Posted by: Marie | September 16, 2012

(711) Reconciling dichotomies – Part 3 of 6

Post #711
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Edward: And, where is that? Where is it that you are?

Me: Well, I’m always going to be fat and I’m always going to be alone. I’m always going to live in someone’s basement with my cat. I’m never going to have a home environment that supports having friends over. I’m always going to drive old cars and wear frumpy clothes.

It’s painful to fight to change it . . . it’s more painful to fight to change it – and to fail to change it – than it is to just accept it. I’m starting to just accept it which allows me to feel less hopeless about it . . .

If I quit striving to make it better and just accept that this is the best there is for me, then there is nothing to hope for . . . if I’m not hoping for something better, then there is no state of hopelessness for me to fall into when it doesn’t materialize.

Does that make sense?

This is what my life is going to look like and I’m not going to push myself to change it because I’ve always been pushing myself to change and that is triggering for me. I’m always trying to be better, always trying to perform well enough so I can be in a relationship, always trying to be enough so I don’t have to be alone for the rest of my life.

Thailand by Martin Chen

I’m really tired of always wanting more and I don’t want to push myself anymore. I’m going to let how I am right now be good enough.

(We sat silently for another minute or two . . . Edward watched me intently . . . then I decided I wasn’t quite through with my rant . . . )

Me: And, if I want to eat ice cream as a way to deal with the pain of being alone and fat and living in a basement with my cat, I’m going to eat ice cream, damn it! The world can just leave me and my ice cream the hell alone!

Edward: (After a respectful pause) You are right . . . it’s not about the ice cream . . . it’s not about whether you eat one pint or two pints . . .

It’s about meeting the need that you are trying to stuff down and trying to not feel. You ache so badly for something . . . the ice cream numbs the ache for a time.

Our work together is not really about helping you not eat ice cream. Rather, my role is to help you figure out what you are not getting that you desperately ache to have.

I had a client who drank and smoked pot because, as a kid, he had been left alone so much. As an adult, he was desperately trying to not feel the pain of being alone. So, he pushed that pain down with alcohol and pot.

Maybe that is what is happening with you and ice cream . . .

Me: You are absolutely right.

I already know what that need is . . . it is to be okay right now, to be enough right now, to not have to always push to be better . . .

I have a desperate need to be good enough already – to been accepted as I am right now – to be acceptable.

(Again, we sat silently for a couple of minutes . . . )

Me: Actually, I understand that I’m “good enough” . . . I know that, in general, people do like me and appreciate what I offer to them. In general, people can accept how I am right now. It is pretty easy for me to tell and show people the real me – the parents of my students, the people who read my blog, close friends . . . they all like the real me . . .

It’s one thing for people to know that I’m broken and damaged when they are observing me and interacting with me from a distance. But, if someone had to share living space with me . . . if they had to deal with my brokenness day in and day out, they wouldn’t do it. They would leave.

I’ll have to get my act together before I can ever be in an intimate relationship with someone. If a person were to make a commitment to share living space with me – and I mean in a romantic sense, not just housemates – that person would be stuck in a bad situation with me and they would be sorry they made that commitment.

They might stick around if they knew it was a temporary situation that would, for sure, get better in the near future. But, I would be under pressure to fix myself quickly. If I didn’t get better soon, he would be too disappointed to stick around. I can’t live up to that pressure – to that expectation. I always disappoint people in that situation.

Therefore I can’t be in a relationship . . . because I know it is only a matter of time before the guy will be disappointed and leave. The pressure to be more than I am – more than I ever can be – is too great – the disappointment is too painful. I’ll never measure up. I’ll never be enough.

Edward: Well, of course! That is how you were raised!

(Once again, we sat silently for a couple of minutes . . . )

Me: Can I change the subject?

Edward: Sure!

Me: I watched an interesting show on TV last night . . .

Edward: What show was that?

Me: Do you know who Dr. Drew Pensky is?

Edward: Um . . . no.

Me: Well, he is an addiction specialist – he is a key figure in a reality TV show about celebrities in rehab.

Edward: Oh, yes . . . you’ve talked about him before.

Me: Yeah . . .

I really like watching his shows because he seems to have a pretty holistic approach and he also educates people on why people get addicted and what is involved in healing from trauma. He shines a bright light on some pretty dark topics. I always learn a lot from his shows.

Anyway, he has a daily talk show on HLN on which he examines why people do what they do. Last night he had Michael and Debi Pearl on . . . they wrote a book titled, “To Train Up a Child”. The book encourages corporal punishment . . . in fact, it gives very specific steps on how to “effectively” administer corporal punishment. They encourage spanking and whipping because they believe that is what the Bible teaches.

They teach that punishment must be painful in order to be effective. For example, if a baby bites the mother’s nipple while nursing, then the mother should pull the baby’s hair. If he continues to bite her nipple, she could pull even harder – and harder – until he learns not to bite her nipple.

Edward: And this doctor endorses what this couple teaches?

Me: Oh, no! He had someone else on who presented an opposing opinion – I think the other guest was a child psychologist.

Edward: But he let the couple who wrote the book express their beliefs?

Me: Yeah . . . he likes to bring both sides of the story . . . that’s what I like about the show . . . he’s not afraid to allow both sides to state their opinions, he doesn’t try to control the conversation.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. I know how painful it is to think you will always be alone, because I think that way too, and it seems to be true. In my case there aren’t ice cream issues involved, but I still hold that belief. I think now though that this feeling comes from my relationship with my FOO, where I was pretty well completely alone.

    Rooting for you that this belief shifts for you. I wonder if we change our deep seated beliefs, the reality will also change?

    • Hey, Ellen –

      I wish I could say that, a year or so later, I have been able to shift this belief. But, I haven’t. It is the one most stubborn beliefs and it has resisisted all therapeutic efforts. I get it to budge for a week or two, then it comes back with a vengeance.

      Thank you for the rooting . . . and back at you!!

      – Marie

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