I feel deeply exhausted these days. It is partly that I am not quite getting enough sleep. It is not anything dreadful, but I can really sleep a lot.
I have that holiday-season wish to change bits of my life. I am beyond thinking if I just settle on the right routine, my problems will be solved, but I did buy a sketch pad a while ago, thinking maybe I’d get something out of drawing again. Then I didn’t know what to do with it exactly. Then I began to realize I have physically never been as flabby in my life before, and I don’t like the way my body looks, although I tend not to look at it much.
And I’m tired, and I wonder what else might help me feel less tired, and if I am just emotionally exhausted from various mental challenges I am trying to take on, or if I am actually sick. I know I am not sick in the sense of a cold or a flu, but maybe I’m anemic?Or if it is merely the sleep problem.
I had one of those days where literally I did not leave the house and I barely left the bed, and when I did think I’d better get up and get on with things, I did not feel well at all. And I don’t know why.
I do think I am progressing psychologically or whatever you want to call it. I suppose that is what I was trying to express in an earlier post, when I was writing something I realized I had written many times before. Things seem to be connected in a more coherent way: ideas to experiences to emotions. So that what I believe might be true about something seems more trustworthy and real. And that is nice.
I had a moment when I started to think the reason my dad tortured me was that some people are so unable to render themselves vulnerable, that they can only allow themselves to experience empathy by creating the feeling they have in someone else.
We crave that reflection of our own experiences in others as deeply as food or water, but exposing yourself to others requires you can tolerate the risk that they won’t understand or care. My dad couldn’t tolerate that degree of risk, and so he could only express his terror and pain by causing that terror and pain in me.
This was a kind of settling thought, arranging some of the confusion–how could someone do that to a child?–into something more like order. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes it feel more predictable and less frightening in some way I can’t exactly explain.
And then I was thinking about my mother, who I think probably could not understand emotional experiences well enough to navigate social situations capably due to her own developmental deficits. One way to avoid the unpredictable feeling of being unable to understand other people or get them to understand you–some of the research on borderlines points to problems with lack of empathy accuracy in situations that more closely mimic real life as well as with problems in presenting to others confusing emotional messages–is to avoid outright the kinds of complex exchanges that occur with equality. If someone is making all the decisions and either you are in control or you surrender, you don’t have to think how to get someone to listen to you. Just be submissive or be dominant.
I also thought her rejection of me in many cases came from having deficits in empathy. That’s obvious, but it fits better than it used to. I think when she wanted me not to be hungry or tired for example, she could not really understand that I was nonetheless hungry or tired. She really was mind-blind, and I think it might have come from not being able to reach into her own memory for situations in which she felt as I did, because she was so easily dysregulated.
Her rejection comes in a few types: you have no right to want or need that, you are not important or significant enough to be given what you want or need, what you want or need is bad, hurtful, selfish, weird or otherwise unacceptable in itself. Mostly the middle one.
She really is both borderline and a narcissist.
I also thought the times I have these experiences of negative self-states, other (more average) people experience too, but when they happen to me it feels more global. It feels my whole being is that self-state, rather than a self-state that has to do with what is happening right now. Most of so-called “self-care” involves one’s sense of self-esteem. Haven’t you ever noticed how someone can “feel better about themselves” after they get their hair done? I don’t mean to trivialize the whole thing, but shifting senses of ourselves is meant to be part of life, not oh-my-god-I-feel-bad-I-must-die-or-self-harm. There is something about the fragmentation in the mind of a traumatized person that keeps you from realizing the self-state is telling you about your situation within an event and is, in itself, not destined to be permanent.
It might be because negative self-evaluations are meant to be aversive: you don’t tend to get yourselves into situations again where you know you will be ridiculed, shamed or patronized. Maybe you avoid those people, or you stand up to them so that they back off, or you avoid the activity that brought it on.
But as children, we were trapped with people who chronically undermined us in order to enhance their self-esteem or simply could not imagine our experiences. We could not learn to respond to those signals, but had to simply suppress our awareness of them.
Just some thoughts today.