Living in a Community

There's a cognitive distortion where some of us see things as black and white. This all or nothing thinking is polarizing, “you're with me or you are against me.” The truth is that emotionally things are far from right or wrong, bad or good, black or white.

I do not want to disappoint you. In reality, I will. I am human and we are far from perfect. Logically, I understand that you being disappointed in me is different from you wanting me out of your life completely. Emotionally, that does not fit. I've participated in groups, talked to therapists and psychiatrists. I can recite that fact about the difference of disappointment versus banishment. I am not sure that I believe it.

If the part of me that assumes I disappoint others was a movie villain, he would be a masochist. It's almost as if I seek out ways to find ways to convince myself that I am a burden and not enough. Funny aside, looking up “masochist” will reveal another term, Self-defeating personality disorder. A brief read and it looks like this term isn't even good enough to be in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. Regardless, my point is that this is my doing and not the responsibility of others. I assume I am a disappointment and not wanted.

This is as difficult for others to grasp as it is for me to understand the opposite— we are not responsible for the emotions of others. You cannot make me feel sad. That's my brain chemistry and neural pathways. Just as you cannot influence my back pain or stomach ache, you cannot directly change my emotions. You can say, “This is not an attack on you. Next time you try to blog about emotions, double check your grammar.” I assume that I am a complete moron. My mind discounts the phrase, “this is not an attack” and focuses on that which fits into my personal narrative, I failed.

In personal relationships this is challenging. However, if I can communicate my struggles with loved ones who actively listen we manage. Friends and family are invested in me, just as I am in them. Professional relationships are somewhat more troubling. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it just isn't the job of my boss/manager/supervisor to help me through these things. So constructive criticism in this venue still feels hurtful and feeds that failure narrative. I am not enough.

I suppose one could argue that you can have leaders that are also friends. Again, it goes back to my own perception of the events. I screwed up again. I assume they will fire me soon.

I have been shadow boxing with my thoughts about returning to my volunteer role. When I think of the supervisors I worked with, I see looks of disappointment. I have had a number of conversations with them about my needs and being involved in mental wellness (with the work we do), the supervisors practice what they preach. I have let them know where my head is at and how I have these blinders on. I asked for more praise and reassurance that feedback is only to improve on what I am doing. Still, there is a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety associated with returning to the role.

Conversations with my former EMDR psychiatrist and therapist have brought me to a place where I believe I would be better off not returning to that role in the organization. I know that my anxiety gets in the way of serving those people who are depending on me.

Yet, my volunteer contract is nearly complete. Out of 192 hours, I only have 60 to go. Can I not just stick it out? Would it not feel good to finish what I started? I know that would make my partner happy. Of course, I am not responsible for her emotions. There is a chance that if I choose not to continue the contract she will be disappointed. She will also still support me and be there when I need her. I say that with the memorized performance of a talented actor. I wish I could feel it. What would it feel like to know that in my heart? Instead, I latch onto that which fits what I have been telling myself for years. You are a disappointment, Chris.

If you are interested in helping others with mental health you can donate to the fund raiser I am trying to participate in, Ride Don't Hide. Or you could sign up and participate to show support.