One thing that struck me on my last chat with my therapist. She said, “It isn’t surprising to me that you do so well with other disabled people. They have had to learn how to set boundaries and they are comfortable with you having boundaries.”
Yes. Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES. That.
I like doing a lot of reflecting on my behavior and the people around me. I’m trying to slowly, over time, change my behavior and that means paying attention to how things are going. I can’t lie to myself or I can’t get better.
On this trip I have stayed in the homes of twelve friends. Of them, the only ones I had problems with… were the people who have no specific listed disability. Sometimes those problems are MINE and just consist of me crying and feeling anxious as I deal with someone. I have a hard time with Blacksheep sometimes because I am completely paranoid that somehow I am going to offend the fuck out of her and she will go postal and hate my guts forever. So I feel a lot of anxiety around her but we had no negative interactions. We talked about how we are trying to replace the negative inside voice I hear for her with a more positive voice because really she’s not a negative person. But I’m scared shitless that I’m going to fuck this one up so I don’t calm down very well and it’s hard.
Ok, Blacksheep is the one with no diagnosed disability that I’m aware of that I had small problems with that were clearly all in my deluded little head. I see that.
The other folks I had a hard time with… I don’t think it is just me in the same way that it clearly is all me with Blacksheep. These other people engaged in behavior that… was problematic or triggering and it isn’t just me who would have a hard time.
I can name thousands of women who would go off like a roman candle if you told them that women stay in domestic violence situations because they are “poisoned by their estrogen” so I don’t think it is ALL ME having the problems.
I’m trying to figure out how much I’m being ridiculous and how much I’m having a predictable and acceptable range of reactions to a variety of stimuli. No one gets along in 100% of situations.
I do very well in poor households and rather badly in wealthy households. In poor households they appreciate that I show up and do not dump work on them. They appreciate that I try to be a help and not a burden. I show up in rich houses and they actually rebuke me because I am not… I don’t know… demanding enough? I got told it is offensive to offer to do dishes after someone cooks for me.
Well, maybe to you.
A year or more ago I talked to some friends at home about “guest” behavior and we had an interesting discussion. They noted out loud that other people don’t put as much effort into hosting as they do and that is something they were trying to decide how they felt about. I put it into context to them. They host approximately 1-3 people every other month. That’s it. Rarely do they have a month where they host 5 people in a month. In contrast, we regularly have 10-30 people over a week.
I can’t put the same effort into people that they do. I can’t. It literally isn’t physically possible.
Everything is relative.
This was floating through my head because my shrink asked me why I think I handle people who are disabled so well because normally it is hard for folks to adjust.
(This was asked after I relayed the series of “rules” a friend has. She has OCD. I don’t say OCD when I’m being cute and trying to say someone is a neat freak. OCD is a debilitating condition that severely interrupts lives. OCD is not a joke and it isn’t funny. It can be really sad and hard. I’ve had many friends who literally couldn’t leave their house for extended periods because they couldn’t stop turning the light switch on and off. That’s not a game. That’s super hard.)
So anyway my shrink initially laughed when I said my friend had OCD and I said, “Don’t laugh. I ain’t playing.” She asked for clarification. I started to explain the layers of rules around “This cloth is for this kind of mess on this surface and that kind of cloth is for that kind of mess on this surface and…..” There were at least seven types of cloth I was introduced to for a less than 48 hour visit. They all have very specific uses and purposes and cross-using is NOT OK.
My response to this was, “Excellent! You have a system! Please explain it to me so I can be correct in your system.”
My friend was very happy to have me over.
My shrink says, “That right there. That is what you do. You act like people are ok how they are. Do you know how rare that experience is in the lives of people with severe mental illness?”
Well, I don’t think the piles of cloth are harder to learn than the computer shit my friends babble at me and I have to develop enough of a lexicon to deal with them. Why isn’t OCD worth just as much effort?
Why shouldn’t I care about my friends OCD the same way I care about my other friends having musical or color or texture or food preferences? People are people. They take work to learn and that’s ok.
We are all different. Thank you for being different from me. You teach me about you and about me.
I just had a thought but it feels really judgmental.
I do well with people who don’t act like they are “all right” and I’m broken. I do well with people who think they are kinda fucked up and I’m kinda fucked up and together we can find a way.
