Hi. I'm an adult man, nearly 40, single, no children and self-employed. Here is what's on my mind:
Five years ago I found myself very depressed. I was determined not to use medication. It was a long process of research, self examination and risk taking that gradually expanded my comfort zone and brought me back to enjoying life. I ended a more than 10 year marriage in the process. My reason for the divorce was that I felt "unloved and that my needs where not seen as important". It's has since been three adventurous years and I'm excited about where my life is going. I want to continue to make the most of what life has to offer so, please, help me clear something up:
I have difficulty expressing myself (what I'm feeling). I have difficulty explaining myself (the reason for what I'm feeling). I get flustered in the face of questions about my feelings and how I react to them. I end up overreacting.
I have observed myself overreacting too often. It is an issue that has reached the point where I must deal it. It happens when I feel like I am being brushed off or not given consideration. Whenever I feel insignificant. If I am asked to do more than I can reasonably accomplish I will first react passive aggressively. Rolling my eyes, sighing loudly and maybe even slamming a door. I will then immediately being to catalog all the "evidence" I can imagine to "prove" how this person has no respect for me/my feelings/my time/my health/my needs. If I am approached before I have time to blow off this steam (usually through exercise) then the third phase of my reaction is to begin telling them how uncaring, unreasonable and ungrateful they are. Of course, they are always surprised by this because I never told them that my schedule was full or that I had other commitments or that I was feeling down or that I needed a break or that I needed some attention. The more they try to talk to me, the louder my voice gets — again because I feel like they are not listening/that I am not being heard which reinforces my perception of being "unimportant". It's the same pattern every time I am confronted with a person who seems disappointed. Even if they are not disappointed with me, I tend to think it is a reflection of me and I react the same. There is no fourth phase. I don't swear or become violent for reasons I will explain in the next paragraph.
I would describe my overreactions as childish and they no doubt stem from my childhood. I didn't like my childhood and I especially didn't like the people in charge of me. My teachers disliked me because I did
not pay attention and didn't participate (I didn't need to study in order to pass and I didn't like them so I retreated into my own imagination). I felt like my parents were not interested in me and left my siblings to take care of me. My older brother (much older by 9 years) humiliated and beat me. Since my parents did not intervene, I felt that I was not worth protecting. Yet I idolized my brother who took every opportunity to crush my esteem. My brother was the biggest and strongest person I knew (he was also talented like I was) so I tried to be like him even though I would go to bed bruised and hating him. I spent decades fantasizing about becoming bigger and stronger than my brother. I eventually succeeded. I was a bodybuilder through my 20's and 30's and fulfilled my dreams without drugs of any kind. When I was child, my brother drank, smoked pot and beat me up. So I vowed growing up to be healthy, polite and non-violent. I just wanted to look big enough so that I wouldn't be attacked. Sadly, my brother refuses to engage me in any form of adult physical competition so my need to defeat him has never been satisfied. Even as an adult I find myself subtly looking for his approval.
In the last 5 years, I've adopted a different attitude toward my brother. I see him now not as an idol nor as a villain. He was a teenage boy trying to impress his friends while being saddled with baby sitting the young brother who stole his parents attention away from him. I'm not excusing him, I'm just humanizing him. In the last 3 years I've embarked on many adventures around the world and proven my value to myself by helping and even saving the lives of others. And yet, in spite of this, my insecurity and overreaction persists.
So now you have an exhaustive background on the root on my problem. It is embarassing. It is limiting my professional and personal relationships. I want it to be resolved. I have too much to offer to people and too much to gain from satisfying relationships. I do not want this holding me back for even one more day. I think I understand the problem but I haven't resolved it a way that contributes to my daily life. Help me cross the bridge from understanding to living. Help me to stop overreacting. Help me to live with a better sense of security.
Thank you for reading.