My First Steps in Coping with Childhood Issues

My laptop was in the shop for a week, and now that it’s been returned I have another problem… Ugh! The past two weeks have been incredibly frustrating, and even more so without my usual therapeutic writing outlet. One thing I learned is that I do not need to take St. John’s wort. What I wanted was a happy pill, some instant happiness to relieve the pain of a possible break-up, following my mother’s death, during what I now consider the worst time of the year:  the holidays. Instead I became angry and edgy, and felt like I might go postal on the customers at my retail job during this holiday season, after listening to one complaint after another with holiday music droning on repeat in the background. At the same time the full reality of the effects of my childhood hit me, and I was pissed.

The thing is, these childhood pains are affecting my life today. As I read Darlene Lancer’s Codependency for Dummies, I recognized myself, not in everything, but in many of the described situations. She presents it like this:  if you have this particular issue today, you probably had this thing happen when you were a child. Issues like this:  fear of speaking my mind, fear of rejection, uncertainty about my feelings and thoughts, difficulty in making decisions, extreme self-sufficiency, attraction to those who are unavailable. As I read this book, I recognized that THIS is why I am where I am today. THIS is why I work in a grocery store yet have a master’s degree. This is why I can’t decide if I want to go back to school again or just do something else. It’s why I would rather not try at all. It’s why I am in a relationship with someone who ignores me every three to six months when he has an episode, and refuses his love to me. That’s what happens to someone who grows up in a household where their voice is not heard, appreciated, or valued in any way. When the older kids don’t want you around because you’re a child, and the adults don’t want you around because they’re too busy with their own problems. The older kids tell you to go away, the adults tell you that they work so hard and you’re so selfish and ungrateful. No one believes what you say because you’re just a child and you don’t know anything. If you say the wrong thing, you messed up because that was a secret you were supposed to know not to tell anyone. There’s more but it’s too personal, even for an anonymous blog.

What happens today is, for example, in my house full of roommates, when I hear a group of people in another room talking and laughing, I wonder why I wasn’t invited, and if they’re deliberately leaving me out. Maybe they don’t like me, and that’s why they closed the door. I reject other people before they can reject me, to remove or lessen the pain of being rejected. I am afraid to ask for a raise at work. I do not want to move up at my job or try anything new because I’m afraid of failure.

This blog post may come across as a pity party or a rant, but I want to acknowledge my feelings and be honest. Not everything will be rosy all the time. As much as I love my mom, she made a lot of mistakes that I am pissed that I don’t get a chance to discuss with her. The premature forgiveness days are over. Quite frankly, I’m angry with everyone in my family. I was the forgotten child, the lost child, the invisible one. They have so many opinions and feelings that they feel free to voice, and often I don’t know what I think or feel, or I feel like it’s useless to go on about it. Sometimes I’ll use my voice, and my words get dismissed, or so it seems to me. I’m aware that my perception is not necessarily reality. But when I feel that way, it’s hard to say anything else. It’s hard to speak when I feel dis-empowered, defeated, dismissed.

I have faith that I will get through this. Right now is the painful part, but there is hope. My hope is that I will gain more self-confidence and just do something, take the right actions that will lead me not just to self-sufficiency, because that’s easy and I already have that, but with contentment in my choices. My relationship is getting better because I finally used my voice and declared that I will not be ignored or refused love. That kind of behavior is unacceptable to me, and if it has to be that way, I will have to move on. If he needs space, he can have it, but I will not stay in a relationship where I am completely left in the dark about what’s going on. He wants to try to work it out, and for that I am grateful. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll stay together, but I hope that we do, and that we’re able to work it out in a way that’s healthy for both of us.

Sometimes bad shit has to happen in order to get to the good stuff. Having lived through some terrible times, and come out on the other side, I know that solutions abound. It’s just a matter of finding them and working through them. If I can drink away my problems almost every night for 20 years and then get sober, stay sober for nearly seven years, and find a spiritual solution to life, I can get through this. If you live long enough, you suffer the pains of loss in the form of death, divorce, job loss, friendships, relationships. Yet you can get through it. It’s up to the individual to choose how to get through it. And my threshold for pain has become really low. I do not want to be sad or angry or feel lost all the time. At the same time I want to acknowledge the pain and then get through it. I don’t know exactly what that looks like but I am doing the best I can through reading, joining support groups, and going to therapy. Everything is temporary. Today is my day off, so I will start by creating a gratitude list, reading my Louise Hay “I Can Do It” cards (which sometimes feel like total bullshit but I do it anyway), and I’ll go to church, and then I’ll go to my support group meetings (I have two today). I want to write more about how to stay positive during tough times without glossing over the pain of the situation, but I need to get ready for the day. More on that later.

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