I do a lot of defining myself in negatives. I don’t just mean that I am derogatory towards myself. I mean that I think of myself in terms of, “I am not like _____; I do not do _____” It is one way of making yourself different. Not a useful way. It means that you are constantly placing how other people are as primary. I’m not like you. People take it as a rejection or as a negative statement about them. Going out and creating an identity without negatives is much harder. It takes tremendously more emotional and psychological energy to go create something from scratch rather than just reject everything that walks by as being “not you”.
I was asked how the party went. Well. Where in my stress cycle should I answer that question from? I think that most people had fun. I absent mindedly made a minor social faux pas early on and never stopped hearing in my head how stupid, rude, domineering and offensive I am. When everyone finally left I cried for hours because I felt so guilty for offending someone.
If you are going to move through life being an asshole but you cry every time someone lets you know that you are crossing their boundaries… you aren’t giving people a way to have a relationship with you that is not basically subservient. If I don’t want subservient relationships (I don’t) then I can’t keep doing this bullshit. It’s not ok to cause other people to feel guilty for having boundaries. They need to have them. I need to take my wrist slap and move on. That is the adult way to handle such things. That is how you have relationships.
This is why my therapist wants me to stop socializing for a while. I spend a lot of time examining all of my interactions with people and looking for reasons that person is very likely to walk away from knowing me any minute for a long list of good causes. I know that I push my luck every day and in every way. When will people be sick of my shit? I get that a lot. My paranoia is not baseless. Is it paranoia to watch for tornados in tornado country?
But the paranoia drives people away as surely and as quickly as if I was chasing them away with a fire hose.
On my last day of teaching English at the Hindu temple one of the kids brought up suicide. A kid from their school jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge last year. They are all still thinking about it. I talked to them about how hard it is to get help when you are mentally ill. It wears people out. They want you to hurry up and get better already so that you don’t inconvenience them. What do you do if you can’t just snap out of it and behave the way other people want? Either you can put up with being punished for being how you are or you do what you can do to get away from the pain. Sometimes that is suicide. Not that I know exactly why that girl jumped. There are as many reasons to do it as there are people who do it.
Walking on eggshells means trying to place someone else as the primary character in the story and not being sure what your lines are. “What do I say so that this delicate and sensitive individual is not upset?” Can’t be done. As soon as you are reacting from that place you have already assumed that offense is likely and just assuming that means that the offense is already communicated. Game over. You lose.
Sometimes people snap at my social faux pas because they are not feeling patient today but they feel patient on other days. I am probably similarly obnoxious on both days but the difference is not about me. If people try to pick their behavior towards me based on my mood they will mostly pick wrong. It drives me batshit. You can only act how you feel like acting. Faking it will make neither of us happy. And acting like you have already been kicked makes people want to kick you. Really hard.
Some days I am going to wander off and cry if someone blinks too hard in my direction. It isn’t about someone letting me know that I crossed a boundary. When I have been crying two, three, four hours a day for over a week… my emotional reaction is not about you and I’m sorry that I’m standing near you when it starts such that you will feel responsible. You aren’t. My feelings come from inside me. The kind of shame I feel isn’t something that people I know now put on me. It is about old tapes.
I don’t keep people in an ongoing way if they seriously shame me. I don’t fucking think so–I don’t need that crap.
I think very hard about every person who is in my life. If I invite you to my house (even if you think you are one of the casual people) I have spent many hours thinking about you. I have mulled over every piece of data I have ever acquired and I have carefully weighed it. I know you because I want to know you. I don’t have accidental friends any more. I have people in my life because I choose them out of a long list of ever rotating acquaintances.
I am mercenary. I do not see any benefit to being less than frank about this. I don’t pick my friends based on them being able to wait on me or do work for me or babysit or give me social status. I pick my friends based on them having character traits I desperately admire and want to be able to watch develop more closely. I don’t understand. I want to. Please let me stare at you until I understand.
I don’t think that most people in my life understand this. I want you near me because I want to figure out how and why you do _________. This is something I want to understand in this lifetime and I don’t know another way of accessing this information. I want to know why you want to do the things you want to do. I want access to your motivations. I’m trying to hack my own motivation system. What makes you do the things you do? It isn’t that I will use your motivation to do exactly the same thing as you, but clearly you have learned some neat tricks I don’t know.
