Did You Die, Though?

I think most of us want people to like us. It makes navigating life easier if those we encounter find us likeable. Friends are a good thing to have, too. They support us and add quality to our lives (if they don’t, they might not be our friends – but that’s another post). Having friends is more apt to happen when we’re likeable. That’s where we can encounter trouble; finding friends can be tough, sometimes. Not everyone is gonna like us, and that can add stress to the process.
This stuff is obvious to most of us, sure. I share it for understanding and empathy.
Most people want to have friends and care about being liked.
Most people experience at least a little social anxiety now and again.

I’m gonna guess i had some grasp of this from before i have memories. My mother was volatile and abusive. When she was happy i was happy (even when i wasn’t), and when she wasn’t i was miserable. My life still wasn’t free from abuse when she was happy, but the alternative was far worse. My early years involved a number of abusers, and it was my job to make them all happy. And if they weren’t happy, there’d be hell to pay.

I’ve been a people-pleaser all my life. Even though the abuse is decades over, i’ve remained terrified of anyone not liking me. I survived my childhood trauma but i never left it behind. I’ve been like a ghost, haunting their own murder scene.

Once i started making some decent headway with my therapy, i began to see in how many ways my interpersonal relationships were problematic. The other person had all the power and i had none (whether or not they knew that). I hadn’t asked myself if i was getting what i wanted out of these relationships – it hadn’t occurred to me i could. I’d not thought to ask the most basic question of all: Did i even want to be friends with this person?

My social anxiety, and anxiety in general, is on the level where, once i was getting all with the deep and nitty grittiness of therapy, it became the easiest and most conducive thing to become a hermit. The stress added by others was mucking up the gears of my progress. Turns out, underneath all of that people-pleasing, affability and charm, was a die hard introvert who’d never had their peopling batteries properly or fully recharged. It took years to fill me back up.

Along the way i’d dumped my close real life friends (those who hadn’t left already when i was in the grips of crazy), many internet ones, and all extended family members save one. I’d also removed myself from party circles, as it can trigger mental/emotional issues, and is physically unhealthy to boot.
Which bring me to last week, and the reason for this post.

These last months i’ve been functioning mentally and emotionally so well, that i’d increased my focus on my physical health. I’ve needed to shed some weight, and i wanted to be more fit and incorporate more physical activities into my life. To that end, i’ve been walking. I love walking, which makes it readily adoptable into my routine. I live with chronic pain, and walking is one of the least taxing ways to exercise. It’s also giving me more control over my system’s urge to take off walking when i feel afraid, threatened, or overwhelmed. I spend some of my time on the road talking to my Bits N’ Pieces; addressing their needs and allaying their fears. More control – i haz it.

Last week i’d walked into town and was heading to a local park to meet my husband after he got off work for a jaunt or 2 around the lake. On my way i bumped into someone i know, and we stopped to exchange pleasantries.
And that’s when it happened.
A full on, holy shit moment smacked me right upside the head.
Lemme shine some light on that for y’all.

Three of only a handful that i still consider myself friendly with in this town, belong to a group of women that hang out together and do a lot of fun stuff. From the first time i met this woman, i liked her, and wanted to be friends with her. As i got healthier, i went from wishing it were so, to trying to make it happen. A little bit. Here and there.
Last week as i was walking away from our exchange on the sidewalk, i finally realised that she is not interested. Based on results, she doesn’t want to be friends with me.

The amazing thing is, it didn’t bother me all that much. She might not have the time. She might not like me enough, or even at all. I could have given it more time and ascribed more potential reasons why, but i know the bottom line is it doesn’t matter and it’s not my business anyway.
I’d already figured out i didn’t want to be a part of the group she’s in (which is a good thing cuz i ain’t welcome), and that felt liberating. Recognising that a friendship with her isn’t going to happen didn’t feel great, but it didn’t devastate me. It stung a bit, but it also felt liberating. It opened up some real estate in my brain and liquidated some mental currency that i could better use somewhere else.

She has politely refused my offers and it didn’t kill me and i don’t hate her. In fact, i still like her and i’m not scared about it. The next day i looked over a bunch of pictures of her and her group doing the fun stuff that i thought i wanted to do with them. I don’t belong there. They knew it and i do, too. I looked at other pictures, where she’s living her life and doing her thing, and i saw that i didn’t belong there, either. She hasn’t invited me in, and after looking for a bit, i don’t want her to. Friendship requires that both parties consent, and with the knowledge that i don’t have hers, my own desire has withered to almost nothing.

This is a big victory for me. I’ve smashed yet another sick construct my abusers built into my brain, and become that much more capable of functioning well in everyday society. I was rejected and i didn’t die.

And a week later, the lesson is helping me plan for my future.
I was vague again, i know.
Elucidation is coming… Eventually.
Heh.

Love and Peace To All,
~H~



IMAGE: trail

Wishing

I’ve been thinking about a friend i lost years ago. She was a wonderful and supportive person. The problem was, we partied too hard together, and we lacked good boundaries. We drifted away from each other as we both tried to get our lives in order. I think she pulled away first. I think she cut me out of her life, specifically. I was significantly older than her, but in some ways i was no more mature. I say “was,” because she’s gone from everyone, now. Her demons took her from her loved ones and consumed her.

We met when i was in a powerful mania. My personality was in full shine, turned up to 11. I swept many people into my arms then, and held them with one hand, dragging them alongside me like a child with a teddy bear. I introduced her to my friends and we rode the tide until we nearly drowned. Both of us moving away to escape it, keeping in close touch until we could be reunited. But there was something wrong between us then, and that was me.

I was so sick. I couldn’t see it at the time. I presented as a woman entering middle age, but on the inside i was a teenager that’d taken the keys to Dad’s Lambo and gone on a joyride. I was run amok. And she was a broken young woman, looking for meaning, for care and connection… for help. And i consumed her like i did the other revellers around us. I was no leader, no support. But now i can see, just by virtue of the years between us, that i must have appeared to be so. I hid the worst parts of my illness and dysfunction from all but my husband, so it must have looked like one could live the way i was living with impunity. It must have seemed possible that you could have a loving and supportive partner waiting for you at home, while you went out and painted the town red.

It is possible, of course. That is exactly what i had, and what i did. But my partner probably shouldn’t have stayed with me. I’m incredibly fortunate that he stuck with me through such terrible times that were in no small way my own making. Yes, i was clinically sick. Yes, i’d been twisted and busted up inside due to a violent childhood. But i wasn’t without some ability to make choices. I just made wrong ones. I could have done better, sometimes.
But i did not.
I chose poorly, selfishly, childishly.
I chose wrong. And there is wreckage in my wake that i must own.
Relationships, mostly.
My children suffered most of all, but i hurt others, too.
I will never know how much i hurt her.

