Can I Have Empathy for Me #6

MY first boss despised us.

I was 16 and applied to be a busboy/dishwasher at a restaurant. The manager thought I was an irresponsible punk. To be fair to him, I had zero work experience. Furthermore, he didn't like any of us teens. We were all worthless in his mind.

If you think about it, this was an opportunity to mold me and the others. We could be shaped as leaders and mentored to excel. Instead, we were scolded and crushed flat. I have used this example before, but when a toddler touches a hot stove and gets burned they never do it again. Kids learn quickly. I was already developing this shame monster as a youth, so my first boss slipped right in there and burned me. I am not a worthwhile employee.

Thus, my first job shaped those to come. Being smothered by peer pressure at school and quashed at work left me with two options. I could believe that I am worthless because it seems this adult believes that. Or, I could protect my ego and get angry with the boss, the job, with work. Back then, I wasn't as black and white with my thinking. So, I chose to do both. I am a worthless employee. Also work did that to me so I want distance myself from it, or get angry at the job. Admittedly, with the way that most people are treated in entry-level jobs some of the anger may have been justified.

As I continued working in my youth each job was an opportunity to prove those employers (and my shame) that I did have worth. I volunteered for the extra shifts. I learned what was required to get better positions. I moved into key holder positions, manager positions and at nearly every establishment I burned out. It was never enough for that shame I carried. All those failures only enforced my self-loathing.

When I returned to university I was excited. I felt I was finally building a career. After a lot of freelance gigs and scrambling once I graduated, I finally found a home. I had a job where I was an equal, respected, and my colleagues supported me. This is how I look back on it, which is out of character. Those close to me at the time note that it wasn't so rose-colored. I was carrying a lot of stress. I may have enjoyed my new found work family, but the job did come with anxiety.

Leaving the job was not easy, but now that my life was more in balance I met someone. That relationship led me to move from my home to another country and I was no longer able to keep my job. Coming to a new country meant paperwork and more paperwork. All that bureaucracy takes time and I was unable to work in my new home. I managed to do some freelance work for my old company. However, I had a lot of time to over think.

My career was likely a fluke. Shame was back and stronger than ever. I was worthless. Somehow I had gotten lucky and that was now over. After getting residency, I had some interviews. Unfortunately, I didn't really have a network in my new home. I didn't have that inside track that other candidates may have had. Hopping from job to job in my youth lasted longer than my career, so it must be my truth. Now, I had a partner on top of a family to disappoint. Broken, jobless man is not something we value in society and media. I breathed these shameful thoughts minute by minute. I broke down. I wanted to die.

Therapy and medication versus 40+ years of shame is not a fair fight. It is a process that I will continue the rest of my life. Working through past trauma is not easy. I am not enough is the over arching theme and it can also color my recovery. I am not good enough at therapy to deserve to be healed. I have recognized that a great deal of my self-worth has been tied into my job/career. I don't want to be social if I have to say I am unemployed. In the West, that is all we talk about, our jobs that we do 40+ hours a week and the weather. My self-worth is based on internalized capitalism, always be producing. For you older folks this is the Protestant work ethic, doing anything but work is a sin.

Here I am with my toolbox of therapies attempting to parry every strike from my core belief that I am worthless. It is a 24/7 job. When I see opportunities to re-enter my career, I am terrified more than ever. I look back and see the connection between my self-worth and work. Surprisingly I see my progress from breakdown 'til now. Will a new full-time contract be different or will I repeat the pattern?

From the perspective of our capitalist society one must be employed. Those basic needs of food, shelter, water, and clothing are not guaranteed. Regardless of my health, I must work. While we may have made some progress with the stigma of mental health, it remains difficult for many to recognize how debilitating invasive thoughts are. Sometimes a serious physical accident can have severe consequences and we do not expect the survivor to return to work. However, someone with depression just needs to cheer up and get back to work. Anxiety? Relax and focus on the job.

I have been in a new part-time position for a month facing the fear of failure, the fear of repeating my pattern. I have received support from the new colleagues, but I cannot shake the need to prove myself. The imposter syndrome is thrumming in the background of every meeting. I will never do enough to impress my employer. Those close to me are waiting for the shoe to drop and to watch me disappoint once again.

In the moment, I can use my strategies and see some pride in what I am doing. I can know I am making a difference. Unfortunately, those positive feelings can be used against me by those damaging thoughts of worthlessness. I am overcompensating, being cocky, or completely ignorant of how easy my job would be performed by someone more talented.

