My therapy had started, focussing on self-compassion. I have to learn how to love myself, how to listen and how to be more compassionate and sweet with the person I am. The first exercise I have to complete is writing myself a letter, a letter in which I tell myself how the thing that I’m most ashamed of is actually a beautiful thing, a thing that is allowed and a thing that makes me an amazing human being. However, I just can not seem to complete this first exercise, no matter how hard I try, the letter I have to write becomes negative, a sum up of this I do wrong.
The thing I’m most ashamed of are my emotions. Because of the ADHD devil that lives inside my brain, I believe I have to hide all my emotions, afraid that they might be created by the devil. As a kid my extreme ADHD emotions have always been rejected, punished even. The harsh treatment of my parents has make me believe that my emotions are too extreme or not suitable, not allowed to exist. In order to feel less misunderstood and rejected, I started to hide all my emotions.
After decades of hiding my emotions, I have not only become too good at hiding them, even from myself, I also created a wrong image of emotions. Emotions became a sign of weakness for me, a sign of not being in control of my ADHD, and this is why I never allowed any feeling, hiding behind walls of toughness.
I always believed that sadness is a sign of weakness. I’m afraid that if other people will see me cry, they will think I’m crazy or incapable. I believe that even the slightest bit of emotion will make me feel like the damaged child I used to be. I’m afraid that once I show my emotions, the world will start seeing me as the worthless child my parents believed I was. I’m afraid emotions will take me back to being the strange and weak kid that did not belong anywhere.
Emotions are human
But what does it mean to be human? It means that we are beings that are supposed to have flaws and feelings, we are supposed and allowed to fuck up. The current world is so focussed on performance and success, that we are all trying to become a kind of machine, something without emotions that will do everything to be the best at anything. I converted myself into a machine like this, focussing purely on my performance and never listening to myself or allowing myself to feel. I didn’t allow myself to be human for decades until one day all the humanity bursted out, leaving me lost and exhausted.
I am human
I am human and I need to acknowledge my emotions in order to be fine. I should feel sad, happy, disappointed and scared, it’s part of my existence. It is simply not possible to be human without experiencing any kind of emotion. I am supposed to feel, everyone is, and I should stop hiding behind a shield of anger and toughness.
I am supposed to feel, allowed to have emotions and share these with the world. Every person is allowed to be vulnerable sometimes and so am I. Vulnerability is what makes us human, it is what makes us beautiful and sharing our weaknesses is a way to truly connect to each other.
Emotions in others
If I would look at myself in the same way I look at other people, I would support and encourage me to be emotional. I start loving an other person more when he or she is able to show feelings, I feel compassion and honest love, two things I as well deserve but never give to myself.
My tears are the same as other people’s tears, my emotions are as real as the emotions of other people, so why are mine not allowed while the same emotion from another person deserves love and understanding? Why do I treat myself so much harder than I treat other people? Why am I not worthy of love while the rest of the world is? Why are my problems always unimportant compared to the problems of other people?
Lack of love for me
Well, this has to do with the self-compassion, and I don’t have much of it. I am supposed to write a letter in which I tell myself how my tears make me beautiful, how my smile makes me enjoyable and how my fears make me loveable, but to be honest, I just can’t do it. Not truly, not in a way I really mean it.
I do understand it, and I do think this was about other people’s emotions, but telling myself this counts for me as well seems impossible. Right now, I can not truly believe I am allowed to feel as much as the people around me. When I think about writing it, I keep thinking about the emotions I have suppressed in the last year. I keep wondering if they would have really been allowed.
I am less important
When my grandpa passed away I felt an extreme sadness, but was this sadness really supposed to be as strong as it was? I mean, he was my grandpa, and although we were extremely close, how many adults get this sad when they loose their grandpa? Besides, the loss was much bigger for my mother and grandma, so I wasn’t really allowed to be as upset as them, I had to be stronger.
What about my father? I felt hate and misunderstanding when I was supposed to be there for him when he was in a coma. But was this feeling of anger worth more than the sadness of my mother? Was it big enough to put my need for distance before the care for my family? For me it wasn’t. I believed I had to put my own feeling aside, and help them as much as I could, afraid of hurting them even more.
Understanding is not enough
I do see that in both these cases I have ignored myself, I have put other people’s feelings before my own, I have even rejected my own emotions in order to be able to help other people with theirs, to be able to do what I’m supposed to do.
But recognizing this doesn’t mean I am able to tell myself I should have listened to my own emotions in the first place. Understanding the need of allowing my own emotions doesn’t mean I truly believe in the importance or validity of my own feeling. I simply don’t have enough self-love to do so.
Although I failed in writing this letter to myself, I must admit my therapy is focussing on the right subject. I never understood how far I’m away from loving myself, I even thought I was pretty good at it. But this first little exercise made me realize how mean and unfair I am to myself. Now I see my problem clearly, and hopefully at the end of my therapy I will be able to write this letter to myself. At least the problem has become very clear and I can trust that my therapist understands what I’m struggling with.