She’d been on my mind for months and months. In the barest edges of my consciousness i was considering going to her and seeing if she would be open to an apology. I was trying to figure out the healthiest, most respectful way to approach her. I was preparing myself for the possibility that she’d tell me to fuck right off. Certainly her right. I pulled up her social media to see how she was doing. My face turned to marble as i realised she was gone.
It hit me so hard and hurt so much i closed my mind as i closed the page.

It’s been nearly a year since i learned of her death. She’s been creeping back into my conscious thoughts. I knew it was time to begin processing her passing. I’m much more present these days. More vibrant, less faded, more tangible, less nebulous.
And so i actually didn’t switch when i went back to her page and it hit me that she’d been gone less than 2mos when i’d visited her page those 9mos prior.

I’d dissociated immediately. My brain took that information and hid it away, because that’s what i do in overwhelm. I run and i hide. On the inside.

But i’m sitting with it. I let it seep into my skin and settle into my blood. She’s not here anymore. I hurt her and i’ll never be able to tell her i’m sorry. My chance to make amends is gone with her to the grave. I do not understand death. I cannot grasp how she has simply, terribly, ceased existing. I was so close to reaching out. There are lessons for me in that. Some might say, Well sure, H. Obviously. Don’t wait for tomorrow, do what you can do today.

I don’t think that’s it, though. There’s truth to the adage yes, but i wouldn’t apply it in this case. My process was a wise one, and it was mine. My timing didn’t fit with the way things happened, that’s all.

The lesson is pure affirmation. It is cementing things i’ve already begun learning.
Life does what life does. It just lives until it doesn’t anymore. It does as it will until it cannot and then it stops. I aspire to live life on life’s terms.

The other lesson is harder and sharper. It is that her life and her death were about her, not me. They were no longer any of my business. She was under no obligation to wait around until i was ready to try and right whatever could have been righted between us. She was not a thing for me to use to make me feel better about myself.
I know the truth of this in a way that makes me happy and sad at the same time.
Happy that i am growing up.
Sad that it came too late for her.
Not that i could have saved her, no. I no longer suffer under those sorts of illusions. I laid that burden down some time ago. But she deserved an apology from me, and any amends that she might have allowed or even welcomed.

I am deeply sorry for being a single moment of pain and sadness in a beautiful life that ended far too soon. I love her so, still, and that will continue. And i will always wish…



IMAGE: Marek Studzinski

Keyboard Bash Sesh

So, is it depression, or am i at the tail end of a mania, or neither, or something else, or nothing at all?

Damned if i know. How about i bash away at the keyboard a bit and see what happens?

**********

I used to brag that i never got embarrassed, but now i know that wasn’t true. I did. I just compartmentalised it in some way, depending on how severe. I could pretend i didn’t feel it, sometimes, like most of us. But then if it was big, or if it occurred around certain people or under certain circumstances, i could dissociate. From a little pulling back, to sliding around watching but being unable to affect anything, to a full blown switch.
Yes, i felt embarrassment. I was poor, i was too big, i was clumsy, i was unkempt, and my mother was the fattest person anyone had ever seen, everywhere we went. A lot of the time i wasn’t merely embarrassed – i was mortified.

Being a multiple meant i could get much needed distance between myself, and a feeling that could actually cause tonic immobility in me. I think my reaction was that intense because, embarrassment and shame being word-sisters, my childhood shame was inextricably linked to fear due to sexual abuse. And embarrassment by definition involves a witness, which was something i was strictly admonished against:

Don’t reflect badly on us.
Don’t call attention to us.
Don’t get caught.

**********

I tend to avoid drama in my viewing choices. However, i sport a deep weakness for medical drama television. Also British detective shows, but that’s for another time, maybe. I’ve followed the same one since it was 3 seasons old. (I’m often late to a hit series party. What can i say? I’m recalcitrant.)
I’ve seen every episode of ER, Chicago Hope, House (2X through!), MASH, Night Shift (it was awful, i know), Saving Hope (Canadian ❤ ), St. Elsewhere, Doogie Howser, M.D., and not a few of Marcus Welby and Medical Center. And don’t even get me started on General Hospital.

Today, i’ve winnowed it down to one, and i feed on Grey’s Anatomy like a hummingbird feeds on sugar water. I love every angst drenched, overacted, pretty-faced, unbelievable scenarios/constant disasters/everyone-who-loves-Meredith-will-die-unless-they-move moment of it. But i put it down when the pandemic started, because real life was as much drama as i could handle. Now that i’m somewhat acclimated to our current reality, i thought i’d turn it back on.

In the first ep back (a 2hr special, of course), one character is trying to get over a terrible breakup by asking a friend for a, um, sexy favour. The friend says okay, and when they are kissing, i can see that they’re crying. They’re trying to kiss passionately but instead they are sobbing – directly into the other person’s mouth. And i’m watching it and laughing. I’m chortling along, fully enjoying the scene when suddenly…

Suddenly i’m crying along with them. I was minding my own damn business –or rather i was dutifully avoiding my own business by watching some mindless medical soap opera– when my own traitorous emotions used the little crack in the door afforded by my open laughter, to sneak in those wretched, consarned tear blobs and hitching sobs (Tear Blobs and the Hitching Sobs is the name of my new folk band.)

So, you know, that happened…

**********

I’m moving into myself, somehow. It’s like enough of the renos have been done that the place is quite livable now. It’s decorated according to my tastes, and mine alone, and it’s welcoming and it feels like home.

As i tend to my dailies and sundry, i’m settling into the place. I’m seeping into the rugs and the walls ooze their colour into my blood. I belong here. In fact, ONLY i belong here. This is my home. No one else may enter. No one else will EVER enter.

I’m unpacking old bits of me, little tchotchkes and bric-a-brac. I put them away and kept them hidden, lest someone break them or take them from me. These are MY walls and end tables and shelving, and this house is a motherfucking BASTION, okay? It looks more and more like me every day, but more than that – it feels like me.

The land i’ve parked it on is a safe space. It’s beautiful and vast and wild and free.
I know who i am and the ground underneath rolls out before me, wherever i go.
It no longer matters if the world is ready for this.

**********

Fear is falling away from me, or at least, how i react to being afraid.
There are still situations that trigger fight/flight/freeze/feign/fawn, but some of the most consistently problematic are losing their power. The bite has lost much of its sting.

