The two things I think I said the most when I was in the treatment program was, “I’m sorry,” and, “I don’t want to be a bother.” You see, I feel like I’m a bother to everyone, to life in general if you want to know. I feel like I’m an inconvenience, that I take up space, to put it simple, I don’t count.
Last week in iOP I was given a homework assignment to make a list of: What would it feel like for me to count? Seriously? How could I possibly know that?! She said if I couldn’t do that then to do: What would it ‘look’ like for me to count? So there it sat in my folder Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday…. granted I did occasionally look at the question but I’m serious when I say that I have literally no clue of how to answer that. I don’t know what that looks like. I certainly never felt like I counted and can’t identify what people would look like if they felt they did.
A short tangent…
Anytime I am out in public or with people or even watching TV in some circumstances, I watch faces to see what the proper expressions is for what is coming out of their mouth. That is how I learn to negotiate society. If the expectation is for me to feel or react a certain way I can put the appropriate face on and use appropriate emphasis when I talk. Before you start thinking that perhaps I’m a psychopath and have to study others in order to know how to live, no, I can assure you I’m not. The truth of the matter is I’m scared…. I’m scared all the time. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing and getting yelled at. I’m afraid of not reacting appropriately and being ridiculed or worse, dismissed. I’m afraid of rejection, of abandonment, and even sometimes I’m afraid of acceptance because with acceptance comes expectations and expectations can be exhausting!
I’ve always said I’d love to find a cave and live there the rest of my life but that isn’t true either. I yearn for community, for friends! A therapist in the program once said, “Your greatest fear is your greatest desire.” I didn’t hear anything after that because that just echoed in my mind and heart. I fear people but I desire community.
…. end tangent
My therapist reminded me that the feelings of being a bother, not counting came long before anorexia entered the picture. It’s true, so many things happened to me as a child (then as a teen, and even as an adult), all to confirm I didn’t count. I was a dress up doll/worker slave for my mom. I felt I was only worth what I could do; sadly I still feel that way. Someone pointed one of my behaviors back in treatment. Anytime after I talked in group I would put my hand over my mouth. I was so ashamed of talking, mortified actually. The staff always commented on how much I contributed to group. Well, 20 years of therapy does that for you… Also, when someone is talking in group and no one is saying the obvious I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to them if I kept my mouth shut. But afterward, no matter how noble I felt at the time, I berated myself, no, I berate myself (because I still do this) to no end of how stupid I am. During group, after I said something, I’d write over and over and over, “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” and then, “shut up, shut up, shut up.” Everyday I would commit to not opening my mouth, but I never could follow through with that. Blah, blah, blah… that is me. I talk and talk and with every word, I hate myself more.
We, my therapist and I, talked about having a sense of self. She asked if there was ever a time I felt that, even if it was just for a moment? No. She suggested I sit down and spend a little time every day thinking about what makes me “me”. I asked for an example. No seriously, I have no clue what she means! It’s like asking someone to consider the color blue if they’ve been locked in a red room their entire life. No concept. She did give an example which, of course, I don’t remember. It led me to think about writing though. I love to write… this blog is my freedom. When I write I think cohesively, I put things together, I can express myself in a way that others can understand (I assume). I can read other peoples blogs and actually understand what they are waiting and offer a word or two of encouragement or maybe experience. Do you know that today I’m just as surprised when someone comments as when I wrote my first post? Why is that? Well… probably because I can’t imagine anything I have to say is worth reading (I don’t count) or that my experience is worth contemplating (I don’t count). I’m surprised by acknowledgement (I don’t count). See a pattern?
I hate it!!!! I just hate it! She mentioned the relationship I have with others, that it’s based on more than something I did for them. I said that I’m good at relating to people so they’ll like me and not yell at me. She asserts people like me because of who I am. But I argued back that no one really knows who I am. If they would they’d go running for the hills. I’m not a nice person, I’m awful in fact. I’m selfish and self-serving. How can anyone like me? I’m worthless. The person everyone likes is the slightly manic happy go lucky person that drives the car most of the time. They don’t ever see the person in the back seat. Who am I? No one.
That’s what we’ve got to work on, that person no one sees who feels alone, who feels worthless, who doesn’t count.
So, for today, I’ll appreciate that I like to write. It’s my freedom. Maybe the words on this blog represent the person I really am. This is an anonymous blog. It allows me to be, well, me – good, bad, ugly, everything. If there is anyone reading this right now, you are seeing the real me. Perhaps some of you are running for the hills, but some of you stay and for those, I am eternally grateful. Thank you for hearing me, thank you for being witness to my journey. Just, thank you.