Self Care and Nurturing ~ What is Your Self Talk Like?

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Poster by Judy Baxter

How do you talk to yourself? Are you loving and patient with yourself or are you the evil boss in your own life? Are you understanding and nurturing towards yourself or are you constantly nagging and reprimanding?

When you think about re-parenting yourself, do you think about the kind of parent that you would have loved to have or the most loving perfect parent that ever walked the earth and then BE that parent to yourself, or do you treat yourself the same “not good enough way” that you were treated somewhere along the line in the past?

What role do you play in your own life?

Paying attention to my “self talk” has been and continues to be a huge part of my process.  And self talk is sneaky; if I don’t stop the spin long enough to get quiet and LISTEN to what is going on “back there” in the depths of my own mind, I don’t even notice when I am being hard on myself.

I have been suffering from a little “burn out”.  I knew that I was working too hard and that I needed a vacation and I bargained with myself that I could take two weeks off but when I came home from my totally nurturing holiday and found that I still needed more time for myself I started to reprimand myself . I got impatient with myself. I told myself to shape up and get with it.  Read the following “self talk list” with the totally inappropriate and impatient voice infliction laced with a big dose of exasperation.

Myself to myself: “WHAT?? You need MORE time off? Jeeze.. What is wrong with you? What are you so tired all the time? You just had a vacation!” How much time off do you NEED?”

What the heck is in your way now?? Why do you always have to be ‘processing’ something? Why can’t you just be normal?

“When are you going to finish that book? I bet you are not EVER going to finish it. What the hell kind of ‘example’ are you being to your readers? Why don’t you just give this up?”  

“What?? You are hungry again!?”

“OH OKAY fine then take more time off… jeeze…frick… you just…. grrrrr”

This kind of self talk is not rooted in love. This kind of talk is invalidating. There is no acknowledgement in for how hard I work or how much I have accomplished these past few years and when I feel this way towards myself I DON’T acknowledge any of my progress because it isn’t enough anymore. This kind of self talk reinforces the exact same beliefs that I have worked so hard to overcome; the belief that whatever I do is “not enough” and “not good enough” and it invalidates my needs by actually questioning them and even questioning my right to have needs. This talk has its roots in the way that I was taught to consider myself and my needs and it still rears its ugly head when I am tired or not paying attention because that kind of treatment and self disregard was with me for so long. It isn’t my default mode anymore, but it was for so long that it still comes up.

This kind of self reprimanding and discounting self talk/self-thought is not beneficial to the formation of freedom and wholeness and does not produce the desired results leading to self love and self care which are the path ways to self esteem recovery and emotional healing.

I still have to take a step back and listen to what is going on “back there”. Telling the voices to “shut up” is still abusive towards ME. I find it works much better if I listen closely to what is going on with me and find out what I am actually saying to myself. Then I can find out where it is coming from and usually it has its roots in the past. In this case I had decided that a two week break would be “long enough” and I was impatient with myself for needing more time to rejuvenate. The root of this however is found in my childhood history. The way that I was regarding myself had actually been taught to me. It was the same way that I had to accept being regarded as a child from teachers, adults, aunts and uncles. I learned to treat myself that way and unlearning it has been a huge task. Once in a while I still have to “cement” the new belief system I have been forming for the last 7 years by continuing to acknowledge and override the old belief system.

What is your self talk like? Do you speak to yourself with a loving attitude or do you constantly ask yourself for more, never measuring up to your own expectations? Where do those expectations come from? Do you regard yourself with patience, accepting yourself for where you are at, or do you reprimand yourself with thoughts filled with impatient frustration? 

The way you regard yourself is what you will communicate about the way you want to be regarded.

Darlene Ouimet

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127 response to "Self Care and Nurturing ~ What is Your Self Talk Like?"

  1. By: Caden Posted: 18th June 2012

    Elaina,

    Thank you so much for that. You’re right, people want to censor us and turn their heads away so they won’t have to see ours or their own truth. But these experiences of ours are reality and we do have a right to talk about them.

