Insecure

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Being successful works against me because no one understands why I’m so insecure.
When it comes to school, work, finances, I feel like I have things together. Even though I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing I manage to keep things together on my own and be successful. However, when it comes to relationships, I feel handicapped. In the past 5 years I finally realized that I was physically abused, emotionally abused, neglected by my parents and I let this happen to me until the age of 21 when I finally moved out after my mom cornered me and beat me up for asking her to calm down. I always felt like I was walking in a fog, going through the motions, trying to be normal but not quite achieving it. It wasn’t until I was 24 and started to realize that I was gay that I started really connecting to my own reality and realized that I was abused. I feel like being successful works against me because everyone thinks I’m normal and such a pleasant person, but when I’m in relationships, my partners can’t handle me. They feel I’m too demanding, too needy, I make them anxious and make them want to pull away from me. They don’t understand how I’m so successful and yet so insecure. I feel so embarrassed because of this. This makes me hide my needs from everyone and avoid relationships because I think I’m defective and that no one could ever really handle me. I feel like no one sees me for who I am and only sees everything that I’m not. A couple of friends have told me to lighten up and enjoy relationships, but I can’t. I don’t want anyone to take advantage of me or to leave me, and I get scared and my heart pounds out of my chest if anything goes wrong. I was taken advantage of and emotionally abused in my first relationship, and I don’t want it to happen again. I’ve been to counselors but they seem to think I’m completely ok and that I just need to lighten up and change my thoughts. I’ve done cognitive behavioral therapy and it works well when I’m single, but in relationships it makes no difference. I feel like logic is out of the window and its a deeper issue than my thoughts. I’m so afraid someone will hurt me and I don’t trust anyone. I think I also have this need to please people, so sometimes in therapy I let the therapist take over and I feel worse after the session cause I didn’t get to really say what I wanted to. I don’t know if I’m just complaining over stupid little things and I do just need to lighten up but I’m writing because I want to know if either I’m making things too serious or if maybe I need a different kind of therapist. I started researching and I think I might have ptsd but I’m afraid to tell people that because they may think I’m over exaggerating my problems and self diagnosing which you aren’t supposed to do. I’d appreciate your feedback.

A: Thank you for sending in just a thought-provoking question. The issues that you are bringing to light should be brought to your therapist. The struggle for intimacy is great, and the resilience you have shown in moving toward understanding and cooping with these problems. I would elaborate with your therapist the particular struggle with trust and the history of your relationships if you haven’t done this already.

This will give you a chance to develop a bit more trust with the therapist. This is important because often the relationship we have in therapy mirrors the relationships that we long to develop. Being vulnerable, and being willing to discuss these issues is perhaps the most direct way of allowing yourself to change.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Insecure. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/02/06/insecure-2/