All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge: Day 05

Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
What part of self harm do you dislike the most?

Most people probably expect me to say my scars in answer to this question, but truth be told that’s not what I dislike the most. To be even more honest, I am completely ambivalent toward my scars. There are far more things I despise about my body than the scars I’ve inflicted upon myself, which I see more as markers of specific times of my life more than anything else.

What I dislike the most about self-harm is the belief that it is contagious; that my self-harm is responsible for other people self-harming. This can be illustrated with an example. Several years ago, my abuser nonchalantly informed me that I was solely responsible for her nearly self-harming; that because I was doing it to relieve my own stress, she should also be doing it to relieve hers. Whereas the truth is, she was responsible for what she nearly did to herself and placing the onus on me only increased my own stress and guilt over what I was doing. Perhaps this is what she was aiming for all along, but ever since I’ve been deeply affected by people blaming my self-harm for their own.

Gee, I hope that made sense to others because I don’t think I’ve explained it all that well!


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Day 04: Seven things that cross my mind…a lot!

Four days in and I’m still blogging on a daily basis…woohoo!
Today’s prompt asks for seven things that cross my mind, a lot!

homelessness

4. Why don’t people do more to help the homeless?

1. Top of the list would have to be my abusive relationship. I know it’s not healthy reliving the events of that turbulent time, but the flashbacks come so frequently, so fervently, that I have little control over when and how this period crosses my mind.

When I’m not reliving the events in crystal clear HD, I’m ruminating on the whys and wherefores of the time; why did it happen? Why did she target me? Why did my friends not intervene? What did I do to deserve it?

I know I’ll never have the answers to these questions, and I know there is little other people can do to stop the constant flood of memories and emotions this trauma creates, but hopefully I will one day find a way to manage and control the damage the abuse caused. It has, after all, been seven years since the abuse was occurring…which is far too long a period to be lost to such a manipulative, sociopathic creature.

2. Given that it’s been nearly five years since I last saw them, my family cross my mind frequently. Granted, I try to catch up with them as often as possible (usually a phone call every few weeks) but as I’ve never met my niece and nephew, being able to catch up with them in person would be almost like a dream come true. Especially as my niece has recently begun taking her first tentative steps! :)

3. Without wanting to sound crass, women’s bottoms (and other parts) cross my mind a lot. After all, I am a man, and even though I don’t think of sex every six seconds, it has been over fiver years since I got the chance to caress, massage, squeeze, kiss or playfully spank a woman’s bottom. And I miss it! In fact, an end to my unchosen celibacy would probably do me (and my anxieties) the world of good!

4. Why don’t people do more to help the homeless? This is a question that I’ve asked myself so many times over the last few years. On any given day, there are over 100,000 homeless people in Australia, and many millions more around the world. Yet governments persist in doing nothing to help these individuals. When the wait for public housing can be anything up to twelve years (as it is in some parts of Australia) a lot more needs to be done. And fast!

5. Alongside my family, I also spend a lot of time thinking of my old friends. Even though it’s (for the most part) my fault that I am no longer in contact with them, I often wile away the time wondering what became of them and whether or not they were able to build the happy, rewarding lives they (for the most part) deserved.

6. The death of punctuation and grammar is something that crosses my mind whenever I surf the internet. Your instead of you’re, apostrophes placed in random locations (if at all) and the shortening of words such as hate to h8 annoy me on a level that is too complicated to explain.

7. A month ago, an eleven year old boy was cruelly murdered by his father in an incident that shocked Australia. Almost instantaneously it was announced that the father was “suffering from mental health problems”, as if this alone explained (and excused) the senseless crime. However, a few weeks later it was announced that no history of mental illness had been discovered. So why it is that every time a violent crime is committed, mental health is wheeled out as the reason for the crime, even when there is no evidence of mental illness being involved?


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Try Looking At It Through My Eyes – Day 11: The Forgiving

Day eleven of the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge asks:
Choose one thing in your life that you have done and feel guilty for and write yourself a letter forgiving yourself for that thing.  (PS. You don’t need to name the thing you did unless you feel comfortable doing so.)

forgiveness

Dear Addy,

By now you should be used to getting these letters from me so I’m not even going to bother proving my credentials; you know who I am because I used to be you.

