Spoiled/Spoilt (256)

I hate this word, and I hate how it frequently gets used by the parents of children that are ‘misbehaving’ or being ‘demanding’.

Because when you’re the parent of a child that’s throwing a tantrum over not getting what they want, or being generally difficult and obnoxious, and you’re getting angry and shouting at them and shaming them and telling them they’re a spoilt brat, how do you think they got that way? A four year old that has learnt to get exactly what they want and refuses anything other than that, hasn’t become that way by him/herself. Children aren’t born spoilt, they don’t come out of the womb that way, it isn’t a part of their DNA, it is something that they have learnt through a lack of proper parenting. And so the anger and cruelty that you hear coming out of parents’ mouths whilst shaming their child for being a way that they have learnt to be under their own parenting, makes me crazy and so mad. Because it’s not a childs fault if they have gotten what they want so far in life, because they are the child, and it’s not their responsibility to set the boundaries for what they can and cannot have, and what oversteps the mark into ‘being spoiled’

…….

Short sidetrack to google and find out what the difference between spoilt and spoiled is….nothing. Apparently Americans (here’s looking at you pocketcanadian) use spoilt, but we brits use both. Who knew? Not me.

…….

The other thing is what does being spoiled actually mean? I guess I googled it because I was thinking about how over here I think we use the word spoilt more in terms of what someone would call a ‘spoilt brat’… someone who is demanding, and refuses to not get exactly what they want when they want. Someone not used to hearing no, and refusing to accept no as a reasonable response. A phrase generally used for kids…so yeah, just ugh to that. It bugs me.

Spoiling somebody isn’t necessarily a bad thing though is it? Saying you want to spoil somebody for their birthday, or because they’ve had a rough go and could use some love and support. Which just makes me think its such a stupid word to use, because doing something like doesn’t make somebody ‘harmed in character because of being treated too leniently or indulgently’, which is the definition google is giving me. I just think it is a dumb fucking phrase.

……

And finally, the personal bit….My mum in particular likes to tell me and other people about how I’m spoiled. So no shit I hate this word. And yet I have never been one to act in a spoiled way, I’m just not like that. When we were kids we didn’t just get pocket money, I used to work in my parents business, or earn money doing jobs like cutting the grass. We didn’t go without anything that we needed nor plenty of things that we wanted, not because of acting in a spoiled way, but because they were freely given. Private schools were paid for (whether you wanted to go to the local comprehensive with your friends like I did or not), Expensive gifts were given, whether you asked for them or wanted them or liked them or not. And you never said no to them, that was extremely rude and ungrateful. And that’s the thing…it’s a catch 22 with her. Because it doesn’t matter if you don’t want it, or how much you tell her not to, if she decides shes going to give you it (because she’s a narcissist and it makes her look good), you’re getting it. And I’m actually very grateful, and have always been grateful for everything I’ve had from them. I just don’t like the implication that because you are freely given things you never asked for, you’re spoilt.

Finally, (I promise I’m nearly done and will shut up soon), things in our house were given to make everything ‘okay’. I think there was a genuine and very kind and loving desire from my parents that we would never go without anything, but things were also given to placate and guilt you into forgiving and forgetting other things. You weren’t allowed to still be upset if you were given a gift, in fact you would have to show just how grateful you were. For example every single week my dad would bring back gifts for my mum and me from the airport on his flight home. For my mum it was for his own guilt over the women he was sleeping with whilst he was away, or simply to get a peaceful weekend, like the gifts for me were. But as it happened, I was happiest when I was just given a bar of milka chocolate (yum), when I didn’t have to express how grateful I was all the time, and when I could just spend time with my dad guilt free, eating chocolate.

Regret(s) (254)

I’ve got plenty of regrets. I’m not going to go into all of them, because well, that would end up being an incredibly dull and longwinded post serving nobody, not even myself.

