talk less. smile more

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is I need
Called up to listen to the voice of reason
And got his answering machine
I left my message but did he fuck get back to me?
And now I’m stuck still wondering how it’s meant to be

You’d think being an introvert, I should thrive in self-isolation, right? Not so… for I am a low-functioning introvert: an introvert who doesn’t know how to be alone. An introvert who needs external structure, or she drowns in the emptiness of solitude. I thought I would have written like 20+ posts by now, but blogging — like work — was just another distraction from anxiety.

for the first time ever, i had nowhere left to hide, and the anxiety hit me with full force.

i … survived. i’m surviving. that’s all i can say for now.

it’s not always your fault, part 2

or, my mom called me a stalker

I went to see my doctor yesterday… again. The hospital was almost empty, but the staff were still there. Said everywhere that they’re not accepting patients atm. But I had come there with a specific goal in mind, and I wasn’t leaving until I had accomplished it. I needed to talk to him, and I didn’t care if it came across as stupid, reckless, or desperate. Truth be told, I probably am all of these things.

When he saw me, he reacted in much the same way he always does: hardly at all, with a hint of annoyance. He got impatient and tried to send me home, because of course he did, but I kept talking, kept apologizing.

… I guess I need him to like me — or at least to forgive me — after all…

At that point he interrupted me and assured me that everything was fine and I should really just go home.

I heard him say it, but I didn’t believe that it could possibly be true… it just didn’t register that he could have just forgiven me, forgotten the whole thing, and moved on with his life. (Even though logically of course I know he simply cannot take stuff personally at his job, or he would have gone insane long ago.)

I didn’t know how to react, so I decided to behave as if I’d believed him, and I just said, I guess I just tend to overthink people’s — he interrupted me again — May be so. But there’s nothing wrong with that, you know. Now go home already.

And it’s a good thing I was forced to get up and leave his office, because otherwise I would have just opened my mouth and stared at him in stunned silence.

Was that it all along? Was he just a doctor being all doctor-y, and I took his professionalism as a sign of hostility? I suppose that what I could have said instead was, I guess I just take everything personally because I need everything to always be about me. It would have amounted to pretty much the same thing: they both lead to misplaced guilt & excessive self-consciousness.

Realizing that he truly didn’t care was the greatest relief I had felt in months. That comes with its own set of problems, such as my obsessive need for his approval to feel okay with myself. At the moment he’s one more person I define myself by. But I can work on that in therapy.

But to have it pointed out to me just how much I read into everything was… something. When I left the hospital, I was like, Of course he doesn’t care, why would he?… but my brain works rather differently when left to its own devices.

Every neutral expression, every resting bitch face, every blank stare directed in the general area of where I’m standing, gets automatically interpreted as anger or annoyance. Never mind that more often than not a blank stare is nothing more than, well, a blank stare, but even if the person does happen to be annoyed at something or someone,

it really isn’t always your fault.

it’s not always your fault, part 1

10/28/2019

K made me cry today. Unintentionally, of course; she was going for the opposite.

She brought up in public something I’d said to her in private. It made everyone laugh, and I got defensive. When they left, I tried to explain my (over)reaction. That I know it’s not healthy but I need to be in control of who hears me say what, and that I don’t like other people relaying in my presence something I said to them before, because I have trouble communicating in the first place, and that only further distorts my intended message. And because it draws attention to me that I would never draw to myself by saying certain things in the company of more than two people.

She didn’t understand.

She said she saw nothing wrong with sharing with other people a neutral statement somebody else made, and it didn’t matter who shared it or what effect it had on those others. It didn’t occur to her that I make myself look stupid so often, I don’t need other people making me look stupid in front of additional witnesses. Nor did she take into account that “neutral” statements still say something about the person uttering them; not always something positive. (She claims to have social anxiety by the way. So I kind of expected her to sympathize? But our experiences of anxiety vary wildly.)

But that’s not what made me cry.

What made me cry was how she responded to my saying that I know it’s wrong and I don’t expect her to change, but just want her to understand my seemingly irrational behaviour.

