6 “useless” emotions that aren’t useless, and 2 that really are useless.

Originally posted on July 10, 2016

negative-emotions-crop

I get tired of the positive thinking brigade who tells you you always must be happy and that there’s no place for “negative” emotions.   Not only is it obnoxious to wear a pasted on smile all the time even when you’re not feeling it, it’s not natural or healthy.   Of course, being a positive person who thinks positive thoughts is a good thing, but when it’s taken to ridiculous extremes (and it certainly is in my family, where “negative” emotions are not accepted or allowed) it can be soul-damaging.   Following is a list of unpopular (or “useless”) emotions that definitely have their uses (when they’re not excessive).  There are only two emotions I can think of that have no uses whatsoever, and I’ll describe those last.

1. Guilt.

My father always used to tell everyone that guilt was an unhealthy, useless emotion, but I couldn’t disagree more.   True, excessive guilt is bad for you, but the right amount of guilt separates people with a conscience from the psychopaths. I pointed out this to my father once, and he became enraged.   Hmmm, I wonder why!   The ability to feel guilt keeps us civilized and mindful of the feelings of others.

2. Sadness.

Sadness is a normal reaction to a loss.  It also connects people in those times of loss.  We have socially sanctioned rituals that promote and even encourage the expression of sadness (funerals) but otherwise, people are uncomfortable with the sadness of another and are always trying to cheer you up.   If you’re crying, people always want you to stop. Why?  Feeling sad and crying can be healing; if sadness is repressed it can lead to something much worse–depression.   People need to just shut up and let you be sad and cry if that’s what you need to do.

3. Anger.

There are times it’s appropriate to be angry.    Anger, though toxic both to yourself and others when excessive,  helps you survive.  If you feel threatened or feel that someone close to you is threatened, you are going to fight back.  The only other survival option is to flee (which I’ll talk about next).   Otherwise you’re just going to stand there and let yourself or your loved ones get attacked or treated badly.    Excessive anger, of course, leads to hatred, and hatred is not only useless, it’s dangerous to the soul.

4. Fear.

If you can’t fight (sometimes you can’t), you can flee danger.   Like anger, fear is a survival emotion.   It can be excessive, leading to anxiety disorders, but fear in normal doses is both healthy and appropriate reactions to danger.   It’s important to distinguish whether it’s better to flee (fear) or to fight (anger).

5. Jealousy.

I’m not talking about envy here, an emotion often confused with jealousy.  But they are not the same.   Jealousy refers to the fear that someone is taking something you love away from you; envy refers to wanting what someone else has.  There are similarities though. Both are bitter, painful emotions, hard to deal with.  Sometimes they lead to people attacking the object of their jealousy or envy to “even the score.”   But jealousy has its place.   It’s another survival emotion, similar to anger mixed with fear, that warns you that something that belongs to you is in danger of being taken away.   The problem is jealousy often crops up when there is no real danger of that happening, and that leads to all kinds of problems.  Excessive jealousy can actually be self-defeating and drive what you love away from you — the most obvious example is constantly asking someone you’re in a relationship with if they are seeing someone else, or snooping in their things to find out.  That sort of behavior will eventually drive the other person away.

6. Envy.

I hesitated to put envy here, because on the surface it really doesn’t seem to have any useful purpose.  I almost put it as one of the “useless” emotions I’ll be describing last.  But envy does have one useful aspect.  If it’s not excessive, it can be a motivator, making you take action to improve your own circumstances.   When it’s used that way, it’s really more akin to admiration than envy.   The problem with envy is it can so often turn so bitter that it saps all your energy and lowers your self esteem, making you LESS likely to improve your circumstances or achieve the things you want.

The Two Emotions That Really Are Useless.  

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1. Worry.

I heard a great saying once:  “Worry is useless because if what you dread comes to pass, then you’ve lived through it twice; if it never happens, then your worry was in vain.”  I took those words to heart because of how true they are.   Worry is absolutely useless.  If faced with a potentially bad or dangerous situation, worry won’t help you.  If something can be done to prevent the situation from happening, taking action will help,  and once you take action, then there’s nothing more to worry about.   If there’s no action you can take, then worrying about it is a waste of time.  Better to plan how you will deal with it when it happens, than to sit around wringing your hands, pulling out your hair, and making yourself sick over it.