Today my mum brought up my brother with me. Apparently somebody drove into the back of his car (yet another in a series of unfortunate car dramas of his). She made a comment along the lines of “it’s like somebody up above has shoved a huge arrow pointing at him to attract car accidents”. I think I smiled, shrugged my shoulders in a kind of¬†well, good way. She said I thought I’d tell you that because I thought you would like it…think he deserves it.

The way she does this, randomly brings it into conversation completely freaks me out. It makes me panic and dissociate. It doesn’t feel safe. I said that he drives like a complete idiot, so he does deserve it for that, yes. She didn’t take the hint, or rather, she just ignored it, as she has a tendency to do, and then said “I don’t get it, your relationship with him is worse than ever now, youre the one that said that you had a good relationship with him now”. My panic grows, my shame grows. I say that I don’t remember saying that. She tells me that I did, the day that I told her what he’d done (and yes I did say that). It’s her narcissistic way of saying that I’m now making it all difficult when I was perfectly fine with it back then. Its the insinuation (likely in my head, but I also don’t doubt that my mum is very much thinking it), that I chose how it is now. That I didn’t want them to tell him. That they said they would do whatever I decided. And they still would.

And I could…I could tell them to tell him that they know, to have it all out there, and risk him never coming back. And they would. So as far as they are concerned, they’re doing the perfectly right thing. They’re amazing parents. It makes me want to shrivel up in shame, even now just writing it. Because as far as they are concerned, the upset that I am harbouring (that they don’t even realise I am to the extent that I am), is entirely unfair and unjustified, and all because I’m selfish and too much, and making them out to be awful when they’re not. Except they aren’t taking any of the rest of it into account. They aren’t considering that my dad said literally¬†nothing about it to me until I said that it was making me upset. His response was to completely and utterly pretend it didn’t happen. And then, when forced to talk about it with me, it was a family meeting that felt like a very cold business meeting. I was in tears being stared at by my parents who remained sat in their chairs. I was forced to come up with a plan of what we would do. I was forced to hear over and over about how if they told him, he would never come back. It takes no account for the pressure of all of it placed on me, it takes no account for the total control that was removed from my clutches and placed into theirs. I didn’t choose to tell. My mum asked and asked and asked until I said that yes it had happened. She already knew. I told her I didn’t want my dad to know, she said that he had a right to know and that she would be telling him. I was immediately forced to say what I wanted to do about it. At which point I think I said what I did about having a good relationship with him now that we were older. That things were different. I said it because it was true, and because I needed a grasp on staying as is was for a bit. Not having the rug pulled entirely out from under my feet. She was throwing everything at me in the most terrifying situation to me. She paid no real attention to the fact that I was very much not okay, she made it all about her, made a big deal about how she had to go to bed because she felt sick.

No regard has ever been given to how traumatic that day and the days following were for me. And I’m not surprised, they have no understanding of trauma. They laugh at the idea of somebody having PTSD who hasn’t been serving their country in war. It’s a preposterous concept. But what really hurts is that they have no desire to understand. To do some reading, to think about how to help, or what I might need. All the while thinking they’re being so amazing, and that I’m being difficult and extra. Making a big deal out of nothing. I hate the shame that I carry because of it. The shame that makes me cry and makes me want to hide, just for putting it out anonymously on the internet.

My biggest regret is everything that has come since telling. The not shouting, the not putting it all out there, the not bringing my brother into the huge mess that he doesn’t know exists but that he himself created. The staying close to them, the still seeing them, the not talking about it. The getting increasingly closer to my dad again, to the point where I don’t know if I would ever be okay with leaving them, even though I think that that might be the best thing I could ever do for myself. I don’t know how exactly I would do it different, and I know that no way would ever be perfect. But I just really regret the way that I did do it, even if it was the best I knew how at the time. It feels like the biggest mess that I won’t ever be able to clean up.

