Friday, March 26, 2010

Notes from 2010: November 19, 1998.

Minor Trigger Alert: The "acting" I refer to is, I'm pretty sure, cutting. I don't know why I still got skittish about saying it outright, after I'd mentioned it in at least one other entry. Notice how I separate it as somehow less fucked up than chemical addictions. I was still in the "I can stop when I choose to" mindset at this point. If only.

From the context, this entry is talking about my mother, and how I felt like she shut me down whenever I would try to tell her how bad I was feeling. From present tense, I can't say how much those feelings were legitimate, and how much I was overreacting. I do think it was a mix of the two. My mother does tend to shy away from conflict. And while I probably took her unwillingness to discuss how depressed I was feeling a bit too much to heart, to this day she does tend to forget that I was once suicidal--in part because I never told her much about it until after the feelings had passed, and in part because she simply can't stand to know that I considered killing myself. And I think that her need to not know, understandable as it is, played into her reaction at the time, when I would try to tell her how shitty I was feeling.

This is the first post where I say outright that I'm starting to feel like I'd rather not be alive, though I don't totally go there yet. But by this point it's on my mind, despite the fact that I claim later on that I don't hate myself. I was already more than halfway to full-blown self-loathing, if I wasn't already there.

"Ne" means "right" in Japanese. I use that in multiple entries.

The improv class I reference was an after-school thing I was trying at the time, run by a local theatre group, and I was feeling like epic fail. Instead of managing to be a whole different (read: super-outgoing) person and make friends in a group where I didn't know anyone--as I always hoped would happen--I was, as always, left feeling like the weird, shy, excessively quiet one who no one liked, and who everyone wished would just go away. I still suck ass at improv--not the most fun for someone who naturally needs time to think before they speak--so it probably wasn't the best choice of extracurricular, especially since I felt acutely uncomfortable and like an outcast in my day-to-day life. Sad to say, the improv class only exacerbated those feelings, and I didn't manage to make a real connection with anyone there, which made me feel all the more like a loser who would never "make a friend to save my life."

For the record, I have actually had people (to my face) interpret my shyness as me being stuck up, stupid, rude or aloof, all of which killed me when I was trying so, so hard to please and to be what I thought other people wanted me to be. I've also been called laid back, which never fails to amaze me, since it's the polar opposite of how I feel inside. I'm pretty much cool with the misinterpretations these days. It can still be irritating sometimes, in an eye-roll kind of way, but it doesn't fuck with my sense of self anymore. I'm mostly comfortable with being a shy person, and it's interesting how different people read that trait. Sometimes people even get it right.

One trait that has stuck with me is the tendency to read others' interpretations of me more negatively than they actually are. This isn't unusual for very shy people. Even today, I assume too easily that someone's had a negative reaction to me when they haven't, or a stronger negative reaction than they realistically have. Knowing that I tend to think that way helps me mitigate my negative mind-reading. But since I can't exactly ask most people "so, how much of a loser do you really think I am?" it can still sometimes be hard to gauge how much is misinterpretation on my part, and how much is real negative reaction on theirs. But at least I don't assume most people can't stand me anymore. That makes it a lot easier not to hate myself.

Near the end of the entry, I talk about finding a group of friends I fit in with, who care deeply about me. I was a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and there was nothing I wanted more than a family of friends like the Buffy/Xander/Willow/Giles quartet on the show. And if I'm completely honest, that's still something I want more than almost anything else--and have yet to find. I'd love to think it's still possible, but part of me thinks it's my version of the "one true love" myth: something that pop culture assures me can exist, is attainable, but that almost never happens in the real world.


  1. I was painfully shy as a kid, not by high school, but in grammar school & junior high, and was also mistaken for "stuck up."

    Much to my chagrin, years later I met a girl who I pegged as "stuck up," until I learned more about her and realized she was just painfully shy. I was horrified that I'd classified her the same way I'd been classified.

    But yeah, it's not just you. And someday you might be on the other side of it.

  2. You know, I've always wondered if I've done that to someone else: assumed they were stuck up or rude when they were actually just very shy. Like you, I feel like I should hold myself to a higher standard since I know what it's like from the inside--but I wouldn't be surprised if I'd made the same mistake with someone at some point. I think it really is a very easy thing to misread.

    Thankfully, while I do still consider myself basically shy, the "painfully" part doesn't (usually) apply anymore. Moving past that does make life a lot easier, doesn't it?

  3. Oh, yes. Keep going with that. I can still be quiet here & there, but mostly I've actually gone toward the other extreme, and people who meet me now don't believe I was ever quiet.

    I think, though, having the introverted background actually gives us some character and depth we wouldn't otherwise have had. We're an amalgam of everything we've experienced.

    Maybe you never really get "past" it, per se, but you can use it. I wasn't self-destructive as a kid, like you were, but I was bullied mercilessly.

    I ended up a lawyer - advocating for others. Think there might be a connection? ;-)