Sometimes You Must Swallow Your Pride and Apologize

Have you ever had a conversation with many friends and felt like half your comments get ignored? I have. Have your friends ever supported stuff their friends did, but never supported you? Even if you asked them to. I have. Have you ever shared your ideas and dreams only to have others give you a blank stare? Or tell you why your ideas will fail? I have. Have you ever found that person who gets you only to drift apart in a couple years? I have. Several times. Have you ever felt ignored and alone in a noisy, crowded world? I have.

Most of the time, when people treat me the way I’ve described, I leave. I usually haven’t known them for long. I move on without much upset. My family often treated me this way and I learned to move on at an early age. Learning to move on is important. But building relationships with others requires sticking around. That’s where I struggle. How do you approach your close friends with these issues? I’ve begun speaking up more. I voice my concerns and share my feelings. I attempt to explain to prevent confusion. I tell them why I’m angry. Sometimes they continue believing I’m angry for another reason.

I thought I was clear. Either they weren’t listening, or I wasn’t clear. I’ve apologized more often. Even when I feel I shouldn’t. I do it to show I’m willing to compromise. I’ve asked for apologies too. Friends have often apologized for the wrong thing, still not understanding why I’m angry. I accept it and move on because I’m tired of arguing. Mark Mathews said, “Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.”

Apologies are hard because people are prideful and full of ego. I’m trying to ignore my ego. With apologies comes forgiveness. I need to work on that. Forgiving people when I feel they ignore or abandon me. When I feel anger or resentment towards someone, the feelings are valid. But that’s when I know I should forgive and apologize. I don’t mean one should feel guilty for being angry. Never feel guilty for feeling. But I am trying to apologize when I take things to personal. I try to apologize when I let my ego get in the way of my relationships with others.

I used to think I wasn’t egotistical. The way most people describe the word, I’m not. But every time I feel alone or think no one cares about me, that’s my ego. I’m so important and no one is paying attention to me. My thoughts are deceivers. My ego uses my thoughts against me. Don’t believe everything you think. Easier said than done. I’ve walked away from people who hurt me. Instead of fixing the problem, I ran from it. Sometimes you must remove yourself from a situation. Sometimes you have to work things out. I’m alone because I pushed myself into loneliness. I’m letting go of my ego. I’m not running anymore. 

The Not-So-Great Advice a Child Therapist Gave Me

I got my first counselor when I was six. She was an anger management counselor. I had a temper at a young age. Results from my home life. I saw anger and violence at an early age. I mimicked that behavior with my peers. The class was cleaning up the room before recess or lunch or something. I was putting a puzzle away. Another kid tried to help. I told him I got it. He helped anyway. I got angry and hit him with a chair. He was trying to be helpful and kind. I don’t even remember his name.

This incident prompted my parents and the school to get me into counseling. I don’t remember anything we spoke about. She gave me a calendar and told me to put a sticker on each day I didn’t get angry. If I went a whole month without anger, she would give me a present. I remember the excitement and anticipation. When the month finished, she gave me a pencil sharpener. It was a dome shape and looked like half a baseball. I remember thinking that present did not live up to my expectations. Regardless, I had that pencil sharpener for several years after.

When I was eight, my whole family went to counseling. My parents met with a couple’s counselor. My two older sisters went to group counseling. They may have had private counselors, but I don’t remember. I had my own counselor. I remember playing games and drawing pictures. We had many conversations, but I have no memories of these. I recall our on our last session she gave me a small ceramic elephant that wore pants and a button up shirt. I liked it and held onto it for several years along with the baseball pencil sharpener.

This counselor also helped me create something I could use when my parents were arguing. Many people refer to this as a survival kit. I don’t remember the name she used. I found an old Maxwell House coffee can. When they were still made of tin or aluminum. During one of my sessions, we used construction paper to cover the can and I decorated it. I don’t remember the instructions she gave me for the can. I put all sorts of things in it including my little elephant. The baseball pencil sharpener could have been in there at one time or another.