And she said

that maybe I should stop seeing everything in terms of it being something wrong with me, and consider that maybe sometimes, it’s something wrong with other people; maybe it’s something wrong with her?

And I just started sobbing. Straight up bawling, because of how right she was. And I never thought of it that way. My feeling bad is always my fault, and I never even entertain the thought that somebody else might (also) be in the wrong.

I mean, obviously, in this particular case she wasn’t. But I’m pretty sure it was the first time I had ever stood up for myself and for my right to feelings, however irrational. It was an uncharacteristically confrontational behaviour on my part, broaching the subject as soon as I could and being (more or less) unapologetic about it. Putting my feelings first.

I always thought I was selfish. But maybe not in all the ways I could be.

Boredom in the Time of Coronavirus

Out of all the feelings I generally try to avoid, the one im most afraid of by a long shot must be boredom. I can’t tell if it breeds anxiety, restlessness and emptiness… if it accompanies them… results from them… or if it’s just their more manageable manifestation.

Be that as it may, boredom fills me with dread i cannot begin to explain.

It makes me think. And when I start to think, it always ends badly.

Most people will try & do something productive to stave off boredom… I wallow in it. Whereas others distract themselves from negative thoughts, and manage to actually get something done, or engage in creative pursuits, or just go for a walk or watch TV for goodness sakes — I… think.

Or at least I used to. At some point, i’m not exactly sure when, being alone with my thoughts and “sitting with my feelings” just got too much. But because the thoughts and feelings were still there, as unbearable as ever, and I was still too bloody terrified to address them, I had to tune them out.

🍞🧇🥞🥓🍗🍝🍦🥧🍫🍩🍪🍿🥤🥯🍳🧀🍔🍟🍕🧈🧂🙃

As I’ve said before, I don’t exactly overeat because I love it so much I cant stop myself. Quite the contrary; I eat enough to be physically uncomfortable and to hate myself… because guilt, shame, regret, self-disgust — these are more acceptable, and possibly less painful, than whatever I’m avoiding.

The problem with trying to do literally anything else — draw, read a book — is that these activities don’t distract me from my thoughts; it’s my thoughts that make it virtually impossible to focus on anything else. I would even go so far as to say that attempting to be productive when I’m alone is counterproductive, as it only intensifies the feelings of pointlessness.

My boredom is inextricably linked with my laziness. I’m “lazy” because it doesn’t matter what I do, I am simply always bored. The boredom is a complex feeling; it’s not a matter of being uninterested in whatever you’re doing…

it’s more like an inability to achieve a state of flow. I am so preoccupied with the how of things that I can’t be mindful about the what. And the “how” seems so absurd: how can I, I myself and I alone, just …. do stuff? How is it that I can engage with my environment in interesting, meaningful ways that will produce some tangible real-life results? Just, no.

I always have this fear that I’m wasting time; that I’m not doing enough. The problem is, nothing is ever “enough”. I’m simultaneously obsessed with the idea of productivity and crippled by it —

— possibly because I have no concept of being productive by your own standards. I can’t set goals for myself because I feel like i have no agency over my own actions. like they don’t truly belong to me. like im just living out somebody else’s idea of me. if i want to do something for myself, it doesn’t really matter.

The following is not my original thought, and I’m paraphrasing here, but there’s this quote about how usually it’s I think, therefore I am, but a borderline thinks more along the lines of You exist, therefore I exist. I could never quite grasp the diagnostic feature of

(…) may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which the individual feels a lack of a meaningful relationship, nurturing, and support. These individuals may show worse performance in unstructured work or school situations.

DSM-5, p. 664

…oh… oh, okay. That makes sense. That’s maybe not how I would put it, but I agree that that’s the underlying assumption. I don’t exist, other than as an extra in other people’s lives.

Not to mention I also lack object permanence, so even when i do have a “meaningful relationship”, it’s not enough to sustain me in the long run. Out of sight, out of mind, and again I’m nothing.

This emptiness is now more pronounced than ever, as I find myself having to sit at home, alone with my thoughts, no job to go to or even errands to run. I have my books, my coloring books, my Netflix and my Spotify — but it’s all so… futile, so… insubstantial.