2. Shame.

Shame must be distinguished here from guilt.  Guilt refers to something you did, while shame refers to the person you are.  Guilt is useful because without it, there would be no apologies or amend-making for bad behavior.   People would just go around doing whatever they want, regardless of how it makes others feel.   Shame, on the other hand, is useless because it means feeling sorry not for something you did, but for who you are.  If you were the family scapegoat, then you were the receptacle for all the family shame, and were made to feel like you’re worthless and don’t deserve to live.    Shame is the one emotion that is at the core of all the personality disorders and every case of complex PTSD generated by familial abuse.  It’s incredibly toxic–probably the most toxic emotion there is, and it has about as much usefulness as a bicycle does for a fish.

For more about shame vs. guilt, please read Carrie Musgrove’s article about the important distinctions.

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Mystery package!

package

It drives me crazy when I get one of those orange slips from the Post Office saying I got a package or certified letter but am not there to sign for it. Being the worrywart and catastrophizer I am, I always imagine the worst. Is the IRS auditing me? Did someone die? Is it an eviction notice?   What kind of bad news is it anyway?  I mean, it HAS to be bad news.  Right? What else could it be?

Well, to be fair, I’ve also received certified letters for JUNK MAIL.  Those just get thrown out when I finally go to the trouble of driving to the post office and turn in my slip.  And then I get really mad.  Why are they wasting my time (and theirs)?  Why would anyone send junk mail that way anyway?  So, it could be that.  It could be junk mail. Please God, let it be junk mail.   I’d rather be annoyed than get bad news.

I was actually sleeping when the notice came. I think I remember hearing a vague knock on the door, but I wasn’t awake enough to register it in my head as something real at the door.

nervous

Of COURSE, when I woke up, it was 10 minutes past twelve, ten minutes too late for me to go to the post office to fetch whatever catastrophic news I was about to receive. And of COURSE, the Sender was left blank.  Grrrrr. So I went online to the USPS website and typed in the long number on the back of the slip.  I HAD TO KNOW.

Well.  It turned out the sender is from the city where my dad lived and his wife still lives. You may recall my dad passed away June 6th of last year. I still have no idea what I received, but I’m thinking it might be some of the old pictures of me and other things I’d requested from his wife months ago. Maybe it’s even that pastel portrait of me at age six! I’ve wanted that for a long time but I was sure it was thrown out with the trash. It still may have been. I still have no idea what  I’m getting, but at least now I know where it’s coming from so it most likely has something to do with my dad.

I really hope I’m getting some of those old pictures or my portrait. Fingers crossed!

My stupid ego stands in the way of empathy.

pride_humility

There’s been something on my mind that’s been bothering me a lot, but I’ve hesitated posting about it because it makes me sound like a terrible person.  But I’ve always aimed to be honest on this blog, so I’m not going to make an exception this time.

A few weeks ago, I made a new online friend.  She’s in a severe depression right now due to receiving some bad news. She was so grief-stricken she had to go into the hospital and get treated for her depression.   Since then she’s been confiding in me by email, because she’s too shy to publicly comment about her situation.   For about a week or two, we corresponded almost daily.   Our emails to each other were long and deeply personal, and they proved therapeutic for me as well as for her.

I’m no therapist, but I’m always willing to correspond via email and try to direct people to the proper resources or actually help them directly if I can.   I felt like I could relate to this woman; I identified with a lot of her issues. She said she felt the same way about me.  I began to think of her as a friend, someone I cared deeply about, even though we never met and we’d only been corresponding for such a short time.   I felt a great deal of empathy for her situation.  These empathic feelings are  something rather new for me, because only recently I was too busy working on my own issues and trying to recover from my own trauma that I didn’t have the time or inclination or even the ability to really be able to empathize with anyone else.   Lately though, I’ve been rediscovering the empathy I possessed so much of as a child, and it’s a beautiful and wonderful thing.  I want it to keep growing because it makes it easier for me to connect with people and makes it possible for me to be authentic and help someone else in need, which is what I’ve been aiming to do more of.

My new friend told me that writing to me helped her a lot, and I was extremely touched by this.  I told her she was helping me too, which is true.   I began to look forward to her emails, because, well, the things she told me made me feel good.   I felt my ego puffing up with pride like a loaf of baking bread.   I began checking my inbox several times a day to see if there were any new emails.  I was getting a little obsessed, to be honest.  I was jonesing for that feeling of being needed, of feeling like I was important to someone, of knowing that someone I liked and cared for valued me that much.

I haven’t heard back from her in a few days.  Now I’m becoming insecure and hypervigilant and wondering if I said something wrong or overstepped her boundaries or if she just got tired of writing to me.    I kept reading over our emails trying to find anything, any hint at all, that I might have said something offputting that ran her off or made her want to stop emailing me.   I found nothing but obsessively, I kept looking.