That overwhelming fear that I will repeat the pattern of burning out while I try to prove my worth to those around me is so real that I can taste it in the air. Walls that I was easing down in therapy are quickly rising back up.

Of course, it is me who I am trying to prove myself to. It's not the fault of those around me. And, I wouldn't have known if I was ready to return to work unless I actually tried. Then, there's the thought from above that this is a journey. My healing will happen throughout what is left of my life. Would I ever be able to work absolutely free of the self-loathing? Perhaps, not. Does this fall under the 'it is what it is' category? Maybe I will never be ready to balance a career and my mental health. I don't know. If I did, well I wouldn't be having these thoughts, I guess. Anyway, time for bed. I have to work tomorrow.

Can I Have Empathy for Me #5

My mind pulses far quicker than my heart.

We all want to be heard. I often wonder if I am saying things that people will understand. The fear of failure and shame that I carry in my mind are absolute. As if they were materialized limbs attached to my body.

Additionally, I often feel like a chameleon. When the anxiety is overpowering I attempt to ignore it. I push a door shut and camp out in the logic side of my brain. To interact in the world around me I mimic my way through. Since I have been doing this since junior high, I have learned to say the right things.

Coincidentally, I feel as if people are only telling me what I need to hear. Patronizing me because I am a burden in their lives. For many years, I never spoke of my suicidal thoughts it felt like manipulation. As if I was saying I wanted to kill myself for some attention. Of course, the fear that people will think I am seeking attention, that they are patronizing me, it is all my shamevision™.

From there, things get convoluted. Therapists and doctors compliment my ability to notice the shame. It is a first step to making changes. It is also an ouroboros, the serpent eating its own tale. Changes in my thoughts happen too slow and then I have shame about still having shame. I have to remind myself that the shame is the evolution of self-protection. The voice of shame is my overzealous and distorted safety mechanism. I am afraid to be less than perfect. 'Don't try and you cannot fail,' stopped working for a younger version of me and so I started berating myself. I have to double-down on my efforts to recognize the shame for what it is. The ability to focus and perform other tasks is minimized. My job becomes dancing through all these pitfalls and I cannot function in a social or work setting at the same time. I must shutdown. I become the chameleon.

I think I am safe. I say what I think you want to hear. However, I know I am doing it. I know I am pushing aside emotions that have tried to get my attention for years. I feel as if I am deceiving others. The shame latches onto these thoughts and feelings. I am back at the beginning. I am starting all over. I do not collect $200.

Can I Have Empathy for Me? #4

Day off.

I wake up with an entire day in front of me. I am not coming home after 8 hours at work too exhausted to do anything besides eat dinner and sleep. No, it is a day to myself.


There are some requirements of adulthood that I must attend. I should sit down and pay the bills, dust and vacuum, do the laundry, change the furnace filter, do the dishes, and buy groceries. Additionally, there are a number of maintenance tasks associated with the roof over my head. Minor repairs and the fact that we are renovating a room will figure into the day off. The home is not just a roof over our heads, but an investment. Oh, and there's the issue of winterizing the balcony.

Then, I can have my day off. Sure.

If by some dark sorcery I accomplish everything above on my day off, I am still unable to sleep this night. I did not finish all those things, but there is a part of me (that I have been trying to cultivate for the last 4 years) that is proud of what I did get done. Did the inner critic who set the bar low and surpassing it was easy? Setting that aside, doubt still comes to disturb my sleep. Maybe I could have done more?

There is a term, internalized capitalism, which fits my mantra “I am not enough.” Internalized capitalism is the idea that hard work brings happiness, not your health. It is when you determine your worth based on your productivity. Being profitable is your number one job. And, one feels shame for resting.

So, I lie awake. What more could I have done yesterday? Instead of musing on it here in bed, is there something I can still do at this time?

No! This is my day off. I didn't even get to experience that really. I am frustrated. My mind is a hurricane of what more could I have done and what I really wanted to do. The storm rages and I get up to watch TV or read a book to get through the storm. A sleepless night to sabotage productivity the next day. A nice recipe of shame to continue my week.

Can I Have Empathy for Me? #3

Time stops for no one.

I suppose that it makes sense that I would be tired after a long work day in a new environment, compared to my previous schedule. My body feels like a pinata. Even after 8 hours of sleep, I feel punch drunk.

I want to take shots at the system. Capitalism has us working through the daylight and milking years from our lives in an effort to enrich someone else. The lore of a gloriously lavish retirement is the reward. However, that's my brain seeking to separate myself, my emotions, from the issue. What is the issue? Is it time? Is it how I spend time? Perhaps it boils down to my perception of time.

