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#449875 - 10/11/13 07:30 PM A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring'
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 585
Long post warning.

Some of you already know I've been in the gutter for the past few days...I'm really grateful for your support and for helping me stay afloat. The pain and the desolation are still somewhat there, but a tiny bit of my brain has seemed to regain some functioning again and it's been on overload the past few hours with thoughts - I needed to get some out.

Just to set the context briefly, a few days back, to make a long story short, I crossed someone's boundaries (not physical, just emotional i.e. personal space). I got bit. It had also been a week of intensified harassment from my parents so I was basically a tank loaded with gas waiting for a spark to see me blow up in flames - and the spark came alright. Two days of a lot of crying. I guess I had a lot stored up. The fire's died down somewhat, but I got my daily dose of gasoline today again from my parents.

Anyway.

Back to the functioning brain thing...I took a long hard look at myself tonight and realized I was reenacting some of my parents' twisted notions of "love" and "care" onto *some* (hopefully not all) others, with some destructive consequences.

Let me elaborate...

My parents, particularly my mother (and by now it has rubbed off well on my father), had instilled in me throughout the years from early on that "love" and "caring" meant:

- Lecturing, controlling (a.k.a. nagging)
- Dismantling my defenses, reducing me into a position of vulnerability
- Relentless pestering
- Believing they knew what was best
- Violating space and boundaries
- Ignoring my hints of wanting to be left alone
- Blaming me for everything
- Showing unwanted displays of affection, both physical (understatement!) and verbal
- Coercing me into talking, when I didn't want to
- Shaming me once I gave in and admitted to making mistakes, or to my weaknesses
- Criticizing
- Reducing/minimizing successes/progress

All of this was based on the presumption that they actually have the *capacity* to love and care, which, by this point, I've learned to accept isn't true.

When I protested against these things, all I got was:

- "It's because we love you."
- "It's because we care about you."
- "Others don't do this because they don't care about you."
- "I'm your parent."
- "We are family; only family tells you things."

And the biggest killer of all: "Don't get so angry."

At an intellectual level, I've by now realized all of these things are wrong, and that they by in large serve to fulfill my parents' own emotional needs rather than uplifting or helping me. Because it sure as hell doesn't. In other words...they needed validation that they were good parents, and *they* weren't the failures...that they were always right, and that they knew everything. Most of all, to *prove* something. I suspect, even, out of a need to sabotage due to some twisted feelings of jealousy/envy.

Anyway, back to the point...a few days ago, I was shocked to realize that I was doing some of the EXACT same things. Well, to be honest, the realization was a few minutes ago, and hence the need to write it out...

The truth is, I *cannot* love and care about someone as naturally as I'd like to. I can't do it for myself; hell, how can I expect to do it genuinely for others if I can't do that? I really have to try hard *learn* it - the right things to do, the right things to say, especially when I know the other person is vulnerable and trusts me. I can sense when that happens and I really value that...but sometimes some messed up neurological pathway gets me thinking, "Awesome he trusts me, I am actually worth something," instead of, "Lift up his spirits, encourage him, ease the pain for him." It simply doesn't come naturally to me, because, well, I rationalize - I never got it from my parents. Or anyone, for that matter, until I hit my 20s. Granted, I have got *tons* of it from MS members, and I'm so damn grateful for every single moment of that (now I'm crying as I type this), but I apparently still haven't internalized all of this positive stuff enough so that I could reciprocate it naturally onto others who I want to see happy and thriving.

Oddly enough, I can sense straight away when someone else is doing this to me - I can sense their emotional apathy - but had been largely unaware that I was doing it (or even capable of doing it). For so long I had been telling myself, hell, I never want to be like my parents - and here I am now, admitting that I was carrying some of the same destructive faults...

