Tag Archives: relationships

#TruthTellers

Why are we so afraid to tell the truth? Isn’t honesty the key to any successful relationship? It doesn’t have to be romantic relationships, it can be relationships with friends and family members. Instead of being honest, we tend to tell “white lies” and justify them by convincing ourselves we were just looking out for those around us. Half of the time we don’t see white lies as lies at all, so the conscious backlash we feel towards ourselves is minimal at best. Maybe we even start to be honest with those closest to us, but never really give the whole story, out of shame or fear. Again, there’s less guilt attached to this because technically we didn’t lie, we just didn’t tell the whole truth.

But what good does lying or covering up some part of the truth do for us? Trust me, I used to be (or at least I like to think I was) an expert half-ass truth teller. In the moment where your kind of lying but not technically lying, it may seem worth it to keep that arms-length distance. Nobody gets hurt, and your real pain, the shame or the guilt is still protected in this nice little cocoon of deception. Do you want to know what I believe is the number one reason for why we lie to those around us when we’re walking through some hard situations? Ok even if you don’t want to know, you’re here reading this so there’s a 99.99% chance you’re going to hear it anyways.

We don’t want to be vulnerable

That’s really all there is to it. I remember when I was in the depth of my eating disorder and self-injury I would half-ass the truth constantly. Someone would ask me if I was eating (because apparently I was looking like I was losing weight fast, even though I couldn’t see it through the funhouse mirrors that were my eyes), I wouldn’t lie but I wouldn’t tell the entire truth either. I’d tell them “of course I’m eating! I’m just watching what I eat and working out more”. The truth is, what I was eating was more like what I wasn’t eating. I was also working out so that wasn’t a lie either, but the amount I worked out was enough to cancel out the miniscule number of calories I consumed that day. I felt this strange ownership over all of this too; it was mine to have and I’d be damned if someone wanted to take it away from me. To put it simply, it became my entire identity. I was no longer a daughter, a student or a friend; all I was, was that number on the scale that was always too high and the number of calculated calories I consumed and then disposed of. So when I got asked about it, I didn’t want to be vulnerable so I hid behind deception and half-assed truth.

Sooner or later, however, I did start telling the truth and boy was it painful. But I didn’t start being a truth teller until I was on the other side of those things. The “shame about the pain” was too great for me to face when I was plummeting towards rock bottom. I remember the first time I was able to tell the truth and be vulnerable, I was in a room with a bunch of people who were broken just like I was, and man did it suck. The ironic thing is, I had been in therapy for a couple of years before all of this too, but I never once told the honest to god truth. I was 23 and in a residential treatment center, and then again at 24 in an outpatient treatment center (which sucked so much worse than residential! I actually had to deal with real life… ew). Truth telling felt fake at first, because I realized that even I was starting to believe my own crap. The sick part of my mind made up the lies to begin with, but soon they became who I was in a way. But when you’re in a room of broken people who are just like you when you’re being honest and vulnerable, you get a lot of head shakes and “me too” as feedback.

Yet truth telling in treatment is so much different than truth telling when you’re placed back in your life. Like I said, I didn’t start really telling the truth to my family and friends until I was certain I was on the other side of most of my crap. I was ashamed if I was struggling and I was “just wanting to protect them” (another lie my lovely sick mind created). There’s a phrase one of my therapists in outpatient always used to tell us; she’d say that sometimes we just need to sit in it (the “it” being the discomfort and everything else we were avoiding by using our eating disorder). Well, I didn’t want to sit in it, because sitting in it requires facing life and feeling vulnerable. So instead of sitting in it, I’d lie and tell people the half-ass truth so I could continue using the one coping mechanism I found to be most successful in avoiding vulnerability. Yet I realized that not telling the truth to those people in my life when I really should be not only hurts me, but it hurts them as well. I like to think of keeping up those walls and giving the half-assed truth as a nonverbal middle-finger.

A lot of it too has to do with how we feel society wants us to be. Go on Facebook or Instagram and people have their lives displayed like it’s a freakin’ Hallmark movie where everything is just peachy. I’m pretty sure we all know that that is a load of B.S, but that’s how we feel like we should act and portray ourselves even offline. Everyone has their crap, but we put our stage lives out there to hide the behind the curtain reality of what’s really going on with us. We get this feeling that people don’t want to hear about our struggles so we bottle it up and say nothing, only revealing the scars after the wounds have healed. Is that fair to those who love us unconditionally? Nope. Is it fair to us, who deserve to be loved unconditionally, supported and valued for being who we are? Nope. So here’s what I’m learning lately:

