Friday, November 12, 2010

How Self Sufficiency Turns Me into a Liar

Toby Wanted His Time in the Spotlight

After having nightmares on Monday night this week, I had a really tough Tuesday.  I have suffered from horrendous nightmares for most of my life, and over the last few years, they have decreased in frequency and intensity, but I can still go through tough cycles.  (No need for dream interpretation here -- they are always the same and they are always about feeling that my life is threatened, etc., and those fears are based in my experiences.)

I am grateful for the decrease. I am grateful for the times when I am getting good and consistent sleep.

But as is obvious (and also as is "proven" in psychological studies about depression and anxiety), waking from nightmares has a tendency to set the tone for your day.  Many times, it is just a matter of hours before I feel better -- being awake and focusing on other things is usually enough --  but this past Tuesday, my feelings of fear and anxiety and malaise stayed with me all day.

Marcy came home unawares because I had been emailing her about how I was utilizing all these different distraction methods from my dialectical behavior therapy.  And I guess (sigh), I had given the impression that some of these things were working.

They weren't.

Sometimes they don't.  It's why this is hard, right?  Because you have to keep trying, and if you have a bad day, there is still a good chance that tomorrow will be better. (And in this case, the next day was much, much better.)

We decided that I needed a "distraction" list specifically for the day after bad nightmares.  We made one, a good one.

And we thought that was that.

Later in the evening, I had another revelation (and wow...these are so frequent now with this DBT thing. I can barely keep up).

I realized that I lie.

Yep. I lie.

I pride myself on being Super Honesty Woman.  But after digging a bit, I revealed to Marcy -- and to myself -- that I am Super Honesty Woman about facts, about things that have happened, to other people when they ask about their own lives, but I totally lie about my feelings and my needs.

I am under the impression, still, that to be a fully functioning, mature human means taking care of my own business.  It means being Super Self Sufficiency Woman -- as if I am some freaking Puritan with buckled shoes.  (Okay...that makes sense to me...)

If I can't take care of, I must really be broken and bad, right?


So instead of fessin' up and telling Marcy, "Things are going really badly today..." I tell her, "Oh, yes, this is going okay...I am not worry."

Like some martyr.  YUCK.  I hate the martyr thing.  Hate. It.  And here I am, wearing a freaking hair shirt and telling everyone, "Oh, don't be silly!  I don't even notice the fleas!!"

(That made me itchy...)

I only just recently wrote about my need to admit to needing help and here I am discovering that it goes deeper even than that.  I...I can barely say this without choking...I...

I REPRESS.  (O M G -- As I typed that, my face scrunched up into that "what is that smell" look.)

I am a passionate, opinionated, assertive, funny, sometimes-loud, expressive person, and I REPRESS.

Oh. God.


Rebekah said...


I think, if most people were honest, the vast majority of us repress a great deal of things. For instance, it's not just a family-upbringing thing, the desire to say that you can take care of every single thing yourself, it's a cultural one, too. (I certainly feel the pressure to do everything myself and be self-contained, though I don't share your history.) Independence tends to be one of the U.S.'s core values, and when we don't live up to the perfectly independent image (and, deep down, no one does), we feel like failures, and therefore repress.

Kudos to you for being so brave in sharing your journey with us, though. That in itself shows strength, and I'm sure, whether they comment or not, there are people who now feel less alone.

Blessings, dear lady.

Anonymous said...

Awesome revelations!!!
Do you know why you repress?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your posts. I love to read them.
I repress myself too. In an attempt not to appear 'codependent' to my boyfriend, and in life when I try to 'feel the fear and do it anyway' and end up further traumatizing myself.
You are so right about it all Christine! I need to reach out and say I need help when I need it. I have PTSD and BDP as well, and I have gone from an extremely out-going person who would speak her mind, to one who just questions her mind. Taoism, Zen, drops of Buddhism, and phychology (i.e. 'Codependent No More' and 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway') have all been really helpful for me to be a better listener, more independent, less controlling, take more action, and observe my "behaviors" rather than act on them. But in return I have begun to doubt myself and my actions too much. My self-censoring is out of control right now. Before, when I was more 'Type A' my girlfriends had respect for me, now I am dealing with them flaking on me, being judgmental, pitying me. It's funny to be the 'runt' of the group now, and I try to stay 'zen' and breathe, and let it roll off my back, but it hurts. Women can be so cruel, passive aggressive, judgemental. Thank you so much for your post. It has helped me to realize I need BALANCE. But with my black and white dichotomy, general distrust for myself and others, and am I living (again)? I need to find a balance of trusting myself and others. It seems impossible. It's a "what if I screw this up and embarrass myself?" or "that's not very zen" when I am angry because I didn't express myself. Now I am going to meditate on this. Thanks.

svasti said...

I lie, too. It's a habit I picked up from the adults in my life when I was still very little.

While nothing was ever said explicitly, it was implied by the actions of those adults - that we don't talk about things that bother us. We try to avoid showing any sign of troubles as soon as possible. Shut it down, lock it up and do whatever needs to be done to forget about it.

I don't think for one second this is uncommon. But I do think for the most part, that a lot of people wouldn't even recognise that this is what they do.

PTSD also told me lies - about what needs to be kept from others so I don't look like a fool. All the things that were wrong with me as a result of what happened? Who needs to know that, you loser? (So said that voice that wanted to control and conceal all of the pain).

And I know all about repressing my needs. Although these days I can only do that for so long before there's a mini-revolution in my mind and body. Something of a protest arises in the form of pain or anxiety and the only way to make it stop is to pay attention to what's going on...

Know what I mean?