Hiding My Real Self

This afternoon I read a very real piece from Sista over at Phoenix Fights about anger. She writes very well about hiding her internal anger from her (annoyingly chirpy) therapy group and pretty much all of her friends, resigning herself to the fact that a recent outburst has probably led to the end of one such friendship. It was a post that really made me stop and think today.

How much time do we spend convincing others (and maybe also ourselves?) that we are experiencing socially acceptable emotions? How many “how are you’s” do we answer dishonestly with “oh great” or “much better thanks”. We may go as far as a little “getting there” or even a “one day at a time” but even these will be followed with a cheery smile. And then there’s the shoulder shrug or head bob that always follows such a statement, designed to relieve the other person of any awkward duty to reply, implying that it’s fine to leave it at that.

Why do I not admit that I’m not always okay? Why do I not answer a “how are you” with “not great actually, see that corner over there…well I’d really like to lie down in it, curled up in a ball, for about 14 straight hours”. Who I am I lying to? Who am I lying for? I’m not sure any more. Am I trying to protect my partner from the reality that I’m always going to be a little bit not-okay? Am I trying to pretend due to some unconscious fear that he would leave me if he suspected this was me, forever? Am I trying to convince myself that this slightly-less-than-okay existence is enough for me?

I’m not really sure why I do it, but today I realised that I’m not the only one who does. And I’m guessing Sista and I aren’t the only two! Which makes me wonder…what would happen if we all told the truth?

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Hiding My Real Self

Do I Need CBT?

I hit rock bottom on Saturday. Slammed into rock bottom more like! I didn’t see it coming. I had a pretty lousy Friday that ended in a fight with my boss. Saturday morning I knew I wasn’t right and on opening the door after a massage appointment my hallway presented a very clear choice: right to bed or left to life. I chose bed. And that’s where I stayed.

Poor Mr Moany hasn’t ever seen my rock bottom so I think it came as a bit of a shock to him. It has to be said though, he dealt with it impeccably. I told him “pretend I’m not here” and that’s exactly what he did. I felt no guilt about not partaking in entertainments or chats, because he got on with his weekend and left me to myself.

On Sunday I felt it better, thankfully. It had been a hit & run attack rather than a full blown episode. So much better in fact, that I looked at some CBT online and sourced a therapist. Which brings me, ever so round-about-ly to the title: do I need CBT?

I don’t hate myself. I don’t think I’m a failure or an idiot. I don’t berate myself so much these days for not being perfect. My old therapist and I spent a lot of time working on acceptance of self and I like to think I do okay in that sense. I have learned to cut myself some slack and even on Saturday I allowed myself to just accept the dark clouds and “go under” knowing that I would come out again. I accepted the shitty day knowing it wasn’t forever and didn’t feel weak for not having the ability to turn it around.

I say my boyfriend is a saint to put up with me, but rather than negative-talk that’s realism. On the flip side, I also know I bring a lot of positives to his life. I describe myself as crazy, but in jest. If I lose my sense of humour it really will be time to give up! In fact, I don’t think my illness has anything to do with my crazy. My brand of crazy is more about being kooky than ill.

So I don’t know if I need CBT. But the thing is, I don’t really know where else to go on this journey. If it is a journey and not in fact my destination. Perhaps this is my life. Perhaps there is no “one day”. Perhaps this is as good as it gets. If it is, that’s okay. It’s the what-if that’s the problem.

Do I Need CBT?

Music for Life

Thanks Sista for bringing this Daily Prompt to my attention. I was super inspired by your post as seen by the fact that I stole borrowed most of your list!

Are you a male or female?
Bitch – Meredith Brooks
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSKjTphII3A

How do you feel?
Skipping Stone – Amos Lee
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15_v_FmNO6E

Describe where you currently live:
Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JkIs37a2JE

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?:
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjsXo9l6I8

What is your favorite form of transportation:
Act a Fool – Ludacris
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA7gnSyuIik

Your best friend is:
Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQESpRJTgNY

You and your best friends are:
Count on Me – Bruno Mars
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJYXItns2ik

What’s the weather like?:
Purple Rain – Prince
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt8BeDrMCLI

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?
The Lazy Song – Bruno Mars
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLexgOxsZu0

Your current relationship?
Someone Like You – Van Morrison
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIrJK19dADI

What is the best advice you have to give?
Conversations with my 13 year old self – Pink
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLMVdZC-9vs

Thought for the Day?
Beam Me Up – Pink
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFYm9LKsuUo

Your motto is:
The Things that Stop you Dreaming – Passenger
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ItrO33Hg48

Music for Life

I Love Myself

After reading a great post on Serendipity this morning I’ve been pondering the questions posed at the end of it:

So … how much have you changed from the person you were in your late teens? What, if anything, do you do completely differently? Do you like the person you’ve become? Are you trying to change? Do you fit in? If you met the young you, what would you tell yourself?

