Adult me and child me

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voicelessagony2

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Adult me and child me
« on: December 01, 2014, 08:11:04 PM »
I just want to find out if anybody else struggles with this.

I have absolutely zero structure or routine to my days. I've been unemployed for nearly a year, partly because I refuse to return to the rat race until I figure out what is wrong and how I'm going to fix it, which has led me here.

What I have noticed is that all of my decisions, large and small, are driven by feelings. I wake up in the morning and feel around in my head, what do I want to do today? What do I need to do? The most urgent feelings are the ones that I follow with action.

I have zero capability to make any sort of plan or schedule for myself. I think that most people do schedule their time, regardless if they are working or not, is that true? It's not that I don't know how, I have MS Project on my computer and I know how to use it. I understand on an intellectual level, how it's supposed to work, but I just can't make the connection with my reality.

So, it's like Adult me knows about priorities and schedules, but Child me is still in charge of my days.

Adult me also knows how to create a budget, pay bills, and save money, but Child me is also in charge of money. Which is why I don't have any. Zero savings, zero retirement, zero assets. I'm completely broke. But I have a sports car (for the time being, anyway) and a closet full of designer labels. And I know which restaurants have the best wine. (I'm not from a wealthy family, either, so there is no rescue or safety net there either.)

Today I'm having an unusually Adult day. My boyfriend went to work instead of working from home, which is a welcome relief. For some reason, I find my adult often (not always) goes into "waiting" or avoiding money tasks when he's around. So I put my bills and responsibilities in a little stack and try to ignore it as long as I can, until a day like today comes along and I feel like handling it. I don't know why. We don't fight about money, unless I wait until something gets really bad to bring it up, but even then it's not anything horrible.

I know some of my fearful hiding is because I'm terrified of how dependent I am on him right now, but I also know that hiding just makes things worse.

And I also find myself childishly avoiding the rest of the world, too. Like right now, I just realized I should call my consulting account manager about a possible job she called me about last week. But I am really reluctant to call her, and I know he will ask me if I did when he gets home. It's important. But I just don't WANT to. I feel defeated already, like this is just another example of me not getting a job because I'm not qualified enough.

Why am I like this? Am I the only one completely dictated by completely unpredictable feelings? And avoiding the world including not checking email, not answering the phone, not going anywhere?


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Sandals

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2014, 03:21:32 AM »
Hi VA,

I hear you, loud and clear. I've been struggling with avoidance lately, too. Like you, I can intellectually plan my day but some days I just don't have it in me. I don't like it, but what I do to cope is actively detach. i.e. I will go into just an intellectual mode to handle bill-paying, etc.

Thank you for bringing this up, as I'm going to make a note to talk to my T about it tomorrow. I will let you know what she says.

:hug: You're not alone.

Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 09:10:18 AM »
No no, you're definitely not alone. Same here. I haven't delved into this though, so I'm not sure which aspect of me is responsible for which harebrained idiocy, but the situation itself sounds familiar - feeling unmotivated, being competent but somehow resistant to actually doing something, feeling tasks pile up but being strangely lethargic or paralyzed or unwilling to tackle them...

The thing is, I lived with CPTSD before and it was okay. I got things done. I was motivated. Now I'm not. Still not sure why this happened. Could be my Inner Child, like you said. What caused this might be something that happened around the time my second child was born. (Highlight if you're not worried about being triggered by abandonment issues.) A friend of mine chose to end our friendship. She was a good friend, not just an acquaintance, and since my FOO (especially my father's sudden illness when I was very little) left me with abandonment issues, this might have retraumatized me a little bit. It was rather traumatic, especially since she said outright that it was because of my PTSD: she found it "toxic" to spend time with someone who would always have issues that evoke anger and grief and so on. Which - I mean, I can kind of see her point. Normally, someone grieves about something for a while. You're there for them and you listen, and it's exhausting and energy-consuming, but there's an end to it. But with PTSD, there's a chance things will pop up again and again. She might have stuck around nonetheless, but at that time, her spirituality was such that ANY problem you might have that isn't physically real will ALWAYS be fixed if you want to enough. That made it a no-brainer for her, I suppose. -- Before that, I was reasonably capable. After that, I struggled. I wasn't aware of it at first, because having a baby changes so many things, and you can't keep up your old routine anyway. But I never really got back into it, not for long.

