I didn't mean to yell at you

Life has a way of making everything seem normal after a while. It’s an adaptive mechanism. Regardless of how weird it would seem to someone else, if you experience something often enough, you will start assuming that that’s the way it’s “supposed to” be (even if it feels wrong).

A friend was talking on the phone yesterday. He raised his voice, ever so slightly, and after a pause he said, I’m not yelling! And i thought to myself, obviously he isn’t… is he? Now, granted, the person at the other end of the line was joking; nevertheless, they made a valid point, and I didn’t notice.

Because the pitch he adopted didn’t seem at all unusual to me; I had heard it too many times before, always followed by, “I’M NOT YELLING!”. What was communicated was incompatible with how I perceived the way it was communicated. I couldn’t hold two conflicting beliefs about reality at the same time, so being the trusting kid that i was, I dismissed my own feelings and went with what Mommy told me, because she knows best, right?

I’d like to qualify this whole post by once again pointing out that I do not intend to blame anybody for anything. If i seem to talk a lot about how i was wronged by other people, that’s because that may have been how I experienced it at the time, not because I believe that they intentionally hurt me or that they are bad people. I love my family and friends dearly, and I can absolutely accept that there is more wrong with me than there is with them.

Furthermore, let me just acknowledge the absurdity of what I’m doing: at any point in time, there are people in the world going through indescribable suffering, and here I am indulging my first-world sadness about Mom losing her temper sometimes… as if I was perfect.

Some hypothesize that mental illness is a natural extension of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In other words, (some) humans will always find something to be miserable about. I certainly will always find something to hold a grudge for. Not because I want to, and believe you me, I feel shit about it. But I can’t help feeling hurt.

Even if i did hate or resent anyone — and I don’t, but let’s just pretend for the sake of argument — you can be sure that I would still hate myself thousandfold worse.

Wait… what was i talking about again? Ah, yes, Mom yelling. …is one of those things I feel bad about feeling bad about. But then again, denying feelings I think are “trivial” only gives them more power over my life.

It may not seem obvious from the few posts I’ve published so far, but you don’t realize the extent of my self-loathing. Right now I’m in limbo, suspended in this strange state halfway between counterproductive, defensive self-hatred, and realizing my actual flaws/shortcomings and possible ways of fixing them. But I’m gonna have to get through piles and piles of garbage before i can see the important stuff.

I’m selfish. Impatient. Manipulative. Lazy. Entitled. Sometimes I can even be mean for no apparent reason. I could go on endlessly. That’s been more or less my internal monologue since… forever, basically. And I want to change. But I believe that my feelings and irrational beliefs are preventing me from accepting these qualities in myself enough to be able to change.

Antidepressants are weird… I don’t recognize myself anymore. The sheer idea of getting a blog and practically broadcasting all my thoughts as they occur to me (never mind starting a facebook page, which is the very thing i said i wouldnt do) runs counter to everything i believed about myself. Yet for some strange reason drawing attention to myself in this way feels… right, and i feel more true to myself than ever before.

I can’t wait to find out which of my flaws are integral aspects of my personality, and which ones are amenable to… therapy, for instance.

I hope I can learn empathy, most of all.

I am your toxic friend

Some things don’t show… but they eat you up inside.

J and I originally bonded over being annoyed by the same thing somebody did… that’s not a good sign.

I know I’m judgmental… but im not proud of it. And i didnt want that to be the only thing the two of us had in common. I’m not generally critical for the sake of it… it’s more like a defense mechanism. I have too much negative energy of my own to invite people into my life who are mean-spirited for a laugh.

that was my thought process while i was cutting her off. it’s probably the most i have ever come to devalue a person, but even at the time i still realized i was being idiotic; i just couldn’t help it.

The real reason I surgically removed her from my life was that I couldn’t bear that she was moving on whereas i was stuck. She’d used to be so adorkable, and now she was skinnier, prettier, … better.

I don’t hate any of you; I think you all deserve all the happiness in the world. And when i see you happy, i’m happy for you. But at the same time, it’s a painful reminder of my own inadequacy and inability to do anything with my life.

