Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This was on the list of defects I posted a while ago.  I am often critical.  I know this and I know it has impacted my relationships, both intimate and otherwise, adversely over the years.

It was good to read that being critical/judgemental is an overcompensation for defectiveness.

I've got an interesting relationship with this tendency - on one hand I want to defend it, on the other I feel ashamed of it.  I have a well developed pitch as to why being critical is a good thing, including being transparent(as opposed to talking behind others backs), giving the feedback needed to improve etc.  Truth is I think I have a right to express less than positive views (after all I also say good stuff too) and if others can't cope then that's their issue.  Not pretty huh?  And not smart.

Every so often I see cleary the results of my criticalness, in acquaintances that withdraw, and recently in my work environment.  I feel horrible about myself when this happens.  It brings up all my "I'm a bad person" shamefulness.  Yet, I keep doing it. 

I've been cogitating on this since a conversation with my boss yesterday.  I was about to make a comment about one of my colleagues not doing one of his tasks well, and prefaced it by saying "I know you think I'm critical but...".  My boss (who is lovely) piped up and said "No, I don't have a problem with you being critical.  It's the being snarky.  The self-destructive stuff".   Wow.  It was full-on but good. 

What occurred to me is that criticalness is part of my normative way of operating.  Because I spend so much time judging myself and berating myself it's just standard.  I accept it for myself so I don't quite grasp why other people react so strongly to it.  That made me kind of sad for myself, for my vulnerable child who has never been well supported and nurtured.  Just a steady stream of "you're not good enough". 

I think I'm going to target this criticalness for behavioral pattern-breaking.  It's an ideal candidate really.  The trick is, I need to work on two fronts - criticalness of myself, which mostly happens in my head (although I do verbalise at times) and criticalness of others, which is expressed publically.  It's both thinking and doing.  This is going to be tricky - working on changing thoughts and behaviours at the same time. 

I'll work out a plan and put it in my next post.

Monday, November 8, 2010

in the past month

I've been AWOL for just over a month.  This is a pattern for me, start something up then let it go.  Now I can beat myself up for giving up or slink back with my tail between my legs.


Plagued by a rampant libido, I've been madly looking for a lover online, no success as yet.

I'm seeing the psychology fortnightly.  It's good.  We've done some experiential stuff.  Getting me more in touch with the writing ball of anxiety that lives in my gut.  The protective wall of muscle around it.  The fear inside it. 

In previous posts I've talked about being in and out of my child and adult modes.  I had gotten used to recognising them and being able to step back.  But for the past few weeks the 'critical parent' has been driving the bus and I've been spending a lot of time berating and hating myself. 

I've slipped into drinking too much alcohol (one of my most popular avoidance, self-medication strategies) so have had to take that in hand. 

Work, which had previously been my haven, isn't feeling good either.  I have no idea whether this is because of me, because of it, or a little of both. 

Recently someone told me I should seriously explore the possibility of having a baby instead of spending my time miserable about it.  From what I read the chances are next to zero. Nonetheless I am going to follow it through, working on the principle of "what's the worst that can happen". 

I'm all over the place at the moment. I don't know my own mind.  It's no fun.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

what is this?

Since I last posted I've been feeling relatively good, not much down time.  One of the other things that has happened is the emergence of strong sexual desire.  I had a few theories about this, ranging from the purely biological (wildly fluctuating perimenopausal hormones) to the textbook Freudian (emergence of longing from unfulfilled infant needs).

I ran this one past my psychologist.  Yes, I decided to go back to my previous psychologist.  I rang her and talked about what I was doing and asked if she thought she could work with me even though she's not a schema therapist per se. 

Her theory:  as I didn't get physical nurturing as a child, the first time I really experienced this was with sex.  So need for physical nurturance becomes desire for sex. 

It makes an awful lot of sense to me.

She thought it would be good for me to sit with the desire, let it run its course.  That is the therapeutic thing to do with strong emotions.  Unfortunately I am also wanting to do something about it.   I'm stuck in this debate with myself about what to do. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the rotten core

Doing this work is an emotional rollercoaster.  For almost a week I've felt good but the downswing prior was excruciating.  One evening after going out to drinks with work colleagues I bottomed out.  In the midst of it tried to find words to describe my feelings.  The only one I could muster was disgusted. 

Disgusted with myself. 

Now, feeling fine, I am quite shocked by this.  Language gives the experience form.  And it seems the form of my feelings was revulsion at myself.  How awful that I have been living with well of self-loathing inside.  How sad that a long time ago, before I had words, I came to perceive myself this way. 

And ever since then I have struggled with this self-designated rotten core. 

