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How does your life look very successful from the outside?

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How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:41 pm

I realize that the forum is for support with things that outsiders won't necessarily understand or get, and things that we want validation for from others who go through similar experiences. And I know the emphasis is generally on what's "wrong," and the ways we wish things were better.

But I'm feeling really alone with how good everything looks from the outside--how successful my life looks, how much people seem to admire and care about me--and how that doesn't match up AT ALL with how I feel on the inside or how I see myself.

I think that's a particular issue with DID/OSDD, since it can allow for someone to achieve outwardly highly functional and successful lives--there can be parts capable of that because other parts are holding pain and dysfunction and trauma memories.

Anyway, it would help me a lot if those of you for whom this is true could write about how you think others see you--how great (or at least normally successful) they think your lives are.

Here's me: Three kids that I raised and homeschooled, a part-time professional job that required many years of education and advanced degrees, married for more than 30 years, a hobby that I started about 7-8 years ago that involves performing in front of people, a house in an expensive suburban neighborhood in a large city, near the beach.

I have a really good therapist that I can pay out of pocket to see twice a week--he's a DID expert and also really caring and committed.

Today, my husband and I are going on a hike, and maybe out to a late lunch or early dinner, and then tonight we'll watch the fireworks our neighborhood organization puts on.

Since my kids are pretty much grown and only one lives at home, I'm in charge of my own schedule now, so my days are filled with lessons/classes in things I enjoy, house and yard chores, pet care, and I work about one day per week.

There are people who think of themselves as my friends, and seem to care about me. My husband's family is very supportive and warm.

Things people might notice if they were paying attention: I don't talk about my family of origin unless I'm asked how they are, and then I answer vaguely that they're fine without saying that I barely have contact with them--haven't seen the dad in 4 years and the mother in 7 years. There's a brother also--we wish each other happy birthday on Facebook each year. I like a lot of kid-related things, but I guess that doesn't strike people as too weird. One friend thought it was a little odd that I was going to Disneyland for my birthday.

Of course, my husband sees how often I start crying for no reason, or become upset very easily about things that don't seem significant to him, or don't understand why he cares about me at all, because he shouldn't...etc.

Anyway, who is the normal, successful person that outside people see when they look at you, and what does their amazing (or reasonably good) life look like? (Again, please, only if that's the case.)
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby fireheart » Sun Jul 04, 2021 6:15 pm

CW: talk of privilege

Not quite at the same level, but I am still considered very privileged. No one ever suspects a thing. Together with my T I ended up describing it as being a competition horse - people just see the potential, not the hurt behind it.

Here is a glimpse of the competition horse:

Gifted in school (and lucky enough that I could hide MH issues during it and so didn't have to drop out to receive treatment), talented at different hobbies, able to hold down several part-time jobs at the same time (where I am appreciated and cared about), completed degrees with honours (even while undergoing trauma treatment). I was able to get help while still young and was recognized relatively quickly as suffering with trauma and dissociation. Not having any serious health conditions so far.

Friends who love me & a budding relationship.

Lucky enough to have found a suitable T who wanted to work with me (not being deemed "too complex" and being turned away all the time) and to live in a societal system that helps pay for seeing her.

I feel incredibly blessed with all these things and especially because of my past, I try to be as conscious as possibly of how lucky I am in these regards. Yes, I was unlucky in a lot of aspects as well, but some people have a way harder time and it is not because of them. It is because of luck and privilege.

I also feel that sharp divide between what people see and what my reality entails. It coincides with not being believed when I talk about my difficulties, because they see someone so capable. For example, they cannot imagine my fatigue. Or they cannot fathom the mental gymnastics I engage in on a daily basis to try and take care of the others inside. It's always such a big puzzle, and it seems like most people cannot begin to imagine what it really is like. Especially when it contrasts to the ANP they get to meet.
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby spinningtops » Mon Jul 05, 2021 7:24 am

I really relate to others not understanding what it's like on the inside, cause i try my best to hide it. my goal is to for the most part look fairly competent and it's hard to tell others what things are happening.
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby littleDaria » Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:08 pm

we would preface our answer by saying there isn't, other than our therapist and a friend or two, anyone who sees anything other than what we present to them and it's nearly never the truth.

the fact that this is a COVERT condition is both a curse and a blessing, a curse because nobody can see the magnitude of inner suffering, a blessing for the exact same reason.

do we appear 'normal'? almost certainly not. do we appear happy? easily.
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby KitMcDaydream » Mon Jul 05, 2021 5:27 pm

From experience of autism, the more you appear to be able to do, the more you are expected to continue to do!
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Mon Jul 05, 2021 7:25 pm

Thank you, fireheart. That's kind of what I was getting at. I agree that a lot has to do with luck and privilege--I should have emphasized that more, as you did.

Your metaphor of a competition horse is a good one--it includes that sense of only being valuable for those aspects that are deemed important by society.

And I think that's the feeling I was trying to get at. When people think you're "amazing," or at the very least that your life is great, without any problems, it can be just as restrictive as a negative perception. It helps me to know that other people go through that. That there's a list of things that others would see from the outside and think, "Wow--she/he really has it all together!!"

