We humans are indeed notoriously bad at predicting what will make us happy. That is true.
A meaningful life requires both growing (progress) and giving (contributing to others). I do agree with that too.
I truly do hope that experiencing disappointment can and will act as the catalyst I dearly need to seek out other opportunities for growth and personal development in other areas of my life. Because he’s right about how casting blame doesn’t really change a thing. I’ve been indulging some negative feelings for a long time now, not really wanting to but still doing so as if I’ve my mind has been trapped in a circling pattern. And I’ve been aware of this for quite a while but just unsure how to alter it effectively.
The “blueprint” I’ve been operating with for a lot of years was partly a product of my family members’ expectations, partly that of greater society. And in both cases I did not live up to those expectations the way others thought I should and it has affected how I feel about myself. Deeply and profoundly so. Never had an interest in pursuing the corporate route or academe like my stepfather deemed to be “success.” Don’t possess the artistic skills to be commercially competitive the way my Papa would’ve liked, though he remained far more open-minded and flexible and honestly just wanted me to be happy in the end. After ceasing working as an escort in my 20s, I was no longer able to afford to send money home to my grandparents, which has caused a lot of guilt feelings, knowing how much my grandparents sacrificed financially to support me in my youth when they didn’t have much to work with to begin with. I’ve always felt guilt about not being able to do more there, particularly in recent years now that I am earning less money in a legal trade. And nothing could’ve ever pleased my mother, so I don’t worry about her either which way anymore.
In terms of society and the views others tend to take, working as an escort came to feel degrading, not so much because of my clients or how they treated me (which was very good overall) but because of how others on the outside saw me and my profession. Even when they had no direct experience with it, they still judged. The man I most recently split with took issue with that profession as well as anyone involved in it in any capacity. And I knew that throughout our relationship. Even though it was in the rear-view mirror by that time, it felt very uncomfortable knowing that you can’t live that down in the eyes of some others. Even when it shouldn’t matter to them one way or the other. Even when they too partake in questionable activities in the shadows of their own lives. That judgement came to drag me down over the years, because I let it in finally. I gave it more credence than it deserved. People don’t want to hear it but during that time in my life I learned a lot and do not regret going that route entirely. Part of me has regrets due to the psychological scars left from being intimate with various people who were cheating on their partners or who otherwise were only there for a moment before returning to their lives while I returned to my empty apartment night after night. It was a lonely period, no doubt. But I still learned a lot from it, and for that reason I cannot fully regret it. Though I could never return to it either, not since I quit in 2009. Going forward, I wished to be valued for more than my sexuality, and that too has been a tough area of reckoning for my psyche since that’s been how I viewed myself for so long — as a sexual being to others, first and foremost. And that’s not a good way to live, not as a permanent condition. Not when we can’t help but age and long for more than physicality from those we’re intimate with.
There are a lot of bittersweet memories that I continue contending with, right or wrong. And I know something has to give because my self-esteem has perhaps never been lower than where it fell within the last 2 years. I felt as though I was completely giving up on myself, on my potential, on my ability to make changes and to be recognized as mattering in my own right. Hell yes, that fuels depression. Helplessness is one way to describe it. Learned helplessness I’ve also heard it referred to, as when your mind cages you, oftentimes based on the words you’ve heard too many times from others and learned to repeat to yourself, where you cease hunting for a way out and give in to the circumstances and the feelings of worthlessness and failure and shame. But this is not where the story ends. It needn’t be.
Tony’s right that it does help to look at your priorities and pick one thing you are capable of improving on and just focusing there to get started. Working out has been that focus for me the last several months, and I have officially lost 30 lbs. since April. Building muscle mass helps me to feel better about myself since I perceive myself as less weak, thereby less dependent on others, with the intention of continuing to improve in this regard in going forward. Because that matters to me — to not be perceived as weak. Feeling powerless is an awful feeling, but I know physicality is only the first step. I am aware that emotionally there is much room for growth — very necessary as well. And in terms of my mental energy, I do require more stimulation than I had been giving myself for a while there. And I could try and blame my former companion for my desire to “dumb down” so as not to be teased and in an attempt to get along with him, but that’s inaccurate. I probably shouldn’t have been in a serious romantic relationship with someone who didn’t value my mind or what kind of information I enjoy working with. And he couldn’t force me to be anything — I made a sacrifice for him, for us, albeit a stupid one that only created more problems and friction. That mental stimulation was needed by me, come to find out, and without it I redirect my energies elsewhere and analyze the hell out of things that don’t require that level of focus and that actually wind up damaged as a result.
