Since I decided to try and consider myself a little more (or at all, actually) things have been a going a little differently. Today I decided to call my family members out when their treatment of me made me feel belittled or if I thought it was unjust… I haven’t really done this before, I haven’t really stood my ground (certainly not calmly and rationally without tears) and to be honest, I didn’t think I would get away with the whole “please stop treating me like a child”, “please don’t talk to me like that”, “would you speak to another adult like this? So why me?” thing… But, after a few arguments (which didn’t involve any shouting), they gave up with the smart remarks and ridiculous reasons and just sort of rolled their eyes and let me do what I needed to do – let it all out.
(Warning: you are probably going to hate me as much as I do by the end of this post).
I showed them how they made me feel by talking to them in the fashion that they sometimes talk to me (while laughing, because I found imitating my mum particularly hilarious). e.g. When my mum said her ear hurt, I playfully ranted at her about how all of her was broken and I couldn’t deal with it any more, and asked her if she could never just be ok for once. She was’t very impressed. I kind of needed her not to be for the message to get through, to make her think about the things she says to me sometimes in the heat of the moment, when she asks me how I am and I give her the honest answer she claims to want (which is usually I don’t feel great, but it’s ok). It was the only way I could think to make my point, to show her how it feels. I playfully criticised her for short periods a couple of times throughout the day, but rather than getting my point she seemed to just zone out and think that I was being particularly annoying (and suddenly talkative).
“Will you just stop it?” Whatever the reason, it had a negative effect almost instantly.
But I had a point to prove. After yesterday and the thoughts it threw up, I’d had enough – enough of being made to feel like a substandard human being in what is some of the time referred to as my own home. I wanted someone else here to understand the impact that constantly feeling like you’re letting someone down, of falling below par, can have on your mood. The difference was that made it clear that I did’t mean it. And on a couple of occasions I think I wasn’t the only one that saw the funny side of my attempts to impersonate people. One thing was certain – I was not letting it go until I’d made my point in concrete, allowed it to set, and built a house on the foundations.
I hadn’t really dared to be so persistent with a point before – my usual response to the outlet of their justified frustration (I understand that the things my health puts my family through are not fair on them at all, they have to watch it, and I think watching is worse than experiencing the pain that I quite often don’t remember first hand) is to hang from every word, replay things they said in frustration but didn’t actually mean, and drown in the lava of the self-hatred it all induces within me. But no matter what I do, it seems to end up wrong (entirely my fault, not theirs). I fall short of what they are quite right to expect of me. I feel like a failure when I screw up, because I try to think of myself from their viewpoint and I realise that I am a totally rubbish excuse for offspring, and not at all what my mother probably imagined I would be.
This morning I was stood in the kitchen preparing to dive into a pool of self loathing in response to a few comments, when I suddenly realised that trying harder while maintaining this outlook was not going to make any of us happy, and that maybe the way to break that cycle of feeling more and more like a complete sure up was to stop looking at myself through their eyes and teach myself to focus on the person in my mirror -me. From my own eyes. From my own viewpoint. From my own mind. And by default, when I am a good enough human being for myself to accept or tolerate, I will be a good enough person for them. And they might be happier, which is all every single part of me wants for my family – what they deserve. Until I can accept myself, it is unfair to ask anyone else to do the same, and the self hatred generated by my guilt will always warp reality into soul destroying situations until I learn to switch it off.
No more hurt, no more dismay, no more frustration – I want to make them smile. I want to stop being the cause of their pain and (completely justified to be honest) anger and frustration that my life sneaks into those of the people around it. So I tried to show that I have had enough of this endless downward spiral of crushed self esteem. I realised in that moment that I did;t have to stand for it any more. I wanted to be happy too, and I needed someone else to realise that I am making an effort to be something I haven’t have the confidence, or, I felt, deserved the privilege of being, for a long time – myself (admittedly I’m not even sure what or who this is any more, but I finally want to reinvent whatever that may be with the things that my health has yet to take from me).
And it felt empowering.
It felt so, so good.
And it’s so, so selfish. But sometimes (a lot of the time. Most of the time.) it feels that in this house I make sound waves, but my voice is not heard. They want to tell me how my health issues and everything make them feel, how difficult it can be to have me around, but build a defensive wall of decibels when I try to level the playing field and gently explain how I feel too, how sorry I am that they have reason to feel that way, that they ended up with me. I’m not sure what makes them argue before I can make my point – guilt? A refusal to accept that just because they don’t mean things in the way they come across, I can’t be hurt by them? A belief that Oh for goodness sake! I blow off like a fuse, I didn’t mean that! puts back all the tears that I cried?
I am an independent adult, and today, I finally felt like one in this house. So judge me if you want, hate me, shake your head, tut, roll your eyes. Nobody is taking that away – I’m no longer trying to look at myself through everyone else’s eyes, and it’s so hard and I often hate myself for it, but it’s making me feel more positive about who I am, and less of a waste of space. I finally feel like someone (just about) deserving of a place on this planet, and now that I’m focussing on trying to save myself a little bit instead of just wanting to save everyone who knows me by removing myself from their lives, I consider voluntarily surrendering my existence to the grim reaper a lot less. That feels nicer than I ever imagined it would.
The only way I can think to make them happy, is to try to be genuinely happy myself, to try viewing myself equal to the people I care about (and everyone else on the planet) instead of far below them. And the only way to do that is to stop caring about what their tiredness and frustration makes them say occasionally, stop blaming myself for EVERYTHING, and block out even the justified negativity, in order to persuade myself that I am someone worth tolerating, worth standing by, worth being around. And then maybe I might believe that someone else will. Maybe my smile will return for good. And maybe then my family will be able to smile too. I felt utterly and shamefully selfish for doing this, until I somehow stumbled across this website about the line between putting yourself first and being selfish (which made me feel like less of a complete —insert rude word of your choice–)
“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” – Paulo Coehlo
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival” – Audre Lorde
“That’s the problem with putting others first; you’ve taught them you come second” – unknown
I don’t intend to put myself first – I just want, even for a few seconds, to place myself alongside everyone else. To feel equal, worthy… It’s just difficult – so, so difficult to come anywhere close to this for more than a couple of minutes. I’m working on it. I hate myself for it, but I’m trying to push through that. Usually I just try to only depend on myself because of quotes more like the following:
“I don’t like
depending on people
all the time.
Because at the end of the day
all you have is
and that has to be
But I’m trying to force that to change.
(Tomorrow’s post will talk about puppies, totally come back for that)