  • Being vulnerable sucks
  • Hiding behind shame and fear is easy
  • Being a truth teller is hard
  • Covering up the truth with lies is easy
  • Shame only amplifies the pain
  • People closest to you in your life won’t judge you for being honest, and if they do they’re not the people you need walking the path with you
  • It’s better to be vulnerable with others when you’re going through hell than to be vulnerable alone

The Unknowns

I have never been good at the whole letting my guard down and letting people in. To be honest, my track record with it has been shit and I realized that if you keep a distance nobody can hurt you. Do you want to know how that works out? Not well. I become like this island, where the only thing keeping me company is that ever so familiar swirling darkness. Pain is almost like a friend of mine, or was, I don’t even know any more. All I know, is that pain (depression,anxiety and what have you) is consistent. Yes, it hurts like hell, but when you get accustomed to it always being there, there’s never a let down of it walking out of your life.

Relationships in my life have always been inconsistent. I guess those are the key words for this post: consistent and inconsistent. That guard I talked about is a result of said inconsistent relationships. Not in the romantic sense, but in the more personal sense with friends who I considered myself close with. I love the quote from One Tree Hill that says “people always leave”; I found it to be true and even when I realized it, the pain caused by their absence from my life never alleviated. It was always those who I managed to let my guard down with that ended up leaving, and each time it got harder and harder to not shift the blame inwardly. None of the people this is referring to have come back into my life yet… except for one.

What brings all of this out tonight is my ex-boyfriend. He, like the rest of those I tried letting in, left. It hurt like hell, especially after last time. We were broken up for a few months when I decided I needed to talk to him, because I missed him. That conversation turned into us making plans to catch up. I cancelled my plans I could have had that night, and I was so excited to see him again, but here’s the kicker. He stopped talking to me that whole week. So I asked for an explanation, and he rescheduled, only to once again stop communication with me. I was crushed, I felt not good enough and not wanted. This one I turned inwardly on myself. There had to be something wrong with me for him to lead me on like that.

So imagine my surprise when I received a message from him this week. Of course I couldn’t be mad at him, I didn’t/don’t have the emotional energy to be upset. We have been talking daily since then, and this time he asked if we could meet up some night this week. To be honest, I want to go so badly, but with this time I am not expecting anything. I don’t expect for this night to actually come to pass. Maybe I like being emotionally manipulated, maybe I don’t do well on my own, or maybe subconsciously I am looking for an excuse to spiral downwards. Whatever it is, I don’t know what this is going to be become.

That guard I let down with him is back up. I can’t get myself to reopen my heart to him, because I lost that trust I had for him when he blew me off (yet he continues telling me he misses seeing me). I don’t know if he’s playing me again, and that scares me to death, especially if we do actually meet up and I go right back to those feelings I had for him before.

Not knowing how something is going to turn out was never my thing. I’m a planner and scheduler, so this whole situation is new to me, yet I continue to talk to him all day because the feelings I have for him are coming back.

I’m probably going to regret this in a week or so, but who knows.

Is Change Real?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how/if people change over the course of their lives. To be honest it’s something I’ve always questioned, and over the past couple of years I’ve began to doubt. They say a leopard can’t change its spots, and when it comes to the character of someone I wonder if the same concept can be applied.

But then I reflect on my own life, and I do see change. I am not the exception to the rule; I have worked my ass off over the course of a year to change who I am, how I live my life and how I treat others. Is it a complete 180? I don’t think so, for there is still so much of the “old” Jess still inside and I see it come out when I’m being pushed into a corner or when shit is seemingly hitting the fan.

What really made me begin questioning change again was the result of some events that happened over the weekend. My ex-boyfriend and I started talking again, and like all of the other times before, I was the one who started the conversations. For the first time since we’ve known each other we had a real conversation and were open with each other about how we felt; not only about what happened that ended our relationship, but how we still felt about each other.

It got really messy towards the end, and I saw the inevitable break up coming. But even so, my heart was still falling in love with him.

I thought I saw some positive signs that backed up his claim to me that he was changing. We had a plan to meet up today after he got out of work, but the old person he was when we were together came back. I haven’t heard from him in 2 days, and I’m wondering if I’m still just a game to him. I refuse to be someone who he reaches out to when it’s convenient to him. I’m not a door mat, and it took me years to get to the level of security in myself and be assertive. If I’m being honest, the only time we talk now is when I make the move and text him; I’m starting to get the hint/message that he really doesn’t want to be in my life, even when he claimed he regrets ever letting me go.

So now I’m stuck wondering and trying to process all of this. Does he really think we could work things out? Is he really a changed man? Is he just saying all of these things because he knows I want to hear them? Is the claim he’s changed just a lie?

