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It’s Love I’m After

September 29, 2010

I’ve been sad for days, weeks, months, years it seems. I recently stopped taking the antidepressants that I had started taking in the midst of my last relationship when I felt like the combined stress of dealing with school and my exploding feelings of love might just kill me. When the relationship ended my doctor upped my anti-depressant and then when I just wouldn’t let go no matter how much of a mind fuck this whole situation was he upped them again and then when I wanted to kill myself, because I just couldn’t deal with how much pain I was in I started a second kind of anti-depressants and on and on it went for two plus years. And now, I’m no longer taking meds, but I also feel like a basket case, or you know, a very sad person.

I don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the line my self worth became intrinsically linked with what this one person thought of me or more to the point, how he treated me. He became the personification of the little voice in my head that constantly repeats “he doesn’t give a shit, he doesn’t give a shit, no one gives a shit, I’m a piece of shit”. And that’s precisely how I feel right now and have been feeling for quite some time to some extent or another.

I’m angry and I’m sad. I’m angry at him. Right now I hate his guts and would tell him so if it would change anything. But it doesn’t. I’m angry at him, but mostly, I’m angry at myself for letting all of this happen, for wanting him or that relationship or whatever so much that I thought it better to endure a certain amount of pain as a constant. As a compromise. I’m angry at myself for not caring about myself enough, for not having enough self-respect to stop any of this before it became what it has become today. I never should have let this relationship happen, especially when it was so clearly self-destructive.

And now, I’m sad. I haven’t even seen him in two years or talked to him in six months and it’s ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT on a bad day, and let me tell you there are more bad days than good ones as of late. It’s all I can think about and I’m ashamed to admit it. I’m ashamed to admit HOW MUCH this hurts me. It makes me feel weak, pathetic, and like a piece of shit.

Rationally I know time is a key factor in any healing process, and at first I was able to comfort myself with the idea of a possible future where things would be all right, where this wouldn’t hurt as much and I wouldn’t have to think about it as much. A future where gasp, I could love and be loved and not have it be some painful bullshit, but I don’t see it. I don’t have hope. I have no hope whatsoever that things will get better. I cannot foresee being able to rid myself of this sadness that inhabits me.

It’s a hard thing to admit. I’m a pretty rational person and it sucks balls to know something and yet feel another way. I’ve struggled with a variety of mental health issues in the past and one of them was chronic anxiety that went untreated and blossomed into obsessive compulsive disorder in the my early twenties. OCD is, beyond a doubt, one of the worst afflictions you could possibly live through. I will spare you the details, but the clincher, the thing that makes it so bad is that you’re aware of the irrationality and pointlessness of your actions. You know that it’s a disease that’s pushing you to do certain things, but no matter how much you want to stop, no matter how much you know that those thoughts are just in your head and that they have no basis in reality you just can’t help yourself.

I can’t think of a worse feeling than that of being trapped in your own mind, of being your own worst enemy. So, with all that being said, it’s hard for me to admit that this is how I am feeling. This thing, this relationship and the resulting feelings are very hard for me to talk about. My thoughts get muddled really quickly and there always seems too much of it to process properly. I will have thought about it, on repeat, all day and as soon as I try to express it to another person I completely loose what it is I wanted to say. I don’t think that any of my close friends can understand this, because from their perspective I probably talk about this a hell of a whole lot (a pov I totally understand, especially since I’m right there with them) and although the fact that I find it incredibly hard to talk about and the fact that I talk about it a lot might seem like a contradiction, it really isn’t. Both statements are true. Does anyone understand what it means to be stuck in the middle of that dynamic? It’s incredibly frustrating and unpleasant to say the least.

When I started this blog, and since then, I think I’ve avoided writing about it. Now, I wonder how I justified that. This blog was, if anything, a self journey of sorts. A DIY education in self-love. Why did I wait so long before addressing the major issue that affects my sense of self-worth? I don’t know. Ha! Maybe I thought it would go away by itself. Time is a tricky thing, you see, sometimes you convince yourself that it’s enough to just sit idly by and wait it out, but time isn’t a healing balm all in itself, it’s what you DO with that time that gets you somewhere, that heals.

