No fairytale romance

No fairytale romance

QUESTION:

your avatar   Angie, 21-year-old woman

I'm a 21-year-old college drop-out. I left my family to start a life with my boyfriend and his family. I live in the hopes of getting married, getting a stable job, and finishing my studies. Those are the towers of wishful thinking that I've built in the name and strength of love.

I gave up a lot and sacrificed even more - and took on more than I can handle. None of this would have been a problem if the people in whom I put so much faith, hope, and trust would do the same in return. But even if they rarely show it, I see regret in their eyes and words. My partner's parents can't get to me; but when I see my partner making remarks and showing regret, I break inside.

Is this really what I've been fighting for? I can't see anything positive to keep me above water; in moments like this I wish I could drown. I am a failure. I've let myself believe in fairy tales, and now everyone is miserable because of me.

What should my next step be? How can I stop feeling so unfulfilled and depressed?

ANSWER:

    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Angie my dear,

Of course, reading your short cry for help, I don't know enough to point you to the right path. However, I note a very strong dose of self-bashing in it. You define yourself as a drop-out. You see your hopes as wishful thinking.

I don't know if your partner and his family are judging you negatively, or whether this is something you read into their facial expressions, actions, and words. Maybe they feel love and compassion, and would like to help, but don't know how, and you are reading the regret into their behavior? Even if not, even if they are really judging you negatively, that only hurts if you believe it.

When I was your age, I also felt very vulnerable to judgments. Now, if someone thinks badly of me, I divide their reaction into two parts:

1. Some of it may be helpful to me and I can learn from it. Whatever way the message was delivered, I can actually be thankful for this.

2. If the message was done in a hurtful way, that's the other person's problem, and I can throw it away. Even if I have an automatic, momentary reaction of being hurt, I have learned to step back and calmly look at the situation like I've described.

The college where you've been studying and want to return to may have a counseling department. If so, find out if you qualify for help from them. If not, enrol for next semester's course, and try again.

Here are a few thoughts that may help:

You are not your thoughts, emotions, moods and feelings but what you DO. If people are judgmental, they are judging your words and actions, not you as a person. (They may not know this, but it's true all the same.) So, you don't need to judge yourself either. You are not a drop-out; you have dropped out of college, for now. You said you want to return, so it isn't even true that you have dropped out. You have taken a holiday. Same for all your many other self-judgements.

If you don't like something you are doing, then design how you would like to do it instead, and DO it. At first, like all new habits, it will feel forced, unnatural, like acting, but "fake it until you make it." After enough practice, it will become your new reality. So, design the person you intend to be, in sufficient detail that an actress could step into the role - then BE that actress. You can do it.

Bob

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com

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