Eurgh...shame...

N

notrealname

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#1
I'm in the absurd position of being ashamed of something I haven't even done.

I received an attack out of the blue from an ex boyfriend. It was a messy break-up years ago now and earlier this year - about 7 months ago I guess - I contacted him through FB for the first time in 5 years to admit I still missed him - not in a 'love' way, but in a 'want to get back in touch' way, which I made clear - and gave him my phone number, explaining that I was under no illusions and it was ok not to be in touch, but in that case it would be nice if he could provide a courtesy reply (I actually said he could just say the word courtesy) - so I tried to give him a way out, basically.

He ignored it. although I knew he'd seen it because FB told me, and all of a sudden I felt horrible shame. I felt so exposed and embarrassed. I thought he must think I was absolutely psychotic. I tried to put it out of my mind but the shame enveloped me and eventually - a couple of weeks later, I think, I sent a second message to apologise for the first.

After which, the shame attacked me further and I started to feel furious that I was going through such dreadful pain (shame really is the most painful thing ever) completely unnecessarily seeing as all he had to do to not put me in the position I was in was exactly what I'd told him to do - copy and paste one word. I tried to just tell myself 'well, he's a bit of a prick then isn't he?' and stop thinking about it, but the rage built up and built up and eventually I sent a third message telling him that while I was sure he had very good intentions in ignoring me it was actually quite an unkind, discompassionate and childish thing to do seeing as he would have known the exposed position I was in. Then I felt like a complete prick and a complete tool. I should have just walked away.

He eventually replied to tell me that he'd been having a hard time, he was sorry it had taken so long to reply etc. and that he wasn't saying he didn't want to be in touch ever but not right now (but the way it was worded implicitly told me he didn't want to be in touch). I felt like more of a total prick and apologised for my actions, admitted to my fault, and wished him well.

Then I spent most of the year trying to get over the shame and obviously did not contact him at all.

SEVEN MONTHS after all of that happened, I receive a message completely out the blue saying that he had been 'ignoring me and my emails for a while now' and that he hoped I would respect his wishes not to be friends and to stop bothering him, including by phoning him or trying to contact him through his friends.

The message was completely out of touch with reality. I deleted his number five years ago so haven't tried to phone him. I've never tried to get in touch with him through his friends - I don't know his friends - and the only emails he received were FB messages seven months ago, which he eventually responded to and which I apologised for. I didn't consider us to be in touch so I had not been near him since. And all that came after 5 years of silence.

The weird thing is, even though I know that I haven't actually done anything he is reacting against, I still feel shame. I still feel ashamed that his impression of me is that I would disrespect his wishes (which he was vague about and always was back then too. He would sometimes ignore me, sometimes want to keep me on the phone for longer like he really wanted to talk to me, or send me texts to tell me he was proud of me, or phone me to tell me he still loved me, etc.) So it was weird and very prolonged back then.

After the attack recently, I sent a really angry message outlining the facts for him to see, but (shamefully) also bringing up the past to defend myself for clingy behaviour at the time and explaining that I was extremely vulnerable and he was 'provocatively' vague (his behaviour was fairly manipulative, although I actually don't believe it was malicious, I think he has his own problems). So now I've shown he got to me.

My friends have all explained that what's happened here is the event seven months ago gave me a shock (i.e. my own behaviour shocked me because I'm not usually volatile or inappropriate) so I went about working out what happened within me and how to make myself well rather than focusing on him. But he stayed mired in the situation for 7 months, getting worked up about it and blowing it out of all proportion, so while I feel like I've been attacked out of the blue, he feels like it's been going on all this time that I've been silent.

Despite that explanation making sense of a message that is otherwise nonsensical, I still feel the same amount of shame as I would if I actually had been harassing him - and I think it's that I'm very afraid that at heart I am a burden and a bother on everyone and that I am 'psycho' and 'crazy' because there have been some instances where I've had to fight extremely strong behavioural urges (around sex/relationships and stuff) that want me to cling and it's been extremely distressing trying to hold back this tide (and occasionally failing). I wasn't aware this was a part of me, basically. Up until this year, I'd only been clingy once and it was years ago and at a time when everything in my life was turned upside down. So it seemed situational. It's given me a huge shock to find out that my clinginess may be a personality trait that is brought out by certain triggers - which is why it's so infrequent - and that that personality trait would also explain why I'd found it so hard to forget about that particular ex. So even though it is very rare for me to act inappropriately, the feeling that I have the potential to be inappropriate is making me feel the same shame I would feel if I actually was a stalker. It's like I feel like it COULD happen, that the only difference between me and a stalker might be my sense of morality - and what if I were to somehow lose control?!

