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Month: March 2018

External Validation

External validation is something that many human beings struggle with. As somebody who lives with panic and anxiety, I often want reassurance from other people when it isn’t necessarily the most healthy thing for me. It’s hard to be able to reassure yourself and show yourself that things are going to be OK when you don’t actually feel that inside. Maybe you’re afraid or you can’t see a way out of what’s happening to you. Believe me, I have been there and it’s not a fun land to visit. It’s filled with rocks that you accidentally trip over, strangers who aren’t kind to you, and signs that lead you in the wrong direction even though it says it’s the right one. Seeking constant reassurance from others can develop into an unhealthy addictive pattern. When you find that you continually ask friends and family to show you that it’s going to be all right that isn’t allowing you the chance to find out that it will work out. Whether you do that by asking people in person or on social media, these are both methods of reassurance seeking.

And here’s the thing: you don’t always have to know how it’s going to be all right, things have a funny way of working themselves out. Another brutal truth that may be hard to swallow is that it might not be okay, but that doesn’t mean that YOU won’t be okay. Whatever happens, you will always have yourself and you can get through hard situations. Remember that you are strong and even though you might not be able to see that at the moment, it’s the truth. The idea behind coping mechanisms and self-soothing is to stay away from this reassurance-seeking behavior.

However, reassurance seeking, I hate to break it to you, but it is legitimately addictive. It can make you feel weak in the end. I reality you are strong and when you can’t see that you have the tools to handle the unknown, it feeds into an unhealthy pattern. To break that addiction it’s important to learn the proper coping mechanisms to help yourself feel better rather than relying on other people to make you feel better. Because in reality that’s a temporary fix and other people don’t have the power to make you feel whole. You have the power to heal and living with a mental illness is challenging as it is. You don’t need someone else to fix you or reassure you that things work out in the end. Sometimes we don’t know if they’ll work out in the end and that’s OK. That’s the nature of life and we do not have to know. So if you’re looking to reassure yourself by asking another person, it’s not worth it.

Search yourself for the ability to cope and change. Even if it seems like it is in there you will find it by working with your therapist. I believe in you. I believe in me and I believe that we can do this.

This is Not About Me, It’s About You

It’s not about me, it’s about you. I want too many things, I need too much, too often, and at once. What is too much anyway? The only things that are too much are quantifiable. Like when you pour a liquid into a cup and it overflows, or when you’re told to only write a 10-page paper and you write a 37 page one. Those are things that have numbers and we are able to understand their ability to overflow or be “too much.” That’s the kind of thing that goes overboard.

With people, it isn’t about an objective “too much” or excess. It’s about what another person can handle. Maybe they’re at a point in their lives when they can’t be involved in anything serious. Perhaps the person isn’t able to cope with intense emotions because they are a passionate feeling person. When you’re already a passionate person and you engage with another intense individual emotional explosions are bound to happen. This is where the potential for volatile relationships can occur. Fire and fire together breed a stronger vibrant fire and that’s what happens with the intensity of two people who feel deeply.

It’s not about me, it’s about you. You might not be able to give me what I need because you don’t have it. My darkness isn’t your responsibility but rather it’s mine. Yes, you can hold me, comfort me, tell me to breathe and stay strong. You can remind me of my fortitude and ability to conquer things, but you can’t save me. I’m starting to believe that we can’t even save ourselves. We’re all a little bit broken and those parts don’t need saving, they need love, nurturing, understanding and compassion.

We don’t need to be glued back together, we need to be listened to. There is power in being silent and hearing someone, actually listening to them and what they need.

When you need support from other people, that need, that want, that desire can feel overwhelmingly strong; so strong that it’s likened to the need for food or water. The vacancy within yourself causes you to seek to fill that void somewhere else with someone else. That void cannot be filled by someone else. It might feel like they’ve satisfied it for a moment, a day, an hour, a minute, but it isn’t a permanent solution. It is only a temporary measure to fix a deeper problem. You are putting sand into a bucket with a hole, but you can’t see the hole. The hole is so small that it feels like it’s not even there.

It’s not about me, it’s about you. It is about what I want from you but as much as you want to fix it, repair me, that’s not possible. I don’t need to be put back together by you or anyone. I am working on accepting my broken parts and loving them. I see them as a valid part of me and working on nurturing who they are. They didn’t ask to break, they were broken without their consent. Don’t blame them. Love them instead.

Finding the answer within

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Well, the important thing is that you figure it out. But sometimes we are clueless when it comes to that. It’s not like you can just stop and have an instant solution. You can’t snap your fingers and be OK with the unknown. There are times when you need to go inward and it seems like you don’t want to be around people but it’s not that, it’s that you need to find your inner strength and accept the solution when it comes to you naturally.

Sometimes a solution isn’t on the surface; if you are patient with yourself (which I know is hard to do because I struggle with that myself) you’ll find something that makes sense to you and don’t think about other people; think about what is important to you and makes the most sense for you and your life. You don’t need to feel guilty for putting yourself first. You don’t need to explain yourself to anybody because this is your life.

Yes, I am talking to myself because that’s what I do when I’m not sure how to handle the situation.

That’s situation is life, and life gives you some major unexpected things that you don’t always know how to handle. The goal is to learn and hopefully grow through trauma and pain and things that we cannot control.

There is no one to my knowledge that has been prepared for anything and everything in life because that is emotionally and physically impossible. And would you want it that way? I wouldn’t actually, I want to be able to respond to things with the tools that I’ve developed and work to conquer things because of my inner fortitude. I don’t want to make people angry by needing too much and asking for what I can actually give myself if I can think for a moment. A single pause can be so profound. Have you ever stopped when you want to go? Have you ever frozen when you want to run? That’s what I need to do right now. If I act before I think my whole life will change without my consent. That’s exactly what I don’t want to happen. So this is where I leave you. Where I say, I’ll see you when I come out of this mind puzzle. All the pieces are here but my negative thought patterns are disguising them. Where are the simple solutions? That’s right, there are none. That’s why I have a sword and a backpack with an arsenal of tools that I can use. I can cut through the thoughts like unwanted weeds in a garden and find who and what I am seeking. There is no permanence to this path. Only the promise of uncertainty.

I’m with you on this journey even if we don’t know each other. Because we are all living except if you’re an alien and then I don’t know to tell you.

Childhood on The UWS

It was nice seeing one of my oldest friends today. It brought me back to my childhood on the UWS. Walking up 87th Street, seeing the crack dens. I passed the halfway house. Saw the Vietnam Veteran who had TBI and talked to himself. I was told a grenade blew up in front of him. I didn’t know what TBI was when I was seven. I knew that he seemed sad and scared. I used to count crack vials in my elementary school playground because they were colorful. Pizza was its own food group.

Central Park was my backyard and Pepsi was always in the fridge. It was a strange mixture of middle class, rich people, poor people and homeless people. As a child, I didn’t understand any of this. I just knew that I had a red cabinet that mysteriously had food it in. My childhood can’t be replicated today because organic is trendy and people don’t make fun of the peanut butter you can make yourself at the health food store. They think it’s genius instead.

I don’t know where I was going with this except to say that I remember many things, and I don’t know what my children will remember.