So that’s where I’m at right now, still struggling to find the hope in people that they really can change.

Anger & Anticipatory Grief

As a lot of you all know, if you’ve been following this blog, I’ve lived with the excruciating pain of something known as anticipatory grief for almost a year and a half. I won’t relive all of the details for you, but if you want to know what exactly I’m talking about when it comes to what happened to my Grandma you can find the posts on my page.

After my Grandma died I felt lost. Yes we all knew it was coming but even with that it’s still hard as hell when it happens. For the past week or two I’ve been thinking a lot about the people I’ve lost over the past year and I’ve come to realize that I was living a life fueled by anger.

All of the things I thought I believed were tested during that time of my life and instead of feeling those emotions I hid a lot behind anger. To sound all clinical and stuff, I was projecting my own disbelief in things like God or a higher power onto those in my life, using friends I held dear to my heart as a scapegoat.

The weird thing about anger and living through a grief process where you’re grieving an eventual loss before it’s happened is that in those moments when you’re hanging onto your last shred of sanity, you don’t realize that almost everything you say or do is an emotional reaction to something nobody can see or help you with. I’m sure if you were to ask those who saw me regularly during this time they would probably tell you I was not the easiest person to get along with. I was pushing a lot of people away who meant a lot to me because being alone was easier than letting people in when there was nothing they could have said or done to give me what I really needed: my Grandma to be ok and back to normal. I blamed God, those who believed in God and were praying and my anger grew and grew.

Now that I’m in a place where I can think more clearly, and the pain I feel now on a daily basis is that of missing my Grandma and still wanting her back, I see the damage my anger caused. To put it in the words of what a Dr. told me a while back. I was angry, I was firing bullets and those who were in my life got hit with the shrapnel. I was always good at anger because as I said previously, feeling anything else besides that when I am going through it makes me uncomfortable and is something I refused to allow myself to sit in and feel. But now that I’m learning how to feel and process my emotions I’m learning that living a life of anger when I was experiencing that anticipatory grief was doing more damage than good.

If I could say anything to those I pushed away over the past 2 years it would be this:

I’m sorry for the things I said or did out of my emotional reactions. Almost none of the things I said were coming from things I actually meant. Did I mean to hurt you? It sounds harsh but yes, I did. It’s almost as if I needed someone else to be in pain with me. For those of you who believe in God, I was projecting my anger that I have towards God onto you because you were tangible and represent everything that was in question at that time. I do believe in God and I am so sorry that I allowed my anger and grief ridden state of mind to dictate the things I said to you all and wrote on here. I was immature, in so much pain and angry but I know it’s no excuse for what happened. I know some of you forgave me, and on the off chance anyone else reads these words I hope maybe one day down the line we can sort things out as well.

The Real World & My Distorted World

**Possible trigger warning**

How does everything come back around to my eating disorder? As far as recovery goes, my mindset lately has been anything but recovery based. It’s frustrating as hell for me that I’ve been having such loud eating disorder thoughts the past month or so (god that’s such a cliche eating disorder treatment thing to say.. I apologize for that), and as the stress of life escalates more and more I find myself “not having time to eat” or simply being way too busy to eat breakfast or even a snack before leaving for class. It’s not too glamorous might I add. But like I said, everything fucking thing is coming back down to my eating disorder and I hate it.

If I do shitty on a test or quiz, I resort to counting calories again or simply not eating. I’ve talked about it in therapy tons and I know the reason I do it is because I know in my heart that without a doubt I am great at my eating disorder. How sad and pathetic is this? Call it a Type A personality, but my perfectionism has always gotten the best of me in life and as I’m fully in my life now it’s reared its head again and it couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time.

As I write this I know of everything I have going for me but when I lay my head down at night or am stuck in my head throughout the day, none of these things seem as promising or even significant as compared to things like my weight, how I look that day or other stupid and exhausting thoughts I have. That’s right, it’s fucking exhausting living in my head.

Even my relationship with my boyfriend is impacted by this stuff. I love spending time with him, but every time he touches me all I can wonder is what he really thinks of my body. My therapist would tell me he’s not even thinking about the things I’m thinking he’s thinking about but that feeling of disgust scares the shit out of me and when we’re together and doing things that couples do, I don’t enjoy any of it because I’m so inside my head. I don’t know if he even realizes that I’m not present and that I’m in some fucked up world where the staple in my stomach comes undone and he can see what I feel I really look like.

I always thought that after I got out of treatment I’d have a better mindset and things wouldn’t be this difficult. I knew that the day I got discharged from treatment that I wouldn’t be fixed, but shit y’all I at least thought I’d be able to manage my recovery in the real world and was strong enough and had enough of those lovely CBT skills that were drilled into my head, to be able to manage life stress without slipping down that slope that only leads to being sick.

