Seminar Work – Teen Focus
I have missed out on a lot of experiences and opportunities because of the lifestyle that I chose to live. I am almost 18 – an adult – and yet I feel that I tried to grow up too soon and now I am left without the memories of a beautiful and fun adolescence. My mom wrote me a letter about all of the mother-daughter experiences that we missed out on. I didn’t take full advantage of all the times where I could have given my parents a hug, or watched a movie with them, or even just eaten dinner with them. I’ve missed out on the experience of graduating high school with honors, something that I deserved. I do not get to enjoy my senior prom. I do not get to experience my mom doing my hair and helping me get ready. I don’t get to feel my family telling me how beautiful I look while taking photographs. I have lost my opportunity to lose my virginity to the guy I marry. I have missed out on my high school graduation, and all the celebration and general feelings of accomplishment that come with graduating. I have missed out on having friendships that are based upon trust and honesty rather than drugs and partying. I have missed out on being a well-adjusted teen who does normal things in her life. I missed the most important experience of my life – being myself.
How I’ve Hurt Others and Myself
I have hurt so many people in my life. The person that I have hurt the most is myself. I have have sabotaged my progress in life and really destroyed my happiness and confidence. I sliced apart my self-esteem and my confidence until I didn’t believe I could accomplish anything but failure. I ran my life out of control and then tried to take control through self-destructive ways. I created a world of darkness for myself. I pushed my family away, hurting both them and me. I did this out of fear and hurt. I chose to hide my feelings, but expected my parents to know how I felt and to help me out. I destroyed myself and made my parents watch. I made my family see their own daughter slowly killing herself, pausing only to lash out at them whenever they tried to help. I hurt my dad a lot when I was at home because my actions reminded him of his abusive, alcoholic father. I hurt anyone I grew close to but more than anyone I hurt my mom. I used to tell her everything but as my problems grew more difficult I shoved my feelings down and in turn shut myself off. I have learned that I create what I can offer to others by what I offer to myself. If I look at myself only with shame, doubt, fear or pain, then those will be the only things I can give to others. If I don’t want to cause the people I love to feel pain and hurt, I must first start with loving myself.
How I am a Taker
I am a taker in life in a lot of ways. I know I have a lot to say and my words and experiences could be an inspiration to a lot of people yet I choose to keep them hidden from the world and continuously take myself out people’s experiences. In my family I was a taker in a lot of ways. I gave nothing to my parents. I lied to them constantly and did everything in my power to push them away yet I expected so much from them. I worry that I have taken so much, and given so little, that they have completely shut the well off. I always took material things but looked down upon the emotional gifts that they tried to give me. I took their love, their time, their energy, their respect and I stomped on it until they were left with only pain. That’s all I gave back. I feel that I was a really big taker in school also. I had so many opportunities that I threw away. I was given chances and opportunities based on my abilities that so many people would have given their all to have and I took them and threw those away with everything else that came my way. I realize that I took so much because I was focused on judgments. I was so busy worrying about what judgments were being placed on me by myself and others that I really chose to simply observe my life as it passed me by. This makes me think about when I first came to the facility. I wanted to sit back and do nothing. I took so many truly meaningful opportunities and just let them pass me by. I didn’t open up to anyone and honestly just sat there feeling sorry for myself dreaming of the day I would leave. I took from everyone – myself, my family, my peers. I took away so many opportunities from myself which I could have really gotten more out of. I took fun times and opportunities and weighed them down with negativity, often ruining them both for myself and those around me.
I use the story that no one cares about me most often when I am making excuses and justifications for actions in my life. I often try to blame the world for what I create for myself. I use the “nobody loves me” story very often. I say that everyone else looks at me and hates me or thinks I’m ugly. I play a big victim in this story. This story is a big cover-up for my real emotions and is also a very major way that I avoid taking responsibility for my actions. I use stories to justify situations in which I fail on account of non-participation. I hold myself back from a lot of things because I worry so much about what others will think of me. If I do not end up with the results I desire, I blame the people who’s acceptance I desire, rather than the feeling of needing their acceptance. My stories are a way to bring out how I feel about myself and attach those feelings to someone or something else. It is really hard for me to look at the real reasons why things happen in my life. I have to recognize that I really am in control of everything that happens in my life, working or non-working. That is a lot to accept when dealing with losses and let-downs. I know I used this story to explain away so many things in my life. I play a big conspiracy game in which I pit the world against myself. All the stories I tell really fall under this description. I find something that I can label as the attacker, and this person or object confers with like people or objects (or just general forces in my life) and somehow creates the event or situation for me which in turn leaves me powerless to control my life on my own. I don’t want to take accountability for a lot of the things that have happened in my life. I have learned that being accountable is recognizing my part in a series of choices and events.
