For Others

Sometimes I wonder about disassociation. I was reading The Body Keeps The Score and the author wrote about an aunt that would come and visit. The author shared that their aunt cooked, cleaned, reorganized things and took care of the children during the visit. Conversation with her was barely at a surface level. On the day that they took her to the airport, the author hugged their aunt and she cried. She told the author that it must be the weather change. In the author's opinion, their aunt was unable to understand her own emotions. She busied herself by taking care of others. He believed many who have suffered trauma react in this way. Disassociating with their own emotions and sensations because they are too painful, some people look for that outward praise.

I will gladly drop anything for those around me. I cannot prioritize my needs or desires. When I do, I feel as if I am selfish and do not deserve my needs met. Shame, my old friend, drives this bus.

In fact, I come here today because I had an appointment with my therapist and conversation turned to journaling. I mentioned the success that I had with it in the past and talked myself into doing it again. Before, I would often write in a journal and never read it. However, I thought this time I might try doing it here on my blog. Perhaps sharing my story can help others? And, just like that, this is an act I am performing for others, not me.

There's some fear, I guess, in taking care of myself. Some perfectionism wanting to do the right thing. As I get older, the clock ticks away and I cannot even give thought to going back to school because “it is too late.” This puts more pressure on getting things right. “What's that? You want some help moving? Sure, I'll be right there.” You know what you want and I am glad to help. I am happy to avoid these uncomfortable thoughts about doing what's right for me.

I feel so very cringe when I am asking for something. Every single time it is a visceral disgust in myself. I am sure others feel similar and that I am not alone. Though, interpreting my emotions is very new to me. So, I don't think I am really explaining how...painful it is to ask for something for me. It's not just awkward, it really hurts. In addition, it feeds my shame. The shame grows stronger. Those neurons in my brain take up more space and coil around everything but those default processes like breathing. So far, anyway.

Like so many situations in my life, this feels very cyclical. I put myself out there to get gratitude from others because I am incapable to do things for me. Eventually, I burn out. I retreat to ice cream, chocolate, insomnia, distraction, and peeling my skin or biting my nails. Then, I wake up one day feeling selfish. The cycle starts over.

Even after the courses, groups, training, psychiatry, and EMDR, I identify the cycle, but seem to still be in it. I know, rationally. that self-care or doing things for me is not selfish. Internally, emotionally, that feels absolutely wrong. It is nauseating pain when I think that I could be as important as anyone else.