“I am not enough” and therefore I cannot do enough in a single day. Your birthday gift, the vacuuming, dinner, and the dog walk must be done. I can't forget to call my mother too. If I were to accomplish this list in a single day my mind adds 15 more things. What about all the things I failed to do the day before, the week before, and last month.

I carry all this on my shoulders throughout my day. I haul it to my new job. I place more items I should do onto my list. I move it all piece by piece, home and crash. Escape into a bad television show, a game, or a book is where I land. It feels better than just crawling into bed right away. Additionally, I can add the shame that I didn't do anything after work to my burden.

An animator I interviewed once told me that he completed his independent short on the weekends or after work. He told me how difficult it was and the way he pushed through. He convinced himself, “Draw one line.” Sometimes it would be just that. Other times he would continue to draw a few more. And maybe, sometimes he would get inspired.

I have to go to work, now. If I cannot come home and draw one line, that's alright. Those are difficult words to write. It will be okay. I am still trying to convince myself. It's a dark place in this mind.

Can I Have Empathy for Me? #2

Pending doom.

The new job means new responsibilities, new relationships to form, and the desire to prove oneself. It is natural to be nervous in this situation. Most employers recognize there will be an adjustment time and do their best to make you feel at ease. Despite that, there's always that initial nervousness.

I've theorized in the past on the challenges of adulthood. The popular example is making friends as a child. You simply walk up to another child and ask if they want to play. As children we don't really feel bad if someone answers “no.” We move on. As we age, we learn social customs and more importantly what does not work. I cannot punch you in your shoulder to introduce myself. So the older we are the more rules we have written inside our head for friendship introductions. It's hard to make friends as an adult as you try to avoid the mines you've stepped on before. Starting a new job brings up all the lived experience in my past of “things not to do” and my anxiety wants to run away with that information.

Thankfully, I haven't had a lot of turnover in my job history, at least after university. However, I did breakdown mentally. I haven't worked in an office with others in a long time. So the level of initial nervousness on the first day is exponentially increased. My inner monologue that “I am not enough” is a deafening air raid siren. I am biting tears before they flow.

As I said above, there is no one here out to get me. They will onboard me as someone who is new and needs some training. That is the reality. The pit of my stomach refuses to believe this. My clenched jaw smugly pouts at the idea of success. My brain is a bookie taking bets from the other organs on how I will fail this time.

Reality blurs.

I have to focus. Here I go. I am not alone. I have all this doubt with me.

Can I Have Empathy for Me? #1

I am afraid of good things.

I am not humble or modest. When there's something “good” happening for me, I shut down and I isolate. Any celebration or congratulations are loaded with shame.

Anytime I journal or blog, I write “I am not enough.” If I have written that out over a thousand times, it doesn't get close to the amount of times I hear that in my brain in a single day. I project this slogan “you are not enough” onto those around me. The cashier thinks I am not enough because I am buying the wrong groceries to be healthy. The passerby on the street as I walk my dog thinks I am not a good enough dog owner. My therapist is not watching the clock because there are more appointments to attend. No, he knows I am not good enough to help myself and take any advice for healing.

A text message, an email, all the modern day notifications on my phone are reminders of my inadequacies and failures. The glasses I wear are not rose-colored, they are polarized. They don't prevent eyestrain, they are polarizing in that they divide me from reality. I only see avenues for shame.

I found some relief in treatment through psychotherapy and EMDR. Meditation and journaling also helped to an extent. Each of those tools involve hard work and concentration. It is not easy to face the emotions I have avoided for 40+ years. Throughout my life, I have formed habits that feed the shame. Changing the way I see things, changing those glasses is incredibly difficult. It takes my full focus. As I shared above, I cannot walk the dog and remember that I was born to be enough. None of us are born worthless or inadequate. Yet, that is how I feel. I talk to myself as if I am a burden and without any worth.

Therefore, an award for being “Volunteer of the Year” at my regional Canadian Mental Health Association is not an honor. A new job is not an accomplishment. These are minefields for me. Did they make a mistake? Now, that they named me “Volunteer of the Year,” watch me make them regret it, because I will somehow. If I was hired to pet puppies all day, I am sure I would screw it up.

Alright, I suppose I challenged myself by naming my journal entry, “Can I Have Empathy for Me.” I am not sure how to tackle this because it feels more permanent than a tattoo. I am not enough, no matter what I do. This is not a narrative in my head or something I can medicate away. It feels like a fact. The truth. The only positive thing I have at this moment is..well..this moment.

