Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there — I hope this day finds you in good form and in a positive frame of mind. And if it doesn’t, I hope you can find some relief and find a way to enjoy yourself at least a little bit today. Father’s Day doesn’t last forever, but tomorrow is another day.
I’m a bit under the weather today. I’ve been feeling pretty down on myself after the meltdown on Friday, and yesterday was pretty much of a bust, because I was so wiped out and tired from everything that’s been going on, lately. Plus, I completely spaced on getting my dad a Father’s Day card, and by the time I remembered it, it was too late to buy it and the post office was closed. I must admit I’m dreading calling him up. He loves to talk, and I’m feeling pretty wiped out. Not sure I’m up for a discussion. I’ll need a nap before I do that.
Today I need to just chill. Normally I chill on Saturdays, and I did that some. But it’s hard for me to relax when I am stressed, and I was definitely stressed. Tired. Fatigued. Wiped out. Done.
It’s a fine line I have to walk — between activity and rest. I got up this morning feeling like total crap. Had a half-assed exercise session, went through the motions of my morning routine, and helped my spouse, who is not feeling well today, either. Getting out of my head — that’s important. And when I think about it, the thing that gets me the most and pulls me down the most, is when I get stuck inside my head. It’s just not good. I need to get out, get engaged, get active… and I need to also balance out my activities so that when the time comes, I’m actually able to enjoy myself and be really engaged with people and activities.
Part of it, of course, is physical — it’s tough to stay fully engaged when you’re physically exhausted. But a lot of it is mental, too. Being able to put aside my poor-me attitude, feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in self-pity because things aren’t working out the way I want them to… Please. I have ongoing issues with feeling sorry for myself, feeling neglected and dismissed, and not standing up for myself. Part of me thinks that people should magically be able to tell what I need, when I need it — including my spouse. But they only have as much information as I give them, and I’ve been focused on NOT drawing attention to myself for so long, that how would anyone know that I really need something? How would anyone know that something is really important to me, unless I tell them?
Clearly, I need to make some changes in how I interact with people. I have been hiding out, basically, making it my mission to put others first and do for them what they need done. That can be very fulfilling and satisfying — to lose yourself in service to others you love, and to live not for yourself but for the greater good. But there comes a time when things like adequate sleep and a regular schedule become paramount, and then you have to tend to your own needs — and educate others about how best to interact with you.
I heard it said once that “We train other people how to treat us,” and the more I think about it, the more true it seems. Yes, we train others how to treat us, and since I have been training my spouse and my employers and my coworkers to not worry about what I need, in the course of my daily life, small wonder that my own wishes are the last thing they think about when they are coming up with their plans.
Yes, more work to do… And it can be quite tiring. On the bright side, though, these difficulties are actually signs that things are changing for the better in my life. Up until a couple of years ago, I was so oblivious to how poorly people treated me — and how I sought out the company of people who treated me likd sh*t — that I unconsciously ended up in one bad situation after another. The employers who treated me like I was disposable, were the ones I actually sought out. And the ones who treated me well, I avoided like the plague. My “best friends” usually laughed at me and made fun of me and talked down to me. And my favorite activities were ones that really wore me out and stressed me to the point of breaking, over and over again.
I was a real “stress junkie” — but I wasn’t just getting a fix. I was actually trying to wake myself up, to get my brain to kick into gear, because if I didn’t have that stress in my life, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t follow what was going on around me. It wasn’t a case of poor self-esteem that caused it — my poor self-esteem came from my need to be in rough, tough, abusive situations. And that need was purely neurological, not psychological, stemming from poor “tonic arousal” that was the result of too many traumatic brain injuries.
And the thing that stopped me from getting the kind of help I needed with my relationships, my work, my situations in life, was the confusion between cause and effect, and the true nature of my danger/risk-seeking activities and my craving for really sh*tty interpersonal relationships. It’s not about me seeking out people who treat me like crap because I feel badly about myself due to others treating me poorly early in life, or whenever. It’s about me having a neurological and biochemical need to be challenged and pushed — and people who treat me poorly are really good at that, without even thinking about it. They’re quite good at it, actually, and so it works out well for all of us — They have someone to abuse, and I’m a willing and ready target.
But low self-esteem is not the CAUSE of this cycle. It’s a RESULT of it. To stop the cycle, I need to get to the cause. Here’s a picture of my conception of it.
And out of the end-result of the low self-esteem, feeling inadequate, being down on myself and feeling damaged, comes the impetus to seek out yet more stress and danger and risk — in relationships and work, etc.
So, there it is. I can see it clearly in front of me, and it makes total sense to me. Now, what to do about it? Having this knowledge is one thing. Putting it into action is another.
It all takes practice. It takes repetition, to turn the cycles around. It takes a series of little successes and lessons from failures, to make progress. The main thing for me, right now, is focusing on the fundamentals — getting adequate rest, and keeping up with my breathing and body scans, which help me to manage my stress and keep the fight-flight parts of my brain from flipping out over every little thing.
The problem on Friday was that I was tired. I was fried. I was also stressed from things going awry, over and over again. I was also pissed off that I wasn’t getting any help at all, and I felt really used and taken advantage of and manipulated, which in turn put me into even more of a fight-flight frame of mind/body. Now seeing how my weekend has been hosed, I have a chance today to restore some of what I lost over the past two days. I have to be really easy on myself and be grateful that I am able to see what’s going on with me — and be very grateful that I can get help tomorrow from my NP. I need to be able to trust myself, which I’m not feeling much like doing, right now, and I need to believe that I will be able to learn from my mistakes and missteps and come out stronger in the end.
Ultimately, I think the real answer to so much of this, is finding things that truly excite and interest me, and being able to pursue them. When I can replace the negative, draining stress with something that really picks me up and keeps me engaged in life and gets me out of my head, I find myself energized and really involved in my life and with others, in ways that the negative stress can never achieve.
Will I ever have no need for the negative stress? I’m not sure that will ever happen. But for now, I know about it, and for now I can do something about it. And so I shall.
Time to go back to bed. So I can call my Dad later.