I don’t know what was going on with me yesterday, but it was proven to me multiple times over that my first thoughts about things are often very negative and wrong. So I was on my way to work (inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center). I work there sporadically. I get a text from a coworker and I automatically think it’s going to be asking me to do a bunch of things because it’s crazy there today. That wasn’t the case, he said it’s slow and asked if I would want to sit in on his group therapy.
The next thing that happened was because it was low on my unit. I was asked to help out on another unit that I know nothing about because I haven’t worked there. I automatically was like oh great I’ll have to do a group with patients I don’t know and it’ll be super awkward. And I’ll look stupid. So I go back down to my unit after being assigned to do group therapy on the other unit for later that evening.
And I have this random … or maybe not random … powerful conversation with my original coworker who texted me as I was driving in. And I left this conversation thinking oh, that’s why I came to work today. I’m not sure how we got on the topic of spirituality but he said he was struggling lately with self criticism and of course I added that I don’t know if there’s a time that I don’t struggle with that. He was like, imagine if that voice in your head was an actual person, you would be like
Shut the fuck up.
I laughed and said yeah, probably. But then he started talking about how being self critical actually makes it harder for you to connect with a god or your higher power because it prevents self love. Like if you can’t love yourself you have less capacity to accept unconditional love from a higher power. I was like ok, I buy that.
But THEN. He showed me a picture of him and his son and became emotional. He said this picture popped in his mind when he thought about unconditional love. It was a candid shot of his son (15 months) on a swing and my coworkers cheek touching his as he was holding onto the swing. My coworkers expression is just one of intense caring and being present. Neither is looking at the camera. And my coworker said that it has been hard to believe that anyone or any god has cared about him in that way that he cares about his son. Unconditionally. He said he didn’t understand what that is until he had a son. And that just blew my mind because even though I’m not a parent, I relate to that: not knowing what that is or believing a god or human has capacity to think that about me. And we started talking about how trying to earn someone’s love whether it’s a parent or god or lover is just so depleting but people do it anyway. And I’ve been doing that in many ways most of my life. It was nuts.
So we both thanked each other for that conversation, but that message wasn’t over for me.
I actually didn’t have to do a group with 25 patients I didn’t know because speakers came in last minute from Alcoholics Anonymous, even though I was told they weren’t coming. And guess what the speakers story entailed ? Using relationships as a way of validating yourself and earning love. Being addicted to that and never having enough. Thinking a relationship will fix you. I used to be like that and still fight obsessive tendencies today. She talked about craving attention and connection and it never being enough. I used to be like that too. It was just INSANE because she articulated truths for me that I would never admit to anyone else: “I wanted to be wanted by everyone. Everyone. People I didn’t want? They should still want me. That includes your boyfriends, husbands, etc”. I used to be that person. And though I understand why and what lead to that, it’s still disgusting. I never acted on any of those thoughts, but it’s still embarrassing. Now I think this pops up for me in terms of getting activated if I feel ignored, but at least it’s not quite as intense as it used to be. I’m a little more balanced, but still don’t really believe people actually care about me.
When I heard the count was so low on my unit I was like what was the point of going in? Well clearly I needed to go into today more for my own sake than for helping other people. And I guess that’s ok.