How do you take back control of your brain? I took the step to disable my Facebook account a couple of days ago, and as I discussed in my last post, I’m taking a break from Boo too. It’s been a pretty interesting learning experience, even though it’s only been a few days.
I see many of the emotions I’ve been attributing to my “relationship” with Boo are still there and maybe aren’t really about Boo. In fact, some of those feelings seem to be intensified since he’s not there to run to. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety and anger for some reason, not about Boo, but in general, since I’ve cut off my contact with him.
It feels like my meds need to be adjusted, but I can’t just keep on increasing my meds every six months. At some point I need to ferret out the reasons I’m feeling all these things and deal with them.
It’s interesting to see how often in the last week I’ve finally recognized my reflex to contact Boo when I’m feeling any negative emotions. I’m not sure if that is just what you do when someone is your friend, or if I’ve been using him as a crutch to try to smooth over my other feelings. The irony of reaching out to him for comfort and reassurance is, sometimes he makes me feel wonderful, but other times he makes me feel like hell because I don’t get as much attention as I crave from him or the answers I want to hear. So reaching out to him is really a crap shoot emotionally.
My day and a half away from Facebook has been enlightening as well. I initially stepped away because the sheer volume of virtual noise was making my head swim. But at the same time I couldn’t quit my incessant habit of reading or posting. After I deactivated my account, it didn’t take long to realize how much of my life I’ve been living “performing” for Facebook. Every thought I have I think about how it would play on Facebook and how I could word it just right for the maximum laughs or strongest impact. Everything I read I consider whether I should share it on Facebook and how that share would shape my image to my friends and acquaintances there.
I’ve lost the ability to just live and experience things within myself. I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time using Facebook to seek attention and approval. And frankly, that’s been a pretty positive thing for my self-esteem, but I need to learn to have an unexpressed thought. I need to be able to look at a sunset and think, “Wow. That’s beautiful!,” instead of “Let me run get my phone so I can take a picture and post this on Facebook so everyone can see how much I’m appreciating this sunset!” I need to find approval within myself and focus my mind more narrowly. I’ve been like a yard sprinkler, spewing forth every thought in every direction. Like turning to Boo when I’m anxious or bored or sad, I’ve been using Facebook so I don’t have to look at me.
The Facebook break has been a good step. It’s helped calm my brain and helped me concentrate on myself. The Boo break is still hard. I miss him. But at least I don’t find myself pining for him nearly as often.
I can see how I’ve been using Boo and Facebook to help tamp down and cover up my feelings. I’m using both of them just like I drank. I’m trying to find something to soothe my mind and make me happier and funnier and more clever and more accepted and more loved.
What’s counterintuitive is that although I reach out for and crave acceptance and attention virtually, when anybody reaches out to actually give me that in the real world, I totally reject them. I push them away, ignore them. I become avoidant and isolate myself. What is THAT dichotomy all about?
The question now is how to figure out why I’m sad and angry and anxious. Why do I need so much external affirmation, yet run away from it at the same time? Why do I not have more self-confidence when I actually do realize that I’m smart and funny and fun and kind and have a nice waist to hip ratio.
Why am I not tougher and stronger? Why can’t I be the badass I really want to be?
As crushing as my anxiety and depression became last summer, it still felt like something that happened to other people on a regular basis. I clearly needed help, but it never felt like something that marked me. But now I feel like I’m really crazy.
I spent my time at the therapist Wednesday talking about how I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking about Boo. What did it mean when he said this? Should I say that? Has he texted me? Should I text him? When we talk about sex, that means he wants to have sex with me, right? Where is he in this relationship? How awesome was it when we hung out and ran and had breakfast Saturday? Why does he open up to me and then push me away? My brain constantly whirring and imagining and worrying and celebrating and mourning, even when I desperately just wanted to rest my mind and watch “Andy Griffith” and eat Pop Tarts.
I thought everybody was like this at the start of a relationship. I just wanted my therapist to help talk me through some of the anxiety. Instead she looked at me like she was very concerned, asked me if I was still cutting and told me as soon as I left there I needed to call my psychiatrist and make an appointment as soon as I could to talk about more medication. “Tell him exactly what you told me,” she said. Apparently everybody ISN’T like this. Apparently I’m obsessive.
I started looking back through my life and I have obsessed for long periods of time about:
- My high school church youth director
- The first guy I slept with AFTER we slept together
- A guy who taught some training classes I took, who I wound up propositioning
- Star Trek
- Ron Dittemore/The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster
- David Tennant/Dr. Who
Obsession has clearly been my pattern. I realized it. And then I felt irreparably insane.