I lost a couple of friends i’d had for more than 15yrs. Turned out they didn’t know me and i didn’t know them. It was surface, at best. It barely hurt and i didn’t obsess over what had happened. I know who i am and so i could let it go. And by cracky, i did. I laid it down and walked away.

I can’t fault them for an action i myself am about to take.

Once all this current insanity is over –and it will end– i will be renovating my surroundings, too. My house is shaping up fine, but my yard is in need of some serious work. I’ll be pulling up old perennials that no longer blossom, and designing my outdoors to better suit my tastes. Things will be growing wild and lush, and don’t expect that posh neighbourhood type perfection. Any manicuring i do will be when and where i want to, and subject to my whims. I may plant things that don’t grow well in my soil. They will no longer languish for seasons upon seasons – they will be summarily yanked, and the leavings composted. Richer soil makes for more robust living things, doncha know?

Okay, enough metaphor.
What i’m saying is, i will now be picking my own friends. I used to just go along with whoever wanted to be friends with me. I was the tumbleweed of friends. I was just so damn grateful that somebody wanted to be friends with me that i never asked myself if i wanted to be friends with them. I mean, it wasn’t a problem because, in my subconscious, i intended to be friends with everyone. That was the only way to ensure i didn’t get hurt again… Right? RIGHT?!

The first time i went full hermit, i realised that most of the friends i had i’d made while manic and partying my face off. Pulling away from them wasn’t that big a deal. Frankly, no one noticed unless they bumped into me at the grocery store (Oh, it’s been ages! Come out for drinks/Let’s do coffee!) and no one cared enough to call or text (or get at me for that beverage). And the fact that it barely troubled me, the person who went into a 2yr depression the last time i lost a close friend, was a sign that it was probably for the best.

I’m not looking for an echo chamber or a tribe. However, when the world opens back up, i will be hermitting less and socialising more. I’ll be hanging out in different places, and looking for more like-minded people. And i’ll be particularly interested in those who are smarter than i am and have some quality i want for myself. Someone who has something to teach me that i’m keen to learn. And always, always, with a mind to quality over quantity.

It’ll take time, and it’ll be harder than it was in the past. The truth is, as i’m discovering who i am underneath all the crap my childhood piled on top of me, that i’m not as easy to like as i once was. That person i presented as in the past was not a lie, nor disingenuous. It was a facade, to be sure. But it was all i knew. I saw danger and the potential for pain everywhere, and in everyone. I was a wall, an obstacle course of protections. And friendship with me only went so far, as so many former friends told me. There was a door no one could open.
To be fair, i couldn’t share who i was if i didn’t know.
And the door was locked from both sides, and i hadn’t yet found the key.

I’m looking forward to forging some new friendships.
I might even be a little excited about it.

**********

That’s all i have for now. I’m fairly sure i’m done with mania. It also seems unlikely that i’ve fallen into depression. My emotions are more stable. I’m making good choices. I’m standing up for myself with a few people that i need to, and they don’t like it, and i don’t care. Okay i care, but i’m not letting it keep me from asking for what i want/need, or setting appropriate boundaries and saying NO where and when it’s necessary. I like myself so much more, but i’m prepared for others to like me less.

This next chapter is gonna be a page turner, i think.
Frankly, i can hardly wait.

Wait’ll they get a load of me.
~ The Joker (Batman, 1989)


Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Kaitlyn Baker









Dream #4, Plus Analysis (Mostly)

Wow. My dreams tonight are telling enough to blog about for the first time in months. Well, actually…

Okay, there are some other dreams that’ve been cropping up on the regular, but i didn’t wanna write about ’em. I knew i needed to talk with my therapist about them, which i did yesterday, so now i can at least refer to them, even if i keep it rather vague.

I’m in some bar/restaurant/banquet hall, which is a frequent location for my dreams. I’m with a large group of people that are all friends of mine, although in retrospect i only recognised a couple of them. We’re all chatting animatedly about old times and what we’ve been up to. There’s laughter and food, drink, and entertainment all around us.
A good time is being had by all until the server comes by with a tray of drinks that i politely refuse and instead ask for water.

There’s no pin drop, no awkward silence. I’m just immediately confronted with hostility and outright anger. Everyone’s pissy that i’m not drinking alcohol. They turn their backs to me, circling as a group, with me on the outside. One of them begins talking about me and others promptly join in. Their tone is condescending, derisive, and aggressive. Their gossip is peppered with laughter, harsh and staccato.

I move away, wandering amongst others, observing but not interacting. I come across some more old friends that are working security. They bring me over to where they’re eating their bagged lunches and drinking coffee. We sit around and shoot the shit in a jocular fashion.
Some are not wearing pants and i mark it as strange, but not sexual.
I tell J (a RL friend from my past) i’m sober and he smiles and holds my hand and leads me away from all those who are hectoring and bullying me. We sit down in movie theatre seats with other guys, and engage in conversation. Some get up and leave, only to come back, leading all my old friends out of the building.
I ask, Are they getting kicked out cuz they’re drunk?
The answer comes quickly, Yes.
Sitting with my security friends, i watch as they’re led out and observe that they all look very odd and “other,” unattractive and wasted.

S (another former RL friend) is crying. She spies me and begins yelling about how this is all my fault. She’s full of judgment, anger and condemnation. I respond that i’m open to having a conversation with her, but she needs to can it with the verbal abuse. The other women are talking at me as well, but to them i merely smile and wave. Yes, smugly.

I turn to the fellas and announce I’ve gotta pee! and after a short search, i find a strange looking bathroom with 3 curved metal doors. They open like a rolltop desk, but sideways, if that makes sense. I go to sit my butt down, but everything goes wrong and i wind up pissing all over everything, including these peach satin lingerie pants that i suddenly see i’m wearing. I have a RL pair of those sitting in my yard sale pile, as they’re now too big for me. I’m exasperatedly trying to clean myself off, when i look up and notice the door is open and the guys are staring in at me.
I’m not embarrassed and we all have a good laugh.

/END DREAM.

Things that seem significant upon reflection:

– the first group i hang out with are all women, and the security group are all dudes;

– the women are dressed up for a party, but the guys are in various states of undress;

– 1 member of each group are actual former friends IRL, and both friendships ended painfully;

– there’s nothing sexual going on, yet i’m wearing lingerie;

– i’m not overweight;

– i’m not acting provocatively;

– no one’s coming on to me;

– people disappear but they reappear (that almost never happens in my dreams – once they’re gone, they’re gone);

– i stand up to bullying and am not intimidated;

– someone comes to help while i’m being bullied (i’m always on my own when i’m under attack in dreams);

– a number of things happen: being criticised and shunned, seeing people in their underwear, being alone around men, being seen toileting, being seen in a state of undress (things that would normally cause absolute mortification in a dream, yet i’m nonchalant.)