Perhaps mindfulness and trying to be present is what I might focus on today. Somehow, I will have to try and quiet the evidence of failures in the past and the fears of future disappointment and just try to press the “OK” button on this post. Then, I have to deal with the next 10 seconds, and so on.

Unfinished Business

I like lists. I've learned that they can get out of hand very quickly. So, my strategy has been to put a max of 3 things on a daily list. Still, things change and items get pushed back. That feels awful.

I worry about time, a lot. It feels like things always take longer than I think. This is a result of my self-hate and believing I am not enough. If journaling is on my list and then I have a terrible sleep and wake up late, I may skip the journal to proceed to the other tasks. However, I see this as a failure. There were only 3 things on the list! Frustrated, I internalize the failure. I tear at dry skin, eat junk food, and stay up late trying to ignore that painful feeling. The next day, I sleep in again and the process continues.

The underlying issue is one of self-love. Of course, one psychiatrist told me that they prefer to treat the symptoms, not the condition. The conversation was about the DSM. The idea that it is a manual is misleading. It's more a glossary of terms so that mental health professionals have a common vocabulary. And, unfortunately the despicable insurance industry uses the manual to allow or deny coverage. Back to me, the symptoms are shoulding myself. I should have journaled. I should have finished the list. I should have got more sleep.

The self-love and shoulding are connected, partners in crime. Increasing my self-love would allow me to be empathetic to myself when I do not finish everything I hoped I would. Removing should from my inner monologue would go a long way towards finding some self-love.

What are some other good strategies for shoulding on oneself? Perhaps a question for a therapist. At the moment, I feel that I should know the answer already as I have been here before. That sucks. (Deep breath)

This is the value of journaling, taking time to have these conversations with myself that I have spent years ignoring. This is a consistent fear I deal with daily, “What if I fall back into old patterns?”

Fear of Relapse

I spent a lifetime stuffing emotions away without any care or thought. I only functioned day-to-day with this practice. Work, relationships, university were all elements that required concentration and focus, not emotions. After the trauma of breaking down I went back to the comfort of avoiding emotions. The break was more than just feeling vulnerable and exposed. I felt raw and fragile. I spent a lot of times with my psychiatrist and groups talking about my fear of being curled up in a ball on the floor if I allowed my emotions out. After all, my first real experience with them was a breakdown in which suicide felt like the answer.

In the movies people pull the ripcord and the parachute jerks them suddenly from terminal velocity to floating in an instant. My all or nothing thinking believed that giving myself any room to emote would result in a similar whiplash. In an effort to challenge that type of thinking I tried to remember that my emotions were wholly connected. I could not just choose to turn off sadness, anger, and shame without losing joy, affection, and pride. Yet, my 40 year old default setting was, and is, hard to let go of.

Somewhere in my journey, I started to compartmentalize my ability to compartmentalize. I decided I needed to be numb to complete work or my volunteering. I cannot have emotions right now because I need to be productive. I'll deal with the shame later. Perhaps this is how others around me function?

No time to think about the crisis of my identity, anxiety, or depression. I have to work.

All emotions are on a hiatus while I clean the house, cook dinner, and do the laundry. I will take time to worry and explore my feelings later.

Other strategies included using meditation to sit with my feelings at the beginning of the day and then flipping the switch to shut them down so that I could live life. You know, nothing happens throughout the day that would require any emotional response or processing. I'm sure scheduling emotions will work just fine? Similar to my Morning Pages, meditation became charged with reluctance. If I am going to schedule time with my emotions, I can certainly avoid the schedule.

In true all or nothing thinking, I had decided I was a blob of emotions curled up on the floor or an emotionless robot charged with being productive and consuming goods. I could not see the gray between the black and white. It continues to be a struggle daily.

Therapy and processing emotions also fell under the lens of all or nothing. If I am not expressing my sadness, shame, anger, etc. I must be bottling it up! I felt as if I had to tell everyone walking by me on the street how I was feeling. Otherwise, I am clearly falling into my old ways of supressing things. Certainly when I look back at the last month where there are no journals, I fear I have relapsed into the old Chris.

No journals in July must mean I screwed up again. I failed. Yet, when I look back at my month there is not evidence to support that. On the surface, there are no journals. Yet, the strongest feeling I have is guilt for not writing the journals. There are not other regrets to ruminate on or traumatic events that I can recall in an instant. That doesn't mean I was a unicorn pooping rainbows of joy last month. I did struggle at times, but here I am, on the other side of the month.

