So because I’m still really sort of processing, I’m going to core-dump in my journal for a bit about the problem I alluded to earlier. (And please take special note about the “Don’t do that, then” style of advice.)
What I’m struggling with right now is the Kobayashi Maru of emotional traps: how do I tell someone I’m hurt when I’m not even sure I’m right to be hurt?
Thing is, when I’m in a hypersensitive mood, I see neglect in everything. Hey, did you not put bacon on my cheeseburger? How could you? You know I love bacon. Your lack of bacon must mean that you’re purposely out to deprive me of bacon. That’s really a shitty thing to do, you know, fucking my cheeseburger over when you could just tell me the love is over. If you really loved me, I guess you’d have remembered the bacon.
No. I honestly get like that sometimes.
Over the years, I’ve learned to calm down and process… but it takes me a while. Because sometimes it’s not bacon. Sometimes, someone’s done something genuinely shitty, and it turns out I need to talk to them to say, “Okay, what you did was mean and unfair.”
What I do know, however, is that talking to them in this tizzy does no one no good. I’m accusatory, no matter how hard I try not to be. I’m defensive, because I know I might be silly. And even if they do apologize, an apology generally isn’t enough because I’m so hurt and saddened and vulnerable by having to reveal my inner processes that I need not just an apology, but a full-on reassurance that I’m loved and not stupid on top of it – because the problem is not that you did this thing, but thing made me feel full of self-loathing and neglect, and I want to not feel that way any more.
Practically nobody does that. Mostly, an apology is about the best they can muster, especially if I am being stupid about things. (Which is, you know, often.) But at that point it’s not about the bacon, but this stir of terrored intensity that I’m totally unloved. Going, “Sorry, you need bacon” doesn’t cut it at that point.
People say they want to know. But I’m so unreasonable in these times that I know it’s better to withdraw.
Now, in an ideal world, I’d withdraw for a couple of days, retreating into myself while I process and emerge with a measured conclusion. By then, a simple bacon apology will do (if in fact I decide I need to mention the bacon at all), and we can move on… Except I’m chatty, so people generally notice my absence. And they ask, “Hey, did I do something wrong?”
(I can also try to fake it and talk to the person who wounded me during this time frame, but I do such a shitty job at pretending nothing’s wrong that they invariably notice. I know I’m being foolish, but the emotions are pretty overwhelming, and it’s like trying to carry on pleasantries with a man who’s kicking a puppy. I’ve tried to do casual conversation for years, but in my downtimes I don’t have the social skill to fake it.)
So here’s the paradox:
KOBAYASHI SCENARIO #1: I TALK TO THEM BEFORE I’M SURE THIS IS ACTUALLY A PROBLEM. But I do it poorly, because I’m emotional and unreasonable. Shit blows up, and they feel I’m unfair and grasping (which I may well be being), and I injure the friendship.
KOBAYASHI SCENARIO #2: I ADMIT SOMETHING’S WRONG, BUT TELL THEM I’M NOT IN A GOOD SPACE TO TALK TO THEM ABOUT THE PROBLEM RIGHT NOW. Yeah, that trick never works. The minute they know something’s wrong, they panic, and pepper me with questions about what they might have done until they know (complete with misintentioned reassurances that no, they’ll be fine), and then we’re back to Kobayashi Scenario #1.
KOBAYASHI SCENARIO #3: I SAY NOTHING, AND HOLD MY GROUND. They notice something’s wrong. they get mad at me because clearly I’m bent out of shape and not saying anything, and by the time I’m ready to talk (or let it go) they’re furious because what the fuck, man, you were just so cold and mean.
Whatever happens, whenever I’m injured, I wind up doing damage. Which sucks.
I’ve since learned that #1 is the best option, but it still sucks. Because then there’s a big fight, and I come out of that fight feeling whipped and saddened and hated for who I am, and I have to put on my Big Girl Panties and pretend “Hey, everything’s fine even though we’re pissy at each other!” Which takes even MORE energy, this happy-go-lucky pretending that everything’s cool even though I feel less loved than I ever have in our relationship before…. but eventually it heals shit over.
(I used to dig deeper to try to “fix” things when I was in this mood, which shredded friendships like a woodchipper.)
I dunno. I just wish I didn’t have this hypersensitivity, or the social ability to pretend that things were fine when they weren’t, but years of effort has shown that I’m not likely to acquire these tendencies any time soon.
And it’s not just me. Gini’s said she has this same problem with me when she’s trying to figure out whether it’s a genuine issue she’s going through. So I figure someone must have a way of dealing with the “I need space to process, but people aren’t good at giving it to me” problem.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.