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Posts Tagged ‘why’

Curing versus Healing

October 11, 2010 1 comment

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. Writing this stuff is really hard, so I don’t write it unless I really have something to say.

My therapy progresses. And I’ve learned some things, which are simultaneously informative, helpful, and very painful. I have to say that I am not enjoying this process, not at all.

I’ve realized, as I get further into this, is just what success means when you’re fighting social anxiety. Success isn’t a cure. There is no cure – it’s not an illness like an infection, where you take some medicine and it goes away. At least in my case, it’s more like an injury. You can help it heal, make it less crippling, but the damage will never completely go away. Iwent through years of abuse, and that left scars. Those scars are a part of me that I can’t get rid of. I can learn to change the role that those scars play in my life, to reduce their impact on my day-to-day interactions with other people, but I can’t eliminate that impact.

In one sense, realizing that is a good thing. Part of what had me feeling so hopeless for a while was the fact that I thought that what I needed to do was erase those scars – and I didn’t believe that I couldpossibly do that. So understanding that I’m not really trying to do that? It makes it much easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But in another sense, it’s awful. It makes me so angry, so angry that I don’t really know how to put it into words… These bastards who abused me, who tortured me for their own pleasure – I will never be completely free of them. The things they did to me will always be an unescapable part of my life.

Another recent development in my therapy is flashbacks. Or, I guess, to be precise, awareness of flashbacks.

I mentioned a couple of posts back that my daughter just started middle school. My wife and I went to the back-to-school night at her school to meet her teachers. While we were in the math classroom, something happened which literally put me, in my own head, back in my seventh grade math classroom.

I’m not going to go into details, because I don’t want to say anything that could give away who I am. But someone, meaning well, did something that reminded me of what people used to do to let me know that I was going to be beaten up after class. And.. well, it’s a very hard thing to describe. I wasn’t hallucinating – it’s not like I didn’t know where I was. But simultaneously, like it was superimposed in my imagination over the real classroom that I was seeing, I could see, perfectly clearly, that seventh grade classroom, and the people in it, and the people who’d abused me.

It was a horrible, terrifying moment.

Talking to my doctor about that, and then thinking about it afterwards – I’ve realized that there is a strong element of flashback to a lot of my anxiety. It’s not at a conscious level, and it’s nowhere nearly as vivid as that night at my daughter’s school. But it’s there.

For example, I was at work, sitting in a lounge in my office, and a former coworker who I was friends with walked by, and said “Hey! Haven’t seen you in a while!” My immediate reaction was terror. Why? In my head… back in school, every time anyone said those words, “haven’t seen you in a while”, it was immediately followed by getting hit, or tripped, or banged into a wall. Again, I haven’t consciously thought about that in many years, but that’s been behind my reactions all along.

It scares me. It really does. That all of these things are still inside my head, still affecting me in such a direct way. Things that I really honestly believed I hadn’t remembered, things that I desperately tried to forget – they’re all there, they’re not forgotten, and they’re still affecting me.

Which, I guess, brings this post full circle. I’m never going to escape from the influence of these things. There is no cure. But, hopefully, I can heal, at least a little bit. My hope is that by understanding these influences, by understanding where my fear comes from, I can learn to at least reduce their ability to continue to warp my life. That, if I can’t be cured, I can at least recover some of who I could have been.

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Intervention

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment

One of my children just recently started middle school. That’s the same age where my troubles really started, so I was already somewhat on edge watching what would happen.

What watching it brought back frankly surprised me.

Deep down, I’ve always believed that my real problems stem from the things that happened to me in school. And I also believe that there was no reason for any of it to happen. That if someone, anyone in a position of responsibility had bothered to do anything, if anyone had cared the slightest bit, that all of the torture I endured could have been stopped before it ever really started.

And watching my kid, that appears to be true.

The first week of school, one nasty kid started abusing mine. We contacted a guidance counselor at school. His reaction was to immediately say “That kind of behavior not tolerated at our school”, and to start taking action in multiple ways. The offending kid was disciplined; a group of children including (but not limited to) the kids who were passive participants were contacted gently and spoken to; my kid was brought in to talk to the counselor, who’s working with her on how to respond when someone acts like that.

The school’s new principal also gave a short introductory talk at the back-to-school night where we went to meet the teachers. In it, he said something like “As I see it, my job is to ensure that this school is a place where you children can come to learn. That means that when they come here, it’s my job to ensure that they’re safe – both from threats that come from outside the school and threats that come from inside the school.”

It impressive just how little effort it takes. This kind of trouble needs to be taken seriously – but if you really are serious about it, if you actually care, it doesn’t take much effort.

Watching this makes me really, really angry. Not that my kid is getting taken good care of. But because it proves that I was right all along. That if someone had cared, if someone had been willing to spend just a little bit of time doing their job, that I could have been spared so much pain, so many years of disfunction.

Why couldn’t any of the schools that I went to have thought about something like that? Why didn’t anyone ever stand up and say “We can’t let children in our school be beaten and abused”? Why didn’t anyone in authority ever both to try to protect me?

Here it is, 25 years after I graduated from high school – and I still have flashbacks of what was done to me. And it all could have been stopped right where it started, if only anyone had cared. But no one did. And the only one who was actually hurt by their lack of concern was me.