two hundred & fifty-three: commitment

even though i haven’t posted here for a really long time, most days, i have looked at the daily word. and wondered if this would be the day i started again. if this would be the day i could scrounge together my courage to post. i know no one really has noticed, no one but me, but every day, my silence here has prickled and poked at me, mocked me, shamed me.

it has been a really, really hard go these past several weeks, friends. i am tired of hearing myself say that, but it’s been really true. again. fuck.

i have been so so ashamed for not being able to follow through on this blog. well, my follow-through on many things has been shit, but on this blog especially. because the commitment i made about writing here was to myself. it was about engaging in a routine, in a healing activity, in a daily practice. my commitment was to creativity, to get writing again, to shoot photos again. to reflect, even if just quickly, on this list of words, and what they mean to me.

and, i also committed to sharing this blog with my best friend, who lives really far away, who suffers similar pain, whose body bears similar and also different hurts, whose mind, like mine, bites and tears at itself far more often than not. i am sad that i have abandoned and failed her, too.

*

the year i fell in love with a woman, i couldn’t have wed her legally, even if i wanted to (which i didn’t; i thought marriage was a bullshit patriarchal institution and i had zero desire to do it, to the chagrin of my family and friends). back then, queer folks had commitment ceremonies. and they were emotional, and beautiful, and sad all at once, because they were unrecognized by the law. it was a political and social act with little clout.

but by the time we had shacked up and bought a cat together, all canadians could legally wed. and for the first time in my life, i wanted to get married. i wanted to bind myself to her legally. i wanted that stupid piece of paper recognizing us as a couple. i wanted to put a ring on it. i wanted to procreate and live happily ever after. i wanted to make the same public commitment to her that my friends were making to their opposite-sex partners. i wanted a wedding cake (and she wanted a different one…so we had two, haha).

it was a very good party, we were told. not for us, as our mothers only united long enough to ruin things mightily, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

*

in my spinning and my pain, i have managed to orchestrate a divide between my young daughter and i that i fear i can’t repair. she has been going through some really hard things, and i haven’t been there for her. i have been judgmental and harsh, prickly and impatient. we argue all the time. i have not liked her very much lately, because she dares to request that i be her mom, and i can’t handle it. i haven’t been able to handle much of anything. and i see how i have failed her, how she has steeled herself against my rejection: in her body’s language, in her lack of turning to me, in the tone of her voice, in the tilt of her chin.

i have detached myself from her, from everyone i love in a variety of ways, big and small, because i have been caught in a wind tunnel of self-loathing and hurt. and i hate myself the most for doing it to her, coz she’s only little. and she has interpreted my psychic absence as disinterest about her. that she is not important. that she doesn’t matter. i hate me for it.

just now, after writing all of that, i curled around her sleeping body, and i soaked her pillow with my regret and my shame and my guilt and i whispered all the things i don’t have the courage to say to her yet, and also all the things that she doesn’t ever need to hear: my apologies. my mistakes. my fears.

and then after that, to the rhythm of her heart, i whispered my commitment to her, which is really a commitment to myself: to be gentle. to be gentle. to be gentle.

two hundred & nine: motivation

what i’ve had very little of, in terms of this blog.

which leads to shame, which leads me not to do it even more.

and shaming myself into writing this post led me to realize that i am not very good at motivation without also being impatient and unkind, particularly to myself. as in, the only reason i’m writing right now is because i thought it would be amusing and kind of ironic (and a good opportunity to be self-deprecating) that i write my first post in days about motivation, like ha, what a joke. posting about how lame i’ve been about posting is an opportunity i can’t pass up. gotta get that dig in.

and i can hear that it’s mean, and i feel all the familiar pricklings of shame in my body, but tonight, i think i deserve all of it, it feels right.

one hundred & ninety three: perfection

ah yes. the companion of nearly every survivor of a difficult childhood: striving for perfection.

many of us, myself and pocketbrit definitely included, had parents that expected it. yet no matter how excellent our behaviour or grades, or how closely we followed the rules, it eluded us, and eludes us still.

naively, i thought i had gotten over my need for perfection; i have certainly dedicated hundreds of hours to it in previous years of therapy, and thought i had kicked the habit. recent experiences tell me that i haven’t, not even close. maybe i’ve been in denial about it. or perhaps i was distracted by loads of other bullshit that was piled atop of this base, gutteral fear, that’s certainly feasible (eye roll). but my expectations of perfection are very much here, very much hurting me, very much making things difficult again in my life.

