Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Another personal entry. Skip this if you’re bored by such.

One of my friends– and I can’t remember who, but I suspect it was someone who reads this blog, so apologies for not naming you and please speak up if it was you– told me recently that sometimes, when it comes to romantic partners, we choose people who we know will trigger us in very specific ways. This sounds masochistic, at first, but there’s a kinder way to interpret it: as my friend said, we do this because we want to be challenged; we want to grow. So we look for someone whose presence in our life will push us to do that.

I can’t stop thinking about this. I keep finding myself tripping over anxieties and insecurities I didn’t even know existed, lately. Like, oh, huh– that upsets me. Why does it upset me? Is it new, or is it something that I’ve dealt with before? Is it an isolated thing or part of a bigger problem? Have I picked other partners who triggered it in the past? Why?

I don’t think of myself as an insecure person, in general. I try to find what I think is the middle ground between dissatisfaction and complacency, because I want to recognize what’s gone right in my life and be pleased about what I’ve achieved, but I also don’t want to get lazy and stop feeling inspired to change, or to improve my situation or myself. Sometimes, in my darker moments, I swing all the way over to feeling like a failure, feeling like a worthless person; this is sometimes a sign that depression is sneaking up on me. But not always. Sometimes it’s a sign that I’m getting better, that I’m on the cusp of some real growth or progress, as though I’ve just taken the first step on a long path and have suddenly realized how far I still have to go. It’s not quite the same as hitting rock bottom; it happens after I’ve already made the decision to move forward. It means I’m shaking things up.

And lately I feel like all of my insides are in a blender set to Liquify.

I’m re-examining everything at the moment, because I don’t trust my instincts or my reactions. I have to be careful. My head’s full of emotional landmines, and most of them were planted so long ago, and I’ve been ignoring them for so long, that I’ve completely forgotten where they are or how to avoid them. And now suddenly I’m in a situation that’s forcing me to move forward whether I want to or not. I don’t think that’s an accident. I think I’ve done it on purpose. But I can’t just blunder forward mindlessly and expect not to have things blow up in my face. I have to think, strategize; I have to remember where the landmines are, and defuse them, carefully, one by one.

But, really, it’s terrifying. It’s terrifying to have my own vulnerabilities and insecurities laid bare, and not just for me to see or just for me to deal with. Other people are not pawns in my personal growth; they’re not obligated to stick by me no matter how I act, no matter how I treat them, no matter how difficult I make things for them or for our relationship. Sometimes they might choose to, anyway, and maybe they’ll walk with me and hold my hand while I find and defuse those landmines. Or maybe not. Certainly some haven’t. One particular person who I dated several years ago and was deeply in love with broke up with me very suddenly, without ever telling me why. To this day I have no explanation other than the one that I’ve imagined because it just feels true to me: the whole thing was just too much for him. He loved me, but not enough. The landmines were too treacherous. I don’t necessarily mean to imply, by that, that I was wholly in the wrong and he in the right; he was fairly immature, and completely unable to deal with his own emotions in anything but the most superficial way. He was a fair-weather boyfriend and never would have been able to stick it out through any real difficulty, and I know this because he never made even the tiniest effort to talk to me about anything or to even acknowledge the problem, let alone fix it. But I also can’t avoid the reality: I’m really fucking difficult to be with, sometimes.

I’ve recently started keeping a private journal again, and I’m using that to work through most of this. I can’t post everything here, because some of it’s too personal. And there are some things I need to say only to myself so I know I’m completely free from any possibility of judgment. I just lay them out like some exotic species of insect that I’m examining under a microscope; when it’s just me, brutal honesty doesn’t feel all that painful. And sometimes I’m surprised by how kind I can be to myself. Things have happened to me, things that I had no say in and that happened when I was young, things that sometimes make it hard for me to trust people or to believe that they won’t disappear. I’m not totally whole or healthy now, no. I’m not perfectly secure with sky-high self-esteem and a rock-solid sense of my own worth as a human being. I’m on shaky ground, sometimes. And that’s not my fault. But I can change it, maybe, if I can untangle it first.