The Mom/Dad Process
The Mom/Dad Process was such a meaningful experience for me. I experienced such a wide range of emotions – from fear to disgust – and I honestly had myself convinced that all I really felt towards my parents was anger. When we talked about our parents in small group today, I really tried to open myself up and get to the bottom of my emotions. It obviously didn’t work as more came up for me during the process than I had allowed myself to feel in years. I always thought that I had more anger and negativity for my dad, but what I realized was that my father and I just had a really underdeveloped relationship. The father-daughter bond is there, and we do truly love each other unconditionally but the open communication and healthy expression of feeling was not. My dad was abused as a child and because of that he has a hard time showing his positive emotions. He finds it basically impossible to give a hug or say “I love you.” I really do love my dad but as a child I found it very difficult to connect with him. I think I created my anger for him as a means to keep some sort of emotional closeness with him, be it positive or negative. I always felt like my dad wasn’t being “real” with me. He was either overly joking in a way that was teasing and aggravating, or he was angry and spouting off a lecture. My anger was really more of an expression for my hurt. I really couldn’t fill the entire time (in the mom/dad process) with violence and screaming. More than anything, I felt bad about what I had done to him. I felt that I made him feel like his father. I directly used anger as a way to manipulate him into paying attention to me. I have hurt my parents and I miss the true closeness that we used to share. I don’t want to go back to the way things were. When I had to look at the relationship I had with my mom, I really broke down. My mom is so sensitive. She has major anxiety disorders and depression and I never realized how resentful I was of this. Sometimes my mom will just be so hopeless. She’ll cry and say that nothing will ever be alright and she always blames it on on one of her children. So much pain came up during this part of the process. All I could think about was how selfish I had been to be so angry with my parents over their inability to deal with their feelings. I realized a lot about where my self-limiting beliefs come from. Rather than learn from the problems that my parents had I created the same line of problems for myself. My parents are on quite a load of medications. I blamed their behavior on the chemicals they were using. So what did I do? The exact same thing, only illegally. I knew that my mom’s preoccupation with psychiatry really bothered me, but I didn’t know the true extent until this part of the process. My mom is such a firm believer in psychiatry and I always felt like she expected me to be crazy. I felt really hurt by this and a lot of emotion came up that was attached to this. The whole process taught me so much. I cried so hard when we got to pretend that our parents were in the room holding us. I realize that right there is what I really have always wanted from my parents, but I made so many non-working decisions that I couldn’t have them be a part of my life. I created so much of the pain I feel today and I wanted to let go of it all of this time, but made myself unaware of the real heart and cause of what I felt.
I need to stop focusing on the past and the issues of “yesterday” and move ahead to the future. I can’t change what has happened to me. I can only let go of what I’ve felt and change whatever negative beliefs and ideas I had built for myself and most importantly, learn. It felt so good to release all of that stuffed pent-up emotion. I didn’t hurt anyone in the process and that makes me really proud of myself. I haven’t felt like such a weight has been lifted off of me in a long time. I felt so much rage, fear, betrayal, sadness and self-doubt erupt from in my soul. The most meaningful part for me however was when I saw my Magical Child. I was so touched in my heart. I remembered a part of myself that I had truly buried underneath all of those negative emotions. People may not accept me but if I can love and accept myself it really won’t matter. I feel like I’ve taken a really big step towards my goals of getting back to who I was before. I am a beautiful woman. I am an intelligent and creative lady. I am passionate, loving and involved. Most importantly, I’m me. I realize I do love who I am and always will. I just really despise what I’ve become. I broke down my armor, I beat it, I destroyed it. I still have my fears and my doubt but the pain has been let go.
What Have I Learned?
Today in Focus I really learned a lot about myself and about my life. When I don’t appreciate the value of my own life, then I miss out on living that life. I have spent so much of my life consuming my time with self-destructive behaviors. I hurt myself so much and I did it because I didn’t see the value of who I was or of the gift of life that I had been given. I am so tired of merely existing. I want to live a life that I would fight for and today I felt that. I saved a vote for myself. I didn’t put others before me and it is obvious that the conviction and dedication I held towards saving my life proved to be strong and true enough to be seen by those around me. I never felt as worthy as I did when I sat down in that “life boat.” I felt like I was being true to who I really was and what I really wanted. I am a person who deserves to live!
When I let down my walls and seek realness, I create a truly fun experience and an experience of myself in a positive way. I used to hold myself back at home. That was one of the biggest ways I took the joy and freedom out of my life. In this seminar, I have let loose, released my leadership and dropped my fears. I took a lot of risks and I feel that for the first time in a long while, I feel free and happy. I let out my Magical Child and let myself forget about what others thought of me or even how I look at myself. I allowed myself to move away from judgments and focus instead on enjoying and living for the moment. It was a big risk for me because for a long time I doubted my own abilities to shine, lead, or even fully be myself. I doubted myself so much that I made that true for myself. As long as I let my pain run me, I wasn’t able to be who I truly was. I learned that holding myself back and not taking risks keeps me from proving my self-limiting beliefs wrong.
If I am willing to experience and release my pain, I will then experience the joy and beauty of peace of mind. I think that is really what I have been seeking after the past few years but I wanted the results without doing the work. I never wanted to feel the hurt and pain I felt within my heart. I didn’t want to feel it when it happened so I pushed it down and bottled it up within my heart. I didn’t want to to feel it during any of the times when it bubbled up and tried to come up so I took drugs and turned to starvation as a means to escape. I wasn’t willing to find the strength within myself or to take the necessary risks to work out the pain and find what lived behind it.