Living and learning…
It’s very easy for me to get down on myself, to be very critical of me and my actions and choices. Even my former companion remarks about this pretty regularly, saying he’s never known anyone who’s so hard on themselves. It’s not a good thing. Or, more accurately, it’s been taken too far. It’s important that I do keep myself in check in areas where it’s warranted and necessary, and unfortunately in some of those areas I have failed, hence the guilt. And that guilt creates a vicious cycle where you hunt for escapist strategies to alleviate it temporarily, which only winds up leading to more reasons to feel guilty, and on and on it goes. This is where I violated my own standards and values, and I cannot ever allow myself to do so in that way again. Because I cannot live with that on my conscience. Hindsight being 20/20 and all. My former clients told themselves whatever they needed to in order to feel fine about their choices, but apparently we are fundamentally different types of people, come to find out. I couldn’t follow in their footsteps and feel okay about it, and I never will try their approach again. Because love and a healthy relationship and trust matter more to me than nearly anything else on earth. Wanna feel like a bad, worthless person? Then violate that standard and you get to feel lower than ever before. I get to anyway. And I never want to feel like that again, nor do I ever want to hurt someone I love like that again. What others do is on them, but I cannot fall prey to impulses and temptations on that level ever again, and I will not. That’s one important lesson that relationship taught me and drilled into ever fiber of my being in recent years.
Apparently to escape such guilt I have to be crystal clear with myself that that is a boundary I will never violate again. And so I write this tonight, as confirmation to myself. Because I now have to let this guilt go if ever I am to move on to better experiences. We whipped me long enough. I understand and know fully better now.
As for coping with the deaths of those I cared about, that’s still a strange area that I’m not completely sure what to do with. The mortality fears feel pointless, and yet they linger. Not so much as a fear that I’m going to die but rather that my other loved ones will. This has been petrifying me in recent years and is proving totally paralyzing and counterproductive to actually living a fulfilling life. I know this intellectually, and yet emotionally it’s not clicking entirely. Yes, there’s a sense of loss, of absolute finality, of being worried about being left behind. It’s purely emotional — rationality can’t touch this. And I also know that the only thing I can do that’s worthwhile is to live my life in a better way, in a way they might be proud of, and to find some peace so that I cease being such a ball of pain any longer. Papa would want me to be happy. And I should learn from his life and take cues on how to improve, as he chose to. Even my ex-husband’s life had improved in the years before he died and he’d made more friends and had found greater peace. They’re very different people with very different lessons to dispense, and I wish to take all that in and to heart. Being scared of the inevitable obviously never helped anybody. But so far I cannot say I am successfully dealing with the sorrow of death, though I hope to as time goes on. Because there’s nothing else that can be done there. Of course I’ll always remember them, and of course other people will die in the future whom I care about. Such is life. I don’t know why this burdens my heart to this extent. Nothing can be done about it. It is what it is, and that’s all it can be. I know. Ruminating doesn’t bring anyone back.
But that transferred over to fearing that my former companion would get hurt or seriously injured. And I think that’s been a big culprit in why I emotionally yo-yo from him over the time we’ve known one another and since these deaths occurred. We’ve discussed it, and he says that he works in a dangerous job and that he himself has made peace with that possible fate and that I should too. Yet it just seizes me up, the fear of the pain that will come, the sadness of him possibly not being around anymore. But you can’t push people away because you fear life will take them from you. I know. And yet I bawl every time I contemplate it. How does one get strong enough to accept reality on that level and to not let it distort one’s outlook? This I am continuing to try to figure out. Because if it wasn’t a dangerous job it’d be fear over a car accident or cancer or any number of things. People die. It’s what happens. And that’s why it’s so important to not leave loose ends untended to and to enjoy one another while we can. I know. And I am very grateful for my time with Papa and for making peace with my ex-husband in the years prior to his death. Yet that guilt for how I’ve treated my former companion (my most recent companion) haunts me and pressures me to somehow make amends, to fix it, to erase the pain I caused, to make it better. And I keep trying. But even he says the best I can do right now is get myself in order because he’s going to be okay. But that just doesn’t feel like it’s good enough. Though perhaps I can’t be of much service to him until I am in a better state emotionally. Which, again, can make a person feel bad for not being stronger than that. But I suppose sometimes these periods of personal turmoil cannot be helped and simply must be dealt with.
Anyway, time to return to work. Exhausted myself on this subject once again.