I’m still wondering, as I write this, if I’m going to have the guts to post it. I probably won’t actually know until I hit Publish. Part of me is thinking, come on, no one wants to read this crap. And the other part is thinking, wait, no– if someone else wrote this, I’d want to read it! It’s a huge relief, sometimes, to know you’re not the only one. And, realistically, I know that I’m far from the only woman tortured by doubt and insecurity; that’s how we’re raised, after all. I’m always amazed by how gendered self-confidence is. I know so many men who are just completely and utterly secure in themselves, including some who really shouldn’t be, some who could really stand to be taken down a peg, who never doubt themselves for a second even when it’s clear that they should. Women like that exist, too– I’ve known a few in my time– but they’re so rare, comparatively, or at least according to my own very scientific studies which I have based on my own very scientific anecdata. (Honestly, I could probably find some stats backing this up after a mere five minutes with Professor Google, but I sort of doubt that anyone reading this blog would challenge me on this point.)

Anyway. I think I’ll post this, as an act of defiance if nothing else. I don’t have to keep it all inside; I can be That Guy, who knows– knows!– that everything he says is something that should be heard by someone. Then I can go back to my self-doubt and my landmines. But for now I’ll tell myself, and believe, that I’m doing the right thing. Just so I know how that feels.


All the clouds have silver linings

Posted: March 20, 2010 in personal

And now for something more personal:

I think the depression’s coming back.

Sometimes when I stand outside, I can almost see this grey haze standing between me and the sun. My own personal raincloud. Just like those Zoloft commercials with the sad, sad blob, who discovers happiness through the perfect patented blend of SSRIs.

For me, depression isn’t about feeling sad. It’s true that I might be in tears more often than not, but it doesn’t feel like actual sadness. It feels like exhaustion and hopelessness. I don’t feel sharp pain; I feel numb. Things that would normally give me joy just feel dull and colorless and, most importantly, removed from me and my life. Like they’re happening to someone else I know fairly well but don’t talk to all that often.

The tears probably should have been a tipoff. I shouldn’t actually be going through a box of Kleenex a week. But I’d chalked it up to stress over relocating to a new state and starting a new job, to a lack of social support in my immediate area, to a romantic relationship which has been both incredibly fulfilling and also intensely stressful. And, granted, those are valid reasons to be feeling a little emotionally shaky; there’s a lot on this plate of mine at the moment. This could be depression of the situational variety.

Or not. Maybe it’s just the same old shit.

How I envy the well-adjusted and mentally healthy. What must it be like never to fear that your brain will turn on you? It’s a terrifying thing to experience, because depression speaks to you in a voice that sounds eerily rational. Persuasive. Reasonable. It uses logic and facts and has a comeback for every timid counterargument you can think to propose. And it’s single-mindedly focused on convincing you that you’re worthless.

Now that I’ve written it out, I’m noticing how similar depression is to being in an abusive relationship. Abusers spend quite a lot of time ensuring that their victims depend on and trust them, because it’s much easier to control someone you’ve broken down first.  And we humans seem to trust our own inner voices implicitly; we don’t question whether they have our best interests in mind. Even when your brain’s gone rogue and is trying to convince you to jump from a 15-story building, part of you still thinks that it really knows best.

I guess it’s hard to doubt the part of you that sounds sanest.

Fear not, my tiny readership. I am getting help, and I’m not about to do anything to harm myself. I’ve been through this before and I know how to deal with it. But I think part of dealing with it is admitting it, acknowledging the reality of it. Like finally admitting that your controlling partner is harming you and that you deserve better.

So, depression, fair warning: I’m on to you. Enjoy your residence in my head while it lasts. We’ve been here before and we may be here again, but each time I spot you a little more easily and I’m a little better at weeding you out.

I’ll win in the end. You’ll see.