Thursday, May 21, 2015

Self Improvement and Achievement Queens and Kings

One question every ACON asks themselves and a popular ACON book is even named this, is "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?"

Out in the world the answer to that may be "No".

The world is being taken over by Self Improvement and Achievement Queens and Kings. 

Ableism, classism and elitism can impact some of us. 

So what does one do when they are never good enough and never measure up enough? Walk away. If someone makes you feel like you are not enough, then it is not a good deal. Sadly we have some trends in society now where everything is about clamoring up to the mountain top.

One thing about American society is that you always have to be improving, or healing or progressing to be deemed acceptable. Those who do not progress or "solve all their problems" or "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" are deemed less persons deserving no love. In a land where competition and status rules, those who don't climb the ladder or even who fell off it are considered human "throwaways". Life is all about moving on, status and competition. If you are not "moving on, you are considered "stagnant" and a "bad person." Anyone who has been poor or deemed the "family loser" by narcs knows what this feels like. 

This has been happening to me lately. I will explain further.....but

I am going to lay down a new boundary, that people have to accept me as I am presently, warts and all, or just walk on. I can't be hurt anymore being told that I am "not good" enough and that I must "change my life".  I spent most of my life being told what is wrong with me by my family and needs folks around me who will tell me what is right.  One thing that can happen to a person like me is you can hook up with people who want to FIX you.

But where is the acceptance in that?

And if you end up in that position, you are a "complainer" while they can vent freely. You don't mind them telling you about their problems, in fact to you it is normal sharing. They don't offend you when they do it, so why isn't it mutual? But the emphasis is on "fixing" you and if time has gone by and they don't see progress they expect, well then things go badly.

I am questioning why this happens to me. Some of me wonders if this was born in the crucible of never feeling good enough and my own constant scurrying to be accepted and "liked" by people. This was formed in the fire pit of narcissistic parenting. Also if one is disabled or otherwise "low status" in society one can fall in this group. It's like we fell into this trap where it's like we have to justify our existence on planet earth. I don't even know how to explain how being the weight I have all these years impacts how I am viewed. 

 Perhaps on my end I do overshare or complain too much and need to work on my acceptance of my circumstances but is that enough condemn someone?  I write about many topics and think about them too, and these are not all happy perky topics, obesity is not fun and games and neither is being a survivor of a narcissistic family. Why do I have to worry about being perky to begin with?

Neurotypicals [maybe not all?] seem offended by any complaints, while for us Aspies, we can talk about things freely and not censor everything about it being "negative or positive".  While too much ruminating may annoy people, it's something Aspies do. I never called anyone up at 3:00 in the morning or crossed boundaries though. Us Aspies can show each other pictures of volcanoes at sea or go see antiques and then on the end complain about how much everything hurts or if something sucks, say so. There isn't this bullcrap I see in the  worsening narcissistic world where one has to weigh and measure each word by status and if they are being a successful human being.  

 Sometimes it scares me that with some of these sorts, I already have been trying to rapidly smooth down the rough edges and still ended up failing. Here within is a major problem, once you have to start walking on eggshells and worrying about what you say, trouble is afoot.  Some are nice to me and I don't even realize I have pissed them off just being who I am. This is something I have to change in me, where I no longer seek the approval of others and be careful about who I expose vulnerabilities to. Sadly some of these people I have cared about, but it gets scary when you realize you have failed their expectations. I don't want to be fixed or anyone attempting to fix me anymore. It just hurts. 

 Here is the facts about my life unless God wills a miracle for me, chances are I am not going to have some incredible cure. I have stayed alive far longer then doctors even estimated. I was almost 700lbs at one point in my life and I am one of the few who stepped away from this.

Many people with Lipedema at my stage have trained themselves for years to hide pain to function. This means inside I can be screaming from my legs hurting or even my neck, and say nothing to you with a smile on my face. There is a reason I can be in bed half the day and it's not laziness, it's called pain management.  If someone wants to deem me "selfish" for focusing on health problems too often, sorry I can't help it. Some of us had to become "selfish" to even survive. If they think I go on about my health too much or define myself by it, I write a blog about health problems of course I am going to talk about it. I live in this body. There is still some fun to be had with taking pictures of butterflies or watching a movie but this is my reality. No one should expect me to hide my health problems to love or accept me. Already I hide a lot people do not know about.

