Client Journal: The Pain of Loneliness and Perfection

For so long my loneliness was and is a secret and a place of shame. When I was young, it started and grew out of keeping secrets. I felt scared and ashamed and like it was my fault for what was happening to me, and I thought if I didn’t say anything, the pain didn’t exist and I wasn’t really getting molested. But I always felt scared, anxious, edgy and really sad. Feeling lonely meant I was hiding something, that no one could understand or know what was happening to me. Feeling lonely meant that no one could help me. That no one was there for me. Because no one was there for me. I didn’t want to feel that, so I acted “perfect”. Smiles all the time, pretty good grades and I was super polite as a child, always saying “please” and “thank you” with my excellent table manners. Because being perfect meant I wasn’t lonely. Being perfect meant that everything was fine. Being perfect meant that I was happy.

When I was a teenager my loneliness was secret romanticized tragic thing that made me “different”. I wore it as a huge FUCK YOU badge to hide my insecurities. So what I’m the only black person in my honors classes? Fuck you! I’m going to do it all by myself, no one knows how I feel, what it’s like to be called a sellout, Oreo, whitewashed, a wannabe, to defend my ethnic pride on the regular, fuck you! Fuck you, no one knows what it’s like to go out in public with my parents praying that my dad wouldn’t rage out at my mom, hoping that everything would be ok, hoping that everything would be perfect. That we could just for a couple of hours pretend that we loved each other, enjoyed each other and that we were perfect. But being perfect had a price. It meant that I couldn’t talk to my friends about my parents, that I feel like I’m fat, that I don’t like myself or my body, that I actually hate myself and that I feel like a loser pretty much all the time. Those were the things that made up my loneliness and the isolation that I put myself in, by never talking about it. Because I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want to accept my pain, my rejection, my sadness, my fear, my hatred. So I listened to heavy metal on full blast, wore Doc Martens under my pom pom uniform (pom pom girls were like the equivalent of a Lakers Girl or a Knicks Dancer at my high school) and black sparkly lipstick, renamed my loneliness and called it “depth” and “angst”. FUCK YOU.

As an adult, my loneliness is still part of those things I felt as a child and a teenager, but it’s also my coldness and fear. Fear of being rejected and abandoned. Because I was rejected and abandoned. I don’t think I have felt the full force of that pain yet, and to be honest, I’m scared to feel that amount of pain on my own without [Marta] on the phone, because I don’t think I could handle feeling it by myself. But to hide my loneliness I still try to be perfect sometimes, with the fake smile. Or I get defensive and attack or blame or make excuses, so I look like the “good one”, so I look perfect . Or I just shut down and go numb and cold as ice. My loneliness became my fake security to keep me from letting people in, so I won’t have to experience hurt or pain if they reject me, and all my flaws, sadness, pain and craziness.

Client Journal: Admitting Shame

Admitting why I felt and still feel so ashamed was really hard for me to do. I feel a little bit relieved just saying it out loud, because it takes away some of the burden that I was feeling. Shame is a hard emotion for me to feel, because once I start to feel it, I either go into my judgment, or I shutdown. I am trying really hard not to do either. Yesterday I had the urge to eat some baby powder. I didn’t, I had a good cry instead. I now know that I use baby powder as a way to numb out from whatever it is I am feeling. Yesterday I was feeling sad because I realized how much hurt and shame I feel around the molestations. This is a really hard piece for me, but I am glad we are working with this. I have carried so much pain within me for so long.

Client Journal: Being Tough

Thank you, for guiding me through this process. The past couple of days I have been feeling…I guess exposed? Would be the right word? Actually, vulnerable would be a better choice. Since I began to acknowledge the deeper shame that I have felt. I try to hide my true feelings by either being numb, or tough. Tough in the sense that I act like nothing bothers me, or if it does, it’s “not that serious”. That is how I have been dealing with the molestations. I kept telling myself that what happened to me wasn’t that bad, that I’m really ok, that I have managed to cope. That’s not true, what happened was pretty bad, I am not ok and maybe I’m surviving, but I would rather be happy instead. But all that toughness was a layer to keep myself from feeling the deep shame that I feel because the people that molested me (with the exception of my grandmother) where only a few years older than me. It is hard for me to face that without collapsing in it.