Blah, blah, blah, blah. Therapy.

Dear Annie: I have been technically single all my life. I did have a casual long-term relationship with a man that lasted for 12 years. We were never exclusive. We would have never worked exclusively, and we both knew that.

That relationship ended badly. An unplanned pregnancy resulted in a painful miscarriage that required surgery. Not only was it physically painful but the emotional toll of losing my unborn baby was immeasurable. My “partner” completely abandoned me during that time and never acknowledged my pain or grief afterward.

It took about three years for me to not walk around with a cloud of misery hanging over me constantly. I developed a fear of dating any man and giving him the potential to hurt me like this again.

I decided I would throw myself into my career and work hard at rising through the ranks, becoming as successful as possible, and trying to achieve some self-esteem and happiness that way.

Unfortunately, my plan has not played out. Although I do work hard and strive for perfection, this has rubbed some people within my company the wrong way. I’ve been held back from promotions many times, and after 20 years with the same employer, it seems I am doomed to stay where I am and never move forward.

This has tapped into the feeling of low self-esteem that started after my miscarriage, and I feel like I am forever in a dark place again. I recognize that I am angry all the time and feel an overwhelming amount of sadness. Even though I recognize this, I am having a hard time breaking free and exploring other career opportunities, and the thought of leaving my company literally breaks my heart.

I don’t know how to get over my fear of leaving my comfort zone, even though I know deep down it is what would be best for me. I feel like I am self-sabotaging, and I’ve hit a wall that I don’t know how to break through. I also feel like I am unconsciously sending a message that it is OK to treat me badly.

Any advice on how to build my confidence back and truly leap toward what I believe I deserve? — Self-Stuck (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com

You know how sometimes people walk right into something? Like, you walk right into a trap! AAUGH! There’s no doubt in my mind that Annie Lane is going to recommend counseling. Now, some people who write to advice columnists are smart enough to mention, “I’ve been seeing a counselor.” But in that instance, Annie Lane’s advice is always, “It’s great that you’ve been seeing a counselor. Stick with it!” Or, if the person says, “I’ve been seeing a counselor for a while, but it isn’t helping,” then Annie Lane says, “It can take a while to find a counselor who’s a good fit. Maybe try a new one!” Or if someone says, “I just started seeing a counselor, but it isn’t helping yet,” then Annie Lane says, “Give it time!”

But this letter writer just didn’t even make a move, probably sensing (quite correctly, I’m sure) that Annie Lane can’t help herself; and even if the letter writer were to say, “I’ve been seeing a counselor and it’s been amazingly helpful!” then Annie Lane would say, “I’m glad counseling has been so helpful for you! You’re a great success story. Thanks for writing.”

The long and short of it: Annie Lane never has the answers herself. So she refers her writers to counselors. I mean, if she could show some insight or analysis of her own, that would be great; but trust me when I say she’s not capable of doing anything other than barely skimming the surface. But she’ll try to! Heaven help her, she’ll throw out some armchair analysis for us.

Dear Self-Stuck: Instead of viewing your past as something that has beaten you down, look at it as proof of your strength. You were able to bounce back from a breakup, a miscarriage and a medical emergency all by yourself.

Now that you’re back on your feet, you have some choices to make: Do you want the fear of loss to stop you from ever finding love? Do you want to stay trapped in a stagnant career where your hard work is not appreciated?

Your letter alone tells me the answer is no. Change is scary, but if you are not satisfied with the current state of your life, then it is absolutely necessary.

You don’t have to go through it alone, nor should you. Reach out to friends and family members; get involved in a local organization; and seek a good therapist to help you work through the past so you can build a brighter future.

Blah, blah, blah, blah. Therapy.

Fortunately I’m here to offer some actual insight. It might be horrible insight, but at least it will be better than, “Blah, blah, blah, blah. Therapy.” (I’m not against counseling, but I think that it could also be helpful to give the letter writer some actual insight as well.)

I don’t want to sound harsh toward the letter writer, so I’m going to try to say this gently: the pregnancy was unplanned. What that means is that Mr. Casual didn’t want to have kids. He was probably upset to hear of the pregnancy. Worse, he was likely relieved by the miscarriage. While that seems heartless, and I agree that his reaction was cruel and vicious, the fact is that he was saved from years and years of having to pay child support for a kid that he never wanted. And, knowing an unplanned pregnancy could happen to them once (i.e., was she not taking the pill as she had promised?), he didn’t want to risk its happening again.

That said, he acted like a totak jerk. But I want to defend him because men should be able to have sex without worrying about the birth control. I know, I know, it takes two people to make a baby, but let’s face it: a lot of women lie about birth control (“Yeah, I’m on the pill!”) because they want a baby, and to hell with what the man wants. (I’ve known people who have done this.)

We can’t know that that happened here. Maybe it didn’t. But if it had happened, the letter writer would’ve conveniently left it out, I guarantee it. So it’s a distinct possibility.