I'm admitting a few painful things to myself, now. It may be my ego not being ready to admit it, but I honestly think (and hope) that I don't do this constantly, but at least, I'm aware I *can* do these things:

- I sometimes violate people's emotional space when I'm getting clear hints (deflections, short answers, etc.) that they don't want to talk
- On the flip side, I talk when I don't want to talk, or to people I don't want to talk to
- I tend to tell, not listen
- I manipulate others into feelings of weakness and vulnerability
- I'm *actually* usually very detached and emotionally distant, even though I can fool others sometimes with a well-developed persona

I hope - and only hope - that *maybe* the thing that separates me now above all from my parents is the fact that even in moments of pain, I can admit that I have faults and mistakes. This ties together with elements of narcissism I know I have in me to prevent...well, what's been happening the last few days really, from happening - but that's probably for another thread some other time.

In a nutshell...when it comes to loving and caring for someone - saying the right things, doing the right things - I've got a lot to learn.
_________________________
Husky

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#449890 - 10/12/13 02:50 AM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
Onesimus75 Offline


Registered: 08/22/13
Posts: 158
Loc: Minnesota
Husky,
I'm sorry to hear that you have been down. I hope that things continue to improve for you!

It sounds like you have been doing a lot of soul searching, and come up with some things to work on.

But please don't beat yourself up. None of us are perfect! It's not a shock to learn that we have faults, but I admire the courage to face them openly and work on them. That's the path to some real victory in life, I think.
_________________________
We are not defined by our faults, or our wounds, but by the truth within us, which nothing can take away.

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#449892 - 10/12/13 04:19 AM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1963
Loc: durham, north england
@Husky, one thought does occur to me, at the conclusion of your post you talk of caring for someone being "doing the right things and saying the right things"

In my personal experience what you do or don't do or say or don't say are second to the actual emotion your feeling at the time. When learning to perform on stage I actually do this the other way, being unable to physically project emotions just with my body and voice, and needing to physically make myself "feel" whatever I'm supposed to be performing.

I wonder perhaps if you might want to think about what your actually feeling as opposed to what your doing, since from the sound of it that was the bit your parents actually never got right.

I might be wrong on this, but for me at never least if I wanted to show someone I cared about them, and to help them out of a bad situation, I'd begin with a, my feelings for them and my desire to good for them, and then B, move on to my empathic sense of what they feel, and act according to those.

And yes, I perfectly agree, having another person trust you and confide in you is a powerful experience, it goes without saying. But that's not necessarily a negative thing, not unless that sort of validation is the only! selfish reason behind your action, then your just like the coorporate executive who slaps down a thousand pounds to charity while paying his workers as little as possible and believes himself a great bennifactor, even though he wouldn't cross the street to help someone if it meant losing money.

One thing I'm realizing myself is that the idea that everyone is universally selfish is just as wrong as the opposite, likewise, it's just as possible for a "good" action to be wrong in motivation, it all depends upon the perceptions and feelings involved.

I know someone who is a great example of this. Everyone regards her as a wonderfully altruistic person. She runs around trying to do her best for others all the time, and yet everything is motivated by guild and perception of "what a good person should! do" she's entirely cold, indeed whenever I see her she is stressed out to the eyeballs and frequently behaves in a calous, unfeeling way towards others, (she's occasionally made deeply cutting personal remarks without realizing), ---- yet because of all the "things she does for others" people believe her to be a saint, despite the fact that all her actions are motivated only by guilt, and not by actually wanting! to do something for someone else.

I hope some of this vaguely makes sense. I admit moral motivations are a bit of a thing of mine, both professionally, and personally, especially because I've spent so much time working on my own worthlessness.

Luke.


Edited by dark empathy (10/12/13 07:37 AM)

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#449900 - 10/12/13 06:26 AM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
On The Fringe Offline


Registered: 09/21/13
Posts: 326
Loc: Southeast USA
Husky,

I'm simple in my thoughts. So this may seem sandbox level.

The people I have affection for, or am attracted to, I do not choose. I just am. I have heard you don't pick the one you love. I agree. There are literally thousands of songs like "I hate myself for loving you".

I have some people in my life I am supposed to love by the role they have biologically in my life. Some of these people live their role to varying degrees. My biological father chose not to live the father role. Not my choice not my fault. And I can't try and shove him in that box. So I have been forced to realize his examples were bad, he dies not want the job, and find someone else that is a good example.... No choice really. If I agree or not, that was the case.

