Archive for June, 2012

Next Epic Win: Crack Conflict Avoidance & Be Assertive

I’ve set my next Epic Win in SuperBetter to work on Conflict Avoidance & Assertiveness. I’ve been avoiding conflict my entire life. The hypervigilance/anticipation is all tied into that. I will anticipate what someone will say or do to avoid conflict. I also struggle with being assertive. I often put everyone else’s needs and wants before mine. I feel obligated to do things when I am not. So I’ve set up some quests over the next few weeks to work on these things.

Quest: Keep a Journal

I have a hard time recognizing when something bothers me. Keeping a journal over the next two weeks may help me identify easier what is bothering me an how I can address it.
Quest: Say No or State Your Need Without Giving Reason Why

I often have this problem especially with people at work who always want to know my business, like why I have a doctor’s appointment, and I feel like I am obligated to give them an answer, but I am not.
Quest: Express My Feelings to Someone

Once a week for the next 5 weeks, express how I am feeling to someone either at home or at work. If I need something for things to work better, then ask for it.

Quest: Be assertive – Use “I messages”

Often I don’t make decisions or say what I want because I feel like I don’t have the right to have needs or wants. But, over the next few weeks I would like to push myself to be assertive more often and express what I want using “I messages” more frequently. For example, “I am feeling frustrated about X. I would really like it if we did X about it.”

Do you struggle with these things? If so, what types of things do you do to deal with them?

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Break-Through on Body Image

This week I had a major break-through on one of the symptoms of abuse that I do not talk about much. That is body image. Since I was a child, I have always had a distorted body image of myself. I always thought I was obese and ugly. When I look back at pictures of myself as a kid, I don’t think I was fat or ugly at all. Yet, to this day, I still struggle with my body image and still think I am fat. I know this is not true, but it’s hard for me to believe it. This week I had my biometrics done. All of my numbers were perfect and like an athlete’s. The nurse said, “You are the picture of health.” To hear this and to have hard factual numbers to back it up had a huge impact on my perception of myself and body image. 

I thought through my entire life history and the struggles I have had with body image. When I was in grade school, I was made fun of for being “fat” because I was my full height and size by then. When I was in high school, I struggled with anorexia and an unhealthy exercise regimen. When I was in college, I hid my body in unattractive clothes, did not fit in, and spent all my free time running. I understand being picked on in grade school, never fitting in, and being raped in college all attributed to my negative body image.

I have come a long way since then on improving my body image, but I still have a lot of insecurity around it. Two years ago I would have never been caught in public in a swimsuit and now I push myself to just not worry about it so I can train for a triathlon in one. I would have never worn short sleeves either and now I do a lot more frequently. Years ago I wouldn’t eat any foods with any fat in it. Now I understand that good fat is essential to my nutrition. When I have an injury now, instead of just pushing through it and not taking care of it, I force myself to take care of it so I can continue my training later without injury and find other activities I can do in the meantime. 

I am hoping that hearing solid proof that I have no reason to have a negative body image sticks with me and I can continue to work on my positive body image.

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Quests: Overcoming Avoidance

I called a local Support network for domestic violence survivors this week. No one answered, so I left them a message. I hope to reach out to others in my community and to share the work I’ve been doing to get better from trauma. For over a year and a half now I’ve grappled with the thought that networks like that are for people really in need, that since I am no longer experiencing abuse, those networks are not for me. But, I realize now that’s exactly what they are there for. I also have a fear that they will tell me they can do nothing for me and to just shut up and get over it. I think I feel that way because after I was raped and went to seek help, they told me they can’t help me and to just shut up and get over it.

I also made a dentist appointment! I have been avoiding going to the dentist for over 10 years. Going to the dentist is a high anxiety experience. I feel trapped and like my space and privacy is being invaded. I also am distrustful of dentists. I have had some bad experiences in the past with them. I read many trauma victims experience this same anxiety of dentists. I consider going to the dentist being a very big step for me in the way of breaking the symptom of avoidance.

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Reflection on the past week: Depression, Anxiety, Anticipation, Avoidance

I’ve been in this depressive funk for the past couple of weeks. This is very abnormal for me. I haven’t really want to be around people or do much of anything except run. I pretty much always feel exhausted now. Doing anything like chores or shopping just bum me out. I don’t really feel motivated to do all the things I had listed out I was excited to do. I actually skipped events with people to just chill out. This was following a number of weeks with something to do every night and a long weekend around a lot of people all the time. In therapy we talked about how this might have to do with anticipation and hypervigilance.

As a kid I had to do a lot of anticipating in order to avoid the consequences of not anticipating which could be being yelled at, hit, hit with something, or being ridiculed for not doing the thing I should have known to do. I had anticipated for so long that it became the way I live. I got into a relationship with a person who used it to their advantage as well.

Being around people can be exhaustive to me because unconsciously I’m spending all that time analyzing what they really mean and anticipating what to do or not do, what to say or not say. I think I had reached my threshold. But, I’m not really sure why I feel so depressed, discouraged and unmotivated. I think it has to do with feeling unsupported. My friends have not been supportive with this SuperBetter thing and that has really gotten me down. Actually I have started to question if people are even my friends and care about me. And then I think a large number of people in the world are dealing with this same problem of feeling like they are always looking for the friendships and support they need. Why do we do this to each other? What makes a person fit or not fit in with others? How do you fix all of these things?

So no matter how depressed or unmotivated I feel, I still feel the need to push on, to keep pushing myself to be active, to talk with people, to make plans, to keep asking, to keep working on unlearning all the behaviors I’ve learned that are hurting my relationships with people.

I keep getting told no when I ask for things I need. But, maybe some day I’ll find someone who says, yes.

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