Monday, December 24, 2012

Feelings Work #1

[I'm going to try something I suggested to a client to prompt better exploration of affect: starting entries "with I feel <feeling word> word." I've been trying to write otherwise, and I just keep getting lost in my thoughts, so maybe this will provide a bit more focus or at least a decent drive to finish a post.]

I feel sad. I feel sad because I'm alone. I don't want to be alone. But there aren't really that many people I'd want to be with anyway. That's a polite way of saying there's no one in my life I want to be with, which is true and it isn't.

It's not true because I also feel really anxious. I feel anxious all the time. It's not always obvious (I hide my feelings well), but I'm worried most of the time. Usually, it centers around all the things I'm not doing. I haven't got my classes planned, I'm not doing x for y person, I've done z to q person and I feel guilty about not properly atoning for it etc. And the worst offender: my predissertation and dissertation aren't done and I'm behind schedule and if I don't finish them when I have the chance I won't get out of Knoxville in time and I'll wither away here and disappoint everyone who knows me because I'm so mediocre and far behind and I won't ever actually get out of this PhD program or this goddamn city and I won't ever form a meaningful relationship with another woman because I can't seem to find anyone I really fit with here and, basically, I am a failure and a disappointment who is destined to be unloved and alone.

Did you catch all that? Kinda spiraled out of control pretty fast, didn't it?

I carry that around most all of the time I'm not working on something else. It's why breaks tend to be so depressing/anxiety provoking: all I do is think about all I'm not doing and then I try to avoid all of the negative feelings that come from all the anxiety of not doing things which makes me get even less done which makes me more anxious about not doing things which, well, etc.

And the worst consequence of not getting something done is disappointing people. I am terrified of disappointing and hurting people. It's one of the reasons I hate gifts and Christmas: I am so terrified I will do something wrong or disappointing with gifts that I'd just prefer not to have anything to do with any of it. I absolutely hate receiving gifts because that puts pressure on me to give gifts which makes me even more anxious about disappointing someone.

It's one of the reasons I don't like to touch people. I'm afraid of doing something wrong and disappointing them or making them uncomfortable or hurting them. It's one of the biggest reasons I don't get close to people: I'm terrified of disappointing them. I push them away so I can't disappoint them. And it's exhausting and it's isolating and it's saddening, but it's so.much.better. than failing them.

Of failing you. Because if I fail you or disappoint you or do something wrong, you'll leave me. Or you won't tell me and you'll resent me for it. Or you'll remember it and hold it over my head and I'll never be able to atone or redeem myself and it will forever be a blight upon me.

I would rather be alone than deal with the incessant prospect of failing you.

That's not the only reason, of course. I'm afraid of you failing me, too. I'm afraid of you not understanding me, not protecting me, not supporting me, not knowing what I need. I'm afraid that you'll let me fade away because I'm not really that important to you. Just like I don't let you be that important to me, so that when I fail you and you leave it won't tear me apart like it does when those I've cared about left.

I'm sad that I'm alone, but it's better than the alternative. I'm terrified of disappointing you, so I don't let you get close enough to need or depend upon me or expect anything from me. And I'm afraid that the only way I know to break out of this cycle is to find one person who loves me so I can't disappoint her because she values some essential part of me, loves *me* and no matter what she'll keep loving me and I'll keep loving her (and because I love her and provide value to her, it constantly atones for all the ways I'll fail her). And what's scary about that is that everyone I've loved like that has left me anyway and it was never because I disappointed them, but because I was unhappy or distant or "too good."

So I know that means that I need to like myself and not be unhappy and be somewhat selfish and take risks by letting others get close. But I can't seem to make that happen because I'm so scared all the time of how I'm going to disappoint and hurt others. And I just don't know how to stop it. I don't know how to break one part of the cycle so the other parts fall into place.

So I feel sad. And anxious. And afraid. And all of these things are so much worse for the fact that I don't know if or when they'll ever be anything different.

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