 My nurses and doctors have already told me what lies in the future. I wouldn't want my worse enemy to face what I have with these problems and deterioration. The sad thing is too often those who face huge health problems and sickness realize that our culture today says there should be easy fixes. All prayers are good and we all love people praying for us, but no one should have their self worth fixed to the "health" wagon and whether we "recover" [mental or physical].

I was in this self help group for 5 years. It was for many years a very positive and good experience. I did lectures while there and made cards for volunteer projects.  However I noticed a strain of thought in the last year, that deeply concerned me, many people went to this group to have friends to talk to and shared their problems but some people within this group, kept talking about how people were just coming to talk about "their problems" and were not progressing.  Some people were using the group for friendship, what is wrong with that? Here they were influenced too by the self improvement and achievement focus of our culture that is growing worse and I think has been mandated by narcissists who have turned everything into life into a giant check-list of measuring up and "success".

They would say things like this group is meant for people to "move on" and "heal" they were angry people were not solving their problems.  I noticed unless someone had their life steadily improve that there was judgments to be had. It can really bother a person who is down and out to realize some around you are getting angry that you have not fixed your life. That is disturbing on some levels. Here we have the New Age and fantasy delusion beliefs impacting things here where you see more and more that people think bad things happen to people because they are "bad" or that their lives are "bad" because they are.  This ties into the hatred of "victims". Many things lied outside of some people's control like money and health problems. In my opinion, it was wrong to shame people for not "recovering" or "changing" their lives in the way that some judged them on.

 I thought to myself maybe some people just wanted a safe place to come to and share some of their tribulations. The group for some time was a good place to be. They helped me learn about boundaries and overcoming abuse, and in many ways this group was the catalyst in me growing stronger and giving me the ability to break away from my abusive family. The earlier facilitators were kind people as I stated early.

While my depression waxed and waned at different times, I knew it was something I would have to maintain the rest of my life and did in the years before, and they were helpful with this. So I do not regret my time in the group.

This message of recover or else made me sad though, why was everything about people jumping through hoops and why were some so judgmental? Everyone differs even in the mental health world. Some will be able to recover and heal and more power to them while some may have to struggle their whole life and just maintain. I am no longer in this group anymore, but sat and thought about some of these issues.  I disagree and LOATHE this mentality that everyone must be progressing and setting goals and succeeding to be a worthwhile human being to be a valued and loved and acceptable human being. Some of the people who are advancing this stuff, truly WANT to help another person but they can hurt them with this mentality.

Not everyone is going to have easy fixes. Not everything in this world is SOLVABLE. These are some facts that the achievement set ignore. Disabled people know this all too well, that we almost have to overcompensate for our disabilities and appear like we are always brave, smiling and cheerful. Disabled people are seen as "different" and not fitting in. In a world where you are told to "comform" on an endless basis, what does it do? Too many categories of people today are deemed "inferiors".  I am not the first disabled person to be told I am too "negative", or "toxic".

I think the system now being formed in our society is expanding the categories of people who are deemed "inferiors" and "throw-aways", the people who have jumped on the self improvement and achievement wagons have a certain level of health and well-being. You need it especially in this world. Strong social and family support is important too. This is one way society is doing the divide and conquer game, especially here in America, where the social classes are becoming more polarized, racial relations set back by 50 years, and people are divided according to "success" or "non-success". I live in a very affluent community even as a poor person and sometimes it can be very hard. I don't agree with these values. The bankers and 1% are laughing as they make more money and social cohesion breaks up and everyone is running to "keep up with the Jones's" though today it's not just the station wagon in the driveway or the rancher home to keep up with but the personal "achievements" and carrots on the stick as well. In some places, everyone has forgotten how to relax and just "be". Everything is about getting ahead and self improvement. Sorry, but us ACONs are tired of proving ourselves to people. We had enough of that with condemning parents.

What is sad is with many of the measuring sticks today, a great deal of the populace is doomed for failure and the system is designed that way. The achievement people are caught up in this whirlwind, following advertisments--constant ladder climbing brings profit as people buy products that will "enhance" their lives or themselves, media, and oppressive messages and sadly they can not be happy with those who fall off the ladder or even those who threw the ladder on the ground and walked away.