After 3 days of no correspondence, I finally emailed her again.  I was extra careful not to sound too needy, and because she’s so fragile right now and came to me for help (and not the other way around), I tried extra hard to not to project my own “stuff” into my email to her.  I read it over several times and it sounded alright to me, but I still worry she may be able to pick up on my neediness.

I realized with horror that my worry about her possibly abandoning me was more powerful than my concern that she might have had to go back into the hospital (or just couldn’t get online, or was busy, or whatever).    My insecurity made my email sound more stilted and less natural than usual.  I no longer feel like I can be as open and honest, because of my own stupid fears of being offensive or overbearing and making her think badly of me.  It isn’t her fault I feel like this–it’s my own ego getting in the way of the real empathy I have for this person.

This happens to me all the time, and is one of the reasons I’ve sometimes thought I’m actually a narcissist.  Everything is always about me, my ego, what other people are thinking about me, am I being validated, am I still valued by them, are they going to leave me, do they secretly hate me?  Even when all the evidence is to the contrary, I still look for the microscopic speck of dirt in my bowl of ice cream–and always find it even though it isn’t really there.

Yes, I do have empathy–and a lot more of it has been freed to me lately–but when there’s any uncertainty or insecurity and I begin to feel hypervigilant and paranoid.  I start fretting that maybe I’m being deliberately ignored or God forbid, abandoned, and all that wonderful, healing empathy I’m learning how to use goes flying out the window and everything becomes all about me and my stupid ego again.

I still care about this individual and want to help her, but I want my empathy to flow naturally and my ego to stay out of it, because all that does is fuck everything up.  I’ve been praying for this to change, because how can I ever really be of help to anyone else if I’m always worried about what other people are thinking about me?   This isn’t about me; it’s about her and trying to help her heal, not getting some sort of ego boost for myself.

I’m not going to email her again.   I’ll just wait now, and if I never hear from her again, I can live with that.   Maybe she got what she needed from me–the encouragement she needed–and that should be enough.   I hope she is okay.

If nothing else, then I have learned a hard lesson about pride and ego: pride comes before the fall.  True empathy requires humility and the ability to set your own ego outside the door.

6 “useless” emotions that aren’t useless, and 2 that really are useless.

negative-emotions-crop

I get tired of positive thinking nazis  who tell you you always have to be happy and that there’s no place for “negative” emotions.   Not only is it obnoxious to wear a pasted on smile all the time even when you’re not feeling it, it’s not natural or healthy.   Of course, being a positive person who thinks positive thoughts is a good thing, but when it’s taken to ridiculous extremes (and it certainly is in my family, where “negative” emotions are not accepted or allowed) it can be soul-damaging.   Following is a list of unpopular (or “useless”) emotions that definitely have their uses (when they’re not excessive).  There are only two emotions I can think of that have no uses whatsoever, and I’ll describe those last.

1. Guilt.

My father always used to tell everyone that guilt was an unhealthy, useless emotion, but I couldn’t disagree more.   True, excessive guilt is bad for you, but the right amount of guilt separates people with a conscience from the psychopaths. I pointed out this to my father once, and he became enraged.   Hmmm, I wonder why!   The ability to feel guilt keeps us civilized and mindful of the feelings of others.

2. Sadness.

Sadness is a normal reaction to a loss.  It also connects people in those times of loss.  We have socially sanctioned rituals that promote and even encourage the expression of sadness (funerals) but otherwise, people are uncomfortable with the sadness of another and are always trying to cheer you up.   If you’re crying, people always want you to stop. Why?  Feeling sad and crying can be healing; if sadness is repressed it can lead to something much worse–depression.   People need to just shut up and let you be sad and cry if that’s what you need to do.

3. Anger.

There are times it’s appropriate to be angry.    Anger, though toxic both to yourself and others when excessive,  helps you survive.  If you feel threatened or feel that someone close to you is threatened, you are going to fight back.  The only other survival option is to flee (which I’ll talk about next).   Otherwise you’re just going to stand there and let yourself or your loved ones get attacked or treated badly.    Excessive anger, of course, leads to hatred, and hatred is not only useless, it’s dangerous to the soul.

4. Fear.

If you can’t fight (sometimes you can’t), you can flee danger.   Like anger, fear is a survival emotion.   It can be excessive, leading to anxiety disorders, but fear in normal doses is both healthy and appropriate reactions to danger.   It’s important to distinguish whether it’s better to flee (fear) or to fight (anger).