I must be overreacting, really, but the reason I was so angry at him for sending that message was that I have been trying to downplay this stuff in my mind. Finding out I can be like that sometimes this year (I'm 28 and well-experienced in relationships - non of which were stormy or dramatic - so it's all come as quite a shock), has been so difficult to deal with and I have had to try and forgive myself for it. This really set me back.

Eurgh...just a rant, but it's been bothering me all day.
 
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SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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#2
I'm really sorry to hear about this.
He sounds like a narcissistic arse, and this sounds like a bit of a game he's playing, to be honest. I don't know if it's a power-over thing or if he's just trying to stir up your emotions again because you haven't contacted him.. god knows.

You know you've done nothing wrong though. It's essential that you try to keep your sense of self strong and try to not let him have the power to upset you or make you feel so ashamed.

I don't know what else to say really. I'm sorry this isn't much of a reply, but didn't want to not leave a comment because I could tell you are upset. x
 
N

notrealname

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#3
I'm really sorry to hear about this.
He sounds like a narcissistic arse, and this sounds like a bit of a game he's playing, to be honest. I don't know if it's a power-over thing or if he's just trying to stir up your emotions again because you haven't contacted him.. god knows.

You know you've done nothing wrong though. It's essential that you try to keep your sense of self strong and try to not let him have the power to upset you or make you feel so ashamed.

I don't know what else to say really. I'm sorry this isn't much of a reply, but didn't want to not leave a comment because I could tell you are upset. x
Thank you so much for your reply and for your compassion - just the compassion itself is really helpful. It's ok not to say much, I don't think there's really anything that anyone can say, I think I just had to let it out. It's been a difficult night facing up to how I feel about myself. I don't really feel that I deserve happiness, I feel like I should be punished, so it's really difficult to stop bringing myself down because I'm uncomfortable with not doing so. It makes me feel anxious to let myself off anything, I want to make sure I've suffered. I feel like I'm protecting other people from me if I beat myself up. But in reality I'm just making it worse, because the only reason I've ever been rejected - by family, friends, boyfriends etc. - is because I was 'too much'. I'm so unhappy all of the time and I can only hide it for so long. I don't tend to get angry or volatile, like I said, but I'm constantly unhappy and that's very tiring for everyone else. I just don't want to be a burden on everyone anymore, and I understand the only way out of that is to let myself off and be kind to myself, but when I try to be kind to myself I just don't believe it. It's not pleasant to think of myself as being worthless, but it makes me feel less anxious because I don't feel like I'm fighting it anymore. I feel like I'm just accepting it. And I kind of wonder if I stop trying to prove myself to myself and just accept that I am this person and I don't like this person, then maybe I will be less of a burden because I won't be so anxious, and I can just concentrate on being fun for my friends instead.
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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#4
I used to feel a bit like that.
If someone upset me, i'd always think that it was my problem and i'd rather do something to harm myself than try to confront someone.
I think I internalised so much anger and hurt that it eventually lead to a real crisis with me being suicidal. It was at that point that I made a pact to be kinder to myself.
I recognised that i'm actually a really caring, kind person who only wants peace - and I certainly didn't deserve to be made to feel so bad.
I think with increased self-esteem comes the ability to see when hurtful situations are your issue and when they aren't. Sometimes when someone is being horrible to you, it says far more about them than it ever does you.
It's very easy for me to say this now, but it's taken a lot of heartache to get to a place of realising that I deserve as much respect/happiness as any other human being.

I know this gets suggested a lot in therapy settings, but have you ever focused on things that you like about yourself? It's always good to build up a picture of what's good about you.

The first thing I started with about liking myself was the fact that i'm really caring towards animals... It doesn't seem directly about me at first glance, but when you look deeper, that obviously reflects a kindness within me.
I know it's a bit corny, but just a thought. xx
 
N

notrealname

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#5
I used to feel a bit like that.
If someone upset me, i'd always think that it was my problem and i'd rather do something to harm myself than try to confront someone.
I think I internalised so much anger and hurt that it eventually lead to a real crisis with me being suicidal. It was at that point that I made a pact to be kinder to myself.
I recognised that i'm actually a really caring, kind person who only wants peace - and I certainly didn't deserve to be made to feel so bad.
I think with increased self-esteem comes the ability to see when hurtful situations are your issue and when they aren't. Sometimes when someone is being horrible to you, it says far more about them than it ever does you.
It's very easy for me to say this now, but it's taken a lot of heartache to get to a place of realising that I deserve as much respect/happiness as any other human being.

I know this gets suggested a lot in therapy settings, but have you ever focused on things that you like about yourself? It's always good to build up a picture of what's good about you.

