Reader Same Old Story writes,
Okay, to get straight to the point. I am starting over, yet again. New country, new job, new friends. My previous job and life… aargh! It was filled with a bunch of bad experiences, my work situation was awful and I worked really hard not to end in a bad way too- not sure how well it worked out. Now I have a great job, supportive boss- everything is perfect…what is terrifying is that I am starting to notice the “old me” constantly depressed, frustrated, losing my life to the job, it takes me so much time to complete any task, and it’s a never ending story there is always more to do…and yes I’m single, very few short term relationships, no hobbies but surfing the web…
Dear SOS (pretty cool how I did that with the acronym, right?),
This is a wonderful question. I applaud you for recognizing that you are the common denominator here. The psychological term for what you’re experiencing is repetition compulsion. It is really true that if you don’t study your past and the patterns you grew up with, you’re doomed to repeat them, over and over. That is why I am in the field I’m in, because I enjoy helping people see their patterns and how they can get themselves out of these stuck cycles. Okay, enough about me.
I am assuming that some of these patterns are ones that have been with you as long as you can remember, and probably were observed in at least one of your caregivers. Let’s look at the issues clearly:
- feeling stuck
- no interests
- no physical exercise from what I am inferring (and so I’m assuming there may be issues with feeling rested and with health overall)
- difficulty forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships
- difficulty forming intimate relationships.
Does this sum it up? And does this remind this of either of your caregivers? In general, you are describing someone with low self-esteem and few outlets for their intellect or passion. It sounds like one of your caregivers may have had an addiction issue, whether alcohol, work, or something else. Additionally, it seems to me that you may not have seen a successful, loving romantic relationship when you were a child. And it is unlikely that you learned how to interact with others in a meaningful way, creating lasting friendships or intimate relationships. You may be scared of letting people in, or showing your vulnerability. All of these are deep seated issues that reach into all aspects of your life, and you’re going to have to address them sooner or later.
I recommend that you start slowly, by putting yourself out there in just a few ways at a time. I suggest promising yourself that you will not stay late at work, or bring work home, more than a couple times a week. In this time, I want you to schedule some social activities, even if this sounds horribly awkward and anxiety-provoking. Join meetup.com, or google singles groups in your area. There are loads of ways to meet other people with whom you can develop friendships, which should be your first order of business before aiming for intimate relationships.
Additionally, I want you to start focusing on your health. Don’t eat junk, cook or buy healthy meals even if it’s only for just you, and start some form of exercise that you enjoy, even if this is just walking. It would be ideal to join a gym or take some sort of classes, like yoga, where you could meet other people. If you drink or smoke, think about scaling back. And try to limit your online time to 2 hours a day, aside from work.
Some of this will likely jolt you out of the worst of your depression and inertia, but you also need to begin therapy to explore the deeper roots of your issues. You want to do this NOW, not when you’re older, or married, or when you have kids and realize that your unresolved issues are poisoning your marriage or your parenting. Countless clients have told me that they desperately wish that they had started therapy much earlier in their life, before they were married or had kids. Now is the time to focus on yourself and concentrate on working out the emotional issues that have been plaguing you for such a long time. You deserve this time and effort.
This is your one life on this planet, and even one day squandered to feelings of depression, anxiety, regret, and loneliness is a tragedy. Fast forward to five years from now: won’t you wish you would have found yourself a therapist today, this very minute? So few people would say no to that question, yet so few actively force themselves to find a therapist. This is truly a shame. Please don’t waste even another moment feeling so sad and stuck. Get yourself up, away from the computer, and start living your life. Well, I mean, first look up some groups on Meetup.com, and then get away from the computer. Start living your life today, the life you were meant to have.
Kudos to you for having the insight to ask this question, and the intelligence and self-awareness to realize that the life you’re leading is not the only possibility. Good luck, and keep me updated. Until we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Knows You Can Start Living The Life You Want, If You Really Try Hard.