As Dark pointed out at the end of his amazing summation, I have to learn.

On what a good person does? If it is regarding me and a choice, morally or ethically, it can be a good question. If it is about the world loving me for being a good person, trouble awaits. if i am trying to fill that empty spot where i expected love from my father, as i tried to shove him in the Father Box he never wanted to be in.... that thinking is quicksand.

If I find and follow good examples, I can learn to like myself, maybe have some reality based self esteem. Pleasing others is always being the doormat with the smiley face on it.

Best wishes on finding your peace and balance on this topic.
_________________________
I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here.

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#449903 - 10/12/13 07:55 AM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1963
Loc: durham, north england
That is all True Otf.

one thing I have! realized is that love is more than needed to be needed or than what you do.

Once (as I recently recounted in another topic), when I was twenty two i met a particular girl who I'd seen off and on since I was a child, the daughter of one of my parents' friends.

She was at the time extremely upset since she was with a partner who was emotionally extremely cold and distant, yet couldn't bare to be apart from him because she was so afraid of being alone. She finished up in my arms crying all over me.

I admit I had the impulse to say to her that I'd not leave her, to invite her out to see a film, see if I could start a relationship with her, indeed she'd said, in a rather simple way to various people including her parents that she loved me, (though she meant this simply in a way of brotherly emotional support).

I opened my mouth to offer to be there for her, and to invite her out to see a film, (lion witch and the wardrobe was just playing), when suddenly something stopped me. It absolutely hit me that I was doing this not for her, but for myself, since part of me needed! to be needed. While a kind, generous and compassionate person, this girl was not particularly intelligent, we had little to nothing in common interlectually, (indeed I often felt I was having to dumb things down for her). If I were! to attempt to start and share my life with hers, it would not work out well for me, or ultimately even for her since I didn't love her, there was nothing reciprical or communicative in our interactions, just her needing someone and me needing to be needed, heck, we had barely any interests in common.

While I've got a number of regrets around relationships, or around my inability to begin any, that decision 8 years ago isn't one of them, I'm still sure I did the right thing.

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#449952 - 10/12/13 04:34 PM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
BraveFalcon Offline
Greeter
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1096
Loc: The ATL

Hi Husky. Great post and an interesting self-evaluation. Although I have to say that perhaps you're being a little hard on yourself on some of these points. Since I've been here, I've only ever seen you as a truly caring, supportive and insightful force on the board. Not to mention that, almost paradoxically, the very fact that you would take the time to sit down and self-evaluate like this, pointing out the ways in which you may be taking on some of the faults of your parents, shows to me that you are, in fact, not like your parents. Would either of your parents have ever done such a self evaluation in the name of correcting some of their own flaws? From the things you have told me/us about them, I'm guessing the answer to that is an emphatic "no". So, either way, you're on the right path and your doing the right things. Your ability to admit your own faults and analyze them like this alone shows me that you're probably light years ahead of your parents in all of the respects in which you've stated you're afraid you may be like them. I think you should be proud of that. Keep working on this, buddy. Stay strong. Peace.

Ken

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#450052 - 10/13/13 02:34 PM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 585
Thanks for the feedback guys.

I've read all of them (thoroughly, repeatedly)...I'm still processing a lot of stuff and I don't really have the energy to write out a long-drawn response tonight...will get back to you soon.
_________________________
Husky

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#450102 - 10/13/13 09:24 PM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
bey Offline


Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 204
Loc: canada
Hey husky
I can really relate to what you wrote. I also see so much of my parents in all of my "flaws", and lord knows I have many. For me, I get this terror reaction to seeing them in my behaviour, so much of who they were is wrapped up in my abuse and the abusive relationship we had. Everything I do that was them suddenly seems abusive and terrible to me. But in reality the majority of it is just human stuff, human feelings, human mistakes. Nothing sinister there at all.

