No, I Am Not Making A Mountain Out Of A Molehill

I have felt emotionally invalidated by my husband for a very very long time now, and I struggle to understand, on a daily basis, why he can never understand why I feel the way I do.

I told him exactly this… And his text reply to me was “How am I invalidating you? I’m saying you (are) not talking logically. It’s all emotionally-charged words.”

Firstly, yes you are. Secondly, no they are not.

I figured that he had absolutely no idea what emotional invalidation meant (as with most things that involve feelings – not to stereotype, but is it just a man thing?), and so I did some simple Googling so that I could find the simplest definition for him.

Here’s what I got:

Emotional invalidation occurs when one’s thoughts and feelings are diminished, ignored, rejected.

And I have felt the invalidation so deeply for so long because it has been communicated to me, ever so often, that my emotions, thoughts and feelings are unreasonable or irrational – by the very person who claims to love me.

Double whammy.

Sidebar: I have noticed it in his parenting style too, but how can I bring it up? My only choice is to write this post, in the hopes that he will read it and do something about it. I went through similar invalidation when I was growing up, probably due to the sheer stress of parenthood (plus I was not an easy child to bring up) – and that is why I feel so strongly about this.

Anyway, something happened last night that led to me feeling so small and unimportant. I won’t recount it here because it’s unnecessary, but I told Kevin how I felt about the series of events.

Once again, I was told that I was “making a big fuss”. What was new there?

I was angry. And in my signature style, started to formulate my argument about him downplaying every single emotion I feel.

So I did some research, and stumbled across an article about how HSP (Highly Sensitive Persons) are affected a lot more when it comes to invalidation.

Now my life makes sense. How have I not known about this term before?

I’m not about to regurgitate entire articles that start with the title “signs that you are a Highly Sensitive Person” because as I type, there is a very clingy 9-month-old boy clawing at me, imploring me with those big beautiful eyes of his to pick him up and cuddle him.

But if I were to pick the symptom that led me to truly believe I identify with other HSPs, it would be the fact that I am extremely sensitive about my environment.

Here are just some of them.

Time pressure really throws me off my game. This is why I hate doing anything last minute. I used to hand up my essays six weeks in advance, no kidding.

Sudden loud noises startle me way more than it should. Especially thunder. I’m usually the one cowering under the covers while my 2-year-old toddler exclaims, “mummy no scared”.

Change is extremely extremely upsetting for me (I can’t emphasise this enough), and this year was full of change. I gave birth to Isaac, was hospitalised for post-delivery complications immediately after childbirth, went through confinement, collected keys to my first home, Valerie went for surgery, supervised renovation, packed our lives out, moved home, unpacked our lives again, got used to having a helper and running my own household. In between I got hospitalised twice in the same month because I burnt out. And you wonder why. It’s just been… Insanely tough.

Apart from all of the above, I am very sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels, caffeine, alcohol, large public crowds, bright lights, fast traffic, and too many things occurring simultaneously. I also feel physically ill during conflict and from the lack of sleep (now how do I fix this since I am a mum and I have two young children under my care?).

I used to think these physical symptoms were due to my vertigo… But now there’s another reason? Sometimes I wonder why my body was created to be so special.

Alright, enough moping around. I need to prepare for my dad’s birthday dinner tomorrow.

If you’re interested to know more about HSPs, Google can be your best friend too.

Just thought I’d write this out since I had some time on hand.

Peace.

Credit: x, x

Battling Depression & Anxiety as a SAHM

Life is like a fruit basket. When you keep putting fruits in – one at a time, or several at once – sooner or later, you won’t be able to put anymore fruits in without any rolling off.

Quote from an old friend, Dr. H.

These past few months have been tough. In front of my friends and especially my family, I act like I have it all together. I act like I’m elated. Like I’m excited. Like I’m bursting with happiness! New home, new chapter right? This is what I have wanted and waited for – for a good three years. But little did anyone know that I was crumbling to pieces within. In my new home, I felt numb. I felt desolate. I felt hopeless. I felt… Helpless.

So it happened about two months back. I slid down the pit that I fought so hard to climb out of for more times than I care to remember. I retreated. I neglected my children (I’m not proud of that). I almost decided that the pain inside was too bad to continue. I almost wanted to end it all.

Almost.

But Kevin spotted the signs. He made an urgent appointment for me to see my regular doctor because he knew that I had been secretly missing my sessions. On the day of the appointment, I went into one of my modes again and my husband had to half-carry me out of the door, with the help of my 2-year-old.

The medical team decided that admission was best – just so that I could have some uninterrupted rest and a break from being on-call 24/7. I was warded for 5 nights. I wouldn’t say I walked out of hospital completely 100% renewed, but the break did help somewhat. It’s amazing what naps can do for a severely sleep-deprived person.