So, where are we now? Parks and blankets, isolation and soup vans? I did tell you homelessness would be soul-destroying, so perhaps now you’ve experienced it you’ll spend a little more time listening to my sage-like advice instead of filing it away in the ‘too hard to deal with’ basket.

I’m not writing today to get you through homelessness. Partly because there’s little I can say that will make you feel better and partly because this is something you have to deal with by yourself. The only person who can help you out of this situation is you, Andrew, so just get to it…and never give up!

The reason I’m writing to you today is far more complicated and important. I’m here to help you forgive yourself for the things you feel guilty for. Now, given that I’m you, I know full well that forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things in the world. You hold onto things. You dwell on every decision. You take responsibility for everything, even for things that you had no control over, and it’s not healthy. In fact, all that’s going to happen if you keep blaming yourself is an early – most likely slow, painful and lonely – death.

Now, I’m not going to focus on the little things you can’t forgive yourself for; things like stealing the milk and chocolate from the convenience store or not asking Natalie out when you were thirteen. By now you already know how futile feeling guilty over these trivial acts actually is. What I’m going to focus on are the big three. And, just so we’re clear, I’m not going to forgive you for them.  I’m going to tell you why you should forgive yourself for them in the hope that you will find forgiveness in yourself.

-●-

#1: Grace

Should you have been there for Grace? Absolutely.

Should you despise your very existence for the rest of time because you weren’t? Possibly.

To be honest, this one is hard for me to justify without resorting to the tried and true excuse of ‘mental illness’. You know as well as I do that if you had been ‘stable’ at that point in your life things would be different. But you weren’t stable, you were hypomanic, you were lost to the ravages of this insufferable mood disorder. Half the time you weren’t even able to look out for yourself, so why exactly do you think you could have been there for other people?

When it comes to this mistake I’m afraid I don’t have any easy answers. You know you did the wrong thing and you’re going to have to live with that. You know you should forgive yourself for it. And I know that there is nothing I can say that will make that happen.

So please, just try to move past it. After all, when it came to Kathy, she did.

#2: Samantha

No matter what you tell yourself, no matter what lies you deceive yourself with, no matter how many times you tell yourself that you could have saved her; Samantha’s death was not your fault! At the time of her death you were 10,000 miles away on the other side of the planet. At no point in those months did she tell you she was depressed, suffering through mental health problems or becoming suicidal. If she had, you know damn well that you would have done something. Sure, you can play the ‘what if’ game from now until doomsday, but even if you had entered into a relationship with her there’s no guarantee that you could have curbed her drug use, which means there’s every chance she would still have taken that ecstasy and still lost her life at a tragically early age.

You did everything you could for Samantha. Not only were you her friend, you helped her achieve a life-long dream, and you witnessed the bliss in her eyes as she achieved it. Even her sister would go on to tell you just how much you meant to Samantha. You were there for her when no-one else was, and that’s certainly something to hold onto.

But the reason you shouldn’t blame yourself for Samantha’s death is simple; you don’t even know if it was suicide. Sure, your mentally-ill ravaged mind has latched onto this explanation as it’s the easiest thing to focus on, but there’s every chance it was simply an accidental overdose; which means there is literally nothing you could have done.

Samantha’s death was a tragedy that will affect you for the rest of your days. But instead of mourning her loss and languishing in her demise, you should celebrate the fact that for a brief moment the two of you were friends. And that is more important than anything.  

#3: Kathy

I am going to say something that you have already heard countless times over. In fact, over the next several years you are going to hear these words so often you’re going to want to smack people for repeatedly saying them to you: the abuse was not your fault; you did absolutely nothing to deserve it.

Kathy was a sociopathic narcissist, a master manipulator, a woman so insecure in her own life that she would do anything to illicit control over everyone she came into contact with in order to prove to herself her delusional belief that she was the most perfect human being to have ever walked the earth.

And yes, you fell for your lies, get over it.

You will never know the reason why she chose you to destroy. (And if you’re still harboring any doubts…that is definitely what her goal was!) You loved her; she deliberately annihilated you. You had no idea what she was doing; she always knew what she was doing. So what exactly could you have done differently?

So I say again: the abuse was not your fault; you did absolutely nothing to deserve it.

And I need you to keep repeating that line, every single day, for the rest of your life, otherwise the guilt you feel over the abuse will cause a lot more damage than her vicious treatment of you ever did.