I think what makes us not like them is what ken said - seeing how certain behaviours aren't working and trying to do something about them. You notice how what you do is affecting others, for better or for worse. And I don't know if what you wrote about yourself is true or not, if you are seeing things clearly, but I do know you are a smart guy with a good heart, and I know you can decide that for yourself.

And do remember that no one is perfect, that no one does relationships perfectly, romantic or friendship. Boundaries are a hard thing to figure out, and totally not my strong suit. And Sometimes things just don't go the way we hoped, for a ton of different reasons. Be kind to yourself.

Benny

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#450106 - 10/13/13 11:02 PM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 335
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: concerned_husky
The truth is, I *cannot* love and care about someone as naturally as I'd like to.


Husky:

This is a great aspiration. I suspect that what you mean by "naturally" is a sense of flow, a sense of another person, that combined with trust would feel like a healthy relationship. Good thing to want, but my guess it is a bit of work for everyone.

As others have said, don't be too hard on yourself. I would also add don't have an idealized view of a relationship, where there are only the right things to do and the wrong things. That may also be a legacy of a message from our parents, that we don't know how to do anything "right". Chances are, there is no right way in these human matters, only what follows from your intuition and desire to be loving and caring. Asking oneself questions about one's own actions as you are doing seems to me to be the way towards more understanding.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#450268 - 10/15/13 06:59 PM Re: A Few Thoughts from the Wreckage, on 'Love/Caring' [Re: concerned_husky]
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 585
Hey guys,

It's been a long way uphill since my fall but it looks like I'm finally managing to find my feet again and starting to climb up. Looking back, I think the biggest mistake I made was putting all of my problems aside and letting them build and build until, well, the inevitable overload and collapse. The last few days, I've spent thoroughly looking inwards, the dynamics of my family and life in general, accompanied with a good dose of psychology articles and books. A lot of members have told me of the integral need of therapy. I think I can really understand that sentiment now, although my circumstances don't quite allow me to get into therapy; for the moment, books and articles will do, and they really are necessary for me. I've been discovering new things, and also getting back in touch with essential thoughts and concepts that have slipped my mind lately and in so doing contributed to my breakdown. As much as I'd like to spend days, weeks, months...even years just forgetting about everything and simply focusing on the present, to me, it looks like it's much better to deal with things continuously, everyday, a little at a time - like a top position in sports or one's health, it seems like it's something that needs to be maintained, not something that becomes and remains, not something to be taken for granted.

As of late, I've been taking a good look at the issue of narcissism and (re-)discovering how it defines/defined much of my mother's behavior towards me. I've come to realize that, if anything, for me, my biggest and most powerful coping mechanism was to be able to understand why things happen - past and ongoing abuse - to the point where I'm at least cognitively satisfied, if not emotionally. Perhaps it gives me that little elusive sense of control I'm after - control over something largely beyond my control. Over the last few days, I also realized that beneath everything, I was still holding in a lot of lingering, damaging feelings that stemmed from the abuse - (I'm listing them, and though a part of me knows they are untrue, I still *feel* them) feelings of being unloved, unwanted, unworthy, inferior, non-existent, dirty, ashamed. That's the core issue, really - the raw, true feelings - and they'll be what I hope to prioritize and be working on from now.

To get back to your responses (and I've read them over and over; there were so many good things I'm bound to miss some here):

Originally Posted By: Onesimus75
But please don't beat yourself up. None of us are perfect!

*Big nod* That grandiose illusion of perfection is what I tend to gravitate towards often, but like you pointed out, nobody is perfect. And the biggest thing: it's OK not to be perfect. It's OK! Even monkeys fall off trees. I have to tell that to myself again and again because there is a hypercritical internal demon that destroys me every time I make a mistake, particularly if I end up hurting someone else because of it, and that all-too-familiar, all-encompassing shame engulfs me. That transition from perfection/shame to human/guilt is one I'll be working on.