The first thing I started with about liking myself was the fact that i'm really caring towards animals... It doesn't seem directly about me at first glance, but when you look deeper, that obviously reflects a kindness within me.
I know it's a bit corny, but just a thought. xx
Thank you. It did actually get better and I started to feel good again. It's one of those things where if at some level you already believe what they are saying about you then it hits you really hard. If you don't already believe it you can tell it's their issue. Because I already believe I'm damaged and I'm afraid that I will be a bother to people because of that damage, or that I could do something extremely inappropriate or insane (these are my big fears), then what he said hit me really, really hard. But I've been criticised by others about things I don't believe and I can tell immediately in the moment that it's to do with them, not me, and it doesn't affect me.

This guy knows me, so I guess he knows exactly what to say to destroy me. I can tell his actions aren't those of a healthy, happy person. If he were ok in himself he would not be attacking me out of nowhere for no reason, so obviously this is to do with him and not me. I've decided to have compassion for him (from afar) and recognise that he must be in pain himself to be acting in this way and wish him well.

I've also started to focus on all the ways in which I'm not damaged. I'm not volatile, my behaviour doesn't change on the basis of other people's behaviour 99 per cent of the time, I am very able to compliment others and enjoy making them happy, when people do well I feel overwhelming pride for them and never jealousy, I automatically reassure others when they seem vulnerable or when there's a chance they could feel vulnerable, I'm very comfortable with others knowing me and everything about me and with knowing them, I trust that the vast majority of people are trustworthy and am able to take people at their word - these are all signs that I am secure in myself and I am not so damaged or so unhealthy that I will lose control completely. Like everyone else in the world, I have my soft spots, my weak spots, and when triggered it's possible for me to behave in ways that I feel ashamed of, but my shame is so much deeper than other people's - I'm so strict on myself - that I make it worse and then I act inappropriately because of the pain I put myself through. This isn't a sign that there's something deeply dysfunctional within me, it's a sign that I am far too hard on myself.
 
N

notrealname

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#6
Oh God this is getting ridiculous. I really think I might be a stalker. Not that I have actually stalked but my mind is throwing evidence at me that suggests it's possible I would have/could have. Like I get obsessed with people - not in the way that I just think they're great etc./not in a loving way, more in a way where I find it really uncomfortable and I don't like it. I tried to tell a therapist years ago and he just didn't think it was a problem. And there have been times when I feel I've crossed the rubicon and stepped over boundaries. Like this summer, when someone said 'see you around' - which means never speak to me again - and I thought I'd got that and I wouldnt' speak to them again, but then my thoughts went really weird, like I couldn't control my thoughts at all, and because they were barging into me I was losing all perspective and judgement and I couldn't focus on reality at all, and then I did speak to them again, even though they'd say see you around. That crosses this massive boundary in my mind and I'm really shocked I did it. I was shocked at the time. It happened in the evening when the thoughts were really bad and then I woke up in the morning and it smacked me in the face and I was absolutely stunned. And this message from my ex shows that he also thinks I have potential to be a stalker, so it isn't just me who thinks that.

I keep thinking I want to die in an accident. I just feel like I'm dangerous and I don't know what I'm going to do. I mean, I understand appropriate boundaries, but then when this intense emotions hit and my thoughts go weird then it's like I lose perspective on those boundaries and I can't see them anymore. How do I know I will always be appropriate?

I keep imagining maybe being killed by a gang or a mugger, someone who wouldn't feel guilty. I just can't tolerate this.
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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#7
First of all, I think it's good that you can identify that this guy knows exactly what buttons to push and what to say to make you feel awful. Also, you're right in that his actions show he isn't happy, and that he's being spiteful to try to bring other people (you) down.

But again, a lot of what you say resonates with me too.
I can get very obsessed with people. Even if there's a slight possibility that there could be a romantic relationship there, I will end up thinking about that person literally before I go to bed and the first thing when I wake up.
In the past i've indulged in a lot of fantasy about someone, and it stops becoming about love and more about obsession.
And the guilt gets so bad that when I actually see that person, rather than be happy and enjoy their company, I clam up and get so embarrassed.

I don't know how common this is or whether it's diagnosable (ha!), but I can relate.
I think the key thing is awareness of what's going on with your thoughts and understanding your own tendency to be obsessive. It's the first step to really starting to free yourself from these thoughts and attachments.

I don't mean this to sound the i'm invalidating you, more just giving and outsider's perspective - the incident in the summer doesn't sound unreasonable or stalker-like.
It sounds like you're over thinking it way too much.
As you said, you are being too hard on yourself and maybe caring too much about what might be true rather than focusing on facts.
The facts are that you haven't behaved in a way that would make you a stalker.
Our thoughts are one thing, but our actions are another (if that makes sense?).

