I ordered my tea and carrot cake first because then it really didn’t resemble any kind of date.
I wanted a buffer between meeting someone and having to act the way someone expects me to.
It takes a long time to get to know someone. I want that time to be mine as well as someone else’s.
I want to know that when I share how I feel that I have a safe place to sit or be while they react. That I am safe from their reaction.
I realize now, that he wanted to know whether I was enjoying being with him–and acting like he wasn’t there was not a good way to show him…
I wanted to keep the space and he wanted the space to get smaller…so that he knew something.
If I like someone I am even that much more terrified.
When a normal person likes someone — they leave space for them to come over. then they reach out.
I didn’t give him any signs…except listening.
I didn’t reveal anything about me – except that I had personal issues that were involved with me not finishing my Phd.
Do I know how to let things in. Do I know how to let things about me be revealed?
Do I have the protection mechanisms I need, the safety latches I need when someone starts to come to close? Can I say or do something really straightforward? Can I say what I really think?
I ordered by carrot cake and my tea before him — and that was just another way of keeping space between us.
- Autonomy – didn’t want to be constrained by someone else…in any way
- I also talked intellectually instead of personally (didn’t ask his thing about the kid and the drop-off)
- could explain my take on the film thing because I am afraid to reveal how personal I think public and social processes are.
- I felt nervous about touching his hand because I was afraid it was a trick. What would he take from me if I let him touch me?
- I am so afraid of the connection because I give everything. And I am not sure how to take care of my boundaries and my life when I am really into someone.
- How do I feel so much for someone and keep my side of life on track at the same time?
– I am afraid of masculine privilege.
– I am afraid of not being visible or entitled or even valued or important in the presence of a male who I am attached to. I have the tendency to put him on a pedestal and then lose perspective on my role in the relationship.
- I am afraid of the pattern they play out. Because I don’t know how to play out my own pattern.
- I feel so vulnerable to someone buying me tea or anything. Me going to their house. Spending my time, sharing my smile. How do I keep them for myself?
When I went to Gave’s the first time I was so afraid to sit on the sofa and talk to him. Because I could not give any good reason why I was there then, at that time, in his house. When I liked him more than that. I had more respect for myself than that. I had higher hopes for our next meeting than that.
But I acted like this was the only option I had. I acted like it was my last chance.
I needed to know his intentions. But he didn’t reveal. No, I didn’t ask. I was afraid to. I already felt scared and vulnerable. There was so much to find out about him. The guy with the most on his profile, who had revealed the most, was the most interesting…I felt like I knew the least about, I wanted to find out the most about.
Do I tell him that? He has revealed so little about himself…personally. He has revealed things…but when I am not revealing anything he is not either.
What is the way out of this? I have a feeling I can’t go back.
What can I do NOW? I want to undo it or change it or alter…something.
Please – U – tell me what I can do?!!!!!!!!! Please?!!!!!!!!!!!! I need your guidance with this.
On a less emotional level–
I can talk to him about my philanthropic interests in kids…
On a more emotional level–
I can be affectionate
- but he said (why so sentimental?)
did he say that because I hadn’t been?
or did he say that because he does not want more than sex?
My intention was not to completely distance you from the beginning. It was the only way I knew at the time how to maintain a safe space. I know it just felt like or looked like space or alienation, now I know that. But I really need to feel like someone acknowledges my boundaries in an open way before I feel good about revealing myself on a deeper level.
You probably don’t get how vulnerable it feels to be me. Or to be a woman in this dating thing, nor do you know anything about my own past or relationships. And you don’t leave room for possibilities that make sense outside of your own personal experience. I am supposed to cater to your perceptions, expectations or to convention before I am supposed to cater to my own feelings and comfort levels.
I regret alienating you. I regret not giving a clear message. But here it is
I feel more than just physical attraction to you.
I wanted you to touch me on our first date(meet).
I didn’t want to go to your house for ‘tea’ as the second time we met. If I did, I really did want to cuddle, and sleep. I did want to do that all the time. I still want to. I want to talk. I want to hear you. I want you to see me.
I don’t know what to do when you do see me. But I want to find out.
I oversee myself – and the Universe oversees me…
I have been scared to get out of bed all of these years because…it has not felt safe. And I have not felt authorized to do anything.
When I was a kid my actions and feelings and being was so policed that I developed a complex. I was careful about EVERYTHING and EVERYone and I am still that way. I know more, and I know how to do more and I run in different circles and bigger circles, but I only broadened my horizons ‘relatively’. I have still be afraid to get out of bed. I have still been afraid to take initiative and speak and do and act and feel out loud.
Because I have yearned for someone to supervise me, watch over me. Call me in for dinner and take care of the things about myself that I was not able to take care of before.
And because I was afraid that I was completely alone as a result of no supervision.
Even in the last couple of weeks are began to see outside of all of this. In the last many months I ‘saw’ the ‘supervision’ paradigm…as a paradigm… Something I constructed. The reason for why I have stayed in school for all of this time.
But I needed to make the rest of the links.
I Supervise me
I have a connection to the world, just like everyone else.
How does that look in practice?? Hm?!
Let us just see now then.
I want to bawl my eyes out.
Because I am so upset
That he does not love me.
In the past…I would have made this situation much worse, I think. I think I would have humiliated myself much worse…Made him the object of my obsession in much more active ways. Right now I find it absolutely torturous to not contact him…even just for 3 days. I want to put myself through a window or something…Because that’s how my body feels right now.
It’s that second arrow.
All of this time I am spending on my own. Alone. Lonely.
I notice in the car that I have someone traveling with me. No radio. No podcasts. Just silence. And I have a passenger. A deep one.
I am walking around with her everyday. And she is very upset.
Right now she is absolutely inconsolable. She is angry and crying and having a delirious fit. And she is uncomfortable and waiting and impatient and entitled.
And she is shooting the second arrow at me…?
GL doesn’t call, text. Anything. And she, the passenger, shoots the second arrow at me. “What did you do?” “How did you fuck it up?” She wants an explanation? She wants things to turn out right this time? She is blaming me for being alone? She is having a temper freakout because he is not doing what I thought he would.
Just like it happened with my mother?
That second arrow. As though it is my fault. As though everything that happens is my fault. So, I spend all of this time regretting my actions. Instead of…acting appropriately. I spend all of this time trying to think of ways to reverse things. Or change things. Or figure out why. Because leaving it as is for some reason feels excruciating…
What is important in my life that I can not see? What else is there for me to do that I am not doing?
Things for me to do in life.
What do I care about?
It’s another hour or two later and I still want to cry.
Cry even more because I don’t see a way out of this.
Even if I go ‘cool’ at this moment…I am so embarrassed that he saw me be uncool for so long. And I can’t take it back. And he will remind me of it.