How to engage with the world again after a difficult start in life
April 10, 2010 8:05 AM Subscribe
How to increase my confidence, engagement, risk-taking, and openness in the world... I feel like a phrase I read once: "she had all of her emotional widgets broken off one by one". (long)
posted by anonymous to human relations (11 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This is hard to write about and I may not be writing this very well, but here goes.
My childhood: alcoholic, pothead, self-centered father; bi-polar mother who raged and hit. To give you an idea: I didn't realize that there were parents actually cared for their children and wanted to spend time with them until very recently. I still find it kind of jarring. To make matters worse, I probably had an undiagnosed sensory integration disorder -- I was very socially awkward and didn't understand social cues. I was suicidally depressed from the age of 9; no one seemed to notice or care. (Seriously, I showed my primary school teacher suicidal poems and no one even thought to get me help?) At this point, I don't talk to my parents anymore, and my life is much better for it.
My young adulthood: dated someone who turned out to be a sociopath. (No kidding -- I could tell you stories that would terrify you.). He was extremely controlling and forced me into a career I did not like. I met him at a young age so he was instrumental in my development.
After we broke up, I dated a series of quite nice, normal guys, but none of the relationships worked out; they all ended up dumping me for one reason or another. (Seriously, like 6 guys in a row. I'm still friends with all of them -- but no one can explain why, other than: it just didn't feel right. And these are quite smart, articulate guys.)
My extended family was no help at all. They wouldn't support me when I needed help with my parents, nor help me leave my abusive ex, nor help me with school fees. They maintain the illusion that we have a "happy family" and one family member (one of the nicer ones, actually) has gone so far as to make me leave his house when I mentioned some of these issues. I wanted him to be like a surrogate parent for me, but he wasn't up to it. Since this incident, I haven't reached out to anyone in this way again.
Every single person I have ever trusted has let me down -- every one. I know there are billions of other people in the world, and I try to keep my heart open, but it's very hard.
I know what you are going to say, and I have been in therapy and have a therapist right now. I have a lot more context on these issues: I now know I was abused, it wasn't my fault, etc. etc. I read a lot of self-help stuff.
I don't think you would know any of this to look at me. I can function in society. I have a good degree, hobbies, etc. I love myself, I do things I enjoy, I have good alone time, lots of friends, etc. I went to college as a mature student and had a great time.
Now, it's time for me to find a career and a mate and have another go at life.
I want to be fully engaged with a career, but I have a hard time choosing one and committing. I want to be partnered with an amazing person, but I don't know how to do it or what's gone wrong.
So, what is my question? I guess, how to open my heart, how to choose and pursue goals with confidence, how to move forward in life.
Thank you for reading.