Dying for encouragement

“So it’s about encouragement, then.”

It must have been, because on hearing this brief sentence from my counselor, I started weeping, and didn’t stop for near on five minutes.  Yeah.  It’s about encouragement.

It hadn’t been an easy or auspicious day to begin with; I’d been filling up with anxiety tension for a week, feeling more and more stretched by it, always aware, hardly able to slip it and relax at all.  Earlier that day tension finally boiled up into anger, stomping and screaming around my house, yelling about everything I’m sick of and can’t magically change.  I didn’t want to visit my counselor, because I was sick of her too: sick of how she has been making one suggestion after another for things I might try, nudging me to make choices, and all the while making me feel pushed, pushed and judged and not accepted and not acceptable.  It wasn’t her intention to push me or to judge me, but her chosen tack in trying to help me wasn’t helping.  It took me a long while to realize how much I hated this developing trend in our relationship, until I was finally, really and truly fed up with it.  So I didn’t want to go talk to my counselor, I was full-up with anger and with anticipatory tension over having to engage in confrontation, even polite confrontation, feeling nearly ill with it.  I left the house early for my appointment; I knew I had a bone to pick, and I wanted to get it over with.

It wasn’t an easy day, and it didn’t feel auspicious, but maybe underneath it was — maybe it was the divine assembly of conditions to help me see something I needed to see.  Because I don’t need suggestions for what I could do or what I maybe ought to do; I’m clever  enough to work out my own ideas, and suggestions from outside right now are unhelpful and unwelcome.  I’ve got to find my own way through, and even the best-intentioned suggestions feel like meddling and put my back up.  I don’t need advice.  I need encouragement.  I am desperate for it, in fact, and the lack of it hinders everything I need and want to do.

Look, none of the problems I’ve got right now are that complicated.  I’ve got to find a new job.  I’ve got to figure out if I want to advance my writing career and how I want to do it.  I’ve got to take better care of myself physically and emotionally, to let the anxiety problems dissipate.  I know what I need to do, and what I don’t know yet, I’m smart enough to figure out.  The problem is believing that any of it matters.  The problem is believing that I matter.

The one thing in the world that I really, terribly badly want is to hear “I love you, and I believe in you.”  That’s all.  I want that to be true, and as an intellectual exercise, I know it is.  But only in an intellectual way.  Sure, I “know” some people care about me, but I never hear it, and I need words.  I need it to get said.  I need to hear it, I need to read it, I need regular infusions of it, or it never actually sinks in and becomes real.  It’s like hearing someone tell you that a kitten is soft or snow is cold or honey is sweet — it’s nothing like having the real experience of those things.  Facts are pretty useless on their own.  Without experience, they don’t sink in or take on real shape, they don’t become truth.  And these ideas, that I matter, that I am loved, that good folks believe in me, are just facts.  They don’t feel true enough for me to believe in all the time.  And then all manner of badness ensues, because I can’t live without feeling like I’m loved and believed in.  I feel like I’ve only lived half a life so far, so unsure of myself, avoiding so many things out of fear, not taking on challenges to stretch me or new experiences to enliven me.  I’m hobbled by not believing in myself, and I don’t know how to believe in myself without the help of someone else believing in me too — and it doesn’t even matter if all I’ve got is the intellectual fact of it.  I need words.  I need to hear it, or it’s just not real.

It’s difficult to write this, because it’s a thing that I can’t create or demand.  I can’t dictate to anyone in the world that they care about me, or that they believe in me, or that they say what I need to hear.  But for once, I can at least say that I need it, and I can acknowledge the pain of living without it.  I can acknowledge who I am: a sensitive heart, one who craves endearments and affection, one who needs acceptance and good friendship, one who needs encouragement and reassurance, and I need them in words, if they are ever to become real.

I love you, and I believe in you.  I’m not sure I can imagine a life where I get to hear this regularly, because I’ve never had one.  But it is what I desperately want.  Without it, I will struggle forever.  With it?  I don’t know yet.  Maybe I could do anything.


6 comments so far

  1. Kim on

    I love you, and I believe in you.

    I have complete confidence that you can find/develop the encouragement/validation (both internal & external) that you need and deserve. If I EVER needed a basket full of evidence to point at to support that statement, all I need to do is point you at this blog. You are one of the bravest people I know – you are doing this journey of yours & putting it out here for anyone who comes along to read; it’s not stuck in a notebook on your bedside table, it’s a public conversation that YOU started. And hon, I know some amazingly, awesome, incredibly brave people (and you know that *I’m* not blowing smoke when I say that), so when I tell you that you are brave and that I have no doubt that you can find a way to achieve what you want, I mean it.


  2. Susanne on

    Thanks for writing this. And thanks for putting up a link to it. Because you found words for something I’ve been struggling with as well, the thing that suggestions, and advice, and analysis all feel like blame, and guilt, and incompetence.
    Encouragement and belief, that seem to be the things I want from my loved ones as well.

    Hugs from me to you, and I’m pretty sure that you do know that you can do the things you need to do. I know that you can.

  3. thegeorg on

    i love you and i believe in you.

  4. Cat on

    I love you and I believe in you.

    You have an extraordinary way with words that always makes me stop and look at the world from a slightly different place. Keep it up!

  5. dee on

    it has taken me a long, long time to accept the fact that sometimes the people I want most to encourage me never will, and that those who I have in the past ignored (based, perhaps on a learned set of who is worthy to pay attention to and who is not) are the very people who are open and giving and more than happy to lend their support. It seems I may have also be one of the people I learned to disregard, having experienced myself as being stupid and insignificant, but I am getting better at welcoming and believing in my own instincts and better at being willing to accept my own best wishes for myself.

  6. KnittingNiki on

    Wow. Just stumbled here via Ravelry on a quiet Saturday morning here in Oregon… You write really beautifully. About your inner experience, which in my opinion is often not so easy to navigate, let alone describe. (My own inner experience, that is… How could I know about yours? Except that you’ve offered me an extraordinary window for a peek inside. Would love to have tea with you and hear more…

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