Through therapy and life events, I am realising how little I value myself.

But that’s not even it. I can’t find the words for what it is … it’s as though, in my mind, I am insubstantial, while everyone else is solid and real. So I can’t make decisions about my well-being, because other people decide those things. Sometimes they decide in concrete ways (by taking charge and making decisions for me) and sometimes they decide just as a by-product of my thoughts (as in ‘I can’t say that because I might hurt X’).  Either way, I am not directing events – I am watching and then going along for whatever ride others decide for me.

This only applies to personal relationships, not to other aspects of my life. In my career, for example, I have always been decisive, often assertive, sometimes confident, and – no matter how I felt – I have always made things happen. And it applies to other walks of life too. If I decide to get in shape, I join a gym and I go regularly. If I decide I want a rescue dog, I apply myself to the search until I find the right one. If I decide to go in for an art exhibition, I work my ass off until I have enough good work to be accepted.

But in my personal life, I shrink from decisions and avoid taking action. I let other people decide everything. Even when I do make a decision, I renege on it if others don’t see things my way, or don’t want to go along. I live in terror of causing pain or drama. And I live in equal (or greater?) fear of feeling pain.

And I think it all comes down to this sense of being insubstantial in a world of solid, real people who matter in a way I don’t seem to feel that I do. Or maybe it’s my way of avoiding responsibility – “I didn’t decide that, he/she did” – or maybe it’s both.

Whatever the reason, I have come to see that I won’t be able to make decisions that are right for me until I understand who I am and what I want.

These portraits are one of the ways I am trying to find my way back to myself. I stare into the mirror or at the photograph, and try to see more than that flimsy ghost who exists in my mind.

Yoga is another path I am trying and I do find that I feel more calm and centred after a class. I think maybe that shows in this drawing.


This is #276 in a year-long series of selfies. The rest are here.



One thought on “Vacuum

  1. thebigshedart

    In the middle there Louise, you talk of avoiding conflict (in your personal life) at all costs.I know this is something that I do, and in my case I can trace it back to a home where raised voices and volatile tempers were the norm and I was the quiet people pleaser, wanting everyone to be happy, but in fact mostly being ignored. I hate to pull the ‘it all goes back to childhood’ card, but can you trace this in your past, not necessarily at home, maybe in a group of neighbourhood children who you played with, or early school or nursery? OMG I’m sounding like a pocket psychologist now! Sorry! I would say that realising in my case where my (sometimes quite absurd) need to avoid conflict stems from probably has only helped a little. :-/



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