From Hiding and Feeling Unwanted to Living and Expressing Fully

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Any kind of mental disorder is still taboo in our society, unfortunately, and the result is that those that need to speak up and reach out most end up being those that hide and isolate most. Having a mental disorder myself, OCD, dermatillomania – a self-harm disorder, I know from first hand experience what it is to be alone with intense emotional baggage and how big and overwhelming it can become within the experience of isolation. I stand here now as an individual that has begun to take self-responsibility for my own personal healing and correcting, and would like to share about learning how to come out of the hiding and isolation of OCD, to emerge from hiding within self into Life and living.

Not understanding what is going on within self, not knowing how to manage it, and feeling like it is coming from anywhere but self had, especially as a young child, created a world and reality that seemed cruel and harsh. My inner experience felt like a sort of inward spiral, a self-perpetuating black hole that sucked me into isolation and hiding. Within this, one of the most prominent experiences for me was feeling I needed care, and needed people that I trusted to come in to my world and connect with me on a deep level to assist and support me to navigate my experiences, and to find a way to bring me out, and to see and realize another way to live and experience life.

This continued on into adulthood and influenced how I felt about my innate value and worth, as I had over time taken it personally that no one could see what I was going through. It’s ironic that in hiding and isolating myself within and as the disorder, and presenting a fake front as my ‘social self’, I was sending out the message that I am fine and don’t need anyone, while the reality was one where all I really wanted was to be saved.

What I didn’t realize until recently was the fact that everything I longed for from others, where I wanted others to reach out to me, to pull me through, to help me, to save me, to make me feel good, to make me feel loved and wanted – all of it was only there because I had never learned how to give it to myself or how to be that for myself. Even when I realized that that is what I had to do, I still had to walk a process of making it real, of really doing it for me.

What I had not been shown, seen or realized as a child was my responsibility to reach out and ask, to invite others in, to show and reveal what it was that I was experiencing. I felt alone in an unfriendly place. I felt abandoned and left to fend for myself. Without learning how to take self-responsibility and unknowingly leaving my needs unanswered in the hands of others, the lack of understanding felt as though I must be doing something wrong, or that there was something innately undeserving about me. Instead of learning how to take self-responsibility, I learned to punish myself through self-harm. I learned to carry a burden of guilt, shame, anxiety and frustration as atonement for unnamed sins I did not understand.

The point that is missed here, and the point that we don’t teach children is this point of self-responsibility within the understanding that no one can change they way you live, the way you experience yourself, the hundreds of little decisions and choices made throughout the day regarding the kind of person you will be towards yourself and others. The truth is that yes – there is medication and drugs that can influence and change the internal experience, but without the understanding and with no life skill development or support teaching us how to manage ourselves and our internal realities, all we are creating is the continuous dependency on factors outside of ourselves to make us feel ‘right’ – all the while, perpetuating low-self esteem, diminished self-worth, self-damning depression, and a lost people looking to everything but themselves to save them.

Through walking a process of self-forgiveness to ease the burden I had been carrying, and to better see what my needs were and also, how to create an independence within my life, I was better able to see how to assist and support myself to walk out of hiding and out of isolation. What I began to do and what I am still working on is how to clearly define and express my needs to others in my world instead of waiting for them to notice or figure them out for me.

There are many things I can do for and by myself as well, in terms of moving myself to do the things I know will support me. Within and as the disorder I have in my life at the moment, I am always walking a fine line between being sucked inward towards hiding and isolation, and battling feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. I have many opportunities throughout the day, moments of choice and decision where I can pick myself up and get myself out and moving instead of staying in (both physically in my house or my room, and emotionally as not speaking up and speaking out). Or if I stay in, to do it in such a way where it is a decision made in awareness, where I have a plan or a structure for myself so that I don’t fall into self-harm and self-sabotage.

For me it starts first with what I can give myself, doing writing and self-forgiveness to investigate my mind and the issues I face, and script out a better way to be, like a blueprint to guide me as I move throughout the day. And then pushing myself to participate in self-supportive activities such as yoga, small gatherings and game nights with friends, or simply going out for coffee with a good book. Anything to pull me out of my mind and into this physical reality where I can see that I am ‘normal’, I’m okay, I can do this.

It has been a process, that is for sure, and one that continues and will continue for as long as I live. But as tough a pill it was to swallow at first, it is only without understanding that taking care of oneself seems like ‘the hard way’. What I have lived and learned is that in stepping up and being there for me, I have eased the burden and actually received from myself and others that which I need to live a better and more fulfilling life.

Some self-forgiveness and self-commitments to consider:

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to look to others to show me my value and my self-worth, instead of seeing and realizing that I have in fact not been showing it to myself, living it for myself, and strengthening it within myself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make decisions throughout my day that tend to cater to my subtle expressions of giving up on myself and calling it ‘relaxing’,  giving in to my addictions and calling it ‘treating myself’ or ‘spoiling myself’, and not living my self-worth and calling it ‘giving myself a break’ – and then wonder why I react to and feel hurt when others do not consider me, instead of seeing and realizing that all that is being mirrored to myself is the ways in which I already do not consider what is best for me in my living actions.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to make it someone else’s responsibility to show me my value and worth instead of seeing and realizing that only I can live that as an actual self-creation point, it is not something that can simply be shown to me or experienced as a feeling or emotion, but rather something that I must live for and as myself in many moments and decisions throughout the day in order to give to myself and make it a real, substantial, untouchable, unwavering point of myself that is here within and as me.

