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Will I Be This Way Forever?

 Tyler (the husband) and I had a very honest and difficult conversation the other night. It began as a light-hearted reference to something from the past, and became a long-winded complaint about his mother from me. Understandably, this upset him. We talked about several issues in relation to this, but what really stood out, to me at least, was my inability to move past old hurts. 

When I first became part of the family, I don’t think Tyler’s mom handled it well. She hurt and offended me several times, especially the weekend of the wedding. Now, though, things are much better. We understand each other more, I think, and she has become accustomed to the idea of my being the focus of her son’s life. But still, the old resentment lingers. No wonder Tyler feels frustrated when the subject of his mother comes up. 

Why is it that I can’t move past things like this? Old hurts are never old to me. When I am reminded of them—and my brain likes to dredge them up with disturbing regularity—they are as painful as ever. Time does nothing to dull the sharp sensations of betrayal and rejection occasioned by these incidents. And it’s not just Tyler’s mom. Most of it, truly, is stuff my dad did. I can remember things from when I was five years old, things that still upset me as if they happened yesterday. I think his refusal to accept responsibility—his constant blame, his dismissal of my feelings—robbed me of the ability to heal from wounds. I’m an emotional hemophiliac. 

I can see this very clearly now, especially after the talk with Tyler. My problem is that I really don’t know what to do about it. I can’t just tell myself “Hey, get over it.” That only makes me feel stressed and guilty because I can’t get over it. Not only am I still tormented by these old feelings—I hate myself for letting them have power over me. 

I always feel helpless in moments like this—when I see a flaw of mine in startling clarity. What do I do? How do I shift the foundations of my whole identity? How can I cause my mind to arrest its instincts, and adopt new patterns of thinking? I feel powerless to control my thoughts and feelings, and hopeless about ever learning to change.

BookNerd BookNerd 22-25, F 3 Responses Apr 17, 2009

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I Myself Bring Up Old Feeling from the Past. Today I blamed My Mom for the fact that I don't have any self confidence. I Still want to blame her for this because She Never let Me do things as a child. She kept Me sheltered & Never allowed Me to do the things that I saw other kids doing. I watched them out of My window. I went to cousins tap dancing & plays All sorts of events. My Mom said we could not afford it, but My Brother was in karate & football. You name it he was active in it all. When I got older My Mom told Me She was jealous of Me & She did not want me to have more that what she had in her life growing up.I have done hair for 23 yrs. & have not felt at all comfortable with myself. I feel like a loser all the time. I also have a condition called distonia, It causes My head to shake real bad. ppl. ask what is wrong with me. I get ashamed then I start getting paronoid over how I am. I just don't understand how to feel better.

You can not control feelings but the mere act of acknowledging and naming them gives them less power. There is nothing to gain from dwelling on the past because just reliving bad feelings doesn't solve any problems. When you hit bad feeling say aloud: "I am dredging up an old unresolved bad feeling. I can not change the person who did those things to me, I can not get back the time I have wasted wallowing in self pity, the only thing I can control is what I will do going forward. I alone am responsible for my happiness and I will not let this old stuff ruin the rest of my life." Then distract yourself from the bad feelings by calling a friend or getting some exercise or something. Eventually it will become a habit. It will be very hard to break at first. P.S. Your husband sounds like a real keeper!

You know, I never noticed the difference before. I thought of some happy memories just now, and though they are still evocative, they aren't nearly as powerful as the negative ones. That's an interesting point, Tiny.