I’ve decided to write a public journal to keep myself accountable and make sure I’m putting in the hard work towards self-improvement! Hope y’all enjoy my rants/thoughts/therapeutic essays
I knew from an early age that my grandmother passed when my mother was 8. I was anxious for that entire year when I myself turned 8. I wanted her to sleep next to me at night and I often had to take cough syrup to sleep. I think this is probably my earliest memories of experiencing anxiety.
The thing is, as a child, I was very attached to my mother. My mothers descriptions of me when I was younger almost make me sound like a baby koala hugging on tightly to the mama koala. However, as soon as I started thinking for myself and realising the environment I grew up in was very much abnormal, our relationship quickly became fractured.
I despise a lot about my mother. She’s an emotionally unavailable person. She rides off of my own accomplishments (which aren’t a lot to begin with anyway) whilst simultaneously makes me feel sh#t about my rather broad degree which leaves me with minimal employment opportunities. She is a woman that is consumed by her favouritism of my older sister. She never fails to remind me that I’m her least favourite child. One of the more explicit times she reaffirmed this for me was when she told me she wished she had an abortion with me. Needless to say, we don’t have a close relationship at all.
I don’t really like Mother’s Day. Now I’m older and realise the extent of neglect that I experienced during my childhood, I find it hard to grapple with the idea that I could repeat history. All of these thoughts probably also stem from a deep-rooted sense of insecurity and inadequacy. I know I’m capable of change which certainly gives me hope.
Maybe I too will become an emotionally unavailable mother. Maybe I won’t.
A small bump. No one knows that you exist but me. The stretching of skin, pants which no longer fit and the morning sickness that has started to subside. Everything is at peace.
My mother is not a nurturing person at all. I often think I’m just as cold as she is. So cold I don’t even want to wake up. It’s like I see the world with a blue hue. Although I see myself as a realist, people think I’m a pessimist. Maybe I’m just as poisonous as she is. Maybe I really am like her. Maybe there is no way to escape our past. Maybe new life can’t even fix what’s wrong inside of me.
I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, not even my mother. What I expect is that when people have children, they actually show they care about them. Although I know my parents wanted me, planned for me even, I certainly didn’t feel like it at all. Every day with my parents really felt like harsh Tasmanian winter mornings where our car window would be frozen and there would be a layer of ice on the grass. I knew I had to get up and start the day, I just hated bracing myself for the icy cold.
So I talked with my therapist about a lot of different issues which have popped up over the past few months. Here’s some of my notes taken from the session..
Boundaries: I seem to continually violate others boundaries whilst also not putting any in place for myself. My therapist mentioned how it’s often easier to pick out others problems and as a result of my own expectations, I form my own judgements which surface. In relation to a really specific incident, I crossed a few boundaries when someone had opened up to me, causing me to lash out as a result of my own judgements and being unable to ‘catch’ myself. My therapist had mentioned how I’ve got to work on catching myself and being mindful. In order to do this, I’ve got to have space in order to center myself in moments like this.
Red Flags: My therapist recommended that I write down a list of red flags. I’m supposed to ask myself what pulls me to an individual and what deters me from them. With space and time, I should be allowed to process if our values are aligned. I was recommended to ask myself if what I’m asking for is being provided. She suggested that if I’m basing it from a friendship foundation, I should create a list of my values and tick it off if they’re being met. On a friendship level, if the person is being transparent, non-dismissive, respectful and recognizing me for who I am, then despite all the other differences, if those basic values are met then a ‘bond can form stronger over time’ since we are able to work through those differences. We talked briefly about things like chemistry, familiarity, comfort and love languages which was something different.
Dating: My therapist recommended that I give myself at least 3 months before I start dating again. This is because I’ve got to give myself time to process through my feelings of anger and so I can experience the grieving process of ending a relationship. She said there’s a cycle where you get depressed, angry, you start self-doubting and I’ve got to allow myself to process through those emotions and allow them to surface. During this period, I am supposed to allow these emotions to surface, name them and make peace with them. We also talked briefly about how this is a period of post-traumatic growth which was a term I’ve never heard before!
This is just a brief summarised overview of everything we discussed. I found it pretty valuable. Although I haven’t really written out my red flags checklist, I do think I will eventually be able to get to it. It’s been a pretty rough time and honestly I didn’t realise how much work I had to do and how much I was suppressing.