    I love what you said about the animals you share your life with–that they deserve your love, care, protection, and sustenance just for being there. Most people wouldn’t imagine for instance denying a dog dinner because you’re upset with them, but this is done to children all the time. I didn’t grow up with any guarantees myself, I always had to be nervous wondering if I would still get my needs (food, clothing, school supplies, even just communication) met depending on my parents moods. That isn’t how life should be for anyone. Reading your intense story, I remembered that my abusive parents once left a caged canary outside on their deck in a severe lightning storm without a second thought; it died. They treated me the same way; but I would do anything to protect the amazing creatures that live on our property with us.

    take care,
    -Caden.

  2. By: Mimi Posted: 19th June 2012

    Caden,
    That’s horrible what they did to the bird too. Seems like they had little regard for anything living.

    It may be common knowledge, but I remember hearing/reading about serial killers and how their history would often reveal they were mean to animals as children.

    After being a regular at EFB, my view of that is different. I used to think they were somehow just flawed ~ born with this pathology. Now, I wonder who was doing the same things to them, as infants, toddlers, and beyond.

    xoxo,
    Mimi

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th June 2012

      Mimi
      It has also been proven that serial killers were ALL terribly abused as children and not in fact born that way.
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Mimi Posted: 19th June 2012

    Awwww, that makes me so sad Darlene!! A child whose mind is so badly injured and life is so terribly distorted that they eventually resort to murder. Who could fathom the horror stories they must be keeping inside! So sad!!!
    Xoxo,
    Mimi

  4. By: Dave Posted: 23rd June 2012

    Darlene – i understand your point of view. I just dont express it as well as you 🙂

    Dave

  5. By: R Posted: 25th June 2012

    “One way that I have found to nurture myself, is in caring for animals. When I am feeding and cuddling and caring for our fur-baby, our Cattle Dog Lady, I see in her sweet dependent innocence a reflection of the little girl I used to be”

    “When I am nurturing and loving these little animals, I am also nurturing and loving the little girl I used to be”

    Really beautifully written Elaina, thank you, I’ve never been able to put into words just why and how much I love my cats (and all other animals) and feel so desperately protective of them, including their emotions and spirit.

    I get scoffed at a lot along the lines of ‘it’s only a cat’ by others but I don’t care and see the power of the exchange of love and nurturing and trust flowing between me and the animals every day.

    Sometimes it makes me quite tearful and now I can verbalise why – it’s the recognition of all that should have been when I was growing up.

  6. By: Elaina Posted: 25th June 2012

    R ~ your comment brought happy empathy tears to my eyes!

    When anyone makes fun of you for loving your pets because “it’s only a cat,” you may want to remember this: One of the early signs that a person is a psychopath, or a sociopath, meaning that they have no empathy, is when they will torture and torment helpless animals. You, Dear One, are the complete opposite of such an evil person!

    Big Hug, ((((~R~))))
    Elaina

  7. By: R Posted: 25th June 2012

    Aw, thanks so much Elaina! I know this isn’t the ‘talk about how much you love your pets section’ by its really nice to be able to share these emotions and have them be understood.

    I was joking to a friend tonight that I’ll be worn out physically and emotionally by Christmas because my 2nd cat has finally decided (after 4 years) that she really does love me after all (very independent spirit from kitten age) so now I have 2 little creatures basking in the unique love I provide 🙂

    I can understand people scoffing at times tbh – my two play my heart strings like experts – then again, I believe animals are sentient creatures and who am I to tell them to ‘go away and leave me alone’ when they tell me they’re lonely/want to play/ be fussed/ just fancy a snack?

    Getting back to the original topic of this post – thank you Darlene, your writing about self talk has made me treat myself more kindly since I read it since, frankly, my self talk is so harsh that I would be absolutely outraged if I heard someone in RL talk to anyone the way I talk to myself:

    I’ve even been known to slap myself (real, not figuratively) when totally frustrated with myself along with the inner name calling of the vilest kind( – pretty nuts right?

    Anyway, I’ve been learning to play a musical instrument for two weeks since I realised it was a childhood dream of mine.

    Monday is lesson day and I was able to talk myself nicely before going in tonight rather than beating myself internally for not doing everything perfectly yet so that was good.

    Feels much nicer too to talk to myself kindly and not expect absolute perfection all the time!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th June 2012

      Hi R
      It hit me like a ton of bricks in the stomach when I realized what my self talk was like! I still have to be aware of it because it is so deep beneath the surface of my mind that I don’t always hear it! I have learned that self care and nurturing is what helps the most to prevent that nasty self talk from coming up in the first place. All things that I was not taught growing up.