**********

I could go deep into dream analysis here, but i don’t think it’s necessary. This stuff is obvious and easy – except for the separation of women from men.

– I’m relatively close to my ideal body weight.

– I’m sober and have been for some months.

– I’m still mourning the 2 friendships i lost.

– I’m more relaxed and myself around others.

– I’m not hypersexual or sex-focused, nor do i define my worth by my sexual attractiveness.

– I’m less afraid of rejection and have a solid sense of belonging.

– I recognise abuse and am far less inclined to tolerate it.

– I have solid relationships with trustworthy people – not just anyone can be my friend anymore.

Where the clear delineation of the sexes is concerned, i have some ideas, but i’m not ready to write about that quite yet. And as i draw to the end of this post, i know i’m not prepared to get into my bad dreams, either. It’ll come, all of it.
In due time.

So, that’s it for now, i guess. My dream journal isn’t for everyone, i know. If you’re still here, thanks!

Y’all try and hang in there as best you can.
I’m doing okay, all things considered.

Love and Peace to Everyone,
~H~

IMAGE: Nathan Dumlao



I’m Not A Bitch, Pt. II

Growing up with very few safe spaces contributed greatly to my hypervigilance, my distrust of others, my obsessive need to be liked and accepted, and my extreme emotional reaction to anything that looked remotely like rejection.

Once i left home i had a few roommate situations, which i eventually learned were not for me. I preferred being alone, and when my first son was less than 6mos old, i moved in to my first apartment on my own. I didn’t live with anyone else until i met the man i married, years later. Having my own place, my own space, helped change me in many positive ways. I began to relax a little, internally. I wasn’t so tense physically, i wasn’t so busy mentally, and i wasn’t as close to meltdown emotionally.

I had a place to decompress after a day of peopling. I had somewhere to escape when i felt overwhelmed. I could figure out how to be a grownup and a mother privately, without other pairs of eyes always on me, and to my mind, constantly judging me. I had a safe space where no one hurt me, no one blamed me, no one wiped their unwanted emotions off onto me or made me carry their past baggage. It allowed me to be more who i genuinely am, albeit still unconsciously.

I rarely had people over. It was me and my kid, and i loved it.

Associations with friends and family would be done in their homes, or parks, playgrounds, restaurants, malls, wherever – as long as it wasn’t my place. The only people besides my son that i regularly wanted in my space were my siblings.
I took the occasional lover, but they weren’t permitted to come around until my kid was asleep, and they had to leave before breakfast.

This home base allowed me to grow as a person. I made closer friendships, and began allowing others more access to where i lived. I still couldn’t figure out how to be in an intimate sexual relationship, although i tried. I ended up hurting a few young men, and eventually found myself pregnant again.
The recovery home that had helped me years before, offered me a nice, cheap apartment in a great neighbourhood that also housed other women who’d been through the program, but could still benefit from the financial and emotional support they offered. They also hooked me up with free counselling, and access to other programs to help me continue to try to deal with my childhood trauma, and to figure out how to be a decent single mom to 2 wee boys.

In this 4-plex, i made the most intimate friendships i’d ever had. We visited each other daily, and everybody was always welcome in everyone else’s apartment. It was a busy little commune, and it was the happiest i’d ever been in my life. It taught me that there were good, kind, SAFE people in the world who wouldn’t hurt me – who just wanted to be my friend and love me. We did practically everything together, and we were first on the scene when any one of us were struggling or in need.
Without them and their friendship, i’m not sure how much longer it would have taken me to be able to trust anyone enough to have a serious romantic relationship, if ever.

We all eventually moved out of our safe little “halfway house” – they got a place together, and i got a place which was soon filled with the man i’m over 20yrs married to today. They both approved of him, and i trusted their judgment even more than mine then, because the guy before was a hard lesson in why one shouldn’t date bad boys.

They’re both gone now, and i wish i’d had this insight sooner and been able to share it with them. My gratitude is boundless, and my grief, ever-deep. As we drifted away from each other (the reasons were quite serious then, but now seem so unimportant), we all fell apart, tired and winnowed huskless. Trying so hard to figure out who we were, what we had to offer, and move past the constant pain, sorrow, and dysfunction that had resulted from our childhood traumas.
I ache so to be the only one still here.
I’m swollen with the need to speak with them, to say Thank you! and to touch them, to hold them close and feel the heat of their skin, to clutch their hands in mine and to cry and laugh and talk too loud with them.

None of us knew how to be a good friend. We were all closed in on ourselves, curled tightly around our wounded cores. Trying to find love, acceptance, understanding, belonging… Somewhere. Anywhere. We all knew how our families expected us to behave, and we knew how we should act when we were out and about, around other people. However, it took a great deal from each of us to do so, and we all needed long lengths of solitude to rest and recover from each encounter with the world outside our slapdash treehouses.

We’d hibernate in our dark, chilly caves, padding ourselves with the protection of food and eating, the escape offered by reading and movies. We were the only people who could fairly easily enter each others’ sanctuaries, with the least amount of effort to engage, the most genuine kind of engagement, and the lowest level of fallout after our encounters. We tried to talk to each other about things that mattered, we sifted through old boxes of memories together, and even peaked into the occasional old attic trunk, whose lock had been bashed off by our ham-handed counsellors*.

We tried to relate to one another. We tried hard to be friends to each other. And none of us were particularly good at it, but we’d laugh at ourselves and keep trying. The stories i could tell of our adventures. Late night rescues from addictive behaviours. Hospital visits. Life skills classes and religious retreats. Police. Lousy boyfriends. Falling in love. Christmases and birthdays and cooking and cleaning each other’s homes when we got too low to do it by ourselves.
In each other’s spaces, we learned there were people who could come in and not take away from us. Someone who would add to us, and not deplete our resources. They brought warmth to my chill and pulled back the curtains on my dim, grey spaces, letting light in. The sun of their smiles. The safety of their understanding and respect when they didn’t touch me. The depth of their love when they delicately asked if they could…

It was all unconscious, then. I was so dissociated. I lacked the diagnosis, the knowledge i needed to knit it all together, a key insight that would finally be a flashlight into the dark places inside me, the places where other people hid.
Little people, big people, young, old, broken bits and fully fleshed out persons.

Perhaps it was finally having real and true friends who’d been through things i’d been through and were trying to “get over” them as i was, that helped me put that last piece of the puzzle in the right place.
I know they gave me my first taste of what it was like to not be alone.

