Self-sabotage.

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I think I had an interesting therapy session last night. I was talking to my therapist about the way my father stole the little illustrated stories I wrote when I was about 7 (which I wrote about in this article). This long ago incident seems to have set the tone for my entire life, because after I’d realized my intensely personal little creations (that were intended for no eyes but my own) were stolen, I felt overcome with shame and I felt as violated as if I’d been raped (and I have been raped so I can vouch for the similar feeling of violation). I remember what I did with those little books after I stole them back: I destroyed them.

This has been a refrain throughout my entire life.  It’s like that song you hate that keeps playing in your head until you’re ready to shoot yourself in the head to make it go away.  During my session last night, I made this connection: whenever I felt there was a threat of something that came from my true self (usually related to my creativity which meant being vulnerable) being violated or taken away, I sought to destroy it. Sometimes this “destruction” simply meant losing interest in whatever it was or giving it up. When I was 19, I had some expensive camera equipment and loved to take pictures as a hobby. When my 35mm camera (which I’d saved for months for) got stolen one day, I gave up photography. Only recently, have I been taking pictures again (on a crappy Smartphone).

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But there are other examples where something wasn’t literally stolen from me as my camera was or my illustrated books were, but where my boundaries were violated (or I perceived them to be violated, or believed they were about to be violated). I’ve never stuck with anything I loved doing for too long, because sooner or later it wasn’t just “mine” anymore and it was either held up for judgment, or criticized (to me, these feel like boundary violations and make me feel too vulnerable). For several months I’ve been struggling with trying to figure out why I’ve been losing interest in blogging, which has been so life-changing for me and has brought me so much happiness. I realized it was because “running naked in public,” while incredibly liberating and having many rewards, also means you’re vulnerable to judgment and criticism. I don’t know how to handle judgment and criticism. I take everything too personally; any sort of criticism is a personal assault–again, like being raped. Even worse is having to deal with trolls and bullies, which feels like gang rape (and reminds me of my childhood at the hands of bullies both at school and at home).

A person with a healthy sense of self and normal self esteem might feel somewhat offended by a hurtful comment, but would be able to move on from that and wouldn’t give up or find themselves losing interest in something they’re passionate about. They might even fight back or take a stand. But when I’m attacked, or even criticized, I get triggered and become the defenseless and helpless child I used to be (and that I rejected a long time ago). I can’t handle reality, which means confronting both the good and the bad. And so to avoid being “raped” again, I’ve turned off my ability to be interested by much of anything at all (and then resent the hell out of whoever I feel violated me). That way, I don’t put myself at risk of being judged, which in my mind always leads to being rejected. Tied in with this is the fear of failure: I was raised to believe I was incompetent, so if I don’t attempt anything, I can’t really fail at it. Right? But the bottom line is, hiding behind my fear of failure is a absolute terror of being found defective, and hence rejected.

I don’t know whether this unfortunate tendency of mine is indicative of BPD, C-PTSD, or Covert NPD or something else (I do not know what my therapist has diagnosed me with and I’m afraid to ask), but I think writing about this is a step in the right direction. I want to explore this further when I see my therapist again and am going to show him this post (he knows I have a blog and write about psychology and NPD, but I haven’t shared the link with him yet).

14 thoughts on “Self-sabotage.

  1. I would ask your therapist what your actual diagnosis is just so you know for sure, instead of having to guess. Great post. I don’t know if that’s what I’m going through as well, in a way. I’m feeling very numb right now. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism or something. I’ll have to think about it and maybe I can blog about it. Thanks for this post!

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    • She does not have an illness. This brave woman is simply sharing her insight that is aware of what’s hidden. We all as humans must be brave to seek the inner most depths of our soul. To do this will mean things rise up, but unlike what the world lies about, finding something like this woman has expressed does not mean she is mentally ill.

      Please seek God for insight to your numbness. God leads His people out of darkness, but for a season or seasons, we have to choose to face our darkness so we can grow to see what is chaining us. Because by seeing, it’s how we become free.

      We are human beings, not robots. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Again, if you rely upon man or science solely to judge what’s wrong with you or others, the bigger picture will be missed, and when missed, so will the healing.

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  2. Sometimes, the manner in which people show that they disagree, or share their opinions can seem poisonous. It hurts a lot to be on the receiving end of their wrath. I’m dealing with this too, in a different arena. I’m not good at it-I disassociate and shut down….then I think about getting out the invisible shield. Thank you for sharing this💜

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    • I’m sorry you go through that too. I agree with you the manner of criticism makes a huge difference too. If it’s “constructive criticism” offered with kindness sometimes I can handle that.
      You mention the invisible arena–does that mean “disappearing”? I’ve also had the dissociative/shutting down episodes–shutting off my emotions and then I feel just weird and out of my body sometimes–is that what it’s like for you?

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      • I don’t want to believe there’s anything wrong with you. I can’t process that the person that writes all this wisdom thinks they are so messed up. I’m so sorry for what you went through as a child and adult being surrounded by so many narcissists.
        As to shutting down emotionally, I love it, but it’s difficult for me to maintain. I’m telling you, I don’t think we should shed all of our defense mechanisms because some of them are great. I mean it’s a harsh world. We can use all the help we can get. What do you think? L, I’m proud of you for blogging about everything and all the progress you’re making. I know you can achieve everything you want.

