Don’t Drink the Water

Today’s therapy session included a big epiphany. It started out as “hum, that’s interesting” and then quickly snowballed into “OMFG! Bwaa haa haa” as I sobbed intensely in my chair.

First, let me say that I love epiphanies like this. The big, ugly, makes you bawl uncontrollably kind. It’s very cleansing, like a leaf blower pushing all the debris away. It was also made apparent that it is an experience in which I am able to be compassionate and care for myself.

The session started out as the last few have been, kind of frustrating in that I keep hitting this wall of confusion  regarding feeling my feelings and being consumed by them. I was telling her how exhausted I am at trying to care about myself. Every thought and action is scrutinized. I get overwhelmed at simple observing and I lose patience with myself. “What the fuck am I doing? Why do I have to do this? Why am I so goddamn sensitive? Why can’t I be ignorant and live life with blinders on? I have being conscious and aware!!!”

I then began to tell her that when I do attempt to care for myself it feels wrong. “It’s not who I am. I’m not that person who is confident, happy, and loves themself. Trying to be that person is like me saying ‘I want to be 5’10” and 120 pounds’. It’s just not me.” When I make attempts to care for myself and then revert to my old habits, I get frustrated and a voice inside me says “See! Why do you even try? That’s not you!”

She pointed out that even when I let myself off the hook, I put myself right back on out of habit. She reminded me that although it is true that I am not that “happy and confident” person now, I can acknowledge that and still be caring to myself. She reminded me that caring for myself involves being patient with myself and not giving into the “all or nothing” thinking (either I’m healthy or unhealthy).

I then told her that in our conversation I was reminded of my brother who always says things like “Why bother? No matter what you do, you just can’t win”. Then she had an epiphany and said something to the effect of “Oh my god are you trying to stay connected with your family?”

I know I’ve said this before, but all my negative self-talk (the criticizing and judging) is my family’s voice. It’s how my family communicates. When I try to go against it and actually be more caring, compassionate, and patient I can feel my family saying “That’s not how we do things. What, you think you’re better than us now?” So when she made the connection, I was a bit surprised myself and thought “well that makes sense”. Then it really sank in. I told her that when I say negative things to myself it feels comforting (in a sick way) and familiar. Then I started to sob and said “It’s like, if your mom baked banana bread when you were a kid, then as an adult you smell banana bread you feel comfort and think ‘oh yeah, home. Mom.’ When I think negatively and critically of myself, it’s like a hug from my mom.”

I let the tears flow, and felt that surge of cleansing go through me. I felt my border of understand expand and I realized that I just gave birth to a new perspective. A new part of myself. I became “unstuck”. I realised that I am afraid of not fitting in with my family despite never feeling like I fit in anyway. I realized that I would rather cripple myself in order to feel like a part of them, instead of be out in the world (seemingly) alone. My therapist told me the story of a man who lived in a village where the water was poisoned to that the people who drank it would go crazy. He was the only one (I think) that began to notice the effects of the water on others and was torn between not drinking the water and being sane and alone, or drinking the water and going crazy with his family, friends, and community. I told her this story was spot on to how I felt.

I then remembered a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti that states “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” I can could hear myself realizing that I need to be separate from my family (and all that entails) in order to get healthy. I am experiencing this, not because I am flawed, but because I have subconscious the desire to become healthy.

This experience does bring back the question of “If I am not my family (thoughts, feelings, etc.) the who am I?”. What I know right now is the following:

  • When I have a feeling, I can acknowledge it and feel it.
  • I don’t have to be hyper aware of my feelings and thoughts all the time.
  • I can be the patient with myself and I don’t need to get it right all the time.
  • I am deserving of my own love simply because I was born.
  • When I begin to think negatively or critically about myself, I can realize that I am hearing my family voice, and not my own.

With all this in mind, I’m slowly beginning to understand what it means to be a part of the family, but not my family.

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