Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Living In Denial
I have no idea WHEN it happened, but at some point in my life, or perhaps it was gradual, I decided it was OK to deny myself. Deny my desires, happiness, pleasures, dreams, and most importantly, my NEEDS.
You know that basic question that everyone asks and everyone has an answer to, "What did/do you want to be when you grow up?" I have no answer for that. I do not have any memory of wanting to be a doctor, a teacher or an astronaut, a vet, princess or a wife and mommy, like so many other little girls do. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Perhaps I was never asked about my desires, had no one to foster them, or maybe I really didn't have any 'dreams'. I just don't understand how that's possible.
I have no memories of playing dress-up or make believe. I didn't live in a fantasy world like so many little girls do. There is photographic proof that I owned baby dolls, but my mother has always told me I never liked to play with them. There are no videos from my childhood showing me dancing around, whirling and twirling like a ballerina, or singing into a pretend microphone.
I don't know why. But what I do know is that to this very day, my being is wrapped in reality and sealed with facts. It is still very difficult for me to 'pretend.' (I am often envious of children playing make-believe) I have difficulty visualizing. I need to see it done to believe it could really exist. Deny possibilities. Bank on for-sure (which is NEVER for-sure, so imagine how that went for me)
I have distinct memories of wonderful times spent with my Granny and Grandaddy (biological father's parents), but must have known on some level that these times were fraught with tension for the adults involved (bad feelings between my mother and the ex-in-laws). So I never talked about how much fun I had being with Granny and Grandaddy. Deny pleasure. Or be a betrayer.
My basic needs are few. But I believe my MOST basic need is the security of unconditional love. Parents are the biggest influence (good or bad) when it comes to unconditional love and what that means to a child. (side note: I know that parents love their children unconditionally, but a child needs to FEEL that. All the time.) I can't honestly say I remember feeling this insecurity as a young child. I'm guessing I must have. I distinctly lived it during my tween, teen and adult life. It's quite sad and still makes me cry. (note: At this VERY moment, I am denying my own feelings. This is a huge struggle to admit these things. Fear, guilt and that damn feeling of conditional love have me questioning revealing these truths. My truths. Is what I'm doing betrayal?)
These things, and more are what prompted the title to this writing. Living in denial. Denying myself. Denying the truth. The truth as I know it.
I have spent most of my life and wasted way too much energy hiding what I want, enjoy and need. Why? Because I didn't believe I deserved any of it. How can a human being thrive in such a tormented mental state? It ain't easy and it ain't fun.
When I was a teenager, I was told that depression was a sin because I was only thinking about myself. I was told to go pray for myself and my behavior. Really? I was devastated by this. Not only was I disappointing my mother, but I was also disappointing God. Now, we weren't really a church-going family, so I didn't have a clear understanding of God, so I believed my mother. When I was 28 years old, I was diagnosed with depression. And put on medication. Are you freakin' kidding me? There's an answer to this hell in my brain. Why did I torture myself by not getting help for so long? Because I did not know my sinful depression was actually a chemical imbalance in my brain. For somewhere around 13 years I thought it was my fault. I was labeled as selfish, and I believed it. "Suck it up, get over yourself. Quit feeling sorry for yourself." This was my (not healthy) self talk. During this time, I did not allow myself many good things. It actually took great effort to make myself miserable. How screwed up is that? It would have been much easier to enjoy life's good times. But I didn't deserve that.
(You cannot imagine the guilt I feel already for this. The reason I keep going is for the freedom I hope it will bring.)
I'm a rule follower, which is not a bad thing. But one reason I'm such a rule follower is that I grew up in fear of breaking the rules. Of course now I ask myself, "And what horrible thing would have happened to you if you broke the rules? Just a little." There was no physical punishment for me. I never got a spanking in my whole life. My punishment was emotional. (feeling like a betrayer)
(I have to clear something up. Emotions and words are rushing through my mind so quickly, I can hardly concentrate. This writing is random and probably mostly out of order. But I cannot allow my perfectionism to distract me. In years past, I would have spent hours organizing my thoughts in perfect order, using politically correct explanations of my feelings and emotions - which is DENYING them. And being very careful so as not to hurt any one's feelings should they read this. Obviously, I am not a professional writer. Don't judge me by these ramblings. Or do...I don't care.)
OK...What was I talking about? And where was I going with it?
(post publishing note: After publishing this, I realized that I sound so miserable, when that is not the case at all. My life now is about no longer denying myself. I'll write about that, but tonight, I'm just so tired.)