For my birthday this year, I thought I would have a really relaxing self-care day where I would have a massage and a facial and a nice lunch before heading to my birthday dinner with friends. Despite making appointments in advance, the day did not go smoothly. The masseuse refused to give me the lymphatic drainage massage that I wanted and the quality was not great. I got a car to this hawker center to get lunch but the whole hawker center was closed although google maps still says it's open. My appointment with dress rental was the wrong date and had to be rescheduled. Then I went to my facial appointment and the clinic was closed. I called the clinic and the headquarters and no one picked up the phone. It was frustrating, as if nothing was going right or as planned.
While I was waiting outside the clinic, I chanced upon another shop that I was really drawn to. This woman's shop offers craniosacral therapy which I barely heard of and didn't know too much about. I read her website and was captivated by her philosophy. I later booked an appointment with her and she's wonderful. She doesn't just do facial treatments, she's very spiritual and I have never felt so relaxed in my life. The last session I had with her, I was smiling the entire time. Memories of recent events went through my mind as if my brain was sorting and filing moments and those moments made me smile.
I wonder, is all of reality just chaos or was I meant to have a frustrated moment at this clinic and chance upon her shop?
I also travelled to Ho Chi Minh City for my birthday and unfortunately had the same frustrating experience. Whatever I booked in advance did not work out and I had to re-think my trip which turned out really well in the end.
Are the higher powers trying to tell me to stop planning in advance or is the universe congratulating me on my resilience? I suppose not everyone gets back up on their feet after plans go awry but the fact that I was keen to make the best out of things and be flexible enough to re-think my plans eventually got me some rewarding results.
I want a mother just like me. I want a mother I can look up to, someone who pursues her dreams, goes out to the world and make things happen. I want a mother who loves me, who’s warm and kind and would spend quality time with me, be interested in my thoughts and feelings and listen intently to what I have to say. I want a mother who’s empathetic and intuitive and protects me above all else. A mother who’s my cheerleader and support my goals and interests, and provides guidance on how to achieve them. If I am heartbroken, she would be heartbroken with me and hug me and tell me it’s okay. I want a mother who’s sociable and has friends, who’s confident in her own worth, a beautiful and gracious lady. I deserve a loving mother.
Because I didn’t get the mother that I wanted, I couldn’t be the child that I wanted to be either. What kind of mother counts the bruises that she inflicted on my legs while I’m taking a bath, who pretends that I don’t exist and wouldn’t speak to me for a year and now conveniently has forgotten she did that to me, I didn’t deserve any of that. There’s a hole in my heart because I blamed myself for being not enough for your love.
Because you all made fun of me for being stupid, I really thought I’m inadequate and didn’t go after the things that are meant for me. I missed out on opportunities because I didn’t think I had it in me. What does it matter if I’m smart or dumb anyway, as if it made any difference to you. You don’t congratulate my wins, I had to beg you to attend my graduation. Do you feel jealous or do you feel guilty for taking no part in my achievements?
Self blame preserves an emotional connection with one's family. It maintains a shared reality with parents, in which we all agree I'm the bad one.
Self blame avoids alienation and disloyalty (and the negative emotions that go with this) of seeing parents as abusive, critical, or deficient.
Self blame preserves the illusion of control. If it is my fault, then maybe I can stop it. I can become good enough that bad things won't happen.
Self blame preserves safety by becoming disentitled to self-expression that would increase the risk of further abuse. It avoids further attack. If you don't stand up, you can't be knocked down.
Self blame avoids a sense of loss and great grief over a limited or wasted life if you realised you were actually perfectly adequate and lovable all along, in spite of your parents' distorted beliefs and dysfunctional behaviours.
Self blame gives you permission to be incapable. You weren't able to be carefree as a child but now it's your turn. You can avoid the adult responsibilities of coping with demands and pressures by not being seen as capable, so you live your life as a defiant child.
There are two parts to me. There's the wise one. She's intuitive and has a feel for things. She's rational and she knows what's most likely to happen and she thinks of tactics to win and to protect herself. She's reliable and dependable. Then there's the dreamy one. She's happy go lucky and miraculously brings good things to her life way beyond her imagination. She believes in goodness in humanity and believes love is magical. She's idealistic and is thus fearless and reckless.
I've always known there are two sides to me. The wise one goes to work everyday and makes money for the dreamy one to spend on woo woo things. The dreamy one everyone loves. She inspires people but I gather she's inspiring precisely cos she shares the same mind and body as the wise one. If the dreamy one was just dreamy, she would just be another idealistic hippy. The wise one everyone respects cos she's ambitious and intense. She says what she means and gets things done.
The two of me often argues with one another. The dreamy one thinks the wise one often makes decisions out of fear. The wise one thinks the dreamy one's an idiot and not seeing reality. The probability of whatever the dreamy one dreamt up is very low. It's not impossible but the chances of success are not good enough to justify the risks involved. Granted she's often lucky but we can't make decisions based on luck, can we?
I finished re-listening to the audible version of "Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers" by Karyl McBride and there's this paragraph about the importance of grieving that really resonates with me.
