Sunday, April 1, 2007

Double-Edged Swords and Other Toys

I can't keep doing this.

I can't survive with two mistresses inside my head - both warring for control! The guilt consumes me, no matter what I do.

I ate more tonight that what Edie planned. I suppose I should remind myself to put another sticker on my poster tomorrow. But who cares? A stupid sticker doesn't make the guilt any less painful.

So what is really causing me so much pain? Because in theory, eating a bare minimum (and I mean below Sue's supposed bare minimum) shouldn't make me feel guilty, right? My body needs some fuel to survive (more than what it needs to just exist.)

Is it possible that all the little (and not so little) worries and stresses can hurt so much?

I don't like this. I don't see the point in writing and talking about things that no one (RTA my friends/family/myself) can change. No one I know can tell me if I'll have a job next month or come January. All they can do is cheerlead and speculate - I get plenty of that from Todd, I don't need any more, "You're worrying over nothing. They'll find a place for you." blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, no one who knows me is in a decision making position about me at work. Thus, there are no guarantees.

But, that doesn't make me feel better.

Because I still don't know.

And despite everyone's words that they are there for me, that they care for me, that they want to help me, I just don't believe it. Because the few times that I do vent, most people tell me that I'm overreacting or not reacting enough or that I have no reason to worry or that I should focus on what I can change and what is positive and good and pure in my life. Well, that's all well and f---ing good, but I am still stuck with these feelings! They have nowhere to go.

"Email me whenever you need to talk."

"I'm here for you."

"No one gets left behind."

All words with no meaning. Sure, I can email everyone and their uncle. Does it do any good? Is it really "connecting?" No. Especially when no one answers or answers with a "we'll talk more tomorrow. Email if you can. Hang in there."

Tomorrow comes and goes and I never talk.

I never felt connected enough to open up. I never feel connected. I have all these people supposedly willing to help me, and yet, I don't "feel" the connection.

I probably never will.

When I finally hit what I think may actually be the bottom of the pit that I’ve fallen into, I reach out. I send an email, spilling my guts like so much blood from an open wound.

And I wait.

And wait.

And wait.

For a response.

I click the Check Mail button on my account every few minutes.

Eventually, a friend will answer. Sometimes with an inspiring note of support and reason. Oftentimes, a hurried reply telling me to “hang in there.”

My friends have their own lives, after all. They all have families, at least one job, hobbies, and other friends. The thoughts and feelings that consume me are nothing to them except in how they affect our relationship. Many of my friends have life and death issues that they face and are in a constant state of triage. I know this, which is why I generally keep myself to myself and not bother anyone with anything.

But it still hurts. Especially while I’m waiting. With every refresh that shows the same page with no new items, the pain deepens. Edie gains strength. “You see? I’m right. You can only rely on yourself.” Like a train wreck, I can’t help but look. To rub salt in the wound. To check and recheck, all the time wishing for… Something. Any balm to heal the pain inside. I keep looking for something like a mommy’s kiss, something that will make the boo-boo all better, the pain go away for good.

Regret creeps in. I wish I could recall my message and pretend that I never reached out in the first place. “Better to have never run, then to lose the race.”

Like Anne in Anne of Green Gables and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I keep looking for help outside of myself, when all this time, it was in my own backyard.

But this line of thought leads Edie to cheer, “Yes! That’s right! You don’t need anyone else. Back away, forget about everyone. You can do this yourself.”

According to my therapist, I need to connect with others to heal completely. But, at the same time, no one can rescue me from myself. I, ultimately, need to heal myself.

Does anyone else see a problem here? Is anyone else confused? Or is the message only mixed in my head?

My friends remark at the effort I take to construct and keep my happy mask in place. They probably think, “Jeanne, if you spent as much energy on sharing and venting as you do on hiding and dodging, you’d probably have kicked your illness by now.”

But you see, living inside one’s head is easy. It’s only when you open up that you begin to question yourself. Other voices enter and tell you another version of the truth. Which is the real truth? The side that says to open and share, or the side that says that the power is in yourself and should be kept there?

Life isn’t black and white. But it is in the world in my head. Everything is clear-cut. There is no gray. No need for triage because you find time to fit everything in. So what if you don’t sleep? So what if you don’t eat? Those aren’t really necessities.

Life is about keeping the balls in the air.

So, where is the ball marked “me?”

My husband told me that protecting yourself is not being selfish. I disagree. Anything that may harm another while it benefits you is selfish. The Wiccan Rede states, “And ye harm none, do as ye will.”

I live by it. Some might say that I take it to the extreme.

But something tells me that the practitioners of Wicca include themselves in the “none” part.

Which makes this statement untenable.

So, where does that leave us?

I think back to all the times when I’ve opened up to others, all the hurt it caused. There’s a line from She’s All That that goes, “Sometimes, when you open up to people, you let the bad in with the good.”

I suppose one needs to decide if the good is worth the bad. Perhaps somewhere in the middle is best. I have heard that the high of the joys in life are worth the worst fires in hell. But what is so wrong with staying level? Sure, the view from Mout Everest is probably spectacular, but is it worth the risk of dying to see it when you can stand in the middle of a field in Kansas and see the same sky?

I guess the thing that bothers/worries/frightens the hell out of me is that people are beginning to know the me that has lived deep inside, not just the face I present to the world. One friend, in particular, seems to know just about everything there is to know about what goes on inside my muddled mind. Of all the people I have ever known and counted as friends, he is the most open with his own feelings and the most willing to help. So I have allowed my thoughts to be read by him. I’ve even allowed my feelings to vent (a little,) all the time, believing that it would help me. And it has, to an extent, but by opening up myself, I have also opened up Edie. This friend sees her, he knows her ways, he acknowledges her existence. In a backwards sort of way, that gives her power.

Edie is always there and this friend knows it. More importantly, I know he knows it. So I worry about upsetting him when Edie is in control because that makes him worry all the more (which is the last thing he needs.)

So, I’m left completely confused.

His friendship means a lot to me, but I think that I have become too dependent on him. Which is maybe why I pull away. Which might explain why I want to be there for him – to listen and support, comfort and advise, but not the other way around.

I’m just too darned needy.

But is my perspective accurate?

According to my therapist, I'm too independent. I live in my head too much. I'm not connected with other people enough. She says that I need to open up and share my thoughts and feelings with others to recover. She tells me that I need air, water, food, and human connections. Real, live, honest-to-goodness relationships where feelings are talked about and thoughts are shared.

So when I send my long, drawn-out, lengthy emails, am I being an annoying basketcase who is co-dependent or am I being a human who just needs to connect?

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