Sure. Everybody gets depressed. But now I’m just bat shit crazy. Mentally ill. Off my fucking rocker. How can I ever live my life or have a relationship with a man if I’m not normal, if my brain doesn’t work right? This feels like being broken, wrong, damaged, worthless, irredeemable. I feel like I should quit trying. I can’t get this right.
And when I talked to Boo last night, it turns out he’s not my boo. Mixed signals. Misunderstandings. Wishful thinking. False expectations. Stupid girl. Stupid, stupid girl. Stupid, stupid broken girl.
I cannot get this thing right. I can’t make it work. It is the thing I crave the most and yet it is the most elusive element in my life.
Oh. I could find any old boyfriend. But I’m kind of picky. That’s one of the reasons there haven’t been many relationships. I’m interested in good men, smart men, funny men, gainfully employed men. The other big reason is men are not romantically attracted to me. And when there’s the slightest hint that a relationship might be growing, I lose my fucking mind and scare him off. I can’t help it. When I feel things, I feel them intensely. So if I’m excited and hopeful, I’m REALLY excited. I can be a lot. And I can be needy. And anxious. And self-conscious. And just too, too much.
Therapists say that people who were sexually molested as young people often are stuck at that age as they attempt to engage in relationships later. Maybe at that age we just turn off our sexual development and maturity to stay in control and feel some kind of safety. I don’t know if that’s true, but the math works for me. I was 14 the last time I was sexually abused and I act about like a 14 year old in budding relationships. I bake cookies. I send text messages with little ❤ hearts. I give handmade Valentines with smiling hearts and x’s and o’s. I’ve never learned to play the games you’re supposed to play. I’m just nice and sweet. I’ve never learned how to keep my mouth shut and keep my feelings to myself. All I know how to do is tell him how I feel and what I think. And that never, ever, ever turns out well.
I’m not really asking for too much, I think. But maybe I ask for too much emotionally. I don’t know. I just want an exclusive boyfriend to hang out with, to go out and do fun stuff with. I want someone who will listen and hear and remember the important things I say. I want a man who can communicate with me. I want a man who can be honest with me. I want a man to be sweet to me and surprise me and make me feel special. I want a man to hold my hand. I want a man to hold me. I want a man to kiss me. I want a man to make love with me. I want a man I can rest with and be myself. I want a man to tell me, “Relax now. Rest here with me. You are enough.”
But instead these are the things I hear and the things I “hear.”
I’m not in the same place you are. (Goddamn, you’re needy!)
It’s not you, it’s me. (It’s you.)
You are awesome! (But you’re not pretty.)
I should be chasing you. (But I’m not.)
Do you know how incredible you are? (But you look like a boy.)
You are a good person. (But you’re not enough.)
Is there anything more exciting and yet more excrutiating than those first hesitant and hopeful steps into a relationship? It’s so breathtaking! The getting to know each other. The tentative first hours together. The sometimes awkward small-talk because you don’t really know each other yet. The titillating flirting. The late night texting. The will he or won’t he. The heart racing anticipation, but at the same time, the constant dread of humiliation.
It’s a treacherous obstacle course of anxiety, insecurity and impatience. How’s my hair? How’s my ass? Why must I have these stretch marks on my hips? Why can I not carry on a conversation that’s not awkward and nervous? Am I cute enough? Am I womanly enough? Am I too much of a tomboy to be desirable? When’s he going to make his move? Should I make a move? What if nobody makes a move?!? Should I start going to therapy more than once a week? Should I play hard to get? Should I be more aggressive? Should I be inscrutable? Should I be an open book? Should I share my feelings? Should I play it cool? Should I be one of the boys? Should I grow my hair out? Should I cuss less? Should I cuss more? Should I act sweet and innocent? Should I be dirty and suggestive?
Have I texted too much? Should I have kept that freak out to myself? Oh my God! He thinks I’m insane! He took me to breakfast before he went to the airport! He must like me! I haven’t heard from him in six hours! He must hate me! Oh my God! I think I’m insane!
What does he want? What do I want? Should I increase my Paxil dosage to 40mg a day? How do you keep God in a grown-up relationship without being boring and prudish? Do you tell him he’s cute? Is that emasculating to a grown man? Do you tell him he’s super hot? Is that slutty of a grown woman? What if he doesn’t like me? What if he does?!?