"Don't listen to others as you go through this [grieving] process. Well-meaning friends and loved ones often say things like "Forget it already." "You can't undo the past--quit trying." "Quit thinking about the past and be in the present." Those closest to you (and some not so close) will discourage you from doing this important [grieving] work because they do not understand just how important it is. They may not want to see you suffer, so they try to fix it. They don't understand that if you don't face this sadness, it will remain part of you forever. Do not listen to this unqualified advice. This is precisely why so many people today are projecting their feelings, misbehaving, creating crises for themselves and others, suffering from depression and anxiety, and are not being accountable for their own actions and emotions--they're not facing the truth about their own pain. I am giving you, from personal and professional experience, the 'key' to working through the third step of recovery so that it is effective. If you ignore this step out of fear or because you listened to others' opinions, your recovery won't work. This step is the most important step of recovery."
You, and you, and you, and you. All of you who wouldn't let me cry. Those who mean well and those who are manipulative, let me be. I know what I'm doing.
Dr. Justin Havens came up with a dream completion technique to promote peaceful sleep if you suffer from PTSD nightmares. Fixing the nightmares can help heal the underlying trauma. The technique is pretty straightforward: remember your last nightmare and think about what you want to happen next in the nightmare. The resolution does not need to be moral or realistic. It can be pure fantasy or silly.
The last significant nightmare I can vividly remember is where I'm in this all-white high ceiling room that opens out to the ocean and I am trapped in huge waves of tsunami slamming against the white wall behind me and I'm trying to hold onto anything so I don't get swept away. Super high waves, way above the floor. It's like that planet in the movie Interstellar with massive tidal waves and no dry land. I would obviously need a magical resolution that involves finding my feet on solid ground. Perhaps I create a protective bubble around me (Sailor Mercury style) so I am unable to drown. This bubble then transports me to green grasslands where I am dropped off and my bare feet touches the earth. There are some big strong trees around that I can hold onto and I can smell bark. It's where I feel safe and grounded.
There is a type of loyalty that is unappealing and dangerous. We sometimes feel a sense of loyalty to our parents and so whatever sufferings they endured, you might endure the same, so that you can share a similar experience with them, relate to them and lament about the unfairness of the world together. My coach suggested that I reread this book that I really liked "Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers". If you grew up in a household where it was all about mom, you can grow up feeling empty and bereft and not understanding why.
When asked how you wish to feel in your ideal future, you may subconsciously want to feel pain. It reminds me of that episode of House of Cards where Jackie Sharp explains why she got tattoos on her body. She was fucked up by what she witnessed in the battlefields and getting tattoos helped her feel the pain that she wanted to feel. It's also why some people cut themselves, so they can feel physical pain for the emotional pain that they cannot place. It's like those lyrics from Lady Antebellum's 'Need You Now', she sings "Guess I rather hurt than feel nothing at all".
Some people drink and take drugs to numb their pain but numbness itself is a type of suffering for others who actually want to feel pain.
Grit is often celebrated as a positive character trait. Bite the bullet and endure hardship for success. I have a history of this kind of grit and I am applauded for it. I just learned recently that grit is not necessarily a good trait, especially when I don't know how to give up. Sometimes, the universe does not align, and certain things are not worth pushing for. I should know better than to put all my might into making things work instead of letting them fall apart.
When do you give up? Isn't that a crazy question to ask? Shouldn't it be easier to give up than to push forward with things? Maybe I should have some grit in learning how to give up and let go. Maybe I should trust my intuition. Things that don't feel right don't feel right for a reason, and there's no need to force myself to feel any other way or push myself to go through with things I made a decision on if it doesn't align with me anymore. I should've been taught how to fail properly.
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents
What a blessing this book is. I've had the audible version of this book for awhile but never really gotten into it. The thing with self improvement is that it needs to be a continuous process. It's like taking a shower or going to the gym. It needs to be maintained.
Lindsay Gibson succinctly describes how we come up with healing fantasies and play role-self (and deny our true self) to cope with the difficulties in our upbringing. I think one of my healing fantasies is to succeed at everything I do, or at least look like I'm succeeding. If I get high grades, if I'm smart, I might get the love and attention that I need. I should know by now that it's not the best strategy. I cannot guarantee love from good grades. No one loves me for my five degrees and good grades. They may respect me and may even be jealous of me but ain't getting no love. Gotta wake up from this fantasy.
Another healing fantasy is that people will love me if I have an interesting life or have an interesting perspective on things. Like way back when, instead of being authentic, I might be a bit critical about something just to be a bit French about things and be a bit controversial so I sound smart or something. I was just lame. In fact, reality is the other way around. No one likes you when you're overly critical, it doesn't make you interesting, it makes you difficult. On the interesting life part, I think the younger me literally googled 'how to live an epic life' and tried to find a roadmap on how to live an amazing life that other people want. Once again, it's about what other people want, not about authentically what inspires me. I should do stuff that actually interests me, not how it looks on the outside.