-●-

Although you won’t be able to comprehend this right now, not from the park that you currently call ‘home’, in a few years you will begin something called your ‘recovery journey’. You will spend many days, weeks and months looking back over every decision and action in your life so you can find closure and more toward a healthy, happy future. A large part of this recovery journey will be forgiving yourself for these three, and other, events.

Hopefully, by sending you this letter, the seeds of that forgiveness will have been planted.

So once you’ve read this letter, re-read it if you must, but then tear it up, throw it away, have it for your dinner, do anything to it other than dwell on it. You do far too much of that as it is.

Be kind to yourself, Andrew, life will get better than it is now.

And if you can learn how to forgive yourself, it will get even better, or so people say.

Love and hugs always,

Addy xox

~◊~

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |
| Day 05 | Day 06 | Day 07 | Day 08 |
| Day 09 | Day 10 |


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Try Looking At It Through My Eyes – Day 08: The Close Friend

As the year quickly speeds toward its timely end, I’ve decided to polish off the outstanding challenges that I’ve commenced over the last twelve months so I can begin 2014 anew. One of these is the “Try Looking At It Through My Eyes” challenge (devised by Bold Kevin over on Voices of Glass).

When I left the challenge I had reached day seven, which means today I pick up with day eight: If you had a friend who spoke to you or treated you the way you speak to and treat yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend and why?

theclosefriend

This is actually a tough prompt for me to write about, not because the answer eludes me, but because the answer is so painfully obvious it’s almost unbearable to admit to.

Most readers of my blog will know that I was once the victim of an abusive relationship; a relationship that cost me everything in my life, a relationship that continues to haunt my life seven years later.

So to admit to being in a second abusive relationship is extremely hard for me to do, especially as the abuser in this relationship is myself. But no matter how hard I try to deny the obvious, the evidence is staring me in the face every single day.

On any given day I put myself down, make myself feel bad about myself, call myself names, play mind games, humiliate myself, make myself feel guilty whenever possible and deny the abuse is happening; often blaming external sources for the grief I am bringing to myself. My abusive side forces me to control what I do, who I see, what I read and where I go, thus limiting my outside involvement and preventing me from forging new relationships. The abuse is so bad that I am frequently afraid of myself, especially when threats of self-harm and/or suicide come in to play. In fact, the abuse is so extreme that I frequently feel like a prisoner in my own mind; a servant to the whims of a controlling overlord.

All of which are signifiers of an abusive relationship.

So how long would I allow a friend to speak to me/treat me in this way?

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t put up with being treated this way for any period of time, for having been in one abusive relationship there’s no way in hell I want to be in another.

But the fact I believe I deserve to be treated this way makes me think I would put up with it.

And I don’t know what to do about that.

~◊~

If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in this challenge, you can read them here:

| Day 01 | Day 02 | Day 03 | Day 04 |
| Day 05 | Day 06 | Day 07 |

 


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Addy and the Day of Pure Evil

Something many people have problems with are anniversaries.

Not the happy, fuzzy-bunny-feeling filled anniversaries of marriages, birthdays and first sexual experiences, but the miserable, hell-would-hurt-less filled anniversaries of deaths, traumatic experiences and (I suppose in some cases) marriages, birthdays and first sexual experiences.

Amongst the plethora of ‘bad memory’ days that fill my year (e.g. the day I became homeless, the day of that psychiatrist appointment, the day my sister attempted suicide) there are four dates in particular that are excruciating for me;

  • October 11 (the anniversary of a suicide attempt, aka the day I should have died)
  • July XX (the anniversary of when I was assaulted, aka the day I wanted to die)
  • May 7 (the anniversary of another suicide attempt and the anniversary of Stephanie’s suicide, aka the day I nearly died and the day a friend did)
  • February 26 (the anniversary of the beginning of my breakdown, aka the beginning of the end).

The most astute of you, my dear readers, will have noticed that three days ago was one of these dates.

So if you’re itching to know what calamities (if any) befell me, read on! :p

very bad day

Seven out of Ten (3am-4am)

The day began as most of my days do; being woken from a fitful sleep by a vicious nightmare. On this occasion it was a recurring dream that has been haunting my sleep for several years.