I wasn’t the only fucked up person.
I wasn’t the only person who didn’t act “normal”.
I wasn’t the only one to feel weird, different, odd, other, strange, outside.

And i can see now that we probably unconsciously supported each other in creating a safe space around ourselves, as individuals, a place where no one could approach unless we wanted them to come closer.
And i can see now how wounded and broken we all still were; we didn’t have the right tools yet, and hadn’t all the information we’d require. So we still let in the wrong people – ones who crossed the line and then broke the circle – who penetrated our barriers and broke down our defenses.
And i can see now, them being overcome. By the past, by people, and finally, by life.

It’s breaking me, but it’s girding me, too.
I was so closed off from how deep my feelings were for them, because it was scary, dangerous, to feel so much. I see now, both absolute shit reasons and self-preservation reasons for my pulling away.
I could wax poetic about why they aren’t here now, but i’ve learned too much to do something so selfish and grandiose.
I don’t know why they aren’t here anymore and i am, still.
I do know that i wish they were, with all my heart.
I also feel a deep regret that things went the way they did, but i know i did my best, and i don’t in any way blame myself for their absence.
I believe now that they were the best friends i’ve ever had, until i met my husband.

There wasn’t much light in our lives when we found each other. I’m so grateful that they grabbed on to me and pulled me close, and then let me run away, and come close again. Over and over. Accepting me for who i was, letting whatever i could give be enough, and never being angry over what i could not.

I know now that they taught me so much that i needed to know in order to be where i am right now, today. They were there, helping me lay my foundation for friendship. They helped me know how, when i knew enough and was ready, to build strong walls around me, and what kind of door to put in, and that a good security system was necessary and smart and right… They taught me, with their lives, that it’s okay to be careful, vigilant even, to whom i give entry and to whom i do not.
I have a safe space today, and they’re part of my blueprint.

Their friendship, their personal struggles, and their lives are forged into my armour and their memory stands at my battlements, as i fight for my safe space today. And i am fighting and will always fight, against any and all comers.

I’ll fight to protect this, my safe space, my motherfucking castle. Most don’t even get across my moat, but i’ve found over the years that sometimes, even those i’d once welcomed in must be put out. I’ve pulled up the drawbridge on many, and you bet i’ve tossed some over the wall and pushed them from the turrets.

I’m the queen of my castle.

*We’d met each other through a home for women in crisis, run by the religious. Understand that, while i’m most grateful for all those religious women did for me, and they did a LOT (fed me, clothed me, taught me how to cook and keep a house, and address my past), they did it according to their religious beliefs, which included bible-based therapy. Also know that i cannot and would not speak for my friends with regards to the guidance and advice we received from them. I’m referring to myself specifically and only when i say it was just mildly helpful, and in some cases, although i have no doubt they loved me and wanted so much to help me, was actually quite harmful.

Friendship

I’ve developed a close friendship for the first time in many years. The kind of friend i check in with most days and hang out with every week.
She’s seen me switched, and had to deal with some of my shenanigans. It’s horribly embarrassing to me, but it’s also been good. She hasn’t walked away, and she hasn’t hurt me. I’ve lost some treasured friendships to bipolar disorder and multiplicity, and the way i coped was by keeping people at arm’s length, and hermitting in my Little Crooked House. I reached out to her for more friendship because i thought the cavalcade of crazy was pretty much over. Blargh.
She’s handled it better than anyone has, ever. Having a friend who accepts me exactly as i am is great, and having a friend who doesn’t treat me any differently after she’s seen my particular brand of cuckoo has been relaxing and healing and freeing. I’ve experienced the silent reaction (pretending the conversation never happened), the bullshit reaction (you are lying, that isn’t real), and the sideshow freak reaction (wow, how many alters do you have, what are their names, can i talk to one, what happened to make you that way).* Her reaction is relatively new. It’s a bit meh, and it’s nice.

Friendship has been a loaded issue my whole life. I’ve wanted connection, but the first half of my life i was running blind, and after that i pulled myself out of the race.
I’ve always been able to draw people in, i can make friends quickly and easily when i’m settled inside. Where i have trouble is building something deep and hanging on long term.

For the years since i accepted my diagnosis and began working on how to live with multiplicity, i’ve shouldered the blame for all my failed relationships.
I’m not easy to get to know.
It’s hard to get close to me.
I can be unreliable.
I’ve disappeared for weeks, even months, with no contact.
I can be histrionic and chaotic.
I can be emotionally unavailable, cold even.
I can be so focused on my own stuff, that i’m clueless about anyone else’s problems.

That’s not so much the case anymore, but back when i had a number of dear friends, those descriptors fit me rather well. I needed to know myself better in order to be able to function more effectively, and i studied it all, good, bad, or indifferent. I looked under every rock i found. It’s a tricky bit of business, trying to find the balance between being understandably broken because of how i was raised, and taking responsibility for the wreckage of my life. I wasn’t much of a success at life, beyond surviving. Don’t misunderstand me though, this is a balance thing, as i stated. I don’t believe in miracles, but the fact that i lived through my childhood and managed not to be a shitty human is as close to one as i’ve ever seen. I’m amazing, and i know it. I should either be far less functional and barely living, or a high-functioning, horrible person. But i’m not. I’m a likable, lovable woman who’s getting a little bit more awesome every day.

What i’m talking about here is an appropriate, adult level of personal responsibility.
And when it came to all the people i’ve lost, i took all the blame. I truly thought it was mine.

Recently, my new close girlfriend told me she’d been reading my blog, and bluntly stated that i’m too hard on myself. A couple of days later, someone who doesn’t know me but reads my blog offered up some similar commentary. I immediately bristled with my friend, but i noticed that i did, and so i went home and thought about it. By the time i received the second comment, i was more receptive, and more still when an online friend who’s known me for 15+yrs shared some lovely thoughts she had about my last piece. She also implied that i’m a harsh critic of my own work.

I’ve been pondering this for a week or 2 now, and i think it’s a valid criticism. I’m too critical of myself. (There’s a joke in there somewhere, but my current headache won’t let me find it. Pfft.) This is difficult for me to accept, as it runs contrary to my upbringing. I was the family scapegoat. I was bad, i was wrong, and i screwed it all up. My every move was scrutinised, and regularly and soundly criticised. I never met my mother’s expectations, nothing i did was good enough. There is constant chatter in my head from my Peanut Gallery, and someone is always picking at me: how i look, how i talk, how i cook, how i clean, how i write, how i mother, wife, friend… They sound like my mom.

I want to deal with this inner critic issue, but i have enough on my plate already. I do counter the voices quite often when the subject is how i look.