In truth, I blog to remind myself that I do exist.

uoıʇɐılıɯnɥ ʎɥʇlɐǝɥ

The borderline narrative is a compelling one. But what it compels me to do is not altogether productive.

First learning about the disorder was a revelation, and the more I read about it, the more convinced I became that it described me to a T. Okay… so?

Even if that were true, or possible, it’s still only part of the story. It was so validating, and satisfying, to be understood so completely. Except I wasn’t. Nobody can be.

I know it’s basically the essence of BPD to look for things to fill that void where your identity should be, so I’m in something of a catch-22: as soon as I started identifying with it, it became all there was to me. But as I’ve come to realize, I don’t want it to be this way.

Borderline traits might accurately describe parts of my personality, which may be helpful in dealing with them. But no single word can account for the giant spectrum of thoughts and behaviors that any one person will exhibit irl.

The reason I’m saying all of this is because my boss gave me a lecture the other day about my rapidly deteriorating work ethic. He didn’t tell me anything I wouldn’t already know, but I needed to hear him say it out loud. I needed to hear somebody.

It was awful. In its own gentle way, it was probably the most humiliating thing I have ever experienced.

But it was also sobering.

I got exactly what I had always tried to force out of people: I got patronized. Because that’s what you get by acting even more clueless and confused than you really are. It’s cute. In puppies, and small children. Not so cute in a 25-year-old.

I was always looking either for validation or for pity, and when I finally found them, it was equal parts satisfying and pathetic. It was such a relief, though, to find out I had some dignity left to lose.

I overshare because I need people to understand why I am the way I am. I need them to tell me it’s okay and that it explains everything and there’s no more need for me to make any effort with anything ever. But being the way I am doesn’t absolve me of trying my best…

In a lot of ways I am still a child. I am immature, I can’t control my emotions, I refuse to take responsibility for my actions or for my life.

But as much as I crave to be accepted unconditionally, just the way I am right now, I have come to realize that that acceptance can be a double-edged sword. And for all the times I have abused my Mom’s selflessness & lack of consistency in enforcing any kind of discipline, I still resent her for trapping me in my own complacency.

Nothing was ever expected of me, nor did I hold myself to a particularly high standard. I grew up having my life lived for me, so I never had to develop / discover my own internal motivation.

I don’t want “poor mental health” to become a personality trait, or my defining characteristic. To my own surprise, I don’t even want it to be an excuse. When somebody else suggests that my struggles are valid, I’m relieved, yes, but somehow also almost offended. It’s like they’re agreeing that this right here is the best i can do. And i’m like, no!!!??

There were a number of times I have violated the rules of the employer/employee dynamic. I have treated him like a parent, like a friend, like a therapist (the last of which he is btw, though not to me…). And he has put up with all of it, and I’m so so grateful for that.

Most of the relationships in my life are these weird reenactments of my past experiences. But it’s different now. I’m more aware of it.

He — in true therapist fashion — was objective and to the point. And somehow, coming from him, I survived constructive criticism.

It was the other things the said that hit a bit too close to home. Things that should be obvious to somebody my age… but it was only when he said them that they started to make sense.

Things like, everybody’s got their own issues, and I can’t let my feelings interfere with my work. Things like, if I don’t attend to my responsibilities, somebody else will have to. He wasn’t blaming me …. he was giving me credit. Recognizing that I’m not doing something that I’m very much capable of.

And so I left his office feeling not guilty but … hopeful. It wasn’t any less embarrassing having had him explain to me the complexities of adulthood, but I’ve decided that embarrassment is a valid emotion, too, and one you can learn from as much as any other.

I want to grow up.

one-track minds

I almost got into a fight with my parents this morning. My Dad made a “joke”: international women’s day was invented by communists, so feminists must be pretty damn conflicted about it. I pointed out that equal doesnt mean the same, that nobody’s saying that gender doesn’t exist, that they’re judging a group by its most vocal, most radical members.

