Shiny, Pretty Distractions

I have OCD issues with one interesting outlier:  I tend to be easily sidetracked.  When I am having a conversation, I will follow a different thought until its logical conclusion, and then I will return to the main discussion.  Or, I will use the tangent to launch a completely different subject altogether.  Part of this is because I see issues as being complex, interconnected, and not easily separated.  Part of it is because my mind thinks of a hundred things at one time, and I want to talk about all of them simultaneously.

It’s evident in my writing as well.  My blog entries contain an average of 1,500 (fair warning.  I completely made that up, but it seems about right) words each.  That’s a shitload of gabbing on one subject.  And, I usually have a main thesis for each entry, but from there, my thoughts diverge.  I don’t really have a problem with the way I think or talk or write, but it does lead to the main point of this entry.

Getting distracted in my blog entries is fine.  Taking a side road when I’m having a discussion with a friend about politics or what’s going on in our personal lives is also fine.  However, now that I am struggling to leave the old me behind and find a new way of being, I can’t afford to get bogged down with extraneous shit.

For example, my mother.  In my last therapy session, I was talking with my therapist about my frustrations with falling into the same patterns when talking with my mother.  In fact, it’s the last thing I blogged about as well.  I explained how the interaction would typically occur, and I concluded by saying how mad I was at myself for caving so easily.  My mother wears me down by her indefatigable vigor in complaining until I give in.  I know that the longer I argue, the harder she’s going to push for me to do whatever it is she wants me to do.   It’s the same damn thing every fucking time.

My therapist thought for a minute and said, “What prevents you from talking about the process rather than the content?”  In other words, why didn’t I say, “Mom, I know you would prefer I do it for you.  However, you are not hearing me when I say that I choose not to do it.”  It’s even better if I can say it without shouting it, but I’m not holding out hope for that just yet because I get so frustrated when talking to my mother.

I get so caught up each time in the specific argument, I don’t see that each argument is actually besides the point.  What matters here is that my mother and I have an amorphous business relationship as well as an amorphous personal one, and we need to clearly define both of these relationships so these kind of issues don’t need to be fought time and time again.    Otherwise, we both hunker down on our respective sides, dig in, and fight the same fucking fight over and over and over again.

One amusing anecdote.  My mom tried to book a flight online for a conference in Colorado.  She wanted to be on a specific flight because one of her colleagues was flying on that particular flight.  She couldn’t book the flight (it kept getting denied), so she emailed me and asked me to do it.

I didn’t want to do it.  I mean, I had been bugging her for ages to learn how to book flights online, and she had resisted for some time.   I admit, I thought she had fucked something up, and I just didn’t want to do it.  However, I finally took a look.  She had given me the times and the dates (Northwest/Delta), but I couldn’t find the flights she wanted.  I asked if she was sure, and she forwarded me the email from her colleague, and I went to Delta to try to find the exact flight.  The problem was, it was flying to Phoenix, not to Denver.  After I did some Googling, I remembered that the merger had just gone through.  The flight her colleague had booked most likely got changed.  I emailed her to explain the situation and to say that she could book the flight herself once she received updated flight info from her colleague.

It’s funny, but it’s also somewhat sad to me that she is a successful professional, and yet, she has to have a flight-mate to go to the conference.  She is a successful professional, and yet, she can’t do a simple thing like book a flight for herself.  When faced with a problem, she can’t problem-solve and come up with a solution.  It took me maybe fifteen minutes to figure out what had most likely happened; it never would have even occurred to her.

So, I am slowly starting to see that while they help me out a great deal monetarily, I help her out in many other ways.  She expects me to do these things in part because of the monetary aid, but she doesn’t truly realize how much she relies on me to do this kind of thing for her.  She is more cognizant of the fact that my brother provides tech help to her, but the day-to-day shit I do for her is not as noticeable.   Like, she will email me to look something up on Google or to ask what a word means.  Easy things for you and me to look up, but somehow beyond her ken.

I try to be charitable and say that she’s older, so the computer thing is not a part of her natural skill set.  However, it’s not part of mine, either.  I didn’t use a computer until I went to college, and I taught myself much of what I currently know.  My brother has helped me (he is invaluable as a techie), but I taught myself perhaps ninety percent of what I can do on the computer.  My mother is a smart woman; she simply chooses not to learn to do this kind of shit–in part, because she knows I can do it easily.