5. Jealousy.

I’m not talking about envy here, an emotion often confused with jealousy.  But they are not the same.   Jealousy refers to the fear that someone is taking something you love away from you; envy refers to wanting what someone else has.  There are similarities though. Both are bitter, painful emotions, hard to deal with.  Sometimes they lead to people attacking the object of their jealousy or envy to “even the score.”   But jealousy has its place.   It’s another survival emotion, similar to anger mixed with fear, that warns you that something that belongs to you is in danger of being taken away.   The problem is jealousy often crops up when there is no real danger of that happening, and that leads to all kinds of problems.  Excessive jealousy can be problematic too.

6. Envy.

I hesitated to put envy here, because on the surface it really doesn’t seem to have any useful purpose.  I almost put it as one of the “useless” emotions I’ll be describing last.  But envy does have one useful aspect.  If it’s not excessive, it can be a motivator, making you take action to improve your own circumstances.   When it’s used that way, it’s really more akin to admiration than envy.   The problem with envy is it can so often turn so bitter that it saps all your energy and lowers your self esteem, making you LESS likely to improve your circumstances or achieve the things you want.

The Two Emotions That Really Are Useless.  

useless.stamp

1. Worry.

I heard a great saying once:  “Worry is useless because if what you dread comes to pass, then you’ve lived through it twice; if it never happens, then your worry was in vain.”  I took those words to heart because of how true they are.   Worry is absolutely useless.  If faced with a potentially bad or dangerous situation, worry won’t help you.  If something can be done to prevent the situation from happening, taking action will help,  and once you take action, then there’s nothing more to worry about.   If there’s no action you can take, then worrying about it is a waste of time.  Better to plan how you will deal with it when it happens, than to sit around wringing your hands, pulling out your hair, and making yourself sick over it.

2. Shame.

Shame must be distinguished here from guilt.  Guilt refers to something you did, while shame refers to the person you are.  Guilt is useful because without it, there would be no apologies or amend-making for bad behavior.   People would just go around doing whatever they want, regardless of how it makes others feel.   Shame, on the other hand, is useless because it means feeling sorry not for something you did, but for who you are.  If you were the family scapegoat, then you were the receptacle for all the family shame, and were made to feel like you’re worthless and don’t deserve to live.    Shame is the one emotion that is at the core of all the personality disorders and every case of complex PTSD generated by familial abuse.  It’s incredibly toxic–probably the most toxic emotion there is, and it has about as much usefulness as a bicycle does for a fish.

For more about shame vs. guilt, please read Carrie Musgrove’s article about the important distinctions.

Some timely advice.

My father’s memorial service is today. My son is headed there now.  I woke up feeling overwhelmed with worry over what might happen there.     Then I saw this meme.  Trite or not, I  REALLY needed this today.

stopbeingafraid

There’s also the Serenity Prayer used in 12 step programs.  I’m not in a 12 step program, but this little prayer fits all kinds of situations.  I think I’ll be saying this a lot today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

and the wisdom to know the difference.  

 

My therapist is about to tell me what I have.

what-me-worry2

My therapist has issues with psychiatric labels (as I do), but over the past year I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out exactly what I have, flip-flopping back and forth between Complex PTSD, BPD, Avoidant PD, and even the covert form of NPD. Trying to figure out what I have is driving me nuts!

Although I have a BPD diagnosis (and Avoidant PD), those were given to me in the 1990’s and he has said things that indicate to me he thinks BPD may no longer be accurate. It’s true I don’t act out in Borderline ways the way I used to. But is that because I’ve gotten so good at mindfulness it’s become second nature to not act out, or did I actually manage to somehow cure myself of it? Or was I never a Borderline at all? I think I was–or still am–especially since I was diagnosed with it TWICE).

Complex PTSD seems a likely candidate (if he recognizes diagnoses that are not in the DSM). But here’s the worrisome thing. He has said things in session that make me concerned he may suspect narcissism. Of course I could be reading a lot of things into what he says too based on my worries. I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere on the spectrum though, even if I’m not very high on it. If that’s the case, then I’m back to where I was a few months ago, when I thought I was a covert/fragile narcissist. Or maybe I have something that never even occurred to me I could have, like OCD or Social Anxiety or some dissociative disorder. Maybe I have more than one diagnosis. That’s why this not knowing is driving me insane. I HAVE to know and put a stop to this insanity so I can stop trying to diagnose myself!