      YAY for your victory in being able to talk nicely to yourself!
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: R Posted: 25th June 2012

    Thank you Darlene, as ever your responses mean a lot.

    Busy congratulating myself at learning my first song to play today and it feels so damn strange yet good to tell me how proud I am of me.

    As ever, the counter voice (in scathing tone) wanting to say ‘oh, you think you’re very clever and special don’t you?’ well, you’re not, look at all the things you can’t do etc etc) is always right there wanting to take over and steal the joy.

    Ah well, at least I’m aware there is a counter voice threatening and demeaning now – something to be vigilant of in the future.

  9. By: Elaina Posted: 26th June 2012

    R, how wonderful that you are learning to play a musical instrument! I really applaud you for doing that, and for giving yourself a break from the hateful self-talk for not having been born knowing how to play a musical instrument from the start.

    I did a double-take when I read what you said about having slapped yourself ~ because I have done that, too! Long ago, but, WOW, didn’t we learn our lessons well from our childhood abuser(s)?

    About 9 years ago I began to unlearn my life-long habit of talking down to myself all the time in my own mind. I was 50 then, so I had half a century of bad habits to break. I did it with counter self-talk. For example, when I would catch myself thinking that I was crazy and stupid and that I always did everything wrong, I would immediately tell myself that that was a lie I had learned from abusers, and that I am in fact very sane, and smart, and strong, and a person whom I really like.

    I discovered that I actually do like myself, in a rather ususual way. When I was going through my last divorce 12 years ago, I went to a therapist for help with the grief and stress. She recommended that I write in a journal every day, as a way of getting my feelings out. I tried to do what she said, but at the time I was far too stressed to write coherent sentences. Finally one day in total frustration, I got a voice recorder and talked into it, saying all of the things that I would have written in my journal if I had been capable of writing. I talked about all of the things that were worrying me at the time, I talked about my emotional pain, my fears, my grief over my failed marriage, my hopes and worries for my future, everything. I felt at the time like I was rambling and ranting like a crazy person.

    A few days later I decided to listen to my recording. I expected to hear a raving, crazy, emotional mess. But, to my absolute shock, I heard…. a woman I really LIKED! I heard a woman who had a lot on her plate, and was doing the best she could with the difficult situation she was in. I heard a woman who was kind and compassionate, thoughtful, honest, humble, and genuine. In short, I heard a woman whom I would love to have for a friend!

    WOW that was HUGE! I heard myself, and I LIKED myself!

    Elaina

  10. By: Mimi Posted: 26th June 2012

    R,
    Congrats from me too. I have often wanted to learn piano… just always find a reason to put it off. I hope you’re enjoying your new skills!! 🙂

    Elaina,
    I think that’s an excellent exercise ~ speaking into a recorder. I might try that myself. Thanks for sharing it!!

    Love and Hope,
    Mimi

  11. By: R Posted: 27th June 2012

    “I hope you’re enjoying your new skills!!”

    Oh I am – very much! Week 2 of lessons and I’m up to torturing Mary’s poor little Lamb. See you all in Carnegie Hall in six months 🙂

    It’s the best thing I’ve done in years Mimi, this playing an instrument lark and would say go for it, you’ll more than likely love it and if you don’t hey, nothing lost, just something else from lifes rich palette sampled.

    Elaina – ‘Glad’ (if that’s the right word to use, but you’ll know what I mean) that I’m not alone in having physically punished myself for being ‘stupid’and all the rest of it.

    Might try the recording idea as strangely I don’t mind listening to myself as much that way.

  12. By: R Posted: 6th July 2012

    Come here with a big whine today, have to get it out I’m afraid.

    I can’t do it – my self talk is really bad when it matters most.

    In a horrible situation at work, small team, boss, me and one part-timer.

    Boss has been on holiday for the last two weeks and I’ve been stuck doing all of the work and it’s been soo busy I cant even begin to describe it.

    Part-time woman has responsibility for one small area of the overall jobs of the team and no matter how busy it gets, refuses to get involved and help with anything that doesnt fall into her small area.

