Saturday, July 15, 2006
They like me... they really like me...
Yesterday after work I had sort of an epiphany. I had a good day at work, I felt like I had done some good on-the-spot therapy with some people facing real crises, and they told me so. Literally, two different people said things like, "Thank you so much, you did a great job. You said just what I needed to hear. I feel better now."

Which was very nice to hear, of course. So why was it that on my drive home I got very depressed and sad and teary? I was really pretty surprised by just how awful I felt.

At first I thought it was just sort of a variation on anxiety at the idea of going home and dealing with whatever Willem/Dad/kids conflicts might be waiting for me there. But I thought about it, and no, it was definitely a sadness and it was related to my workday.

Some of that sadness came because three of the people I worked with yesterday were moms who were worried - with good reason - that their adult sons were on their way down a very scary, sad, unhealthy mental path. I could identify with them and hurt for them.

But I realized that most of the sadness came from the fact that in the rest of my life, I've been validation-starved lately. I've been so focused, either because of my own brain or because of things others say, on all of the ways I've been coming up short lately... the kids miss me at work, Willem has some sort of unclear set of emotions about me being at work (unclear to me anyway - maybe it's like crystal to him), my dad has opinions about everything and just because he hasn't shared them all with me doesn't mean he doesn't have a criticism or seven about the way I'm doing things, I'm still the New Guy at work so I make small but apparently crucial paperwork errors there, and so on, I can't figure out what to do and how to do it as far as my schooling is concerned, and so forth. All of the big important areas of my life, I get feedback, internal or external, that I'm not quite meeting the standards.

So hearing that I did, just about floored me.

I haven't figured out how to fix it yet. I don't just want forced praise or guilty validation, I want to feel like I'm actually doing things well enough. But I've been able to put a name to it, so there is hope...

(Gah. Could I possibly sound like more of a psychologist???)