Some people, being human, would have wondered why I burnt out even though I engaged a helper the minute I moved into my new home. I don’t blame them for doing so, and I know I do not owe anyone an explanation, but I just need to get this off my chest – hence the title of this post – so bear with me.

My helper, Anita, has been great. Why? Because she helps me with the physical work of running my household – and we decided to engage her precisely because I need help physically. Due to my history with vestibular issues, there are limitations to what I can and cannot do – and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Unbeknownst to many, I struggle with simple everyday things, and it’s definitely not due to the lack of trying… But that’s a story for another day.

I certainly am grateful that Kevin has given me a chance to be a SAHM, even though we made this decision KNOWING FULL WELL that it will not come without challenges. But it was a choice we made together, and it has worked out so far – all thanks to the One above for His limitless provision.

As a SAHM, I get to live out my calling in this season of life every single day. And I do love being with my children, please don’t get me wrong. We have really good days and we have good days.

And then there are days where I just do not want to face them. These are days which are dark, where I struggle with my thoughts and with my emotions and with my innermost desires to end this fight to live.

I will be honest here. As much as I’m appreciative that I get to stay home and watch my children grow, it is literally all that I have become. Who am I? What do I do all day? The answer is one and the same. I am a mum. I am a mum all day, everyday. The hours fade into days, which fade into weeks, which in turn fade into months. And just like that – I’ve been a full-time mum for exactly three years.

Many times, the isolation is real. And it’s easy to sink into depression (even for those who aren’t already struggling with this) when the only people you face day in and day out are your children – who, being children, are self-centred and self-serving. And to be constantly expected to give of yourself, is an almost impossible task when you are running on empty. That’s exactly what happened to me.

My love tank emptied.

The thoughts overtook.

Emotions overwhelmed me.

Everything came crashing down.

My two arch enemies, depression and anxiety, took over.

Since my relapse, I’ve been pretty much on an emotional roller coaster ride – and my patient husband and innocent children have taken the brunt of it. I have been overbearing, paranoid, angry, impatient, irrational, and basically a pain to be around. But they have been constantly loving on me though I don’t deserve it.

I want to be better. I want to get better. For them. For myself.

So I’m trying to be better. Damn, I’m trying. No doubt I still have my bad days… But I’m trying.

The Inner Child

Today, I’m going to write about something different. It’s going to be a difficult topic to talk about because of my journey, both past and present – but I feel I have to.

To begin with, I do feel that this complex referred to as “The Inner Child” is REAL. Not physically, but figuratively and metaphorically real. It is a psychological or phenomenological reality, and an extraordinarily powerful one at that.

Experts in this field claim that most mental disorders and destructive behaviour patters are somehow related to this unconscious part of ourselves.

You and I – we were all once children, and still have that child dwelling within us. But most of us adults are quite unaware of this. And this lack of conscious relatedness to OUR OWN Inner Child is precisely where so many behavioral, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from.

Your Inner Child… Is the echo of the child you once were.

We each have our own history and we have all been influenced by our environment, events and the significant people around us. Our Inner Child has stored those memories, and their impact upon us.

As a child, we will all have made decisions at a sub-conscious level about how we ‘should’ be and what we ‘should’ do in order to be seen as OK. For instance – what’s culturally and/or socially acceptable.

Our experiences in our teenage years will have reinforced these beliefs and formed our own SCRIPT for how our life ‘should’ be. We carry these immature scripts and decisions with us into adulthood – when they, unfortunately, run our lives more than 90% of the time.

So where did it all begin?

We have all been influenced by our environments since the time we were in our mother’s womb.

The sounds around us, our mother’s stress levels, the abundance or deficit of the ‘feel-good’ hormones, our nourishment or lack of it etc… Will all have played their part in how safe we felt even before we were born.

Then the actual birth experience, our early infant care, and the EMOTIONAL AVAILABILITY of our mother will have either reinforced or soothed the impact of those first prenatal influences.

As young children, we will have been absorbing a great deal from our caregiver(s), immediate families, extended families, friends, and education or religious institutions.

We may not have had words for these experiences but they will have been IMPRINTED in our subconscious minds and bodies.

This all creates the POOL in which we float, or sink. Inevitably, the water will be a bit dirty. But sometimes, it may even be as thick as mud.

In this pool… Resides our self esteem, body image, family trauma, shame and secrets (even if not spoken about – as they all affect the quality of the care our caregivers are able to show to us).

As adults, we will tend to sink down into this pool, or mud, whenever we are overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions, self-doubt or self-loathing.

What happens when the Inner Child within us gets hurt?