    On top of that she’s I’ll so often that it really makes no sense to place any reliance on her.

    Anyway, this is long enough as it is I’ll get to my point – I am utterly utterly exhausted, angry, stressed, worn out and thinking I can’t cope anymore.

    Yet, no matter how horrible I feel and how unfairly I’m treated, my inner voice/talk immediately jumps in to let me know that I’m making it all up, exaggerating, being a drama queen and that theres nothing I can do about anything , no one will listen or believe me.

    If I think about applying for better jobs, the self talk screams and clamours that there’s nothing better out there and even if there is, it won’t last.

    For heavens sake, what exactly will it take for me to allow myself to have a voice?

    No wonder I’ ve ended up with a giant mug tattoo on my forehead – everyone knows i feel duty bound to do the right thing, absolving them of having to take any care/responsibility.

    I can’t go on like this, do any of you further ahead in their healing have any tips on how to turn around really vicious and relentless self-talk pls? (professional counsellors eg out of the question financially at this point in time)

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th July 2012

      Hi R
      I missed your last comment ~ all of this worked for me in reverse; it was by seeing the dysfunction in my own life that led me to the wholeness and equality that I live in now. I found my voice by finding out HOW I lost it and becomming my own advocate. My suggestion is read more of these articles because they reveal almost all of the HOW that I did this.
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Michelle Posted: 16th July 2012

    Last Friday I saw my therapist and talked about my negative self talk. I have just started to tackle this issue. She had me visualize “the Wise Woman,” the one who knows the truth, who knows my heart, sort of like a Carl Jung archetype. My therapist had me imagine the Wise Woman enfolding me whenever I find myself saying negative things to myself. It is such a comforting exercise and I hope to get better and better at it. Finding the poem “Old Time-Travelor” by Karenina on your blog is just so perfect and not a coincidence. Blessings to all.

  14. By: Tangie Posted: 18th July 2012

    WOW! I had not given much thought to self talk before now (this is all somewhat new to me – I have had therapy but not enough nor has it felt productive. Now that I think about it and examine it, I always rush myself – I always feel like I need to “hurry hurry hurry”. I don’t know where that comes from. I’m a stay at home mom and rarely have anywhere I need to be urgently. Everything in my self talk has a rushed quality to it.

    Furthermore, I am a “die trying sort of person”. I will exhaust myself to get a job done – it goes beyond self talk, it’s like hardwiring. If we move house, I have a hard time sleeping unless I know most of the unpacking is done. I will carry on long after everyone else has dinner and gives up. I imagine myself as the “head on a brick wall woman” who ignores all sense and sensibility and forgoes my wellbeing for the task at hand. I am a perfectionist.

    I know some of this comes from my Stepfather. We weren’t allowed to leave the sofa unless all the scatter cushions were plumped and replaced at the angle he liked them. There was no getting up without pushing your chair under the table. Carpets had to be vaccumed in W’s. I don’t hold my children to these standards whatsoever, but I feel angry with myself when I find myself STILL doing it!

    I have a tendency toward OCD. I like things symmetrical (especially in the fridge or cabinets). I don’t like the idea of running out of stuff so we always have back ups (toothpaste, shampoo, etc). I don’t like sinks or taps with water droplets on them – they must be buffed with a dry towel. It is exhausting honestly. And you know what? I’m the ONLY one who can clean properly – I have a massively hard time considering the house clean unless I do it myself.

    So yeah, I am sure alot of this is to do with my self talk. I don’t begin to understand it but would like to change it. Especially the “hurry up” part because I find myself getting like this with my own kids. Always wishing they would hurry! Again, we have nowhere to be……

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th July 2012

      Hi Tangie and Mimi
      I can relate to that hurry thing. For me everything like this has to do with being in control. I have been obsessed with every little thing in the house being perfect and I also let things go because of overwhelm and didn’t become a hoarder but had piles of stuff like old newspapers up in the attic. I had this whole all or nothing way of being but it was either about being perfect or building walls and insulating myself with messes behind closed doors. Finding out what I was protecting myself from by looking at the roots of where it came from AND what it caused me to believe about myself has been the answer to all of this for me and the answer to finding a balance that it healthy and sane. Both clean and organized obsessed and hoarder (giving up due to overwhelm) have their roots in something other than the behaviour itself.
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Mimi Posted: 19th July 2012

