People are my problem and my solution

I have a people problem, always have for as long as I can remember. People were certainly part of my traumatic history, and that set me up for building walls around people without even realizing it. I can walk by people without even acknowledging them, even if I know them. My instinct is to not be noticed. It doesn’t always occur to me to say “good morning” or “good night” to folks. I grew up trying to get by without being noticed because being noticed often meant trouble.

It’s taken me years of observation to figure out that my natural way of being does not serve me well. A few years ago I was visiting with a Mexican family that had young children. When company would visit the kids knew they were expected to say hello and greet their guests. One day I was there when one of their young sons just was not in the mood for it, and his mother told him, “Saludale! (Greet them). And later I heard her privately explain to him that it’s considered rude not to greet guests. And in that moment I realized this child and I were learning something important, that you greet guests! So simple, yet not always present in my awareness that I need to do this.

Many of the friends I have made in my life have come from other more outgoing friends making introductions. Meeting my future wife came out of an outgoing friend introducing us with no preamble before she did it, and I often wonder if it’s because she knew I would have foolishly fled the scene if I knew an introduction to a stranger was on the horizon. When I ask my would be cupid friend if she introduced us this way on purpose she just gets coy and smiles, never giving me a straight answer, which just adds to the joy of the story.

I instinctively run from people, yet I need people in this life. And I often disadvantage myself all on my own in this realm. I have to make myself say hello and good night to folks. I have a colleague who can be very effusive when she speaks with folks, and I thought to myself that cannot possibly work. I thought surely people would find it a bit much. But I tried it on during interviews I facilitate in my job, and oh my, it works. Tell a person that you are so thankful they set time aside to meet with you, and you are happy to have a chance to speak with them just works wonders with getting folks comfortable. You would think I promised them the universe. Much to my surprise, as I express gratitude more and more during these interviews I’ve found myself truly feeling gracious for their time.

I have learned that I need to continue to watch and observe those that are more successful with people than me because I do not know crap about how to interact with others. I like to think I do, but I do not. I only know how to speak clearly, calmly and directly. It’s became painfully clear to me that I cannot trust my assessment of how to interact with others. My instinct is to stay home all day and speak to no one, that is my default mode that I fight every day.

You thought you wanted to know

So far this evening, you’ve had an orange, chocolate sprinkled nonpareils, and you just finished watching an episode of NCIS. You even looked up the best keyboard case for an Ipad mini 4. An important question–Do you even own an Ipad mini 4? No, you do not. But, you learned the best keyboard case is from logitech.

Why all the procrastination?

You do not know how to write about devastation. You only know how it feels, but you cannot tell anyone what it is.

This devastation cannot be named, described, nor can it be identified. You only know that some people from your past make you want to run, and hide and disappear. But, you do not now why. All you know is how you feel.

There’s also a devastation in seeing friends from high school on Facebook, and knowing you were friends with them, but you do not know why or how you became friends. You only know you were friends because when you see their name you smile, and feel warm inside. You finally admit all this to one particular friend you feel most at ease with. She is supportive, and proceeds to tell you how the two of you became friends. It was in Honors English in high school, and you both shared a love of books and writing. She tells you stories about your senior Honors English teacher, and how you asked her to suggest additional books to you, and that you were the best writer in class.

You knock your memory bank around in your head trying to find the story she’s telling you, a story that you lived. But, it’s not there. No matter how hard you close your eyes, concentrate, and try to find the memories of knowing this friend, alas, the memories are not there. You thought this would be a happy thing, hearing about your friendship with this person. But, it brings a sadness you do not expect.

You always wanted someone to accept you as you are, have the ability to hear about you as you. But your heart cannot hear about happy stories you lived that you cannot recall. You thought this was a good idea, but instead it’s your own secret devastation.

Today’s post is written in response to Today’s Daily Prompt.

Make the right choice

Every year since 2008, this, right here, is the week that I dearly wish would pass by without notice. How lovely it would be to glance at the calendar in early September, and think, “Oh, hey, that typically dreaded horrible anniversary week in late August went right on by without notice. Look at that!”

Alas, but no, that is not the case. All the progress I’ve made to date feels like it’s slipping through my fingers, like thin beach sand that easily flows through our fingers as we let it fall. My body feels as dissociative and floaty as ever, as if I’ve not seen Doc for the last two years. The will to continue is dreadfully hard to yank out of me, and yank is exactly what I have to do in order to put one foot in front of the other, in order to not give in to the incessant thoughts of an end. An end that would be just that, an end with pain for others, and that is, sadly, what keeps me going this very moment -others. I am hardly continuing on for myself. No, right now there is too much regret over the life choices that led to that terrible week in late August of 2008. There is too much awareness of the fact that I threw my life into a deep and wide ditch that week from which I may never fully extract myself. Right now, I continue for others, like my two nephews whom I love, and though I know they think I’m goofy, they do look up to me. And what a terrible life lesson I would be dropping in their lap if I were to leave this earth by my own volition.

I know that if I were to make this choice that I would be presenting it to them as a viable choice, and I don’t want to be that person for them.

In order to try to shake the depressed feeling, I try to focus on the good fortune I have in my life.

The fact is this, there is not a whole hell of a lot that separates me from someone that is called a “consumer” in our statewide mental health system. Similar to someone that has a “serious and persistent mental illness,” or rather (SPMI) as it’s called, in my worst moments of DID and PTSD, things like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning become fantasies and dreams. But, because I have been blessed with resources I am able to send my laundry out to the wash-and-fold service, hire a cleaning service, and eat outside the home. Even with these services in play, I can still struggle with getting out of bed, getting into the shower, and getting dressed because I am floaty and dissociative. But at least in those instances I’ve narrowed down the things I must accomplish, which is the best way for me to have some semblance of success when I am in that state.

Even so, I am acutely aware of the fact that I have a job that pays me enough so that I can pay for the services I’ve mentioned above. This salary, and the fact that I have a friend that lets me stay with him when I am too afraid to be by myself, these are the only things that keep me from becoming part of the system of care.

And just when one would think I would sit here and feel blessed about my resources, I sit here and get scared instead. I get scared because I know it’s the job that provides the resources, which means I need to continue to do the job, and do the job well. Lately, when every morning is a fight with myself, I ask, “How much longer can I fight? How much longer can I juggle this?”

Then I loop back to my brain telling me that it’s a fruitless fight, and that’s when I remember why I threw myself at the mercy of my friend today, and asked if I could stay with him for a while. He said “sure” and asked me what was up, and between tears I said, “I get too scared by myself right now, and bad choices are floating in my brain.” He then took my hand, and said, “But you’re making a good choice now.”