I commit myself to stand in awareness in moments of decision throughout the day, where I see which choice/decision/path will contribute to my self-creation as self-value and self-worth, and which will lead to the creation of self-diminishment, self-limitation and self-compromise, and I commit myself to stand as the self trust that I will, in those moments, push myself to chose what is best for myself.

I commit myself to take self-responsibility for my own self-consideration and self-regard, until I see the evidence in my world that I am in fact standing as that for me by seeing that I no longer react and feel hurt when I think and perceive that others are not considering and regarding me.

I commit myself to stand up for myself, and speak up for myself when and as I see that I am being treated less-than I would accept/allow myself to treat another – not in and from an emotional reactive state, but from and as that point of self-regard, self-consideration, self-value and self-worth.

 

Stopping OCD: Who Am I Doing This For?

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When I have visible marks from dermatillomania, this is how I feel when others see me:

I feel ashamed

I feel not normal

I feel embarrassed

I feel exposed

I feel disappointed

I feel angry

I feel frustrated

I feel self-pity

I feel scared

I feel vulnerable

I feel like running away/hiding.

 

When no one sees the marks I feel:

I feel Fine

I feel that I like myself

I feel I want to help myself heal

I feel like it doesn’t matter

 

Why is it that I experience myself differently when I am alone and when I am with people? I think the common misconception is that it is the people that are causing me to feel these negative emotions. But the truth is that if it exists inside of me, no one put it there but myself. So, in essence, when I am alone, I am better able to hide from those negative experiences that are brought up when I am with other people. When I am with other people I feel like they are judging me for what I have done to myself. However, what I can see is that it has nothing to do with people outside of myself, I can’t know what is going on in their minds. But I do know very well what is going on in my own mind.

So basically, when I am placed in a situation where I am with others, I am being shown how I am in fact judging myself, and what it is that I accept and allow to feel, think or believe about myself already.

The interesting thing here that can be used as self-support is the fact that, when I am with other people, I am more strict with myself. I am more ‘motivated’ to stop and really apply myself due to not wanting to experience these negative things. I can see more clearly what it is that skin-picking is doing to me, my life, and my self-relationship.

So I see that I can make a re-alignment here wherein I stop making it about ‘other people’ and how ‘they’ are making me feel, and instead make it about ME, and how I feel about myself, and how I create a heaviness, burden, tension and stress.

I have walked this point in this blog specifically, and touched upon it in many others, where I see that I have used makeup/concealer/cover up to present a ‘normal’ picture presentation of myself and function in the world normally. This can be like hiding from facing myself, but I see that as long as I am using and applying it IN AWARENESS of what I am covering up and why, I can still bring my reactions back to myself and take responsibility for them. I still know what I do and how I live, and I will not hide that from myself.

What I have seen in terms of these reactions still coming up to this day however, is because deep down, on a much deeper level, I can SEE and I KNOW that I am not applying myself as much as I could be to stop this disorder. I know that I accept and allow it in moments where I am alone and don’t have to face it by reflecting it off of others. I see that I do not push discipline and self-movement when I don’t really have to do it for anyone else.

So here I ask myself, why do I value doing it for others above and beyond doing it for me? Shouldn’t I be the most important reason? Shouldn’t I be even more motivated and disciplined to do it for myself, and then as an outflow of this, be able to be cool and satisfied with myself around others as well? I see that the message I am giving to myself when I do it in reverse, where I do it for others first to avoid feeling bad, instead of doing it for myself first to be able to know that I am stable and doing everything possible to support myself, I am sending the message that I am not as important, not good enough, not worth it. I am saying that I only value myself through others, through their validation of me.

The point and realization here is that I need to start doing this for myself first, not just in my mind as a realization, but in my living actions. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right away, I see that when I push myself for ME, such as in moments where I am alone and I know I can ‘get away’ with it, but I instead decide to stand and take supportive actions and move myself, that those are the most empowering moments on so many levels. Things such as stopping, even after some damage is done, AND being GRATEFUL to myself for stopping, and not just looking at my fall for having succumbed for a moment. Things such as making a commitment and sticking to it, even if I fall or miss a day, to forgive myself and stand back up, showing appreciation and gentleness, cause I am learning. Things like making myself look and feel nice for me, even if I am just alone with myself at the time.

If I don’t do these types of things for myself, I can already see that I will waste so much of my life hiding, isolating myself and diminishing myself in my life and living. This is not the life I would choose for myself, or anyone for that matter. I choose to stand, and I choose to live out the actions that tell me directly that I see and realize that I am in fact worth it, and that only I can bring out that worth that is already inherently there.