She wants me to be self-reliant.  We agree on this point.  However, I am not sure if she really realizes what it would mean if I became self-reliant.  It would mean that she needs to be self-reliant as well.  I don’t want to hear about her relationship with my father.  I don’t want to feel as if I’m responsible for her happiness and well-being.

In addition, she wants me to be self-sufficient in a way that she deems appropriate.  PhD, marriage, kids, white-collar job, God, cooking dinner for the family, etc.  She doesn’t want me to be self-sufficient in a freakish way, which is the only way I know how to be.  Let me correct that.  It’s the only way I want to be.  Of the things I listed that she wants for me, the only one I could see desiring anytime in the future is a PhD.  And, honestly, even that is a long-shot right now.

For me, I have to try to set aside the annoyance of my mother because that is blurring the main issue for me.  I have to become self-supporting for my sake.  As long as I remain in this enmeshed, blob-like relationship with my mother, I will think I’m worthless and unable to be a real person.

One other thing I discovered in my therapy session.  I am having a hard time letting go of who I was because I don’t want to ever forget what happened to me.  I feel almost as if I’m betraying the little girl who was abused by changing my beliefs and my actions.  It’s not a rational thing, but it’s there.  I have to find a way to honor that little girl without allowing her to keep me stuck in the past.  In addition, I tend to think of my identity in concretes.  “Oh, I don’t like groups.”  “Oh, I can’t be in a relationship.”  “Oh, I am a night person.”   I see pieces of my identity as immutable, in part because I often feel like I have no core.  Yes, it sounds like a contradiction, but it’s my way of trying to convince myself that there is a coherent being inside me when I feel as if there is nothing there.  And, I sometimes put all my eggs in one basket.  The one thing I have always known about myself is that I am fiercely intelligent.  So, when I can’t make myself do something (like, say, change my thought patterns) through the sheer force of my intelligence, I beat myself up for it.  If I know I am like my mother in that I make up worst-case scenarios in order not to do something I don’t want to do/fear to do, why can’t I change that?

My therapist reminded me once that knowing something is true doesn’t guarantee that one can change it.   Intelligence isn’t everything.  Shocking for me to hear, and I don’t want to believe it, but it’s true.

However, she did say that I can use my intelligence to work for me instead of against me.  I can also use my obsessive nature to a good end (finding a job) rather than to my detriment (continuously thinking what a worthless fuck I am).

I am exhausted.  I am desolate.  I am emotionally-devastated.  My demons are having a grand time of it right now, and I’m having a hard time not believing what they’re telling me.  This is a shitty time for me.  I know I have to change.  I am already changing.  Going back is not an option because going back is choosing to die.  However, I am at a loss as to how to go forward.  I am stuck in between lives, and it’s so fucking hard.

I had another flashback in taiji yesterday.  It wasn’t a completely new one, but it was still not difficult–in part because it didn’t happen during meditation.  I know I have to deal with the secrets of my childhood even though every fiber in my being is telling me to bury the shit even deeper.  My emotional and physical reserves are at a low, and I have the impulse to freeze the flashbacks again.  I know, though, that it is time to deal with them.  I could disappear them if I expend an enormous amount of energy in doing so.  However, that, too, would be choosing to go back instead of choosing to move forward.

My mantra right now is, “A part of me wants to move forward.”  Unfortunately, a part of me wants to go back, too.  I know I have to let go of who I was, grieve for that incarnation of me (and for the childhood I had) in order for me to become the person I need to be.   I just wish it didn’t hurt so fucking much.

7 Responses to Shiny, Pretty Distractions

  1. Think about all of the positives you’ve gained in the past year. Seriously. Make a list. Even the little things are important enough to jot down. New friends, things you’ve done, places you’ve gone, things you’ve seen and learned, all of it. I guarantee you that even though you might not think so at first, that list will be ginormous. When your demons start their jibberjabbering, look at the list. They just can’t compete with the positives.

    Then add to it, every time another positive thing happens. Maybe you’ll see a really cool concert by a new musician you’ve discovered. Or have delicious barbecue straight from North Carolina. =) Overwhelm the demons with the fruits of your labors, so to speak. Show them that while your progress may be slow, and you might stumble at times, the benefits you’re reaping from it are amazing. Just like you.

