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Anxiety and Abuse/Mental Cages


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Hey guys,

I haven't written in a while. I just started a new job, mainly because the people in my old one were treating me so badly that I had to get out. I had a long talk with my girlfriend about why this always happens to me, why in any social situation I become the butt of everyone's jokes. One thing she told me is to stop trying so hard, to get along with people, just be. I think this is good advice, and it pertains to my situation well, but the thing is, I go through this cycle. It's easier to see it when I'm just starting out at a new place. A) I rub people the wrong way, B) I get treated more and more like shit until I react, C) i get labeled as "unstable" due to my reactions. So I can curtail B and C. I don't have to react to people. The problem is A. I just don't seem to be a likable person to most people. My girlfriend says, "I like you, so I don't know what it is that people don't like." I think that I know, but i don't know what to do about it. Basically, I'm a very tense person. I react to external stimuli in a way that turns people off. It's a nervous kind of thing, so it's not like I'm making a conscious choice to do it. I want people to like me so much that I start to worry about it, and I start to have invasive thoughts about my body language. I have a huge abuse history, including sexual abuse, and I think this has a lot to do with it. My defenses go up and I'm overcome with anxiety over stupid things, and it's embarrassing. The cosmic irony is that, even though its me who has been victimized so much and on so many levels and so deeply, I am seen as the passive aggressor, the "rotten" one, etc. I've been through so much therapy that has only made matters worse, I don't quite know what to do. I would love to just resign myself to my fate and give up, as pathetic as that may sound, but my body refuses to let me. When I'm around new people I get sucked into these inner conflicts that are fighting to get out through these actions of mine. I think that if I believed in my abilities and/or worthiness to have friends, I would do a lot better, but I don't know where to begin. Confidence, I've found, comes from external results, and so far the results suck.

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Have you discussed this in hard-core therapy? I know exactly how you feel. I get really, really paranoid about people I work around, especially bosses. And pretty soon I think that every email my boss writes is about me, every phone call is about my poor performance, every whispered conversation is about me. And I can't function at work, because I build up all this stress and eventually blow up in a spectacularly, terrifically horrible fashion. So I can't work right now. But I am in therapy. I am talking about it.

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