I see this stuff as growing narcissism in our society, where community life is sacrificed on the altar of competition and "proving" yourself. Empathy is affected adversely when one is told achievement is the most important. People who do not heal from a myriad of chronic physical or mental conditions are told they have "failed" and feel even more oppressed and sad. One question to be asked is who are we trying to impress? Must we live life always on the hamster wheel? What is even more disturbing is when you feel like you have to be someone else to please others. Sorry as Popeye said, "I yam what I yam."


  1. In a weird way I can thank my mother for beating this thinking out of me. Somewhere along the way I figured out that the things normal people take for granted just wasn't in the cards for me and I let go of them. My mom was more like a spoiled sibling that followed us around slapping and grabbing any kind of treat that came our way.

    1. It's good you were spared it all. I got a clue in third grade when one or two B wiped away all the As and later in college. I knew my life wasn't progressing like "normal" people and things were far "harder for me. Too many of the "normals" do nothing but judge me anyhow for not being like them. Yes your mother was more like rabid sibling then any parent at all.

  2. Upon finding out the truth that I was an ACON I no longer mind my issues, as I had before. Its strange how I got liberated from a lot of things. I just keep thinking its amazing to be alive and that is all. Some ACON's don't get to be alive, or woken up, so I think I did really great.

    I believe I am enough no matter what. I just wish I had a sibling is all. I get lonely when I tackle a personal problem, no siblings and no friends either. I know some people, but no one I can just get to meld with, its lonely. Relationships with the opposite sex is not the same. I just wish I had my sister. I really started to miss her today, kinda wish we could do some sewing or baking together. She is not a freak the last time we talked, but she might be one now.

    But I guess we really do miss what we don't have.

    1. I am hoping for the time when I can wake up and no longer worry this about this stuff. I wrote on this blog, I wanted to wake up free one day of the feeling like I am "not enough". The achievement people are doing to me what my parents did. I am too old, and too tired. I am glad you believe you are enough. I hope to be getting there soon but it is a process.

      I am sorry you have no sibling. I wish I had a real one too and not the ones who turned their backs on me. My mother was always in the way when it came to both of them. Is your sister in contact with your Ns? I have friends thank God but most are far away or online but it does seem hard to meld with people doesn't it? Unless you match certain criteria, you don't fit in their world. Sorry you miss your sister. I miss my old brother and sister but the one's standing there today are not the same people. Yeah we do miss what we don't have.

    2. My sister is taking care of my Nmother now with the myriad of doctor's appointments that mother has. My sister has admitted that mother being around mother is pure torture, but still she will take care of mother, even above her own needs. My sister is exposing her children to the abuse, tells everyone to "be strong, thats just the way it is."

      Mother feeds and feeds and feeds. She can take your emotions and put it in a big feed trough. She is hateful, cruel and nasty. My sister has told me that she can't wait everytime that mother is back at home in her own apartment. But she puts up with her. So I have to be in no contact to protect myself.

      As far as feeling like I'm enough, its very hard. I started this 2 years ago as a criteria for good relationships. Otherwise, I would only attract abusers. No, I don't have a lot of people in my life. I have my kids, but I'm the matriarch, and that is more work than fun. lol

    3. Sorry your sister is so entwined with your mother Joan, I take it they are having to spend a lot of time together, it is good she does not live with her. So sorry to hear she is exposing her children to the toxicity. All these abusers are always enabled. Yes they feed like vampires. I understand why you are no contact. I am no contact with everyone who has contact with my mother.

      Yes I have to stop feeling like I am not enough, it attracts the abusers. I still have friends and my husband but things are going to get lonely locally. I can't even try to be what these people want. Nor do I want to.

  3. I really appreciate your comments. I think God uses your blog to cause me to examine my own heart and motives. And I like that. It's really what church is all about. Should I call you Pastor Peep? :-) Here's my prayer after reading your anointed writing: Lord, help me to accept and love people for who they are just where they're at in life. Help me to overcome the pride in me that makes me want to "fix" others. Because that is pride. It's also unbelief. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter - He's the "fixer". Father, help me to simply rest in You. To be content in You. Easy to say...hard to do.