I opened this can and played with my toys every time my parents argued. Sometimes I played with those toys even if my parents didn’t argue. It was my escape from school and from home. I realized recently that I’ve spent most of my life trying to escape. I have nightmares once every two weeks. Sometimes every week. I’m always running from some unknown thing. Or I’m chased by a creature of some kind. Always trying to escape something. I had the epiphany that every time I have a new idea for a business or job, I’m only trying to escape my current situation.

I’ve stopped living with roommates because they made me feel trapped. I couldn’t afford to live on my own, but I still left. I’ve held several jobs over the last ten years. A couple I remained at for many years. But I couldn’t move up any higher. I felt trapped at those jobs, so I left. Most people don’t realize that running from something is not the same as escaping. I’ve been running my entire adult life trying to escape. I’ve only succeeded in getting trapped somewhere else. I haven’t faced my real issues. I’m not sure I know what they all are.

I don’t blame the counselor for helping me escape my childhood trauma. At the time, it was the best solution to an inescapable problem. But this solution doesn’t work for adults. Children don’t always have the ability to face a problem or get out of a situation. Adults do. I’ve been overcoming many issues and I’m trying to deal with problems I didn’t know I had. The only way to escape these issues is to face them and heal. I first have to learn the difference between escaping the problem and overcoming it.

I Hate Myself and Don’t Deserve Good Things

Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. Codependency. On any given day, I’m dealing with one or more of these issues. It has taken several years for me to understand what I’m going through. I didn’t realize I was codependent until recently. That one hit harder than the others. Most of my behaviors stem from one of my issues. It feels like my entire personality is a lie. Everything I held with pride as part of who I was; it all comes from poor mental health. I’ve had a minor identity crisis for the past year. I’m rediscovering who I am as a person.

The first thing I discovered about myself was I didn’t like myself. Most of that dislike grew from anxiety and depression. And from not receiving much of any positive attention for the majority of my life. I rarely receive compliments. When I do, my first thought is to point out my flaws. The next thought is that person is lying. They’re not genuine. I’ve been working to ignore these thoughts and say thank you. It feels selfish sometimes to only thank someone for anything. Then I remember how much one thank you would mean to me. I’ve rarely gotten a thank you for anything.

I spent my life not aware of how much I disliked myself. I often felt I didn’t deserve happiness. I felt I had to earn it in some way. But no one could tell me how to earn it. Life doesn’t come with a manual. No one tells you how to take care of your body. No one tells you how to make friends. No one tells you how to talk to potential romantic or sexual partners. Not for me anyway. Most people have their parents and families in these situations. I didn’t. My parents were dealing with their own issues.

I’ve searched for things I like about myself. Easier said than done. I have a daily mantra. I don’t always remember to say it. But I’ve been saying it more often. On bad days, I’ll say it 10 or 12 times. And each time I repeat it three times. It’s like exercising. I do 10 or 12 sets of three reps. The mind is a muscle. It gets stronger overtime. Nothing happens overnight. Positive thoughts lead to a happier life. I’m improving. I’m healing. But I’m nowhere close to the end.

My biggest fear with all this is I may never heal enough to have a romantic relationship. I’ve stepped back since I realized I was codependent. I want to work through that before pursuing romance. I don’t want to fall back into old habits. I’m certain I’ll be ready one day. But I feel older than I am. I’m too set in my ways being alone. I’ve wanted children but that doesn’t look like a realistic goal anymore. I’d be happy with a partner to share my life with. First, I have to believe I deserve good things. No one will love me until I love myself. 

The Japanese Word for Panic Attacks

There are many foreign words that do not have an English translation. One example is the Japanese word mushaburui. It translates to shaking or trembling with excitement. Musha is the Japanese word for samurai or warrior. Burui comes from the verb furu which means to shake or tremble. One website referred to the word as “shaking like a samurai.” The English translation doesn’t convey exactly what the word means. One person described with a scenario. Imagine a samurai waking in the morning before a battle. They are shaking with anticipation. It’s both fear and excitement. Will they live? Will they die?

