Suit Up for Battle

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Have you ever had a relationship in your life, whether it be a family member, coworker, boss, neighbor, schoolmate, or other social acquaintance, who makes you feel like you need to prepare yourself for for battle every time you come in contact with them?

Perhaps they are masters of the subtle put-down, love to give sneaky guilt trips, always manage to make you feel inferior and “less than”, or simply bring out the worst in you, leaving you feeling regretful and exhausted after the encounter finally ends.

I have a meeting like this coming up soon and it has been stressing me out. While I was laying in bed a couple nights ago stressing about it, I suddenly realized how much effort I had to put into steeling myself before the encounter. I have to put on emotional and mental armor and make sure none of my weak spots are showing. I have to be strong and hide any reaction to their attempts to get to me while in their presence, otherwise it will only encourage them.

It made me sad to think that it has to be this way. It also made me realize why the whole experience causes me so much anxiety and exhaustion. Preparing for battleĀ isĀ exhausting!

Things I Worry About

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  1. Are we destroying this planet to the point that it will be unable to sustain life? Will our arrogance, perpetual fighting and greed end up in our mutual destruction? Are we a foolish race causing our own eventual extinction?
  2. Did any of the narcissistic abuse of my childhood rub off on me? Am I narcissistic? I don’t want to be. I don’t want to hurt anyone or cause anyone else the kind of pain I have felt.
  3. Are we headed for civil war in this country? The polarization seems to be becoming more and more severe and dangerous. Which is more likely to happen first, our own country being torn apart by civil war, or our world being thrust into WW3 – likely over the natural resources we are bleeding dry?
  4. Will I someday find myself alone and have to make the decision to either end my life or survive on my own (the latter which happens to be my biggest fear). As terrifying as the idea is, I hope I would have the strength to try to survive. I would hate to think I would give up that easily.
  5. Am I irrevocably broken? I feel like something went very wrong in the attachment process and I am unable to create wholly secure and healthy attachments to other human beings. That is a hard thing to live with and hard (if not impossible) to fix. Attachment styles are something that is formed when we are very, very young. I have an anxious/avoidant style that makes all relationships feel insecure. Even if I can fix my conscious thoughts (as I have been able to do with my husband) I cannot fix my subconscious (and my fearful/paranoid dreams constantly remind me of that fact).

Spiral of Anxiety and Fear

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I am feeling so incredibly stressed about my upcoming SSDI hearing and everything related to it. It has become an obsessive thought pattern that I can’t get out of. This always happens when something I am super nervous or scared about is looming on the horizon. My mind is a circular track of “what ifs”, incessant thoughts about things I need to do, fears that I will make a mistake and blow my last chance for SSDI benefits, and fear that if I fail and am denied again, it will once again send me into a suicidal spiral of feeling worthless, disbelieved, and like I will forever be a burden to society and those I love.

Tomorrow I have to ask my psychologist to fill out a RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) form for the hearing. I think she will be open to it and want to help, but I am still anxious about asking and scared of rejection. I have to ask my primary care physician to fill out a similar form when I see her next week, and am even more nervous about that because I know she is often rushed and I don’t want to be an inconvenience or annoy anyone by making demands.

As you can see, I struggle greatly with asking anyone to do anything for me. I’m not sure if it is just my lousy self-esteem or what, but I always feel like anything I need is an imposition on someone else. Maybe the result of being raised by a narcissistic parent? Growing up, I often was made to feel like anything I needed (emotionally or physically) was selfish and inconvenient to those around me. To this day, I struggle with feeling like I am actually entitled to anything – even basic human respect.

I think my fear of being disbelieved about my disabilities also stems from the fact that when I first started getting really sick, even my own husband and family didn’t believe me. My husband came around first, when he saw how much I truly was suffering every day and how even the things I loved most were being ripped away from me. He has even apologized for his initial doubts. Some of my family (including in-laws) still make me feel invalidated, but I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t do much about that.

The Need to Protect Abusers

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Unfortunately, I’ve faced a great deal of abuse in my somewhat short lifespan. Physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, and emotional abuse. Most of this abuse happened when I was growing up and happened at the hands of people I should have been able to trust and look to for protection.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to be open about all the things that happened and purge my heart and soul of them publicly. I want to speak the truth out loud and shed light on things that have always lived alone in the darkest part of my psyche. However, I find myself so scared to share the truth and feeling immense guilt at the thought of outing those who were responsible. I feel protective towards my abusers because I still love them through it all and feel guilty at the thought of tarnishing their reputations, both the living and the dead.

Why, oh why do I still feel such loyalty and duty to those who hurt me the most deeply and betrayed me the most selfishly and cruelly? Why am I swamped in guilt for just wanting to be open and honest about my own experiences? Why must this battle between my need for expression and my sense of loyalty tear me apart? How do I ever find healing?

* Art by Maranda Russell