I think if you are someone who is even slightly self aware or self critical you will have events that stand out in your life, events that mark certain behaviours or traits that you aren’t particularly proud of. What counselling does is it takes these individual events, lays them out side by side and a pattern begins to form. I have been discovering my pattern through my counselling and it is completely overwhelming.
I don’t think I matter. Put in its simplest form, my biggest problem is that I don’t believe I matter.
Now I don’t walk around showing this belief to others, I walk around with a cleverly crafted, well thought out, confident persona. I have spent years learning how to be to get by in social situations. I can pay lip service to the feminist movement and in fact when it comes to others, I completely and sincerely believe they are incredibly important in their own unique way. But for me, I just fake it.
The thing about a belief system is that when you have a strongly held belief you look for signs to reaffirm it. A Christian doesn’t go around looking for signs that God does not exist, nor does a anti-vaxer look for reasons to vaccinate their children. We believe what we believe and then we find the evidence to back it up. I believe I don’t matter and then I use my experiences viewed from a particular angle to keep me justified in my belief.
A recent example was this past weekend. Nick and I were looking into finally getting our life insurance sorted and it occurred to me that financially, our family would lose very little in the event of my death. Life would pretty much carry on, especially once the kids were all in school. On the other hand, if Nick died – I’d be screwed. On a practical level I can absolutely be lifted out of my life and not much would change. A cleaner could be hired (and they’d do a better job), a childminder would be employed (and my kids would probably watch less tv) and on it would go – all my contributions to our family could be replaced.
There is a part of me that knows this isn’t entirely true. I know that my mum was more than a cook, cleaner and child minder. She is still one of the most important people in the world to me and I know that at least in some part I am important to my kids. However, the part of me that knows this is much weaker, much quieter than the loud, brash and cruel voice seeking further evidence of my unimportance.
My counsellor and I have discussed how I could start to ‘indulge’ myself a little. Allow myself things I normally wouldn’t to show myself some love. Do you know what I did? I decided to take away the two parts of my diet that bring me joy – Pepsi max (yes, I know I shouldn’t drink it but when you don’t drink tea/coffee/alcohol, water can get boring) and chocolate. I, in my infinite wisdom decided that I could no longer justify the expense of Pepsi max and that chocolate was simply just a waste of calories. So at a time when I am already feeling quite low, I took away the things that have proven to cheer me up throughout the day. Why did I do this? My counsellor feels that perhaps it’s because just by discussing the possibility of indulging myself, the cruel part of my brain wants to punish the rebellious thoughts and I think he’s right. I have fully conditioned myself to constrict, restrict and deny myself in every aspect of my life that even the mere fleeting thought of being kind and loosening the reins is shut down before it can materialise.
These patterns of behaviour and toxic thought cycles I get myself into are making me incredibly sad this week. I feel like I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to start and I feel completely hopeless. So as I sit here, craving a Pepsi or perhaps a bar of chocolate, I feel overwhelmed and like the only thing I want to do right now is curl up and go to sleep.