Two realities

Yesterday the cookie exchange was rad. I had a great time. Only two families showed up so I got to have lots of real talking time with the moms. Yay! And they accidentally staggered arrival so I got one hour alone with each family. That was really nice too.

Something that is still sticking in my head is about the conversation where one mom (a blog reader) expressed that has a hard time seeing me interact with people in person sometimes because I seem to be lying. I will type for hours about how depressed and shitty I’m doing and then come to the park and say everything is “great”. This dichotomy seems like lying to her. (Very reasonable association.)

I told her it isn’t lying. It is accurately representing the two parallel realities I live in. It is kind of confusing sometimes. There is the simple and literal reality I live with: I have mental illness and often I will be able to say that my life is really shitty and I don’t feel even remotely “ok”. But there is the parallel reality that right now people are nicer to me than they’ve ever been. I’m more stable than I’ve ever been. I’m more loved than I have ever experienced. I am doing great.

Sometimes it is hard for me to live with this dichotomy. I am doing shitty and great at the same time. Neither is lying. Neither negates the other reality.

But if I spent a lot more time verbally telling people about the shitty parts I would rapidly find that my life went back to how it used to be. People would want to talk to me less. I would not have as firm of support.

If I told strange moms at the park all about my mental illness there would be backlash. Period. If people wade through the blog, then they are almost certainly capable of being supportive. They have already invested a lot of time in my stories and they are more likely to give me slack. People who have no patience for the blog in general have no patience for me. I know that if I want them to be nice/polite to me I have to maintain a front they can handle interacting with. That means “everything is great”. Whether it is or isn’t.

Paul Graham’s essay on “Mean People Fail” (not linking to it because I did yesterday and his writing isn’t that good) kind of relates. I have to maintain a front that people want to interact with or I will fail.

If I talk about my problems without respecting the fact that most people don’t care then I will be seen as mean. I will fail socially and it will be “all my fault” because I don’t have “appropriate boundaries”.

Sometimes I think that the best thing that happened to me was going to 25 schools so I could test a lot of social approaches without truly having to bear the long-term consequences of being shunned. I’ve been shunned in a lot of places. Whatever. I’ll move on. There are freaks somewhere who like me. I don’t think I would be capable of being as resilient as I am if I hadn’t had to learn.

I try to talk to my kids about this and it is hard to find the words. I can be having a basically good day and feel happy about it and have this simultaneous terrible day where I am angry and hateful and I want to go break a big pile of dishes. Living with both contradictory emotions is just my life. I don’t have many unmixed feelings.

“I’m not acting snippy or angry because of you. I’m really sorry that will slip out. That’s about other chemicals in my brain being wacky and I will try as hard as I can to sit on it. If I sound nasty, feel free to tell me and I’ll try to soften. You don’t deserve a single nasty syllable and I’m sorry they live in me.”

I cancelled the woo doctor for this week. All of my downtime lately has been driving around to doctors so I can feel worse. I need a baby-sitting session where I’m not frantically cleaning or going to a doctor to feel worse. I will be seeing Mockingjay 1 at the 9:30 showing. I read the trilogy this week. I’m very interested in seeing the first part of the third movie.

I think it is funny that my adult friendships have been kind of rocky lately but my relationships with former students are blossoming. Several of them have done their occasional “pop out of the woodwork” thing. See, two realities. I feel continually shocked by how many students think it is worth their effort to hunt me down to talk to me. They miss me when they don’t talk to me for a while.

I shouldn’t even say all of my adult relationships are rocky, only a few. I’ve had two long-term friends tell me that they have very specifically kept me in their life because I make them want to be a better person. That blows me away. Funnily enough, both of the two who said that happen to live in Tennessee right now. Maybe I’m easier to bear with a lot of distance? One is a friend from middle school. I don’t drive everyone away.

Thank you. I keep trying because of the people in my life. The people who show me day after day who I want to be and how I want to live.

A very wise woman once told me, “Friends come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime and you won’t find out until you die who is in which category.”

When I am across the board doing well, I can sit lightly on my paranoia about everyone leaving–about everyone ceasing their love for me. Sometimes I’m capable of mostly merging the two realities and telling myself that the people who leave (now) are doing so for complex reasons and they usually aren’t about me. People who leave my life now aren’t usually rejecting me. They are losing focus on me because they are entrenched with what is right in front of them.

I don’t go put myself right in front of people much. They have to come looking for me. That means I’m going to lose a lot of people. That has to be ok or I have to change my approach.

I feel like part of what I have learned is how to step back and not force people to deal with me. I have become a much better wallflower. As a woman, the older I get the more I will be relegated to such a role anyway. I’m no longer hunting so there isn’t much reason to talk to me for lots of people. Not everyone.

I’m kind of shocked by how many people are happy with platonic relationships, actually. When I was younger I didn’t believe it. I probably actually alienated a lot of people by pushing sexuality on relationships where it wasn’t actually wanted.

Ok, time to go update the poop book. Ugh.

7 thoughts on “Two realities

  1. Michelle

    I totally get that about dual realities. That happens to me most often when I have a really good day but my pain is really bad , or if I’m having a lot of PTSD symptoms but managing it by happily avoiding people. Sometimes I think of my deep well of rage and anger as a third reality too.

    I don’t think you are easier or worse with distance, but distance does change things. I do worry some about not living up to your expectations when I move back out there, but I want to try my best! I have found since moving out here, some of my closest friends from California kind of faded back (I am hoping that is temporary), and other people have come out of the woodwork and we talk all the time even though we weren’t that close before. I think it ties back to the dual reality thing…most of my friends were more comfortable with one reality or the other, but not both/all. Some people that were kind of prickly and acted threatened by me before are much better friends now that the main way we interact is my angsty writing. The other people who can’t handle my bad days and only wanted to be around me if I was dressed up and smiling are no big loss out of my life. It’s the folks who are more in between who are a bigger struggle for me…friends who really do care but get that deer in headlights look if I talk about any trauma.

    I don’t think I realized you had another friend out here, what part of TN?

    And there’s many other reasons I am glad to have you as a friend, not just that one. 🙂

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      I suspect that when you live in California we will spend 0-15 more hours/year together. I don’t honestly think we will dramatically increase our face-to-face time which does a lot to curb my expectations issues.

      She lives in Nashville. 🙂 She’s a friend from junior high. I have pictures of her 13th birthday.

      Yay friendship!

  2. P.

    Part of your (and Noah’s) vocabulary that I’ve picked up is “How’s being you?”. To me, it invites a more involved answer – I tend to use it when I want to hear a more in-depth answer than the more greeting-like “how are you”. (I have 4 equivalence classes of responses to “how are you”, all of which can be interpreted as positive.)

    I exclusively have platonic relationships. I firmly believe that romantic/sexual relationships are for people more [adjective] than me. I’m constantly fascinated that you think people leave you while you have multiple multi-decade friendships with people that will go out of their way to see you. It makes me wonder what you think is normative.

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      I think people leave me because my mother, my father, my sister, my brothers, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, and a very large number of friends have left. They will never speak to me again.

      That means I don’t really know how to “scale” the more temporary “friendships” in my life. My baseline is everyone leaving.

      1. P.

        Oooh. That makes sense. My birth family are the only people I expect to keep. (There are 2 people outside of my family that I’ve known for over a decade and interact with at least annually.)

Comments are closed.