Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #9
–These issues don’t go away
I had issues that eventually caused me to have symptoms. These issues had been in place for decades. These issues were not going to go away. I was able to avoid dealing with these issues until I had symptoms.
These issues would come up often, triggered by seemingly mundane events in daily life. While I didn’t have symptoms that led me to therapy for many years, I was upset anytime these issues were brought up and I didn’t understand why they made me so upset. My point here is that your issues won’t go away on their own. You may be handling it, you may be keeping it together, but, your issues, when they come up, are upsetting you. They are interfering with you having a better life. Until you deal with them, the cycle simply repeats. Something triggers your issues, you become upset, you don’t know why, you worry about it, you control it and you move on. The cycle doesn’t end.
I offer four examples of events that come up normally in everyone’s life that always made me feel bad, for reasons I didn’t understand until I went to therapy.
Birthdays for me were never fun. I knew that ‘normal’ people really liked their birthday. They looked forward to it each year and they had elaborate plans for what they wanted to do to celebrate. I wanted it to simply go by without any drama. My experience growing up was that my birthday was another opportunity for my parents to fight, or, after my father was gone, for my mother to be upset. Anything that brought attention to me was not a good thing. As an adult I never understood why I felt something was missing when my birthday happened. I want to be very clear that my birthdays have been wonderful, once I got away from home. I want to make sure that no one involved with my birthday (after I was on my own) thinks I am saying that they didn’t do enough for me. In fact, that is the point. Everything was great and I still feel this way. And, it doesn’t matter how much was or wasn’t done for me, I would still feel this way. What I am saying is that I have always felt something was missing, that my birthday didn’t make me feel as good as most people.
Christmas was much that same as my birthday. I always felt more sad than excited. I remember my parents fighting was especially nasty around the holidays. I have always enjoyed the lights, the decorations and even the madness of shopping, but I have always felt something was missing. As with my birthday, no one around me after I grew up did anything wrong and I had a great Christmas, but I still felt sad about it.
Whenever I would see a parent and a child having a good time I would feel strange. I want everyone to have a good time. But seeing this would cause me to feel alone and empty. I had no clue why.
Whenever I succeed at something, I feel nothing. I have had many successes but, I always feel nothing when I complete something. I don’t feel excited or relieved, just empty and a little sad. I feel like I must simply move on to the next challenge which must be completed.
All four of these examples are events that come up over and over for everyone. And for me, each of them trigger feelings of emptiness and sadness. I would always wonder what is wrong with me that I have these reactions. Most other people appear to really enjoy their birthday, Christmas, or seeing a parent and child having a good time. I see many other people having celebrations, sometimes very elaborate ones, when they complete the same things I have completed. Wondering why I don’t experience these things the way others do leads to worry. The worry that I was messed up in some way. This worry then makes me not want to have a birthday because I don’t want to feel empty and sad. I realize this will seem completely twisted to anyone that hasn’t felt this way.
I want to stress that these issue keep coming up over and over, causing the same upset every time. Just looking at the four examples I have provided here, I would experience the sadness and emptiness many times per year. Each time I would wonder what was wrong with me, and worry that whatever it was might get worse. Would I feel more sad and more upset on my next birthday?
Until you deal with your issues, they will keep coming up and you will keep being upset by them. Going to therapy really did help me understand where these feelings were coming from and why certain events triggered them. I still feel some or all of these feelings at birthdays and Christmas, but now I understand where they come from and why they happen. This removes the worry and fear. If I don’t have to be afraid of my feelings I can enjoy things a lot more.