In this dream I am being attacked by the man who assaulted me in Adelaide. We are in the same motel room, we are wearing the same clothes, we are basically reliving the events of that traumatic night. The only difference is Grace and Kathy are sitting on the bed watching the events unfold. Sometimes they are munching on popcorn; sometimes they are sipping glasses of champagne. Other times they are sharing a box of chocolates or recording the events on a video camera. What they always do is ‘score’ the assault upon its completion; a simple ‘out of ten’ rating of the pain inflicted on me.

The scores change from dream to dream but some things remain constant; Kathy always scores less than Grace, they always write their scores using my blood and they rarely give anything more than an eight. Even if he amputates multiple limbs or flagellates me with a strip of barbed wire, the pain he inflicts on me is never ‘good enough’ for the audience.

As per usual when this dream disturbs my sleep, I woke up startled, screaming and gasping for air.

Unlike usual, I woke up with someone else lying in my bed.

Stop peeking, pervert! (4am-5am)

Vanessa knows that this day is her day. For the last five years she has relished in it, using my ‘vulnerability’ to increase her presence both audibly and visually. When I woke up on Tuesday morning she was lying on her side staring at me.

VANESSA: That dream again?
ME: What the fuck do you want?
VANESSA: Your soul, idiot. Did you have that dream again?
ME: You know I did.
VANESSA: Tell me about it.

So I did, just to shut her up, but the problem with Vanessa is that no matter how much information you give her, it’s never enough. After nearly fifteen minutes of interrogation – erasing any hope I would get back to sleep – I began rearranging my blanket so I could make myself more comfortable.

VANESSA: What the fuck? Don’t you dare.
ME: It’s my blanket!
VANESSA: But I’m naked under here.
ME: So? I’ve seen it all before.
VANESSA: But I don’t want you seeing it now. Have some decency, dickhead!
ME: If you don’t want me seeing you naked, why are you naked?
VANESSA: Because I don’t want you seeing me naked, moron!

From there she bombarded me with questions, comments, observations, insults and hopes for the day ahead, including: “It would be beautiful if you sliced your arm open today”, “Please tell me you’re going to kill yourself today” and “But meltdown first, you know, one of those panic attacks that leaves you a cowering, dribbling fetus. Preferably in public!”

This continued until Audrey woke up and demanded I ‘get my lazy ass out of bed!’.

It was 5am – not exactly the greatest start to the day!

When distractions aren’t distracting! (5am-1pm)

In my recent post about coping skills, I mentioned that ‘distraction’ was my primary method of coping with emotional distress. Whether this is whacking on a DVD, reading my favorite websites or blogs, listening to music, playing Scrabble on the DS, completing jigsaws or just writing blog posts, sooner or later I will become engrossed in my chosen activity and forget about the chaos that drove me there.

On Tuesday, this forgetting didn’t happen. In fact, my mind was so focused on the events of 26 February 2007 that nothing I did provided any relief from the bad memories or consistent badgering from Vanessa. I wasn’t intelligent enough to read Conversation articles, I was too childish for playing on the DS, I was too old to complete jigsaws, I was too untalented and boring to blog. No matter what I tried to do, she slipped in and tore me to shreds, leaving me sitting on the carpet staring at the wall wondering whether I should drink, self-harm or commit suicide. Perhaps all three!

By mid-morning my day was already shaping up to be worse than last years…unless I took affirmative action.

VANESSA (as I grabbed my bike helmet): Where the fuck do you think you’re going?
ME: Out.
VANESSA: But it’s my day.
ME: Not anymore!

‘Distraction’ is worth 14 – or 64 if you use all seven tiles – in Scrabble (1pm-3:30pm)

For the second week in a row I was the only person at the Scrabble group I attend. Vanessa was quick to point out this was because no-one liked me and couldn’t stand being around me. I was quick to tell her to piss-off because she was seriously starting to get on my tits!

I’d originally told the organisation that runs these groups that I wouldn’t be at Scrabble, that I thought I was going to be hiding away as I usually do on these hell-would-hurt-less anniversaries. But as none of my distraction techniques had worked and my self-harm urges had increased I needed to do something to pull my mind from Vanessa and the memories.

For two hours I played Scrabble against the group leader. With Vanessa blathering in my ear it’s no surprise that I made several tactical errors early in the game, all of which amounted to me failing to reach 400 points (I ended with 387) and sending my mind into a tailspin of negative thinking about how useless I was at Scrabble (totally untrue!) Vanessa relished in this thinking and used it to fuel further abuse as I walked around town following the match.

