I don't want to hold back, I don't want to slip down
October 2, 2011 1:19 PM Subscribe
How do you let go of negative self-identify when it feels like letting go of yourself?
posted by unannihilated to Human Relations (22 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I imagine this is similar to what alcoholics, drug addicts, and those with eating disorders experience during recovery.
I grew up with some rough times -- severe depression, anxiety, bullying because of being overweight, poverty. In addition to low self-esteem, I developed a very negative self-identify - the sad girl, the lonely girl, the awkward girl, the girl people don't like, the girl everything goes wrong for. (There were also positive things, like self identifying as a smart, book-ish girl and as a darkly humorous girl.) It sounds miserable, and the experiences that led to it certainly were, but you revel in it to an extent and you find comfort, humor, and identity in it. (Singing along to grunge music, bonding with the other outcasts, feeling understood when you watched Daria)
Those times are long behind me now. Antidepressants have tamed my darkest days, the weight is gone and the years have been colored by friends and lovers. The self-esteem problems and negative self-identify remain.
But when I try to reframe myself inside, it feels jarring and strange. To give a concrete example: I'm recently single and find myself nodding and laughing along to "forever alone" rage comics. Then I think back to all the dates I've had and it doesn't fit. Oh, sure, sometimes my life does look just like Liz Lemon's but I can also flip it around and say it doesn't. It depends on what you see. So to keep myself from spiraling into a depression about things or feeling lonely I try to flip it, think of past boyfriends and dates and make myself think things like, 'Oh, I never have trouble getting dates' and thinking of myself as the girl that guys like. But it feels so foreign. It feels so strange to think of myself that way. In a way I don't feel like me when I do it. Trying to orient myself as a happy person as opposed to a sad person is even more disorienting. I feel like I'm leaving myself behind.
On the face of it this seems really simple: Being happy is more fun than being sad, so, duh, just think of yourself that way. But it's not that simple.
Any advice on how to deal and move past this? You can MeMail if it makes you more comfortable. Thanks.