    Tangie,
    So much of what you just said rings bells!! I have to admit that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve let some of it go. I am still very much a perfectionist, and I am the only one who can do household repairs correctly, or clean correctly. My husband is not a gifted handyman. I became one out of necessity from living alone so long and not having my dad around. I bought a condo when I was about 29 and it had been owned by an older lady. She hadnt done any updates since the Kennedy inauguration I don’t think. So, I dug in and ripped off the foil wallpapers, took out a wall and put a huge jacuzzi tub where the wall was. I hired the plumbing for that, but for the rest, I did it myself. As a result, I learned a lot, but mostly what I learned is it won’t be right unless I do it myself. I also had to do it because I couldn’t afford to hire anyone for most anything. I was alone, and there wasn’t anything else to do. I loved doing it. Anyhow, out of that has sprung a perfectionist. I don’t let my husband paint, or do many of the things I regard as “needing my perfect touch”. I don’t think he minds though, 🙂

    The flipside of all that is, my husband’s mother was a hoarder in the true sense of the word. There wasn’t really even a path through her house. You just had to step on things. Her tub was full to the ceiling. One bedroom only had room enough to open the door. It was stacked to the ceiling with boxes of sewing materials. As a result of that, my husband’s standards and expectations are much more flexible than mine. I have had to pick my battles wisely and let a LOT of things go. My house will never be perfect again and I’ve had to accept that. When you live alone, things are always where you put them. My husband is like a wrecking ball when it comes to organization and putting “like” things together.

    We have come to a healthier medium. I have to let a lot of things slide and he has stepped up to do his best in terms of keeping house. His standards are much higher than when we met. He still has to pull me off the ceiling at times, but, with age and with him as my spouse, I have improved as well.

    The thing that I always had a tiny fear of was becoming a hoarder. Even though I’m the first to throw out clutter. I have researched hoarding a little bit, and it seems as though the person is actually a staunch perfectionist. When something gets out of place or there’s a little mess, and they can’t get to it for whatever reason, they start to become overwhelmed. I can see how this happened for my mother in law raising three boys. She wasn’t always a hoarder. She became one over the years. I believe the theory that it begins in perfectionism. I have become overwhelmed and gave up at times. That is little scary to me. I try to stay conscious of what that could lead to.

    Anyhow, I had too much coffee just now I think. A little motor mouth this morning! 🙂

    Peace,
    Mimi

  16. By: Ali Posted: 19th July 2012

    Sometimes this site gets me through the day. And this post about self-talk opened my eyes to the way I treat myself. I’m learning I have to remember that I’m not my parents, so I don’t need to follow their lead in being unkind to me. Thanks.

  17. By: Mimi Posted: 20th July 2012

    Darlene,
    I often wonder what caused my mother in law to become a hoarder. She’s gone now, so no way to explore that territory with her. She was an only child and then she had 3 boys. I have concluded that it was chaos in their house. I’m convinced if there were three of my husband in my house, I would lose control too.

    My husband finds some comfort in stacks of papers. I don’t understand that, but, I do intervene and do damage control when he’s at work. Funny, he never misses it either. He seems to have trouble distinguishing between what is important, and what isn’t in terms of paper things. I might find a receipt for a high dollar item next to the shredder, and then a “to do” list he made himself back in 1972, in the file cabinet.

    I’m just babbling, but it was good to get your input on these things.

    Peace and love to everyone,
    Mimi

  18. By: J Marie Posted: 20th July 2012

    LOL Mimi # 119….I just moved out of my house and have 3 trashbags of papers I insist can’t be just thrown away because burried in months of junk mail and reciepts might be a single piece of paper worth keeping. I mean these piles existed at my home and when I seperated from my husband…I took the time to at least toss them in a bag and bring them with me! I know it’s nuts, but just can’t bring myself to throw it all away and start from a clean plate. So I’m holding myself hostage to make me get through them – I’m refusing to get my cable hooked up until I get through them…because otherwise I’ll spend my down time vegging and they’ll never get done! *sigh* At least I can laugh about it for now.