*

my expectation of perfection manifests in several different ways, most notably, with a lack of tolerance for mistakes. in myself mostly, but sometimes in others (like my kiddo…ugh i hate that). when i think of where it came from, it was partly that i didn’t hear a lot about what was ‘right’ about me. if i got 98% on a test, the question was about where the other 2% went – i mean, if i was so close to perfection, why couldn’t i just go all the way? or if i had a really great soccer game or a terrific hit in baseball, there would also be feedback on the really fast runner i didn’t stop, or the one pop fly that bounced out of my glove.

i described to someone recently – my wife, maybe, or my t – how i have a really long mental list of all that i have done wrong, the mistakes i have made, and with whom. and once the list starts approaching a certain length, i get more and more squirrely, all watery on the inside, because how much more will they tolerate? i mean, i messed that thing up last week, i forgot that really important date in her life, i really fucked up that other thing yesterday, i made that stupid joke that upset her, and oh my god, what about how disappointed he was when i didn’t follow through when i was supposed to?!

my missteps keep me up at night all the time. everyone says that mistakes are okay, but i know they’re not, not really. coz if i burn through their tolerance for mistakes (which i inevitably will, coz i’m nothing if consistent in my mistake-making), they will go. they will have no choice but to leave, because what self-respecting human will put up with the shittiness that is me?! at some point, they will call it, because how crummy i am will outweigh any of the things that might be okay or decent about me.

because the truth is, i am chronically terrified of being left. despite being a grown-ass woman in my 40s, despite the fact that many people haven’t gone…all i can think of is how many people did. after 17 years with my wife, i still think (and regularly) that i am one mistake away from her throwing in the towel. i am terrified of my daughter reaching the age of 18, when she can officially, legally disown me as her mother. i know pocketbrit is going to leave me one way or another, why wouldn’t she?

and i’m aware it sounds nuts. but it’s how i feel, way deep down. and whilst triggered, this striving for perfection is even more amped up, with the added bonus of it being even less likely that i meet the unattainable goal of getting it right 100% of the time. when i’m triggered, the mind-numbing fear of the consequences of these critical mistakes is also magnified, millions-fold. and my response? is fight, flight, and freeze, all, in quick head-spinning succession.

*

there have been huge chunks of time lately where i’ve self-isolated to the degree that i’m convinced that the only person i can count on is my therapist. and the only reason i can count on her is because i pay her, and i’m too lost in terror to even care about how sad that is. she is the only one who i’ve been able to tell the hard stuff, the ugly horrible stuff in my head, how much i loathe myself, how scared i get. i tell her, even though i know she will leave me too, but it won’t be personal like it will be when everyone else does.

she’ll leave me because i’m not a real person in her life, and because her professional obligations to me will end at some point. she’s here because she has to be. and even though that used to hurt me so so much, that somehow feels safer and better these days. she won’t leave because i messed up too horrifically, coz like she says, people messing up is her bread and butter. she will leave because she was always going to; she is not my mother (though at times i still want to throw myself at her and plead for her to reconsider it), or my family, or my friend. she will go because that was always the deal.