This can only be shown and proven to self in living actions, because that is the evidence that what I am saying is for real. I can and have spent many moments up in my mind about how I want to change, value myself and show me that I am worth it, and I can get quite emotional about it. But unless I actually SHOW myself by ACTING on it, creating visible evidence and proof for myself in my life, it will only ever remain in my mind, acting instead as a form of dis-empowerment, because I have realized it, but not taken the initiative to do anything about it. This is where I create shame, embarrassment, hiding, disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration and self-pity, all of the things I feel when I am seen by others. It is not them; it is all me and who and how I decide to be every day.

 

OCD and the Buddy System – How it Feels When it Works

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This post continues from my last blog. In this series I am walking through a successful use of the ‘Buddy-System’ to assist and support with stopping OCD.

From my last post:

“For me, on this occasion, the buddy-system worked. Instead of falling into the OCD action of picking my skin before going to meet a group of people, I reached out to my friend who is a life coach, and together we found the source of why I felt the compulsion in that moment. Once I was able to find the source (read the first blog to see what it was), and I did some forgiveness on having created the source for myself, I was able to walk out of my house without having to go through the ‘usual routine’. This is quite a drastic contrast compared to what I am used to in these situations, and I want to talk a bit about that.”
What happened was that I had someone to be accountable to, and together we had found the source of the compulsion in that particular moment, which was fear of judgment from the people I was about to go meet. In doing some self-forgiveness on that point, within the realization that it was actually projected self-judgment, I saw that I was in fact the cause and the source. This means that I had the power to let it go and diffuse the situation. Whenever I believe that it is ‘them’, and ‘the others out there’ that are responsible for making me feel bad and judged, I leave myself completely powerless to change it or do anything about my internal experience. It then feels like I am walking into a minefield, where I can have explosive reactions at any moment.

 

One of the commonalities my friend and I discovered about what triggers my OCD, is that it is often when I feel like I can’t direct the situation I am about to walk in to. I fear the worst and then feel powerless to change it.

 

It’s like walking in to a self-created ‘doomed’ situation. I have also seen that this often causes the situation to be ‘doomed’, because it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know that people with derma can relate to this, because we do it every time we go into a picking session: we create the problems we fear, which is having blemished skin, thus exposing our disorder, and the fact that there is ‘something wrong’, being judged for it and not being able to hide it.

 

So, I had to make the choice and decide, armed with all of this information and empowerment, that I was going to leave my house without picking. I had diffused the source of the OCD by taking self-responsibility for the reactions in the form of judgments that I had been having and fearing, which had been causing me to want to pick. I decided this was in fact projected self-judgment and I forgave myself for doing it, and embraced myself as I was/am, flaws and all. I also decided that I could direct the situation I was about to walk into. I was going to direct it by keeping myself in check, and not accepting and allowing my mind to go back into fear of judgment, and I would instead take events as they came.

 

I had to focus on what needed to be done to get out of the house, versus what I was being pulled into doing. I needed to get dressed, brush my hair, check myself in the mirror to see if everything was in order, make sure everything in my house was ok for me to leave, collect the things I needed to bring with me, and that was it. The interesting part of this experience was that such a simple thing as ‘getting ready to leave’, felt like walking through quicksand. It was fascinating. I literally had to put one foot in front of the other to keep moving because I felt like I was being sucked in to the OCD.

It was actually a physical sensation of being difficult to move, it was extremely uncomfortable and it just felt wrong. It was like my mind was saying ‘nooooo, stop moving forward, you’re forgetting something, everything will fall apart, you need to slow down, stop moving yourself, go to the mirror instead….” And so on like this. I mean, not the actual words, but the physical experience. It felt like it might feel if you were to turn on the hot water in your bath, turn on the oven and the hair dryer, and then start to leave your house. Imagine the feeling of opening the front door to go out… everything in your body and mind would be saying ‘no, you have to go back and turn of the water… stop, turn around and go turn off the appliances.’ Except, these are rational, practical considerations. I’m just making the comparison to explain how it feels when you take a stand and make the decision to not go into OCD.

 

The unfortunate truth is that stopping, and creating a new path is not pleasant, at all. In the moment, it does not feel empowering, it is not graceful, and it is not an easy moment. It Is hard, it feels terrible and wrong, and it is very humbling to see the power of the disorder and how it has come to control the mind and body on so many levels. BUT, and I say this with absolute certainty: IT IS WORTH IT!!!

No pain , no gain, as they say. In this instance, this was the truth. It was incredibly difficult to leave the house without having participated in my ‘ritual’. But when I went out, I interacted with people more openly, felt at ease within myself, and like I could express a confident and stable part of me. It was as if having gone through the quicksand to leave my house actually strengthened me. And so, I got to know me a little bit more, I got to enjoy me, and I got to be more me than what I am used to – which is hiding me, drawing attention away from me, trying to disappear, feeling completely self-conscious.

It is amazing how different our self-experience can be if we give ourselves a little push out the door. But we have to decide to do this, to take a stand and a stance and gather the strength. Self-understanding, and understanding what is going on in one’s mind and why, is an incredible support to be able to do this. And that is what I experienced in that moment, and it felt like I was more fully living.