So Lonely

I’ve been feeling very lonely lately. Struggling with the feeling that I matter, that I’m worth something. That I’m important.

And I’ve talked to Robby about it lately but it hasn’t helped. He’s been sweet about it, telling me that I matter, hugging me, but it just hasn’t helped. Because he’s been the one making me feel lonely. He keeps withdrawing from me, putting up this wall that I can’t get through. So I just keep trying harder. Trying to be noticed. Trying to do everything, and do it all right.

And tonight was a catastrophe, which I won’t get into, but I ended up telling him how I’ve been feeling. That he makes me feel lonely because he shuts me out. That I feel like if I don’t try and connect with him, that we will just be here but never really together. And how it’s so confusing because some days he will want to be intimate, will really be himself, will be comfortable with our relationship. But then the next he will act as though he’s just going through the motions.

And I want to take care of him, to love him, but it hurts so much to feel like he just takes and takes without giving back. Without being sincere.

Because he never follows through. He says he’s going to make changes, says he’s going to do this and that, and for a little bit he does. But then it stops. He stops being a partner in our relationship. Stops trying. And it just goes back to the way it was, with me trying so desperately to bring him back.

And I shouldn’t have to bring him back. All I want is for him to be here, really here. And every time he pulls back, or stops trying, or leaves me emotionally, it hurts.

It hurts so much.

And to be honest, I don’t know how many times I can go through this. It seems like it happens every year. But words are just words, and I have to look at the actions. And I don’t want to reach my limit. I don’t want to have to accept that it’s never going to change. So I’m going to keep trying, keep loving him, and most importantly keep telling him when he hurts me. And maybe it will get better and be real this time. But I’m so afraid that I’m going to end up alone, whether alone in our relationship time and time again, or truly alone. Without him.

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The Best Words

Today, one of my kids at work said the best thing to me.

I’m the homework teacher. Which means that on any given day I help 18+ kids with their homework. At the same time. It’s a non-stop barrage of “Miss Laura, I need help”, “Miss Laura, I don’t understand this”, “Miss Laura, I was next” and “Miss Laura, it’s too loud”, naturally all being yelled across the room at the same time.

But I love it. I love watching the kids learn, and helping them see what they are capable of. I love that they know that they can turn to me with their problems, and not just their homework problems. Most days, it just fills my heart.

But some days. Oh, some days.

Some days, the kids who have finished their homework can’t seem to stay quiet so the other kids can keep working, and there are a few kids who are just at each other’s throats, and someone just has to have my attention right now, and BLARG!

And today was a little bit of that. Nothing too bad though, thankfully. But there is this one little girl, M. I love her to pieces. She is in 4th grade and super smart, but also super distractable. She is in advanced placement classes, but she gets lost in her own head (yes, she has ADD) and just can never seem to focus. She has good days and bad days and man, today was a bad day. We would be working on a problem together and she would drift off while we were talking.

And I just felt that I was failing her. I knew she had homework in three subjects, and that she needed to make a significant dent in it if she wanted to avoid getting in trouble at home, but I just couldn’t get her to focus. I was getting frustrated and I wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding it, and it was finally time for me to close my room so she asked to pack her backpack back up. I told her she could, because she wasn’t going to get any more work done and that I had to leave anyway. But after she finished, she came up to me and said, ” Thank you for doing all you could to help me Miss Laura.”

It just kind of made me stop.

I had felt myself starting to go over the my time with her in my head, wondering what I could have done different, what I should have done. What the ‘right thing’ was, because I felt that I had failed. I was starting to beat myself up because I felt that I couldn’t help this wonderful little girl, and yet she still appreciated that I took the time to try.

I went over to her and put my hand on her head and said “Thank you for saying that. That really means a lot. I was just getting frustrated because I felt like I was failing you because I couldn’t get you to focus.”

And she looked at me and nodded. She went over to get something she left at a table and said, very matter-of-factly, as if that’s-just-how-the-world-works “But not focusing is my issue, not yours”

This little girl gave me a life lesson in a 2 minute conversation. Because that is how the world works. I’m not responsible for her actions, only my efforts.

