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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Failure to Launch Syndrome

As I have mentioned before here, I enjoy reading books on psychology. I am particularly well versed on the subject of depression, bi-polor and uni-polar illness and issues of anxiety.

I just started reading another book, a more clinical one, on ADHD and the cluster of issues that develop adjacent to the condition. In this one chapter, the author talks about the impact of failure on the pysche. The reason conditions such as ADHD and depression become an issue is the fact they are obstacles to obtaining happiness and satisfaction in many areas of life. This certainly is not a new thought. What didn't really occur to me is the necessity to recover from the impact of failure and humiliation.

Yes, it is humiliating if you are one of a group of people involved in a project and the only one who can't seem to keep straight certain elements or forget what you were just told to do. You are looked upon as if your brain never made it to your skull. And you can't explain it to people either.

Decades of such experiences take their toll and you can not even realize it. I certainly didn't really think about it until I started reading this book. I know I can recall failures and humiliations easily and relive them at times. The feeling is still fresh. I have to really delve into my subsconscious and analyze just how past failures and humiliations have affected me

I know during my adolescence I had a terrible time of things. The only salvation I had was that I was recognized as being a good writer, athlete and performer even by those who didn't like me. Otherwise, I was someone who, with my short hair, could initially appear to be a girl or a boy and when I walked along the road if a busload of kids went by, they would sometimes "bark" at me. I was called "a dog" more than once. This memory has indeed imbedded the notion in my very bones that I am not attractive. I do have moments where I look in the mirror and think that I am but those moments are fleeting. Has it affected relationships since that time? I'm not really sure. I know I have a bit of an inferiority complex though it is not as pronounced as it once was. I think I have masked some feelings about all this by pretending to have self-confidence. I have pretended for so long that most people I know tell me that I appear to be very confident. But I'm not. Sometimes I even fool myelf into thinking I am confident about something.

I want to find cognitive exercises that will allow me to explore what I have discussed above about myself and see what I can discover.


Annie Ruth said...

dear Nancy,

It's hard to put those childhood experiences behind us, isn't it?

I think that these experiences *do* become embedded in our bones - meaning that we can't get rid of the memories but the best we can hope for is to have them lose their power. Easier said than done, that task.

And maybe we spend all of our adult years putting our childhood and adolescent experiences into perspective, or trying to.

sometimes - and I wonder if this is the case for you - early life experiences can be so powerful that they never lose their sharpness; and revisiting these memories doesn't make them lose their power, but rather re-traumatizes us.

children and adolescents are so attuned to anything outside of the norm; terrified by things outside of the norm. So if one looks different, acts different, really anything which distinguishes one from the pack, it's almost as if we are hard-wired to single that person out and ostracize them.

You were different for having red hair and for learning about the world in a different way; I was different because I've always been tall (reached my height of 5'8'' by age 13) and was flat - chested as hell until well into college, not to mention having no ability at sports whatsoever, so I felt like an outsider and loser as well.

Worst middle school memory?
gym class, but not just *any* gym class.....oh no.....we had a whole unit on "folk dancing" in which they would combine the girls' gym class with the boys' gym class.

Also? for some reason they thought it appropriate to have all of us girls line up against the wall of the gym and the boys would then choose a partner for that day.

And Annie?
ALWAYS chosen last.

seriously? Last choice!

embarassing? um, yeah, very!

and at age 13 there's no perspective! it just feels awful, and you feel there is something essentially wrong with you.

so I was the tallest person in the class - taller than the other girls AND taller than the other boys, so maybe that's why I was never chosen as anyone's dance partner,

but then again, I've always wondered if it was something else...some other reason.

who knows and it doesn't really matter, but interesting that we can call to mind these memories so easily, isn't it?


Louisa Landers said...

I have recently come to believe that depression and anxiety, which I have learned are two side of the same coin, run in families. I discovered it runs in mine. It helped a lot just to come to this basic understanding instead of just having the feeling of "what's wrong with me" and thinking it was all a moral failing of some kind on my part, or what have you.

I am coming to the belief that the brain is a most overlooked and still today a very mysterious, complex organ. There are many people with brain imbalances that are likely inherited and then perhaps reinforced by environmental input also.
Wow, what a relief -I'm not an inadequate, moral failure after all.

Still I went through years of therapy to work through the hurt feelings low self esteem coping mechanisms I had learned in order to cope with my pain. Those old feelings, I discovered, are very real with powerful energy that does not dissipate with time until one actually does acknowledge, work through,feel them, and let them go.