BUT! There's hope. There was this one thread about Inner Children a while ago, and someone mentioned that her "inner teenager" is resistant to doing chores. Hugely eye-opening. A considerable portion of my trauma happened while I was in my teens, so of bloody course it makes sense that I'd have a (highly traumatized) inner teen lurking about inside of me. Given my family background, it also makes sense that this inner teen has tons of issues relating to her competence (or lack of), her right to exist in the real world and take up space and make messes and fail sometimes (because the way she sees it, one had best either be UTTERLY competent and perfectionist OR stay out of sight, no middle ground).

And if that is so, then why not treat chores as if I had to motivate a teen to do them?

So I set myself one tiny, manageable goal, and I gave myself permission to take two, three weeks to learn and practice it. AND (here's where it gets nifty) I'm self-parenting my inner teen while I'm doing it. For some reason, my inner teen likes it if I talk to her in English, maybe because it feels removed from my FOO (we're not native speakers). So when I'm tidying up the surface of my washing machine, I take some time to notice how much better it looks, and I'll think at myself: 'Good job, honey, the whole room looks different already, well done'. If I'm feeling resistant... no, when I'm feeling resistant (because I feel resistant a lot), I'm also trying to treat this as if my resistant part were a mulish-yet-well-meaning and lovable teenager: 'It's okay to feel tired, we don't have to do everything, just try giving it a shot - five minutes of work, for example - and then we'll see what a difference that has made already. And if you're feeling tired again, we can take a break. It's okay'.

It's difficult though to remember not to simply use my Inner Critic's perfectionism and fear as motivators. Since I'm only at the second stage of this plan, I don't yet know if this a foolproof way of motivating oneself. Also, it's slow going. But still: so far, so good.

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Whobuddy

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 11:11:29 AM »
I just want to find out if anybody else struggles with this.

I have absolutely zero structure or routine to my days. I've been unemployed for nearly a year, partly because I refuse to return to the rat race until I figure out what is wrong and how I'm going to fix it, which has led me here.

Why am I like this? Am I the only one completely dictated by completely unpredictable feelings? And avoiding the world including not checking email, not answering the phone, not going anywhere?

Oh yeah, this is a struggle for me, too. If I didn't have a job to go to thus needing to have clean clothes, working vehicle, etc. I wonder if I would do much of anything. When I think about retirement, I wonder who is going to pry me off the couch every day.

I have been wondering about control issues lately. I keep reading a recurring concept that we try to gain control even when there isn't any. In my life, things were so bad in my FOO, I left as a teenager and married someone who controlled all I said, did, and thought. It felt like a relief for many years. I gave my control over to him. (not together anymore, btw) But as I look back, I think it was responsibility I was running from. I couldn't handle being responsible for my own choices so I did what others told me to do. Then I couldn't be blamed for being wrong. (or so was my erroneous thinking) So that actually was controlling my situation - in a kind of paradox.

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marycontrary

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 01:01:31 PM »
Boy, I understand this! First watch this video on why we procrastinate. It is because we were treated as slaves as kids.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1WC6hNTONg

Now here is an excellent EFT tapping video that really works with procrastination.
http://www.tapping.com/videos/killing-procrastination.html

I know I procrastinate on days where I am dissociating really bad. How about you?

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voicelessagony2

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 08:42:08 PM »
WOW mary, what a powerful video! At first my ADD had me edgy when I saw it was 30 minutes, but I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. Thank you for sharing it!