  2. Kel, we actually touched on that in therapy today. When I focus on all the shit I need to do, it’s easy for me to lose sight of what I’ve accomplished. I need to make that list and put copies of it in prominent places so that when the demons are chattering in my head (loudly, insistently, forcefully), I can point to the list and say, “Read that and then suck it, bitchez.”

  3. I am already changing.

    This. This this this this this.

    I am so happy that you are at least giving yourself credit for that. You ARE changing, it is fucking hard but you are doing it, you are doing it on your terms, no one is doing it for you. You have some folks supporting you while you do it, but you’re doing it yourself. You are acting as well as reacting. That is awesome and admirable, and more than many of us ever manage in our lives.

  4. whabs, I thought you might. “Suck it, bitchez!” will have to be my mantra for the time being. I need a little attitude, methinks.

    Betsy, I am trying to give myself credit. Then, it gets immediately buried in the barrage of criticisms my demons hurl at me. That’s why I need to write up a list and post a copy in every room so I can remind myself in a glance that I have made progress.

  5. I think you absolutely nailed it when you said that becoming self reliant means your mother can no longer be utterly dependent on you. She is, not just task wise, but emotionally. She can´t control her man or her marriage, so she´s getting every mile she can out of you. You need to be prepared for her to do everything she can to undermine your progress towards self reliance. Well, I don´t know how one can prepare for such…betrayal(?), but at least be aware of it. You know her playbook, so you may be able to predict what it will look like.

    I don´t believe in unconditional love. As an idealist, I wanted to. But after a few good burns, (Mark Twain said: “The difference between a man and a dog is that a dog only sits on a hot stove once.”), I realized that the core ingredients of love, (for me) are trust and respect. If I don´t trust or respect a person, can I really give them my heart? (Why would I?!?) And if their actions don´t demonstrate trust and respect in/for me, can they truly love me? Me thinks not. If the love you want to give and get in life has the same core ingredients as mine, you are entitled to demand some changes in your “loving” relationships. As a smart woman, you know where I´m going with that.

    I would like to point to a silver lining from all the support you have given your mother: ultra job-qualifications! You have the skills to be an executive assistant for the most dysfunctional execs in America. And if you see a second- or third- generation family-owned business is hiring, odds are that is what you´d find, (they aren´t all bad, but talk to a succession planner for half an hour and you´ll get a sense of how often a “sense of entitlement” kills healthy family-owned businesses). I´m not saying that´s a job you´d want, but you could do it while you transition, and you´d be in your (dis)comfort zone.

    Finally, of course it is fucking hard. If it were easy, everyone would be leading happy, well adjusted lives. How many of those folks do you know, hunh? None? Me too. We are human, and therefore deeply flawed, mistake prone, routinely self-focused and habitually worried about the wrong thing at the wrong time. Despite what you may have read, we are not an intelligent species. But we can actively, passionately love. And THAT makes it all worthwhile. In fact, you, me, and everyone else who can grasp the fact that experiencing love in all it´s forms, (from pets to sunsets), is the pinnacle of the human existence, have a responsibility to lead by example. We need to find ways to be loving, and to harvest love. And we need to learn how to let what isn´t loving, just pass on by without dragging us down.

    You have already begun. Keep it up!

  6. Rob Marine, yeah. I think one reason I’m having such a hard time with becoming self-reliant is because I know that it will force my mother to confront some of her own issues. Yes, I know that I am not responsible for my mother’s emotions and happiness. However, I still feel as if I am.

    Unconditional love: It’s a myth. Or rather, it should be. Or, even more rather, it should be redefined. I believe you can love someone unconditionally without supporting that person’s destructive or hurtful behavior. It’s not easy to do, but it’s possible. Unfortunately, too many people think that loving unconditionally means putting up with shitty treatment. It doesn’t. That’s codependency, about which I learned very early.

    You are correct that I have learned many organizational skills I didn’t have before from dealing with my mother’s business shit. That would be a silver lining, indeed.

    Love. Ah, love. Yeah. I’m not so good at that. I am very wary about loving, and once I do, I love way too hard. It permeates all my relationships–I’m either withholding or giving too much. Which is kind of like my personality in general, I guess–too extreme. So, while I do think love is important–I pretty much suck at it. I take friends for granted sometimes, too.