  19. By: Alice Posted: 6th June 2013

    I definitely have this problem. I am trying to learn to love and accept myself, but it is much easier said than done. I have noticed that when I do get past the negative self-talk and try to acknowledge my accomplishments and successes, I feel overwhelmingly guilty and am afraid I am being self-involved and egotistical and pretentious and arrogant. It’s hard to accept the honest work I put into my life and work, like I’m not allowed to feel good about myself and to believe my efforts actually make a positive impact on myself and others. I don’t have contact with my family anymore, and I know that this is from the way they treated me (and poor choices in past relationships), but it gets triggered by people I meet along the way who feel threatened and insecure towards me and try to put me down.

  20. By: January Posted: 6th June 2013

    Thanks Darlene! It seems like my parents have taken up full time residency inside my head. I hear their critical words over & over again. It’s hard to turn off those old nasty voices, but I am working on it.

    Glad you’re having a nice vacation!

    January

  21. By: cms Posted: 6th June 2013

    So much of the painful roots of abuse lies denial snd truths hsve been revealed to me recently. I sm often iverwhelmed. I don’t even realise how hard I am being on myself. .it is so ingrained in who I am I think.
    I need to stop and breath and discern..listen.
    I just started training for a new career. .and had not been there but sn hour before meeting the bosses husband who said while shaking my hand “that if he had interviewed me he would not have hired me! ”
    I wasn’t sure he’d said what he’d said but his wife smirked snd said
    Well..he’s here!!!.
    Later I was cleaning and he stopped me to instruct me in how to wipe tables and chairs without spreading butt germs!!! He said this in front of customers!! My gosh.
    I sm wondering if he’s singled me out or treats all employees do well!!
    How do I address him if this continues?
    I have gone NC with my unloving N mom, my abusive (in every way) dad, very cruel N sister (who stirs up NP’s against me and my children) as well as my raging N brother. extremely dysfunctional “family”
    My health..my very life depends on being a away from the violence and sbuse now.
    I was losing weight,30 lbs. (Looked like a skeleton) heart going out of time, not able to think or function with the onslaught of violence everyday.
    Some church members want me to ‘ reconcile’.. I say I have lsid my life down for decades loving them taking
    It. Praying for them..for reconciliation. Now I am not able to do that anymore. .I can’t be the sacrificial lamb. All the seeds I can plant..I have. Its time for my complete healing. .my freedom..my blessings.
    But how do I address the bosses husband so he stops and I can still have my job. What are good words to say to well meaning loving but misunderstanding friends?

  22. By: purbi Posted: 19th June 2017

    Hi Darlene,
    So i know that teenagers have their mixed feelings and all ,but i think i try too hard not to try so hard and i end up being a chaos

  23. By: purbi Posted: 19th June 2017

    Hi Darlene,
    sorry.. didn’t complete before. i want to say that i am TIRED of caring what people think about me and more than any other person, my own friends.I’ve never been the funny one or someone anyone can admire for their innerselves. i am tired of trying to pretend that i am someone else. because the truth is i don’t know who i am. there is a friend of mine , she came last year im my class and we ended up having a project together. soon enough i figured out that she lived nearby my house and i was ready to make a friend after a long time. pretty soon we became good friends .. i really liked that she was honest with everyone and how she used to respect my feelings and i really respected her a lot. i made a mistake and realized it , well but i never thought that slowly i would change into one of her jokes. she had a pretty good sense of humor. i never thought i would admit this that how i was kicked out of my group..all i started to think was “yeah,she’s cool and who wouldn’t to be with her, slowly i lost everyone, her too and then i realized that i never even mattered and if i did they could have fought for me , but yeah expectations hit hard. i’m not saying she did nothing for me but she took more from me than she ever did for me. i started to think it must have been my fault or i am boring again . i just have my best friend and she hasalways been there for me but knowing that how you can be replaced or left out i am afraid to behappy or to trust any other friend again. whenever i’m with that girl as we go in the same bus i feel humiliated just by her presence .. i really care about what she thinks or what my other friends think because my best friend and i always felt that way. now my best friend is going to transfer near my house which means she’ll be in my bus too and i’m afarid that she will make fun of us again or it will be too awkward when all i should care about is that i have someone who cares about me. and i feel so messed up and one thing i know about myself is that i’m AFRAID. afarid of being myself , afraid of everything..

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