When I was around 12 I had an “epiphany”. If I have the same problem with person after person… it probably isn’t always their fault. As I have gotten older I have had many more life experiences. What I believe at this time is: there are types of people I will always have predictable bad experiences with and types of people I consistently have more positive experiences with. That doesn’t mean that people fall into one camp or the other 100% of the time, but people who have x, y, or z characteristics are more likely to develop problems like a, b, or c with me and people who are more like 1, 2, 3 tend to like me because of 4, 5, 6. After this pattern emerges enough times I no longer think the problems are all with me.
At 7 billion people we aren’t all unique snowflakes–you know? We are predictable if we find the right sample to be compared with.
There are people on this planet who genuinely cannot handle the way I emotionally process. That doesn’t mean I am wrong or bad for needing to process the way I need to. It just means I’m not compatible with those people and I should not try to have emotional experiences with them.
But I’m kind of stupid. I really want to bond with everyone on the whole planet. I lost out on making effective connections with my bio-family so I desperately want to keep everybody else.
One friend said at least the problem I was trying to address in a recent situation got addressed. Sigh. Sorta. Technically. Part of the problem was addressed. The other part of the problem I wanted to address was, how can I keep these people and find a way to get along? That part I completely failed on and it really bothers me.
“You like being that way.” Well, I like being able to pull out being scary when adult men are threatening me. I really wish it didn’t work out that I scared quite so many people.
I want people to think I am safe. More than that, I want to be safe. I want to have the most physically aggressive thing I do to people be bump into them when I don’t see them. I want all the physical pain I cause to be an accident that is acceptable to apologize for. I don’t want to accidentally hurt people a lot such that it can’t be apologized for. The only circumstances under which I want to hit people is if we are both over 30 years of age, my husband said it was ok, and they begged me a really lot to hit them and they told me exactly how they want to be hit. I think that is absolutely the limit of me being allowed to hit people.
I feel very sad that sometimes people don’t feel safe around me. That’s my problem. No one needs to make me feel better about that. My behavior scares people. Sometimes just the fact of my personhood (mental illness is not well thought of) is enough to cause people to fear. They don’t know what I could do so they feel scared. No one needs to make me feel better nor do people need to change their feelings. But man it’s shitty sometimes.
I have a powerful urge to hit. I haven’t struck someone in anger since middle school. Nope, I’m a liar. That was the last *fist fight* I got into. The last time I struck someone in anger was my fiancé when I was 18. I picked him up and threw him into a wall. And I moved out three weeks later. I didn’t want to stay and be that person in that dynamic.
I have beaten the shit out of people in consensual scenes since then. I have slapped adult men on the shoulders in “jest” since then but my husband broke me of that bad habit. I smacked Shanna’s foot one night when it was pitch black and pouring rain and she was viciously kicking the back of my seat in the car. I was afraid I was going to drive off the road. One of my brushes backward with my hand was harder than it should have been.
Once I kind of hit a student. She shoved me from behind and I turned around swinging. I didn’t even remotely “hurt” her because I realized what I was doing and I pulled the punch. I called her parents, sobbing, to apologize. Her dad said, “She probably deserved it” which I thought was a shitty reaction. Dude, defend your kid. That was when I was 23.
I am god damn rigorous about noting my slip ups. I am searching for a level of physical control that is a real stretch for me. It is super important that I get this right. I am not perfect. I’m doing so much better than I used to do.
But every single day that people spend near me they are taking a risk that I will lose control and hurt someone. I have rage issues. I have hitting-things-issues. I have impulse control issues.
I say that I “have” these things. I have punched and kicked holes in the wall in the past 10 years. The last one was after Calli was born, but nothing like that has happened in 2+ years. Pretty much after the last one Noah sat me down and said, “No more. Our kids are too big. Seeing you do that is traumatizing and you can’t do that again.” He’s right. I’m deeply grateful that I have a partner who watches me and cares about the effect of my behavior on our children.
Since that time period I have gotten a lot better about my self-care. I take a lot more time to rest than I used to take. I consciously prioritize taking care of my body and my mental health in ways I was completely incapable of doing during my 20’s.
At what point do I stop needing to be crucified for things I did when I was young?
I think that I am more willing to talk about scary things than other people. I’m not convinced I do more scary things at this point. I am not perfectly gentle. But I feel like I do pretty well.
I don’t think this is a gentle world and I don’t think I should be perfectly gentle with my kids. I don’t believe in corporal punishment, but I believe in rough housing. I believe in trying to learn to shrug off minor pain. Life hurts, kid. I believe in working through how to give and receive verbal boundaries and that means risking getting hurt.
It works out way more than when it screws up. And when it fails, we hug and apologize and try to do differently in the future. It isn’t the end of the world.
It is weird living with the safety of finally having three people who are truly stuck with me for decades if not forever. I don’t take anyone else for granted. Sarah, Jenny, Kira… I view all of those relationships as resting tenuously on my ability to not be a monster in front of them. Jenny has been with me for 21 years. When will I trust her? Maybe it will get easier when she has outlasted Brittney so that my only other comparison wasn’t still hanging over me like a threat. “People can only handle 30 years of you if they are really tough and they barely ever see you and know a very limited and filtered version of your life.” Otherwise… people don’t come anywhere near lasting that long with me.
For the record, I know I can’t put hurdles in front of people and ask them to jump. I have to instead trust people and just wait and see who sticks around. It’s fucking hard.
But Calli and Shanna and Noah are different. Short of some very significant fuck ups… I get to keep them. The kinds of fuck ups that will drive other people away will probably not be enough to drive them away. Biology and legal precedent and all that. They are a lot less likely to stop hanging out with me just because they don’t like my tone of voice. Given how I’m raising my children, if they have a problem with my tone of voice they will bloody well tell me. They will say, “Mom you sound really nasty. You should work on that.”
I’m not that worried about being mean to my adult children. I don’t think they will allow it. And I already love them for it. Oh man, today at dinner I teased Calli. She turned around and snarled, “I’ll teach you to mess with Calli!! Rawr!!!” It was awesome.
My feelings are big and it is sometimes hard for me to keep them hidden from other people. That makes me hard to be around for a lot of kinds of people. That’s not my fault and I don’t think it is something I should try to change. It’s ok for me to be like this. It takes all kinds.