I know my feelings are not about you, they have nothing to do with you, it’s all my low self-esteem. But I can’t rationalize myself out of envy. Envy that’s not directed at any one person in particular, but at the general idea of happiness that to me seems so unattainable.

so if i become distant, im sorry. it’s not your fault, and im simply doing what feels like the right thing to do: deciding not to expose you to any more of my negativity. more often than not, i will isolate myself from people because of how guilty i feel about treating them poorly, even just in my mind.

i hope that feeling guilty about it indicates a degree of choice i have in the matter. perhaps not consciously… yet.

that would mean i can change.

what it’s like when your favorite person leaves

I’m not afraid of being alone
I just don’t know what to do with my time
Between you and me
I thought it would all last a little while longer

Have you ever met somebody and thought to yourself, well, there, now I know what perfection looks like? and i don’t mean in a romantic way. you’re just so in awe of them that you can hardly believe that they’re real, and that you, of all people, should have been so lucky as to be deemed worthy of their friendship. and you can’t find any fault with them, or acknowledge one when it’s pointed out to you by somebody else, because they just don’t understand. but you know better than that; you feel blessed to be in their life in any capacity, no matter how small, and you treasure every morsel of attention or affection thrown your way.

Well, that’s what L was to me… until she wasn’t.

It’s hard not to be in awe of L when you meet her. She is objectively the sweetest person ever, ill give you that. But that’s what makes the whole thing even more confusing: it’s hard to distinguish between all the positive qualities that she possesses and the positive attention she receives based on that from pretty much everyone she meets… and the god-like status to which I have elevated her. The line gets blurry between being genuinely impressed by her inner and outer beauty and the positive vibes she gives off… and the obsessive need to not just have her in my life, but become one with her — impress, imitate, and identify with her — that I still feel.

It’s all well and good to appreciate, even admire, people in your life. indeed L positively impacted mine in more ways than I can count. but it’s important to maintain healthy boundaries. most people, when they come into contact with somebody, no matter how amazing, preserve their basic sense of self. I … didn’t know there was such a thing.

Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl

I don’t remember who I was before i met her. And after she left, i was reduced to nothing. why, you might ask. let me explain.

it was a gradual process, her becoming my “substitute personality”. at first there were still parts of me that felt authentic. but over time, my life increasingly became about impressing her. L is a very opinionated girl, and if she disagrees with you or doesn’t like something, she will tell you (sometimes without being asked). what she didn’t take into account was how much i internalized criticism, especially coming from her. how much every piece of unsolicited advice, every backhanded compliment, every joke that had a grain of truth to it, hurt me and made me doubt myself.

i’m not saying she did any of this on purpose — and you may notice a theme of me blaming people for various things wrong with me; youre not wrong, but that’s not exactly what I mean. It’s not my fault that i’m oversensitive, either. i know its my problem that i take everything personally. but it doesn’t change the fact that i was hurt… over and over again. and if it means i have to forgive people for things nobody should apologize for in the first place, just because that’s what i need to move on, so be it.

if L said so then it must be true!

Be that as it may, L has a lot of charisma. She sometimes jokes about starting her own cult, even. In retrospect, that’s kind of what it felt like to be her “BFF”. It’s not that she wouldn’t let you do you; but it takes a stronger personality than mine not to internalize her pronouncements. What she said was, I like chocolate cake better; what I heard was, Don’t order strawberry. I could read Donald Duck instead of WITCH if I wanted to… not in so many words, but she made it clear that I was wrong.

Yes, that’s the kind of conversation we were having at that age, but the principle remains the same. The dynamic’s the same.

I can’t stress this enough, she is such a positive person, and im infinitely grateful for having her in my life; im a better person for it, and i cant imagine what i’d be without her.

However, she was just too unapologetically herself for me to handle. too mature, too assertive, too confident.

and i was the opposite.

so i stopped liking strawberry cake.

and i no longer devoured comic books.

and over time, i forgot.

and i ditched the things i used to hold dear, and i kept my opinions to myself, buried deep, while enthusiastically nodding in faux-agreement with whatever she was saying, and i only shared with her what i thought she would approve of.

she was this all-encompassing Presence that was always quietly judging me and that i always wanted to please, above all else.

you know what that reminds me of? god, that’s what.

and like all people of faith, i built my life around her.

and then she… left.

At age fifteen, she moved back to India, where she is from, and I practically lost touch with her. but the pain of her leaving, leaving me, was excruciating, unlike anything I’d experienced before (or after). She was quite literally my everything.

When i started high school, i was all alone. my entire world had just fallen apart, and i had no supportive group of friends to fall back on. and to top it all off, i had just hit puberty (yes im a late bloomer).

i was confused, i was alone, and i was helpless. so… i developed an eating disorder.

This is all just one story i can tell myself. there are probably countless more ways to frame the same train of events. but that’s the way it felt to me. and to be honest, it still feels that way, even after all these years.

and i still have no concept of “normal” friendship, and i still don’t let anybody get too close.

that’s the “idealizing” part.

i have yet to devalue.

… before i can reach a happy medium.