Basically, that’s my diagnosis. I need to grow up.
At 44 however, it’s not looking likely.
So what can I do?
I have one problem, and one problem only: you can make or break me with just one word, one glance.
I’ve been enjoying Netflix’ Jessica Jones, and particularly the villain, Kilgrave, played brilliantly by David Tennant.
I couldn’t help thinking that his power over me wouldn’t feel that extraordinary. I have lived my life surrounded by mini-Kilgraves. Some of them were very aware of what they could make me do, some less, but on the whole, anybody has control over me: the man at the postoffice I’ve never met before, the woman who passes me by on the road, my deepest and oldest friends, my children.
It is wearying and exhausting, but it’s the truth. My social anxiety is a perfectly natural and understandable result of this: how better to avoid the constant uncertainty of who I am going to be that day, how I’m going to feel, than by avoiding people, the makers of breakers of my every mood or feeling, word or actions?
I understood this fairly early on in my youth, and sought for many years ways to build confidence, ways to respond, ways to brace myself, philosophies, techniques, everything. You name it, I tried it.
But nothing has changed. All that has changed is I’m older, have children, a family, work from home, so the people I am exposed to every day have been diminishing and becoming a little more select, a little safer.
But a harsh-sounding text from a beloved friend is enough to throw me under. And all that comes after that will just make it worse.
This morning I wanted to run away. Not far, just out with my dog and let my disapproving daughter and husband sort themselves out. Hearing my daughter make an effort to stop sulking and my husband as always not helping made me take my shoes off and stay home with her.
Nothing had happened. We’re talking tones of voice, slight disapprovals. Nothing serious. But I was ready to dive out.
As I knew, my self-confidence and relaxedness of the past few days/weeks was short-lived. It was only due to a lack of interaction, a lack of cause.
I am very tired of this idiotic yet entirely crippling way of being. I want a psychiatrist even if the NHS doesn’t feel like I need it. A psychiatrist is bloody expensive and I don’t make money. We are all living on my husband’s shoulders. So where do I get the money for one?
Alternatively, I continue to isolate myself, in a continued effort to reduce the people I am exposed to. However, as mine and others’ experience have shown, it is impossible to do entirely without people, particularly when you are unable to plant your own food and provide your own heating. I will ALWAYS need to interact with people. So that’s a no-no, even besides the fact that I have children and cannot even attempt a life of solitude, for their sake.
No psychiatrist, no isolation, no build up of my own confidence and persona, what’s left? Asking at least the people who are closest to me to be nice and never disapprove and watch their tone ’cause I’m useless? That hasn’t worked either. I have realised (and that is one major leap forward) that people aren’t being especially nasty or disapproving with me, they are like that with everyone and the things they say to me they say to everyone: it’s just that other people do not get as distraught as I do for anything that’s said to me. As simple as that. So people really believe they are just being normal, not especially nasty. Whereas to me, they are being monsters and I cower in fear. Like an idiot. This exasperates them and it all spirals out of control.
I understood this (that people weren’t being especially nasty to me, it was just me receiving their behaviour differently than others, being hyper-sensitive) at various other times, and it didn’t help. When it happens to me, it is ALWAYS personal.
So, the way I see it, I am out of options. I have a birthday party to go to tomorrow, of a very dear friend. But if I don’t get my act together before then, I will be crippled with sadness, and any ebullient me I manage to put forward that evening, will only make things much, much worse in the ensuing days.
I am crippled, I have a handicap, a stupid one but one that exists. People don’t really believe me when I say my knee hurts so much I have trouble walking, but it’s there, it’s diagnosed, it’s proven. I am starting not to care whether they believe me or not, because by now I know that if I ignore the pain and put a strain on it anyway it will only get worse. The procedure is not at all different for my psychological well-being.
But I know for a fact that if I say “I feel very bad and am struggling to bring myself up because you sent me a text that caused me anxiety and then my husband made it worse and my daughter complemented it all and it’s nobody’s fault but my own but that’s just the way it is and now please please don’t make me leave the house”, it’s not going to go down well.
If I just say “I am ill”, my husband will berate me and make me feel like I should make an effort, it’s his birthday and all, and my friend will hate me forever and the old friend that will be there whom I really am looking forward to seeing will be saddened and so I just cannot even consider not going.
The fact remains that I am exhausted and even though there is a very high chance that just by writing it down and distracting myself now with some work it will all whoosh away I really really wish I could make all stop. Being me is a bloody drag. Not tragic, not interesting in the least, just a bloody pain in the arse. When will I grow up?