    1. Thanks Smakintosh. I am glad my blog can help. LOL at Pastor Peep. I know I have to work on my own love and acceptance too. Many problems are not "fixable". I know some want to spare people pain of their problems and have good motives, but for othrs it can be painful and can be rooted in pride and unbelief. Also tied to the "status" thing in our society I believe it is worsening. I am praying myself, and this "struggling to measure up" thing has hurt me, and have to turn that over to God more and seek some degree of contentment so thanks for what you wrote here too Smakintosh.

  4. These achievement kings and queens sounds like your narc mother and people who preferred to be with her rather than being with you. Maybe that's why some of these people flocked to you years earlier. :(

    I will pray that you will find support friends this year and people will not trick you with their initial kindness or love bombing. Finding and forming friends will take awhile but it is doable.

    1. Yes it has been very painful because it is the same message I got from my family. "You aren't good enough", and then a whole long list of implied things I "need to do" that I either don't know HOW to do or don't have the RESOURCES or MONEY to get done. I am too poor for this area, and it's hard. Like yesterday I was taking pictures of butterflies with a simple Nikkon ditigal camera, and feeling happy about it, and here comes two women with their thousands of dollars of photo equipment--telephoto lenses, and the whole ball of wax. There was a metaphor there somewhere, that tells me how i feel around here. I need friends who don't see me as a lesser and are emphasizing me measuring up.

  5. Nothing brings this lesson home like being disabled. I'm very sensitive to this issue (you have taught me so much over the years) so when my daughter and I was somewhere together, and she gets told her disability is a MINDSET, I wanna punch people. But now I know it's ignorance on their part and maybe luck. Luck that they aren't suffering an incurable illness themselves. Let them go through what she is and then be told it's a Mind Set.

    It's so irritating to me that people tell her to START WALKING everyday and pretty soon, she could climb Mt. Everest. What's really irritating is that other people with MS who have not been affected as severely as my daughter, brag about riding their bikes and hiking and practicing to be astronauts or some other such crap. I am so grateful to have enough 'recovery' under my belt so I can think of of a kind response without reacting. I mean, they just do NOT understand until they (or someone they love) goes through something like this.

    Can you believe social security denied my daughter coverage? We've decided to get an attorney because there is no way she can work now. they said, "you can work in a job that doesn't require memory tasks and is not physically demanding in a stress-free environment." I had to shake my head because where is a job like that? I'll sign up myself!

    I really hate how achievement oriented we are in society today. I remember when my older relatives had illnesses/issues and nobody EVER suggested they climb Mr. Everest. It's as if people "recoil" from any vulnerability someone has, as it it's catching and they'll be next in the Disenfranchised Group.

    I agree with you that people are "shamed" (if only by insinuation) if they have limitations precluding them from proving their worth in a measurable, obvious way. It is very very difficult for my daughter to maintain her self-esteem when she's unable to do much more than take a shower that day. How to get out of this tragic mentality is the question. How do we turn this ship around as a society??

    p.s. As for myself, I was sick of hearing people tell me to Get Over It Already. That by two weeks, I should stop mourning my marriage and start dating again. There was an expectation that I should recover faster than I did and people would actually say, "we thought you were stronger than that." Well, people who form strong bonds are gonna suffer when those bonds are broken and thank heavens I trusted myself to know what I needed to do. It shocked me that people would make judgments about my "suffering". Basically, my situation made them uncomfortable and they wanted me to stop making them uncomfortable. I think it's the same thing with my daughter---people would rather DENY her disability than empathize with her.

  6. Yes being disabled cinches this one in this society. I am glad I have been able to help you CZ in understanding the plight of the disabled. I remember telling you some of the emotions I faced during my early years in disability. I am sorry some people told your daughter disability was a mindset too. Yes I got told this and that I 'defined" myself by my health problems. I am ill enough for "at home nurses" and only leave the house in perfect weather with scooter, water jug and husband, who sometimes has to grab me to keep me from falling over but supposedly I am supposed to wake up one day and "feel the burn" and see bags of money and career success pour down on me along with a new body. I used to think I took this garbage because I was fat, and fat people are so hated yada yada yada, but then I had other disabled friends, thin and average sized saying it happened to them too. There is a really sickening trend now in our society and it's growing worse, this lack of compassion for ANY set-backs and this idea of everyone being perfect and "measuring up". It is cruel to the old too because people decline with age too but that is not honestly spoken of either.

