Comparing Ourselves to Others

Lionheart

Sponsor
I have a bad habit of comparing myself down rather than up or as an equal.

Still, I know my path is different because I too have had lots of trauma that started when I was really young and went into my adult years. I have been disabled with PTSD x 20 + years and am in the maintenance phase of therapy. I have been a member of this site for going on 11 years and I am doing way better than when I first arrived here, but it is a mistake for people to judge their healing based on my experience. Because my experience might give the impression that we all have life-long PTSD. This is simply not true.

I used to think that I was failing to heal and it is true that my PTSD is a bit resistant to healing, still I have come a very long way from where I used to be. So I no longer compare myself to anyone, only judging myself by how far I have come from where I once was rather than against anyone else's healing journey. It was a difficult lesson to learn but one I haven't forgotten.
 

Friday

Moderator
Has anyone else been confused, depressed, anxious or disappointed because of statistics, seeing people recover or not recover, because your symptoms seem to be worse than the next person's?
What is your best defense against letting other people's recovery cause you to judge your own? -- I still do it from time to time, so I would love to know.

Mostly I get jealous... which is a weird thing, for me. I’m not jealous by nature so it’s not something I’ve ever really learned to handle, much less handle well, or gracefully.

Okay, correction. MOST of the time, I’m over the moon for people. I love good news. I love seeing people succeed. I don’t do sympathy for crappola, but I get seeeeeriously happy for people kicking ass and taking names. It’s damn good stuff. I love it.

Which is a big part of why it’s such a shock when I’m hurt by it. It’s just like, WTFO? Not only is my life f*cked sideways, but now I can’t even be happy for other people? What kind of bullshit is this??? Not only NO, but hell no! f*ck that noise. Pass. Go away. Stop it. This is not okay. This is not who I am. Aaaaaargh. >.<

^^^ Which, by the by, is probably also my best defense against it. My knee-jerk reaction is to take anything I don’t like about myself, and set about changing it. The more I don’t like it, the more it vexes, the more it impacts my life... the higher up on the list of shit-to-sort it goes. One of those fantastic uses for anger. If I’m pissed off about something? I’m far more likely to do something about it.

I'm coming to realize that my own jealousy is usually comin out of a few places

- Wanting things (which is actually something I struggle with, so I'm learning to take note)
- Trust Issues / aka I don't trust that I'll be able to / am afraid (of not being able to get the things I want)
- Anger (that I don't have the things I want)

Once I can set the me-stuff aside? Then I've got 3 good things: a really clear idea -at least some- things I want in my life, an idea of how to go about getting them, & my ability to be happy for others, again, instead of just sad/angry for myself.
I had some fun with the search feature looking for where I’d talked about jealousy before, and came up with some pointed hits. The one above is looking directly at jealousy, and the one below about being jealous of those with greater support.

- People who have their own place
- People who have jobs / income / insurance
- People who can afford to have surgery (especially because I ALMOST got to have all 3 of mine done in 2011. f*ck. 8 years later, and not even 1 done, nor likely to be in the foreseeable future. Okay, skipping to the next one before I start mooning about in oh so sexy self pity and self loathing).

... Nope. Damn. Got sucked into that one :shifty: There are 2 or 3 others. But they’re being obscured by my unintentional decision to wallow. (Yo! Self! Go wallow in massages or marshmallows or beautiful men, or something. Stop picking gross things to roll. around. in. like. a. dog. Facepalm. )

- People who have partners
- People who have papers (Photo ID/ credentials/ licenses/ diplomas/ resumes/ references/ phone numbers/ mailing address/ credit/ memberships... pocket trash. The little bits of paper and plastic that tell other people that you’re “real” and that are required to do nearly everything)
- People who have the freedom to set/create their own routines

I can’t even imagine anymore how much better my life would/could be with those stabilizing basics to build a foundation on. The sheer level of support is... SMH. Hard to even wrap my head around, anymore. I can remember -sometimes- but it’s hard to imagine what could be, when it’s been so long


So.... yep! It gets hard sometimes.

