Self Awareness Can Be Too Much

We all have bits and pieces of our past that wreak havoc on our soul from time to time. For some people, it's a crippling havoc that ebbs in and out of daily existence manifesting in any number of emotional frailties. Broken souls striving for some semblance of light and happiness.
For others, there's an ability to compartmentalize the various pains, recognize them as wrongs, and thrust forward in life, bruised, but not beaten.

I've always been in the second group of people. In fact, I've been silently proud of the fact that I've weathered sexual, emotional, and physical abuse while "seemingly" unscathed. I've never had therapy and been on anti-depressants. On the contrary, I've loved and lived and laughed wholly and unapologetically! I've been a shoulder and friend for those who've needed me. I've been a beacon of reason in times of confusion. I've always had a gift for self-awareness and acute honesty. I've never denied my past or the situations that were devastating. I simply accepted them as something that happened and I moved on.

Or so I thought. Coming to terms with the fact that I might suddenly -after all these years- need help has been so incredibly difficult. Me? But I'm so together!
Ahhh, but even the best ships spring leaks.

At 36 I've come to realize that I am not unscathed. I am bruised and battered on the inside and for reasons still unclear to me, these emotional wounds have resurfaced.

My emotion/mental self has been weaving in and out for a couple of months now.
I obsess about what's wrong and it only complicates matters.
I feel absolutely mad.
But I carry myself well.

My mind swims with thoughts of wonder and isolation and grievance and fear and anger ..and a deep curiosity for just how screwed up I might really be.
My analytical self grasps to analogies for understanding. I feel as though, maybe, I was ripped at the seams a long time ago. Busted wide open. All my stuffing flooded out.
There was no tailor. No mender. In fact, even though some knew I'd been ripped, no one cared to to fix me. So I tried to fix myself the best I could. I stuffed most of the fluff back in and sewed myself up, needle and thick thread.
This is quite impossible to do, you see. Regardless of skills, little arms and tender hearts can't get to every part and threads are left dangling and weathered. Slowly, over time, my thread was pulled more and more. Snagged on this thing or that.
It wasn't noticeable in the beginning, but now, as time as etched on, it's very clear I'm unraveling yet again -due to a compilation of tiny snags along the way.

In the most rambunctious moments of thought, I yearn for the ability to turn my brain off. To simply sit in quiet.
I can't. I've never been able to do that.
Lately, the thoughts are too crowded ...and a touch extraneous. Definitely incessant.
They're not bad thoughts per se -nothing like, oh, I wonder which building is tall enough to really do me in.
It honestly doesn't feel like depression. I certainly have no desires to check out. Quite the opposite actually. feels like desperate anxiousness. No, that's not right. Maybe it's fear of a sterile existence. I really don't know.

It could be temporary, nothing more than an isolated moment of madness. It's life and it's not always pretty and sometimes we feel the weight of it.
The more I sit on it, though, the less it feels temporary.

I hurt so easily over words said or actions done/not done. Legitimacy is often there. Sometimes not, though, and I can see that, but can't wrap myself around the notion that it's not personal. I feel that it is. In those moments it feels intentional and mean.
It feels like s a direct reflection of my stance in life: abandoned.

The thing is, I see my worth. I see my strengths and passions and outlooks and intentions. I hear myself screaming inside that I'm special, that I matter, that I have such a tremendously gifted soul. I genuinely believe all of it.
But I hear the world screaming back, "You're not that special. You're vastly flawed. And frankly, we don't put near as much stock in you as you put in yourself. You're kinda nothing."

Admittedly, there's clarity in owning that I genuinely feel this way.

I have such an astounding sense of humor and a fantastic ability to see the silver lining. I don't take too much seriously because I don't want the stress. Cliches like "this too shall pass" and "that which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger" resonate throughout my soul. I honest to Buddha love my simple life. I'm gifted at seeing truth (even if I don't always share it) and in being honest with myself (and others). I covet living in the now and in striving for an authentic existence.
Yet, my authentic self feels incredibly unsettled and I am brimming with emotional bruising and loss.

Trust, that dirty 5-Letter word.
Pretty early on in my life my trust was my mother, by friends, by a molester and by the 3-4 adults who cheered him on and did nothing to protect a tender and crippling 6 year old little girl. I feel as though the emotional havoc created by these moments are resurfacing. I lost trust in family ...and in humanity.... by the time I was 7 years old. I made up for it by being naive and, ironically, overly trusting. And yes, incredibly sensitive and empathetic. Countless instances would mount over the years to solidify the latent trust issues and a desperate need to feel wanted and valued. So much in life told me I wasn't.

I feel smack dab in the middle of that right now -of flailing to defend my worth to...everyone.

My husband has spent years violating my trust. Not by acts of infidelity, but by broken promises to be a better husband and better father. We still struggle. Not as much granted (thankfully), but the same issues lay there and poke in weekly. I know he means well, and that he wants to change, but he always fails. He doesn't know how to do the work that needs to be done. Or he's lazy. I don't know which. Probably both. Yet again and again I always have hope. Then it's stunted by his actions. Because I recognize that he is damaged goods too, I try very hard to empathize with his own demons. I am a constant source of reassurance for him. And a teacher. But he can't emotionally be the same for me. No one in my immediate life can and this widens the canyon where my loneliness sleeps.

