It will get easier. Part of the reason I'm so constantly on edge, I think, is I haven't been owning my life. Ever, really, or at least for a long time. I had a therapist for a while, did I tell you that? Anyway, she spent a lot of time telling me that my mother was a bad person and that I was just like her, and that if I didn't do something about it I would become a bad person too. She didn't seem to have any advice on how to make my life better, or how to get what I wanted, or even how to figure out what I wanted, but she did want me to worry a lot less about whether I was making my mother happy and a lot more about whether I was making the men in my life happy. I stopped seeing her because I realized she was making me more mousey and passive-aggressive, and I was fighting more with my parents and less with men I dated but not getting any closer to what I wanted out of either set of relationships. I don't think I'm fixed, and my therapist made it clear I should not stop seeing her because I would just destroy my life, but I don't think having yet another view on what is wrong with me is much help.
I already know what is wrong with me, and it is not that I am a bad person. What is wrong is that I have spent far too little energy figuring out what I want and fighting for it, and consequently far too much energy getting upset at other people's attempts to do that. The reason I often feel sad and empty and become extremely upset over trivialities is that I never get what I want, and I never get what I want because I don't know what I want. Not knowing what I want means I drift. I do what other people - usually well-intentioned ones who care about me - tell me they think is best. They're usually not so terribly wrong that I'm forced to go against their advice, and doing what they tell me to do makes it easier for them to approve of me. It's nice to be approved of; I like it and so, I think, does everyone else. But being approved of - by your parents, or your peers, or your significant other - is not enough. It's not even the biggest thing, if you have other, bigger things. It's just a red herring, and continuing to strive for it keeps me from getting things I actually want, things that don't depend on other people changing their mind about what they want from me.
I've entertained the idea that maybe I just don't have a personality. The way my mother puts it is, maybe I will be unhappy no matter what I do. I suppose that is possible, but it is so unpleasant that it doesn't bear thinking about; anyway, it doesn't suggest a course of action, so there is no point in considering it. Just because I have desires doesn't mean I know exactly what they are, but that's okay. A lot of people don't seem to know what they want out of life. I think the important thing is to escape from the trap of always doing what other people think I should do. I am planning a big step in that direction, and that is a lot of what is stressing me out right now, because (a) it's a lot of work, and (b) it's fucking terrifying.
But I am going to do it. I am going to do it and then I will feel so much better, because I will wake up every morning in my own life. I hope that after a little bit of time of having my own life, and not someone else's life that they set up for me, I will lose the sense of anxiety that somewhere someone might not be approving of me, or might be thinking less of me than I am of them, or might have stopped caring about me. I will stop being so dependent on other people's opinions; I will stop analyzing everything people do and say to me, every time they say they will email or call and don't, every time they don't act the way I want them to act or give me the things I want them to give me, every time I think there is something they would do if they cared about me but didn't. It's not that those things won't bother me; I'm sure I will still care about people and they will still have the ability to hurt and upset me. But once I am living my own life and not a life that feels indentured, every little possible hurt will stop being such a life-or-death event.
My therapist used to say, in regards to anything anyone did that I didn't like, "it's not about you". This was a terribly upsetting thing for her to say, and totally unnecessary, because I am well aware that other people's lives are not about me. The problem is not that I think they are, or that I think they should be. The problem is that my life is about them. My life has always more or less revolved around the half-dozen people who were most important to me at a given time, so naturally the fact that their lives never seem to be nearly so dependent on me is upsetting. This is nobody's fault but my own, of course. And, when my life starts being my own, and when I start revolving around myself, I think I am going to feel so much better.