One of the “symptoms” of there being something wrong, mood-wise, is that I’m being too quiet. Not responding to things at all, or in too flat a way.
One of the other “symptoms” is the opposite, of course– I overreact to stuff that does deserve some kind of reaction, but because of my formative personal bullshit, I can’t help but be loudmouthed and less than diplomatic about it. (Histrionic, even.)
The balance between not rocking the boat (and feeling stifled and hating myself for stifling myself and letting others stifle me, too) and blowing the boat out of the water by overreaction, because telling the truth as I know it, right now, still apparently seems to be too critical/disdainful/sarcastic/over-expectant of the rest of the world and therefore not fair.
I find it hard to really give a shit, much. I spent thirty five years mostly keeping my mouth shut and not asking for stuff, and all it did was make me miserable. I didn’t get what I wanted, I didn’t save or heal anyone. Even myself. All I did was make myself angry, and get increasingly furious at everyone else for not seeing how angry I was.
It would be nice to learn how to tell people to slow their roll when they’re triggering my stuff in a way that isn’t aggressive or critical or whatever confrontational and judgmental words my therapist’s using this week that make me feel like a bad person who needs to shut the fuck up. (And yes, I need to tell her that her choice of language is making me feel self-hateful. I need to talk to her about how it’s important that we discuss perception versus intention. I need to talk to her about how her vagueness bugs the shit out of me, because I feel like I’m answering wrong, and that can’t be right, because it’s my goddamned therapy. I haven’t gotten there yet.)
It would be nice to learn to not be triggered at all, to be more zen about stuff and not take things so personally, to just have fewer extraneous feelings in general– but I know that this is a hope, not an absolute likelihood, and that while there are some things I’ll find my zen about, some day, and therefore won’t overreact when someone hurts my (at last not too many) feelings, so that I can make the decision of whether to be diplomatic at all and say nothing, or find a clear way to say– “That bothered me, even if you didn’t intend it that way.”
My parental emotional modeling pinballed between silent sulking after explosive rages at whatever some other had done wrong to hurt, to perform badly, to reflect poorly, to just not do something timely, to fail to anticipate some unarticulated demand for something a child shouldn’t have had to ever have guessed. I understand that, on a theoretical basis. I resent the hell out of the fact that all criticism is inherently destructive to me because being valedictorian was a given and an A was greeted with “Why didn’t you get an A+?” I will probably never forgive that even though I was relieved as hell that my mother moved to California because she is exhausting even over the phone, the explicit reason she did it was because I wasn’t going to give her grandchildren. (Oh, yes she did.)
I know I need profuse recognition and thanks to a ridiculous degree– and that when it’s given, I don’t believe it, because it wasn’t given to me when I was small, and if the people who were supposed to love me before I ever could have fucked anything up didn’t love me, give me those things, then clearly, there’s some flaw in me that everyone else just hasn’t seen yet. I believe I am not worthy of love, because I couldn’t fix the people who should have loved be first, best, most. I can’t accept praise, because I am waiting for everyone to see whatever else will happen when the other shoe drops and I screw something up. And then I screw something up, because I can’t stand waiting, and I am so angry that they haven’t given me praise so far for not fucking up that I get depressed and angry and anxious and cease to function– and all the while, can’t just say “I need an attagirl for doing stupid, basic adult things today, please.”
(Although, I did try, with my husband. He thought it was stupid to need validation for accomplishing basic shit he himself was erratic at doing, and he didn’t/couldn’t hear the underlying message I couldn’t say/didn’t understand yet, which was that I was drowning and basic things were what kept my head above water. And he thought I was wrong to be angry about the things I was angry about, even never having experienced them for himself. I was angry for being told that my feelings were wrong and too much and that I was a bad person for thinking that way. I may have overreacted to his failure to empathize with me, but at least I tried to tell him, unlike my parents, who never fucking listened in the first place and still can’t hear me, and so we will always have distance between us because I am not going to try to bridge it. I will not get burnt trying to cross it again.)
I’ve been working my way around trying to figure out what to say, what to think, about this work thing. Because I opened my mouth about my boss not knowing her job, and now I’m being punished. Because I took a week’s vacation and the store went to shit. Because I came back and did what I always did, and now, of course, grapevine says for 2000, Alex, that the boss thinks I’m “doing better” which is either code for regretting getting into it with a lawyer who said “Fuck you, prove it, write it all down” and now she doesn’t have anything to write down, or she realized the place will burn down the minute I leave. (Clue, I am leaving, as soon as I can.)
I had a panic attack yesterday, pretty bad, brought on in the short term by my dad’s bitching at me about driving in the snow– because of course, I’m an idiot who crashes her cars on a regular basis and maims drivers on the road left and right and can’t shovel for shit. (Here’s a clue. No, to all of these things.) Of course, the panic attack in the long run was about two things. The first was about said boss’ silence/failure to give “feedback” now that I’d been back a few days and busted out projects the same way I always did and wondering whether I was going to walk into a shitstorm of “Hey, you still suck” today. (I didn’t, and she couldn’t even have the conversation about me doing a good job with me, either; it was held indirectly through her favorite lackey, instead, which lends credence to the hohfuck, what did I get myself into theory, and lends credence to my opinion that this is all punitive shit.)
Which doesn’t make me feel badly, in general principle, for saying she sucked at her job. Because it’s the truth. And she wouldn’t have heard it except bluntly. And she doesn’t intend to do anything about it, regardless, but I have no tolerance for people who prefer mediocrity to sharing information and developing people beneath them, and if that’s disdainful then, well, fine, it’s disdainful. She’s not a bad person, but she wants things her way. And I’m not trying to be mean, but I am trying to make things work the best way, and if the only way to get that message across is to be blunt, then if someone else interprets that as me being mean, well, it’s both our problems and it’s time for me to get the fuck out and find some coworkers who can handle the truth.
(I’m too idealistic. I know. Maybe I just need to start prefacing all my interviews and cover letters with “I’m radically honest” and see where it gets me.)
The second thing the panic attack was about was more complicated. It was anticipatory, because I didn’t send out any applications while on vacation, and have only heard back from a few places where I wouldn’t want to work anyway. I don’t know if it’s that my resume screams overqualified or boy is she burnt out or what, but the lack of responses to the dozen plus applications I’ve made has me feeling like– maybe my boss is right and I really do suck. Even though I know that I don’t, and not just because I have pride and work my ass off, but because when I walked back in the door on Sunday, everyone in the store who wasn’t manager-class had something to say about thank all-fuck that I was back.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t still feel hella anxious and procrastinatory about sending out more job applications, when I still have no idea what would be a good fit, I am on a deadline, I am still working my way back up to an effective dosage of meds, and other miscellaneous low level crap that all adds up to a heaping pile of hypervigilant crap to watch out for. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel panic at starting over and over and over again, and worry about taking the first half-decent offer, only to find myself in the position of needing to start all over again in another half-year or more.
All I can do is try and be obnoxiously loud about it to everyone, including me, from the start, and hope, over time, that I’ll learn to still say what I need, but just– pare it back to polite essentials. Not silent ones, though.