How to stop worrying and love myself
November 27, 2011 9:59 AM Subscribe
Lately I have been binging on self-help books, surfing the internet for articles on family issues -- I just want an answer, to know what went wrong and how to fix it. But everything seems hollow. I feel horribly stuck and I desperately want to move forward and I don't know how. Lots and lots of details inside.
posted by bunderful to Human Relations (18 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
My family of origin was a bit of a mess. Loving in many ways, I hasten to say. We were very religious - I spent a great deal of my childhood worrying about going to hell. My mother was temperamental and controlling. I really struggle to explain our relationship. In many ways it was a power game in which I comforted myself that she was "losing" every time she yelled at me or slapped me and I remained calm and said nothing. I was not allowed to express anger towards my mother (though she was often and easily angry at me). I remember being jealous of other people's kids because she would be so much more patient with their behavior than with mine. Because of our insular religion and my shyness I had few friends. I was bullied at school and simply never told anyone because I was so ashamed of it and because I rarely confided anything to my parents.
I live far away from my mom now which really helps our relationship. She has apologized for a lot of the things that happened when I was a kid but she also makes excuses for her behavior. These conversations go with her piling on self-recrimination while I comfort her and secretly resent that it's still ALL ABOUT HER.
I have suspicions than my mother may have been abused as a child by a family member with a possible undiagnosed personality disorder.
1. I am now well into my 30s and have been unable to ever establish a long-term relationship. I practically break out in hives when a guy makes it clear he really likes me. I date men who I am immensely attracted to and who are emotionally distant, I try to be casual, and then they move on and I feel like my heart's been ripped out. Right now I'm sleeping with someone I'm actually uncomfortable with and dislike a little just because I know I won't fall for him. When I think of being married I think of that horrible claustrophobic feeling of my childhood and just panic. But at the same time I desperately want to be loved.
2. I think my mom would try to do things that would make our relationship better if I asked for them, I just don't know what would help.
3. I struggle a lot at work and fall easily into unhealthy dynamics where an angry and controlling manager can be someone I am both deeply resentful of and very anxious to please.
4. I'm stupid about a lot of basic things. For example, I hide problems - particularly at work. A friend pointed out to me once that X would be much better if I simply told the manager in question that X was becoming a problem and that I had done my best with it and now needed help. It was a revolutionary idea but I still struggle with it - my instinct is to try to solve problems secretly before they can be noticed. I have the feeling I am stupid about other things as well.
5. I will go to great lengths to avoid criticism, confrontation and anger. I'm probably a bit passive aggressive and manipulative. I recognize myself in some of the descriptions but what I do feels more like self-preservation than malice.
6. I keep establishing friendships with women who are critical of me and being hurt and angry at their criticism.
7. I have no long-term goals. I just don't. I really don't know what I want from life.
8. I have practically zero self-discipline. I will go to great lengths for other people but struggle with the simplest issues of willpower where I am the only beneficiary. I've been told repeatedly by a variety of people that I need more self-esteem. OK, how do I get it?
I'm sorry this is so long and rambly. I guess my question is - what do I do next? How can I be happier? How can I move forward? How can I figure out what I really want? How can I learn to be ok with intimacy?
Already in therapy, already on drugs.