Friday, October 31, 2008

Graciously Accepting Compliments

Yesterday near the end of my session Dr. X looked at me and explained he wanted to say something to me, but he wanted me to accept the compliment, and not reject it, or become self effacing about it. He really wanted me to try hard to accept and embrace what he was about to say. At this point I became extremely self-conscious and worried about what he was about to say.

At this moment, as I write, I am going to practice accepting praise at face value AND being proud of myself:

He began to express how much he like my blog. Not just that he went on in detail about what he like about it. I don't even remember what it was he said about it, because I was listening and it all seemed surreal. It seemed unlikely that someone like him, someone so important to me, someone so intelligent and well read would see so much value in what I write. I wish I could remember what he said, because after he said it I was flabbergasted. Yet, at the same time could not help but doubt the sincerity of such profoundly kind and elaborate praise.

I tried REALLY hard to just ACCEPT what he was saying, but I couldn't help let slip, "Are you serious? Do you really mean that?". He looked at me with a slight look of consternation that told me I had slipped up and done exactly what I had promised not to do. I was supposed to accept what he said, be proud of myself, and if I wanted to, say thank you.

I still find it hard to believe that he meant what he said, despite deep in my heart recognizing that he is not one to lie, or make things up. I wanted so badly for him to enjoy my writing, and it feels so important to me that he be interested in what I have to say, that it feels impossible that he would actually feel that way.

I was thinking yesterday why I would have such a reaction to praise about something I do, and something that means so much to me. I love writing in my blog. I find it intensely cathartic and challenging to write about the issues I do.

All I can think is that maybe I was projecting my Dad onto him. I try to please my father, to make him proud of me, yet no matter what I do I feel I never please him, or live up to what he wants, or expects, me to be. I am always a disappointment. My being depressed, and off work makes me disappoint him even more. I am trying hard to let that go, but I find the dynamic clings to me.

I think, because my blog is so important to me, I believe it became a contender for incurring disappointment in someone who matters to me. That is why I took in the compliment with a huge amount of doubt about its sincerity. My immediate thought was that the compliment was a gesture to placate me, to retrain me, to make me feel better during a therapy session where I was feeling so badly about myself.

My Dad called last night and asked me how my dog training was going. I told him about our first trip to the off-leash dog park, and how the despite all my hard work training my puppy to learn the words, "Come", "Sit", Heel" etc., the second my puppy saw another dog he was off like a flash and I may as well been a stranger. He tugged madly on the leash when I did manage to leash him, even though on the farm he happily walks with a loose leash at my side.

My Dad sounded so indignant. What the hell are you doing letting him off the leash? What did I tell you? That is when you need to use the long lead. He needs to be on a leash." Those words don't look too bad as I write them, but it was the tone in which they were delivered that said..."You are a fucking idiot, you never get anything right, I don't know why I even bother"

It is no wonder I get so angry with myself. I have internalized my father's dismay in who I have become, and who I was my whole life. I swear at myself; internally scream at myself, to, " just fucking get it together. Fucking change you idiot. You are such a loser. You don't get anything right. You just aren't doing the right things. You aren't trying hard enough. If you were you be better and back at work. You are disgusting."

Dr. X. explained that it is very difficult to get rid of those negative voices in my head, but I can bring more positive voices in to counter the negativity.

During the phone call I should have been thinking:

...Dad is just trying to help me. He does not realize that criticism from him cuts me to the bone. As a policeman, he spent his whole life barking commands and ordering people around. He does not understand how deliver a message softly. That's not his fault. He is a product of his life, just like me.

I need to not take his help as rejection. I need to accept what he is saying at face value. He is only trying to help me be a better dog owner, and he has the knowledge to do that.

Wow, I have worked really hard to teach my puppy manners and commands. He is however, still a puppy, and he has just recently been off the farm and into other environments. He becomes over stimulated and distracted by all the new things. I made a mistake. I have never had my own puppy before so I did not know better. I should have had him on a long lead. I know that now and will be better prepared the next time we go out. Dad was only trying to help me.

I feel like I will never learn these lessons. It is so painful to make the same mistakes over and over again. I would like to graciously accept Dr. X's compliments and believe he meant what he said. I feel flattered and very pleased with myself for all the effort I put into writing the things I do in my blog. Dr. X. you helped me feel even better about something I love to do. Thank you.


Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I agree with Dr. X. You have a way of describing things that really connects with me. I relate so well to what you wright and the way that you write it. It helps me better understand you and my own condition.

Take that compliment how you want. :)

That said, I too cuss at myself all the time and berate myself. I can't seem to stop it. I'm SO hard on myself. I too had a problem with my father but he's come around quite a bit. However, in some ways the damage has been done over the years. Especially since they came during my formative years. I use to hate my father SO MUCH and wanted to kill him even at one point!!! YIKES!!!

Now I know that he too was dealing with bipolar but not very well. He was trying to force his way through his struggles. He's a total control freak. Anyway, hang in there. I'm dragging ass today and hope that my Halloween party helps tonight. HUGS!!!

Lola Snow said...

Yep, just what handsome said, with bells on!
I'm loving the whole "parents and child/learning" theme.
The parallels between Dr x teaching you a way of doing something, your Dad trying to teach you a way to do something, and you teaching your puppy how to do something, and also teaching and learning from your blog, about...well teaching and learning!
Life is amazing when it reflects itself, like looking at a mirror in a mirror!
Lola x

Dr Shock said...

I fully agree with Dr X. It is hard to describe what I like about your writing but it comes down to: you write what you feel, and your doing it very well.
Take care Dr Shock

Tamara said...

You do a beautiful job of writing your blog in a way that resonates. I am glad that you are accepting compliments because you should feel good about what you are doing. It is not easy to write all of our private feelings, emotions and struggles. It is a very brave thing to have a blog like you do. It also helps others in ways you don't even know. In addition, your taking the time to come around and comment with your wise and caring words takes a very special person.


s said...

What a lovely thing to happen.

Aqua said...

Thank you so much each of you. I cannot express how much I enjoy your blogs as well...actually I think I will post about that today.