System: You look ridiculous in that outfit.
Me: I feel pretty, so it’s staying on.

I realise now that i don’t deal with the other stuff, though. I’ll try countering those voices where and when i can, but i won’t be pushing too hard right now. However, i do want to do one thing, it’s been percolating in my brain since that day in the car with my friend.

It’s not all my fault that i’ve lost the friends i’ve lost. Some of them naturally faded away, but a few were toxic to me in one way or another. The truth is they were shitty to me, and did me a favour by leaving. I was taught loyalty is all, and crappy treatment is to be expected. I didn’t see the behaviours until they were long gone, nevertheless i still saw the blame as mine.

But they used me, and i just loved them the best way i knew how, and when they weren’t getting enough from me to tolerate how sick i was getting, they left. I desperately needed help, and they left.

So there, i said it. I have a bowling ball in my belly and i feel like puking, but it’s out there. I may have sucked, but they also sucked.

There is my bit of growth for the day.
I’m not the bad guy, i’m the good guy. I also think i might be a pretty decent friend. It’s their loss, and they can kiss my pale, fallen ass.
Heh.

*I don’t particularly have a problem with any of these reactions. If it’s too much or you just don’t have the spoons to deal with my stuff, that’s okay, we can pretend i never said anything. I’m not lying, it is real, but i don’t blame you for thinking it’s a load of crap. I thought the same thing for most of my life. It’s cool to be curious, too. Feel free to ask me anything you’d like, just be aware that i might choose not to answer; some things i don’t share.

If It Quacks Like A Duck…

Put your gun down and don’t shoot it.

It’s funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) how the thing i’ve been trying to write about for, well, maybe years, comes to the forefront after i get back to a draft i’ve saved for 6+mos. It’s sat on my blog and been reworded, revised, and deleted over and over, because it’s one of the most difficult subjects for me to address. I’ve never felt like i’ve gotten enough distance from it to have anything helpful to share.
Maybe now i do.
I may still put this back on the shelf.
I don’t know what i’m gonna decide, but i’m in suspense!
(I know, if you’re reading this, that makes precisely one of us. Heh.)

The bullying started in grade two. I’d just been returned to my mother after nearly a year of being in the foster care system. During that time, i learned to cope with food. Unlike at home, foster care afforded me regular access to healthy food. Breakfasts came with fruit, toast, cereal – i had Flintstones chewable vitamins for the first time in my life. Lunches were either prepared for me to take to school, or i came home to a mother who had it ready on the table. And the most amazing meal of the day was suppertime, when there was a father, hungry and home from work, sitting with mother and children. Everyone chatting about their day, as the other children snuck their Brussels sprouts onto my plate. It was just like i’d seen on television. There were even after school and bedtime snacks, for crying out loud.
At home there was often nothing in the fridge. I’d come home from school starving, having not had lunch, and tear apart the cupboards looking for anything edible. I remember i’d make a treat out of soda crackers: i’d put a small dollop of ketchup on one, followed by a tiny drip of mustard, topped with a quick sploosh of Worcestershire sauce, and then pop the entire thing in my mouth. I pretended i was eating fancy appetizers.
If there was food, i was often expected to prepare it, and if my mother thought i had eaten any of it before she returned home from work, i was guaranteed some kind of beating, the severity of which usually depended on what kind of day she’d had.

I’m telling you this to demonstrate why, when i was returned to my mom on Christmas Eve, i was a bit overweight. Add to that, my mom was celebrating getting me back from the “evil” foster parents that were trying to take me away from her – and her favourite way to celebrate was food. This time though, she actually shared it all with me, because she was fresh out of the mental hospital and chest-deep into the latest 70s pop psychology, so she was wearing her Bonnie-Franklin-as-Ann-Romano-in-One-Day-At-A-Time-i’m-a-great-modern-mom mask. (It came off before Christmas holidays were over.) For 2 solid weeks, all i did was eat. And i’m telling you that so you know why the bullying started immediately on a frigid January day in 1975.
I was the fat (not really) kid.

Being the fat kid was bad enough, but i increased my target value by being both obviously poor, and overflowing with personality… personalities… Whatever. I had the reek of something gone off inside me, and everyone around me could smell it. To the sharks on the playground, i was blood in the water.
I could share lots of stories, but you’ve likely heard similar ones, or had an experience or two yourself. I don’t want to wallow or dwell. I’m loathe to talk about this part of my life at all, but it has become clear to me that it still effects how i experience friendships and peer groups, so i either handle it, or it’ll just keep on handling me.

I’ve said stuff like this before in other journalling pieces, but i may have glossed over it. Maybe it’ll help if i just let it get embarrassingly emotional and awkward for everyone – the ugly cry of the blog post. A little bloodletting to balance the humours. Trephination to release my inner demons. Barf it up and flush it, H. (I’m revving myself up with metaphors.)

I avoid this issue because that’s how i felt the entire 12 years i was in public school. Embarrassed. Emotional. Awkward. Also, exposed and vulnerable and utterly alone.

I was being raped and beaten and emotionally tortured at home. On the good days i was just neglected. School should have been a port in the storm. It should have been some respite from the constant emotional upheaval. Instead, the armour i wore to protect me at home was like waving a cape at the school bullies. I added more fat over the years, and threw in poor hygiene because i’m an overachiever. Heh. It was actually because my mother modelled it for me, coupled with the bathroom being a very dangerous place for me, abuse-wise, but if that had occurred to anyone at school, it never manifested in my rescue. There were a couple of visits from social workers – they came to the school, not the home, so i think a teacher or 2 may have tried, but my mother was an exceptionally clever woman, and a fabulous actress.

For 19 solid years i had it drilled into me that i was alone.
I was defective and gross and no one would ever like, love, or want me.
Everything i did was wrong, or not enough.
Everyone i loved hurt and/or left me.

That’s a long time for some extensive programming to sink in, take hold, and grow roots.

I was physically separated from my mother at 20, but even though she died before we could be reunited, she was always with me. Fortunately, gratefully, no one in my Peanut Gallery is representative of her, although they all have their own experiences and opinions of who she was to them. I’m referring to just how well her indoctrination took. I was generally a very obedient child, especially when i was younger, and her training was thorough. I did what i was told: in public i was unfailingly polite and proper, deferred to all adults, was quiet and demure, unless called upon to be precocious in order to impress someone. As she descended into hopelessness, depression, and rage, her mask began to slip, her hold on me lessened some, and my own facade developed some cracks.

