I've just had a bit of a rough experience[1].

I moved back in with my parents at the end of last year in preparation for having to quit my job and take courses to become a teacher. I knew I wouldn't be able to afford living on my own anymore, so I swallowed my pride and returned home. There's been some growing pains. I'd gotten used to an independent lifestyle and now I feel like I'm a child again—and not in a good way, but in the way that 9-year-old me lived: unable to do anything, say anything, or go anywhere without permission that was rarely given. I no longer need permission to do things, but I perceive the lack of approval all the same and it hurts.

I've been suffering from some insomnia lately and my dad was less than sympathetic, basically yelling at me that it's my own fault. I don't work hard enough, I rationalize too much, and that's why I fail at everything I do. I felt like anything I tried to say in response was ignored. Yet even while yelling at me, he would occasionally pause to watch Terminator 3, which was playing on the TV in the background. He couldn't even be 100% focused in yelling at me; he had to ogle Arnold Schwarzenegger, too. I was annoyed at this and then annoyed that I was annoyed.

A spooky full moon glows in the cloudy night sky
(Photo by Gabriel Santiago / Unsplash)

Anyway, I was so upset that I went outside and went for a jog in the neighborhood park...at 10PM. While crying and hiccuping. And feeling like an idiot. My fingers are still pretty cold from that.

The other thing about toxic people is that they are rarely ENTIRELY toxic. As Martin Luther King Jr famously said, there is some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best of us. The same person who sometimes inspires, uplifts and supports you might at other times infuriate you.
— Carrie Mallon, "When Toxic People are Healers"

My family is very important to me. Despite what my dad thinks, I do listen to him and I try my best to live a life that he would be proud of, but after a lot of depression and anxiety and confusion, I want to live a life that I would be proud of, too. Unfortunately, results haven't shown themselves just yet and so none of my hard work counts for anything in my parents' eyes and if I say I'm working hard, I'm just "rationalizing." I have come to hate the word "rationalization." Though I've come a long way, it's hard sometimes figuring out if what I'm doing is really for me or if it's a decision being made by the 12-year-old me who still deeply wishes to be useful and impressive to her parents and everyone.

Sometimes I feel like I'm doing pretty good for myself. Then, in one fell swoop, everything crashes around me and I feel like a huge failure who won't amount to anything. I'm 14-year-old me again, holding herself in a dark corner in the closet while sobbing and thinking that she might just do the world a big favor if she just jumped off a bridge or something.

It's hard coming back from those thoughts—from those memories.

I often feel like my efforts, my pain, is trivialized by people in my life, but then I end up questioning if my efforts and pain are actually worth anything. What if they're right? What if I am just rationalizing and I haven't accomplished anything and my pain means absolutely nothing?

I'm still working on that. It's difficult feeling like your mind is working against you. At this point it's like I've been gaslit so much that now I do the work myself and secondguess my own thoughts and experiences. I am my own devil's advocate.

I feel that it's important for me to remember. It's important to have a record of things that are done and said, biased as they may be through my own lens of life. And maybe it is rationalization to tell myself "I am worthy of love." To try and be happy with the way I am while also striving to become a better me.

But I am still becoming. That has to be enough.

  1. I own that I have a lot of privileges and some people who read this post might roll their eyes at what constitutes "rough" for me, but if everyone thought that way, nobody would ever share things that upset them. ↩︎