Can't celebrate my achievements

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Oscen

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Can't celebrate my achievements
« on: May 06, 2019, 12:01:46 PM »
Recently, I ran my first marathon. I got through it; there was never any question in my mind of giving up.
I was cramping severely all down the backs of my legs just before halfway through, and ended up hobbling the entire second lap to come in at a few seconds over six hours.

I did fair bit of training, but fell off the bandwagon six weeks before the race. I was still training, but didn't do the long runs I was supposed to.
Nevertheless, I thought I  was on track. I had, after all, run a half-marathon in August, with a time of 2h05m.

I hadn't had a specific finish time in mind for the marathon, but it had never occurred to me that I would come in at over six hours.
A friend of a friend had got 6h15m in her first marathon and I had been encouraging; I would never say that that was a bad time.
However, I knew that she didn't run as much as me and hadn't trained as much as I had.
Is it hypocritical or arrogant of me to think that that was a decent time for her, but that I should have done better?

I really try to set realistic goals, and above all, not to compare myself to others.
I'm not feeling ashamed of my time; just the faintest touch of disappointment.
But I was a hoping to feel ecstatic and proud, and I certainly don't feel that.

I just thought I would feel more... satisfaction? elation? at completing my goal.
It was a bit of a bucket-list thing, but to be honest, I don't actually feel that I have achieved running a marathon.
I feel like I have faked and cheated my way through it, like I seem to do in all things in life.
I guess this could be imposter syndrome. I do feel like a fraud.

I do this for many goals/achievements in my life - after I finish, I'm always looking for the flaws.
I think it is a defense mechanism, to protect me from being put back in my place by family members when I get too big for my boots.

When I completed my BA at age 29, I was very proud, but I couldn't let myself feel it.
Why? Because I knew that my M would just say "what are you going to do for work now, then?"
And I didn't have an answer to that.

I so desperately wanted her and F and even my sisters to be proud.
And if I caught them at the right time on the right day, maybe one or all of them would be.

But maybe not. My eldest sister, for example, immediately said "what are you going to do for work now?". I don't think she even said congratulations.
She had taken a long time - ten years in fact - to finish her bachelor, with M berating her the whole time.
So she seemed to enjoy doing it to me - demanding I answer for myself, not validating my achievement.

I so need to let go of hoping for approval from people who have time and time again shown themselves to be incapable of giving it.
I always measure myself by my family's standards, which are whatever they are feeling in the moment; if they're feeling small, then they'll say things designed to make me feel small, and unfortunately, though I've been improving I am still sensitive to this.
So I just assume the worst to prepare myself for every eventuality, which really means that I hollow out the joy and sense of achievement from anything that I do in anticipation of their possible reactions.

It is hurting me, as I can never enjoy the positives, and any time I do achieve something positive, I actually associate it with negativity and brace myself for pain.
It is causing all sorts of self-sabotage as I find success more painful than failure, as it reinforces how alone I am, at least family-wise.
Recently, I've been building up my social support network, which is so much more fulfilling and healthy.
But I'm still struggling to let go, take risks, and expand.

Now that I've seen this association of success with pain, I am going to try a few things.
Meditation, reframing, journalling, and perhaps some CBT on the introjects I identify as coming from family, spending time with friends who are more positive.

But it's so hard to allow myself to believe that I've  done something well. I feel like I am going through life holding my breath.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2019, 12:04:14 PM by Oscen »

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notalone

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Re: Can't celebrate my achievements
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2019, 02:03:10 PM »
My husband ran his first marathon last year and he also was disappointed in his race. I think that is a fairly common reaction. I understand, though, that your feelings of disappointment and not being able to celebrate run very deep. Although painful, I think it is good that you are able to see where that comes from and another step toward healing. I say to you: finishing a marathon is a HUGE accomplishment.  :applause: :applause: Way to go, Oscen! Yay!  :thumbup:

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Otillie

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Re: Can't celebrate my achievements
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2019, 02:28:22 PM »
Oscen, can you let us believe you've done something well? Because you finished a marathon. That you did it limping and hurting only makes it more spectacular. You did the thing. It doesn't matter if it was pretty. You did the thing.

That's what courage is. Doesn't matter how many times you say "This is hard!" and "I'm scared! and "I want to go home!"

It just matters that you did the thing.

And at the same time, I hear you. I've been there with a family ready to keep me small and make sure I never feel good about myself. (I read somewhere once -- I wish I could remember where -- something like this: The worst punishment you can give a person is to make sure they can never feel good about themselves again. That sounds about right.)

But your family was wrong and you are a hero. Not just finishing marathons, but living your life in the face of people who've tried to stop you. Hurting and limping and keeping on anyway. All these things you've done, they belong to you, they're yours. May you celebrate them all with us soon.

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Oscen

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Re: Can't celebrate my achievements
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2019, 11:20:15 PM »
Thank you for your words of support, guys. I'm feeling fairly level about the marathon now - not high, not low.

notalone - it's good to know that's not an uncommon reaction; I didn't know but it makes sense. It's so normal to experience emotional reactions that are different to what you "should" feel in so many situations - helps to keep it a bit more in perspective. My emotions (or lack of them) don't mean that it's not something to be proud of.

Otillie - thanks for your encouragement; I am happy I did what I did and there was no question in my mind of ever giving up, so that's the important thing for me.
I do try not to be so down on my achievements, not only for myself, but because I know it's kind of like achievement inflation - if there's one person there saying "I ran a marathon, but it was no big deal", then it can make it tougher for the people around to celebrate their achievements too.
I really don't want to be "that guy" (or gal) who drags everyone else down through their own self-deprecation!
But it's so tough when it actually comes to thinking "I did a good thing" - there's a real mental block there to wear down.
At least I can see the block now.

I like the quote you sent - "The worst punishment you can give a person is to make sure they can never feel good about themselves again."
It explains a lot. :-/ But on the bright side, by learning about CPTSD, PDs and psychology, I feel like I'm learning programming for the mind.
Bit by bit, I change a piece of my inner code every day. If I could take my marathon one step at a time, I can do this too. :-)

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saturnine

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Re: Can't celebrate my achievements
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2019, 11:31:46 PM »
Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, and I'm glad you've reached a level about it. You deserve to be able to bask in the joy of all that hard work paying off, but at the same time I understand how hard it can be. Last weekend I hung my first ever art exhibit and even though it's a big milestone that would have made any person proud, I had that same feeling of dread/not being able to see my own success. I kept looking around for external validation - like I didn't have a right to my own happiness at a personal accomplishment. I think all your ideas on how to work with the issue are great, in fact I might take a few! :)

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Blueberry

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Re: Can't celebrate my achievements
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2019, 09:39:19 AM »
But on the bright side, by learning about CPTSD, PDs and psychology, I feel like I'm learning programming for the mind.
Bit by bit, I change a piece of my inner code every day. If I could take my marathon one step at a time, I can do this too. :-)

 :yeahthat:  :cheer:

and here I second Ottilie: "And at the same time, I hear you. I've been there with a family ready to keep me small and make sure I never feel good about myself. (I read somewhere once -- I wish I could remember where -- something like this: The worst punishment you can give a person is to make sure they can never feel good about themselves again. That sounds about right.)

But your family was wrong and you are a hero. Not just finishing marathons, but living your life in the face of people who've tried to stop you. Hurting and limping and keeping on anyway. All these things you've done, they belong to you, they're yours. May you celebrate them all with us soon
."