A few pockets full of anti-depressants and a couple false starts with therapy later and I’m back at square one, if I ever left it at all. It’s one thing to preach love and acceptance, but at some point you have to lead the way. You can’t convince another person that you are lovable out of sheer will, and being loved by someone isn’t enough to make you feel loved. Where does it start? With the self. Ok, sure. But how?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 4:14 pm

    ((((((((Olga)))))))))

    “You can’t convince another person that you are lovable out of sheer will, and being loved by someone isn’t enough to make you feel loved. Where does it start? With the self. Ok, sure. But how?”

    Everyone and I mean everyone struggles with this question. Maybe we don’t have OCD, but everyone feels inadequate with self… SELF… that image we created and that was created for us. I’m soon to be 47, a multiple personality, been married 23 years and still go round and round my ego. I also take meds and am starting therapy, again, tomorrow. But I’m happy, sort of, except my job, my lack of motivation and the overall feeling that my life has been wasted.

    But, I look at the people who love me and they struggle too. I can accept their love easily. I can give love easily. It’s that damn self-image that doesn’t want to be loved. I can’t promise you anything, just try to see yourself in the many positive aspects you possess.

  2. Laura permalink
    September 29, 2010 4:45 pm

    I’ve been there. Ok, not on the meds merry-go-round, but I’ve been broken by a really awful relationship’s end. And it felt like The End. Like I had lost all faith, all hope, and couldn’t do much more than cry most days. It sucked, and sucked, and sucked.

    But I wrote it all down. ALL of it. The most brutal, horrible things that popped into my head and tormented me all day–about him, about myself, about life, about what I felt. I put it all on paper. I had to get it, physically, out of me. It took many, many pages. Unpublished, unpublishable, not for consumption pages. Pages I never want to re-read, and will certainly never share. Beautiful journals destroyed. But that was exactly what they were for. Holding my own hand through the pain, letting myself feel exactly what I felt without any excuses or prettying it up, writing it all down raw until it was finally over and done.

    It doesn’t get better all in one shot, but if you give yourself permission to feel it and say it (even if it’s just in a private notebook), you will feel better.

    What also helped me was knowing I felt ugly and horrible, but that somewhere, there must be good in the world. I told myself to identify just 3 things in each day that were NOT horrible, just 3 little things that could be construed as good in any way, 3 things that could make me smile (or at least NOT cry), no matter how remote. At first, they were quite remote. (Fuck, man, it was the middle of a Montreal winter. Grey and snow make you want to end it all.) But the harder I tried to find those 3 things, to really look for them every day, the easier it got. It was like pulling myself out of a well I’d fallen down, and it took effort. Sometimes I just thought I was doing some seriously lame-ass Oprah exercise and would make fun of myself for it. But you know what? Logically, it works, because you create your own world all the time. You can choose to live in a heaven or a hell. There will always be circumstances beyond your control, but there will also be your point of view, and your interpretation.

    I definitely recommend writing as therapy to any writer, and particularly keeping it private so that your thoughts are your own, and no one can try to twist what you’ve said for their own ends. Working through stuff on paper is immensely helpful, even when you’re not sure about the effectiveness. It’s the writing itself that will heal you.

  3. Janvanize permalink
    September 29, 2010 4:47 pm

    Dude I’ve felt like that for years too for various reasons. I am not fully over it but years of expensive therapy is helping me discover that although I think I’m a pretty rational person, I was living with extreme amounts of irrational emotions that took my mind to places which could have turned darker, very dark.
    There’s two books that really helped, a guide to rational living which helps you identify those irrational behaviors and the other is the feeling good handbook which helps you change your thinking when feeling those irrational emotions. It’s cognitive therapy and I don’t care what people say about the whole “self-help”, it’s better to try and help yourself as opposed to continue to live in the dark.
    My biggest irrational behavior was my desire to please others. Doesn’t sound too harmless but wow, you wouldn’t beleive how it changes a perspective, which changes everything, which essentially is the goal. Given that I still have some desire to help people, I am willing to discuss if you want…

  4. September 29, 2010 4:53 pm

    @Brian: I think we judge ourselves in ways we would never judge others. Seriously, if one of your friends or even a stranger were to tell you they feel like they wasted their life you would never judge them with the same negative voice as you would yourself. I mean, unless you’re an pretentious jerk, which I highly doubt, but it’s so easy to judge ourselves with that highly critical voice. I do it too. I feel like that too right now. Like I haven’t achieved enough or that I’m not “good enough” because I don’t have the kind of career that is highly valued by society, or whatever societal marker of achievement you want to judge yourself with: marriage, kids, etc, etc.