The description of this word makes me think of a panic attack. Sometimes there isn’t any real danger when one has a panic attack, but the emotion is the same. The 2010 film “13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku)” has a character who mentions this emotion. He says at one point in the film, “As a samurai in this era of peace, I have wished for a noble death. Now fate has called to me. See, my hands are trembling. It’s a warrior’s battle shakes.” Is the anticipation of one’s death not the same as a panic attack? It’s about one’s perspective of what they’re feeling.

This also reminds me of the 1998 film “Saving Private Ryan.” I have mentioned before how I related to Tom Hanks’ character in the film. At the beginning of the film, as the boats approach Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944, his hand is trembling. This is the same feeling the samurai felt in “13 Assassins.” This is the same feeling I have during a panic attack. When someone asks how I’m feeling, I can finally provide a word to describe it. Not everyone will know the meaning, but there is a kind of power in giving something a name.

The next time you’re feeling excited, be it negative or positive excitement, call it was it is. Mushaburui. Having this new outlook on what this emotion is, I can overcome some of my fear and accept the panic attack. I accept it as something natural. It prepares my body and reminds me of my own mortality. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It means you go anyway. I’ve felt like I’ve lived in fear the last couple of years because my body would tremble at the thought of something. I will force myself to keep going. Whether I tremble or not.

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I Sleep Four Hours or 14 Hours

Sleep feels like an irrational beast. It’s rare that I get a full night’s sleep. If I do, I sleep more than needed and still feel tired. The number of hours I sleep usually don’t matter. It might be eight hours but broken into segments. Broken by nightmare or waking several times for no reason. This all depends on if I fall asleep to begin with. Some nights I don’t sleep. My body always feels restless like I haven’t done enough work in the day. More often than not, I sleep less than six hours every night.

For a while I took vitamins to help encourage energy and sleep. I took one vitamin pill a day for weeks. I discovered a pattern. I started writing down when I had a nightmare. I only wrote down certain kinds of nightmares. When they involve me running from something or escaping something. Sometimes I would know what was chasing me, other times it was only a feeling of danger. I had these nightmare every two weeks, sometimes every week. I stopped taking the vitamins (magnesium, calcium, and zinc). Then I stopped seeing or remembering the nightmares. I imagine I still have them but never recall.

When I lay in bed, regardless of the time of day, my whole body vibrates from my heart pumping. Sometimes it feels like my chest is pounding when I’ve laid still for hours. This makes it difficult to rest and fall asleep. Along with these physical symptoms, my mind races with negativity. I’ve worked hard to limit this, but I still struggle. The anxiety and depression only add to the restlessness. The more nights I get poor sleep, the more negative I become. This is still nowhere near as negative as I used to be.

I plan to get more vitamins to help me sleep. Part of me doesn’t want to have the nightmares again. It’s a catch 22. Poor sleep without nightmares or better sleep riddled with constant nightmares. My chest is often pounding when I wake from my nightmares. It’s not much different from lying in bed before sleeping. I have fewer negative thoughts when I have the nightmares. It’s likely the better of two evils. My mind wants to work through the trauma but never has the means or an outlet. This must be why I write horror fiction in my spare time.

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No More Notifications

I’ve taken steps to cut stress from my life. My living situation was stressful, so I moved out into a one bedroom apartment. I worked a stressful job so I quit. I bounced around jobs for a few months before settling as a barista. I felt my life was simpler. Some days were still stressful. I still had panic attacks and some days I hated going to work. I didn’t understand what exactly was setting me off. Several things added to my stress triggers. I didn’t know where to begin to solve this issue. I started with what I could control.

I noticed when I was working, I kept my phone on silent. It vibrated every time I got a notification. While in a stressful moment at work, I would get several vibrations in my pocket at the same time. With too much stimulation; it made me angry adding more stress. I first turned off the vibration setting, but this only solved half the problem. I hate seeing the icons on apps indicating how many notifications I have. All the banners, buttons, and icons became overwhelming. I went through the settings of each app and turned off notifications. My phone fell quiet.