In each of us, there is a young, suffering Child. We have all had times of difficulty as children and many of us have experienced trauma. To protect and defend ourselves against future suffering, we often try to forget those painful times. Every time we’re in touch with the experience of suffering, we believe we can’t bear it, and we stuff our feelings and memories deep down in our unconscious mind. It may be that we haven’t dared to face this Child for many decades.

This isn’t dissociation per se. Rather, it is a far more common, pervasive and insidious sort of socially sanctioned (read: socially accepted) dissociation.

In layman terms, the wounded Inner Child is the parts of ourself that was hurt, terrified, vulnerable, neglected, or invalidated… During our younger days. When all we wanted, as children, was to be loved, protected, and nurtured.

The sad truth here is that adults like you and me are unwittingly being constantly influenced or covertly controlled by this UNCONSCIOUS Inner Child. For many, it is not an adult self directing their lives, but rather an emotionally wounded Inner Child inhabiting an adult body.

Imagine this:

A five-year-old running around in a forty-year-old frame. It is a hurt, angry, fearful little boy or girl calling the shots and making adult decisions.

A boy or girl being sent out into the world to do a man’s or woman’s job.

A five or ten-year old (or two of them!) trying to engage in grown-up relationships.

Can a child have a mature relationship?

A career?

An independent life?

Yet this is precisely what’s happening with us everyday to some degree or another.

And then we wonder why our relationships fall apart.

Why we feel so anxious. Afraid. Insecure. Inferior. Small. Lost. Lonely.

But think about it. How else would any child feel having to fend for themselves in an apparently adult world? Without proper parental supervision, protection, structure or support?

One thing I’ve learnt is that the first step to healing is the awareness of and willingness to face your Inner Child.

Next, we need to learn to take our Inner child seriously, and to consciously communicate with that little boy or girl within. To listen to how he or she feels and what he or she needs from us here and now. The often frustrated primal needs of that perennial Inner Child – for love, acceptance, protection, nurturance, understanding – remain the same today as when we were children.

Many times, as pseudo-adults, we futilely attempt to force others into fulfilling these infantile needs for us. (I have experienced this firsthand.)

But this is doomed to fail.

What we didn’t sufficiently receive in the past from our parents as children must be confronted in the present, as painful as it might be.

The past traumas, sadness, disappointments and depression cannot be changed and must be accepted. Becoming an adult means swallowing this “bitter pill”, as I call it. That, unfortunately for most of us, certain infantile needs were, maliciously or not, unmet by our imperfect parents or caregivers. And they never will be, no matter how good or smart or attractive or spiritual or loving we become. Those days are over. What was done cannot be undone.

Bottom line is… We should not as adults now expect others to meet all of these unfulfilled childhood needs. They cannot.

AUTHENTIC ADULTHOOD requires both accepting the painful past and the primary responsibility for taking care of your own Inner Child’s needs.

PS: #iwrotethisforyou

Stop running. There’s nothing to run from.

Stop escaping. There’s nothing to escape from.

The past is the past. Forgive yourself, forgive the people around you, and move on. It may be a difficult road to walk because you’re afraid and that’s ok. But take the first step and you’d be amazed how healing can and will take place.

I hope you will live a more positive and rewarding life filled with fun, laughter, spontaneity, and authenticity.

Finally, start loving yourself.

You are worth it. You are more than enough. You are God’s beloved child. You are you. You have a story no one can tell.

Be a blessing.

[Credit: x, x]

ENFP vs INFJ

Me: “Have you read my blog?”

Him: “Yeah, the Dayre one? It was such a boring post.”

Me: “Uhm, thanks for the feedback.”

Him: “I’m still waiting for THAT post which you promised to write!”

Me: “Uhm, okay. I will work on it now.”

So here I am. Lying in bed with Isaac snuggled within the crook of my arm after his midnight feed. Researching. Writing. Expressing (thoughts, not milk).

I’ve always loved studying personalities because it’s just so interesting to see how our behaviour is mostly dictated by who we innately are!

Kevin and I recently did a Myers-Briggs’ personality test and it turns out I’m an INFJ, while he’s an ENFP. (I knew I was an INFJ all along, but Kevin’s personality type was always a question mark.)

Here’s our two personality types in a nutshell.

ENFP (Him)

The ENFP personality is a true free spirit. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, the 7% of the population that they comprise can certainly be felt in any crowd.

ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types.

ENFPs can talk their way in or out of anything.

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives.

ENFPs need to feel that they are living their lives as their true self and walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace.

ENFPs place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivous to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for their family members.