Life thou art a heartless wench.

The Talk

Hey guys I hope you’re having a good week so far!

So I’ve been struggling with something lately and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it. I know I haven’t posted on here about it, but I’ve been dating this guy for a little over a month now. I gotta say, it’s incredible having a boyfriend who treats you like gold and always tells you you’re beautiful but I somehow feel like I’m lying to him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really into him but there’s a huge part of my life he knows nothing of and that’s my eating disorder. He was there when my Grandma passed away and I loved that about him, but now that we’ve been dating for a bit and the feelings between the two of us are getting stronger I feel as if though I should tell him that I have an eating disorder; I’m just not sure how to go about it.

I don’t know how to tell him that lately every meal has once again been a struggle, that I spent years obsessing over things such as weight, calories and working out. Yes I’m trying to stay in recovery right now, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I want this to work with him, he needs to know about it. We haven’t gone out to dinner yet, it’s something I’ve been avoiding but sooner or later it’s going to happen and I really don’t want that to expose my secret.

So I guess what I’m asking of you all who read this, and have had a similar conversation with a boyfriend or girl friend, is how do I do this? I’m terrified he won’t see me as he sees me now. I don’t even know how to start the conversation out or even what words to use. I’m scared he’ll see me as weak or broken and that he’ll get scared and break up with me.

Please comment on this post with any tips or words of wisdom.

Thanks guys!

When Words Fail

What do you say to someone who’s hurting? Where are those magical words you can say to someone to help them get through something that seems so much bigger than them? For someone who loves to write & use words, not having the words to say is a hard place to be in. This past week a good friend of mine told me they had been struggling and in this current moment they are in a place to receive the help they need.

I remember all last week talking with them and seeing them slide fastly down that slippery slope; it was so hard sitting back and seeing the pain in their eyes, voice and words as we talked via text message. Being on the receiving end of that conversation was an uncomfortable place to be in. Usually I have been the one saying those haunting words, so to hear them coming from another persons mouth was difficult. As the days went on I began seeing so much of my past in them. The way news of something destroyed my life and sent me spiraling downhill I saw happening in my friend and it scared the shit out of me.

All I could do was voice my genuine concern, tell them over and over again I loved them and needed them to stay even though I knew because of the circumstances those words were falling on deaf ears. It wasn’t out of ignorance that they weren’t grasping the truth of my words, and I fully understand that. When you’re falling it’s hard to see the truth and feel anything that resembles love.

A while back in the treatment program I was in we had to do validation letters to those in the group after we each read where we were at in life & recovery. I always found it hard hearing the kind words those in group with me had to say to me, feeling like they were just following the therapists instructions and they didn’t really mean a lot of the shit they said to me. But when it came to reading my letter to the person it was addressed to in group, I meant every fucking word. I had found a community in which I not only belonged, but where I learned to love others in a real way. I think that’s what happens when you’re vulnerable with people, you begin developing a love for the others in the room that nobody can really explain. But I digress.

I know a lot of my friends have a hard time accepting the fact that compliments are real & heartfelt. So last week when I was voicing my concern, I’m not all too sure my friend was believing it. Sunday I’m going to visit them and I have a little gift for them. I tried writing a letter again; it’s always been easier for me to write everything all out than speaking the words. In that letter I write about how much I need them to stay alive & be in my life, how much I love them and care about our friendship. It’s all of the words I had in my heart at the moment, and I know those words can’t fix anything, but I just need them to hear it.

In reality I know there will never be any sentence of words strung together that will be able to reach into a persons heart & remove all of their pain & kill the demons; but I can only hope that if I continue using my words to express how important someone is to me that the words will stick in the back of their minds & when needed they can pull them out of the box inside of their mind & remember them.

Psychology of Touch & The Nature of Love

I’ve heard it stated that being on the receiving end of a hug can decrease our stress levels, make us less depressed and even remove some anxiety inside of us and I must say I always chocked this “fact” up to being something people made up for a cool pin on Pinterest or a post on Tumblr or whatever. But when you look at the field of psychology it all begins making sense. First off, you have Maslow and his hierarchy of needs; level 3 on his hierarchy is:  Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.It’s interesting to look at the level on his pyramid that comes after, which involves variables such as esteem, self-respect and so on.

