Failure

“What do you think emotions are there for? Why do you think we have them?”

I’m not even gonna try to answer that. *sit in silence for 5 seconds, which is a long time when you think about it.*

“To be honest, I’m so afraid of getting it wrong that my mind isn’t even letting me come up with an answer.”

“What would it mean if you got it wrong?”

“That I failed. That I’m a failure.”

Just one question. One simple, little question in yesterday’s therapy session, and that is what it boiled down to. Failure because something I think is “wrong” and it doesn’t matter how the person I’m talking to reacts to it being wrong. They could sound a loud buzzer, they could twist their face a little, purse their lips, sigh, whatever. Any way that they indicate to me that I’m wrong will have the same effect on me as any other way. I will just know that I failed.

“I think you’re more critical of yourself than you realize.” She probably said this with the intention to inform and possibly validate, therefore comfort me, my feelings and experiences with anxiety, depression, perfection obsession, and my intense fear of abandonment. But I took this to mean I had failed. I had the same reaction when I was diagnosed with anorexia. I had failed. I had developed this disorder that is “bad” and so I failed. I had failed because I let other people find out about it, too. Two different levels of failure, but it still meant I had failed.

We are told so many things by our parents, families, friends, by society. I was told that feeling anything other than happy or content was bad. If you’re having a bad day you don’t tell anyone and pretend you’re having a good day. And even then, you can’t be having a great day because that would be rude to someone who isn’t having a great day. You stay in one middle ground emotional area. You’re not too happy, but you aren’t at all sad. And if you have any kind of disorder that is bad, and by extension means that you are bad. I’m not supposed to tell anyone I have/had an eating disorder. I’m not supposed to talk about my anxiety group, my years of struggle with depression, my need to be perfect (and that definition changes regularly), and certainly not about my almost debilitating fear of abandonment. Because that would mean I’m not a good person. Maybe not a “bad” person in the sense of how we think of “bad people” ie. criminals, but I’m certainly not a “good” person. I’m damaged. I have problems, and I should hide those problems.

We did a mindfulness exercise yesterday where I was supposed to go to my “safe place” and part of me was afraid I was doing it wrong.

Basically I cannot fail. If I fail that means I’m worthless, and if I’m worthless I have a much greater chance of being abandoned. I guess that’s kind of the equation that ties together all of my problems. I have anxiety about failing. Then if I fail I have more anxiety about what happens then. Which is also tied in with depression. Sometimes anorexia comes in there either as a solution or a cause. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t let anyone else down because my brain tells me I have no matter how many times they insist otherwise. And besides, I’ve let myself down. I don’t know if it can get much worse than that.

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2 thoughts on “Failure

  1. “I think you’re more critical of yourself than you realize.” —> I think this is very true of a lot of people, especially those who have dealt with an eating disorder/other mental health things. But yeah, I get how that can come to mean that you’ve somehow failed and failure is one of the worst things. It just feels so hopeless and like you can never do anything right ever again. I hope this fear of failure goes away for you because feeling that you’ve failed just plain sucks. And it’s hard for anyone to convince you that you haven’t failed or that it’s okay if you have.

  2. It’s interesting how many of our mental issues (ED’s, depression, etc.) can manifest from a single idea. I know I have a huge fear of rejection, and I am scared that if I try to be ‘normal’ no one will care about me anymore. Which is strange as I am very independent and a bit of a loner. I think it stems from a lot of childhood bullying and latching on to my parents as an only child.
    I understand your fear of failure, of seeming worthless if something doesn’t go to plan. Just remember than sometimes, in order to succeed, we have to fail first. Think of the great inventors of the world – do you think Steve Jobs had an ‘aha!’ moment when creating the iphone? Most likely not. More probably he pitched around a few ideas, had a few failures, and then came to his success.
    The same when it comes to something such as food. If I eat more than I intended to, or something I ‘shouldn’t’ have eaten, I feel immense failure. But it is just one meal, and just one day, and it doesn’t make me any less of a person.
    We are put on this earth to have an adventure. Things are never going to be perfect, we just have to try to have fun and enjoy our time. xxx

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