What he said in that video is actually not a new concept to me, the idea of not HAVING to do anything... but what I was missing was the part about the master/slave relationship, and how that is set up for us in childhood. And he's not even specifically talking to cptsd sufferers, which means that if most children experience this in "normal" families, how much more those of us who were abused. (Memories of my mother screeching my name, so much deep resentment there! Even now, when I'm visiting her, if she calls out for me from another room I still feel traces, even though her demanding attitude has completely disappeared.)

So, yeah, I totally get that I don't have to do anything, and I'm totally NOT doing anything, but the implication seems to be that the things you want to do will naturally take over. But I think that because - maybe because my spirit was so completely broken in childhood, I never allowed myself to want anything. Even now, I don't know what I want. It's frustrating as *, too. One of the main reasons I don't have kids is because I never allowed myself to want to have kids. I see happy families and feel a sense of longing and maybe even envy, but deep down I always felt unworthy or unable, it was simply out of reach and there was nothing I could do about it.

I haven't watched the other video yet, but I will.

Whobuddy, I did the same thing, although not until a little later in life. Giving control to a SO seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

Cat, I also had a friend remove herself from my life in nearly the same way. And I don't blame her either. I was toxic, extremely paranoid, just completely untethered. I like your idea of paying attention to the inner teen rebel, I think that might be what I'm dealing with too.  :hug:

Sandals, I look forward to hearing what comes up for you, let me know! :)

A follow up thought about the video: I see an indirect, but strong connection between resolving the slave mentality and eliminating blame. Blaming ourselves or others in any current situation (I'm not applying this to placing blame where it belongs in our past abuse) should nearly disappear when we take ownership of our choices and really understand that each and every thing we do, every decision we make, is OURS and only ours. Therefore the consequences of our choices are also ours. Agree? Disagree?




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Whobuddy

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 10:42:58 PM »

Today I'm having an unusually Adult day.


I keep thinking about your statement. I love the term "Adult day." Perhaps some days are Adult days and some simply are not.

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Annegirl

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2014, 02:16:23 AM »
I too really get this concept, I never separated the two though. I just thought I am and may seem immature to most people, and when Im feeling confident I can act mature....

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smg

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Re: Adult me and child me
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2015, 02:52:29 AM »
VA2,

I'm another person who had MANY rather formless days when I wasn't working for 2 1/2 years. I tended to have lots of ideas and plans, but mostly end up pottering or even creating some unnecessary agenda item to fill up a block of time, and now my days off are similar.

As I was reading your original post, I start thinking that maybe you've been learning/fumbling/practicing at identifying and satisfying your wants. Going a bit overboard is something you do when you're first learning a skill - right? That fits with what the others have been saying about maybe a history of overcontrol leading to apparently aimless activity to satisfy your most pressing wants. I think that 2 years old and the teen years are key periods for children to differentiate from their parents (i.e., to explore their own wants), and maybe the behaviours typically associated with those periods are essential steps to learning the skills of identifying what we want and deciding if it's appropriate to satisfy our wants. Maybe you/we really need to be unstructured, for the practice...?

I have a hard time still identifying my own wants, and I felt a bit envious reading what you said about "feeling around in your head" for your wants -- it sounds liek you're doing good work.

From an emotional-health angle, it's probably high time that we behave like resistant teenagers! But we're still our real ages, no matter what developmental stage we're at, so the sucky reality is that there are bills to pay and savings accounts to fill. I like the idea of working out strategies and bargains (like cat does with the cleaning) so that the bills do get paid, but maybe we get to have ice cream for dinner.

Dan Neuharth's book, If You Had Controlling Parents may be helpful. Neuharth is another therapist who wrote about the topic that he lived himself and treats in his patients. For me, the book was useful in breaking denial and understanding myself (a bit). His writing style is compassionate, and he speaks directly to the worries I had as I was reading. The book follows the usual format of describing the problematic parenting, the consequences and then paths to healing. There's a website for the book at: http://www.controllingparents.com/

smg