I guess I’m thinking about this because a lot of my friends with anxiety or mood disorders of some kind still have a lot of the same fears and frustrations from childhood that everybody else seems to have gotten past. It might just be me, but I think it’s a lot more difficult to let go of things when you have a mind that holds onto absolutely everything and won’t shut up for five seconds.
For instance, my husband has a lot of anxiety about money. There’s a good reason for this-I’ve had so many problems working, which is why I feel like a sorry sack of bipolar scum most of the time. We also went through all of our savings within nine months because I had an accident that rendered me unable to work much for seven months and racked up obscene amounts of bills and stress. But that’s not the point; the point is that any time I mention wanting or needing something, he gets nervous. I know he has anxiety issues, which I guess is one thing that makes him so understanding of the problems I’ve had. He tells me he loves me all the time, that I’m really good for him. I believe it. He’s a lot more than I deserve. Even so, it makes me feel the same way I did when my parents would balk when I needed or wanted anything that cost a lot of money. They didn’t say anything, but they really didn’t have to. The “look” they got on their faces when I mentioned needing $25 for a field trip or $70 to have a new color guard uniform made was enough to make me feel like I did something wrong.
As it turns out, they were having money issues because the treatments my sister got earlier on (doctors, rehab etc) were expensive to the point where they thought they’d have to go bankrupt. At least, this is what my dad told my brother about five years ago. I did not know any of this-I thought that they sent her away because she was bad and they didn’t want her anymore. I feared that, if I wasn’t perfect, I’d be sent away too. If I upset them too much the way she did…and money seemed to be the main thing they got upset about. I used to think that I would probably have turned out less sensitive or whatever had I known some of these things, but whatever. They did the best they could. I know nobody is going to send me away now, just like nobody would have then. Even so, the looks and demeanor my husband sometimes takes when I mention money makes me feel like that ten-year-old kid worried that she did something wrong or the 17-year-old who ran to her room crying when she told her dad how much the “senior stuff” (cap, gown, yearbooks, etc) would cost.
But I’m not a kid anymore. My husband has gotten a lot better about getting nervous and ranting for the same reason-my dad used to do that and it scared the living crap out of me. He didn’t mean to; it just did. To this day, it scares me when a man screams at me in anger. But I’m not a kid anymore. So why should it? Why do I still worry or think I’ve done something wrong anytime someone seems the slightest bit less than happy with me? Or when they seem miffed, period? I know that most people aren’t aware of how their words or non-verbal cues (tone of voice, body language etc) come across. So why do I still pay so much attention to it?
I know I’m not alone in this. It’s just that I think there’s something about the minds of myself and other friends with similar issues (I have a friend with OCD in mind) that holds onto things others would ignore and, in doing so, misses the primary stuff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it can actually be quite helpful when you’re studying things like philosophy or religion where there are multiple layers you have to sift through. I didn’t realize this before, but one symptom of OCD is unwanted and distressing thoughts. I thought it was just about germs or whatever since that’s what all the movies show, but I learned that my obsession with body odor* and the scary thoughts I’d had about hurting my cats or wondering what would happen if I pushed my Spanish professor off a balcony (no, I didn’t do it) can point back to that too. I don’t want to say I have PTSD because I haven’t had anything traumatic happen that bothers me, but I wonder if people who *do* have even more problems because of the way our minds won’t let anything go.
I think I might have gotten off track here, but my question still stands. Do we ever really forget the things we learned about ourselves when we were growing up? Even if the “lessons” were false, do we ever forget about the bad things we learned enough to focus on the good things? Do we ever get past the memories and the feelings that they bring to light? Or are we destined to mentally become our ten-year-old selves when something goes wrong?
I was going to a great therapist last year, but I had to stop because we couldn’t afford it. I’ve joined a ladies’ depression support group that I think is helping, if only because I get to get out of the house and talk with people outside of our social circle. In fact, that’s what we talked about last week-how simply seeing friends in a different setting that usual can be very helpful.
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be able to motivate myself enough to write more paid articles rather than playing Pet Rescue Saga and randomly babbling here. If anyone else is in the same “hold onto everything”, tell me in the comments. Maybe then we can figure out how to keep it from sinking.
* Don’t laugh. If you had enough people from high school saying you stink both behind your back and to your face, you’d have a complex too.