Originally Posted By: dark empathy
I wonder perhaps if you might want to think about what your actually feeling as opposed to what your doing

Now this gave me some good food for thought. What am I feeling when people disclose their issues to me? Often, admittedly, I feel dead empty and incompetent inside, especially if it's to do with something I haven't gone through personally myself. My empathy is still a work-in-progress in many respects, and often I have a burning urge to want things to get better for the other person but not knowing what to say or do to make it happen, and I hate that. To follow up on other things you mentioned, Luke - I'm still not sure if validation is the only thing motivating me to 'help' others. I will have to think about this more carefully; for the time being though, I do think that basing one's esteem and sense of worth on how helpful one can be to others is somewhat of a risky act, as it evades the underlying reality that every one of us has *intrinsic value* that shouldn't need any validation in relation to others. The 'saint' you mentioned make me chuckle somewhat as I believe to have dated a girl who fits your description well. Having enough things in common is something I will be prioritizing the next time I find myself in a relationship, if ever.

Originally Posted By: On The Fringe
I have some people in my life I am supposed to love by the role they have biologically in my life.

That is precisely what I'm wrestling with, I think. It sure is a can of worms. I do think it is an idealization, this concept of unconditional love, simply owing to biological ties. Those ties aren't to be taken for granted, and they can be easily severed and cut off, not least of which because of abuse. I think that 'empty spot' you allude to is much like the set of feelings I listed above; I can also see how trying to, as you put it neatly, "shove him in the Father Box he never wanted to be in," can offset a series of people-pleasing behaviors that will have you simply as a "doormat with the smiley face on it." Your words serve as a good reminder to me to not fall under this trap.

Originally Posted By: BraveFalcon
Your ability to admit your own faults and analyze them like this alone shows me that you're probably light years ahead of your parents in all of the respects in which you've stated you're afraid you may be like them. I think you should be proud of that.

smile smile smile

I really appreciate that, Ken, thanks. It kind of brings me to a tangent, another one of my issues - accepting compliments. It actually seems paradoxical, how one can sometimes hold grandiose illusions of oneself and yet fail to accept and internalize a genuine compliment. It probably goes back to that hypercritical internalized persecutor in me stemming from my upbringing - at the moment, for me, there seems to be a fine line between tipping from a good, stable self-esteem and vanity/arrogance; another issue to write on my 'checklist', I guess.

Originally Posted By: bey
But in reality the majority of it is just human stuff, human feelings, human mistakes.

This gave me another "aha!" moment, thanks Benny. Abuse seems to filter into so many of my thoughts, often unfounded - and it really was beyond my scope of imagination until now to think that I can make mistakes, not because I'm an inferior being, but simply because I'm human. That's an insanely liberating thought! Upon reflecting I know that at the time I wrote my original post I was in a highly emotional state; it's only days after when I'm starting to see things more clearly and rationally. Another member PMed me telling me to simply step back and take a few deep breaths before thinking things over again - that has really helped.

Originally Posted By: focusedbody
That may also be a legacy of a message from our parents, that we don't know how to do anything "right".

This has been a relatively new issue for me that's finally made its way up into my consciousness. It seems whatever I do, it's never good enough. Ever. My first reaction to this was the inevitable "well f*@# them then, I don't give a s@#$ anymore"...and then I kind of sat down to ponder how this never-being-good-enough attitude really affects my life - I've realized that I downplay/minimize, and to a large extent, even dismiss or deny any real accomplishments or progress that I have made. It's had a detrimental effect on me, and for the first time I can really verbalize how it's felt - it was as if I had been running and running and running, burning energy and sweating...on a treadmill. When really, I *have* been going from point A to point B. I also liked how you said, "I suspect what you mean by 'naturally' is a sense of flow, a sense of another person." I think that's exactly it - in other words, being able to establish others as separate entities outside of myself. To put it together with the previous point, compared to a few years ago, I do think I have made progress in this aspect - but also, like you said, this probably takes work for everyone because at the end of the day we really cannot directly experience what another person is feeling; we need to draw on our own experiences and empathy to be able to get a glimpse of the other person.

***

Phew. I think that's all the energy I have at the moment to post. It's been a trough few days but your responses have been a tremendous help in lifting me up and re-conceptualizing things; thanks guys, truly appreciate it.

_________________________
Husky

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