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Why Can't I Change?? [Trigger]


Solstice
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I am educated, smart, competent, and successful in a highly challenging and stressful career. I'm also a complete failure when it comes to relationships -- husband, family, friends, you name it. While I can "turn off" my emotions at work, I can't do the same in relationships. Instead, I become completely driven by my negative emotions. I have pushed friends away because I am scared of rejection. I am estranged from my parents because I can't let go of my anger toward them for things that happened long ago. And as to my husband...I alternate between lashing out at him and clinging to him and begging like a pathetic loser for him to keep giving me chances. The minute I become emotional over some relationship issue, I lose it. Crying, screaming at the other person, harming myself by cutting, tearing at my skin, or literally beating myself up...that's where I go right away.

But what has got me really scared now is this: I understand exactly what causes me to act like that. In other words, I have excellent insight into the issues underlying my behavior. I know it comes from my terrible self-esteem, my belief that I am unlovable, which in turn comes from the fact that my parents emotionally neglected me. It's not like I don't know what my demons are. So, given that I know what the root causes of my problems are, and I know I don't want to act like that, and I know all the things I'm supposed to do to stop acting that way, why don't I stop? Why do I keep behaving like a complete psychopath any time I get emotional??

I am back in therapy, but I don't see how it can help me. I thought the point of therapy was to give you insight into the causes of your behavior, so you can make a change. I have the insight, and yet I keep making the same bad choices. I'm starting to wonder if I am just broken and beyond help...

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Well, I am more or less on the same boat as you are. I also feel that I am not loveable.

Anyway, how about think of one thing you can appreciate and be thankful about every single day?

This won't help you with your root problem but will help you control your emotions and make you realize things are not as bad.

Any changes occur a step at a time.

I hope this helps.

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I totally get that divide between knowing what the root issue is and having the emotions still be there. My demon right now is stuff that happened nearly two decades ago and yet I still have nightmares about it. I KNOW it's in the past. I KNOW it's over. I KNOW my uncle can't hurt me anymore, and yet it still happens.

I wonder this too about therapy--what exactly is it going to fix if I already understand what the main issue is? Now I've only just started therapy myself, so take anything I say about it with a grain of salt, but I guess I see it as maybe a place where I can at least sort through thoughts outside of my own head a bit and maybe find ways to deal with the thoughts when they do come. I also have an appointment scheduled with a med provider to get on something to help with the anxiety/PTSD night terrors and such, so maybe after a certain point meds make sense because you can't reason your way out of a particular brain state? Have you tried meds in the past?

I struggle with self injury too and I know that people keep saying to try and find something else to do instead, but when the urge hits, it's like being hungry and someone is telling you to try to ease your hunger by doing something other than eating. Maybe if you starve yourself long enough, the hunger eases, but it's still there. Don't have much advice to offer in that department.

What I have found helpful is this website. I've done plenty of venting and rambling all over these boards and made a few friends here who have been very supportive. So there is that. Sometimes it's just nice to know people are listening.

Do take care of yourself, Solstice. We're here listening!

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I am back in therapy, but I don't see how it can help me. I thought the point of therapy was to give you insight into the causes of your behavior, so you can make a change. I have the insight, and yet I keep making the same bad choices. I'm starting to wonder if I am just broken and beyond help...

Therapy can mean different things to different people. The same has happened with me at times. I know why I do things, but darned if I don't still catch myself doing them! I do think self-awareness is a good place to start. For me, it lessens the power my responses have over me, in that I am able to detach my responses from my sense of self. I become an observer of my own behaviors this way and do much less judging. I'm also able to be more gentle with myself in understanding that I am reacting due to circumstances from the past.

Why do I keep behaving like a complete psychopath any time I get emotional??

Try stepping back from your emotions. I'm very emotional too' date=' and I know this can be challenging! You might also benefit from a behavioral approach in therapy. What kind of therapy are you in?

I know it comes from my terrible self-esteem' date=' my belief that I am unlovable, which in turn comes from the fact that my parents emotionally neglected me.[/quote']

This sounds like something to work on in therapy. There are ways to build on your self-esteem, while recognizing (but not limiting yourself to) your past, and creating new positive feelings of self-efficacy. It's a good place to work on learning to love yourself.

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Thanks to all three of you for responding...it's at least nice to know that someone is "listening."

Dying: My therapist recently gave me very similar advice -- think of one thing that's good, or do something good each day. I find it amazing how hard I find it to do something so simple. I try, but when I think of something good, I spin it to something negative. When I plan to do something good, I talk myself out of it. It's like I'm in a trap, and I am the trap. I don't know how to break that cycle, though I do keep trying.

Pseudome: I've read a lot of your posts, and I see a lot of parallels between what you write and how I feel. I haven't responded, mostly because I don't see how someone as screwed up as I am could possibly have anything helpful to say...so thanks for responding to me. It means a lot. As to meds, I have tried them, a couple of times. For me, the side effects were too miserable to tolerate. I felt completely numbed and, for lack of a better word, lobotomized. I have a psychology degree, so I know that's not the case for everyone. Maybe there are meds out there to help me, as I hope there are for you. For the time being, I'm trying to do it without meds, and I'm hoping that's not a stupid choice. As to venting here on the boards, I've often thought that might be helpful, but then that negative side of me comes up and asks why I would want to burden other people with my problems...again, trapping myself. Sigh.

IrmaJean: After a stint in some sort of strange pseudo-Freudian therapy, I've moved on to a therapist who does a blend of behavioral and dialectical therapy. On an intellectual level, it just seems like it would be more effective, given my issues. And my therapist is trying to get me to learn to step back from my emotions. Intellectually, again, what she says makes sense -- but when I'm in the moment, the only thing that matters is the emotion. She tells me we can slow that down, and give me a chance to back off from what I am feeling. I hope so. Maybe I just haven't given it enough time.

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So frustrated right now, and so miserable. It really seems like all I need to do is just grow up, be an adult, and quit feeling sorry for myself. I feel so weak. I'm a grown woman. How can I possibly want everyone else to come save me from my pathetic self?

In my professional life (which is slowly falling apart because of my personal issues), I'm the person who doesn't take any crap from anyone. I'm tough, I'm fearless. No one knows that under my suit, under my hair, are the bruises and cuts from the things I do to hurt myself because all I am is scared and I just want to wreck this body so that someone will put their arms around me and take me away.

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Sorry you are feeling so bad. I get how you feel--I'm a grown man and I'm a freaking disaster half the time. For the most part, my co-workers are oblivious. I'm the smart one with the cool ideas, so clearly my life is roses. I've got plenty of hidden cuts/scars too. Hang in there. I wish I had useful advice to offer, but all I really have is sympathy.

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Thanks -- the sympathy helps. I don't get much of that in my life (though I'm not sure I'm deserving of much either). And I know what you mean about the "life is roses" thing. Funny how easy it can be to convince everyone else that it's all wonderful when in fact it's all horrible. But it's getting harder and harder to pretend when all I want to do is hide in my office and cry.

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