That Five Things Meme

The one going around, where someone gives you 5 words/things they associate with you, and you write about those things. Mine ended up being a lot about my folks, so I'm going to reprint some of it here:

education/desire to learn
self-esteem/or lack thereof

Here we go.Collapse )

an acknowledgement

It's not surprising I have problems getting back to people. I commonly had the experience with my mother that although she would demand to find me when she wanted, when I responded, or tried to find her, she didn't reply. And at points she admitted that she did that on purpose to upset me.

It's reasonable I would have emotions about this.

(no subject)

Physical therapy today. At one point, the therapist tells me to "resist her." I'm supposed to push against her hands. It really hard, almost comically so, to me, and I try to make a joke: "I don't want to resist you. I want to be agreeable."

A lot of the exercises begin with the instruction to "engage your core." I don't want to do this either. I notice that internally my response is totally, "No!"

What do I think is going to happen if I "put my back into it"?

It's weird, my parents were often characterizing me as "always combative." "Never cooperative," "always fighting my mother." Etc. (After, of course, a younger childhood in which I was praised for being pliable and agreeable. "You would go everywhere with me and you were always so quiet.")

Do I have trouble resisting because (and all of the following feel plausible):
- I'm afraid of how I'll be punished if I do?
- I don't want to hear what they'll say about me, and don't want them to be right?
- I'm afraid that if I start resisting, if I start feeling how I want to fight back, I'll be overwhelmed?
- I'll be really naked and vulnerable to the person who sees me resisting? You know, they just work their, they didn't ask for someone's issues to explode all over them?

Lately, I have been thinking a lot more about action, about taking action. When I do, often, my lower back feels engaged, and my hands feel free, and my arms feel strong. It's like, I suddenly feel capable of doing things with my hands. And this also takes pressure off my upper and middle back - these relax.

Where normally I bite my nails and hurt my hands.


what fighting's there to do

Oh, the instructiveness of CBT.

I keep wanting to ask [boyfriend] if he hates me, or is mad at me. Seriously, given a day of us in the apartment, if I let myself I could ask him once an hour. Maybe more. "Are you mad at me?" "Do you hate me?" I feel the question is ridiculous. I feel it's compulsive. But the question is often there, right on the tip of my tongue.

Over the last few months, I started paying attention to this behavior. Clearly, he doesn't hate me, he's rarely mad at me, on the few occasions where he is, I know. So...who do I think is mad at me? Why do I think the person I'm living with hates me?

And the answer is, pretty obviously, that my mother behaved nearly all the time like she hated me, or was mad at me. Frankly, I can't think of a time when it felt like she liked me, and I can't think of a time when she seemed to feel liked by/comfortable around her own female relatives (mother, sister), so, I have reason to see that that's not something she picked up. Also, reason to see what *she* was reacting to when dealing with me.

This last week we (boyfriend and I) went to Ikea, and had a fight before going in. It was very upsetting and frightening for me. What was the big striking thing, though, what was news, was how his face changed from being angry (at me!) and disgusted (with me!) to being hurt. I could see that he wanted connection. He was expressing hurt because he wanted something else.

It's wacky, it's even ridiculous, that this was new, or news. But at once it let me see (since I've been asking myself habitually, lately, "when are you?" "what's the context you're thinking of, here? Is it the one you're in now, or something else?") what happened with my mother. The thing is, I know intellectually what happened, but not emotionally/viscerally. In those ways, I forget. So I forget what it *felt* like to have my mother get into rages that didn't stop. When she was screaming at me, she was screaming. What she wanted was my annihilation. Even if just emotionally. The problem wasn't what I was doing, the problem was I was. There was no after to her rages, no connection to me or to something going on between us. She'd rage, and then it would be *bink*, something else, like she had forgotten it had happened. If I couldn't just hop to a different state with her, she'd be mad (and I can see her mother behaving that way. You know, a good child feels how s/he's instructed to feel, the standard parenting mode of the first half of the century.)

Sitting there with my boyfriend in the parking lot, I was kind of shocked to feel that what he wanted to be sitting there. Relating. To be connected, but with different emotional content (for him to feel recognized, and treated respectfully). And I was able to do it, because that turns out to be a fairly easy demand to meet (to treat kindly someone who isn't threatening you). I also realized the demand I had been perceiving before, in these situations. I had been perceiving a demand to capitulate, and to offer myself up for annihilation, while saying that I felt love. Because that's what hadn't happened growing up. I knew that the demand had been weird/too much. But that's a label. I hadn't remembered why, and I had distrusted myself about it. Going through it again, seeing the difference, I see why it was weird. It's weird to claim you love someone while telling them they destroyed your life, and then ask them to agree, and say they love you, and that the relationship is great and you're all happy.

It's obviously not going to work, but I think it's a fairly common family demand.

(no subject)

I went away to college. Very shortly, I started getting violently ill before every trip home. I would get a migraine headache, typically accompanied by nausea. Sometimes I would be vomiting the entire night before my flight. After I got back to Los Angeles, I would start getting violently ill in much the same way before occasions like Easter and Christmas, when I'd see my parents. They were usually angry at me for it. (There I am, sitting on the entryway floor, dry heaving for the eight or tenth time into a plastic bag, feeling kind of like Deckard looks in Blade Runner when Roy has him on the roof, vulnerable and bewildered, remade into a child who's all knees, and my mother standing over me, saying with a contemptuous energy her life was largely otherwise lacking - well, she wasn't your mother, so it won't hit you.)

About two years ago I stopped talking to them, and the past two Christmasses I've been laid out ill anyway.

This year I wasn't ill. Instead I was incredibly tensed, jumpy, anxious, semi-paralyzed and poised for flight. Boyfriend and I went to see The Dark Knight, for which I was oddly in the mood. Then later boyfriend and I had a Talk about how it's been difficult to be around me. He feels like he's not here, that my engagement over the last few days has been so totally with my parents, laying my recollection of them over everything he does, he feels absent. Basically, his request: show me you know that I'm here.

Totally reasonable. I've gotten better at this, but it's not the first time the request has been made. It was difficult to hear. Oftentimes before, hearing that would make me feel like I'd failed totally as a person, that I was completely hopeless. This time I could see two different things, like forked path - on the one hand, interaction with him, like he was saying. But I was exhausted to think of it - what if stuff happened again like dealing with my parents? It was too much. And on the other hand, there was the option of staying mired in the past. Safe, but really, "safe" - because that was a dead end. I suppose I can see as an improvement that I could feel both, viscerally. That I could *feel* the option.