My brain is not working, that’s my problem. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a pretty deep hole of depression, low self esteem, or hyper-protectiveness to where anything I try to do that even remotely resembles work is a huge hurdle. Anything that has drama, misunderstandings, unkind behavior and the like makes me want to flee, and it’s spilled over into my volunteer work the most. It’s hurting my head to write this, but I’m going to, anyway. Someone has to say something, and perhaps if it’s me, I’ll feel better and more like keeping on.
What’s happened is that one of my “triggers” has been triggered. It bugs me, because I’ve worked really hard to get past it, but I’m getting the idea that I didn’t get past it; rather I buried it. I’ve talked about my issues with La Leche League before, but I’m going to briefly re-hash a bit to explain why I’ve been so messed up for the past month or two.
First, I love the friends I made in LLL. Love them to pieces. They are some amazing people. But, the organization itself keeps repeating its mistakes, as if no one learns from history (which is probably true). In a majority-women organization with a strong, focused mission, many people get “power” for the first time. And it really screws up some people’s senses of right and wrong, and for some reason empowers them to bring new things into the mission (like natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.)
Oh, who hasn’t had a rough relationship with love? (Not a surprising UU Lent word, is it?) If you haven’t, count yourself as fortunate and give yourself a big hug. Wait, everyone else, also give yourselves big hugs. And now for some brutal honesty.
My issue, like so many of us, has been with romantic love. I was always a big fan. And boy oh boy was I full of it. Those happy hormones it kept pumping into me were my drug of choice. I kept seeking it out, even when I had perfectly good relationships. This here was my biggest failing, because I repeatedly did really inappropriate things in my quest for my love drug.
And, what did that do to me? It made me love myself less. And that led to the feeling that I was worthless if nobody loved me, so I did more unhelpful things to try to get the people I loved to love me or continue to love me. I worked way too hard for my Dad’s love, which spilled out to romantic relationships.
That led me to like myself less and less. My inner monologue consisted of, “No one likes you…you have no friends…you are so fat…you are a failure…” I’m surprised I could get up every morning and go to work, take care of my kids, or volunteer constantly.
Do you see a downward spiral looming? I sure do, in retrospect. I ended up with the pathetic tendency to do just about anything to get love, romantic or otherwise. I was one of those people you read about who change themselves to try to be the person their object of affection wanted.
Note: That does not work.
It never occurred to me that it’s very hard to love someone who doesn’t love themselves, and I certainly didn’t love myself. I needed to learn about other types of love than romantic love, obsession, and sex hormones.
I did it! Was it easy? Nope. I had to admit a lot of icky things about myself (see above) but thanks to a good therapist, I was able to figure out what led me to end up the way I was, and forgive my past self. I was able to see that all those past actions were leading me to current wisdom and peace.
Learning to love myself has let me love others in so many ways without having to have all that hormonal stuff mess with my mind (I still have hormones; I just recognize them for what they are).
What I Can Do Now
I can love my family without expecting anything in return (thank goodness, since one of them seems to not love me back at the moment). And I can appreciate their love without basing my self esteem on it.
I can love my friends and be okay if they go away or have a problem with me. If they want to work it out, I’m there to do so. If not, I’ll love them from a distance.
I can love people I don’t know. For all I know, my loving vibes may be helping in some way I can’t be consciously aware of.
I can love all my animal companions and enjoy their love back.
I can love my planet.
Will I have bad moments? Will I get jealous or envious of someone else’s relationship, or hurt when things don’t work out? Yep. But I’ll pick myself back up and keep going.
I’m grateful to everyone I’ve ever loved and hope you got some good out of it. And I’m sorry for those I hurt.
I’m grateful for my spouse, his patience, and his ability to love me as I am.
I’m grateful to Victoria.
I’m grateful to Brené Brown. Even if I generally find self-help books annoying, her conversational style and repetition of the same point in different ways helped me break through and shut my inner voice up. Go read a Brené Brown book.
They started a book club at work, where everyone is to read some self help book. Even though I had to miss the first meeting, I have been dutifully reading Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones), by Nataly Kogan. Kogan is a Russian immigrant who founded the “Happier” app, which I used for a little while then got nothing out of, because no one else I knew was using it and I probably didn’t quite “get it” at the time. Still, I figured this lady would know something about happiness, since it was her job.
I was dubious about this book, to start out with. After all, I’ve read plenty of self help books about learning to love myself as I am, embrace my imperfections, and be kind to myself. I have said more than once that Brené Brown saved my life and that I should re-read The Gifts of Imperfection annually. Her books are how I became the much-less neurotic Suna who writes these blogs.
I told myself that, since I have already turned around my negative self-talk (I scare myself sometimes when I find my inner voice saying stuff like, “I feel great!” or “I’m happy today.”), I really don’t need another book on this topic. Of course, I conveniently forgot that I vowed to read books on this kind of thing yearly, to remind myself of how I want to be in the world.