None of that convinced them though, and they accused me of taking myself too seriously & being unable to calmly discuss controversial topics, change my mind, or even provide arguments to support my POV — all things i constantly complain about them being.

So I shut up, which they interpreted as sulking — correctly, i might add. What’s annoying as heck is that they kind of had a point. I, too, am all of these things. The difference is, I know that, and I’m trying to change, whereas they are twice my age. They should know better. Or should they?

What im about to say is going to sound awful, but the main reason i find it so difficult to maintain my composure around my parents is that i know full well that I’m their flesh and blood, and I hate it.

I wish i could poke holes in my own reasoning as well as i can in theirs. But I can’t. And im scared shitless that all this effort im putting into trying to get to know myself better isn’t going to change a damned thing. and im always going to be the same stubborn, narrow-minded, unlikeable, unfunny twat that I always was. (with all due respect to my dear parents. Sometimes they’re just too much.)

(and also, i have no idea where legitimate criticism and acknowledging my parents’ humanity ends & where blame-shifting and projecting my insecurities on other people begins…)

identifying my flaws won’t make them go away. explaining away my flaws won’t make them go away. i’m not so convinced anymore that even i can do that. i just hope there can be some comfort in knowing why i am the way I am.

My parents react with hostility to (or simply reject) anything they don’t understand. They assume that if you hold an opinion, your conviction must be as strong, unconditional and unwavering, as their own faith in god. it’s either you believe and accept the doctrine as wholly true, or you don’t believe — there’s no in between.

they keep asking why i “abandoned my faith” when other kids, seemingly less religious, still go to church. and then, in one breath, they condemn the gay agenda. HMM IDK MOM!

they gave me freedom of choice, and then criticized me for making the wrong decision.

And yes, I know that religion is helpful to a lot of people. And for my parents specifically, it’s an anchor; the only constant throughout their life and a source of hope and strength and comfort. I wouldn’t dare take that away from them.

But not every religious person is as categorical or intellectually lazy as they are, and I’m afraid it has less to do with religion itself or their childhood trauma, and more to do with a general tendency to think in absolutes and be satisfied with easy answers.

what confidence have I that i actually understand everything i say and am not just parroting what somebody else told me? it’s probably in my genes, after all…

i could of course describe all of the above with one simple adjective, but I really want to believe there’s more to it than that. for my sake.

znów mam naście lat

Trudno mi pojąć związek między moją przeszłością, teraźniejszością i przyszłością. Trudno zaakceptować że to kim będę za tydzień czy za 10 lat nie będzie istniało w oderwaniu od tego kim byłam dotychczas ani kim jestem teraz.

Zawsze skupiam się na chwili obecnej, nie biorąc pod uwagę, że jej korzenie sięgają daleko wstecz; że jestem akurat tu gdzie jestem w wyniku wszystkich swoich decyzji, doświadczeń, pomyłek… a nie tylko tych z ostatniego miesiąca.

Nie umiem uczyć się na błędach ani robić planów na przyszłość, bo i jedno i drugie osadzone jest w abstrakcji, do której nie mam bezpośredniego dostępu i która przez to dla mnie nie istnieje. Na mniejszą skalę — “nie wiem kim jestem”, bo to kim jestem ogranicza się do tego czym się aktualnie zajmuję.

Nazywam to przez co teraz przechodzę “drugim dojrzewaniem” bo dokładnie tak się czuję: jakbym znów była w gimnazjum i musiała od nowa przepracowywać wszystko z czym wtedy nie potrafiłam się zmierzyć. Dziwnie mi z myślą, że w rzeczywistości tak gimnazjum, jak i liceum a nawet studia, już dawno mam za sobą. Wszystko to równie dobrze mogło w ogóle nie mieć miejsca.

Jedyna różnica polega na tym, że mimo wszystko jestem bogatsza o te doświadczenia i o tę wiedzę o sobie nabytą w drodze wszystkich moich prób zatrzymania dorastania i kształtującej się niezależnej tożsamości.

