I keep starting and restarting this, and I’m getting very little further onward. So, baldly and with no flowery speech:
I know people. Some of them have chronic pain, or processing issues that result in poor behaviors, or loved ones causing major stress, or massive overwork, or — lots of things. Life.
I was raised, and later, I considered deeply who I want to be and chose, to be compassionate and helpful. Sometimes I hit that mark, sometimes not, but it’s sort of the center about which I try to orbit. One of the repeating poor behaviors I exhibit is that I tend to not show compassion to me.
Not exactly true — I feel amply sorry for myself, but that’s not what I mean. I frequently will not bother with considering what I might want or need. Instead, I’ll make my plans, obligations, task lists, grocery lists, considering what those around me might need from them and leaving me out.
Last week I watched me do it, in real time, with enough detachment that I could hear the internal dialogue. Like this: I was achy and tired and my head hurt. I thought to mention this to Shannon, but recognized that she was having a Truly Horrid Pain Day, and chose to suppress not just the conversation in which I’d say I was hurting, but any action I might have taken because I was hurting, as well. That was normal. The internal dialogue went something like “My pain is nothing compared to hers. I shouldn’t burden her with my issues, too. By comparison, mine just isn’t important.”
Gah. My jaw clenches as I write this.
The implication, based on my internal decision process, is that unless my inconvenience outstrips everyone else’s, it falls short and does not merit acknowledgement, let alone action. “I don’t hurt more than other people, so I don’t deserve –”
Good grief. Who thinks like that? Is there some rule that only one person in the world can get a hug, a “poor baby, there there”, an ASPIRIN ferchrissakes? Seriously.
So I looked a bit more, and noticed that I do this all the time.
All. The. Time.
If I am tired enough, if I am so achy or exhausted or whatever that my mouth says stupid things, things that might come out sound like “I’ve been hurting/wanting/needing all day, but I didn’t DO anything about it, so I DESERVE WHAT I AM GETTING, which is nothing and serves me right–”
People do not utter, under stress, things that they do not think or feel other times. They just let them out when they might not normally. So the syllogism is pretty simple:
– If I am well and rested, I should put others’ needs first
– If I am not well or rested, I should consider whether I am more disadvantaged than others.
* If so, I should try to bootstrap myself and manfully do for others
* If not, I should shut up and manfully do for others
– When I finally break from exhaustion or pain or overwork, I should punish myself as much as possible, so that I will Learn My Lesson, because the only way I ever change my behaviors is through punishment or, when possible, actual abuse
This is, I feel, pretty obviously horseshit.
In the last week, I’ve been trying to revamp my decision tree, but it’s slow going. I’ve noticed that it isn’t always dramatic. It might be:
– I deal with work & obligation to a certain degree and completely break
– Anti-depressant taken
– Feel better
– Since I am no longer utterly broken, I take on extra work & obligation
So the things I’ve done to limit the fallout from my decision tree actually results in a deeper level of messed-up.
The direction to go is pretty obvious. Keep doing the things to limit the fallout, but then STOP taking on other crap and be nice to me. Take a nap. Do something fun. Write. Paddle.
It’ll be interesting to see if I do those things.