Daily masochism. Why do we fall back into our ways?
by France Missud
This morning I woke up opening Instagram. So how many people reacted to my stories last night? Do you still love me so much? This is the question I have been asking myself every morning for several weeks now.
When I open the mail tab, I am reassured. A good dozen unread messages are waiting for me. They still follow me. I always make fun.
But, among the “laughing” emojis, a message denotes. This one is not kidding. This one is, even, annoyed.
This response to my story, dealing with gastric reflux, was sent by Francisco, my Argentinian ex. This particularly good man who always knew how to tell me when I was doing anything wrong. Reading his "stop complaining" I understand that I relapsed. Whore ! It's not true. Despite everything I thought I understood, I start again. I feed again on the recognition of others and I do it, again, by ridiculing my anxieties. Here we go again, I'm falling back into my failings, I'm trying hard to make my neighbor laugh.
What is wrong with me?
Healing my ill-being by entertaining those around me came to me at the beginning of adolescence. When, in the playground, I made fun of fights with my mother to avoid making myself look like a victim. I very quickly understood that expressing my anxieties in a tone of fun allowed me to exteriorize them, but, also, and above all, to recover a lot of attention. Attention, I got little from my family or adults in general. Having mostly spent my childhood fending for myself. So when I saw all the love it could bring me, I could never stop clowning around. When I wasn't screaming my rage at someone who attacked me, I was putting on my actress costume. Using and abusing humor to find the comfort I lacked on a daily basis. Anyway, we even laughed at my cable bugs. So, as long as I did, I ended up mixing my bad temper with my humor. It gave me all the rights. Whatever I said, everything passed. Because it was easier to laugh with me than to look my suffering in the face. In family or in society, I quickly became the one who entertained the world. And so I forbade myself forever, to be fragile or sad, clinging to this role allowing me to exist. As an adult, I knew how to entertain the gallery so much that I was even invited to bachelorette parties or weddings for this one and only reason. We weren't hiding it. And I had forgotten that I had the right to be loved for who I really was.
Then the networks arrived. And I expanded my audience. After my many black humor strokes on Facebook, I moved on to Instagram. The reactions I received to my very first story only made my addiction worse. On this eve of Valentine's Day 2018 I lamented not having a guy to help me put a shelf properly. Everyone laughed. Obviously. And I fed on these attentions to fill the emotional void. Obviously.
I quickly became addicted. To the point of spending hours a day recounting my setbacks on Instagram. I reached the heights of recognition during the first confinement during which I displayed my neuroses as a single woman, locked up with her possessive and runaway cat. I received dozens, if not hundreds, of messages a day laughing at my psychological distress. And I didn't see the problem. Like a drug, I literally spent all my time making fun of myself so as not to sink.
Then there was my burnout. Constrained and forced, for lack of energy, to take a break of several months, from networks, from people, from everything, I realized that I depended far too much on the gaze of others and that I did not like myself. I also realized that spending my life putting myself down wasn't going to give me the self-confidence I lacked. It was the serpent biting its own tail. I cut everything. Paradoxically, I never felt better than during this period of fragility when, far from everything, I learned to know myself and do myself good through me and me alone. I promised myself not to devalue myself anymore. Never again will I hurt myself to please others. What I applied for a long time.
But when I had tasted what true happiness was, when I found myself alone with myself, when I took the time to meditate, to walk, to play sports, to nourish myself with healthy things, all of a sudden, i stopped everything and immediately went back to my old destructive habits.
When I thought I was fixed, at the first stress – work in my apartment, the Covid coming back in force, Christmas approaching – I put aside my new good habits to save time on my agenda. To be on time in the goals I had set myself, to meet the expectations of others, not to disturb, to be perfect, to be loved, I relegated my sleep to the background, I stopped to meditate and I only postponed my sports sessions day after day. Little by little, without realizing it, I plunged back. As before, I believed that I had the strength to assume everything. Resisting the pressure even less well than before my burnout, I started to smoke again, and to drink a lot of Coke, to hold on. And I created even more anxiety. Anxiety that I tried to treat as I always have. Seeking recognition. I started devaluing myself again to make people laugh. And I again fed on the notifications to comfort me. etc etc etc. The vicious circle has started again. Because I returned to reality, because I needed to rebuild my life.
Does the solution really exist?
So, maybe I wanted to go too fast? I thought I was fixed, I thought the crisis was behind me. It was certainly a mirage. The truth, I think, is that I'm still fragile, that I still haven't gained self-confidence, at least not completely, and that I still don't love myself enough. I have to recognize, despite what I may have thought, that I still have this emotional void that I find it difficult to fill alone. As an alcoholic who thinks he's recovered, I didn't understand that you can't deviate from your well-being and that you should never let your guard down. But the good news is that I realized it. And that I didn't take 34 this time. Thanks to my benevolent Argentinian and my own analyses, I quickly became aware of my relapse and I am in the process of slowing down the process of descent. Now that I know the mechanism it is easier to reassemble. But I still wonder if it is really possible to completely change how it works. Lots of questions flood my mind. I'm not sure of anything anymore.
Should I completely abandon my old self, the one who was so loved, and who knew perfectly (even if in a fleeting and deceptive way) reassurance? She wasn't so bad after all. Do I want to give it up? Do I want to mourn the one I've always been? And then what is happiness? Does he have to go through the fact of detaching himself from others? Should we completely cut ties with the rest of the human race at the risk, otherwise, of being eaten? But then, what do you do when you're too weak to fend for yourself? And then is it really possible to do it without exhausting yourself? To what extent should we feel indebted for what others do for us and to what extent should we thank them? When we live in community, is it possible never to forget ourselves?
Although I do not yet have the answer to these all questions, I tell myself all the same, that at least now I am no longer afraid to express my doubts, something that I had never dared to do. before, lest my frailty be discovered. And if there's something I've learned this year, it's that there's no shame in showing your weaknesses. Like many, I am a fragile and indecisive being, who finds it difficult to get rid of his shell, because it is she who has protected him all his life. A being who has not yet digested all his traumas and who does not know if he wants to do so, because it is easier to flee. A being who is afraid of hurting but who knows, deep down, that he will have to go through this to find the truth.
In any case, what is certain is that, contrary to what I thought, this is only the beginning, the work is far from over... 🍃