Teraz jestem bardziej świadoma swojej potrzeby utrzymywania pozorów kontroli nad sytuacją poprzez drobne obsesje. Wiem jak rzadko zdaję sobie sprawę z kierujących mną emocji, bo nigdy nie nauczyłam się ich przeżywać w zdrowy sposób. Rozumiem też swoją podatność na bezmyślne powtarzanie bezproduktywnych zachowań i ogólną tendencję do uzależniania się od wszystkiego, co chociaż na chwilę wypełni pustkę. Odciągnie od prowadzących donikąd rozmyślań. Odwróci uwagę od bólu osamotnienia i tego przerażającego przekonania, że nieważne co zrobię, to nigdy nic nie zmieni.

Mój obraz samej siebie od zawsze opierał się na pewnym podstawowym założeniu, z którego nie do końca zdawałam sobie sprawę. Najszczęśliwsza byłam wtedy, gdy żyłam nadzieją: gdy, jak tonący brzytwy, chwyciłam się pierwszego lepszego pomysłu na siebie. Na zmianę. Moje położenie zawsze wydawało się nie do zniesienia z bliżej nieokreślonych przyczyn, które zawsze sprowadzały się do “coś jest ze mną nie tak”.

Nadzieja przybierała różne formy. Czasem pojawiała się pod postacią kujoństwa i naiwnej wizji “zrobienia kariery” (pojemny termin który znacząc wszystko, nie znaczył dla mnie nic), innym razem przybierała pozory zwykłej próżności i obsesji na punkcie własnego wyglądu.

Niekiedy nadzieja rodziła się ze spotkania osoby sprawiającej wrażenie na tyle dojrzałej i wnikliwej, że mogłaby mnie rozgryźć i naprostować. Kiedy indziej karmiłam się słowami wątpliwych autorytetów w dziedzinie wszystkiego od stylu życia po moralność, wmawiając sobie że jeśli dostosuję się do wszystkich ich zaleceń, naprawię tym samym cokolwiek było we mnie “zepsute”.

Takie wymuszone szczęście zawsze okazuje się nieuchwytne. Potrafię tylko gonić za doskonałą pracą, doskonałym zdrowiem, partnerem czy osobowością — jakimś jednym czynnikiem, który odmieni całe moje życie. Kiedy natomiast okazuje się, że moje wyobrażenia były nierealistyczne, odpuszczam sobie zupełnie.

Z jakiegoś powodu nie potrafię zintegrować wszystkich swoich zainteresowań i dążeń jako pełnoprawnych części mojej psychiki. Jeśli tylko coś nie spełnia moich wygórowanych oczekiwań, odmawiam mu wszelkiej wartości, odrzucam, zapominam. Tracę nadzieję na jakąkolwiek poprawę czy wzrost i wracam do punktu wyjścia.

Dla większości ludzi pasje i przekonania są raczej dopełnieniem ich osobowości niż jej fundamentem. Nie trzymają się ich kurczowo, bo nie dyktują one ich “wartości”. Ja natomiast czuję, że nie mam żadnej wartości ponad tę, którą buduję na powierzchownych, przejściowych etykietach.

Moja jedyna nadzieja na szczęście leży w zmianie, w przybraniu pozorów samodyscypliny i ambicji, wszystko by zamaskować swoją prawdziwą naturę.

Ta trochę bardziej świadoma nastolatka we mnie mówi: Nie rozumiem… To nie wszyscy nie lubią siebie?

I think my psychiatrist hates me

I mean i can’t know for sure, i have little else to go on other than his averted gaze, curt responses, and general indifference to my very presence in his office. It’s either that, or I’m seeing something that isn’t there.

He had every right to be hurt, even offended, by what I said to him that one time. but, assuming i’m interpreting his current behavior correctly, i would argue it’s rather unprofessional of him to be quite so open about holding a grudge. I mean he treats mental illness, isn’t he supposed to know that your words are your symptoms FFS?

But maybe I’m overthinking this, and maybe he really is just this apathetic. Main thing is, i just realized that i don’t give a fuck one way or the other. I said something inappropriate, something I didn’t mean, and then apologized profusely. TWICE.