*

when i am finally become more adult, after days straight of spinning out and triggering and retriggering myself, i know that perfection is impossible. i know that striving for perfection comes from my inner little one, who is trying so desperately to avoid feeling shame and blame and judgement from others, like brene brown says. i know it’s coz i have the core belief that i am bad, not that i’ve done something bad. that i am a mistake, not that i made one.

and from this adult place, i know i can’t go on this way, i can’t go on feeding the illusion of perfection. it keeps me alone and lonely and disconnected. it keeps me walled away and prickly and inaccessible. it is the conviction of a little one for whom those fears were the reality, long ago, but i’m big now, i’m safe now, it’s not true. i can fuck up. lots and lots and lots. i am more than my mistakes. i am more than my trauma. i mean more than those things to the people who love me.

*

but this secure, solid adult place has been so fleeting lately, that i only have a few days at most before i’m riding the shame spiral again, dragging everyone down in my wake, berating myself mightily for landing myself here, yet again.

i am so, so tired.

this post was backdated; actually written on april 12/19

one hundred & seventy three: fine

at first i thought that my comment on pocketbrit’s post was pretty much all i wanted to say on the topic…except it seems that her post has disappeared, and now i don’t remember what i said. so i’m going to try again.

i think all of us live in what i like to call opposite-land at times…we say one thing while meaning another. and it’s all in the delivery, right? ‘i’m fine’ accompanied by a downcast gaze, or quick, snappy body language, or a blazing stare all mean, quite clearly, that the person is not very fine at all. but for pocketbrit and i, who built our relationship via text on a screen (on a forum for survivors of sexual abuse, then over email, now using a chatting app), it was sometimes hard to tell tone. however, i learned fairly quickish (yet slower than most, likely) that for her, fine usually did not mean that she was okay.

i tried to search through our chat history using the word fine but it came up with about 75,420,291 hits…okay, a slight exaggeration, but it is a word that comes up between us frequently, and hurts us both. she won’t believe it, but i don’t think she’s wrong and i’m right in how we use it, not even a little. it is more just that this one small word has managed to highlight so completely and painfully the worst and biggest hurts from our past, the ways they have settled in our bones and continue to injure us in the now. it is horrible and amazing both, how quickly it can flip a switch on our communication, how much power it wields. and tonight, it makes me mad that i let it so often, when i should know better. (oh hello shame, you wily arsehole.)

as she has written about previously, my sweetest pocketbrit was not permitted feelings in her family; her role was as a peace-keeper amongst her brothers, her dad, and even between her parents. there was no room for her to feel anything. no one asked, and no one, within or outside her family, dug beneath the facade of fineness. any unfine feelings she did have were quickly swallowed in order for her to stay safe, to survive.

being fine was the only option for her, really, for years and years (and i’d argue, even now) and that’s an awful thing to come to terms with. re-experiencing the aloneness of a forced fine-ness is fucking terrible, bad enough as an adult, but even worse through the heart of a child. a child who wants to be rescued; who wants to be seen and known and adored and held, like all children do. like we deserved.

i know pocketbrit’s story. i know it, and i understand it. i know that her need for fineness when she is anything but is not to do with me. i know it’s about protecting herself, and most of all, i want her to be safe. god, it is so so important to me that she is safe, that the wee ones inside are safe. and when i’m firmly planted as an adult, her fineness/not fineness doesn’t affect me in the same way as when i’m less adult. it doesn’t hurt. i can think, ah, pocketbrit needs to stay safe, okay. it is in those moments that i can ask whether she’s really fine, or whether she needs to be (as she referenced in her post). it’s those times that no matter her response to that question, whether it’s truthful or less truthful or angry or barricaded, that i can stay steady. if she says she’s fine and she’s not really, it may be mildly frustrating, sure, but i don’t spin out. i can be fine, truly fine, in the face of however she is.

the crap part is, i haven’t had many of those moments lately, where i’m fine, or anything approximating it. i’ve been very unfine lately. and so has she.

and that’s when it all goes to shit, really. when we’re both little and needing. when we’re tired or missing each other. when we want to have our needs met without having to ask, without having to say the words. when we need to be remembered by the other, when we can’t do it ourselves. basically, when our traumas get all tangled and knotted between us and suddenly we’re wading through a colossal triggery mess.