We didn’t meet this Thursday because of my lack of funds this week–and I also wanted to attend Holy Thursday services. I didn’t make it to church though because I came home and passed out instead (see my last post). Yesterday I sent my therapist an email letting him know that even though I realized all the drawbacks of psychiatric labels and respected his ambivalence about them, that knowing mine would help me feel more in control. Knowing what he thinks I have would provide me with a sort of closure on all this self-labeling nonsense and I’d be able to focus more on what I’m doing to get better, instead of on “what the hell do I have?” I assured him that anything he told me wouldn’t hurt my feelings, but would come as a relief.

He answered promptly and said he’d be happy to share his opinion with me since I want to know. I see him again Monday and he will tell me then what he thinks. OMG. Of course, at the end of the day, his opinion is just an opinion. But I NEED to know his opinion.

I’m both excited as hell and scared to death.

Yes! I’ll have money soon!

Some of you probably know that for about a month, I’ve been without a drivable car.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be allowed to use the company car, but obviously this can’t be permanent and I’m limited as to where I can take the company car.

A few kind people sent small donations to my car fund (thank you very much to those who contributed!) but the GoFundMe was a bust and I took it down.

I’d been worried about my tax refund (I worry myself into a frenzy every year) which my daughter and I filed together (since she lived with me much of last year).   I had no reason to worry, because it’s more than I expected and should be enough to put at least a good down payment on a decent used car and might even be enough to purchase a used car upfront, if I’m careful.   I’ll be using my 2001 Ford Taurus as a trade-in or I might try selling it on Craigslist first.  It’s got several great things going for it: new tires, a new transmission (rebuilt last year), and an amazing sound system (I will miss that!)   Between the money I get from the car, my tax refund, and the little bit I’ve been able to save from donations, I should have enough.

I was a nervous wreck before DD and I left for the tax preparer, but I came away feeling great because the news was actually good (it always is).   I don’t know why I drive myself insane over this every year.   I waste so much time just worrying and fretting over everything.  Worry flies in the face of faith; if you have enough faith you don’t worry.

After we left the tax preparer’s office, DD and I celebrated by having a late lunch at Waffle House.    I wouldn’t let her take any pictures of me, but here’s a few of her enjoying her meal (and her phone).

rowan_13016 rowan_13016_2 rowan_13016_3

   Worry is useless, because if what you worry about never happens, you’ve worried for naught, and if it does happen, you lived through it twice. — Unknown

On freaking out.

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I shouldn’t freak out so much whenever I post something I’m embarrassed by or ashamed of or that is very personal.
I always forget how good running naked in public can feel.
The outcome is never bad, and always leads to even more self awareness.
How can that be a bad thing?

I’m not alone in freaking out over stuff like this. It seems to be universal, hardwired into the human brain.
Why is there so much shame in making yourself vulnerable, telling your secrets? Does it mean you’re weak? Is it something we should be ashamed of?
I don’t think so. I think being vulnerable and candid means we have the courage to honest even when it hurts, and that makes you stronger than 100 boxes of Wheaties.

I posted an article earlier I was certain would run off most of my readers, cause my friends to leave me, and basically kill this blog.
But that hasn’t happened.
Everyone’s been so supportive.
And I want to tell everyone thank you. I’m glad I did this now.

Worry: the useless emotion.

worry_guy

In recent years, several emotions have been called out as unhealthy or maladaptive for human happiness. These emotions are worry, shame and guilt. In a narcissistic society where selfishness is held as a virtue, these three emotions are indeed maladaptive, especially shame and guilt. But shame and guilt keep us civilized. They keep us from doing bad things to others and they are the reason we have laws such as not murdering someone we don’t like. Shame and guilt (when appropriate, of course) have a pro-social function and are the inner brakes that keep us from hurting others or making restitution if we have. A car with no brakes is a dangerous thing. So is a human being. Shame and guilt are only “bad” when they’re excessive or unnecessary. But a person without the ability to ever feel shame and guilt is a sociopath with no conscience and without the ability to feel empathy for others, not a proper human being.

