When I was young, or I guess younger, my grief and pubescent hormones turned into self-destructive habits.
I wrapped myself in the idea that I was unloveable, worthless, hopeless, useless. I took all of that and turned it against myself as a punishment for all the things I had done wrong, or hadn’t done, or that I lacked, for not being the one who died.
It wasn’t until I was pulled out of it by someone I finally trusted to tell, that I realized I was also using it as a punishment against the people who did care for me. If they were going to hurt me, I’d make it visible. Still is, kind of, 10 years later.
When I was finally smart enough to see the sort of person that did care for me, I used that to remind myself that I couldn’t be as pointless as all that. If a person like that could love me, I could maybe earn it.
I haven’t thought about that time in my life in a long while. But there was a brief moment some months ago where I was back there. What kept me safe was the thought that I would have to explain myself to the people who love me now. Some things are harder to hide when you sleep beside a person, than it was when I was a child.
But I still had to deal with the loss of my self-worth, even if it was just for a night… well, a weekend really. I spent that weekend alone because I had no one here I could trust to talk me through and remind me that I’m not completely without any redeeming qualities. Because I was ashamed.
I don’t like to think about that weekend. I can’t bring myself to “learn” from it either, because that would involve dissecting all of my thoughts on it and I can’t bring myself to do it. Even though I’m not in a dangerous emotional state anymore, I still don’t think it would have any kind of positive effect on me.
I’ve been working so hard for so many years to love myself. To be the kind of person I want to be. I can’t willfully chip away at everything I’ve built, because I don’t know what I’ll find underneath.
But I was thinking today about someone I thought I could be friends with. He turned out to be the sort of person who pulls a Mr. Hyde when he drinks and becomes unrecognizable. Every good quality falls away. And while he can still make me laugh, he sets me on edge. I made a comment about planning an escape route from my own apartment before I realized that I actually felt like I needed one.
And the issue is that the reason I thought we could be friends is that I saw a lot of myself in him. The worst part is that I still do.
I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if I feel there’s something fundamentally wrong with me still, but I’m fairly certain that’s not it. It hasn’t been that way in a long time, and I refuse to think that about myself again.
But if it’s not how I am necessarily, I guess it must be the way in which I act, or present myself. The problem with that is I work very hard to be authentic in how I act.
I value honesty over everything else in people that I get close to. It’s necessary for me to be able to trust someone, which is why it doesn’t happen often. I need to know where I stand with people, or I can never get comfortable. That’s why I have a hard time letting people in when they are consistently hiding what they think of people. If they won’t tell me what they think of others, how can I ever know what they actually think of me?
So I try to act honestly, to my own thoughts and feelings, and how I would like other people to treat me. But maybe that’s the problem.
Even if I like myself, there’s a good chance that other people won’t.
And that’s fine. External validation is the worst way to define yourself, so I need to remember that it’s okay if people don’t like me. Because I like me. And at the core of everything, I am all I’ve got.
But maybe something needs to change.
I think that what it may be is to pull back a bit from certain people. Stop giving so much of myself away. Stop being free with my thoughts. Stop telling people what they make me feel. At least until I trust them. Maybe.
It’s so against what I’ve been doing for years, it’s going to be difficult. I’ll try though, see what happens. I don’t know if I’ll be able to lie, so I’ll have to come up with some better evasions.
There’s a bit in the introduction of my book, where I talk about something my drama teacher said to me. That I throw my heart at people, expecting them to stomp on it, and am always suprised when they don’t.
Well sir, I think I’ve finally been stomped on. And for once I’m not surprised.
But I’m healthy enough to be able to deal with it in a constructive way, rather than a destructive way. I’ve grown enough to learn to cope with the occasional tear in my self-worth.
We’ll see if my new plan works, or if I’m even capable of it.
But either way, I’ll be okay. Because this time, I’ll wrap myself in my research, and my goals, and the smiles of everyone who loves me. And it will be okay.