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Does everyone really have their own crap?

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I was recently chatting with my brother and sister about how we were brought up and the results it has had in our lives. One of the items that was mentioned was her desire to control our media diet. We had a strict amount of tv we were able to watch in a day (30 minutes) and if we wanted to watch a movie on the weekend, we had to save up during the week. She also put a small luggage lock on the cord of the tv, so that we could not watch it without her permission. The result of this is that my brother and I both had problems with self control, especially in the area of media consumption, when we moved out. There were similar issues regarding junk food and pop.

One thing that he said during this conversation has really stuck with me. He indicated that, all things considered, we really did not have it so bad. That everyone has their own crap to deal with and that our crap was not bad compared to some things that others deal with. I see his point, but his point also makes me feel badly about the fact that I feel so screwed up and destroyed because of what happened in our childhoods. Perhaps the reality is a bit different. What screws us up is not really what happened to us, but our own ability to deal with it and/or get over it. I wonder what would have happened if I had had someone to support me and tell me that what I was feeling was ok. Thoughts?

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Hi JessiesMom,

     You always post such interesting questions but unfortunately I rarely have anything approaching an answer to them !

     Before I retired, I traveled quite a bit and became aware that I often met two kinds of people in my wanderings.   One group of people tended to be, at least in general, folks who habitually looked at things and thought . . . "well, could be worse, but thankfully it isn't worse."  Appreciation,k gratitude, feeling lucky and all that stuff seemed to be their default attitude towards themselves, their past, their present, other people, situations and I don't know, life in general.   Some of these people were from third-world countries and were in dire straits but were generally happy people. 

     I also encountered people who tended to be folks who habitually looked at things and thought . . . "well, could be better, but isn't better."  [I tend to fall into this group of folks].  Listening to their conversations and the one's in my head, I noticed there was a lot of "I, you, he, she, they, it" could be better, but isn't better:  how disappointing, how troubling, how aggravating, how stressful, how anger evoking, how sad, how depressing."

     Of course I am sure I am grossly over-simplifying what is deep and complex and I am also sure that both groups experienced times when their attitudes were the very opposite of their habitual attitude.  I don't know what is nature and nurture in all this or what is both.  I certainly had a somewhat brutal childhood but when I am depressed I can only see "how it could have been better, but wasn't."  When my depression abates I see how it could have been worse, but wasn't.

     On a very personal note, I know that in my case, when I am emerging from a depression, my sense of appreciation increases and I begin to feel lucky.  And this generally gives me a deep feeling of peace of mind and joy of living.

      I don't want to make any value judgements about my experiences. That would be wrong,  I feel.    I know some professionals believe that dissatisfaction is hardwired into the human brain.  Dissatisfaction has given rise to so many things:  air conditioners, electric lights, medical cures, heating, indoor plumbing and so on and so on.

       My father [God rest his soul] was a "could be better" man.  He was oppressed by his past [could have, should have been better].  He was always on the verge of emotional upset over almost anything [could be better but isn't].  And he tended to see the future with a sense of anxiety and dread [it could be better than it will be, but it won't be].  I suspect he suffered undiagnosed depression.  That is not to say that he didn't moments of appreciation and glorious good spirits. But it seems as though dissatisfaction was his default position.  I don't know if it was nature or nurture or both that engendered this basically prickly, ready to explode, child on his shoulder  attitude on his part.  I wouldn't want to judge him or attribute malice to what might have been genetics or ruthless conditioning.

      I like to picture my current life as being on a dirt road with ruts in it.  I drive along and try not to fall into a rut but continue to do so.  For me, the "rut" is "could be better but isn't."  How often do I look at myself and think "could be better, but isn't" and look at everything else that way too.  And how rarely am I able to keep out of that rut with a "could be worse, but isn't" attitude. 

      Of course I am receiving medical treatment for my depression so I wouldn't want to underestimate the contribution of medication to my attitudes.

      I don't know if everyone has their own crap.  I do think everyone is struggling with something in their lives and that if we can't see it, it is perhaps because we don't know them well enough.  What do you think?

       Of course in all truth, I could be wrong about the things I have written about here.  I am certainly in error about many, many things! 

        I hope you get lots and lots of responses to your post.  People bring unique perspectives to questions like yours.  Even just asking these kinds of questions really helps and me and the others here so I am grateful to you !      - epictetus

PS: what you wrote about "media control" in your youth . . . something like that happened to me too. 

- epictetus

 

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I think a lot of what you said is correct. I sometimes wonder how much of what I do and feel is the result of my nature and how much of my upbringing (nuture). I think that it is interesting that I am generally an optimist about the world in general (things will get better, we can make them better) and about others, but I tend to be a pessimist when it comes to myself (I am irretrievably f*÷%ed up - I will never think that I am worth it). Thus seems to be the case regardless of where I am in my depression. No matter how good I fee there is always that nagging doubt, that need for someone else to validate me and my skills.

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Maybe some of what you feel is that since you cannot keep up this strict media diet you feel like a failure? Maybe some judgement for your family for it too? It’s tough.