I don’t know if she will ever know how much I will cherish her words.

Snowballing into Shame

So often, I feel like I’m doing fine and then- BAM- something happens and everything snowballs. It brings up things that I’ve already dealt with throughout the day, stuff that I felt I had conquered. But when they snowball, they just all seem to pile on and they get so big that I’m left huddled in a ball crying at what a failure I am.

Seriously.

Take today, for instance. There had been some bumps- the cat peed on the floor, I locked myself out of the house and didn’t get as much done as I had wanted because of that, but nothing catastrophic. There was the normal body image struggles, as well as a bit of a headache that I had in the morning. Again, nothing major. But getting locked out put me on edge, because I was locked out for over an hour since my husband was sleeping and had his phone on vibrate. And I was frustrated, but I was still doing okay. I had a back-up plan for the side dish for dinner, since (thankfully) the pulled pork was already in the crock pot. So I was a little stressed, but still good, until the final straw. The big, giant event that pushed me over the edge and eventually led to me huddled in a ball and crying.

Dinner wasn’t ready on time.

Completely serious. The pork was cooked, but it wasn’t cooked enough to fall apart and shred. And so I gave it another hour, but it still wasn’t ready. At this point, I was ready to come out of my skin, I was so anxious. Every detail throughout the day kept coming back to me, reminding me how much I had failed.

I hadn’t cleaned the litter box on time, so the cat peed on the floor: failure.

I left my keys in the house and got locked out: failure.

I got locked out and didn’t get to make the original side dish: failure.

I wasted time being locked out and didn’t get all the laundry and dishes done: failure.

I am overweight: failure.

I got upset at my hubby for not waking up RIGHT THEN to let me in the house, even though it was my fault for getting locked out: failure.

I was busy trying to fix my failures and didn’t eat a real dinner: failure.

And it just kept going. On and on and on, until I was reduced to an anxious ball of self-shame huddled on the bed with my arms wrapped around the comforter with tears leaking from my eyes. And I hate that I do this. That one event–a comment taken the wrong way, a plan that falls through, any little thing–can send me over the edge into pit of self-shame. Of being so trapped in the belief that I am a failure that I can’t see anything else. It colors everything I see about myself and about the world around me. It makes me believe that other people must see me this way too, and that everything I do must reflect failure.

After all, how could I possibly do something good?

And I hate feeling this way about myself. I don’t want to spend my Sunday night writing and crying while questioning every single interaction, decision, and action, trying to discern if they add up to failure.

Inside Out

“The structural decision to do without a villain, and ultimately to do without one of the easiest elements to make entertaining and marketable, means that the process Riley is undergoing — adolescence — is visualized as … normal. Her mind is not a space that’s been invaded by something that must be driven out, but a new environment to be mastered. And if other kids’ stories are there to teach kids how to be brave when they see witches and giants, Inside Out is there, maybe, to teach them how to be brave when there’s no witch and no giant, but things can feel broken anyway.”

Linda Holmes, NPR

Today, Robby and I saw Inside Out. If you haven’t seen it, go see it.

Seriously.

I’ll wait.

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.

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So, assuming that you watched it, I’m now going to talk about it, so if you haven’t seen it, go see it now, cause otherwise I’m going to blow the plot for you.

*Spoilers*

In the movie, a young pre-teen girl (Riley) starts to realize that her days aren’t just filled with joy any more. That she is growing up. But her mom–in an off-hand manner–asks her to keep being her ‘happy little girl’. So when Riley starts struggling, she begins to hide it, and that’s when her emotions get out of whack.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Through all sorts of adventures by her little inner-emotion cartoons, Riley starts to lose parts of who she used to be. When those pieces of herself start to be lost, she stops being goofy, she withdraws from her parents, she cuts off her friends, and she abandons the sport she has loved her whole life. In a desperate attempt to try and find herself again, she decides to run away, back to a place where she was happy.

Through all of this, Joy has been desperately trying to keep Sadness at bay, to keep Riley from being sad, but Riley is so mixed up that she ends up not being able to feel anything.

She goes numb.

Until Sadness steps in.