    We are told there are solutions to every problem. Someone with MS is told if they work hard enough and do hours of exercise they will be able to walk, and go mountain climbing. Here you see ads with the active MS people running marathons-a few probably in remission and some mild cases that denies how severe the disorder can get and even with the fat thing all of us are supposed to go SOLVE IT, it's kind of funny, I can point to a 200lb weight loss that means nothing because I am still so fat. I saw meanness on a disabled board once where I was shouted off for being fat and told I could lose weight when I was near my heaviest and looking into mobility options.

    People can be so cruel. Sigh.

    I know lately I am having to tell myself people just don't understand. I know out in society the MAJORITY do not. I have to stop trying to find their acceptance because it is not going to happen. Sadly people of all sorts of disabilities are facing this. Many have the idea that bad things happen to people because they were bad people. It is wrong. I will pray for your daughter too.

    Yes social security is denying endless people now. It has to do with the budget problems. One thing down the pipeline could endanger our household, as they want to cut disability by 20 percent. I could not afford my apt at that level or much else. I know many very sick people are being turned down. My husband was denied too but considered "too sick" to be hired, and age discrimination is now done openly. Of course a recent therapist said with his caretaking responsibilities of me and his own health concerns it is better he is at home.


    1. Is your daughter appealing? I hope so. They even give me three year reviews, yes believe it or not. The next one I would be telling them about the Lipedema diagnosis.

      They told my husband he could get a "stress-free" job "sitting down in factory", yes they are that clueless. Do they know anything about the work world anymore?

      I believe the entire job system and work-world needs rehauled, but that's an issue for another day and time but sad to see they said that to your daughter. It is getting very hard to get disability. If I was not diagnosed with PCOS, COPD--started before weight got bad and thyroid-thyroid related cardiomyopathy and other things, I could have been denied. They have a grandfather clause to keep people out just for being fat. I hope you get a good lawyer, and they are skilled.

      I hate the achievement garbage too. My family threw me away from not making good money and becoming a success. When I was an art teacher at a juvenile home they still called me a "loser". Things have changed where everything is about being a good worker bee and having the perfect body and regimented life. Love and compassion is disappearing yes as even the old are now told to "climb Mt. Everest" "be all they can be". Much of the success mandates are actually endorsed by corporations and for consumerist culture--you have to buy more things to look "good". I know people who have bought into this, and it's all about appearances. Yes people recoil from any problems and they fear being among the "throwaways".

      I am tired of being shamed. I have great long distant and online friends but I am asking why am I only finding people who require endless measuring up. I am even asking if I am living in the wrong town? My values do not match here. I know this garbage is infusing like a poison across the country, but it is STRONG here. Some of us grow tired of being "shamed" for being poor, or not having great social circles or bodies to boast of. Yes watch out for your daughter's esteem. I think you are very supportive CZ and this definitely bolsters her up. if not for my husband I would not have made it. I think this whole mess needs changed, it is a tragic mentality. Sadly the churches are joining with the status crowd and every other institution in society including the support group I mention above. How does it get turned around? It is a good question.

      Yes the "get over it" thing hurts bad. The people with less messy emotions like grief and mourning, get by better in our narcissistic society. I am sorry you faced that with your divorce. I went no contact with my entire family just a month ago and heard, "get over it". How much of ourselves do we have to censor to be loved?

      I am sorry you had people tell you that you were not strong enough, I am sure that hurt bad. It was rude too. I think some people form stronger bonds then others too. Some seem just able to walk on and barely a hair on their head is ruffled. Some of us have hearts and can't shut off feelings. Yes they get uncomfortable and want you to be silent for their comfort. Yes they will deny her disability or even blame her instead of emphasizing. Some of this is rooted in fear that could be them one day but your daughter deserves support and love.

  7. i guess these positive pushers haven't bothered to check their motives. They're smiley-faced busy-bodies, who really need to shut the heck up!

    1. Thanks Sue. The whole be positive or else thing really has taken over.