 

I was brought up in a looser house hold and so I often wondered what it would have been like if someone would have told me that you shouldn’t do somethings. That it wasn’t good manners or what a better choicewpuls have been. I think it might have saved me a lot of embarrassment and helped me to be more mature. I feel like I was a “late bloomer” because of it in jobs, relationships and my education. Maybe I would have liked who I would have been or maybe not... don’t know. I just am who I am now. 

 

elm

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I see what you are saying.

It is true: everyone has their own crap but it's also how we choose to deal with it, or how we take it personally, like you said. In his view, he sees his crap not being so bad compared to others, but with you, it's different. It depends on the person and how they take it.

Seems like you have more "crap" than him since it had a more bigger impact on you than him. You have no need to feel bad about anything. That's how it was taken and developed during childhood. Even if he didn't think it was so bad, you're never expected to share the same mindset towards his.

Simply put, you had your own crap and he had his. If someone had been there, things would have been different most likely. Perhaps you would have been impacted more differently

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Posted (edited)

Do we all have our own crap...well, yes. And of course there's always someone who has things harder, and someone who has things easier.

Somewhere in the world there's someone who's ready to jump off a bridge because her hairdresser messed up her hair and she got laughed at by her classmates. And somewhere else in the world there's someone who can't walk and who has a hideous wasting disease wishing her only problem were hair. And these two extremes could even be the SAME PERSON at different times of his/her life. Is either really better or worse than the other, considering all extenuating circumstances? Pain is pain, right,? Yes, we all deal with crap, no matter how big or little people see that crap as being, and it affects us deeply.

How we deal with things is partly in our nature, but OTOH, aren't we born with that nature/tendency? For example, when my parents divorced, my mother, sister and I moved around constantly. I hated it and withdrew into my own shell, and was deeply traumatized. It only got worse with each move. My sister LOVED it, she loved meeting new people. We have, biologically, the same two parents and had exactly the same upbringing.

You could say I "could have had my sister's attitude," but could I have, really? I wanted to. Even if I hadn't wanted to, and I had wanted to wallow in my own self-pity, wouldn't it have been inherent in my nature to want that in the first place?

To an extent we have control over our own decisions. To another extent, we can't say we "would have" performed better or worse if we'd had, say, different upbringings. So for example, even if my parents had been great I believe I'd still be prone to anxiety. And even if we'd grown up in the Gulag I believe my sister would have figured out some way or other to decide that was totally cool. Does that mean my sister has a "better attitude"? Yes. Is that because she's just a better person who feels like trying harder? Hell no, for her it's no effort at all. I've seen it in action, I know.

Meanwhile, I've weirdly enough always been the brave one when it came to self-care and arranging things. I've always made myself do what I needed to do in order to survive. I remember my sister being in shock that I found my way around an airport, rented a car and came to get her "all by myself." She said, "I'd NEVER have known how to do all that." I laughed and said, "Neither did I, so I found out how!" She went, "You're so BRAVE." She was being for real. Does that mean I'm so brave and fabulous and she's such a wimp? No, because it was in my nature not to even question that I was supposed to handle that stuff myself, and it was in my nature to know how to (and even enjoy) doing research.

Sorry if these answers were all a jumbled mess...I saw two basic questions in the OP so I tried to answer both.

Edited by Summer896

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of course everyone has their own crap. there's so much crap that few things can save you from the otherwise cataclysmic experience of being human.

but your crap is just as crap as everyone else's. just cause you're not a homeless guy in new york or a starving kid in africa doesn't mean your crap isnt crap. pardon my french but your mom sounds like a real hardass, i dont doubt you had it hard. its ok to say "i had it bad".

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No, just because someone might be worse off than you doesn't mean that you don't have the right to feel the way you do. You can only measure how bad something is relative to what you have experienced already. 

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4 hours ago, iWantRope said:

Ask your siblings, just because you're not alone on earth having crap to deal with, does that mean your crap is invalid?

EXACTLY 

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Posted (edited)

You have such a wonderful way of bringing up issues that stimulate my introspection (not ALWAYS a bad thing)...and the responses have been fantastic.

Yep, we have our own crap.  For me, most of it has been "nurture," though my "nature" (being gay) definitely contributed significantly to my struggles IRL.  I've long struggled with the subjective nature of my perception, "Well, yeah, it's valid because it happened to ME."  Lord, then when you combine the two...well, here I am on DF.

I'll add a "what if" corollary to which some may be able to relate.   Given my penchant for sci-fi, I suppose it's natural I'd tend to sometimes indulge in alternate timelines.  What if, for example, Dad had custody of me at 5 instead of his gold-digging, narcissist ex?  It would have been a stable home life with him and my stepmother (who actually would cook breakfast for me).  I'd have gone to a better school.  Dad would have continued to be supportive of MY interests, instead of me having the narcissists interests take priority as they were shoved down my throat (even today, I despise tennis and golf).  I wouldn't have been at the mercy of her off-the-rails alcoholism.

