I feel sorry for myself a lot. More than is healthy, for definite.
My mother is an expert in the fine art of garnering pity/sympathy from others. I was brought up with it, and I used to do it too, because it was the only way I knew to get attention. 
When I was about 18, I read a book called The Celestine Prophecy. It’s a weird story about lights and vibrations and hippie shenanigans, but there was this whole section on “control dramas,” one of which was called “Poor Me” where a person makes people feel sorry for them in order to get attention. I recognised myself (and my mother) in this, and realised it was possibly not the best way to go through life. Since then I have tried very hard not to do that, not to make people feel sorry for me.
I hate to be a burden to people; I hate for people to feel like they have to help me or something. Even when someone offers to help me, I usually decline and feel very uncomfortable asking for or accepting help. From anyone. I also hate to feel like people are doing something out of obligation or pity.
Yes, on the one hand I am a single mother with not much money, living in a crappy flat in a less-than-ideal area. But on the other hand, I am perfectly capable of helping myself. And it’s important to me to feel that I can do it on my own, that I’m not constantly needing to lean on others in order to get through day to day life. I’ve written before about how I don’t like to ask for help and the points I made in that post still stand. I hate it. I hate to feel like someone is helping me because they feel sorry for me or think I can’t cope on my own. But what I really hate is to feel that a person must walk away thinking “bloody Vicky, I always have to do stuff for her when I go round there…” 

I had coffee with a friend today, and he asked me about my breakdown and why it happened. I’ve written about my breakdown before; I’m fairly open and honest about it, how it happened, how I recovered. I don’t often talk about the causes of it though, because… well, it’s a long story.
Although it’s a long story, it’s not a secret. And after many years of shaking uncontrollably and getting horribly upset whenever I spoke about things in my past, I can (for the most part) detach myself from it now, and am usually fine talking about it. So I told him, briefly, of the things that led to my ending up a bit cuckoo. And I watched the look on his face change to that look.
This is not someone I know terribly well; we don’t have other friends in common, he doesn’t know any of my family or back story. Just the things that normally come up in day to day conversation. Now it feels like he knows too much. And too much of the wrong things. Instead of knowing I used to spend all day at work quoting lines from Eddie Izzard dvds and making filthy jokes with my friends, he knows about my parents’ divorce. Instead of knowing about the mad nights we used to spend in Southampton at the Nexus, with UV hair and long drunken walks home across the Itchen Bridge, he knows about my dad’s death. And that is bad because it gives the wrong impression of me. I would rather be thought of as happy, smiling, laughing, taking the piss, getting drunk and falling over with my friends, than sad, downtrodden, oh-you-poor-thing-however-did-you-cope. I hate for anyone to think that of me, especially a friend.
Shortly after my dad died, I was seeing a boy who lived in Southampton – about 30 miles from where I lived. I texted him late one night that I was struggling, my life hurt and I didn’t know how to stop it. Thirty minutes later he arrived at my front door. And I immediately felt like a fraud. I shouldn’t have texted him; my text had made him so worried about me, he’d come all this way to make sure I was ok. That was not on. And I know there’s every possibility that man will read this post (we are still good friends) and either not remember that night, or tell me it wasn’t a big deal. But it was a big enough deal to me that I still remember it nine years later. I don’t want to be that person, I never wanted to be that person.
I don’t want anyone to do anything for me out of pity, so I tend to avoid mentioning things that might elicit that reaction. I might tell you I had a breakdown, but I won’t often tell you about the things that led up to it. I might mention my dad’s death, but relatively few people know the detail of what happened. I tend to skate over the details and just say “and then this happened, and then that happened, and then this, and then he died.” Everyone knows I was in an abusive relationship, but there are massive chunks of that story I will probably never tell.
I feel sorry for myself a lot of the time, especially at this time of year. I’m single and alone and basically unlovable and I miss my dad and I wish a lot of things were different. But I don’t want anyone else feeling sorry for me. This is a private pity part, and you can’t join in. Don’t you even dare try.
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Vicky is a mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. She writes about life as a single mother, parenting and lifestyle type things.

1 Comment

Joanna Sormunen · 21/12/2013 at 03:34

Thank you for sharing. I'm a new reader and delighted to get to know you. Just wanted to say that it's OK to need help from someone from time to time. We all need it. We're people and people are social, we need each other. "No man is an island…" And no woman either.

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