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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dear everyone who has ever been in my life,

I suppose I need to mention that I'm writing this at a very obnoxious time in my life. I'm experiencing random dips throughout the day. One moment I'm calm, sane, happy even. The next I'm so sad I can't stop crying. I have fleeting thoughts of ways to end my life that are odd and unwelcome. I'll be doing something mundane: loading the dishwasher, showering, using the bathroom, drinking water, and the thought will come: I could just               (fill in the blank)             right now, and then things will be better. I'll be better. I'll be dead. And better.

This feels different from suicidal depression (I've been there before). It feels like desperation depression. I've been is an intensely difficult situation for more than a year. I've had major surgery and shortly thereafter, moved to a different state after living in one place for more than 20 years. I'm living in less than optimum circumstances. I think it's understandable that my brain is opting out of everything right now.

So anything I write this morning is suspect.

This is a confession.

I think, when I was a child, I actually had friends. I think I had them more than once. I remember having two very close friends in third grade. But then my family moved, as they did every couple of years for the first decade of my life. It was harder making friends after that final move, but I remember having them.

After I was raped, it was more difficult to have friends. I spent a year with none. Then, when I was in 8th grade, a group of girls adopted me. I don't think any of them really thought of me as a friend, but they sat with me during classes, ate with me at lunch, and invited me to their parties. Maybe they thought I was their friend? I think that's what friends do when they're in 8th grade. But I felt nothing for them except gratitude. It was nice to have a group. I didn't belong with them, but they made sure I was not alone. I appreciated that.

I had friends in high school.

I think, though, that I didn't really. I had learned by that time to cope and cover up and pretend. I had subconsciously figured out that you can socialize, and even enjoy yourself, without connecting deeply. You can have fun. You can like people. But you're safest if you let them talk, but never talk about yourself, if you entertain, but never confide, if you interact and laugh and smile and never, never, never let people know if you're sad. This pattern of behavior continued long into adulthood and marked my interactions even (or perhaps especially) with my siblings and parents.

And it worked for a long time. But not really.

And one day I came here. Here, where people often wrote things they would never say, things that could not be said aloud or to another person. This was a place of truth. When I joined, I didn't always write truth. I couldn't. I didn't know how. But I practiced. And I joined the community of truth while writing half-truths.

I wrote about my past. I became more truthful as I allowed myself to accept what had happened to me. It took years. Bit by bit, I allowed myself to write more truths. Eventually I came to a place where I could speak the words. I suppose that meant I was healing.

But what I did not expect was that I would find people here who cared about me. Well, cared about Samantha, whom I created. Some of them went a step further. They wanted to meet Samantha's creator. They wanted to know who I was. They wanted to be friends.

I don't think I expected that.

Still, I allowed it to happen. I had an ironclad persona. I was likable and funny. I had nothing to fear. The persona had been practiced to perfection. I forgot that these people had read my truth right here as Samantha told her story.

So this was a new experience. I was interacting with people who sometimes read the honest words I wrote about my past, my present, my feelings, and my life. This created an unexpected, instant intimacy. I was not prepared for that.

Suddenly, there were people with whom I was falling in love. I wanted them in my life. I knew about them in the same way they knew about me. I felt close to them, connected somehow. It was very uncomfortable.

Online interaction became in-person interaction with a few people I had met here. There were phone calls and visits, as we all lived in different places. We chatted online whenever possible. And as our emotional closeness increased, I began to panic. I wasn't used to this. Only my husband and children, people who lived with me, were allowed emotional intimacy with me.

I found myself vacillating between joy and contentment during our interactions and intense fear, guilt, and paranoia when we were not interacting. I made deadlines for myself: On this day, I have to end my friendship with         (fill in the blank)       . Or I would set the timer so that an online or telephone conversation wouldn't last too long. Or I would turn off my phone or not log into my chat program for a few days so that everyone would have a break from me.

I didn't want to risk people getting tired of me. I wanted them.

A few people became very close friends. This was even more upsetting and uncomfortable for me. And very scary. I started a different blog under a different blognym so that I could write down my thoughts and feelings. The blog was private. The thoughts and feelings were private. Mostly because they were insane.

In my new blog I talked about how afraid I was. I talked about the things I assumed those who were closest to me thought and said about me when I wasn't there. I made plans for how I would cope when the people I loved left me. I wrote them letters. I composed pretend conversations. I said the words they were thinking (what I assumed they were thinking) for them. I told myself, in their voices, that this was all temporary, that I was too messed up, that in the end, it was too much stress for them to stay with a person like me.

It was a blog where I allowed myself to be verbally and emotionally abused and, ultimately, abandoned by the people I love.

You might wonder why I would do that. It seems insane, yes?

Keep in mind that I've been abused physically, mentally, and emotionally from my earliest memories. Keep in mind that the number one perpetrator of the abuse was someone who, traditionally, nurtures and loves. Keep in mind that I was isolated, emotionally, from other people for many, many years.

I suppose I needed to prepare. I loved these people so much that if they decided to harm or abandon me, I needed to be strong enough to withstand the damage. So I was practicing. It's what I do. I'm a musician, after all. By allowing myself to feel what I would feel in the event that people hurt me or left me, I was preempting the feelings of overwhelming loss that would inevitably occur, so when they actually happened, I would be okay.

It's a trick I learned as a child. I knew that when I came home from school, my mother would be there waiting. She wouldn't want to hear about my day. She wouldn't hug me or say she was glad to see me. She would have found something while I was gone: my room wasn't clean, or my bed wasn't made right; she'd found a dish I'd washed that wasn't quite clean: there would be laundry to fold or other chores to do; or she would just be angry and yell about something I didn't understand. I knew that was waiting.

So on the walk home (or later, on the bus ride home), I would spend the first ten to fifteen minutes allowing myself to feel the fear and agony of her berating me, demeaning me, and then the next ten to fifteen minutes numbing myself to those feelings by losing myself in a book (bus ride) or stopping briefly to play at a park (when I was in walking distance of school and home). Then, when the event finally happened, I was able to not respond. I'd already felt the feelings. There were none left. I could allow her to yell, or hit, or whatever she might do without crying. I WOULD NOT CRY.

And so, when I began to care, really care about the people who seemed to care back, I was terrified. I needed a place to feel what I would feel when they betrayed my trust, when they found someone new and left me behind, when they suddenly recognized they were bored or emotionally drained by me. And when they suddenly disappeared, above all, I wanted to be sure that I WOULD NOT CRY.

Okay, maybe even with that explanation, the abuse blog seems over the top and very crazy. I can't apologize or even explain more. This is who I am. I have learned that the best offense is a good defense. I have been protecting myself for a very long time. And while I have longed with all my heart to allow others to protect me sometimes, it has become abundantly clear that I would probably not allow it. Because I don't trust anyone. Because I'm pretty much broken. Because who, after years of no abuse, creates a blog so she can experience imaginary abuse from people who actually don't have the time, energy, or desire to abuse her?


That's all.

The blog still exists. I'm working with Therapist to put it to rest. It might take another decade. And in the meantime, I'm left thinking, "I am such a freak. There is no way I can ever become the person I pretend to be-- the one people like." And there are days, like today, when trying to become that person seems pointless.

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