I never really understand what I have to offer though. That end of the deal keeps me up at night. I see what I get out of knowing people. I see clear value. I don’t understand what I have to offer. I don’t understand why anyone bothers to know me. I don’t see how the unpleasantness of my company could possibly be balanced by anything I know or do.
I can understand that Shanna and Calli are tied to me. Children need their moms. I get that. I can certainly understand how Noah finds enough value in the trade. Past that… I don’t really get it. I think that is part of the reason I read as mean. I am sad and bitter that I have nothing that is worthy of trade for a relationship. I feel broken and angry about it. I don’t know how to build people up and make them feel happy about being themselves while standing next to me. I know how to make people feel angry and irritated and like they don’t want to stand next to me any more. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I do this a lot.
I can’t be perfect in order to not annoy people. I can only be. I have to accept the rebuffs when someone lets me know I am crossing a boundary without turning that into a federal case or people won’t feel comfortable communicating boundary incursions and they will just stop talking to me. No one likes drama. No one wants to feel guilty for having boundaries.
Not everything is about me, yo.
I woke up early because I have to get my crying over early before a busy day. Not many left before I hit “vacation” for a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to this. I need to get my stress levels down to the point where I am not crying for multiple hours a day as a way of avoiding beating the shit out of people.
I cry partially from frustration. I don’t know how to let the intensity of my emotions defuse without doing something. I used to cut. I like being beaten. I have punched holes in a lot more walls than I should admit. These days I feel like I live in a glass cage. If I hit anything it will break and I will be in a shower of shards. So I cry. And cry. And cry. I don’t know if it is healthier or not but it is certainly less violent. Progress?
See, this kind of thing is actually huge progress. I don’t know that I would give myself much credit for it without writing. I have progressed past hitting other people constantly to deal with my frustration through punching walls to crying. I have progressed past cutting myself into letting other people hit me in consensual and pre-agreed ways into crying. Progress, not perfection? I am moving in a less self-hating direction.
Now I cry over someone pointing out that I said something four times. (Which is annoying. I know.) You know… at least it is much better than my previous coping methods of hitting her or cutting myself would have been much more inappropriate. Both are ways that I would have dealt with that interaction in the past.
Most of my friends have social anxiety to some degree or another, I think this commonality increases their patience for me. But it means that some days my anxiety runs into their anxiety and then things just get worse. Neither can break the cycle. Awkward.
In my life the only thing I have found that really and truly breaks the stale mates and allows relationships to continue is time. If you both continue to spend time together despite acknowledging sometimes feeling awkward… you continue to have a relationship. Not every relationship is comfortable every moment. If you choose to have the relationship then you look for ways to spend time together even if it is kind of weird. Even if you do have some defensive conversations.
I need to get my stress levels down. It is a physical limitations thing. I can only monitor my social behavior so closely if I am doing a lot of major physical work. I have been using my body unusually hard for the past few weeks. The mural and the backyard work have both used a lot of muscles I’m not used to moving. They have both taken a lot of patience I didn’t actually have going spare.
I need to figure out what it means to do projects as a parent. I’m still not handling the energy allotment thing very well.
I feel scared a lot of the time because I can’t control what other people do and I am worried about driving people away from relationships with my children. I do not want to isolate them. But it seems pretty awful for me to expect people to put up with me being an asshole just so they can help take care of my kids when no one but me and Noah owes my kids anything.
My kids are neat. They will be more neat if they know people like you. You are neat. This is all stuff that floats around in my head making me vulnerable and scared all the time. I feel my children deserve relationships that I do not have or know how to create.
I don’t think my kids want to see their grandparents because they want to hurt me. I think that one or both of them will decline to go when they finally understand that I’m not going. I will do my best to not share how I feel about the trip. What they need to know is that they have grandparents who love them and a mom who loves them and their mom is very happy to help them pack and I will kiss them goodbye and tell them to have fun. That is more or less the end of the story in our house.
But I am still going to cry when they are gone. I am still going to be very sad that it has worked out that I just don’t get extended family this lifetime. I’m grateful that I managed to get a nuclear family thing. I get to be sad about this. I get to grieve about that. It doesn’t hurt my kids if I spend my alone time crying.
If I describe visiting their grandparents… I don’t have to sell it or try to make it sound fun in a fake way. When they go see their grandparents they need to remember a bathing suit because they have an indoor pool. They need to remember clothes appropriate for riding a horse because they have horses. Not to mention cows and I don’t know what other animals. There is a whole floor of a house that is just toys. You and your dad and your sister will stay on an apartment by yourselves and you will be able to go play with the toys probably anytime you want while you are visiting.