Worry is a different ball of wax. I can’t think of any good reasons for worry to exist. I’m one of those people who worry all the time, about everything. It’s not a fun emotion and is a huge damper to happiness. Worry is related to fear, but is a little different. Fear has its proper place. It keeps us from being harmed or killed. If we are walking in the woods and a bear blocks our path, it would be stupid to try to reason with the bear or fight it. We feel fear instead, which causes us to run or back away. If we meet a person who gives us the willies, fear is a natural response that keeps us from becoming that person’s victim. We learn to avoid that person. Fear is a survival emotion.

worry_quote

Worry is a kind of fear that isn’t set on the here and now. It’s set on what might happen in the future or sometimes what happened in the past. It causes a person to ruminate excessively and not be able to enjoy what’s taking place right then and there, because they’re too focused on nonexistent events or events that have already taken place and can’t be undone. If you worry constantly about losing your job, that will usually cause you to act less confident and make more mistakes and can even bring on the event you fear the most. If you worry your mate might leave you, your worry causes you to act clingy and possessive, and they could feel smothered and actually leave you. Worrying over things you have no control over is just, well, stupid.

Sometimes people worry about things that have already occurred too. If you snapped at your girlfriend for no reason, you might worry about that because you’re afraid they might leave you. Guilt–not worry–would be appropriate in a situation like this. Guilt will make you apologize to your girlfriend, after which you both feel relief. Worry will do nothing except make you obsess and ruminate over your mistake. Rather than act as an impetus to action or a motivation to correct your mistakes, worry over past events causes you to turn inward and beat yourself up without taking any action.

Some people are addicted to worry though, and go through life imagining the worst things imaginable. It’s impossible to be happy constantly believing the world is a dangerous place full of landmines and booby traps. I have no idea why so many people are addicted to worry, because it’s not a drug that has a pleasant high. It can even kill you because it causes excessive stress which is hard on your body and can lead to illness. I think worry was pounded into those of us who were victimized by narcissists because we lack confidence in our own ability to control the events in our lives. We believe we have no more control over things than a leaf blowing in the wind. But that’s another lie they tell us.

There are a couple of sayings I’ve heard about worry that sum it up pretty well and made me realize just how useless this emotion is.

1. Worrying about something is like paying interest on a debt you never owed.
2. Worry is useless because if the event you fear never happens, you lived through it for nothing; and if the event does happen, you lived through it twice.

Guilt: the great inhibitor.

guilt_worry

When I started this blog, I also made a commitment to 100% honesty about my feelings, no matter what. Doing that was easier than I thought and due to my honesty, I’ve become less fearful of what other people think and my self esteem has improved (though it still has a long way to go to be in the “normal” range).

About a month ago, my parents discovered this blog. My mother, though she’s in her 80’s, is active on social media and has accounts with Facebook and LinkedIn. At first I was horrified, and waited for something terrible to happen.

Nothing did, at least nothing that was evident at first.

I worry less about my father reading this blog, but then again, he’s not an MN and he actually seemed somewhat supportive of what I’m doing. If he objected to my discussing my MN mother in such a negative way, he never let on that he did. My mother, as expected has said nothing. I quietly unfriended her on Facebook because I’m linking my blog posts there now (my profile is set up so only friends can view details), but she can still access this blog directly if she wants to.

And that’s where my problem comes in. Knowing that she is probably reading every word I say is causing me to censor what I post and be about 95% honest instead of 100%. It’s stupid, because she doesn’t approve of me anyway and will say bad things about me to others no matter what. She has for years. So I don’t really understand why I’m so worried about what this 80-something woman might say about this blog to her relatives.

guilty

Every time I want to post something, I’m hesitating if it’s about her. Since it would be dishonest of me to post wonderful, great things about her, I’m finding I’m not posting about her much lately at all.

My mother has terrified me my entire life. Even though I’m in my 50s now and I am very low contact with her (I only went No Contact with my ex), I still worry about what she might be thinking or saying about me. It’s so stupid–what difference could it possibly make? I’m not a child and I’ve already been abandoned emotionally by her, so why do I still care so much? I know I’m never going to win her approval even if I should ever become wildly successful (for her, it wouldn’t count as success because it would be ME) and what else can she say about me that she hasn’t already been saying? I don’t use real names so I can’t be sued. And finally, it’s not as if she hasn’t already read everything I’ve said about her under “My Story” already. There’s nothing worse I can say that I haven’t already said.

I know it’s irrational to censor myself for fear of what she’ll think, but I can’t seem to let go of my fear of her. I know she will never love me or approve of me. But I feel like she can still control me and she still scares me. I know much of this has a lot to do with having been programmed to always feel guilty and ashamed, even though ironically, both my parents believe guilt is a bad emotion.

How many of you have had to face this situation? What did you do to cope with it? I really need some help here, because if I can’t be 100% honest about EVERYTHING, that puts a damper on my healing.