There’s nothing else I can do short of bringing him flowers, and I’m over trying to make everyone like me, even my own mf doctor. what i need from him are my prescriptions, not his unconditional affection.

this can be another learning opportunity: not everyone will care, and still I have to stand up for myself regardless.

feels good once you realize you can.

walk down memory lane

A high school friend reached out to me (hi, P). It’s nice, though admittedly somewhat strange, to get back in touch with people who knew you way back when.

I feel so much different, but I am pretty much the same person I was all these years ago: just as dumb and aimless as i was, only now it’s more obvious. I’m more aware of it, so i dont even try to hide it anymore.

Because that’s all I talk about, it may seem as if I were capable of change. I don’t think I am though, and I worry that people like her will give me a chance and I’ll just disappoint them all over again.

(by the way, it’s really quite strange being able to tell you’re idealizing someone as it’s happening. She’s my savior. She understands. She inspired me to quit my job. P, if you’re reading this, please don’t be overwhelmed. it’s normal for me, it happens all the time. and let me tell you what comes next: i see a sign of rejection or mild disapproval, and i withdraw into my shell. Or that’s what usually happens… I’ll do my best not to let it.)

talking to her made me realize that my self-perception is even further from how other people see me. which one is more accurate, then? if, going by what she said, in high school I appeared driven and conscientious, does that mean I was? even though it was the last thing i wanted to be?

I have had people comment that i seem really calm, and i always had to stop myself from laughing in their faces. but, i mean, they only have my behavior to go on, so i guess their impression kind of makes sense??

all this makes me wonder how much of what I think about other people is drastically different from what they believe about themselves or feel internally.

But yeah, apparently people admired my good grades or my English or whatever. but who the fuck genuinely wants to be the teacher’s pet in fucking high school? of course i would rather have had a social life of some sort and had people actually like me,,,, but i was unlikeable and insecure, so i resorted to controlling the only things i knew how to control.

But maybe the image we project unintentionally is more genuine and has more merit than your own self-judgment? if i seemed like a nerd, then, well, i must have been a nerd. so what i didn’t feel like one. so what “driven” or “ambitious” were far from what i would have considered accurate descriptions.

I was so lost. So lost. I had absolutely no clue what i was doing. I clung onto school because that was what gave my life a semblance of meaning or a sense of direction, but the truth was, all I needed was a friend, a true friend who would have called me out on my bs and made me confront all my pain and grief and get real about what i wanted.

but none of that had any chance of happening since i was so proficient in the art of denial and keeping people at arm’s length.

still nothing’s changed.

messier

I started five individual blog posts today, and found myself unable to finish any one of them. I tried Polish, i tried English, i even tried visuals alone; all I ended up doing was getting more and more frustrated.

And then I got it: I have to learn to be okay with expressing imperfect thoughts with words that only “kind of” fit. Some days ideas will present themselves to me already fully formed, other days i’ll write for hours and still I won’t be able to get to the bottom of the issue, and still ill end up saying things i dont mean.

i put off writing until what i have to say can be condensed into a few neat paragraphs. it’s reflective of what I want my brain to be. But the truth is, that’s not what anyone’s actual thought process looks like at all. The reality is much more messy, confused, and at times off-topic, and I don’t want to deny that any longer.

I don’t want to give you the sanitized version. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m sure of anything — to arrive at fake conclusions to calm my own anxious mind with the illusion of certainty — when in fact im sure of nothing.

I don’t want to be afraid to think. It might seem like I’m not getting anywhere, but at least i’m exploring new territory. i might get into some dead-ends or say things i end up having to take back…

but it’s just my thoughts we’re talking about, and I feel like a huge part of my problems stems from denying myself the simple luxury of fantasy. I’m superstitiously fearful of “thinking the wrong thing”. as if there’s some thought so awful that it’s going to permanently corrupt my mind and — ??? (unimaginable horror follows).

there are gaps. there are inaccuracies. there are blind spots. there’s so much that needs uncovering and deconstructing and just replacing, but to do that i have to find out what it is. to do that I have to think. I want you to see me try on different ideas and beliefs, even if it means creating sub-par “content”.

This blog was never about content, anyway.