I mean, shit dude. I don’t talk about the people much or try to predict how the relationships will be. I don’t know these people. I say that her aunts and uncles all play music–maybe she should bring her uke so they can teach her cords.
I think my daughters are very lucky to have connection to a lot of rich, talented people. She should take advantage of the fact that she was born into that family. She should go meet the old Great Aunt who has traveled all over the world doing whatever the fuck she wanted for most of her life. She’s a neat lady. Maybe if she met Shanna and Calli she would be more enthusiastic about coming to California for visits. So far she is kind of lazy. I’ve asked.
My children will not have my story. My children will not grow up without a family. They have connections. My children have people in the world tracking them and caring. I am not going to do anything to make that network smaller than I have to. I cut my family off because I don’t think my family is going to stop passing on the incest without some kind of intervention I don’t know how to do. So I’m keeping my kids the fuck away from them. I feel very sad that this is required but it is. It just fucking is.
Whenever someone tells me that I should forgive my mother because she won’t live forever I see my adult nephew breaking down as he told me about his rape experiences. No. No. No. No. My children will be kept away from them. All of them. I don’t think it is their fault that it happened to them but we haven’t had someone avoid incest in a few generations. I’m keeping my kids away from all of them.
When people tell me to just “get over it” and “stop thinking about it” I think “That shit is why it keeps happening generation after generation.”
I think about my mom a lot. I miss her. It doesn’t help that my Leather Mom is going through a lot of strife and I’m not helping very much (partially because of my limitations partially because she is telling me no). My Leather Mom and my birth mother share a birthday. I find that thinking about one or the other of them brings up a lot of really strong feelings.
Why do I think about my mom so much? Because everyone else gets to talk to me about their moms all the time. It’s just normal conversation. So I think about my mom and try to stay silent. I feel bad. I feel like a dirty terrible person.
One of the last things my mother said to me was that she would kill herself if I took my kids away from her. I keep checking on the internet and she isn’t dead. I guess that is just one more broken promise.
Broken promises are a big thing right now. What does it mean to say, “I will do _____.”
Relationships are about choices. Sometimes they are uncomfortable. Often that discomfort comes from inside me and is about the fact that I am thinking three hundred painful things all while I’m trying to have a relationship. When I can get those three hundred thoughts under control and actually focus on the person in the room I am grateful to have that relationship. I am glad it is still there. But it feels like I’ve been phoning it in from somewhere else for a while. I never understand what benefit there is to other people in putting up with me.
I am scheduled to be at Dad’s for Thanksgiving. How long is this going to continue? I have had him in my life more or less for going on fourteen years. We have a fairly distant relationship but honestly I do better with those. I have a hard time with being good-enough when people are around more often. I am able to behave perfectly appropriately for my target audience when I only see people once or twice a year. I feel ashamed that I can’t keep up the game with people I see more.
It makes me wonder if I have my anxiety as under control as I think with my kids. Some of my recent frustrations have made me realize that I need to start writing names on the white board in our room. I don’t want to discuss my relationship fluctuations in front of the kids any more. Shanna is starting to sorta follow and have her emotions influenced. I’m having to do a lot of backpedaling and defending of people with her and that’s… awkward.
I don’t want my kids to share my emotional experiences of people. My children are having different experiences. My experiences are my problem. My experiences are distinctly shaped by having an anxiety disorder. I do not want my kids learning my emotional dysregulation. If they develop their own later I don’t want it to be clearly my fault.
This is part of what I like about Unschooling. I have to pay attention to what I am doing, all DBT like. I have a bad habit of loving and hating people. My kids don’t need to hear about it. I don’t need to teach them to obsessively over analyze every conversation before and after it happens. So far they seem pretty good at talking to people.
I went to a book club meeting yesterday. I need to update my reading list, I’ve added three or four. Book club always turns into a small scale therapy/support group. I find it interesting how the folks who are consistent are unschoolers who come from abusive backgrounds. Other folks come and go. Not that I’m consistent enough to actually say that. Maybe my few attendance points are flukes. I should probably keep that up. My therapist wants me going out and doing stuff without my family. Book club is not terribly threatening. Most of the places I would choose to go involve fending off sexual advances and I’m not in the mood.
What the hell else do people do?