I need to write like you need to eat, sleep, or breathe. It’s not only therapeutic, but it helps me get focused and aligned with my goals.
So when I don’t write for three weeks, as I have recently, I know there’s something pretty seriously wrong with me. I am not just talking about blogging, though that’s often how I write. Sometimes I don’t feel like blogging, so I write long emails or private journal entries. I haven’t done any of these in over three weeks.
It started with my parents coming out for Christmas. I am not sure I will ever be able to handle that again, to be honest. I love both my parents, but my mother’s constant anxiety attacks set me off in a way that is not healthy. It damaged me pretty severely emotionally when I felt like she wasn’t trusting me (“Mom, we’ll be there on time.” Mom turns to Dad: “Do YOU think we will make it on time?” Me: “You don’t trust me when I say we’ll be there on time! What the heck?!” Mom: “No, this is my normal state of being [complete and utter panic.]”)
I reacted to this set of events by getting myself sicker than I have been in a long time, with a whopper flu that I hid behind for the 6 days that my parents were here. I was upset with myself more than anyone else. I knew my mother had these issues, and I’ve lived with her attacks most of my life. Yet here I was, supposedly emotionally mature, and still reacting like I did when I was a child, and playing out stories of her not trusting me which were clearly carried over from long-ago issues.
Dear Richard tried to get me to see this, and eventually I did. He also said he wasn’t going to put up with my poor state of being, and if that meant future Christmases always had to have plans that didn’t involve my parents, he was okay with that. I agreed, still shocked at how much I had regressed in a few short days.
My parents went back home to Indiana, and the New Year rolled around. We spent New Year’s Eve with a set of wonderful, caring friends who warmed my heart and made me feel worthwhile again. Yet even as I celebrated, I knew something was off, and it wasn’t just my parents. Something had dissolved inside me. I felt betrayed by my own emotions. All of this work I’ve done to realize that we tell ourselves stories and create an internal dialog that probably doesn’t mesh with reality — and here I am, easily falling back into old childhood patterns of “I’m not worthy of love” and “I will never be good enough for my mother.” In six short days, I had destroyed several years of telling myself that I am a good person, that it’s okay to be loved, and that, above all, I am worth it.
It is time to forgive myself for the bad reactions I had with my mother over Christmas. Most importantly, I must remember that no one else can set the tone for my emotional reactions. People are people. They do what they do. My mother must work on her anxiety problems. But what I need to work on is to realize that I am not perfect. I may still fall into emotional traps and regress into behavior patterns that shock me. Maturity is not about never making mistakes — it is about realizing that you can recover and that you are the only one who has final say over how you feel.
It took me three weeks of not writing to put all of this into words. It makes me sad in a way…I resolved to spend an hour a day on this blog, and I’ve had three weeks of barely looking at it. But I must acknowledge myself for how far I’ve come. A few years ago, I was quick to anger, impulsive, and I didn’t consider the effects of my actions on other people. I was also depressed and created a pattern of bad relationships. Now I’m in a healthy relationship with someone who is right for me, I am less impulsive and more thoughtful, and I work daily to clear out bad emotions and to forgive myself and others. I am finally ready to look 2008 in the face, stand up, and, with courage, say “It can only get better from here.”
Happy New Year!