The problem with Blacksheep is that she presents an aura of “I’m alright” but when you talk to her in detail you find out that she knows reality. She isn’t full of shit. (That’s why I keep her and keep fighting through this fucking anxiety. Some day I won’t feel intimidated I’ll just feel ok.)
I’m not even mad at the folks I had actual confrontations with. I’m trying to figure out how I want to manage things differently in the future, or even if I do.
I think I handled the dude who told me DV is from estrogen poisoning well. I argued until he shut up on that topic. When I hit done I left his house. I never called him a name and I didn’t start screaming profanity. That was handled as well as I’m going to handle such things. *pat self on back*
I want to get better with Blacksheep. I want to get better about the friend who told me over and over how scary I was while also not being willing to hear a soft “no”.
I think that the next time some dude calls me stupid I won’t wait 24 hours to process I’ll just stop mid-stride and say, “Well this won’t work out. Bye!”
But I think leaving in 24 hours and not starting a fight was still good. I’m proud of me.
So I’m not where I want to be. I want to have better sensors on what is “safe” and what is “unsafe” and I want to have more security in myself that my instant reactions are “ok”.
Which means I need to stop feeling so anxious about Blacksheep. That’s not the right reaction.
I’m working on it. My anxiety goes up and down over the years and I keep coming back.
I will get where I want to be.
I think that part of the reason my Lizard brain freaks out about Blacksheep is the same reason I worry about DSH and J and T and and.
They are independent, strong, fierce women and I admire them so much that I’m afraid they are going to find out “the truth” about me and they will hate me/shun me. I don’t conform to being like them and that screams danger to my Lizard brain.
I’m not saying these laudable women want me to conform to being like them. I think they like me how I am. This is my Lizard brain, which ain’t exactly known for being “rational”.
Men are different. I don’t feel like I need to conform to their behavior in the same way. I just… don’t. I believe I should emulate the wonderful women I know because they are all better than me anyway.
What do I mean by “better”?
I don’t even fucking know. I could go down the list of these people and say, “Are they better at handling money? Sex? Relationships? Mothering? Jobs? Reading? Writing? ETC” and come up with a whole spectrum of answers some being worlds better than me, some being on par with me and in some areas… I do excel. I am good at some things in ways that others aren’t.
I can read faster than almost anyone I’ve ever met. Whoopdie fucking do.
Clearly I don’t think my “worth” or their “worth” is based on these factors. But I still feel this shaking sickness in my belly because I’m wrong and they are right and I am going to be killed for not conforming.
Do I think Blacksheep wants me dead? Oh good grief no. No no no no. She likes me a lot and she has demonstrated that through words, actions, time spent, and money spent on stuff that wasn’t “for her”. That woman has absolutely proven her devotion over more than a decade. I still flip out around her. She is so strong and I don’t feel like I am.
Which is funny and stupid at the same time. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t think she is “stronger” than me across the board. Yes, she is intensely superior at sports she has trained at for decades. Physically she is stronger. Duh.
I’m not sure how that translates into personhood though. I’m not saying I think she is actually a weak person masquerading… I’m saying I need to deal with my fucking feels.
I want to change this reaction.
Blacksheep is kinda like Jenny for me. Not exactly the same, but similar in terms of how much energetic response I have from just thinking of their names. These are women I’ve decided are Important. And I don’t know what that means. I have a poorly defined understanding of what our future together will look like so I feel intense anxiety.
I don’t feel as anxious about some other people, like Sarah or Kira, I think because I have a neater and tidier imagining about the future. I’m not sure I will be right but I have more of a comfortable imagined future going on.
If I’m really honest I suspect that a small piece is I see what I have to offer Sarah and Kira. I really don’t see what Blacksheep or Jenny get out of knowing me. I don’t see how I support them the way they support me. I do see how I sometimes support Kira or Sarah. I see specific exchanges that happen. Some of them are purely emotional, but they are clear to me anyway. I see the back and forth.
I sometimes kinda feel like a vampire when I talk to Blacksheep or Jenny. I want all of their attention and energy. Give it to me me me me me me and I’m not sure I’m as good about paying attention to them. I try like fuck. I don’t know though.
IT IS ALL SO COMPLICATED AND I’D LIKE A VACATION FROM MY FEELS, PLEASE.
I’d give just about anything for a day of feeling…. nothing. I’d like a vacation from feeling.
I’m so tired.