I don’t know about you but I’m kind of obsessed with personal growth, self-help, meditation, self improvement, etc. Since I was bullied as a kid I’ve always had an over-active internal dialogue helping me deal with life’s stressors. Like many of us, I learned a lot of things as a kid that no longer serve to help me grow. As an adult I rely on old worn-out habits to assist in decision-making and serve as my compass or advisor.

I smoked pot daily for about ten years and, when I quit in graduate school I started having anxiety that expressed itself as emetophobia and other things. During this period I always felt like I was going to vomit. Or, more accurately, I was afraid I was going to vomit in public and embarrass myself. I literally don’t remember any lectures from my Master’s training because I couldn’t sit in a classroom without freaking out. I eventually realized it was anxiety and it started to express itself in different ways. When I had my first kid at 30 I needed some help so I started taking SSRIs for anxiety.

Fast forward a decade or so and two more kids into the future and I got divorced. I struggled between self-pity and opportunistic growth and finally came out on the self improvement end of things. I stopped taking medications and got up every day trying to make the best of my future.

I eventually met a wonderful woman, remarried, and now have a fourth daughter. Life is good. But I still struggle with the old beliefs of the past. Most notably, I have trouble esteeming myself. As a child, for whatever reasons, I learned that my role in the family was to stay quiet, not have any of my own feelings, and to do everything in my power to ensure my behavior didn’t upset anybody. I’m a people pleaser extraordinaire.

When I was a divorced single dad I expressed this personality trait to the extreme. I did not find any identity in work because I had been a stay-at-home-dad. I didn’t socialize much because I was grieving. My identity came from my role as father and caregiver. I lost a lot of myself staying at home with my kids before I got divorced and my identity became directly tied to my role as father and caregiver. I forgot how to esteem myself from within. My need to please my children coupled with the inherent difficulties of parenthood, led to a failure of my old belief system. I could not continuously please young kids and as a result felt like a failure.

I will go in to a bit more detail about my issues, revisit the whole ‘lottery’ thing, and then get to the daily thoughts that I mentioned in my first post.

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