Text messages and phone calls are still on but not much else. If I want to check my notifications, I have to open the app. My stress levels have gone down. I’m not getting overstimulated. I still struggle in overcrowded social situations. I manage things better by controlling things I can control. I wish I could go back to the time when notifications made me happy. I felt connected and like others were thinking of me. Now notifications feel meaningless. They’re extra unwanted noise. I’m quieting everything in my life. This will help quiet my mind and the healing can continue.

I recommend disconnecting from the online world for a day now and then. Think of it as recharging your social battery. Go out into nature, read that book, write that story, explore a new place. The notifications never go away. I’m trying not to worry about clearing them anymore. I’ll get to them when I get to them. There’s no need to rush anything. Easier said than done. My mind is always racing. I want to slow down and be calm. I still have panic attacks, but they’re not caused by my phone anymore. I almost look forward to checking notifications again. Almost.

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I Don’t Want to Die But I Hate Living

Sometimes I’ve thought about how others would react if I passed away. Everyone’s had that thought I’m sure. Wondering who would cry or who would attend the funeral. It’s hard not to imagine the church setting empty during your funeral. It was a long time before I felt people in my life would get upset if I died. I never thought of killing myself, but I never thought anyone cared if I was alive or dead. Finding the motivation to keep going every day with those thoughts can be difficult. I don’t know how I worked through that.

Now that I know people, I have people who would mourn my absence if I passed, I still struggle with motivation. I know those closest to me love me, but I’m not happy with my life. I’ve felt trapped in a hole for too long and there’s often no escape. I keep going somehow but I hate living. I hate that I can’t receive my basic needs. I don’t want to live in a world I can’t afford to live in. Will things turn around for me this Summer? At least I’m saving money but most of it will disappear if I don’t have a job in the fall.

I have many passions and many reasons to keep going. Pursuing those passions does not always sustain my finances. If anything, it costs more to be creative with little return. No appreciation. No support. It’s hard to continue doing what you love when no one loves you for doing it. I’m taking steps to change my situation. The future is still unclear, but I’m feeling positive. If I plan well enough, I can do what I love in a sustainable way. I can pay my bills with my passions.

It will be a long time before I’m 100% self-employed, but I can see the light at the end of tunnel. It’s years away, but I can see it. I don’t want to die because my goals are reachable. I don’t want to die because I never want to hurt my friends that much. I have many reasons to keep going. I’m holding on to all those reasons as long as I can. I’m forcing myself not to give up. My fear is what will cause me to give up. What will make me decide living is too much? I hope I never find out.

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Family Estrangement After Childhood Trauma

My friends from large families never understood why I don’t enjoy family gatherings. I don’t like crowds, even if I know everyone. I don’t see my family often enough to know any of them. This is my extended family, but what about the family I grew up with? I have my parents and two older sisters. I have not spent time with these four people together in over 15 years. That’s the last time I can remember the five of us together. Growing up with childhood trauma can cause one to isolate themselves. My family broke apart and never came back together.

My parents separated when I was starting my teenage years. My sisters and I were happy to see them get away from each other. I never realized at the time how abusive my father was. My oldest sister moved out and moved back in with my mother a couple times. She made her way into the world after some time. My second oldest sister, the middle child, she enlisted in the Army. A good way to get far away from home. I was alone for a couple years before going to college in another city.

I later moved to another state to finish my education and never went back home. I visited a few times, but never moved back. I never wanted to. After a while, I stopped visiting too. I rarely speak to anyone in my family; extended or other. I don’t know any of them well and have no interest in getting to know them. My life has improved without them. Still, my friends don’t understand my aversion towards families and gatherings. Growing up, these were times for arguments and sometimes violence. I have only negative associations with holidays.

I attempted to mend fences with my sisters and parents at different times. There’s some progress but the five of us will never be in the same room together. I’m the only one who hasn’t married and doesn’t have children. I almost don’t want to have a wedding, so I don’t have to invite anyone in my family. My broken family makes me feel I can’t have a family. This isn’t true but I can’t break the feeling sometimes. I struggle with interpersonal relationships. Distrust and pain filled my first experiences connecting with other people. This is something I’m still working on. I want to prove to myself that I can have a family.

