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So hard to remember what I've learned

Old 05-07-2003, 08:59 PM
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So hard to remember what I've learned

Throughout my recovery and in all of my adult child work I learned so much valuable information that answered many of my questions. But it is so hard to actively apply that information in my daily life.

A lot of the messages I received over and over growing up are still ingrained in my head. Today I know they are a manifestation of taking my parents too seriously and not understanding that a lot of their behavior had to do with them and not with me at all.

I remember something that only happened a few yrs. ago. It's a good example. It was my wedding day and my grandfather, who traveled from CT to be there, had a heartattack the night before and was taken to the hospital. I went to see him with my father that day and as we were walking back to the hotel I said to my father that I feel so bad going through with the wedding because of grandpa being in the hosp. and I also felt like my father was feeling too much pressure with all that was going on. Well, my dad got furious with me. He said in a very stern voice which he rarely uses, "what are you saying that you don't want to have the wedding now after everything we have done to give you the wedding you wanted. How could you feel bad for having your wedding...you are being very selfish and ingrateful. All I did was share with my father that I felt bad celebrating when his dad was very sick. Also my dad had to make arrangement to have him tranported home by helicopter to the hosp near his house. It was huge. I certainly wasn't cancelling the wedding. I was telling him how I felt. I was never allowed to feel bad because that would show that I wasn't grateful for all they have done for me.

I think that's one of the reasons i picked my husband. He doesn't ever try to see my point of view. He is always right, I'm always to blame. I know a lot of this has to do with untreated alcoholism but before I got into Alanon nothing was more important that getting him to see my point of view even if he just said yeah, I see where you're coming from. It's ok to disagree with me but he constately invalidates my feelings and beliefs.

A lot of this stems from my need for approval. That's a biggy for me. I still call my parents when good things happen to tell them because I need that approval to feel good about whatever it is. Of course, I have come a long way with it but I definitely still crave it. It is probably because I never get it so I seek it. Always trying to please everyone else and neglecting myself. It's such a double edge sword because you never get what you're looking for, maybe temporarily, and when I neglect myself....it eventually catches up with me.

I learned in therapy that I cannot depend on approval and validation from others because, for whatever reason, I'm not always going to get it. I have to validate myself and accept my own approval of myself as being enough. In effect, I have to parent myself.

I was shocked when I got married and I became really upset about something. I expected my husband to hug me and tell me it was going to be ok. I was angry when he just looked at me and said, it will feel different in the morning, and then he turned around and went to sleep. I felt neglected like he was a cad. Well I nearly fell off my chair when my therapist said to me.

"Stephanie, he isn't Daddy and you shouldn't expect him to be"
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NorCaliGal (10-27-2014)
Old 05-07-2003, 09:14 PM
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I've found myself constantly seeking approval from my dad & step-mother, even now that I'm all grown up! I have to ask myself, why in the world would I need approval from a man who molested me?! Why do I need approval from a woman who slapped me so hard my lip would swell up and bleed, or would beat me with anything that was handy (broom handles, wooden hair brushes, etc.) and leave bruises that lasted for weeks?! Nothing I ever did while I was growing up was good enough, so what makes me think anything would be different now?

I also grew up not being allowed to have feelings. I learned early on that it didn't matter what I thought or what I felt! So, I learned to stuff everything way down deep! Problem with that is that it never stays where you put it! The bad stuff always comes out in some way! I've slowly learned that it is okay for me to have feelings and to express them, even if nobody agrees with me. From the moment my daughter could talk, I've tried to encourage her to say what she thinks. It's okay if we don't always agree and she might not always get her way, but it is totally alright for us to have differing opinions!
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NorCaliGal (10-27-2014)
Old 05-07-2003, 09:25 PM
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Hey Melissa,

Thanks for sharing that. I know what you mean. Nothing I ever did was good enough either so why do I think it's going to change?

A lot of how I looked at my adult child stuff with my therapist was to look at my relationships today. I still tend to surround myself with people who don't allow mw to feel or disagree with the way I feel so I shut down. I get mad instead of hurt even though what I really feel is very hurt. I love the way JT put it in another thread. She said she always has the need to check her reality with other people. I do exactly that. I do have people in my life that have really good recovery and allow me my feelings without invalidating them like my sposor. She disagrees with me all the time but not without some kind of assurance that makes me feel like I am glad that I shared how I felt. It's so important for me to be able to express my feelings because that is how I learn and grow. I just have to be prepared and strong enough within myself to know it's the right thing to do and that no matter what I feel if I feel it then it's OK.
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Old 05-10-2003, 07:29 AM
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Approval seeking is something I catch myself doing all the time. With my parents...my father in particular. I turn into a 6 year old when ever I am around him. I must say tho that I do it less today than I used too. Perhaps it is the recovery I have. Perhaps it is that I am getting older. I actually said something to my dad that made him squirm and I didn't feel guilty after it.

When my parents divorced they both remarried. My stepfather and I had a fight and he effectly banished me from the family. As a result my mother and I were estranged for 20 years. They had 3 children. He died first and today my mother and I have a nice relationship.

My father's remarrage was to a woman/girl 2 years older than me. That one cut my self esteem pretty close to the core. They are no longer married but had 2 girls.

Today I get these reports from both of my parents about their "other" children. It is a place I have a hard time going. I had a brother who was killed in a drunk driving accident at 21 and a sister who had emotional problems and was put in foster care...no contact there. I am alone and I have been alone for a long time. Set aside in favor of my parents moving on with their lives.

This is the short version. It doesn't include the crying and begging my stepfather. It doesn't include all the crying I have done with Ward.

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Old 05-10-2003, 04:01 PM
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(((((((((((JT))))))))))).

(I know you weren't seeking hugs but I was touched by your story and felt the need to give one. )

I seek approval from each and every person in my life - my parents, my husband, my friends, my coworkers, even you guys. Whenever I accomplish anything the first thing I do is call my dad. I have this insane need for his approval and until he puts his stamp on it, it has no meaning. And if he doesn't, it's hard for me to feel good about it. Sometimes his rejection has motivated me into trying to prove him wrong. But more times than not I just feel incredibly rejected, dismissed, and insignificant.

I go through life trying to be perfect, trying to get others to like me, trying to feel accepted wherever I go. And it seems the harder I try, the worse it is. And it's all my own perception of the world, since I really have no idea what others think. But I do think if I just learn to accept me as is, maybe others will too.

Sometimes I think too much and try too hard....
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Old 05-10-2003, 04:11 PM
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Thanks for the hug JG,

I don't know if it is age, recovery or what but approval seeking has become less important to me. Take me as I am. Now don't get me wrong...the tendency is there. I stop and think. I yam what I yam. I am trying to be a better person...a more evolved person and part of that is accepting me as me...whoever that is.

For me right now, at my age and my parents ages I am trying to be a good daughter. Not a perfect daughter. My mother's health is not good...my father's is great, but they won't be around forever. I don't want to be left with regret which is how I handle many things. I don't want to be out there somewhere wishing I had done something but I can't go back. I have had enough of that.

My father has been in recovery (AA) for 28 years and he is still shallow and insensitive. Go figure.

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JT
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