To put the frustration (and annoyance) of this cycle of self-hate into perspective; I had won the game by over a hundred and fifty points and been able to play a seven-letter word during the match – not too shabby, all things considered!

coopers

Coopers and Comfort (3:30pm-7pm)

Within thirty minutes of leaving Scrabble, the cycle of self-criticism I’d become locked in over my failure to reach 400 points, coupled with Vanessa’s constant presence drove me to a local bar. However ashamed I am to admit breaking my three-week plus sobriety, I sat with Vanessa in the corner of the bar and drank through a couple of bottles of my favourite beer; Coopers Pale Ale.

Following this, the shame continued, as I moseyed around town purchasing things willy-nilly in a rare ‘retail therapy/comfort buying’ binge.

After sixty-two minutes I’d spent $112 and become the (not so) proud owner of:

  • A (fourth hand) Wii with seven (fourth hand) games.
  • A hairbrush.
  • Two bottles of white wine.
  • Michael Ondjatte’s XXXXX
  • A block of Rolo chocolate
  • Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (seasons one and two)
  • A bag of Kettle Honey Baked Ham potato chips (my second favorite flavor of chips)

The sheer number of carrier bags I had weighing me down, coupled with Vanessa sitting on my handlebars (what is it with hallucinations deciding to ride on my bike?), led to my cycle home becoming a carefully orchestrated balancing act!

Seriously…filthy…mind…! (7pm-9pm)

Pretty much the moment I got home I cracked open one of the bottles of wine and threw myself onto the couch to slurp it straight from the bottle. By the time I’d drunk half the bottle I’d connected up the Wii and whacked on Lego Batman (one of the seven games I’d got, the others being: Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Metroid: Other M, Link’s Crossbow Training, Mario Kart and EA’s Grand Slam Tennis).

After two levels I had to stop playing; not because I was drunk, not because I wasn’t enjoying myself, not because I felt bad about buying the Wii, but because Audrey was freaking me out with her seriously filthy mind and all the things she wanted Lego Batman to do to her!

I can’t really go into them without password protecting the post, so just think Fifty Shades of Grey meets Harry Potter meets Twin Peaks meets (JG Ballard’s) Crash meets Batman (where does he get those wonderful toys?).

Even I don’t have that dirty a mind…and that’s saying something! :P

The Book of Pure Evil (9pm-11pm)

By this point I’d finished one bottle of wine and was feeling relatively tipsy. I’d lost the ability to focus on the Wii and was being driven nuts by Vanessa’s constant bullshit; so I cooked some coconut rice with tofu and vegetables then whacked on the DVD I’d purchased.

For those of you not in the know, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil is a Canadian comedy-horror TV show that centers on a disparate group of High School students who band together to take on the bloody consequences of the Book of Pure Evil.

Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer; only with a miniscule budget, more blood and a deliciously warped sense of humour!

I don’t know whether it was the strange mood I was in, the alcohol I had consumed or the junk food I was pigging out on, but after half a dozen episodes I was loving the show. Audrey and Vanessa, not so much! Where they thought the acting was “squirmily bad”, the writing “a rip-off of the far superior Buffy” and the humour “totally unfunny, much like everything Canada produces”; I thought the acting improved with each episode, the writing showed moments of inspired genius and the humor was laugh-out loud brilliant on many occasions.

VANESSA: I don’t like it when you laugh on my day.
ME: Do I look like a give a fuck?

todd and the book of pure evil

Threesome (11pm-12am)

It’s unusual for me to head to bed so early but my desire for this day to be over was overwhelming. By eleven ‘o’ clock I was lying in the middle of my bed with Vanessa to my left and Audrey to the right.

And yes, I get the symbolism behind the positioning; whenever Vanessa and Audrey are around they will adopt these positions.

AUDREY: And I could…[censored (trust me, you don’t want to know!)]…and then he would…[censored]…then around that point he’d…[censored]
ME: Wouldn’t you rather fantasize about Christian Bale?
VANESSA: Or Adam West?
ME: Can I fantasize about Anne Hathaway?
VANESSA (singing): There was a time when men were kind…
AUDREY: And when he puts that…[censored]…in my most…[censored]
VANESSA (still singing): …when their voices were soft, and their words inviting..
ME: What do I have to do to get you two to go to sleep?