I feel this rising urge to protect myself with definitive angst -to shield myself from him, from family, from everyone. At the same time, I want to cradle myself and reaffirm that it's going to be okay.
That I'm okay.

I often feel brilliant and one step ahead of everyone else. My ego inflates and I feel as if I understand something so many others don't. I feel as if I get it (the big IT in life) because I'm so in touch with thought. I don't live on what I like to call a superficial surface. I dive deep beneath to uncover things about myself, about others, about life. I seek out growth and unconvention and answers. Unfortunatley, there are times when narcissism prevails.
I feel smug.

I sympathize with so many. I try to abide by social protocols and mind my P's & Q's...always thinking of other peoples feelings, when I know too few think of mine. Honestly, sometimes I don't give a care about all the right things. Sometimes I want to shout at people; call them out; rip them apart. I want to shake them violently to get them to see the error in their supposed logic. I have no right, but I feel it all the same.

Despite the self accolades, I easily, and honestly, flip it upside down and actualize that I'm incredibly frail and lost. It's a bizarre reality -almost a battle within. I feel strong and capable and amazing. Then it's shadowed by the lost, scared, damaged little girl. I want to subdue her and quiet her down. That was then. This is now. Move on in life. You're fantastic! I've always been good at doing that. But lately, she's holding the holy grail that holds my everything. Such power.

I have no one in my physical life I can talk to about any of this. My husband won't understand and will make some snide remark about my being crazy. He doesn't understand the depth of my thoughts and pain. He prefers that surface-level existence. I do understand the lure. It's safe and comfortable. But it's not for me.
I have a couple of friends that I love, but we're coffee friends/dancing friends/shopping friends. We're not pour-your-soul out friends. So again, I'm back...staring face to face at loneliness.

I know I need help. I'm making my way there, slowly, to find it. It's a hard thing to accept. I've known for over a month now that I need to make a call, but I can't seem to do so. I don't know why. I don't oppose therapy or even meds if needed. In fact, I've encouraged friends to seek it out and get any and all help they can so that they can live in the now! own advice falls on deaf ears..or mind.

An old friend told me it's both amazing and terrifying that I put it all out there when I feel I can trust someone (or when I write I share so many details of myself completely, exposing the raw unfiltered Jenn. I share painful stories with ease. I share faults and observations. She said sometimes it's too much. I'm too much. What does that mean? I don't know. I suspect it was her way of saying that not everyone can live unfiltered, especially if they have demons they haven't come to terms with. People like their masks because it keeps them safe. Yet, there I am throwing mine away screaming THIS IS ME and trying to get everyone else to do the same. "It's too much." Truth is, I can't make others take off their mask and I shouldn't make them feel bad for not being able to do so. I think I do, though. It's not intentional, but I recognize it.

I feel a sense of peace being fully me. But I feel as if the rest of the world can't do the same, which has left me feeling sucker punched with the notion that maybe the problem is me..that I need to accept I'm not okay and that maybe, in order to live in harmony, I need put my mask back on and swim up to the surface.
But that feels incredibly fraudulent.
So I'm left feeling alone.
36-40, F
9 Responses Apr 1, 2011

I can relate. Sounds like you might be an adult child. There is a 12 step program called Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Homes that can help you process your childhood and work on developing a healthy inner parent that the little girl can trust. I've been in that program for 2 years now and it has helped a lot and also been unimaginably difficult.

What brought me here was a Google search for "too much awareness" because I sometimes feel like I'm too aware. But I'm convinced the only solution is to give myself the attention and support I need. It's very difficult sometimes to accept that I'm not going to get it from someone else, but i think that's the only way I'll ever grow up.

One last thing - and a reminder to myself - too much awareness is another term for hypervigilance - which comes from trauma and PTSD. That's covered in the ACA program.

I am just going throuh a break up. And just a good week before I saw a comic about people who are too self aware. And I just thought, I don't get it. This is how everybody thinks. And now I know that's not true. I went trough abusse myself and I was always aware of what I was doing because if I came quietly home, he won't hear me and if I quickly hide under the tall bad behind the closet he won't find me. And he didn't. But if I was wearing a skirt, well.... But I didn't tell anyone, I went trough it alone, and I am so proud of myself. I never cry in public (except one or two times, but I was a bit drunk), and I am/was proud of that to. I know I can do a lot of stuff and I am capable, I don't have a job. I just got an offer, I think I could be great at it, but I cannot fail. What if I do? I think it's better not to try. It's not an easy job, you have to go out, you have to put yourself out there. And after the break up, I started seeing these things. And now I am learning about them. Now I know I am different and I want to fix me.
I am very heartbroken over this boy, we were together for a lot of years, but he wasn't happy. I thought I was happy. But I got together two days later with my distant friend and she said she is surprised I look that good and that I was keeping it together so well... And I am. I have my weak moments, and I can't seem to turn off my brain about this. But I don't cry a lot. I can talk to him just fine. I point out what was wrong, I can understand logically what he wants to tell me. And I can se why he thinks we're not a good match. Although I love him and I would do anything to do things diferently. After all this years I know now, that I am different, too self aware. And it is eye opening.
You helped me so much and I cannot thank you enough.

