About eight years ago I decided to be me. I thought it was time to allow other people to know me. It seemed a good time to start sharing the person I have been and the one I will become. Prior to this, I had been whomever best fit a given situation. I would change on cue to allow the person or persons in that situation the best experience possible--as long as they knew nothing about me. What I learned from this was that people are largely self-centered, they're perfectly content to talk about themselves as long as I continue to show interest and ask questions, and they don't have a problem with me coming into their lives for a brief moment and disappearing when the moment is over.
But I took a good look at myself and I thought, "I have a great deal to offer. I have a good heart. I'm supportive. I'm funny. I'm happy most of the time. I think people would like me if I let them know who I am."
Then I thought, "But why would I do that?" And I could come up with no good answer. So I decided to try it and see what would happen.
I started online with people I had never met and never intended to meet. I cultivated friendships with many people and eventually wished to meet some of them--which I did--and it was a wonderful experience. With all of them, I allowed knowledge of my history and let them know about my family and current life, but the core of myself remained hidden.
Since that time, I have allowed a few people to know the person I am, the fears I possess, and the things that make me happy and sad. There was beauty in that experience and for awhile I felt it was okay. I'm not sure I feel the same anymore.
I missed out on a lot of "growing up" milestones, emotionally. For about a year, when I was eight, I had a couple of friends that felt bonded with me forever. But I was eight. And then my family moved far from those friends and that experience never happened again. I stayed in touch with one of those friends, and eventually roomed with her in college. What I found out was that, while she still cared about me, I was not as important as the friends who had been present in her life throughout high school, our interests had diverged, and eventually our interaction has centered around a one-sided Christmas card exchange (she sends me one every year, but I've not sent Christmas cards since 2010, when Tabitha's behavior became exhausting and I was unable to do anything but the most necessary tasks).
During the course of the last eight years, I've again formed close ties with a few people. But the bonds are fraught with insecurity on my part. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love the people, I adore talking with them and sharing my life with them. I hate feeling that I'm vulnerable to them, or that we could drift apart, or that I rely on them--that's the part that causes me the most stress.
Sunday was an eye-opener to me. Darrin and the kids were not home. Darrin was out of town and DJ, Adam, and Tabitha were spending time at church and with friends. I was by myself for the first time in months and I didn't have my cell phone which stores the contact information of people who will allow me to call when I'm having distress. And I was having a great deal of distress.
I am frustrated when I think of how difficult that day was. By evening I was a complete mess. I was berating myself for ever believing I could build a support system of "people". I knew better. I'd become weak. I didn't know how to depend on myself anymore. I was dissatisfied with the coping tools I'd assembled. I wanted to talk to a REAL person and I felt I wouldn't be able to handle the onslaught of emotional crap I was experiencing without that. And I sort of hated everyone for being unavailable, which was completely illogical and unfair.
Today, when I am rational, I keep thinking about that day and how painful it was. I don't want it to happen ever again. I'm certain the circumstances will present themselves in the future, but I don't want to feel at the mercy of whomever I might ask for help--who is living life and who needs to not be interrupted by the blips of my own life. I want to recognize that support systems don't always work as desired, and have a plan B for those times. Or maybe I need to make those support people the Plan B, and rely on myself, only resorting to Plan B when I absolutely have to.
I'm reminding myself of these things:
1. It was kind of brave of me to reach out to other people; to tell them who I am and invite them to share my life. However, they share when they please and are not available to me always. They are dealing with priorities and events and people--the things that are present and immediate. I am not one of those and it is unfair of me to believe my crisis timing will match their availability timing.
2. There is one person in everyone's life with whom they share themselves. Darrin is my person. Sometimes, when he's gone, I have difficulty. But he is always coming back and he always wants me. No one else feels the same way. Other people have their "one person" with whom they share their love and their lives. When I'm overwhelmed, I have been known to forget this and ask for help anyway. I need to not do that anymore.
3. I'm capable. I'm strong. I can take care of myself. These are important to remember. It's good to seek help from loved ones when I'm having difficulty--but not essential. I will be okay.
4. There must never be a time in my future when I feel I cannot function or make it through difficulties without the help of someone who loves me. Never. When I know how to manage on my own, the pain eventually eases. I identify the source and take the steps necessary to alleviate it and move forward. When I feel a need for help or comfort from another person and it does not materialize, I am flung backward to that time in my life when a little girl felt alone and abandoned by people who actually SHOULD have cared for and protected her.
But I am not a little girl anymore. I am completely able to deal with situations that pop up, I know how to care for myself, and I don't need to be protected anymore. Relying on others when I'm feeling overwhelmed makes me vulnerable to the belief that I am unwanted, burdensome, and annoying. I don't believe I am any of those, but my self-worth dwindles to the point that there have been times when I have felt no more desire to live. Perhaps that's cowardly. Perhaps I AM a coward. I don't know. But I do know that what happened Sunday cannot happen again. Help from others needs to be an option but not a necessity--delightful when it happens, and fine when it does not.
My exam yesterday did not go well. There was a great deal of problematic emotional crap that came afterward. I was fortunate that Tolkien Boy was online and could talk with me about it and I feel much better today. But I think that will be the last time I look for help in the moments that feel devastating. Because today I feel that I took too much of his time, and I said more than I should have, and when we spend time together, we should talk more of happy things that aren't centered on my personal flaws and malfunctions. I don't like feeling that way and I see no purpose in obtaining momentary relief, only to have other complications come when I start thinking like a real person and recognize that maybe I overused my friendship rights.
Still, I'm working through the "stuff" that has come up in the past five days. And I WILL be all right.
Also, my mammogram was normal and I am physically very healthy. I've been on a medication to stabilize my blood pressure, which has been fluctuating wildly since my reaction to the flu shot, and the low blood pressure moments are now becoming a regular thing for me, rather than the high spikes, followed by a drop to very low, and then stabilization just under normal, so my doctor thinks I should discontinue medication in month and see what happens. I'm all for that. Medicine and I do not get along well.
And now it's time for physical therapy. My life is fun. :)