No childhood trauma, though. Just a knack for breaking hard, when I do break.
 
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RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
So.... yep! It gets hard sometimes.

No childhood trauma, though. Just a knack for breaking hard, when I do break.
Thanks for the very introspective and honest answer. Yeah, jealousy, too -- that's another step into it. Granted, a super common next step.

I think the thing I get most jealous of are people who are able to work in human service occupations, like therapists. I don't have much ability with auditory information and I hate it. I don't get jealous of salespeople, just people who might be something I think is worthwhile.
 

Friday

Moderator
You’ve probably run across this before, but the following quote is also something I love and adore.

“Never judge your insides, by someone else’s outsides.”

I can’t even begin to quantify the number of times someone has come at me, here on the forum, for who they imagine me to be. Usually? It just cracks me up something fierce. 🤣 🤨 Because it’s just like... WOW... you couldn’t be more wrong. Have you even read anything I’ve written? Shrug. They’ve read enough to imagine who I am, and what my life is like, or go all AnxietyGirl! Leaping to the worst possible conclusion, in a single bound! on me. But their idea of me? Isn’t me. Wasn’t me. Told me nothing about me, but a whoooooole lotta ‘bout them. Occasionally, though, I’d be having a bad day and someone spewing venom at me would -very suddenly- find their words shoved right back down their throats. Especially in my early days, here on the forum. I never really knew, from one day to the next, if I was going to try to log on & find myself banned.

I’m just as guilty of the same phenomenon, in my own life. The stories we tell ourselves about the people we know, meet, or see? Sometimes they’re at least half accurate, but a lot of the time? They’re just that. The stories we tell ourselves.

It can be really interesting to look at the themes of those stories. How/if/when they change or group together, and what those stories tell us -not about others- but about ourselves, and where we’re at.
I have a bad habit of comparing myself down rather than up or as an equal.
Like THIS^^^ This? Is so incredibly, awesomely, useful.

Because noticing the pattern? Let’s one start directing the narrative, instead of a passive recipient. Instead of an audience member at a film, first a critic breaking down the film into what’s great/lousy; then an actor in the film, taking direction but bringing your own spin to it; then the director with even more control; until at last? One is both writer & director themselves... with full creative control. Sure, an actor is going to f*ck off from time to time, or need to be fired because they just aren’t getting it... but you can do that. Because the film is your baby. Your creation. Your story. I looooooooove it when I do what @Lionheart has done here, and notice the pattern. Because it yanks me right up outta the audience, and plunks me down in the director’s chair. And if a single scene takes 67 takes? (67 different comparing myself down, before I get even one halfway equal comparison) And the next scene 205? That’s just the way it does. Repeating the same thing over and over, until I get the results I want.

Snicker... I often times think of PTSD as “Repeating the same things over and over, expecting different results.” Which is one of the definitions of insanity... except with PTSD? It actually works. Chipping away at symptoms, working on cognitive distortions/core beliefs, practicing interactions with others and with ourselves; until we get the result we want.

So, personally? I think it’s kind of fun to run face-first into my own biases, or find myself landing on my ass after seeing what tripped me up.

Judging my insides by someone else’s outsides? Seeing someone have something I want, and then making up a story about them -or myself- that “explains” why they have it, or why I don’t? Is sooooooo one of those things.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
But their idea of me? Isn’t me. Wasn’t me. Told me nothing about me, but a whoooooole lotta ‘bout them.
That's how it goes a whole lot of the time, isn't it? Some people, are by nature, really good at making other people expose their issues. I had a blind boyfriend for 4.5 years and he was EXCELLENT at it without even trying. He didn't have to do one damned thing and people would just start losing it on him. It almost felt telekinetic.

Especially in my early days, here on the forum. I never really knew, from one day to the next, if I was going to try to log on & find myself banned.
And then you became moderator? That's pretty cool.