Still, i approached every person and every situation the same way. I wanted desperately to be liked and accepted, but i was terrified for them to get to know me too well, because they might find out how rotted and filthy i was at my core.
Thusly i conducted every friendship i ever attempted – a stilted dance of pulling someone in too close, out of tempo, only to fling them stage left for an ill-timed solo, or turn away and dance by myself as if they weren’t even there, usually in a style that didn’t match the song.
I know now that i must have been very difficult to be friends with. I’m surprised at how long some of them stuck with me. Some left with good reason, others were probably just tired. I mourned them all, but miss none of them today. (I have been happy to reconnect with a couple of good people, though.) People as broken as i was don’t always have the greatest taste. The only long-term friends i have that i’m even remotely intimate with now, are online. They either don’t notice or don’t mind that i get close and then faaaaaaaar. Most of them even know and accept that i’m not always quite myself, and they treat my people with as much love and respect and patience as they treat me.

I don’t know if i can ever have that with anyone in the flesh.
I don’t think i’ve ever given anyone a decent opportunity, but i was ignorant, and now…
Now i don’t know if i can, or even if i want to.
My mother and my home life taught me to wear a mask, and i got so good at it that my masks became people that live in my brain.
My peers and my school life taught me that all my masks were ugly, and it hurt so much that i crawled up inside my brain and let my masks take over.

Since all this inner gardening work i’ve done has finally started bearing some truly delicious fruit, i have only shared it with family in the flesh, and with my dear online friends. I’ve not yet invited someone to my table and served them any of my harvest. I’m afraid they won’t even want to sit and partake. Or what if they do and they find it bitter, or overripe? Or what if they eat it, and i suddenly find that i’m one with my bounty and they’re hungrily devouring me and i cannot stop them? What if they pillage my garden and feed until i am nothing?

Angry children climbing my trees and plucking every fruit, trouncing every lush vine, and mercilessly uprooting every flower. And always, the children who watch and do nothing, as my beautiful garden is turned to desert, their whispers blow all my top soil away.

This is the ugly cry of it.
My mother twisted me into an odd duck, and schoolchildren -both the bullies and the do-nothings- plucked me to death, one feather at a time.

~A Conversation Between Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou~

OPRAH: Maya, you were telling me that your life is defined by principles, and one principle you have taught me is that we can’t allow ourselves to be “pecked to death by ducks.”

MAYA: That is true. Some people don’t have the nerve to just reach up and grab your throat, so they just take …

OPRAH:  … little pieces of you, with their rude comments.

MAYA: That’s right.

OPRAH: They try to demean you.

MAYA: Reduce your humanity through what New York cartoonist Jules Feiffer called “little murders.” The minute I hear [someone trying to demean me], I know that person means to have my life. And I won’t give it to them.

OPRAH: It is an assassination attempt by a coward.

MAYA: Yes, some people don’t have the courage to just walk up to you and pull the trigger. If somebody just walked up and said “Boom!” — well, there you go. Bye. But when a person commits these little murders, and then you catch him or her at it, he or she might say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it.” But make no mistake: It is an assassination attempt.

**********

I’ll just be over here, swimming in my little pond in my garden.
No peckers allowed.

Thoughts About a Friend

Well, if it’s so deep you don’t think that you can speak about it,
Just remember to reach out and touch the past and the future.
Well, if it’s so deep you don’t think you can speak about it,
Don’t ever think that you can’t change the past and the future.
You might not, not think so now,
But just you wait and see–someone will come to help you.
~Kate Bush, Love and Anger

I have this friend. We weren’t always friends, but we’ve known each other for a very, very long time. We knew the same people, so i heard a lot of stuff about her and i’m sure she could say the same. We don’t talk about that, though. We don’t talk about those people either. She knows i don’t want to talk about them, and she respects that.

She respects me. She said so last week.
That is one thing that i don’t get in my life – or at least i don’t accept it.
Respect.
I have been a dysfunctional mess for most of my life. The only thing i’ve had going for me is my somewhat charming personality.
But she respects me, and so we don’t talk about those people.
She respects me, and that means that she has respected my space. She has this way about her that i don’t quite know how to describe. She’s calm. She has a soft and gentle voice, that always sounds as if the next sentence might just be sarcastic, although it mostly isn’t. Her eyes are kind and intelligent, and her face always looks so serene. She’s got that Mona Lisa face. Like she knows a lot and doesn’t mind at all that you don’t. Not smug though, she’s welcoming. She makes me feel welcome. I feel like i’m enough and i am okay just the way i am when i’m with her.

As you may know from other posts, i have slowly withdrawn from people, until i pulled out of the human race entirely over 15mos ago. The only people i associated with were my children and their families. I needed time to figure out what i wanted from others, and what i was willing to give. She would come by every few months, even though she knew i wasn’t peopling. I’d send my husband out to cut her off at the pass and i’d go hide in my room. She’d leave coffee and doughnuts. She’d tell my husband that it was okay that i didn’t want to come out, or she was sorry i was sick. A lie that i made him tell her, that she probably knew wasn’t true. Yet she would stop by again a few months later – like it was okay for me to lie.
“Just tell her i love her,” she’d say to him.

One day she came by and i went outside to meet her. I don’t even know how it happened. I was just out there and i was saying Hi. She only stayed for five minutes. It was like she knew that was all i could take. She respected me.
She’s going through some serious crap in her life. I knew it, but i didn’t think i could do anything. I’ve been standoffish with our “group” of people for many years now. I couldn’t imagine what i had to offer that she would want. She stopped by one day, and i let her in the door. All she wanted from me was a hug. There were tears slipping down her cheeks, but we didn’t talk about them. I hugged her for longer than i’d hugged anyone in years, and she said she loved me and she left. It took all of five minutes.

She accepted me and loved me for exactly who i was, precisely where i was at, every time she saw me, all the time she was with me. She made me feel welcome and that i was enough, just the way i was at that moment. I felt like everything was gonna be okay.
And when i knew that i wanted to go back out into the world and try being the person that i really am inside, around real life human beings – she was the first person i contacted. Because she respects me. For who, what, how, and why i am. And i know that is an incredibly rare quality. She is a quality human.

I feel honoured and privileged to know her and so very fortunate to be loved by her.
She is one of the best friends that i have ever had. I respect her more than just about anyone else i know.
It’s her birthday, and i hope she has a great one.

Love and Peace,
To Her and To You,
~H~

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

Do you really want to hurt me,
Do you really want to make me cry
?
~Culture Club

It’s been a year since i quit socialising. Actually, it’s been more like 2, but i’d tried to do a bit here and there in 2015. It was all a disaster, and convinced me that i needed to do something a little more drastic. I haven’t been out to a major gathering since a wedding last Hallowe’en, or had people in my home for a meal in even longer.