Categories: Retrospective Tags: , ,

Why fight?

September 12, 2010 2 comments

Right now, I’m sitting inside my house hiding, while the neighborhood block party happens on the street in front.

I hear the children shouting. I hear the adults talking and laughing. I smell the food cooking. And I would love, so much to be a part of that.

But I can’t. I can’t even walk out the door. And so I sit here, writing a blog that no one reads, missing something I’ve never really had. How pathetic is that?

Human beings are social animals. We’re wired by evolution to need to be part of a group. We build communities, not just because we want them, but because we need them. But what about someone like me, who doesn’t know how to join a community? Who’s afraid of it?

I’ve spent almost my entire life on the outside looking in. I’m jealous, so very jealous, of virtually everyone else. It seems like everyone but me knows how to find a community, to find friends, to find people that they can connect with. I just sit and watch, and feel horribly jealous.

Am I ever going to get better than this? I really doubt it. I can’t even imagine it. And after a couple of months of therapy, what progress have I made? None that I can see. I’m fighting, but it seems like I’m losing the battle. Why keep pissing away time money and pain on fighting this? It’s not going to change. I’m not going to change. Maybe it’s just time to give up fighting, and accept that this is what I am. I hate it, but if it’s the truth, what good is fighting it? What can it possibly bring  me except even more pain?

Blame, Responsibility, and Guilt

As anyone reading this has doubtlessly figured out by now, guilt is a major issue for me. I’ve got my problems, and it’s bad enough that they hurt me. But they reach out beyond me, and manage to hurt people I care about, too, like my wife and my kids. And I sometimes have a really hard time coping with that. It’s really awful when I see the effects that my screwups have on them. They’re innocent; they had no part in anything that happened to me; they have no reason to be stuck dealing with my trouble. But they do get stuck with it.  It’s a constant cause of pain and concern – and most of all, of guilt.

But as I work on trying to fix myself, as I get treated for my troubles, one of the things that I’m being forced to do is confront my fears, to face up to them. I have to learn to not just react in the moment, but to dig into myself, and see why I react that way. I need to understand what makes me fear, what causes my anxiety. And that has led me to wondering about causes and responsibility, whether or not they really exist, and whether or not they really matter. Are my troubles my fault? Are they someone else’s fault? Does it really even matter?

Life sometimes intervenes in ways that help make things clearer.

I got an email yesterday. I don’t know how the sender found my address. But it was a guy I went to high school with. He heard about where I work, and wanted to know if I’d help him get an interview. It’s a very friendly email. He calls me “old buddy”, and reminisces about the good times we had together in high school.

Good times? Is he serious? Good  times??

This is a guy who tackled me on the way to a football field in gym class – just for the fun of being able to hit me. In the fall, I sprained my wrist – and for the duration of the time I needed to wear a brace, he proudly referred to it as his brace, because I was wearing it because of what he did to me. He was really proud of it: Hurrah! he’d injured a geek!

Yeah, good times.

I feel guilty about the indirect harm I do to my family because of my anxiety. But there is a reason that I’m like this. And there are people to blame for it. And… they don’t care. They either don’t remember it, or they think that torturing another person, deliberately, for fun, is such a trivial unimportant thing that it just doesn’t matter: “Sure, I used to beat you up. Sure I used to torment you on a regular basis. But it was all in good fun! Now help me get a job!”

In the long run, it doesn’t matter. Whether or not my problems were caused by what others did to me is ultimately unimportant. Because they can’t fix it. There’s only one person in the world who can fix me – and that’s me. I don’t know if I can, but I’m trying. But damn it, I wish that the tormentors could, at the very least, feel a little bit guilty. That someone who abused me could acknowledge that what they did to me was wrong. It wouldn’t undo any of the damage; it wouldn’t make it any easier to work through the process of trying to mend my scars. But it might just do a little bit to restore my faith in humanity.

Categories: Social Anxiety Tags: , ,

Why?

August 11, 2010 1 comment

One thing that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about is why I am the way I am.

For a long time, I believed that I knew the answer. See, I was seriously abused back in my school days. My family moved when I was in fifth grade, and from that point on, I was the class reject. I don’t want to dwell on the stuff I went through – but it was awful. I was physically beaten, and emotionally isolated and tormented. It’s fair to say that from the time we moved until the time I graduated high school, every single time that I thought I’d made a friend, they’d turn on me.

It seems like that’s the answer. Those horrible things happened to me, and as a result, I’ve got this fear, this expectation that people will betray me.

And yet…

It doesn’t really seem to make sense.

I graduated high school and went to college. And in college, I made friends. It wasn’t necessarily easy, but it wasn’t anything close to traumatic either. I went on to grad school, and made friends. It was harder than it was in college, but still, nothing close to the crippling trouble I have now.

After I graduated, and started working, that’s when the serious isolation started. Not immediately – but over time, it got progressively worse.

So how can I really say that it’s high school that did it? It didn’t stop me from being social in college, so why would it now? But if that’s not the reason, then why?

Is there a reason? Does asking why even make sense? It seems like it must! There has to be something, some reason, some cause. I can’t believe that there isn’t a reason. And yet, I also can’t make sense out of reasons. The reasons that make sense don’t seem to be connected to the times when things really changed.

Categories: Social Anxiety Tags: ,