I try to be a positive person, but my inner dialog is anything but. As an example:
When I was skinny, I wasn’t skinny I was fat. Now that I’m not skinny, I am a cow, but since I’m a cow and I’ve got some gray hair and a lot of scars and bad skin, I am ugly. I’m also extremely sensitive to the implication that I’m stupid because I’ve always thought that I very probably am stupid.
This negative dialog has not just been and isn’t now just about my physical appearance or intellect, but my worth and value as a human being, as a wife, as a mother, a daughter, so on and so forth.
I even drove my husband insane for years because I lived in constant fear that with the very next argument he was going to up and leave. That was one negative monster I enjoyed setting down quite some time ago with glee. On the marriage front I have to say I’m blessed and as the years stretch on, I have found new levels of connection and comfort that warms the heart and soul. There’s a profound companionship in someone who knows you for all of who you are and despite the good, the bad, and the ugly loves you to the moon and back despite all of those things.
I don’t write the above for anything other than to say we all do this. We are not kind to ourselves as human beings at all. Most people have a negative inner dialog. Need evidence? Look at the data from the pharmaceutical industry on anti-depressants, anxiety drugs, etc. Note that isn’t to dismiss true medical diagnoses that require those meds, and we collectively need to be having a stronger and more productive dialog on mental health; yet we need to understand too how we as humans can bring some of this onto ourselves.
As for me, I’ve been in what I’m calling an “extra cycle” for several years. Due to factors that I have allowed to exist within my life I’ve been less than happy on some fronts. Not all, mind you, but some meaningful ones. That just is what it is. What I have come to understand about the last year of my life has brought me full circle though.
But why the last year?
Last October with my child’s annual IEP meeting I immediately fell into a pretty severe depression, and naturally I didn’t talk to anyone about it. The reason is some diagnostics were re-run, and though his current school is an “oasis,” meaning I am not at major war with them over my son’s needs, the reality is neither the school or the district are capable of ever educating any child like him, and their complete and willful determination to NEVER service his dysgraphia, while I knew they wouldn’t do anything, just rocked me to my core. I’ve dealt with plenty of denial, but this willful rejection was apparently a breaking point for me.
At the same time, I was coming to terms with the anxiety I live with so that didn’t help.
Over the following six months (November through March) there was a series of events which further worsened the depression. These events went straight to who I am as a human being and what my value is too.
No, I still didn’t seek help.
Like I said in November, if you want to hit me where I live, hit me in my character (and / or my intellect), which some people not only did, but they also took it out in a back alley and tried to beat it to death with baseball bats. The ramifications of this are still evident in some current events in my advocacy life.
In late May, early June, I finally recognized the depression, but as more time passed, I finally came to understand the depression had more teeth to it than I thought. The depression fueled the anxiety, and the anxiety fueled the depression because it was feeding on the events happening in my life.
While I most my life I had really kept my anxiety under control, now the anxiety was everywhere and permeating everything. I was in an unbreakable cycle that I didn’t even know was consuming me. All I knew was that I was sad, and something needed to change.
Once I understood this, I could face it, understand it, and finally start to let it go. That wasn’t easy though thanks to the attack on my character. I would repeatedly circle back on several occasions asking if I deserved to let it go. Those gremlins still wake me up at night whispering nasty thoughts.
Over the last few months, I decided to make a change. The ability to change this reality gets the gremlins all up in my head repeating to me that I am unworthy. The details within this reality being what they are, the gremlins have a lot to feed on, but I didn’t want to allow the gremlins any space.
I made a conscious choice to speak to the universe with positivity and not doubt; so instead of saying “I hope, but I probably won’t,” to consciously choose instead to say, “I want, and I am.”
As I wanted, things are progressing well. Time will tell of course, but I have faith, and I continue to pray and state that to the universe that “I want, and I am.”
What’s been an interesting realization in this is the negativity within my own child. When he makes a mistake on anything, he calls himself stupid and berates himself for the mistake both inwardly and outwardly. With the math we are doing together I am hoping to break this cycle.
Then someone said something that led me to go to just a bit of Googling, and I learned our brains are more wired for negativity than for positivity. Over time the negativity, because it creates stress, ensures that we hold on to the negative experiences in our lives and not the positive ones; instead, the brain lets the positive experiences go because we’re generating too much white matter as opposed to gray matter which is what we need for positive experiences. Scientists believe that it’s our evolution as a species that has made this our reality. Our fight or flight fosters guilt, guilt fosters negativity, etc. In other words, it’s significantly easier to speak negatively to ourselves than it is to speak positively, yet over time the negativity is what becomes our reality, or at least our perception of it. Now at least we can understand why our culture has us berating our value and worth too.
I’ve tried over the course of my adult life to be a positive person on several fronts, but in my own head I wasn’t. Over my almost 49 years I’ve fostered a language that doesn’t find anything about me to be worthy of anything. Because I’ve done this to myself, I didn’t see that my son was doing it to himself too. I knew he was like me in a lot of ways, but this really hit it home, so now it’s time to help him foster his own positivity and change his dialog from “I hope, but I probably won’t,” to “I want, and I am.”
To the friend who told me, “You are amazing, and I don’t think you know that about yourself, but you are,” thank you. Truly. I’ve been flying high on your words since you said them.
To my husband, who has repeatedly told me over the last month that I am as beautiful today as I was on the first day he saw me, thank you for loving the real me. I love you too!
To the universe, “I want, and I am.”