*Quote from a friend who shall remain nameless. *Narrows eyes*
This post comes to you courtesy of 4am panic. It’s long. Feel free to skip it.
I left the blog for a while. Actually, I hid the blog, deleted my Twitter and the frog’s Facebook and limited myself to liking things, which then got me a reputation as parent of the internet (along with Mr Narky), which amused me. None of you seemed to realise that I was trying to unmute myself. :D I’ve crept out and run away every now and then but actually talking, hard innit?
This started with the posts I wrote trying to decide about therapy. I got a lot of feedback on my last couple of posts (one of which is private now), which I valued a lot but then I couldn’t figure out what I thought about the whole therapy thing. Y’all said different things, which is natural, everyone has different experiences and opinions. I feel guilty almost all the time and it’s hard to know what I want when I feel like I should do what other people want me to do. I felt guilty for being reluctant to take the NHS offer of therapy and thinking of going private, like I was flinging my good salary in my friends’ faces. But I felt guilty for being offered NHS therapy in the first place, because I’m taking up space that someone less fortunate than me could take. And, of course, I felt guilty about even thinking about therapy when other people, many of my friends included, have far worse problems than I do.
Which brings me back to the not talking. I want to. I think all the things all the time and there’s very little order to owt in my mind so writing makes things look a bit neater than they actually are. ;-) But I’d write a bit then see a tweet, feel guilty, delete words, write again, see a FB status, feel guilty, delete words… I have been able to tweet my sleeplessness recently with only having to delete occasionally so that’s good innit.
Guilt has got a bit out of control over the last couple of months. And I went on a day-long training course on developing resilience a while back that, although irritating and pointless lots of the time, gave me a wee insight into a possible reason for ALL THE GUILT. The woman was talking about empathy and people who don’t have it (she works with psychopaths) and encouraging people who may not have thought about stuff like this before on stepping into other people’s shoes to help with work relationships, blah blah, you know the drill. You see a lot about empathy in the madosphere, people who don’t have it or it doesn’t come naturally to them. It gets a bad rep, not having empathy, but I know people who don’t really get empathy. I’m thinking of one friend in particular, who can only relate to me if it’s something she already has experience of. She’s warm and caring, but just goes blank if I talk about something outside her experience. And that’s fine. I know the boundaries of our friendship. It’s not the big baddie it seems to be.
Having said that, I’m not like that. I have lots. Too much. So when the woman showed a photo of someone wearing shoes and socks and then said that empathy is stepping into some else’s shoes but keeping our own socks on I was intrigued. She asked what would happen if we took our own socks off and I knew. If we truly step into someone else’s experiences, feel what they feel, enter into their heart and mind, we can forget ourselves, become enveloped in their life and end up losing all perspective. It leads to guilt. I was totes the star pupil here, and then she switched the light bulb on. She said that empathy without our own socks on leads to guilt, shame and fear. Sound familiar? Fucking hell, those are my balloons. I’ve been losing myself in other people’s experiences and feeling guilty about my own, ashamed of my feelings, afraid that everyone judges me. I can’t really explain empathy, because it’s subjective. I might think I am feeling what someone else feels but maybe I’m experiencing my own projection of how they might be feeling and combining that with shame all of my own. Anyway, probably best not to get too drawn into that, could be here all day! I believe that I am an empathetic person but it’s so distorted now that it bears very little resemblance to the real thing.
An example. A stupid example, feel free to laugh at me. We were with my family for Christmas (no dramas this time, hooray, just quite a bit of peace and lots of baby cuddles). My sister is a mother at just 18 and man, she’s blossomed. She’s such a sweetheart. She puts me to shame, with my prickly shell. There was a tiny conversation with my mum about her, it was a throwaway thing that has probably been totally forgotten now. I can’t say what it is, partly because I still get upset thinking about it and partly because I’m such a loser for getting upset about it. It was a tiny comment from my mum that made me feel bad for my sister and then bad for my mum. I felt how my sister might feel about such a comment and I wanted to cry and put my arms around her and protect her. Then I felt how my mum might feel if she knew what I just thought. I blamed her for the comment about my sister but she never meant it like I thought it and I wanted to apologise and say it’s OK, I didn’t mean it, I promise. But I was still mentally holding my sister and apologising to her and saying it’s OK, mum didn’t mean it. For crying out loud, that is mental! So when I got in the shower about half an hour later, I was still feeling all these things, reliving it and feeling bad inside and ashamed of myself, like I had said the comment and had to apologise and fix it and make everything better. About a tiny comment that my sister didn’t even know about! So I stood in the shower and burst into tears. I don’t want to live like this. I somehow feel what someone might feel about something, anything, then feel guilty as if I’ve done it and then take on responsibility for fixing it. And it doesn’t go away. This happened two weeks ago and I still relive it as if I said the comment and I hurt my sister and as if my mum heard my thoughts and I hurt her too – just to make it clear to myself, I did not make the comment, my sister didn’t hear it, I didn’t berate my mum, nobody’s feelings were hurt except mine and the whole thing is totally imaginary.
I do this all the time. The only thing that relieves it is telling Mr Narky. It feels like confession and he can reassure me that I’m being daft and then I feel better, momentarily, but it comes back and I have to confess and get reassurance again. I do it with you lot and real life friends and real life things and is it any wonder I feel bad about writing stuff?
Anyway, I am going for the therapy, which those of you who follow me on Twitter already know. It starts this month, sooner than expected. It’s a bit blurred in my mind now but I vaguely remember one of the women who leads it saying something about learning how to live with feelings without doing what I do in futile attempts to get rid of them. A lot of my stuff is that, I think. The feelings thing, the past memories, the worry, the fear, the middle of the night panic. Doing all the things, thinking of all the things, all the ways of fixing whatever may or may not be wrong, discounting possibilities, finding new ones, discounting them, going over the old ones, being unable to fix an unfixable and possibly imaginary scary thing. *Bashes head off wall*
I am now pinning all my hopes on this therapy thing, and trying to pull away from that because it’s not realistic. But I tells ya, I’m dreading 2014. Bugger, we’re already in it, aren’t we? *Shrinks* I was in church yesterday and there was a sermon and it made me want to fold myself up and disappear because I am so not feeling it. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. I lost hope of a future last year. All I do is go from day to day, minute to minute, hoping to get to the end of the day without fucking up too much and collapsing onto the sofa with my knitting and Mr Narky. That’s it. I worry all the time and I barely sleep, even when I’m on the most relaxing holiday I’ve ever had (stormy weather is perfect for hibernating with knitting and watching rain from a comfy little window seat). I have no plans, I can’t see a future that’s any different from this. I’d quite like to hibernate the rest of my life away in a small house in the country, away from people and noise. Does that count as a plan? Or, y’know, the other thing. So I blinked back tears and left church as soon as possible before anyone could talk to me. Now it’s 5am and I’m awake, worrying about what’s to come tomorrow, this week, this month. Doing what I did last month and the month before and the month before that. Hope and a future?
Whoa, I’ve just passed the 1,600 words mark. Sorry. If you read all this way well done! *Gives you sweeties* I’m not going to close comments on this post just yet. I’ll post it later today, if I’m functional at all and please, I just ask any potential commenters to remember my unlimited capacity to freak out over very little. If I close comments or make the blog private again, don’t be offended. I already feel guilty about this, my neurotic little mind, and the day hasn’t even begun yet! ;-)