So looking in on my own life and the life of others, Maslow and his hierarchy makes complete logical sense. I think this need to feel/be loved by someone is why so many of us single people long for the affection of another person. As I was thinking on this topic tonight I remembered a groundbreaking study done that altered developmental psychology as we know it today. For time sake I won’t explain the entire study done, but in short Harry Harlow in the 1960’s conducted an experiment on rhesus monkey’s and the impact of physical touch. In short his results after several studies found that when there is a neglect of physical touch from another living rhesus monkey, the monkey that was deprived had greater risks of both psychological & emotional distress or even died.

Now I’m sure not all of you care or find this back story as astonishing as I do, so let me tell you where I’m going with this.

I think a huge reason so many young adults feel a desperation for a relationship and fear being alone is the need for that love through touch. I don’t mean anything sexual by this either; yet it’s been shown that when we are physically touched, even in the most innocent of ways, it releases within our body a hormone known as oxytocin (some researchers/physicians have even referred to it as the “hormone of love and attachment”). Is the longing for a relationship about more than just this physical touch? Of course! But for this post I want to just remain focused on touch & how it influences us.

It’s often wondered why some people in our lives would date another person they are not even interested in. Is it settling? In an emotional sense of the word, probably; but it has more to do with that feeling when their partner holds them as they watch television or gives them a hug & a kiss goodbye as they depart. That feeling we receive from oxytocin can be so powerful that we can go out of our way to seek that feeling of security out by another person.

I’m not sure if this post made any sense to you guys, but if you’d like to read more, below are the sites I got my information from:

1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mind-body-connection/201309/why-we-all-need-touch-and-be-touched 

2. http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/p/harlow_love.htm

Online Dating: Stereotype of Being Catfished

Hello my readers tonight’s post is going to once again be a little different as I shall be discussing the subject of what is seeming to be a more and more common means of meeting people: online dating.

Yes, yes you read right, online dating. For several months I have had a profile on one of these sights as an attempt to begin conversations with gentlemen callers who I find attractive and vise versa. Over said months I have chit chatted with many, yet only met one and that was a safe meeting up as I already kind of knew him (and knowing his mom was an added safety net. I hope that didn’t sound as sketchy as it may seem). But I’ve found overtime that when it comes to making a plan to meet up with a guy I freak the fuck out. Call it insecurity or what have you but it never fails that I get cold feet.

Those shows about catfishing come to the forefront of my mind and I begin panicking that I too will just be scammed. But why is this so?

I feel like even with online dating there’s still a mystery and sense of anonymity to it when you begin talking to someone you may be attracted to. Yes on paper (or on screen) they look good. They have a job, go or went to college and all of the values you are looking for but that sense of doubt can still linger.

Are they are who they say they are?
Are they just wanting to meet up for sex?
Am I attractive enough to them for sex?
What if they don’t like me?

 

All of these things go through our heads, at least mine, when it comes to that first meeting up. There’s a stereotype of internet dating websites that I believe holds a strong piece of forming relationships with those we come into contact with.

Use your voice: why most of us don’t

I’ve been thinking a lot about my last therapy session where I was asked who I talk to when I struggle (you can find the post about it here: https://jessicasteinbach.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/reaching-out-for-help/

After posting that entry I really began thinking not about the who, but the why.

Why don’t I talk to my friends (especially my best friends) or family about what is going on inside of my head? Well I have an answer for you (whoever you are, because let’s face it I have no idea who the majority of you are who read this blog): I don’t talk because I don’t want to be the burden or annoyance. Yes I have a diagnosed mental illness, yes I take medications for it, yes I am in therapy and treatment but when it comes to talking to people outside of the safety of the walls at my treatment center I get scared.

I remember being in high school and having friends who always seemed to dump their problems on us even when we really didn’t want to know the answers. They became the ones I tried to avoid, knowing that I couldn’t be their own personal therapist. It was hard, and now that I’m struggling to find some sense of clarity and hope for a future where I can manage living with my illness and disorder I face the fears that I’m burdening my friends and family with it.

Now I could be totally wrong but I think that’s why a lot of us don’t use our voice. Instead we keep it buried or confined in the pages of journals or whatever other way we can find as a means of not talking about it. For me, I have abandonment issues which stem from several friends up and leaving me for what seems to me like no apparent reason (this is what caused an old therapist of mine to diagnose me as having borderline personality disorder). I am scared shitless that it is going to happen again with my best friends I’ve known since middle and elementary school; so I either lie when they ask what’s going on or I just avoid them.

Maybe this isn’t pertaining to you but I’ve heard time and time again from people in the same or similar boat as me that this fear of being a burden is what keeps them from talking. Sure it’s safe to talk openly about the things you think and feel and behaviors you do when you’re in treatment or a therapy session but it’s outside in the real world that it’s terrifying.

I don’t know where I was going with this but I hope this was either helpful or insightful for you guys.

Happy Friday!