All One Problem
I have always thought that I had many problems. I knew I had toxic shame, perfectionism, suicidal tendencies, and odd dissociative periods (is this real?). I have spent my entire life trying to address my many emotional problems. After all, my family always gave me the impression that I was the one with the problems. Everything got projected onto me. I took responsibility, sometimes consciously and sometimes completely subconsciously, for all the issues I encountered.
The problem? These were not all my issues. I had no power then nor now to address other people’s issues. When I was in the sixth grade, I got sent to therapy. Don’t get me wrong. I totally needed help. But look at the bigger picture: all my brothers were getting their girlfriends pregnant, using drugs and alcohol, and getting in trouble with the cops and I got sent to therapy.
And, worse yet, my dealing with my problems only took me out of their equations. I could barely deal with my problems and I knew I had no desire to be blamed for other people’s stuff. So I backed out of the family.My family always thought I should get help. And I did. And it made me at least semi-functional. But the more I understood about myself, the less I had in common with any family member. Knowledge and common sense put me on the outside of my family,much to probably everyone’s relief. Without the inclusion of knowledge and common sense, my family predictably went off the rails. But my marriage to Barry and my support or his sobriety trumped all that. I make no apology for being supportive of a good man.
And now I have reached a new level. I have realized that all of my problems are the exact same issue manifesting in a dozen different ways in a dozen different circumstances. It’s all crippling shame from dealing with a narcissistic father and chemically-addicted brothers. In school, it showed up one way, at work, another. Every situation evokes a different angle. It’s like a ball of string. It’s all knotted up,but it’s all one string. I have hit the core of the onion, where all the previous layers of dysfunction have been stripped off.
After Labor Day, I am contacting an inner child therapist. I believe my dysfunction started before I had language (pre-verbally) to defend myself. I have read hundreds of books and had thousand of hours of therapy. My current therapist is a nice lady, don’t get me wrong, but the things she tells me evoke a “Duh!” reaction within me. I know all this stuff consciously. That’s not the issue. If logic and reason could resolve my problems, I would be perfect by now. Seriously. I am a little Sheldon Cooper-ish. I am almost too logical. The shame is not amenable to logic and common sense. It feels like it is in my bones. That’s what tells me it is pre-verbal. In other words, this crap is sub-conscious.
This sub-conscious stuff is the hardest stuff to address because talking rationally about a sub-conscious issue doesn’t touch the emotional component. Racism is a good example. We can talk 24/7 about how all humans are equal. It makes zero difference. Here are some historical realities no one talks about. Blacks used to be bought and sold like cows, horses, and pigs. In the Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence, I’m not sure), Blacks are to be counted as three-fifths of whites (human beings). In the sub-conscious of many white people, that makes inter-racial sex akin to bestiality. Sensitivity training can never undo the “Eeeeeuuuuwww!” reaction many whites have to inter-racial sex. That visceral sensation is not touched by logic and reason and it never will be.
When Barry died, I wanted to “get back into life” and start a new relationship with my family. I walked right back into all the sub-conscious crap I left thirty years ago. Not a damn thing had changed. And, before I knew it, I once again wanted to off myself. The sub-conscious stuff had gone nowhere. And now it is getting passed on to the next generation, which is even more tragic. I can’t watch the same train wreck twice.
I thought I had all these distinct, discrete problems. No. I have one big problem that manifests according to the situation at hand. Dealing with this is even more important than my job. I can never get a better job or improve my life in any meaningful way until this gets addressed. Period.