You were not asking and you probably already know or maybe this is a bunk observation but having observed a person or two get a little snippy with you over the last 3ish years, you can be very to the point and are not much for sugar coating and women, I think, especially expect other women to play by a less direct and often more sentimental book. You are extremely active and seem to always be looking to help/support in my observations but not everyone is ready for a straight answer or a the report of an observation that doesn't have excuses and/or sentiments of understanding pinned all over it. <--- I hope I am not touching on anything sensitive there. I only mention it because I have noticed maybe 3 interactions where I was sure you hadn't done anything deliberate but other people got frustrated and since you mentioned getting attacked by people I remembered what I thought I saw. I don't remember who, when or what they were about.

My logic says that if you were lacking in understanding or empathy, you would create shorter posts that didn't touch much on the subject of the thread. But a lot of people seem to get a lot out of sentimental phrasing.

That's my observation. I got myself retrained for online discussion through college and grad school -- I used to get myself in trouble frequently when critiquing assignments. Apparently, if you are pretty sure a student spent 10 minutes on an assignment, you are supposed to keep quiet about it. Who knew? I thought I was being helpful by making it clear that the rest of us were not fooled -- that was not me being a bitch IRL. I thought maybe they would put in a little effort next time and become better students (while also not annoying those of us who were trying which was admittedly a little selfish but not wrong IMO). But my methods were disciplined out of me. I was also told to add more encouraging remarks to my editing assignments which was not natural for me. I eventually learned to do this without feeling nauseated. It was genuinely hard. I couldn't find good things to say about a lot of the papers I worked on. I found that I actually had to change what I was looking for. Even if it was a paper that should not have earned a C in 8th grade, I could say lame things like I love your subject matter, or your varied sentence length makes this an easy read. I made it a habit not to outright lie but I still feel a little selloutish.

When I work for the New Yorker, I plan to go back to my old ways because frankly, people ought to know.

The stories we tell ourselves about the people we know, meet, or see? Sometimes they’re at least half accurate, but a lot of the time? They’re just that. The stories we tell ourselves.
Sometimes I did feel bad -- maybe that student legitimately did spent several hours on the assignment I accused him of spending 10 minutes on. It would suck to be that guy.

It can be really interesting to look at the themes of those stories.
I have a hot chick story that is ultimately about how I feel about my big sister. EVERY damned time I see a woman swing her hips, get an attitude or try to make herself attractive, I create a hot chick story. It's relentless.

It's always been clear what it's about. Little deformed girl never got to be pretty like her big sister -- but that story should have ended at some point -- either in high school or when I became an adult. But there it is at the makeup counter, in my husband's staff lounge, at the grocery store -- HOT CHICKS, EVERYWHERE!!!

That might also have a thing or two to do with why I lament not having better social skills which BTW, I do OK in person BUT I am very quiet and that hides a lot. My sister was popular. I never learned to talk to people and so part of the whole hot chick story has to do with the social butterfly wandering around with nothing particularly interesting to say but a great big, hot chick smile that enchants every damned person in the room.

That's enough confession out of me for one evening.

Do you mind me asking @Friday what you need surgery for?
 
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Friday

Moderator
Do you mind me asking @Friday what you need surgery for?
Bilateral knees (told I needed total replacement in my 20s -which has to wait until your 50s- but some nifty elective surgeries have been invented since then); and a preventative abdominal surgery to stop my spine being pulled out of position, because once my spine goes, there’s nothing for it but major spinal surgery... which is waaaaay more complicated/expensive/risky than this little proactive tweak. So, of course, insurance will pay for the spinal surgery & recovery, but not for the preventative surgery. Which leaves 3 out of pocket surgeries to pay for if I want to lead a healthy active life, instead of a half crippled one.