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Talking to People is Getting Easier

I often struggle with talking to other people. I hate small talk. I don’t like talking to strangers. Once I get to know someone, I’m willing to talk to them, but not much. It takes a while to feel comfortable with people. If I had the choice, I would only talk to a couple of people. I’m told this is not healthy behavior. Part of it stems from my lack of trust in others. I have a few thoughts when someone approaches me. “Why are they talking to me?” “What do they want?” I immediately assume the worst.

This isn’t so much a lack of trust in all people. I’ve had the misfortune of being around people who wanted to use me as a means to an end. That’s been my experience when dealing with others. I assume everyone is trying to get something from me. I’m still baffled when someone says they enjoy my company. It’s hard for me to believe them. In trying to change this behavior, I started telling myself that it didn’t matter if they used me as long as I got something out of it too. I did feel used, but I enjoyed other’s company while I was used.

It was easier to think this than to feel used. It was a coping mechanism. I had to think of a benefit for myself to avoid the negative thoughts I often had. I fail at this sometimes. The biggest issue was not having someone to confide in or with which to vent. Sometimes that’s all I need to feel better about a situation. If I don’t feel close to someone, I don’t feel comfortable sharing my troubles with them. It’s a hard place to live. I’ve finally found a few people that care about me and want what’s best for me. I’m still not used to this.

I find myself having small pointless conversations with strangers and not feeling uncomfortable. Is this how normal people interact? Is this socializing? I’m never certain. I have yet to find someone that I immediately become friends with. I’m still distant with others until I get to know them. I suspect I always will be this way. My main point is it’s getting easier to talk to people, both strangers and my friends. I’m not sure if I’ll ever become a sociable individual. I’ll keep working on this, but I also like my solitude. I enjoy not talking to others. Will that ever change?

I Gave the Demon a Name

Recently, one of my closest friends told me I had many friends. I half-jokingly said she was the only one I liked, and the rest were crap. Her reply to that was unexpected. She told me I needed a daily mantra. Before going to bed, she said I should look in the mirror and say, “I like myself. I love myself. I deserve good things.” I promised her I would try. She told me to say it three times. She then assured my that Bloody Mary won’t get me. I said I’d summon Bloody Mary and we’d both say the mantra.

I tried this mantra that night. I looked in the mirror. It was uncomfortable. I normally have no issues looking at myself. This time I did. I couldn’t bring myself to say the words out loud, but I said them in my mind. By the third time, I fought back tears. Why was saying those three sentences so difficult? I told my friend I did what she said, and it was more difficult than expected. She said I had to do it every day and she cried the first time. I told her I cried.

This was the first time a friend or family member told me to change how I speak to myself. You hear doctors or celebrities say these things all the time. This was a shocking realization. I discovered I didn’t like myself. Despite all the work I did for many years building my confidence and moving to a place where I thought I liked myself. I still don’t. I used to hate myself. I have improved. I have made progress, but I have a long way to go yet. I thought more about how I speak to myself and about myself.

If someone else said negative words to me, it might hurt but I’d eventually ignore them. Or I’d tell myself they’re having a bad day and lashed out. When I say negative things to myself, I accept it as truth. How do I move away from such ideas? I decided to put a name to those negative thoughts. If I name it and treat it like another person, I think I can stop listening to those words. If I separate it from myself, I’ll no longer treat it as truth. So, I gave my inner demon a name. I’m not sharing that name. That’s my personal demon and no one else’s.

I will no longer say, “I’m being negative.” It’s the demon feeding me negativity. Some days are still difficult. Sometimes you get trapped in a negative loop and can’t get out. You eventually do. Calling it something else makes it easier to fight. Easier for me anyway. This may not work for everyone. This can work with writing letters to yourself only now you can use a different name. I don’t hate myself. I hate you the demon inside me and I want you out. I want you gone! So, I gave the demon a name. Because you have to know the demon’s name before you can fight them.

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