Perhaps it was the emotional exhaustion, perhaps it was because sleeping with someone is nicer than sleeping alone or perhaps it was the alcohol I’d consumed, but I fell asleep soon after – despite the constant singing/babbling that was occurring around me.

Silence (3am-4am)

Following another recurring nightmare (where I painfully melt into a bubbling pool of blood) I woke up in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t notice at first, but neither Audrey nor Vanessa were present.

The silence was beautiful! :)

Coda

Many of you may look at this day as a failure. I blew my budget on un-necessary crap, broke my three-week long sobriety and spent (virtually) the entire day communicating with visual/audible hallucinations.

But I see things differently.

Direct transcript from my Mood Journal, 26 February 2012:

4:12am
Had that dream again. The one where Grace and Kathy watch as the Adelaidian does whatever he wants to me. The one where they score him out of ten for pain inflicted. Tonight they were both disappointed, Grace gave him 7, Kathy only 5. They want him to work harder next time. No wonder I always wake up screaming and caked in sweat. What the fuck will the neighbours think?

2:56pm
Should be in a great mood today given that I’ve just moved into my own place after years of homelessness, but I’m really not. So I’m self-harming again. Not unsurprising given what today is the anniversary of. Just binged on copious amounts of junk food and alcohol. Feel fat, grotesque, worthless, disgusting and repulsive. Just want to curl up in a ball and die.

9:14pm
Vanessa thinks I’m a repulsive piece of shit that no-one will ever love. Nay, she knows I’m a repulsive piece of shit that no-one will ever love. She’s not wrong. What was it Kathy said? That I will always be alone. That I deserve to always be alone. They were right, all of them, every word they said. Vanessa told me to slit my wrists. Maybe I should.

10:12pm
Can’t focus. Can’t think. Can’t concentrate. Can’t sleep. Want to die. I have a bed. So why am I still sleeping on the floor? Oh yeah, it’s all I deserve.

11:42pm
Pished. Nearly over.

12:03am
Over. Thank fuck.

  • Today I ate: four toblerones, one bag of jelly babies, quarterpounder w/chips, pizza, potato chips (BBQ flavour)
  • Today I drank: three bottles of white wine, one bottle of red wine, six cans of beer, two WKDs.
  • Anxiety/Panic attacks: 7am, 10:30am, 12:12pm, 4:30pm, 7:22pm.
  • Time spent outside the house: Didn’t leave the house

midnaSure, my voices had a greater presence than last year and I spent way more money…but…I had fewer panic/anxiety attacks, I was aware my coping techniques weren’t working so took alternative action, I left the house, I socialized, I cooked a healthy meal, I slept in my bed, I ‘stood up to’ Vanessa on multiple occasions and didn’t self-harm once.

Yes, I brought a Wii (so 2008!)…but, in the spirit of trying to improve my self-love…I brought a Wii! Methinks that Lego Batman, two Zelda adventures and Mario Kart may prove useful weapons in my increasing arsenal of coping strategies. Especially when all I need to do to stop Audrey criticizing and abusing is to whack on a single game and let her fantasies roam free! :p

All things considered, I’m quite proud of myself this year! :)

 


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Coping Skills: The Negative Thought Challenge

In a recent post I shared a “Coping Skills” worksheet that I obtained via Indigo Daya’s website. One of these skills was a ‘thought challenge’, wherein you write down all your negative thoughts and then make a list as to why they may not be true.

Given that I could write a dissertation on why my negative thoughts are all valid criticisms of myself, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to take on this challenge, whatever happens as a result!

negative thoughts 1

Part I: My negative thoughts…

Note: I’m not going to write every negative thought I’ve ever had in my life (otherwise this post would win an award for the longest blog post in the history of the world!) so I’ll focus only on the last twelve hours.

