My brain has been cycling through this for a couple days now and I think I may have gleaned a few insights on some of my patterns. The point about turning anger on myself actually being the voice of my care takers when I was younger stuck with me.
I’m starting to see the pattern on when I experience depression (I haven’t had any episodes for a good amount of time now) and how it relates to conflicts I may be having in life at the time. They tend to occur when there are inter-personal conflicts going on in my life. Even when I’m not actively dealing with the issue, the negative energy (I use that term loosely) seeps into my psyche. I never lash out at people, nor is my first instinct to fight back when someone lays into me, even when they’re being unreasonable. This effect becomes more pronounced the more I care about someone. The result of this pattern is that I’ll experience heavy shame about myself for even simple mistakes. This easily transfers into self-loathing and depression. I can also see why sometimes that state will hit me out of the blue given. Long story short, I had a lot of experiences growing up where my authentic emotional self was unacceptable and led to trouble…therefore the natural response was for me to hide and shutdown what I felt. The problem is shutting down isn’t an effective long term strategy. It always came back to haunt me.
I coped with this problem by focusing on my achievements. Doing well in a video game or school worked for a while, until they didn’t anymore. That was a really rough patch in my life. Then I went back to school and ended up with a solid career. Then I started taking care of my body. Those became my new coping mechanisms. These were the objective measures I held onto like a buoy during the turbulent storm that could be my mind. I could have just as easily slipped into hard drugs and/or toxic crowds as a coping mechanism instead…and many people do. I was fortunate that I was such a shut-in nerd that I just didn’t get those opportunities and I had WAY too much social anxiety to want to hang around any crowds, let alone toxic ones. There’s also a lot to be said when it comes to toxic masculinity and CEN.
I know this is easier said than done, but I have work to do on separating the conflicts I have with people from my internal state. I do have a hard trigger that results in me feeling intense shame when people I love come down on me. Especially when I feel that it is coming from a place of anger. Here’s what I need to ask myself the next time I find myself in that place.
1. Did I reasonably know doing/saying (or not doing/saying) this thing would cause this reaction? For example, did I know this person had a cultural expectation that I trespassed on? Did they communicate this expectation to me previously?
2. Is their reaction reasonable?
3. Do I trust my intentions?
4. If a mistake was made, then learn from it and move on. If a mistake is continually and/or aggressively held against me, that is their issue, not mine.