I'm about to log off now because i'm going out in a bit, but I hope you're ok.
I'm sorry to read that you're having horrible thoughts about being killed or dying in an accident. You don't need to be punished in that way because you've done nothing wrong. x
 
N

notrealname

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#8
Thanks and sorry I'm being such a pain in the arse. It's weird with me, because I'm not obsessive like 80 or 90% of the time. I think it is other things in my life that trigger me.

For instance, with the ex in question, I didn't literally think about him all the time for those 5 years of silence, I thought about him maybe four times a year or so and would get upset. I think I thought that it wouldn't happen again - with anyone. Looking back, it wasn't even that nice, it was just the nicest thing I've ever had.

I don't tend to get particularly obsessed with the idea of a romantic relationship, but I seem to get obsessed with people. A lot of the time it's to take my mind off other things and it feels a lot like my bulimia did. As in, I just want to stop thinking about it but can't.

I tend to feel that I don't need relationships, or feel like that's for other people, or something like that. I feel outside of all that. My core belief around the whole subject seems to be that I will be disappointed by others so I don't know if I kind of devalue them before anything has even happened. I just assume there must be something wrong with them and I'll focus on whatever flaws I can find. I have friends who meet people on online dating sites and are dreaming about getting married to them before they've even met, but with me I don't even really notice if they don't reply. I kind of forget they exist and if they disappear, I really just don't care. I guess I think they wouldn't have been that great anyway.

But that particular relationship with that particular ex, I kind of idealised it or forgot about all of his flaws. I met him when I was on the up. I just got over agoraphobic (by myself), I was top of my year at uni, I won a scholarship to film school, I was beating social anxiety, I was beating my eating disorders, I just felt like everything was finally going to be ok after all those years and that I was doing it - I was really doing it - and I was never going to have to face any of my struggles again. Then the tiredness came - this debilitating fatigue. It's difficult to explain, it was like the energy was sucked out of my body and I literally couldn't do anything. I guess it was years of stress, or dissociation, or something, but I couldn't even stand up for long enough for demonstrations at film school so I had to quit. And then I had to get a job, which I lost because I was too tired to do it, and then I lost job after job after job, and I couldn't get out of bed anymore I was so tired. Everyone was angry at me all the time and said it was my own fault. They would ask me why I was doing this to myself and why I didn't hate myself for it. Eventually he left too and just after that I lost my home and started sleeping on someone's kitchen floor. They were angry at me too because I was hopeless. I would sleep through anything. Most of the day I just slept and when I was awake I couldn't even get around the corner to the shop without having a sit down. It was like there was nothing left. I guess I lost everything that I'd worked for one year after I thought everything was going to be ok. And then I spent the next six years striving to get it all back. And that's why I remembered him - partly. The other reason was because he would do things for me no one ever had before. He wasn't angry at me when I left my essays too late and had to sit up getting really anxious and stressed while I worked through them. He didn't just tell me it was my own fault and ask me why I wanted to fail all the time. He just sat by me into the early hours reading his book and making me cups of tea, giving me a massage when I got really stressed out with the essays. Just before we stopped speaking, I started doing stand up and he sent me a message to tell me he was really proud of me. He was the only person I really actually believed. My parents sometimes tell me they're proud of me, but to be honest I usually feel instinctively like they're saying that kind of thing for their own benefit, not mine. I don't really believe they're proud of me, they just don't seem that way. They just want to be 'good parents'. I guess it always felt, all those years, like he was the only person that ever gave a shit about how I felt and about my welfare. And then having that taken away earlier this year really destroyed me and put me in the strange place I was this summer. I don't know if that's why it's all given me such a shock. There's that 80% of the time when none of this affects me. I've had so many relationships where none of this has been an issue that it just doesn't make sense.

I can kind of tell that when it happens I just need to escape and that's what my minds clinging to - could this give me a chance to escape? When I met that guy this summer, the stuff that was barraging into my mind wasn't about him, it was about me. It was about how much of a failure I am - how could I fail at something so simple? If he didn't like me, that would be fine, but he did and I still managed to fuck up. There was just that feeling of - this is who you are. You're just a massive loser. Why did you even try? I didn't at any point think of having a future with him, I had this gut feeling I didn't want to be with him for long. It kind of sounded like his past relationships were a bit unstable and I've never been in a dramatic relationship and knew I wouldn't like one. I just wanted 'something nice, just for me' for a while. All of my fantasies, and my obsessions, they're all the same thing. They're never about the person themselves, they're about something, anything, someone just making it all end. Just making it better somehow. It's like I'm constantly trapped and I start fantasising about freedom.

I've written loads, sorry. I guess I've been thinking it over. You've been really nice and really helpful, thank you.
 
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