Going back to my parachute metaphor, pulling the ripcord does not result in a sudden jerking upward. The chutes are complicated things that must be packed in a way to ensure the chute doesn't get caught on the lines that bind you to the chute. A pilot chute comes out first to guide the rest of the actual chute out of the bag. The chute expands in a way that slows the user to minimize the jerking motion from falling to floating. Perhaps I am not stuck between sobbing blob or cold robot. Maybe a lack of journaling or meditation isn't a sign of failure. I am no longer free-falling because I have some skills to guide me down. My chute doesn't work perfectly every time. Sometimes, I may pull the cord too late.

It feels a bit foreign to give myself some credit because I am not used to it. I am not fully feeling like this is a victory, but I will acknowledge there is change. Rather than jumping to the conclusion that I am failing again, I can see that I do have a parachute on my back. I just have to practice using it.

Anticipation & Anxiety

Making a plan and creating structure is a strategy for dealing with anxiety. It can be effective, but is it helpful?

I imagine even people without severe anxiety can relate to the following example. It feels like 9 times out of 10, anticipation of a stressful event, like a job interview, is far worse than the experience of the event itself. That fear of the unknown is something we can ruminate on, and those of us with anxiety cannot stop the rumination. Thus, some structure is helpful. I find that using the calendar to plan my days allows me to get all the tasks out of my head where they stir up insecurity and shame.

I need to clean the house, finish 2 projects for my client, walk the dog, buy groceries, call a contractor, make dinner, meditate, journal, exercise, edit some podcasts, finish an art project, oh, there's another art project as well, return some emails, water my bonsai, do the dishes, organize my photo files, plan a holiday...

All of that is not going to happen in one day. In my mind, it must or I am a failure. Then, I freeze. It's an impossible feat and therefore easier to sink into depression. The next day, that list is compounded with new tasks and I become more anxious. It is too much and I am overwhelmed. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If I take the list and break it down into the week using a calendar, I can focus on things a bit easier. I do not have to worry about cleaning the house until Wednesday because today I am focusing on client projects. Managing anxiety in this way compartmentalizes the unrest. Of course, my anxious and fearful mind can now pay full attention to the client projects. In other words, anxiety is on an extreme alert still.


Structure is a form of control. If I can absolutely influence an outcome and know what to expect, anxiety goes down. Since I don't understand my emotions and learned to avoid them, I seek control. Anxiety and I ruminate on every outcome in hopes to dodge any surprises. I can live with failure, insecurity and shame. They are the comfortable norm. (Well, they were until things got so heavy that I broke.) At times, I would rather disappoint myself than feel accomplished. Should I have success, it will be expected of me in the future. That sounds like more pressure, stress, and anxiety.

In reality, control is an illusion for the most part. We can plan to go on a bike ride together, but I cannot control all of the factors of our trip. A flat tire on my bicycle may result in you feeling as if you have to turn around and walk back with me. I may feel that I have ruined your bike ride. Of course, the flat tire is not my doing. Though I could argue that I saw the hazard and reacted too late. Maybe I could have been more responsible and brought a patch kit and a small pump. It was your decision to turn around with me. I do not control your emotions or reactions. In this example, my structure/plan was unable to mitigate the painful feelings of shame, embarrassment, guilt and anger at myself.

As I have shared before in my journals, our biological, human system is quick to store these types of painful experiences in an effort to protect us in the future. This system that developed to protect our ancestors from death have not adapted to the modern stresses of today's world. So, that fictional bike ride adds fuel to the shame I already have. You'll never want to hang out with me again. I shouldn't make plans like that with friends because I will just screw it up. I will control the self-inflicted pain by avoiding these situations in the future.


I do not like who I am. I have a historic pattern of outsourcing my self-love. I jump to help others to gain their affection because I have none for myself. My structure and plans for the week will go out the window if someone needs something. I drop everything. I prioritize others before me because I do not have self-worth.

Once I have deviated from the plan, there is no control. My anxiety level rises and I use self-deprecating humor as a defense mechanism. I will 'tease' myself before others have a chance to offer constructive criticism. Again, I want to control the narrative. I want to feel disappointed in myself because that is my comfort zone. To rush to someone 's aid with a subconscious hope for praise and affection and then disappoint them would be devastatingly painful for me.

Should my aid be of use and I do get praise and affection from someone, it very quickly becomes a fluke. They were just being nice because I helped. They don't really think that about me. Or, that was a very simple deed to do that any friend would have done. This is nothing that I should celebrate.

