When you live with depression and anxiety forgiveness can be a tough pill to swallow.
If you’ve ever been the victim of a crime or other traumatic event (even of your own making) it’s easy to fall in to the self-pity trap. The feeling that your objectionable behaviour is somehow made acceptable because of your suffering.
The problem is that self-pity creates it’s own dynamic that traps the people around you into an orbit they can’t escape. They accept your moodiness and poor behaviour because they understand you’re a victim while at the same time wishing you’d “just get over it”.
When I first began to experience anxiety symptoms (in my mid 20’s) I didn’t consider myself a victim of anything. So when I sat in the chair for my 3rd attempt at seeking psychological help and for the first time was able to share my childhood experiences, I was overwhelmed by their significance. Throughout a weekly psychological journey that last over 2 years and included hypnotherapy, desensitisation therapy and a good dose of self awakening the most significant thing I learned was that I, errr… was the most significant thing!
Whether as a result of the “quality” of the psychologist or my inability to see a larger picture, those two years created a selfish, self-indulgent survivor oriented woman who believed she deserved everyone’s understanding because of her devastating experiences. I believed I was entitled to a life without suffering and it was everyone else’s responsibility to ensure it happened.
As a consequence, in those two years I was able to pull the people around me into an orbit they wouldn’t necessarily choose and from which they were unable to easily escape.
There’s no doubt (using current diagnostic techniques) that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So I’m okay with my body’s inability to regulate chemical activity in respect of my symptoms. But why is it that the treatment of my illness, rather than help me become ‘well adjusted’ and functioning, for years made me the centre of my own dysfunctional and unhealthy universe.
Whenever I ask Mr Me what he thinks, he begins to worry. Not because I may have placed him “on the spot” but because his position in my universe’s planetary alignment is the most influential. A careless word from him may have me gasping for air in a hostile atmosphere.
For this reason his answers are often constructed to protect me from further suffering. (I have to confess that small matters can have me reconfirming my belief that I’d better off dead.) However, the last thing the people who love me want, is to deplete my oxygen supply. To remove the very thing that keeps me alive.
So in response to my question; what do I need to do to get through “this” and live a “normal” life; it’s easy to imagine he’d deal out one of those caring thoughtful responses that tells me I’m okay the way I am and I just need to be patient. To perhaps indulge myself in some self care, like a bubble bath or massage to help me cope. But that’s not what he says.
What he says is, you need to forgive the people around you for not being able to meet your manufactured expectations for a perfect world. And, then you need to forgive yourself.
I want to yell and scream and release my brokenness and self-serving self-pity into the oxygen depleted environment until I get the answer I expect. The answer I need in order to prove I’m the victim in all this and to maintain my carefully constructed universe.
But I stop myself in time and quietly leave the room. Quietly so he can’t see the shame displayed in my tears. Then, starting with the very people who brought the most vile and heinous realities into my life and ending with my own unwillingness to free myself from my own self-pity, I pray. And, I’m free.
Free to start a journey toward wholeness, without the need to trap unwitting participants into a universe designed only to meet my selfishness.
Freedom is the ability to give away the very things that define who you are and know that you won’t be less without it.
Today from Jim Morrison – “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are…. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)