  • I’m a failure
  • I’m worthless
  • I’m useless
  • I have no passion(s)
  • I’m a waste of space
  • My voice is so boring and monotonous it inflicts pain on everyone I talk to
  • I’m pathetic
  • I’m weak
  • I’m weak because I can’t just ‘get over’ the abuse I received
  • I’m unintelligent
  • I’m the most selfish human being who has ever lived in the history of the world
  • I’m the world’s worst kisser
  • I’m the world’s worst lover
  • I go down on women too much
  • I care too much about my partner orgasming
  • I’m not (sexually) selfish enough
  • I should just die
  • I don’t deserve to be alive
  • My life is pointless
  • I am pointless
  • I’m a terrible writer
  • I’m a terrible blogger
  • I’m a terrible emailer
  • I’m a terrible photographer
  • I’m a terrible everythinger
  • My photography is uninspiring, boring and monotonous
  • I use too many commas!
  • I use too many exclamation marks!!
  • My shoulder hair makes people want to vomit
  • I’m the fattest fattiest fatty who has ever lived
  • My weight is contagious
  • My self-harm is contagious
  • My illness(es) are contagious
  • I’m contagious
  • I’m unlovable
  • I’m evil
  • I’m grotesque
  • I’m insane
  • I’m too depressing
  • I’m too shy
  • I’m too anxious
  • I’m boring
  • I deserve to live alone
  • I deserve to die alone
  • I deserve to live alone and in pain
  • I deserve to die alone and in pain
  • My mind is repulsive
  • My body is repulsive
  • Heck, I’m repulsive
  • I’m a terrible friend
  • I don’t deserve to have any friends
  • No-body likes me
  • Everyone hates me
  • I should just go and eat worms!
  • It’s my fault I was abused
  • I deserved it
  • I deserve to be punished for it
  • I deserve to be punished for all eternity for it
  • My arse is too hairy
  • It’s my fault I was raped
  • I deserved it
  • I deserve to be punished for it
  • I deserve to be punished for all eternity for it
  • My mental illness(es) are a result of my own inability to cope with life’s stressors
  • Hell, my mental illness(es) are a figment of my imagination!
  • Homelessness is all I deserve out of life
  • I don’t like Harry Potter, thus I have no taste
  • My hugs are suffocating
  • I’m talentless
  • I’m a blob
  • I’m the blob!
  • My thoughts mean there is something wrong with me
  • My desires mean there is something wrong with me
  • My dreams mean there is something wrong with me
  • My thoughts/desires/dreams mean I am evil
  • There’s just something wrong with me.
  • I’m lazy
  • I don’t work hard enough
  • I don’t work hard enough to change
  • I don’t sacrifice enough
  • My opinions are invalid and deserve mockery and humiliation

Part II: Why they may not be true…

…and this is why I’m so terrible at thinking positively about myself.

All the bolded thoughts above were said to me by my abuser, those bolded and italicized were said to me frequently. As no-one believed she was doing anything wrong and I was told by many people I ‘deserved’ what she was doing…my mind concluded that they must be true, otherwise, why did I deserve being told them?

Given that the majority of these thoughts had been present prior to the abuse (some I specifically told her about), all the abuse did was make rational the irrational fears my social anxiety causes me to think.

And once a fear has been rendered rational…it’s almost impossible to deny as being untrue.

But, in the spirit of the challenge…

Is my photography really uninspiring, boring and monotonous? Although they never reach triple figures, whenever I post a ‘weekly photo challenge’ post, more often than not I receive dozens of ‘likes’ and twenty odd plus comments. Unless all these people are suffering from mass delusion, there must be something to like about my photography, isn’t there?

Ditto for my writing! People are often telling me how inspiring and enjoyable they find my blog. Plus, would an editor spend weeks helping me polish a short story and then publish it in a nationwide magazine if it was truly bad?

As for not making enough sacrifices, frankly, what THE FUCK?! I sacrificed my home, family, friends, uni course and future plans in order to move to the other side of the world purely because I loved someone. When my abuser was suffering from Glandular Fever I phoned in sick for work several times purely to look after her, in fact, for over a month I become her 24/7 nurse-maid, never once putting myself first throughout that entire period. Before that, I spent three years putting my life on hold for the benefit of my employer and staff, regularly working in excess of 60-80 hour weeks without overtime, cancelling night classes, social events and social groups in order to do so. Even though I live in abject poverty, I still find money for monthly donations to charitable organisations and have frequently done all I can, when I can, to help whomever I can (including complete strangers!) Even when I was homeless I would regularly give other homeless people money, clothes, food and blankets that I couldn’t afford to part with. Does that really sound like someone not willing to sacrifice things for the health, wellbeing and happiness of others?

You could even use the above to argue over the validity of my alleged selfishness…but the fact I wasn’t there for Grace when she needed a friend instantly renders all this evidence ineligible and one hundred percent proves my selfishness.