    Sometimes it’s easier to be kinder to others, to show them compassion. Also, you gotta think that when you judge yourself harshly, you are giving others the message that you judge their value by the same standards. Like when a skinny person says they’re so fat, they are subliminally (or not so subliminally) telling the fat person in earshot that they think they are disgusting. So by being kinder to yourself you’re actually being kinder to others.

    Anyhow, that was a weird tangent, but something you said (wrote) made me think of all that.

    Good luck starting therapy! And thanks for the advice.

    P.S. I didn’t give a clear image of my whole mental health history here, but I should add that I’m not ocd anymore. Anyways, not to the debilitating degree that it once was.

  5. October 2, 2010 12:42 pm

    @Javanize: I can’t afford the expensive therapy, but I commend you for making that commitment. I’ve started the therapy process a few times (the free kind, that involve waiting lists and whatnot) a few times, but never really committed to it like I should have…like everyone should. We really should have the kind of society that makes us of mental/emotional health professionals on a regular basis, on a preventative basis as opposed to seeking them out only when we reach a place of crisis.

    It’s funny that you mention the Feeling Good work book, because one of the clinic/emergency docs I saw post break-up recommended it to me. I bought it and read the first chapter or two and then forgot about it. After that, every time I would see it in my book case it made me feel uncomfortable, because it reminded me of a problem that I would rather forget (even though it was always on my mind anyhow). I wasn’t really ready to deal with it I guess…with the reasons why I’m feeling this way and whatnot. I don’t have the book anymore though, I eventually gave it away on one of my trip to the second hand book store. I do have another cognitive therapy though, I should give a crack at it again.

    Cognitive therapy worked well for dealing with issues of anxiety, agoraphobia and ocd. Why not this…?

  6. October 2, 2010 12:49 pm

    @Laura: Thanks for sharing. Your tale of woe made it seem like maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere…And what you said about trying to find three things in a day that were good, that made you smile is a good point. So much about how we feel is based on how we perceive life, on how we look at things. And even though I don’t really like relativism as a philosophical doctrine they sure had a point about how easy it is to change EVERYTHING by altering your perspective of a situation/thing/action, etc.

    The way we behave/react to most things in life, hell in other words our personalities, are all based on learned behavior and we can always teach ourselves some new tricks. It’s so easy to convince yourself how miserable everything is, why not try the opposite for a while.

  7. Émilie permalink
    October 3, 2010 10:01 pm

    Wow, this post really resonated with me. Not all the details are the same, but you definitely captured something I empathize with. Thank you for writing it; it made me think.

  8. October 3, 2010 10:11 pm

    You’re welcome, Emilie.

  9. October 11, 2010 6:17 am

    I sympathise wholeheartedly. My first love at the age of 16 was unrequited and the pain of it cast the longest shadow. In between periods of bad depression, I had several relationships in my twenties and early thirties, but I didn’t fall in love again for another 20 years.

    There are already some excellent and thoughtful comments here which don’t need to be repeated. I want to share something that will hopefully be useful to you: there is something about this kind of grieving, obsessive, unrequited, self-destructive love which, if you can recognise it, can provide the key to moving on from it.

    It’s this: essentially this is more about you than it is about him. I don’t mean to hand this out like some facile epiphany. But when one experiences such intensity and variety of negative feeling about someone who is not even present, when, as you say, your self worth becomes inextricable linked with ‘him’, this is a projection. ‘He’ becomes a receptacle for your pain and for negative feelings about yourself.

