Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maybe I should just live in total silence

I listened to HayHouseradio.com again today. First of all, it made me feel better to hear that being an emotinal caller is not unusual, and doesn't necessarily make someone pitiful. I still may have sounded pathetic and pitiful myself, but I don't feel quite so bad about things. Secondly, I listened to Caroline Myss's Sacred Contracts show, and something she said upset me. I wanted to write her an email to ask her about it, but I couldn't find a way to contact her, so I joined a forum on her website www.myss.com, to at least get some feedback from her followers. Here is the original post before I edited it extensively, since it was too long and starting to go off on a tangent:

I was listening today to Carolyn's radio show on www.HayHouseradio.com, and she said something that really hit me hard, made me think, and eventually made me kind of upset. She said, "A person's life should never be about themselves." The context is somewhat irrelevant here, since this is a generalized statement. It struck me deeply: it has much to do with the work I am doing with my therapist right now. Since I was a child, my life has always been about other people (mostly my parents), trying to live up to expectations, trying to be perfect in order to earn love and approval. I was conditioned to believe my needs were less important than anyone else's. But living for other people has only made me sick, mentally and physically. I have chronic physical illnesses and a history of emotional suffering as well. I am on disability, and I live alone, without support. I must spend any energy I get taking care of my very basic needs (nutrition, hygiene, etc). My therapist is helping me to believe that I am worth caring for, that my needs are as important as anyone else's, and that I deserve to make myself and my healing my priority. To hear Carolyn state that my life should not be about me just reinforces that I am not important enough. If I continue make my life about somebody or something else, won't I be further abandonning myself? There is no one but me to make sure I survive. And I know many other women struggle to take care of themselves and are stuck believing their lives should be about other people or other things. I think to make the statement "a person's life should never be about themselves" is potentially damaging to those who rely on Myss' words and wisdom to guide their lives. I don't really think she beleives that we should neglect ourselves in favour of others, however, I'm personally finding it difficult to reconcile what she said with where I am at in my own journey. It made me question the autonomy and self-care I am working so hard to achieve, and strongly reinforces the cacophany of voices in my head (super-ego, etc.) that paying attention to myself and making myself a priority is selfish, unspiritual, and undeserved. How can we truly hope to help others if we are coming from a place of such deprivation? My healing could take the rest of this lifetime, but ultimately my goal is to be well enough to make a positive difference. I found Carolyn's statement to be really invalidating towards my journey in this life, because at the end of it, I may not be able to say that it wasn't about me. Everything I have must go into healing my body, mind and spirit, but that may not be enough. Does that mean I'm living a worthless or selfish or spiritually repugnant life? And regardless of whether someone is sick or not, isn't it enough to just be who you are, without having to make your life about someone or something other than yourself? I understand that service can be helpful and fulfilling to a lot of people in a lot of situations. Many times it has been suggested to me that to overcome my depression/anxiety, I should volunteer. I have tried it several times, and found it made my health worse, and added to my guilt about not being able to live up to expectation or be perfect. Sometimes people don't need to be pushed so much as to be truly accepted for where they are at. I've found that simply having my limitations validated actually freed me to begin to recover - once I was able to let go of the "you shoulds", I was released from my paralysis.

I wanted to keep going but it was at that point I realized how long the post was going to be. I also refrained from using the strong language that I would have used if I'd just wrote it as a blog entry or journal-letter (one that is never intended for sending). The truth is, in the context in which she said it, it wasn't so bad, but it was still wrong. And the way she phrased it made it a generalization. And made me feel very judged, and made me question the direction of my current therapy work (I don't work on this stuff solely during the hour-a-week therapy session I have - I work on it as often as I can, literally every day). I've gotten or put on hold dozens of books from the library in an effort to make my life about myself. Now that I've thought about it, I can't imagine that anyone who knew my story would insist I make my life about anything other than healing myself. Any scrap of energy I give away takes something vital away from me. Something I really shouldn't be without, something I deserve to have. Any energy I give away either regresses my illness or post-pones my recovery. I have a right and a desperate need to conserve it. Myss also said that when your life is about you, all you focus on is what you don't have. I can see how that can be very true, especially of someone who is clinically depressed. But normally I don't spend my time thinking about what I don't have. I think about how to manage what I do have, and how to get what I need. But mostly I don't think about want or need so much as just being mindful, or wondering, being curious, learning, doing, processing, discovering etc. And once again I feel misunderstood and ignored. Like nobody knows I exist. And maybe they don't, and that's not their fault. I somewhat assumed that the people Myss deals with on a day to day basis are further developed than average, and that may be true (it certainly sets them apart that they are dedicated to improving), but it doesn't mean they are like me at all. I'm just on a fast-track. They all still have lives that distract them from doing this work, whereas it's pretty much all I do. I've always been like this and this nature has helped create the situation where it gets the most attention. I'm just doing what I must, really. Again, I just wish it weren't so lonely and painful.

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Disclaimer

I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.