However, what about the negative thoughts relating to deserving to be abused? Astute readers amongst you will have connected what I was told following the emotionally abusive relationship to these thoughts. I was literally told I deserved it, ergo it must be true. But the rape? No-one told me I deserved to be raped…and I have no logical argument other than ‘guilt’ as to why I think this is true. But think it I do.

So what if I don’t like Harry Potter? There are so many better young adult fictional series (His Dark Materials, The Dark is Rising, Hunger Games, Narnia) than the tale of this young wizard. Or rather, in my opinion there are so many better young adult fictional series! Just because my opinion differs from others does not make me tasteless, it just makes me different. And while we’re at it…I don’t deserve mockery and humiliation for sharing an opinion, no-one does!

Ditto for all the my desires/dreams means there is something wrong with me thoughts. Just because I have cravings, needs and desires that are considered ‘deviant’ and/or ‘weird’ does not mean that they, or I, am wrong. It just means I’m different. Where’s the problem with that?

As for everything else…I’m afraid I can’t come up with reasons why they may not be true.

The simple fact is I have been living a socially isolated life for the last six years (give or take six months), so if I really am a decent person, deserving of friends, company and relationships, someone who doesn’t deserve to live and die alone, why is it that none of the efforts I undertake to create real-life connections work?

It is impossible to live alone for as long I have without believing that this is all you deserve in life.

The same argument can be used for the kissing, hugs and sex negative thoughts. There is a reason why I don’t get to do any of these things…and it can’t just be because of severe abuse trauma rendering me untrusting and fearful of intimacy. Can it?

The simple fact is, for every single item on that list I could come up with at least a dozen individual reasons for why they’re true. These reasons would be backed up by comments multiple people have told me throughout my life.

As I’ve said in the past, the more you are told something, the more you believe that something to be true. When all you’ve had in your life is negativity, insults, criticism, isolation and abuse…how can you possibly believe you’re a good person?

negative thinking 2

Part III: What would I tell a friend who thinks like this…

If any of my friends thought like this I’d put them over my knee and spank some sense into them!

But once I’d been released from prison on assault charges (unless the spanking had been consensual, that is :p) I would sit them down and tell them how unhealthy it was to think like that, how brilliant, beautiful and awesome they are and how these thoughts were the product of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and (possible) mental health and abuse trauma related issues.

I would then ask them what I could do to help them think more realistically about themselves. If that meant surreptitiously sending stories to magazines to prove how awesome a writer they are, let them cry on my shoulder, help them organize counseling to defeat their guilt over abuse and/or just spending time with them doing things that make them feel good, I would, without any hesitation.

In fact, I have done all of those things (and a lot more besides) to help friends defeat their demons in the past!

Part IV: Conclusion

Over the years I have exasperated psychologists, counselors and therapists with my negative thinking. Every time any of them issued compliments, positive reinforcement or adulation, my mind would immediately source from my history of bullying, abuse and criticism several comments that proved they were lying. There have been times when these psychologists, counselors and therapists have told me they can see this process occurring; from the moment they issue the praise to the moment I discard it as an irrelevant lie.

None of them have been able to help me find a way to combat this cycle of thinking.

No matter how hard I try to break free, no matter how many times I tell myself I’m wrong, no matter how often I can see the awesome bastard that I am, the damage from all the bullying, abuse and isolation seems to run too deep to be overcome.

And if you don’t believe me, if you think I’m just being lazy and not working hard enough, go and spend six years on your own, living on the streets, frequently being physically and emotionally abused whilst receiving no praise, positive reinforcement, human contact, touch or compliments…then get back to me and tell me how easy it is to think ‘positively’ about yourself and your life.

However much I would like to think less negative thoughts, it is going to take years of intense work to fix the damage caused by abuse, homelessness and isolation.

But, as with everything, I’ve already begun to work on it. This challenge is part of me moving toward fixing the damage, as are the social and support groups I’m trying to attend, as is this blog and so many other skills, therapies and treatments that I’m currently undertaking.

It would be easier to lose myself to these thoughts, to let them overcome me, but I refuse to let them simply because there is no way in hell I’m going to let my abuser win.

I’m way too freaking awesome to let that happen!

(Even if I don’t believe this most of the time!)