oh my gosh! Reading this I felt sad but also relief and also a point where I thought...... Did I write this?
I am going through the exact same right now and it's quite simply horrific. I see this was written a few years ago and I hope this reaches you well and I hope everything In your life became easier and you found your bliss.
I hope I find mine xxxx

I bookmarked this page & everytine I start to feel alone I read it. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one out there who feels like this. Reading your story just can relate so much. The not being able to talk to anyone because they won't understand. The pain, the knowing you need help but not acting upon it because you think you can do it on your own and stitch yourself together. Just all of your words speak to me and helps me not feel as alone.

I lie awake at night, contemplating whether my thoughts, or 'feelings' are real, whether I truly did go through what I have in life and if I am a better person for it. Even though from the outside looking in, I do everything right, an overwelhming dark thought clouds my thoughts. I then begin to contemplate whether I am truly a honest, good person. I stay awake at night, knowing its the only time the world around me, my world, is sound asleep, unable to impact my thoughts, unable to save me from them too. You spoke about the process of sewing yourself back together, that for me was like trying to thread a needle and cotton on a shirt with a gapping hole, while I was wearing the shirt. Every time I missed a thread, the stuffing would fall out of me a burn to ashes. This left me less than whole. I was a child, I screamed for help from others in my own way. I felt like the world let me down, at times I thought someone had picked up that needle and began again. Only to have the little hope that remained inside be pulled apart, like someone picking at peeling paint. I managed to pull it all together and some moments truly believe it was the best outcome. I too, am content with who I am, I would never self harm, no end my life, or the life off others. But I lay awake, worried about that thread, and when it pulls apart, what lies beneath it and what will become of me, maybe more so what seeing the real me. If this makes any sense to you, please know that any updates in your experiences would be so benefitial for me, as you just happened to write what I have in my head, something I've been unable to do. Also thank you, as knowing I am not the only one in this world that has these thoughts, gives me comfort in knowing I am not insane, however sorrows my heart, as no one should feel the way I do. Goodluck. I whole heartedly wish you luck, strength and happiness. I don't generally comment on anything I read, but you made a difference tonight for me. So it was the least i could do.

So eloquently written. Reading your words felt like someone finally got me....thank you!!!!

Wow, you just said how I feel at the moment. I am also unravelling and trying to stitch myself together. Our stories are so similar and the pain is the same and I could have written that but not as well.
I was looking for an answer, I have yours and will take it in consideration for how I will act next but I felt understood and it feels good. Thank you for the tears, those feel lovely and fresh.. maybe a cleanser.

Thank you for your honest response!<br />
I do think you're right about therapy. Oh, I know I need it!! But there's part of me that still seeks input from others ('s the notion that I can't do this alone) and, as you said, encouragement. <br />
I like the idea of just dialing and going for it. I generally approach must stuff in life that way, which is both good and bad. I've got some great stories! :)<br />
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As far as the life and death thing, no, i have no desire not to be here. I love living...but I feel stuck in a chaotic world and I don't want to be apart of that. I want calm and laughter mostly. It's not reality, of course. Life is...what it is... and it's full of all kinds of things we have to deal with whether we want to or not. Sometimes, though, in my deepest moments of thought, I think i'm supposed to be somewhere else, as if I don't fit in with where I'm at. That probably stems from other underlying issues I have, of course. :)<br />
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Thanks again.

Wow i think i understand partly how you feel. But yet i cant really explain how. I was wondering, with the life and death thing, is it like you don't want to die but you feel like 'i dont want to be here'? Mostly thats how it feels for me or something like it. One thing that caught my attention in your writing (well there was many, but this is something i have somewhat learned *possibly* lol) is when you say that you gave your friends advice on going to therapy but that you cannot take that advice as well. Is that maybe because its coming from your head and that there is no one there to encourage you? Like you did for your friends? Sometimes thats all it takes is someone to give you the extra 'i know you can' or 'its OK' and no matter how many times you give it to others one of the saddest parts is that most of the time they dont return the favor, but thats just people for ya :/ I think that if you believe you need therapy (and no offense it sounds like you could use it) that you should try one day telling yourself that you are going to do something daring, lol this sounds weird but most of the time it works, and just make an appointment so quickly you dont know what hit you. Also say to yourself after you dial the number that 'well there's no going back now, so might as well get this over with' I'm sorry if I'm going on about stuff but this is really the things that i think when i have to do something thats not so easy to do. And about the little girl inside you I think that she needs help before you can move on like you want to. And i think that you shouldn't try to push her away but dont let her control you either lol sorry I'm lost now this is where a shrink comes in handy ;) Well i hope i didn't waste too much of your time with my blabbering, but i know that when your ready you will find the courage for that call. Good luck :)