I love being 30. That was my very first thought on reading the questions. It’s funny, I can’t truly explain the shift in my thinking but there has been a significant change in Mina since I entered this new age bracket. Or perhaps it’s down to a combination of things other than age; the death of a parent, a lost love, friendships re-evaluated, travelling the world, finding “the one”, moving to London. Who knows. I think I’m very much still evolving into the person I am destined to be but I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been on quite a journey thus far.

These days I find I am comfortable in myself for the first time in my life. On a “high” level I know that I am a good person. Friends and lovers have come and gone: I can attribute this to the changing tides of life. I don’t find a common ground in a group of strangers: I find it to be disappointing but nothing more than a tiring evening. I find myself in a politically-oriented discussion with nothing to contribute: I chuckle to myself that if the conversation turned to Austen I would be the one holding court. I no longer attribute these occurrences to some defect in my self. I’ve learned to give myself a break. 

On a “lower” note, I wear yoga pants that may or may not in fact be pyjamas, when I run out for my morning coffee. I just ordered a pair of bright red wellies for the winter rain and last week I finally went all the way and got the pixie cut I’ve been lusting after for some time now. These are all quite superficial things but in this case, the outside has come to reflect the inside. These days my outside reflects an internal self that is far less bothered by the opinion of strangers and far more self-loving than ever before. I have even come so far as to realise that, in my own way, I am beautiful

And so, to the questions:

Do I like the person I have become? Yes, yes I do. I’m not there yet of course, I doubt any of us every truly stop evolving, but I can stand before you today and say that I am happy with the progress I have made so far. Mina: she’s okay! 

Am I trying to change? Of course! I want to continue this evolution, I want to continue to fight my dysthymia and I want to be ready for whatever challenges the world throws at me next. But if this is it, if this is “me” then that’s okay too. I reckon that I can get on quite well for the next 50 years or so with this person.

What would I tell my young self? This is a tough one. When I was younger, I figured the day would come when I would love myself because I would be different…a “better” me. Today, I love myself because I am not different. I am essentially the same me that I was when I was 12 years old, lost and alone, struggling to find my place in the world. Except now, I’ve learned to love that me, to value her uniqueness and to accept her flaws. I would tell my younger self: don’t wish to be different, learn to love yourself for who you are, because one day I promise that you will realise you are already a person worthy of your own love. Of course, if I told that to my 12 year old self she would roll her eyes, turn up her East 17 tape, and go back to dreaming about the future blonde, skinny, genetically re-engineered Mina!

I Love Myself

Beauty is in the eye of the holder

If I think about my friends and work colleagues, the people I encounter regularly in my life, I would rate most of the people as “nice” looking, with perhaps one or two exceptions filed in the “beautiful” box. In my entire life I think I have probably encountered no more than 4 people who are truly perfection (here I define perfection to be traffic-stoppingly stunning looking). For most of us, glaring at them on the pages of our weekly fashion mag is the closest we will ever come to these specimens of perfection. We are unlikely to bump into them on the street, unless we regularly shop on Rodeo Drive that is. And yet 97% of women in the UK are dissatisfied with their appearance. The media’s constant hailing of these paragons of beauty is one of the main causes of our sorry state of self-loathing (nothing new there!). The question I ask myself though is this: why are so many of us allowing ourselves to be devalued by so few?

Think about it: how many of these “perfect” individuals do you know? As I look around me on the street I see all types of people: attractive, unattractive, slim, fat, tall, short, quirky, classic, the list goes on. And it makes me think: maybe we are the “normal” ones! We all know multiple Marys, Johns or Annes, not so many Catherine Zetas, Angelinas or Brads. These people are the outliers, the genetically gifted anomalies whose very existence demonstrates the wonders nature is capable of. When genetics and evolution waltz under a waxy moon in the house of jupiter and the cherry blossoms are the exact hue of pink and you add an eye of newt, they are what you get. And it’s wonderful, but it’s certainly not usual. 

Beauty will always be celebrated, and I think it should be. In the same way that I admire a artist’s greatest painting or an architect’s greatest building, I can admire nature’s great works of beauty. None of those, however make me want to be a library! We put these individuals on a pedestal and expend both money and effort trying to replicate the gifts they were born with, which is no more possible than trying to change our race or how many toes we grow. In reality we should expend no more energy than that moment of longing we feel reading a great book, that we have not the capacity to create something so inspiring, or that small regret we feel listening to a beautiful piece of music, that we weren’t born with the ability to compose. We easily dismiss our failures in these arenas of beauty as due to being born without or without a specific gift. Why then are we so harsh on ourselves when faced with physical beauty? After all, one could argue that, with enough practice and tutoring, anybody could sculpt or compose. 

In recent years I have come to realise that I am beautiful in my own way. I’ve not changed physically, I’m still the same ol’ me: my hair still refuses to behave, my legs are still wonky and I still have giant feet. What has changed is my perception, both of myself and of “the beautiful people”. These days I don’t look longingly at magazines and curse my genetic luck. Instead, I wish the people in them luck, both in being able to succeed with the face they’ve been born with or in being able to succeed in spite of it, whichever applies. And you know what, with all the time and energy I’ve saved, I just might write that book I’ve always thought about…

Beauty is in the eye of the holder