Lord, it’s so hard. I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel like I’m twelve years old. Wasn’t that really easier? “Do you like me? Check ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
I don’t want to get hurt again. My heart has literally ached from disappointment. But I can’t build anything with somebody unless I risk the pain. It’s so scary. It triggers every bit of insecurity and anxiety and fear and neediness I have inside me. Can I try again? Every disappointment cuts deeper than the last. Am I good enough? Is he worth this? Can I ever make a relationship work? Is there hope?
It’s all I have.
(And would it be wrong for me to ask for prayers about it?)
Warning: The following post may be rambling, self-pitying, maudlin, confused, embarrassing and random. (Just like all the others.)
Used to, when I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night because my brain wouldn’t stop grinding, I’d go out on the balcony and smoke. Now I just get up and blog. How boring. It sucks going straight.
One of the things I’ve been working on in therapy is how to know what I want and need in romantic relationships. I’m terrible at these things. I approach relationships like a 14-year-old most of the time. (I doodle his name in purple ink in my Trapper Keeper!) Relationships are just not something I have a lot of experience with. The stuff most girls learn through experience in their teens, I just didn’t experience. Believe it or not, the boys weren’t really knocking down the door to date the county’s best female shot putter who carried her Bible to school in a leather case every day. (I got my Jesus-phase and my nutso-phase confused.) I probably would’ve been much more popular in high school if I’d been a drunk then! Wasted days and wasted nights….
I’ve had two long-term relationships. I was married for ten years. And I lived with a boyfriend for five years. There’s never been any real casual dating or playing the field in my life. Because prospects have always been so few and far between, I always get embarrassingly anxious when one appears. And I think I read signs badly. I can’t ever tell if he’s just being nice or if he’s interested in me. And my mind is full of all those things you’re “supposed” or “not supposed” to do. And those things never seem to match up with what I feel like I want to do. But I’m ashamed to admit that what I usually want to do is pounce on top of him with all fours and yell “MINE!” like a three-year-old. I’m so afraid I’ll let the right one get away. (Or maybe just let one get away.) It makes me a basket case and I think it makes me desperate and clingy and pathetic. And it makes me want to move way too fast before the opportunity passes.
How do people just date casually and non-chalantly, as if every bit of their self-esteem isn’t resting on someone else’s approval? How do people not crave love and affection and approval (and snogging) as desperately as I do? How do I, as strong and confident as I am in all other facets of my life, continually feel stupid, and fawning and stumbling when I deal with men I’m interested in? And why do I care so much anyway?
So what do I want and need? I’ve never even tried to make a list. But I think it’s starting to come together. I want to be loved and held and listened to. I want a man who’s dependable and honest and open. I want a man with a good job. I want a man who’s smart and funny and open-minded. I need a man who thinks I’m beautiful. I need a man who is empathetic and cares about others. I need a man who does little things to show me he cares. I need a man who can be there when I need him. I need a man who surprises me from time to time. I need a man who really hears and remembers the important things I say. I need a man with a big heart.
I need to go to sleep. It’s 1:30am.
So for the guy I glitter tooted tonight via text. I apologize. I’m trying to figure it out. I’m trying to be all cool and composed and hard and casual and funny and patient. But mostly I’m just fucked up and confused and anxious. (And doesn’t this just sound like a note somebody would have passed you on a folded up piece of notebook paper in 10th grade geometry?)
Nothing to see here. Move along. I’ll regret posting this more in the morning than I regretted those Friday mornings at 5am when I was still out on the balcony chasing beers with Bloody Marys even though I had to get up and go to work.
– Brene’ Brown is a liar. Nothing good comes from vulnerability and honesty, just sleeplessness, self-doubt and embarrassment.
– Relationships are the place where all my weaknesses converge.
– I’m waaaaaaaay too old for this to be keeping me awake this late.
I will no longer let fear prevent me from pursuing new opportunities.
I will no longer foster relationships that don’t fulfill my wants and needs.
I will figure out what I want and need.
I will vacuum the condo more than four times a year.
I will go to Dragon*Con.
I will help others.
I will wear what the hell I want.
I will recognize the love that is all around me.
I will discover the magic potion that ensures Zira-cat lives forever.
I will find a new job where I am valued and nurtured.
I will spend more time outdoors.
I will smile when I sing.
I will spend less time on the couch.
I will write more.
I will eat more vegetables and fewer frozen pizzas.
I will count my blessings.
I will take a roadtrip.
I will remember that I am awesome.