There’s a lot more I’ve been wanting to talk about with my therapist, mainly being that I am a poor listener. I genuinely believe my inability to truly listen to those around me negatively impacts my friendship and relationships. Although I do think I’ve improved with my overall communication and tried to listen more to others and their issues, I do still think it’s fundamentally an issue. In fact, may be to the point where I sometimes myself can’t put in proper boundaries and become a primary support mechanism for someone else to rant to. The weird nature of this is truly perplexing.
I’m not exactly sure if I want to date again. It’s been something that’s on my mind but I feel so discouraged after my last relationship. I think being in therapy and feeling invalidated about my progress in my past relationship negatively impacted my own self-perception about my development and progress in therapy. I really thought I was doing well and attempting to address all criticisms that I received but perhaps that in itself was insufficient. Feeling inadequate makes me feel pretty sh#t about myself. No matter how many books I read or how many therapy sessions I go to, I suppose I will never be the perfect or ideal partner.
One other massive issue I wanted to tackle with my therapist is my often crippling anxiety. Crippling to the point where I avoid going out and enjoying myself because of my fears around COVID or getting sick again. I guess no one really knows what my hospital experience was like other than myself. I can still remember the excruciating back pain which made it near impossible for me to sit up or walk. I am really thankful for my health even though I do experience chronic pain. I am so thankful that I can walk. Perhaps one thing I need to add to my green flag checklist is needing someone who isn’t flaky. I do need stability. I need stability and faith in someone when I’m sick and scared sh#tless or hope that they will be with me even when things aren’t going great in my own life. I feel like the entire purpose of a relationship is to work towards eventually getting married. Marriage is the ultimate form of commitment, especially because it is legally binding..
I have learnt a lot from this experience though and it’s YOLO. You only live one. Say what you need to say, do what you need to do because this really is the one life that we get. I feel a little more ease in the future choices I want to make, especially with my future studies. I’ve come to realise that I do genuinely want to help people and the only way I can do that is by potentially switching fields in order to maximise my skill set. I suppose I will have to revisit this thought at a more appropriate time.
It’s been quite rainy these past few days. I really love it. I miss going on long drives at night in the rain. In many ways it was a different kind of therapy.
Moving on is difficult. I no longer play the songs that remind me of anything painful from the past and I believe this effort has paid off to some degree. I haven’t played Bennie and the Jets for years. I loved that song. I think now I can play it and finally embrace it for what it is, instead of having the painful reminder and memory along with it. Some wounds are more recent than others and I know it’ll take time for them to properly heal. All things do get better with time and may be I will too.
I remember when I was 19 in The Netherlands. I was on a train from Leiden to Rotterdam. Surprisingly, the public transport system there is amazing. I remember the beautiful greenery on that trip.
Now I’m alone, there’s nothing left just endless thoughts and memories, some which will finally be put to rest.
There’s something liberating in realising your own faults. For a long time I couldn’t be independent in relationships and struggled with severe commitment issues emanating from a place of unaddressed hurt and trauma.
I recently started dating and for the first time in my adult life I can honestly say I’ve overcome my commitment issues. I don’t want to play games. I don’t want anybody else. I just want to be in a committed relationship. Although I’ve only just begun dating someone, the point is that my intentions are clear. I know I could get hurt but jumping into the unknown is a necessity. Without it, we stifle our own growth and progression. This new-found sense of maturity has liberated me. I feel I’ve entered into a different realm, one in which I can truly embrace the variety of unknowns this world offers. I say offers because I do genuinely believe all unknowns offer us the potential to learn and grow from the experience, even if it’s an event which can be painful or scary.
Maturity means realising that each person you meet is distinct and different. Maturity means realising that dating and relationship require a balance of vulnerability and independence, both of which strengthen the basis of any connection shared between two people. Communication skills are essential to ensuring any relationship can thrive. Listening is equally as important. Most of my fears and insecurities have slowly faded into the background. I’m no longer driven by my envy. I’m not possessive or afraid.
I guess things change with age. I can’t describe to you this feeling. This feeling of wanting to be desired and wanted, but simultaneously knowing my own worth and that nothing will compromise my own self-respect.
Being in therapy has taught me a lot. Although I haven’t been to therapy in awhile, I’ve considered how deeply my childhood upbringing impacted my ability to fully commit myself to others. Recognising now as an adult that I no longer need to carry that burden around is liberating. I truly feel free to start this next chapter of my life. Accepting what has been and embracing the present is the way forward.