I’m not lonely most of the time. I have a teenage kid still living at home, and the other 2 stop by regularly with the families that they’re building. In the last year, that’s been more than good enough. I have some online relationships that have filled any serious need i’ve felt to interact with anyone outside of them.

I’ve never been good at peopling, i guess. It’s not been for lack of trying. I may have put more effort in to having friends than just about anything else. No long term success, though. I’ve had friends off and on throughout my life, some very close and very dear. None of them though, for a long time. The longest friendship i’ve ever been able to maintain was around 15yrs, and no other friendship even comes close to that one, which is, like all the others save one that has been rekindled, either over, or no longer close.

I accept that it’s mostly been my fault. I accept that it’s hard to be my friend, much like i accept that i’m an odd person – not because i know it, but because i’ve been told it’s so, and the opinion seems to be largely borne out. I don’t feel like i’m particularly hard to be friends with, but based on my track record it seems fairly obvious. Heh. I’m not exactly sure what it is that makes me so weird, either. However, based on how hard it is for me to maintain a relationship, or forge new friendships, coupled with how people look at me and treat me… Some people have even told me right to my face, which i actually appreciate. Especially now, with my resolution to stop reading everyone reflexively; blunt people are less stressful.

I had a job from the time i was very young, and the most important part of it was to behave in certain ways around certain people. Different ways around different people. It hasn’t lent itself well to a strong sense of identity. I wasn’t so good at being myself but i was quite good at being who i thought other people expected me to be.

Well, i thought i was good at it.
Now i’m not really sure.

The harder i’ve worked on myself -you know, my brain and my fucked up life- the more i’ve wondered if that was ever really so.
That i was good at it.
You know, peopling.

It also seems to be that, the healthier and more functional i’ve gotten in my brain and my much-less-fucked-up life, the less good i am at peopling. I get nervous, anxious, awkward. Everything feels forced and i know i’m trying too hard. I feel exposed, naked, vulnerable… I’ll smile too wide, laugh too loud, talk too long, drink too fast. Sometimes all at once. Dissociation to some degree is never far behind. I can devolve in 2hrs or less now.

I’m kind of a train wreck.

So i decided over a year ago that it was time to take a break. I desperately needed to get some perspective, and my body needed me to stop punishing it with drugs. My body is healthier and my vision is much clearer. I don’t always like what i see, but at least i’m not crashing into it full speed, wondering What the heck was that, and Is this the collision i won’t walk away from?

Here is my truth: When the people who created me did unspeakable things to me, it broke me on a level that can never be mended. I know that. I don’t know if i can ever trust anyone enough to let them really know me – even what little i know about myself. I know i’m trying my best, and i know i’ll continue to try, but it may be that i’ll never be able to people very well. Some of those friends that i’ve lost along the way have said they couldn’t live with the wall i have around myself. Others have called me closed, unreliable, full of myself, full of shit.

They’re not wrong, although in my own defense, it’s hard to be genuine when you have no clue who you are, and you can’t let down your walls long enough to figure much out.

So i guess what i’m saying is, Fuck them. Kinda. Not really i suppose.
But they hurt me.
People hurt me.
All the time and even when they don’t mean to.
I think just being around people hurts me a lot of times.
I’m sick of people’s shit and i’m tired of trying to figure them out.

I feel safe in my Little Crooked House, and i’ve almost never felt safe in my entire life.
I still get hurt here, but they’re sorry, and they know me. I guess?
I don’t really know right now, but i’m really fucking trying.

Sorry for all the cursing. Dark night of the soul stuff actually makes me less poetic and more profane.
Love and Peace,
~H~

Ghouls, Goblins, and Bodachs*

*NOTE: A friend suggested that some of my social media postings may also be appropriate for my blog. So here’s one from yesterday. ~H~

 

When i get upset – i want space.
I appreciate your concern, but a quick check-in and an offer to be around if i need to talk is enough. For me, it’s more than enough.

I’m not a touchy person. I only hug if i really mean it, now.
Please do NOT touch me (.) when i’m upset.
Please do not check up on me.
I’m not playing a game, i really really YES RLY want to be left alone.

My emotions used to leak out all over the place, but now i’m getting good at containing them in an adult manner, so my husband and kids know to leave me alone, and i don’t tend to lose it in public anymore.

Before i got this good at managing my stuff, things could get ugly. When i would feel vulnerable and someone got into my personal space without my permission, i could get a bit snippy, or outright lash-outy.

I’m sharing this, not so much for me, but for the friends and family that i’ve seen recently go through this. If you’re like me, i wanna tell you something i’ve learned over the years.

The ones that really care will hear you when you thank them for their concern and ask for some space.
The ones that come back at you for repeated updates, y’know:

Are you okay?
No, no more than i was last time.
Do you want to talk?
No, even less than last time, and certainly not to you.
You know you can talk to me about anything.
Sure, as long as it isn’t personal.

^^^ Those people aren’t asking because they care about you. They’re attention-seekers, drama moths, and chaos addicts.

And the ones that get their nose out of joint, and make sure everyone sees their feigned hurt expressions, deep sighs, and silent treatment?

You brush them off. If it’s in the workplace i know you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, but you give those people a wide berth.
They’re emotional ghouls. They’re like those girls in high school who ignored you at best, or tortured you at worst, who suddenly had their arm around your shoulder and were handing you a tissue when you started crying during gym class. They look at you with glittering eyes and swear they won’t tell anyone. By afternoon classes everybody knows.
They’re like the Bodachs in Odd Thomas, or the Goblins in Twilight Eyes.

Anyway, i know some people i care about have had to deal with that kind of thing lately, and i wanted you to know you’re not alone, and it’s not wrong to tell these people to back off. If they’re worth your time, try telling them they’re being invasive. Maybe they’re treating you the way they’d like to be treated if they were upset. Tell them you aren’t them and you sincerely prefer to be left alone.

And if you’re one of those people that hovers and asks more than once, ask yourself if maybe it’s not more about you when you press the issue. Sometimes, some people do play a game (i know i’ve done it with my husband more than once) where something is clearly wrong and they insist it’s nothing or they say they don’t want to talk about it – but it kinda seems like they really do. Maybe you’ve known them for long enough to know it’s a pattern of behaviour, or you know them to be just generally manipulative, but you’re a nice person and so you always play along…

You can stop playing their game. Take them at their word. If you don’t believe them, just tell them that you’re around if they change their mind and then walk away.

So i ask for space
And you give it to me
The world keeps turning
And i don’t make a voodoo doll of you

~H~