The Characters We Play

There are times in my life when I’m super focused on appearing normal. It’s like there’s this character or persona I take on. It’s not something I’ve ever really been aware of. I think I thought, ironically, that this was normal. It may very well be common.

When I feel worried or anxious, I take on this super cool character.

When I’m sad or upset, I pretend to be OK and happy.

When I’m angry, I pretend to be OK and happy.

Sometimes, if I’m very worried/anxious/sad/upset/angry, I’ll play a character who is just a little bit worried/anxious/sad/upset/angry. I’ll be just (insert negative emotion here) to tell myself that I’m being honest, but not so much that I might push someone away or scare them off.

All these characters suck. They all fool me into thinking I’m content. I expect, I want, the the things that pacify these characters to somehow actually pacify me. But when I’m playing a character, I obviously am not acknowledging what’s upsetting me, I’m not working on figuring it out, sharing it with the people I care about, working through it.

I’m aware of this now. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped doing it. It doesn’t even mean I catch myself doing it all the time. It does mean that I can eventually recognize it. Maybe even after the fact. As my sister said, the goal is to break patterns. So when I recognize a character, I go back, I figure out what I was acting over, and then I talk about it.

I hate it.

It sucks.

It’s so so so so so much easier to just keep playing the character. I don’t have to face anything difficult. I don’t have to do anything scary. I don’t have to face the possibility of losing people that I love.

But the characters haven’t gotten me very far. I always manage to break through them eventually, and since I’ve often not dealt with myself, I don’t actually know how to deal with whoever breaks through.

But now I’m working on it.

And I’m grateful for the people in my life that are helping me work on it. The people in my life that tell me the things that I don’t want to hear. The people in my life who want me to talk through shit. I’m grateful for them. But I’m also grateful for myself, for this life, for this year that has gotten me so so far.

I feel myself growing into myself. And it’s scary but it’s also so very rewarding.

 

The Problem With Happy

Yesterday I cried.

It was a really really ugly, shrieky cry.

A cry that caught me off guard, which says something since I cry a few times a week.

It was a deep cry. An uncontrollable cry. The kind of cry you realize you’ve been suppressing for years and kind of forgot about.

It was so so so so so so sad.

And then I went to my parents’ house, and I cried some more.

And between the crying I talked.

I talked to my mom about happiness.

My whole life my parents said “We support your choices, we just want you to be happy.”

It’s honestly such a nice sentiment. It really truly is. But after pursuing happiness for about a year and a half (potentially longer), I realize the whole thing is flawed. It’s a losing battle.

Because the truth is, it’s impossible to be happy all the time. And, at least for me, trying to be happy has been really unhealthy. It’s meant suppressing negative feelings. It’s meant smiling over pain. It’s meant lying to myself and to those I care about.

It’s meant assuming something must be wrong with my life, since I’m not always happy.

This year has unintentionally become a year of acceptance for me.

capture

It was led by accepting the shape of my body. But it’s become more than that.

Over and over again I have been told this year to accept myself.

To accept whatever I’m feeling. To try to accept the part of me that feels abandoned.

To accept that sometimes, even when traveling, I’d rather stay home and watch a movie than go out on the town.

When someone empathizes with us, they validate our feelings, they basically serve as proof that we are not crazy for feeling or reacting to something the way that we do.

Accepting my feelings (or body, or preferences) is a form of self-validation.

Ignoring my sadness or anger or frustration, because the end all be all is to be happy, is not acceptance. It’s suppression. It’s lying to myself and to everyone around me.

Yesterday, I asked my mom to stop telling me that she just wants me to be happy. We agreed, together, to change the conversation.

Because of course I want to be happy, but happiness just one piece in a much much bigger puzzle. And in order to be happy, to truly enjoy those moments of bliss, I have to accept all the other feelings too.

 

 

EQ: Assertiveness, Pt. 3

Today should have concluded my two week exercise in assertiveness.

I can’t say I was completely focused on asserting myself either of these weeks.

For many reasons (gender, family roles, upbringing, etc.) I have had passiveness deeply engrained in me. It has been that was for as long as I can remember. And if there’s anything these two weeks have shown me, it’s that it’ll take a lot more than two weeks for me to become more naturally assertive. So I’m going to continue these exercises into 2017.

You see, I have always been taught to be nice to others.

On the surface this is not a bad statement.

The problem is, I have learned to be nice to others at a cost to my well being. Then I get frustrated and upset when I get hurt. I never learned how to balance this equation. I never learned that sometimes I need to put myself, my needs, my wants first.

Even when I do manage to do something that is right for me, I reason it in a way that is good for others. Doing something for myself feels wrong, selfish, horrible. But the problem is, when I always do things for other people I start getting resentful that they’re not paying back in kind. This is when my passive aggressive sides comes out.

It’s been really hard.

It’s been hard to say no when I want to say no and not feel like I have to come up with an excuse.

It’s been really hard to ask directly for what I want, knowing that someone else may very well say no.

It’s been hard but it’s getting a little bit easier every single day.

 

Because the truth is, getting rejected really hurts. But so does not getting what you want because you never asked for it.