Confessions: Two Personalities

*testing vocal cords* ♫ ♪ THESE ARE MY CONFESSIOOOOONS! ♪ ♫

Yes, I used to act like I was singing Usher and post some very embarrassing, but honest admissions to my Facebook page.  It was silly, but it challenged my social anxiety.

Now, I want to use it as a means to stay human, by expressing what we’re all probably experiencing, but too afraid to admit or accept.

Granted, you may not find an antidote here.  These confessions may not offer anything other than comfort to know that you’re not alone in these sentiments.


 

Around this time last year, I had an intense, almost overpowering desire to take over me.  It was like a fire that wouldn’t go out for a month.  I needed to cuddle.  I needed to hug, to give and receive warmth.  Almost thought I’d die if I didn’t, just burn to ash.

Two weeks ago, I was looking forward to Fall.  There’ll be bundles of blankets, extra rich and extra hot chocolate and soothing teas to warm the body.  There would be autumn colors covering the trees, crunchy leaves to walk through and crisp air to help me appreciate a warm house with cuddly cats.  I’ll even learn to make some soups!

I’ll walk through the fall, embrace the atmosphere and I’ll walk through the winter snow too.  There’ll be icicles descending from trees, homes, and cars! I pictured sunlight glittering across the snow and rainbows forming through the ice.  Maybe I’ll build a snowman or make a snow angel.  I’ll love the outdoors because it’s beautiful and welcoming.

These thoughts are very childlike.  Only my 8-year-old-self remembers how beautiful, breathtaking and fun the changing seasons are.  These emotions and desires, I’ll call them Her, has been knocking on my heart to have adventures, see the world, meet new people and fall in love, not just with one person, but with life, friends, places and foods.  She doesn’t know anger and resentment like…Him.

He is my most dominant personality.  He’s what I’ve known for my adult life.  He’s my anxiety, bitterness, cynicism, and cause of my seclusion.  No one can be trusted.  Look at the news, governments, schools, work-place, and overall, how people treat each other.  What has humanity become? He’ll look at people side-eyed, scrutinize them until he sees their flaws.  He’s not confident, he doubts himself, is fearful and is at no means able to explore the world.  He’s too insecure for that.  In fact, whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably about him and you’re right.  He’s convinced it’s best to enjoy solitude until time is over.  Avoidance is more comfortable.

I have two distinctly different personalities wrecking my heart.  One is of love, the other isn’t.  Out of self-preservation, I’m questioning whether I ever knew myself or if I’ve just accepted the person I’ve become.  Could I really be as loving as Her, but suppressed that personality with resentment and anger over malevolent people?  What is my true self and how do I heal? Can I even join these personalities so my heart can mend?

I repel the thought of being vulnerable, because why should I let anyone hurt me on purpose? It’s my fault if I let my guard down.  Meanwhile, I’m burning up inside from lack of affection and of expressing love.

This conflict feels like a physical weight on my chest and it’s worsening my depression because I know I can’t move on until I’m willing to address years of self-made impediments to live as the person I truly am.  When I reflect on these personalities, I can honestly say I want to love like Her, but it’s easier being Him.  I want to look to my memories in fondness of all the great experiences and people I’ve known.  I want to nurture, provide and take care of the people I love…but I also don’t want the hurt and pain that can come with it.


 

The way in which I use the pronouns “him,” and “her,” have nothing to do with gender and I definitely do not feel they define societal roles.  I just needed a way to differentiate these conflicting characteristics.

Also, I think there’s room to explore how I’m connecting being outdoors to love and possibly happiness.

Transformation: The Pains of Therapy

I left an easter egg in the first post of the year that I was seeking help for my depression, and I found a counselor.

Luckily, my employer offers an employee assistance program (EAP) that covers up to five counseling sessions free of charge.  These counseling sessions can be for anything, depression, grief, marriage, etc.

Take it from an HR professional, don’t snub your nose at EAPs! If an employer has a good EAP, use it! They’ll help with dependent care, child care, legal assistance, health concerns, financial assistance, you name it! They’re designed to people balance their work and personal lives.  Better call them!  ೕ(˃̵ᴗ˂̵ ๑) 

It took me a loooooong time to commit.  I just felt embarrassed and insufficient for therapy, like my depression wasn’t heavy enough for a counselor.  I literally was measuring how critical my depression is compared to what I believed warranted therapy.  If it’s not that serious, why waste the counselor’s time?

Also, I have a fear of being vulnerable.  I’m nervous and tense every day to the point that my shoulders always ache.  Usually, I’m anticipating being rejected by someone who doesn’t like what I say, how I think, what I do, etc.  If I can’t be transparent or if I’m nervous about the counselor, how was therapy going to help me?