for me, the hook is the word fine, a little, yes, but mostly it’s about doublespeak. when i’m young, or if i’m not sturdy in my adultness, my terror with hearing things are fine (when the circumstances are so shit that there’s no possible way they could be) comes from knowing that i am expected to know, and that because i don’t, i will have to guess, that i will have to search, and that i will inevitably get it wrong.

coz that was my entire childhood. i grew up with a mother who had an endless number of triggers, it seemed. who metamorphosed into a petulant furious child when she was hurt or upset. and her lack of boundaries, her volatility, her inconsistency, made for very confusing, unsafe times for child-me. coz when my mom was hurt or upset, she raged, she lashed out with whatever was nearest, she slammed things around, she screamed in my face, but worst of all was when she would go completely silent, for hours or sometimes days.

it made my stomach drop out. it was clear i was being punished, but she wouldn’t tell me why, or what. during these silent periods, when i asked for something she’d sometimes respond, but with no eye contact. she would serve me food, turn on the taps for my bath, but in silence. and if she did meet my gaze, her eyes were empty and dead. she handled me like i was a thing. it was like i had disappeared, like i didn’t exist, and i absorbed her disgust like a sponge.

for years, when this happened, i would flail desperately, trying to make it right, trying to fix it, trying to get her to look at me, to love me. and then, in a distant, quiet voice, looking somewhere over my shoulder, she’d say that she was fine. it didn’t matter. and there was no correct response to that. the only right thing was that i was wrong, regardless. my existence, my presence, was wrong.

so it’s a little bit the word fine, but mostly it’s the perpetual wrongness that’s my trigger. the feeling from long ago, of being trapped, of having no clue what to do but being pretty certain that it will be wrong no matter what. the helplessness that swallows me whole when i’m faced with a word that has so many shades of meaning, that is so super charged.

so yeah, when i’m already triggered, or when i’m young already (or teetering on edge of it), when i’m lost in shame, hearing pocketbrit tell me she’s fine creates instant panic. it feels like i have to guess and i know i’ll get it wrong, and then many times, i’m flooded with anger and blame (to cover my terror) and then it’s already gone to shit, hasn’t it.

so here are my solutions around using the word fine. we should:

  • identify exactly how we’re feeling every given moment
  • only say the word as it’s meant – as in, all is well over here!
  • stay safe at all times so we never resort to past coping mechanisms
  • check our shame at the door, or if we experience it, be able to dial it back asap
  • remember that we love each other
  • remember what love is, period

yeah they’re shit solutions. i know. i knew it when i started trying to write them. it’s coz there aren’t any solutions, i don’t think.

saying fine is not a problem to be solved, to start…i mean, yeah, all the things that are glued to it are problematic, but we didn’t paste them there. we didn’t choose them on our own, though we are the ones who have to deal with them.

update (as of may 12/19): even though the original entry was only a couple months ago, i was struck by the fact tonight that this word hasn’t come up in ages. i mean, we certainly haven’t stopped triggering each other, and we’ve had some absolutely horrific arguments since then…one in particular for which i need to do a whole lot more repair with one of her young parts…but not about this word. progress? i think so. i really do. coz even after reflecting on all of this again, even thinking about all the hard stuff we’ve been through together and on our own, all i feel is love and gratitude. she’s the friend for me.

backdated; finalized on May 12/19

one hundred & seventy two: pride

this word actually reminded me of the endless lectures we got as kids, usually regarding doing our ‘jobs.’ we often got accused of having a lack of pride if we didn’t delight in our 500 chores (washing/drying/putting away dishes after every meal, vacuuming the entire house, dusting, scrubbing toilets and sinks, washing the floor, wiping mirrors, putting laundry out onto the line, taking it off, folding it), or if we didn’t do them up to their standards.