When she was a child, Joy had always been able to cheer Riley up, but she can’t go from feeling numb to feeling joyful. She has to feel the sadness. The pain.

Because it’s part of life. It’s normal.

It’s not fun, but it’s normal. And as she realizes that the different emotions can mix and form new emotions, Riley rebuilds the pieces of herself.

Riley’s Personality Islands at the beginning of the movie

To be honest, I cried a lot during this movie. I remember those days of joy as a kid, and I remember feeling my world fall to pieces. And going numb. Except that I was numb for years. I didn’t get to rebuild thepieces of myself right away like Riley did. I didn’t start learning about those ‘new emotions’ until I was in my twenties.

And seeing the childhood that most people had, the emotions that they went through just hurt so much. Because it’s not fair. It’s not fair what I lost, what I missed. My personality ‘islands’ broke and I was just blank for years.

Riley’s Personality Islands falling apart

My ‘Friendship Island’ turned into ‘Distrustful Island’. I shut down my ‘Athletic Island’ because people kept making fun of me whenever I would do anything athletic. And my “Girlie Island’ was completely buried under self-loathing and fear of attention. I used to love to wear pretty dresses and jewelry, and having my make-up put on for dance recitals was so much fun, but once that island broke, I ran from all of that. I couldn’t bring myself to be a little girl anymore. I hid behind baggy boys clothes in dark colors. Nothing bright, nothing that would draw attention.

And I want to open those islands back up. I don’t necessarily want to dance on a stage like I did when I was 5, but I’d like to have the confidence to take a Zumba class now and then, because I genuinely enjoy it. I don’t want to be so afraid of ridicule that I don’t go to the gym on the off-chance that other people will be

Riley’s re-built personality islands at the end of the movie

there. And I’d love to be girlie sometimes. Maybe wear a pretty hair clip. I’ve always wanted to dye streaks of color, like blue or purple, into my hair, but I’ve never had the courage to do it, because it draws attention, and that’s something I am so afraid of.

I know that life isn’t all Joy, and that’s okay. I just want to rebuild myself.

How Much Do I Share?

For so long I never shared anything with anybody, and to be honest I didn’t want to. But now I’m starting to want to share. To bond. When I first started wanting to share with my friends, I was terrified. I had no idea how to share. That was actually part of why I started this blog. I wanted to share myself but from a distance. Sharing myself through a blog with people I didn’t know just felt safer. It was a medium I could control.

Since starting EMDR I have been wanting more and more to share myself with the people in my life, but I haven’t known how. I’ve bonded with a few new people and told them the truth about my past. I’ve even shared pieces of my past at GIRL Time, but I’ve remained guarded. I’ve had the constant fear that sharing myself will cause someone to reject me, judge me or even use it as a reason to be against me. I’ve been afraid of meeting the same reactions I got when I was a child and not having the strength to withstand it, just like I couldn’t back then.

You see, I’m still developing my sense of self. When those kids rejected me, I couldn’t see that their reaction wasn’t because of who I was, and so I absorbed it. I took all the hate, judgement, and blame and turned it inside myself. I truly believed that I caused their reactions. That their reactions were an indicator of who I was, and they were simply reacting to that. Since they treated me like a dirty unworthy person, I believed that that was who I was. And I carried that with me. For years, I truly believed that I was an unworthy person. Unworthy of love. Unworthy of praise. Unworthy of any positive reaction from anybody. I still struggle with the idea that I deserve praise for my achievements, even when I know–on some level–that I truly have done a good job.

But through the EMDR I have started to get to know myself. I have started to strip away the words those children thrust onto me and I’m starting to see the person that has been trapped all these years. But I’m still growing in myself. Instead of being a young woman, confident in who she is, I am still learning who I am. I am still protecting myself, learning to be proud of who I am, be sure of who I am. Because I want to share. I want to open up. I know that not everyone I open up to is going to love me, or even like me, and that is okay. I don’t need that. I don’t need their approval. All I need is to have the confidence to stand firm in who I am, and if a day comes when someone reacts poorly to what I share, I won’t backslide and lose myself. Instead, I will have the strength, the knowledge, and the self-confidence to know that their reaction belongs to them alone.

It does not define me.