Swear, I’ve been working for the same employer for the past 15 years and no matter how many staff meetings we have, I’m ALWAYS nervous to speak.  I mean lip quivering, hands sweating, word fumbling nervousness.  It’s actually at a staff meeting that the co-worker complimented me on my style.  She did it out of kindness because it was painfully obvious my anxiety increased 1,000 fold when I had to explain to her, the new girl, and all (EIGHT!) of my other co-workers (that I see almost EVERY DAY!) about my job functions.  She helped complete my sentence and gave me a compliment to calm me down.  By then, most of the group was having side conversations.  She effectively ended my nervousness without anyone noticing. ٩(๑˃́ꇴ˂̀๑)۶

A mood swing at work stopped my over-thinking and I reached out for help.  It was all web-based, through their client portal.  I had to submit a request for counseling and describe why.  The EAP then sent me approval via email with the name and number of a recommended counselor… then I requested someone else.

I knew that, with all of my anxieties and inhibitions, I’d never open up to someone I didn’t feel comfortable with.  I really feel social prejudices and systematic racism also affects my depression.  I needed to confide in someone that could understand, so when I learned of an African American counselor that helped a co-worker through the loss of her father, I asked the EAP to connect me with her.

Now that my fifth counseling session is tomorrow, I can say it’s been an incredibly tough journey.  I cried a lot and had two anxiety attacks, but the fourth counseling session reeled me in a depressed state for three days.

Like usual, the counselor asked me how I was doing and conversations lead to me stating that I question my self-worth.

“Do you call it that?”

I said yes, and she asked why.  I couldn’t be honest, so I summarized my value amounted to the usual issues of self-image, feeling valuable…and I trailed off.  I started to get emotional thinking of all the horrible things I’ve told myself over the years.

The counselor stood, got a whiteboard, told me we HAVE to explore what I’m upset about and instructed me to write it all down so we can discuss each one.  I cried badly because I felt I was laying myself bare to be ridiculed.  I had to face in writing that I’ve told myself I’ll never be pretty, intelligent, strong, interesting or loving enough for anyone else AND that no one loves me.  The counselor, another human being, was going to judge me for it.  It hurt like hell.

I cried my eyes out for at least 15 minutes and tried to stall until the hour was up! I was like 8-year-old destroying tissue and hiccupping over something I didn’t want to do.  I didn’t even finish the list.  I just wanted the whole notion to disappear.  The counselor reassured me that I could take my time and that there’s nothing wrong with expressing emotion (cause I was legit crying all over the place!).  She even gave me privacy…which may not have been a good idea if I didn’t have some self-control.  I almost erased the board before she could see it! “Ψ(≧ω≦)Ψ“ *cackles*

“You wrote ‘pretty enough.’ You must think you’re pretty, but not pretty ‘enough.’  Define pretty.”

What do you say to that? I didn’t have a good answer.  I mumbled about being fat, not having an attractive face, that my aesthetic isn’t portrayed in media, that black women aren’t seen as desirable.  She dispelled the rest, but not the fact that the odds are stacked against black women in dating, “I’ll give you that.” But, she challenged me to define pretty and to tell myself that I am pretty and why then we’ll begin tackling the rest of my list.

I remember crashing in my bed and crying myself to sleep.  I was so emotional and downtrodden at work the next day that I really could’ve called off and stayed burrowed into my bed.  When I tried to affirm that I’m pretty, oh my god, the tears! How could I say that?!

But, after pacing myself and steadily trying,  I had a breakthrough.  It started with just, “I’m pretty,” without choking up.  And over a few days, I realized that I can’t trust and force myself to measure up to other peoples’ definitions of pretty.  This was probably why the counselor wanted me to have my own definition.  So many people believe certain things are attractive, how can I be all of them at once? And, if people aren’t being honest with themselves, I can’t wait for them to validate me.  Some people think fat people are sexy, but they’ll never introduce their fat lover to their friends or family because they’re embarrassed and fear being shamed.  How is this a healthy measurement?

I realized my definition should be absolute:  I’m pretty because I am.  I’m not limited to other people’s standards and I can’t counter this logic with negativity because as long as I’m alive, I’m pretty.  I can choose my own standard so I choose something infallible.  I’m just pretty.

“You need to love yourself.”

I began to connect, “I’m pretty because I am,” AND because, “I love myself.”  It’s the icing on the cake.  It’s that added touch that will make accepting my new-found logic a bit easier.  Not only can nothing take away my prettiness from existence, but loving all parts of me will make the work ahead with the counselor a bit easier.  I’ve by no means conquered these issues.  I’m not cured.  I’m making progress.

So tomorrow is the fifth and final session covered by the EAP and we’ll have to decide if I should continue therapy with the counselor on my own.  Although these sessions have been rough for me, and almost felt counterproductive, the progress, even by this much, has me hopeful that I’m on the road to recovery.  I’ll hold on for a bit longer…hopefully the price is right lol.


 

It’s my desire that anyone reading this will learn that therapy is great at any moment in life.  Attend as many sessions as you see fit, but don’t ignore the signs.  Recognize when you need help and don’t discourage yourself.

Also, the purpose of this entry is to give a realistic depiction of the hard work necessary for therapy.  Therapy is not an immediate solution, but a way to guide you to recovery.

Sorry for the long post, but hopefully, there are some takeaways.
(੭ु´・ω・`)੭ु⁾⁾