ENFPs are basically happy people. They may, however, become unhappy when they are confined to strict schedules or mundane tasks. Consequently, ENFPs work best in situations where they have a lot of flexibility, and where they can work with people and ideas. Many go into business for themselves. They have the ability to be quite productive with little supervision, as long as they are excited about what they’re doing.

ENFPs love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.

INFJ (Me)

The INFJ personality type is very rare, making up less than one percent of the population.

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities.

INFJs place great importance on havings things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives.

INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it.

INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive. But they are as genuinely warm as they are complex.

INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring.

INFJs are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.

Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in stubbornness and a tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. They believe that they’re right.

INFJs are perfectionists who doubt that they are living up to their full potential. They are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments.

INFJs have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. They don’t believe in compromising their ideals.

INFJs are natural nurturers – patient, devoted and protective. They make loving parents and usually have strong bonds with their offspring.

INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all.

The reason my dear Husband is keen on reading what I have to say about our personalities is because ENFPs and INFJs are known to be THE perfect pairing. I never knew this before marrying him.

So I’m reading up on why ENFPs and INFJs have a reputation in Myers-Briggs’ circles for getting along so well, and as it turns out, these two personality types have mirroring mental functions (ie: have minds that work in very similar ways).

Disclaimer: I’m no psychology expert, neither did I study the subject. I’m just really interested in how our mind works! And well… I’m just sharing my research here for my husband’s sake (haha).

Let’s dig into the function stacks as seen in the image above.

Intuition

Kevin perceives the world through exploration; while I process these observations internally. He experiments, while I ruminate.

Feeling

Kevin feels inwardly, constantly checking to see if a decision lines up with his core values; while I feel outwardly, making decisions based primarily on how it will affect other people.

Thinking

When the need for problem-solving arises, Kevin focuses on arriving at efficient and logical solutions; while I focus on finding and using accurate information.

Sensing

This area is poorly developed in both Kevin and I. Mostly manifesting itself when we are under pressure, Kevin will tend to withdraw from the world (inwardly), while I will tend to “escape” by overindulging in sensorial activities such as eating and watching TV (outwardly).

So here are a few reasons why ENFPs and INFJs make the perfect pair.

We are essentially inside-out versions of each other.

ENFPs and INFJs use their cognitive functions in the same order (Intuition, Feeling, Thinking, Sensing) but all of the functions that are introverted in an ENFP are extroverted in an INFJ and vice versa. This means that these two types often share similar values, but approach them from refreshingly opposite perspectives. An ENFP generates possibilities where an INFJ analyzes the specifics and an ENFP applies introverted morality to situations where the INFJ looks at the universal consequences. In a nutshell, they are always analyzing different sides of the same coin.

Our reasoning abilities complement each other.

Because their cognitive functions are inverted, ENFPs and INFJs can see each other’s blind spots. The ENFP can suggest an idea that would never have occurred to the INFJ and the INFJ can provide a detailed explanation for what the ENFP does not intuitively understand.

We are both kind of ambiverted.

Though the ENFP is extroverted, their introverted “feeling” requires them to withdraw and analyze their feelings more often than the average extrovert. And while the INFJ is introverted, their extroverted “feeling” requires them to socialize a fair amount in order to stay balanced. As a result, both types border on the ambiverted side. They’re comfortable socializing, or they’re comfortable staying home and watching Netflix together.

We prioritise the same kind of structure.

ENFJs enjoy structuring their future – a topic that the INFJ shares a keen interest in. When an ENFP generates a grandiose plan for the future, the idealistic INFJ is able to work out the details, thus making the duo a dream team.

And lastly, we APPARENTLY bring out the best in each other.

The scattered ENFP benefits from the focus and structure that the INFJ brings to their over-the-top ideas. On the flip side, the INFJ is deeply analytical, and usually need an extrovert to help them open up and discuss their deeper thoughts and beliefs. As such, these two personality types tap into each other’s strengths almost effortlessly, and according to my research, they “naturally” bring out the best in each other.

Note: I’m skeptical that Kevin and I bring out the best in each other because like most marriages, we have our fair share of arguments. In fact, we can actually bring out the worst in each other because, ironically, we care too much. And so, while we fit the ENFP and INFJ personalities to a T, we also come from (vastly) different backgrounds and THAT also affects the way in which we behave and think.

Kevin and I, as a couple and as individuals, are FAR (bold, italicise, underline) from perfect; and honestly, it has taken a lot of effort (and tears, and heartache) on both our parts to be where we are today. Maybe I’m just a skeptic and cynic at heart, but I really don’t believe there’s a “perfect pair” out there.

To quote Monica Geller of F.R.I.E.N.D.S:

We were just two people who fell in love and worked hard at our relationship. Some days, we worked really hard.

[Credit: x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x]