About two weeks ago, I discussed with my therapist about my feelings of loneliness and how I automatically translate my loneliness to people not caring about me, then me not wanting to care about myself. I come to the ultimate conclusion that I do not matter, and that I might as well cease to exist. I have noticed this pattern within myself since I was a kid, but just because I have awareness of the pattern does not mean that I know how to break the pattern. If I have to shed my entire hard, outer shield, if I have to be completely naked, vulnerable, and honest, I have always felt like a baby who cries and cries but no one answers or tends to my cries. It pains me to even write about this, because it strikes a very soft, essential part of my core self. I have always felt that I was a neglected baby to some degree. I have never felt it fully going away even temporarily–that feeling of pain and abandonment is always there, and I have an insatiable hunger for acknowledgment and validation. My therapist had pointed out that I seek outside acknowledgment and validation, but not from within myself. Maybe this is true; maybe I do not acknowledge or validate myself as much as I should. But this is a tool that must be learned, cultivated, and nurtured since the beginning of one’s life. What if I never knew how to use my tools?
People who have had abusive childhoods or other chronic traumas in their first years of their lives have a much harder time self-soothing. I have gone through abuse throughout my childhood and a little bit in my adulthood, thus I cannot help but to think that I may have not learned how to use all my tools; I am wondering if, to some extent, I do not know how to acknowledge myself, to validate myself, and to soothe myself. This is one of the reasons that I despise empty, cliché advice from mainstream media that one must learn how to love themselves before loving others, as if this is the simple solution to all of one’s problems. What if they never learned how to love themselves? What if they have learned to love themselves, but they still have self-destructive habits that have been ingrained into their core self, and their self-destructive patterns transformed into toxic shame?
Within Object Relations Theory, we learn that there is a baby inside of every human being–that we all want to be loved and nurtured even after we become adults. As we become adults, we lose touch with the babies within us, because society has told us to “toughen up,” or “suck it up and deal with it.” With so many years of neglecting our inner babies, it is extremely difficult to be satisfied with who we are, and problems such as depression and anxiety arise. In my experience, I think I have always had some depression and anxiety due to my insecure emotional and physical attachments to a parent figure.
Thankfully, my previous long-term partner and my current partner have shown me how to use the tools for me to self-soothe, but because I have developed these skills much later in my life, I still struggle with using these tools to love myself and remind myself that my loneliness does not translate to other people not caring about my existence. Sometimes I still go on auto pilot response of, “I’m lonely –> No one has contacted me –> No one wants to get to know me –> No one cares about me –> I don’t matter –> I should die.” It takes a lot more effort and energy for me to become aware of my toxic patterns of self-destructive thinking, and oftentimes it is much easier to submit to familiarity, even if it’s self-destructive.
The harsh reality is that I much choose to matter in order to confidently exert myself into this world, trust others, and form sustainable, healthy, and loving relationships. Logically, I know that no one can choose for me to matter and that I must make an intentional choice to matter; I must be my number one advocate, because I am with myself 24/7 and there is no one else in this world who will be able to be there for me whenever I need them.
Right now, I am acknowledging my inner baby and learning to use the tools to tend to my inner baby’s needs. I am learning to become more mindful of my toxic thinking patterns in order for me to distance myself and remind myself that I am not my thoughts or feelings. (At the same time, I wonder, then, what am I? That will have to be another post). I must not only be aware of my traumas, but to give myself warm, nurturing hugs of self-acknowledgement, validation, and empathy. I must become the parent I have always wanted to the baby in me.