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        • Thanks Pam, and yes, I do think I’m that *messed up* lol but I’m not insane and therefore am aware of the ways I’m messed up and more than willing to do as much work on myself as necessary to overcome my setbacks. Sensitive people do have a harder time adapting to the f*cked up world we live in, but when you think about it, the psychologist RD Lange was right: “Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane world.”

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      • That’s exactly how it feels for me. It happens at work, home, church….and the trigger can be just hearing other people-it doesn’t even have to be directed toward me. I try to ground myself, but my body doesn’t like to feel the emotional pull.

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  3. You are a hero to me. The words you speak speak right to my heart in every blog you post. You are a brave soul to be vulnerable. I know the feeling when writing aka sharing your heart with anyone at this level but especially publicly. It feels exhilarating to find the words to heal and then to feel a healing. However more and more I feel icky inside that I showed my heart for all to see. It’s like it is self sabotoge in ways which is hard to understand because isn’t sharing meant to help us and others? So why do we feel so icky in being vulnerable? Why do we care so much what others think? My motto is if one person is helped than my sharing it worth it, however I tend to forget my motto when attacked, criticized by others that I have to begin all over again repeating the mantra to myself. I do want you to know that what you write and when you write what you do has an amazing alignment with where I am standing. I believe if your vulnerability is helping me, it is helping many others.

    This morning I woke feeling guilty for a friend driving to see me. I saw your title of this post “self sabotage” in my email notifications and put two and two together and so was able to just let my friend be a friend. We are all definitely working out our pasts but there is such a deep processing that never seems to end. I was a scapegoat by my family and with the awakening, I have no family left. I actually have one friend remaining as I began to pick out the weeds I saw were not healthy relationships for me. But being alone while it helps grow us into healing, I notice there is a season facing our inner demons of having been criticized our entire lives not in love but through secretive selfish hate against us by people we loved and so thought could love the way we do.

    Your blogs mean so much to me. Please know what a difference in my life you are making in just not feeling so alone, in all ways you speak about but hidden is the feeling you just spoke about, the vulnerability that we possess so able to kneel down to while in a world refusing to be vulnerable. Humbleness is a gift. Humbleness is pureness of the heart. We must fight to remember, we are persecuted against because we are pure within. So be it, right? It’s worth spreading love and comfort and peace. It’s worth facing our fears so that we can break free from them. If we don’t face this vulnerability, we won’t break chains. But we must, if we desire to be set free. So it sounds like universally, some souls like you and I (and others) are enduring a significant chain that wants to keep us chained. However I have faith and trust, we shall also overcome this. Much love to you. You are a hero in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bridget,
      Your words mean a lot to me. It isn’t easy being vulnerable and I’ll tell you what else–if you’re a blogger and find yourself confused and shifting between being vulnerable and wanting to hide/run away/deny the truth like I do, you will be accused by some of giving mixed messages. I know I do sometimes give mixed messages and it is confusing–after all, I grew up hearing nothing BUT mixed messages (you’re the best/you’re terrible, etc.) and sometimes being rewarded and punished for the very same things! You’re never sure where you stand or where your footing is. I guess that’s part of having BPD. I agree there’s some evil forces in the world that want to keep the most vulnerable among us chained and silented, and that’s because we are by nature the truth tellers. Unfortunately many of us have been silenced and few will find a way out into the light, but some will. I want to be free of these chains and by blogging and writing about my feelings, that is happening, but there are setbacks along the road because there are narcs everywhere you go who wish to keep holding you down, and some of these narcs pretend to be anything but. Some of them insist they are “only trying to help.” Yeah, right. Those are the most dangerous kind. You have to be vigilant. If they seem smarmy and self-righteous in their “good intentionedness,” or you get a bad vibe from someone, LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCT AND WATCH OUT. Knowing where to draw the line between healthy vigilance and hypervigilance (which does nothing but hold you back and keep you in chains) is very difficult to do. It takes a lot of courage!

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  4. Self-sabotage, or self-negative talk, which I find myself doing (too) often may be the least fixable and is, I would guess, a common symptom of a whole range of mental disorders. I never knew what my diagnosis was many moons ago when I was treated in psychological (“talk” I guess) therapy. In fact, it was so long ago it would probably be called something different now, anyway. In any case, in addition to the negative way I spoke to myself about myself then I, like you, took any criticism from others, and however it may have been delivered to me, even if not in a derogatory or negative manner or intended to be such, always heard or construed it as a negative. One of the first healthy results I achieved from therapy was to break off relationships where all I heard, in fact, was negative, with the thought that I didn’t need to hear criticism from someone else since I was so good at giving it to myself already.

    A continuing “symptom/problem” I still have is to be defensive about anything I have done that I perceive to be bad or wrong, even if people around me assure me that it wasn’t bad or wrong and sometimes is not even in my power to correct. I felt this often in my last job, and not unjustly so as I documented many of the negative and derogatory comments made by my boss about my approach to doing the work which, in the end, I felt were really made about me and my value as a person. This twit did, however, make one appropriate observation, and I wish he had thought about this before speaking to me sometimes. He said that hearing ten attaboys will never feel as good as hearing one criticism which will make you feel bad. I’m not sure I even heard ten attaboys from him in the 3 years I did that job, though I know I heard at least ten criticisms..

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