Once I have dispatched with the foreign feelings of pride, happiness, and compassion it is time to look at the damage I have done. I dropped everything to help a friend. My task list has suffered. Thus, the list drops onto the next day's list. I get overwhelmed and wash, rinse, repeat.

All or Nothing

This very journal entry (likely convoluted and confusing) is an example of the many Cannot Win situations my depression loves. If I add structure and planning I will disappoint myself if I drop everything for others. If I do not drop things for others, I will not get any affection or praise at all. As brief as it is, without it I will endlessly beat myself up. Again, that cognitive distortion of black & white thinking sparks up and I am unable to see the gray here. I do not have to jump at everyone else's whim. I could prioritize myself sometimes. Perhaps that would result in some self-compassion? I do not have to control everyday of the week with structure because there are too many factors to control. The interruptions in my productivity can result in good things. No really, Chris, it is possible. All deviations from the plan do not need to result in shame.

I guess I wonder if structure is a good strategy for anxiety in my case because it may not be mitigating much. As I said above, splitting tasks to different days does not make me less anxious. I am 100% anxious about all the things I must finish this month! Scheduling it out allows me to be 100% anxious about today's task. I can ruminate on all the ways it could go wrong, how I could fail, and how painful the eventual failure will be.

Perhaps, simply letting the anxiety be there without trying to minimize, avoid, or reality check it would be more effective? This makes me anxious. Hey anxiety, welcome. Feeling exactly where the emotion is in my body and observing it versus ruminating with it could be a better strategy.

The difficulty comes in making any progress when I do not feel as if I have worth. Shame has always been my motivator. Currently, I want to be perfect, but I am human. What if I sit with my anxiety and still find myself getting carried away with thoughts of failure? I'm not good enough. I'm broken. This strategy doesn't work. Shame once convinced me to end my life. Now, it motivates me to not have one. If I try, I will fail. That's a hard rule in my mind to overcome. I suppose each day that I am here on this Earth is progress.


When are you doing self-care versus procrastination?

When are you being productive versus avoiding other things?

When I do not like who I am and therefore do not fully trust myself, these are difficult questions.

The pattern of escape is a very, very old one. Avoiding emotions and thoughts started early. Perhaps, dealing with a life-threatening illness when I was younger had something to do with it. Being bedridden for over 2 months with nothing to do but think was too much. There were TV shows and video games to distract me from the fact that I was not to move in hopes that my body would heal on its own. Otherwise, it was open heart surgery for a twelve year old me.

The family was never one to discuss emotions. My father's serious illness was always looming over us. Best to not think about it. So, I learned to avoid emotions. It was best to show love and affection through actions. Unfortunately, I burned out on that very quickly. I couldn't perform perfectly. Arguably, children (and adults) learn by making mistakes. I learned that I was not good enough with each of my mistakes. I retreated inward.

As I got older, I tried to disguise my insecurity with productivity. I moved up the ranks quickly in every retail job I ever had. I felt that each one of them demanded more from me and lashed out by moving to a new job. I projected my fears and anxiety onto supervisors, managers, and corporate masters. Yet, I was the one who pushed myself over every edge. I had to prove to the world I had worth because deep down, I didn't believe that.

On This Day

I recognize these patterns, but I still get caught up in them. Where I used television and video games to avoid my father's health, I now use the strategy of distraction to avoid the pandemic of COVID 19. I escaped into nail-biting as a teen. Today, I look up and realize my foot is bleeding because I have removed skin from my feet.

The inescapable deadline puts me into productive mode. With a project only finished minutes ago, I spot a dirty dish or a dusty surface and jump into cleaning. It may be 11pm, but what else is there to do? If I go to sleep, I will surely be that lazy, no good, procrastinator tomorrow. No, I have to keep being productive.

Where yesterday I wrote a journal about the cognitive distortion of black and white thinking, today I really feel balance in this case is near impossible. I am either go-go-go or burned out and into escape.

Today, I have been avoiding some work because of all the trauma associated with failing. I am scared to start something and be told that it was not enough. So much of this is from my past. The emotions are alive today just as they were when my first boss scolded me for not cleaning a toilet. My trainer told me I didn't have to, but he was just another 16 year old kid too. I should not have believed him. Now, my boss hates me. I am physically uncomfortable writing this. And logically I can see there's a self-fulfilling prophecy in the works. If I avoid the work, I will prove myself right, I am awful. If I get work done just in time, it will be sloppy. It will be not good enough, like me.