I think it’s good that it happened in the long run. I mean, nothing’s good about a miscarriage, but she needed to come to see that he wasn’t a good significant other. She was… I wouldn’t say she was wasting her life with him, but she was spinning her wheels.

We would have never worked exclusively, and we both knew that.

Yeah, they both knew it, but she doesn’t tell us that she wanted it. Only that she accepted that it was the only way for her to be with him. She needed to learn that if she wanted to be exclusive with someone, the only pathway toward that would involve dumping him and finding someone else. When she didn’t dump him, “life happened” as it were, and she was forced to see, due to circumstance, that he wasn’t giving her as much as she wanted/needed in a relationship. In other words, she was settling for him. We know this because she expected emotional support after the miscarriage, and he wasn’t capable of offering any. (What a louse.)

It took about three years for me to not walk around with a cloud of misery hanging over me constantly. I developed a fear of dating any man and giving him the potential to hurt me like this again.

Interesting. That’s heartbreaking. On some level I can relate to it. Not specifically, but broadly. Something goes badly wrong and you recoil, terrified of being vulnerable again. I think I experienced that when I was bullied by my coworkers in Georgia, and then I had a psychotic break from reality, or something. I was terrified of a lot of things after that. And then you close inward out of self-protection.

I can’t help but think, though, that she needs help at that specific juncture of her problem from the therapist that Annie Lane was sensible enough to recommend. She’s developed an irrational belief that any man who she might date would and could deeply hurt her. I mean, I guess it’s always a risk if you date, but I don’t worry about it too much. What I think it comes down to is the two people involved and their connection as well. There aren’t any other major factors. But she’s thinking that any man would be dangerous. That’s a cognitive error.

I decided I would throw myself into my career. […] Unfortunately, my plan has not played out. Although I do work hard and strive for perfection, this has rubbed some people within my company the wrong way.

Hmm. Not good. Perfection isn’t the goal. (Human resources people love to hear about it a job interviews, though.) I’d recommend some career counseling or some regular counseling in which she could discuss what’s going wrong at work. What was Annie Lane’s advice again?

Do you want to stay trapped in a stagnant career where your hard work is not appreciated? Your letter alone tells me the answer is no.

Well… I don’t know about that. I left my job at the reading center because I could tell my employers didn’t appreciate me. But I also have this awful feeling that they didn’t appreciate me because I’m broken inside, and they could tell. Ugh. So it’s sort of… I don’t know… ill-advised to quit a job just because you never get promoted. My best guess is that other employers would be similar. The only time I’d recommend switching jobs in that circumstance would be if you’re switching jobs to find something you’re more suited for, based on your skill-set, and therefore more likely to advance in. That could be a good strategy. But if the letter writer’s already in the exact line of work that she wants to be in (not counting getting promoted), then switching jobs might not be wise here.

I am having a hard time breaking free and exploring other career opportunities, and the thought of leaving my company literally breaks my heart.

It’s interesting that she feels that way, given the circumstances. They never promote her, but it would break her heart to leave them? Huh. It’s possible that she’s seeing life through too much of an emotional lens. I can certainly relate. But with jobs, it should be… less emotionally oriented, and more like a business transaction, from what I understand. If they’re overlooking her for promotions and she’s trying her hardest, I still have reservations that things would be different elsewhere, but she shouldn’t be feeling such intense loyalty.

I feel like I am self-sabotaging, and I’ve hit a wall that I don’t know how to break through.

So, she’s saying that that might be the reason why she can’t imagine leaving her company? Personally, I think it would be self-sabotage of her to quit. If I were she, I’d cleave to the job and not relocate (again, unless she thinks a different job would suit her skill-set better). She needs stability in her life, and if nothing else, her employers are providing her with that.

If I were she, I’d prioritize emotional stability more than career advancement at the moment. In fact, I’d put career advancement on the shelf, stick with the current job, and focus on emotional issues. Given her loyalty to her employer and her other emotional leanings, leaving her job at the moment could be disastrous. She should stay there and focus on her interpersonal and emotional issues.

I decided I would throw myself into my career, […] trying to achieve some self-esteem and happiness that way.

While it might be a Hollywood happy ending if that had worked out, let’s look at the facts here: she pushed all of her inner turmoil onto her job. That’s not good, because it’s been making her do a poor job, I suspect. She needs to boldly reclaim her relationship issues (e.g., her fear of dating) instead of shoving all that angst into her job.

So I think she should stay in her job and face her dating fears head-on. Will someone please tell me that I have more insight than Annie Lane offered here? Geez. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Therapy.

2 thoughts on “Blah, blah, blah, blah. Therapy.

  1. I think you give great insight you really pick this issue apart. It’s never a good idea to mask a deeply emotional issue up with something else, that pain is bound to reappear on the surface again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! Please stop by anytime!! WordPress only holds your first comment for moderation, for some reason, so in the future, you can comment with wild abandon!! It’s great to meet you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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