When Ghosts From the Past Appear…

Personal, Relationships

Last week my ex emailed me – the one I mentioned in this post. My relationship with this person and our subsequent breakup unearthed a range of mental health issues, new and old. It was an intense relationship considering I was dating my best friend at the time, and I spent the better part of a year rebounding from it while in therapy, and then almost a year and a half (up to now) being single so I could heal from it properly.

Dear Rat Brain: What are your stories?

Rat Brain, Relationships

Dear Rat Brain,

Whenever I come home, I notice the pattern we immediately fall back into. We’re snappish, quick to criticise, sometimes immature. It’s a frustrating thing to deal with when you try hard to move *away* from this kind of behaviour when you’re not at home — but as soon as your foot steps over the threshold, I hear you squeak, ‘Ooh, I know this place! I know how we used to act!’

Part of this is the stories other people have about us; other times it’s the stories I still carry around myself/my family.

‘I must defend myself. They don’t understand me. I don’t know any other way to be besides passive aggressive’. The walls we put up as a teenager for our safety were needed then, but not now.

My goals for this Christmas are to try and unpick these stories, bit by bit. To extend some kindness for myself and for our family, who are trying their best and almost always have our best interests at heart. Even when they unknowingly hurt me, fight with each other or try to control each other, they are acting out the stories they hold onto, too. I can’t begrudge them that.

Why Can’t You Deal with Criticism?

Anxiety, OCD and Other Brain Farts, Rat Brain, Relationships

Dear Rat Brain,

So here’s the thing: everyone has something to say. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone’s got one, and we rarely want to see them.

You especially don’t want to see them. Keep that shit in your pants. Literally.

I know you think that curling up in a ball and pretending criticism doesn’t exist means it’ll go away. I know you think that people should be softer on you because you’re “sensitive” or “anxious”. People should keep their opinions about you to themselves in case you get hurt by it, even if their lives would benefit from you taking that criticism on board. Or rather, you should be doing everything you can to prevent others being provoked into sharing a (shock) negative impression of you.

It’s funny how you believe that’s true. Purely because that’s you’ve decided it is.

It IS funny, when you think about it. Criticism is basically like exposing someone’s vulnerable underbelly, and… Poking them in the side with a hammer.

And that person then proceeds to snatch the hammer, and hit themselves in the face.

‘Look what you did to me! How could you hurt me like this? You knew I was sensitive to hammers!’

My therapist calls this clean/dirty discomfort. The clean part is the poke. The dirty part is everything you tell or do to yourself as a result.

No one is forcing you to love yourself, or treat yourself with any respect. But do you have to hit yourself instead?

(Why’s everything gotta be dirty with you?)