Now I am finding the words for it.  It was a relief to pick up Reinventing Your Life and find someone else's words describing how I felt.  Those words have helped me understand... and accept. 

Now my experience has a name - defectiveness - and someone is helping me find ways to let it go. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

emotional masturbation

I had pondering the wisdom of internet dating while doing this work.  Initially I thought I should shut that door while I 'undertake renovations' but I found myself drawn back.  Given that our maladaptive schemas play out so strongly in our intimate relationships, I saw the logic of staying in the game to work though stuff as it gets activated. 

A few weeks ago, a had a couple of first meetings with internet people.  I also got matched up with a colleague by a colleague.  One of the internet ones was vaguely promising, the other was so very not my cup of tea.  Mr Colleague, nice bloke.  However, we were out with a group of people for drinks and after a while I found myself retreating, talking to others, insteading sticking close and turning up the flirt.  He ended up leaving before me.

It took me a good two weeks to work out that I just don't have the psychic energy to engage with potential new boyfriends.  Hell I can't even muster flirtation.  And... I'm as vulnerable as a turtle without its shell.  I spend so much time with my schemas activated that opening myself to the possibility of intimacy is asking for all sorts of trouble. 

Interestingly even after deciding to give up blokes for a while, I kept being drawn back to 'just looking' at the internet dating site.  I felt compelled to browse those pages of men and ponder "maybe he's the one, maybe we'll fall in love".  Like scratching an itch.  Then it dawned on me, that this was my very own emotional masturbation.  Unable to cope with the notion of being alone, without intimacy, I sat in front of the computer and satiated my yearning with the fantasies of potential love.  In technical terms, avoiding my emotional deprivation. 

The upshot is I've stopped.  Gone cold turkey from the site.  That escape hatch is now closed.  

What this lets me do is come to terms with being alone.  To accept my life without intimate love.  To deal with all that this brings up for me.  And learn how to be okay with that, not resigned, but okay. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

letter to my mother

This is an exercise designed to give the inner child a voice.  To ventilate anger and sadness.  Because these emotions keep the wounded child frozen.  The instruction is to write a letter to the parent, sibling or peer who helped cause your schema.  Here is mine.


You neglected me when I was a child. Sure you did all the material things - clothe, feed and educate me, but you completely neglected me emotionally.

When I was a baby I needed love and nurturing and you didn’t give it to me. You left me crying. You didn’t cuddle me. You weren’t affectionate. I needed that care and attention and didn’t get it. No wonder I’ve had such problems with anxiety, you didn’t comfort me and you never taught me how to soothe myself. All I felt was the terror of being deserted when I needed comfort. As a baby you taught me that I won’t get what I need. You should have cuddled me every day. Come when I cried, instead of leaving me howling.

Later when my little personality started developing and I wanted to do things my way, you made me do what you wanted. What made you look good. You never let me be myself, you never validated my thoughts and wants. As a consequence I never learned how to be okay about myself. Because you made the true me wrong. How hard would it have been to validate what I wanted and negotiate with me? Teach me that what I thought was important and how to negotiate. These are important life lessons for a child.

You were critical instead of being encouraging. You never championed me, or supported what I wanted. It’s because of you I feel worthless. You’ve also taught me to be critical and this turns people away. These are basic social skills – how to make other people feel comfortable.

I never wanted to put effort into anything or finish anything because it would never be okay.

I never learned how to stand up for myself in a healthy way. I should have learned this from you. Instead you taught me to be passive and weak.

Now, because of what you did, I don’t know how to let someone love me. It feels wrong. This is sick and sad and you’re to blame for it.

I’ve lost the opportunity to be a parent. I was always scared of being too selfish, too much like you. Because of the way you treated me I will never be a mother.

I spent years rebelling against you and everything else in a blind effort to find myself. So much wasted energy. How different things would have been if you had helped me develop a healthy self.

I have so much potential inside me – talent, caring – and it’s gone to waste because of your neglect.

Your youngest daughter

Monday, September 13, 2010

defects and assets #2

These are lists of adult defects and assets.  For the reasons I wrote about in the last post, I'll need to spend some more time thinking back to my child self. 

I had two friends, who understand schema therapy and know what I'm doing, contribute to the assets list.  I'll start with the defects.

Passive aggressive
Oversensitive to rejection

Smart, intelligent, knowledgeable, analytical
Reflective, insightful
Good listener
Open to experience
Persistent, determined, focused, committed
Playful, funny, witty, wacky humour
Easy going
Loves throwing a party
Adaptable, practical
Calm under pressure
Supportive, helpful, kind
Fit, active
Good debater

There my friends is one of my therapy tasks done.  What's most amusing is how long it has taken me to get it down here.  Well over a month.  Procrastinator in action!