It's about seeming to be not just "normal," but somehow better than normal, ironically. Doing so well that no one would even think that your mental health or ability to function are compromised in any way at all.

Sometimes it just seems like a huge weight of expectation on us, and I know there are parts who wish for the "relief" of falling apart and winding up in the hospital--a kind of "we'll show them who's doing so well--NOT!!" Of course we know that wouldn't really help anything, it's just a feeling that comes up when we're especially overwhelmed.
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby fireheart » Wed Jul 07, 2021 11:51 am

I think maybe sometimes no one helps competition horses because they think they are so smart and strong. But really they have to be alone in a stable all the time because they can't risk getting injured by playing on a field with other horses. Sometimes they dont even get to go outside for months.
And they always have to do their best.

It's no fun to be a competition horse. F says we should free them, so that they can have fun being horses. Being a horse is running wild and free!

from Robin
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby ArbreMonde » Wed Jul 07, 2021 2:47 pm

.
.
.
****************************Content Warning: gaslighting***************************



All our forking life, people kept telling us that we could not be suffering because oh, look, you got good grades at school without even trying and oh, look, if you have social issues it must be because you have them on purpose, and other stuff like that. Even now, we are told that we cannot be that disabled because we manage to tend to our home by ourselves, and because we talk and have a large and complex vocabulary.

Bullshirt.

People keep telling us that we were successful because they are dismissive of all the struggles we were going through.

We totally relate to the racehorse metaphor. People only see what they want to see. They have a specific idea of what struggling means, of what being disabled means, and since we do not fit their narrow view, we must be making things up.

It makes us furious.

__
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby Dwelt » Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:44 pm

I graduated from high school as a science major, while everyone was telling me I wasn't going to make it because my grades in math and physics weren't good enough - and to be honest, they were right about my grades (I discovered after high school I have dyscalculia), but hearing this made me angry, I refused to be switched to a literature major, and I managed somehow to get decent grades on the final exam.

I graduate from my bachelor degree in psychology with honors, even if, for some complicated reasons related to how university works here, I started directly in "year 2" while not knowing anything about psychology. It was quite a challenge to catch up.

I can totally handle 12h/day job if it's not too noisy. But sadly, a lot of place are too noisy for me to handle them more than 2 or 3 days in a row, no matter how long the days are.

Currently, I'm searching for an internship, in order to have more chance to be accepted in the only master degree specialized in trauma and dissociation of the country. My counselor at the social company I registered to be able to do internships is super-enthusiastic about my work, she is currently trying to push her superiors, so I could make a presentation about trauma and dissociation to other young adults the company is helping.

I was speaking two languages when I was young, my native one and the one from where I grew up since the age of 5 + learning English since the elementary school + Spanish since secondary school.
After moving and a decade without practicing, I've lost the language form where I grew up. But right now, I'm fluent in two languages, have almost a decent level in one (I don't practice enough), try to start learning another one, and have learned some notions of a fifth one by accident.

People usually see me as hard-working, very well organized, with a brain that never stops - and envy that. They can see I'm tired sometime, but they don't realize I'm tired all the time, or how much anxiety I have to deal with, how I have to always keep an eye inside to be sure everyone is okay and to reassure those who aren't, how many nights I/we don't sleep enough, how many times a week we have to deal with flashbacks, etc.

Most people who know me don't suspect how hard it is, not even my mom (and I still live with her), because most things happens when we're alone, or are hidden inside to not catch the attention of others. The very first time we had a panic attack in front of someone, it was few months ago, and it was in front of our SO, the only person on this earth who can make everyone in our system feels safe.

Until a year or two ago, we were used to pushing and forcing ourselves all the time, not checking if we were tired before doing something, because we were taught it's the only acceptable way to do our best. Now we know better and try to pay attention to our energy and our body, it leads to a complete absence of understanding from my family, specially my mom. When I say "I can do that today", I know we'll have to fight for the right of resting a bit.

So yeah, I can totally relate to the competition horse metaphor. And I really like it.
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Re: How does your life look very successful from the outside?

Postby Jolly jo » Fri Jul 30, 2021 9:09 pm

I’m just catching up on the forum and this thread took my eye. I find the dichotomy between appearances and reality very hard to bear. There are times when I would far rather give in to it all, be unemployed and live off benefits than have to put up the pretend reality .
I have a very Successful career, at the top end of my field, own my own house in a good area, have a very good relationship with my adult child and grandchikdren.
However, the facade is easily scratched and when I really thought no one could see through it all a few to years ago, i now look back and realise I was probably quite obviously struggling. These days I know I often cause people to rethink what they thought they knew or assumes about me. They might hear me mention an estranged child they had never heard me mention, wonder why they have never seen or heard me mention a single friend, that I only talk about my pets and that there doesn’t seem to be any other social linage to talk about. The list goes on.
I think there are aspects of my life that are very successful but the social side and my people skills let me down time and time again and I think people end up wondering about me. It’s hard trying to hide so much.
Diagnosed DID with a few other states.
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