    When we love someone else it fills a need in us to love and be loved. Love is as much about that need as it is about the other person. If your love ‘works’ and you are happy and fulfilled together then that’s good love and worth going on with. You need to forgive yourself and move on and understand that you were not right for each other. Understanding this can make it easier to move on to a point where this projection of a person is no longer a focal point for your pain.

    The other thing I’d like to say is that even though you feel stuck you really can’t go back to square one. Square one is definitely behind you!

    There. I am unusually incoherent today. I’m not satisfied at all with how I’ve expressed this, but I’d rather send it in its imperfect form than not to say it.

  10. October 12, 2010 6:16 pm

    @ Righteous Harlot: Thank you for putting it into those words. I have thought about it in those terms. I’m at a point where I realize that “he” has become a receptacle for all my negative feelings..I’m just trying to reconcile that side of it with the reality of what the relationship actually was, what I feel now and what I ultimately want and need (now and) in the future. And making sense of all those different things is pretty hard (having loved him, having let him treat me the way he did at the end, realizing that that “mean” behavior belongs to him and isn’t a reflection of who I am as a person, no longer wanting to vie for the affection of someone who treats me like shit or that is so emotionally unstable, etc, etc), but I think I’m slowly getting there. I just have to keep reminding myself of key factors. Every time I feel myself going down that negative train of thought I have to talk myself down from the “metaphorical” ledge.

    You need to forgive yourself and move on and understand that you were not right for each other. Understanding this can make it easier to move on to a point where this projection of a person is no longer a focal point for your pain.

    I think I’m at a point where I can start to toy with the idea of forgiving myself, or least realizing that that is something I need to do, but “understanding that we weren’t right for each other” that I don’t get. All logic and reason goes out the freakin’ door when I try to think about that.

  11. October 13, 2010 5:32 am

    Just to explain (and while this was a useful angle for me in my situation, it might not apply to yours): the grief of my unrequited love was based partly on the idea that there was a state of happiness that I was being denied. I eventually came to realise that even if he had loved me, the reality of that wouldn’t have been the fantasy I was grieving for. I realised that I wouldn’t have been happy with him. And do – really do – forgive yourself. Good luck x

  12. October 13, 2010 9:25 am

    I don’t want to have a relationship with him now, at least that’s how I feel when I think about it rationally. He’s not the kind of person I would want to share my life with. I wouldn’t be happy or satisfied for very long (which when you think about it is exactly what happened). That’s what I tell myself and it’s all true, but, and especially in the beginning, it felt so unfair. Exactly how you put it, like this state of happiness was being denied to me for the most fucked up reasons.

    For a long time, all I wanted was for us to get back together, to get back to that place in the beginning where everything was amazing. Now, I’m realizing it was “good” for a very short period of time. That as soon as I was “hooked” it became like my own personal hell where I would have suffered through anything for it to be okay or better again. I swear, although I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship, I felt exactly like I knew what it meant to love someone so much that you would let them do that to you and stay with them.

  13. Chris permalink
    October 17, 2010 7:40 am

    I feel your pain after being in a similar situation. Wake up one morning no longer able to function. That is behind me now and there are a couple of things that I’ve learned that helped a lot and may help you.
    1) You can’t control others only yourself. Your reactions/feelings are your own. Take ownership of them, accept them as ‘normal’ and you will eventually move on.
    2) Perspective. Every situation is a matter of perspective, you can choose to look at the positive aspects or the negative from the smallest to the largest things in life. I strive to always look for the positive. It’s sometimes harder to see through the pain but it exists. Dark can’t exist without light and there is a positive side to everything.
    3) I think the most important point, I learned to remove ‘should’ from my vocabulary. As in I ‘should’ feel better, I ‘should’ make my bed. Once our own expectations are altered, life seems to go more smoothly.
    After re-reading my points, they seem trite and clichéd. Don’t misunderstand, none of these are easy and/or all encompassing but they’ve helped me in my journey recovering my sexual abuse, cancer and overall feelings of helplessness in my life making me a strong woman and when I look in the mirror, I’m proud of the person I see there. You have the power and you can make it through to the other side!

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