I'd have had normal neighborhood friendships...year-round.  I wouldn't have been relegated to being an adult "accessory" whose primary interactions were with adults.  I became a kinda entertaining jester for their amusement just so I'd be accepted.  But I remained so isolated and, yes, lonely.

otoh, what would have happened to me when Dad then divorced again when I was 15?

Edited by MarkintheDark

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1 hour ago, MarkintheDark said:

I'll add a "what if" corollary to which some may be able to relate.   Given my penchant for sci-fi, I suppose it's natural I'd tend to sometimes indulge in alternate timelines.  

I do this too sometimes, although I generally look at alternative timelines for my adult decisions. Apparently, for me anyway, my childhood is a fixed point in time that not even the Doctor can alter. 😉 

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This is a really interesting topic. I wish I had something valuable to add. It's good to read responses and be reminded that our feelings are valid even though there are people in worse situations. I sometimes find myself thinking "worse things have happened to better people so I have no business feeling bad about my life." Then I feel bad about feeling bad, which doesn't help. Maybe we can all try to be more understanding toward each other by remembering that the other person may be dealing with something bad we don't know about. Maybe while we're at it we can try to be more understanding toward ourselves by remembering that we really are dealing with crap in our own lives.

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On ‎3‎/‎25‎/‎2019 at 1:10 PM, JessiesMom said:

I was recently chatting with my brother and sister about how we were brought up and the results it has had in our lives. One of the items that was mentioned was her desire to control our media diet. We had a strict amount of tv we were able to watch in a day (30 minutes) and if we wanted to watch a movie on the weekend, we had to save up during the week. She also put a small luggage lock on the cord of the tv, so that we could not watch it without her permission. The result of this is that my brother and I both had problems with self control, especially in the area of media consumption, when we moved out. There were similar issues regarding junk food and pop.

One thing that he said during this conversation has really stuck with me. He indicated that, all things considered, we really did not have it so bad. That everyone has their own crap to deal with and that our crap was not bad compared to some things that others deal with. I see his point, but his point also makes me feel badly about the fact that I feel so screwed up and destroyed because of what happened in our childhoods. Perhaps the reality is a bit different. What screws us up is not really what happened to us, but our own ability to deal with it and/or get over it. I wonder what would have happened if I had had someone to support me and tell me that what I was feeling was ok. Thoughts?

That's a very interesting conversation you and your brother had. It is true that we all have our own way

of dealing with crap and some of us deal with it better than others.  I also later found out in life that my

issues were actually better than a lot of kids I went to college with but as a kid I did not know anything

outside of my environment but now as a adult I try to see things much different then when I was a kid.

I have changed the way I think now and I try to be more positive than I am negative. 

It's Funny how life can change your perspective on the things around you.

 

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Posted (edited)

I see so many different opinions and I guess all of them are right. Everyone have their own crap but that doesn’t make our crap invalid. Cos everyone have their own way of dealing with crap, which I believe depends on their own inborn character and personality. 

I was born in a loving family with loving parents, siblings and grandparents. But my character and personality is vastly different from my siblings. So I guess for a child to be a positive person, the parent must be able to raise him or her in the correct way.

Some kids need rewards for motivation. Some need to be punished or they will never change no matter how many rewards are given. Some don’t need rewards or motivation at all, but just support to know the parents are always there physically. Some need to be coaxed and have one to one time together to be able to change the child’s thinking to improve themselves. 

Every child is different and the discipline and teaching each child must depend on their personality and how much they can take. We can’t raise our different kids the exact same way. I guess even with someone else to support you, it won’t make a difference if your parents didn’t take account of your character to raise you in the way to make you positive?

Me and my siblings have the same crap, but my parents didn’t know how to respond when I cried non-stop and refused to go to school cos I was afraid of people. So in the end it depends on our individual characters I guess. Well, that’s just my opinion. 

Edited by Depressedgurl007

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I think the responses so far are really interesting, personal and on-point! 

"Someone else has worse crap than I" and "My crap is really affecting me" - I believe both can be equally true without one invalidating the other. 

On 3/25/2019 at 12:10 PM, JessiesMom said:

He indicated that, all things considered, we really did not have it so bad. 

Can we suppose that perhaps your brother may have been telling himself this as well as telling it to you?

On 3/25/2019 at 12:10 PM, JessiesMom said:

What screws us up is not really what happened to us, but our own ability to deal with it and/or get over it.

Could be! So what does getting over it mean? Just dropping it by pretending it's not a thing? For me, it's understanding why it appears to have such an affect and what I'm doing or not doing because of it.

On 3/25/2019 at 12:10 PM, JessiesMom said:

I wonder what would have happened if I had had someone to support me and tell me that what I was feeling was ok. Thoughts?

I think maybe it's having the right person to talk to at the right time. There were times I didn't ask for help, I wasn't ready and I don't know that I would've accepted help if it were freely offered. Other times I wasn't trusting so when I wanted help, I didn't know who the right person was to turn to. The wrong person is surely nearby and whatever they might say could set me back a year or longer. 

Life will sometimes show us one without the other, right? 

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