I had my shoulder done right before I got divorced (bankart repair & something else).... because my surgeon didn’t want me on crutches (knees) with a shoulder that won’t stay in position (I’d also split the cup the humerus fits into, into 3 pieces at some point). But my husband came home early from his business trip (like a month early) and caught me vulnerable. Which was the last time he tried to kill me. Well. Whilst we were still married, at any point. That assault ended the marriage, and no more money for surgeries. Went 80k into debt, just to pay for the divorce. Shrug. C’est la vie.

For a long time I just thought I’d get back up on my feet, start saving again, and get them back on the books, and take back my life. It would take a few years, sure, but anything worth having is worth fighting for. I’ve been gradually making peace with the unlikelyness of that ever happening. I’ve already lost my 30s to being 8 kinds of broken, by and large, most of the things I’ve cared about in my life are already gone. Tempus Fugit.
 

Friday

Moderator
And then you became moderator? That's pretty cool.
LOL, I know, right??? Craaaazy people ;) It’s one of the things I’ve always liked about this site. It’s PTSD. Dysreg & bad behavior? Happens. Correct it, and move on.

a little snippy with you over the last 3ish years
Ooooooh... this was mostly back like 2014/15/16 ish. Scout & a few others still around (or around intermittently) have seen me go ballistic. I’m fairly certain that if I did that as a mod? I’d be sacked.

Most of the modern sniping is newish people not grokking that mods aren’t therapists. We’re peers. With PTSD. Who volunteer our time. That’s all. We’re all members, first, we just do some extra shit behind the scenes. Or, as you say, personality conflict. Again, though, that’s one of the other things I like about this site; no matter what your history/personality? There’s usually someone who’s not only been there, but can speak to it in a way that resonates. Which is just freaking important with PTSD. 10 people can say the exact same thing, in 10 different ways, and only 1 may be in a way that exact someone can hear/process/understand/take to heart. But the other 9 ways? Will make sense to others. Trash & treasure, you know?
 

bird_on_a_wire

MyPTSD Pro
@RussellSue I apologize I haven't read all the posts. But just to say, I work and have usually always worked in human service, and I don't think it has as much to do with ability as empathizing with suffering. In fact, I just read an old post of mine someone had tagged a like on, and I have come to the conclusion (unlike the old post), that my original (dis)abilities and perceptions of myself were accurate, including the appropriateness of leaving vs trying to be as others are. And I have no visible troubles (when required) being very sociable. But that is a small wrapper on the candy underneath, be it bitter or sweet.

So, like @Lionheart said, I don't really know what point comparisons are good for. They're either illogical, since they are not you, or irrelevant, because you are not the same.

Best wishes to you on your journey. After all, I think it was Dr. Seuss who said no one does you better than you. 🤗
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Bilateral knees (told I needed total replacement in my 20s -which has to wait until your 50s- but some nifty elective surgeries have been invented since then); and a preventative abdominal surgery to stop my spine being pulled out of position, because once my spine goes, there’s nothing for it but major spinal surgery.
Geez. So, I guess life's a whole lotta bout self care for you??? I often feel that my PTSD has made me pretty bad at caring for myself with the physical issues I have and then I read things like this and hope like hell you don't have the same problem. That's a lot to have to deal with.

So, of course, insurance will pay for the spinal surgery & recovery, but not for the preventative surgery.
Typical but bizarre.

That assault ended the marriage, and no more money for surgeries.
That is horrible. I am so sorry.

I’ve been gradually making peace with the unlikelyness of that ever happening. I’ve already lost my 30s to being 8 kinds of broken, by and large, most of the things I’ve cared about in my life are already gone. Tempus Fugit.

Well, it's a blessing that you have your place here, then. I am assuming you care a great deal about it based on your participation and knowledge of the subject matter. We're certainly lucky to have you.

This is a powerful and awful story, Friday. I hope life stuff is able to turn around at some point in the near future. In the meantime, I hope that you being here is half as important for you as it is for us because you really do a lot of good shit around here and it matters.

Now, I'm going to go do something less emotional for a while because I may have started a face leak.
 
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