in particular, it makes me think about one of my dad’s most regular speeches about how our family was a team, and as team members, we all needed to do our part, we all needed to contribute, they worked so hard to provide all these things for us, how our laziness, lack of enthusiasm and pride in our chores was an insult to them, was proof of how we were ungrateful, selfish, spoiled kids. i can hear the pseudo-patient, long-suffering tone of his voice even now, and i simultaneously roll my eyes outwardly, while i feel my insides shrinking up.

the one persistent, childish fuck you for my apparent lack of pride was one i maintained as long as i lived in their house: i kept my room a a total mess. and even now, i tend to be more messy than tidy, and it is yet another example of the way they have a hold on me, even still. my doing the opposite of what they would do just shows how much control i continue to let them have. it’s ridiculous. insta-shame.

*

my parents were incredibly stingy with praise and in being proud of us. they were proud of us to other people, but rarely in earshot. they bragged about our accomplishments to their friends (as reflections on themselves as excellent parents, mostly) but were very intentional about keeping our sense of pride in ourselves miniscule. we learned that ‘getting a big head’ was one of the worst things that could happen, and any sense of self-confidence was evidence of this. compliments or praise that we shared with them, from teachers or our friends’ parents, were considered highly suspicious, and their intentions were always questioned: ‘what are they playing at?’ and ‘hmm, they’re probably just buttering you up because dad teaches their son.’ compliments paid to us when they were present were quickly batted away: ‘oh you don’t know what she’s usually like at home’ or ‘oh but you should see the state of her room’ and ‘we just wish his math grades would reflect that!’

i don’t know why they were like this. i don’t know why some pride was sanctioned but others wasn’t. i don’t know what they thought would happen if we were proud of ourselves, or if they showed that they were proud of us. we would like ourselves? we would be comfortable in our own skin? we would get better than them?

(though honestly, isn’t that the fucking goal of it all?! i think so. i desperately want our daughter to be better than us, to struggle less, to achieve more, to be happy, to be satisfied, to be loved, to be safe. i want her to be okay. i want her to be as big as she wants to be, to take up as much space as she needs, to chase whatever dreams she has, to have the hugest expanse of what is possible for her lying ahead. why would i want to curb that? why would i want her to pack herself away?)

i don’t get any of it. yet i get all of it, very intimately, because i live with its effects, every minute of my life.

one hundred & seventy: goals

i am a huge list maker. like actually, on paper or on my phone, but also virtually, like in my head. a constant tally of the things i need to do, of both the banal and extremely life-altering variety.

my main goal in life used to be to be completely amazing, to be the top of my class, to win awards and accolades, to be the best. cream of the crop and all that shit.

my goal these days is to simply be enough: a good enough mom. an acceptable wife. a decent friend. i don’t need to win any awards, i just want to meet expectations and not fall short too too often. i just want to not fuck it all up.

*

i’m adding an addendum to this post (it’s the next day). i’ve had a royal shitpile of a day, and part of the reason is because i was waaaaaay too lighthearted about this word, and it’s been eating at me.

coz really, the word, and my memories surrounding it, made me feel a bit sick.

my goals have always been driven by a need to make up for the fact that i am an entirely disappointing human being. my lists are usually reminders of the variety of ways i need to compensate for this fact. i am not easygoing at all about my lists and my goals; that said, it would be impossible to check all the boxes on my lists because they are entirely outlandish, unrealistic, and inherently punitive.

when i was younger, my goals were very much about how to improve myself physically. when i was 11 and 12 and 13, for example, i made sure i did a bunch of sit-ups and leg lifts before bed, because i was sure i was horrifically revolting (i wasn’t) and that i needed to counterbalance my affinity for junk food. i dieted constantly, as i saw my mom do. i felt gross and ashamed about eating, my body, and food. although my body was strong, athletic, and lean, and helped me to excel in team and individual sports, what i saw in the mirror was totally different.

a lot of my goals were to excel at things, so i would impress someone, often a teacher (ugh, i am flushing with shame to write this). i wanted to be excellent because it felt good, yes, but also because i wanted desperately to be special. to be attended to. to be acknowledged. to be seen.

