Where It Got Screwed UpI can remember very few things I liked as a child. As an adult, hearing other people's experiences and seeing two therapists taught me that my childhood was actually a traumatic experience and it's no surprise I blocked (forgot) most of it.
Moving on to my teenage years doesn't help in remembering things I used to like, as I was already severely depressed by then. I did things by rote, out of habit, because I had to.
Moving out on my own, becoming an adult led me to question the mechanisms. Questioning and seeking answers is part of my nature and if I hadn't been like this, I probably would have committed suicide a long time ago.
I am no longer depressed because I have a point of comparison for it. I am no longer out of control, perpetually sad, feeling worthless and condemned to mediocrity. Yet I cannot really generate any deep-felt motivation for, or enjoyment out of anything. Most of what I do would feel like rote, habit, necessity if I did not stop to examine it. Or... I end up snarky and overly critical (when I am "forced" to react due to social expectations.)
Mindfulness helps, and Buddhism can teach you a lot of practices to help you manage negative emotions. One of the main tenets of Buddhism is that you can't feel joy if your mind is full of sadness. So I thought, "Eliminate negativity and joy will come on its own". Well.... It doesn't come on its own, not for me apparently!... The result was a scary emptiness. I wondered whether that was all there was to Life. I had to notice that some people actually DID seem to enjoy life in a way I can't before I really decided that something was wrong with a part of me I wasn't in control of. Emotions, rationality, all those are fine and fruitful avenues we can explore, but if your head has faulty wiring, what can you do?
What happened in my youth was probably what programmed my brain to squash any reward or feeling of accomplishment. To one parent, I was an unwanted child, good for nothing (said to my face more than once, expressed more times I can remember), just a bother.
The other insisted that whatever I did was wrong unless it was done exactly to specifications that I later learned were unrealistic and perfectionist.
Since then, I have been congratulated and thanked and praised for my accomplishments by others: friends, coworkers, my spouse. I used to meet compliments from those closest to me with skepticism, and I pushed a lot of good people away by being so cynical. It took me a while to realize that I was not surrounded by liars. I had to learn that I CAN be appreciated I CAN do good things. Making mistakes is not the end of me. I CAN defend my rights. I CAN ask for respect, and consideration. I don't HAVE to accept manipulation.
So now I accept compliments, even though most of the time I still don't feel much when people compliment me. I am frustrated by this: what I want, what I expect is a warm rush of feeling, a golden glow, a space opening within. I want to smile genuinely, because what was said feels true... The most I've managed is smiling genuinely because someone cares enough to say it. Not bad in itself, but still misses the mark.
When I was younger, it felt better to feel anything at all (usually, very bad!) than feel... nothing, so I just kept going back into a black pit of despair. I was the typical emoteeny gothy person with no hope for life. That was very artificial and I knew it deep inside, but I just didn't know anything.
Now... It makes no sense to feel bad just for the heck of it. I stopped that.
There's no happy ending yet: most of the time I end up in that dead zone where I feel nothing, with my days full of rote and habit and uncertainty (do I really care for this? What about this?), and the worst days where I can spend an hour convincing myself to just get out of bed and TRY to be awake in case I have a breakthrough.
Right now that feels better than despair: how am I ever going to get myself to truly feel good if I keet exposing myself to hurt and pain?
I hate the idea of living my life in a grey area where I am bored most of the time, or hurting. I want to develop a happy headspace. I want to train my brain to feel better.
I hope future generations enjoy Star Trek-like treatments where a series of hyposprays realigns your chemistry. ;)