*

one of my main goals in therapy is to stop the cycle of violence…the intergenerational trauma…the perpetuating of shame. i can’t bear the thought of passing it on to my daughter, and having her pass it on to her own children. it’s kinda like, the buck stops here, fuckers.

but right now, i am suffering so much. that sounds dramatic but i’m not sure there’s a better way to put it. lately, it feels like i might drown under the weight of all the work i have yet to do. i described it to my therapist today, that it’s like being in a dark room, and someone opens the door a crack, casting a thin slice of light inwards. and when i look around me, that crack of light illuminates huge, teetering piles and collections of stuff, representing the ways that the hurts of my childhood continue to affect my present life. representing the ways in which i have internalized my parents’ voices, the ways in which i carry them with me, the ways i am complicit with shame and the ways in which i allow it to control my life.

lately, it’s all just been so, so hard. triggers in every direction, body afire, brain lit up like hundreds of landing strips for an endless stream of incoming planes. it feels absolutely impossible, feeling sure i had made progress, and then to have the door swing open to reveal towers of additional shit, boxes and boxes of stuff, piled in every corner…you can bet i’ve run out of the room, slammed the door and latched it tight, but it’s too late, i’ve seen it, i know it’s there. i know how much more there is to sort through.

and i’m not sure i can do it…i’m really not sure i can bear any of it for much longer. i’m so exhausted i can’t even cry. i can’t make goals. i can’t think of the future. i can basically hold on, moment by moment.

please tell me this isn’t all there is.

Shame (168)

This word is a huge one in both of our lives, and seriously, how are we even meant to come close to doing this word justice given the hold it has over us? One blog post can’t ever even begin to describe the fucking constant presence of shame. How it sits back and quietly tuts at you so that you think you have enough of a hold over it to not let it impact your life, until it eggs itself on until its completely screaming in your ears, and you can no longer hear/see/think straight.

***

The image that comes to my mind when I think of shame is of a fire…sometimes controlled, a medium burn, easy(ish) to handle. Sometimes that dies down, its just embers, still hot, but not in your face, not painful…and then all of a sudden without any warning it’s fed some fuel and it’s roaring, burning you, engulfing everything around you. If anything is volatile (yesterdays word), it’s shame. Shame can go from nothing to everything in a millisecond.

***

Last summer shame was being particularly noisy one day, and pocketcanadian suggested that I write out everything I was ashamed of, and for once I did. I’ve got a word document here titled ‘all the shame’. It’s not short, 3 pages long, full of things that I was ashamed of. Some of them feel less real reading them tonight (though I know they were incredibly real to me back then), and some of them still ring true. And, as ever there are more that come to mind. It’s an ever changing (and probably expanding) list.

Here’s one that still has a massive hold over me because the personal belief underlying it is one that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake:

  • That I’m too much. Too needy, too incessant, too annoying, want too much, ask for too much, am too emotional, take too much away from other people.

And here are a couple that I wrote that still make me feel physically sick:

  • That it was my fault because he was just a kid, a victim, and if he’s so young and innocent I should have been able to stop him.
  • That he was just a kid so it can’t have been bad. That it’s different to abuse by an adult, that I’m lucky and should shut up. That I’m being disrespectful to people that were actually abused.

***

If/when PC writes about this one, I think she’ll probably talk about the shame spiral…about how once your ashamed and then trying to let somebody in you start getting ashamed about being ashamed in the first place. I’m nowhere near as eloquent as pc, so I’ll leave that bit to her.

***

I wish I could say something more positive in this post, but well, I can’t. It’s just one of those crappy things, and I could write a whole load more about it, but I think that’s enough rubbishy stuff from me for today.