Just A Journal For Semi-daily Thoughts.

SableCat

New Here
This post is a novella (referring to length; the contents is real.)
I don't really have a TLDR, I don't know what information in here is chaff and what's actually important anymore. It all feels important to me, so here it is.


Once upon a time five plus years ago, I used to write a lot about depression, trauma, sadness, loneliness, philosophy, suicide, all of my feelings etc. on a different forum.

That came to an end when someone I thought of as "a kind of friend" on there made me realize I was using metaphors for everything that had happened to me. I was actually unable to write down what I truly felt (too scary, uncomfortable, you name it) and resorted to analogies and all sorts of literary devices in order to avoid the gist of the matter. I wasn't really trying, according to him. I forgave him for that when I realized.... heh, I couldn't do any better at the time.

I got on that forum in the first place after reading (can't remember where) that writing about trauma (actually, writing about any experience) breaks it down and helps you process things. Back then I wanted to forget instead of processing. I had no skills to process... only skills to mentally survive. I was in the middle of a bad relationship with someone completely unsuited to me, and we had broken up shortly before I came to that other forum. With him went all my friends, who needed me to be a different person anyways and that took its own toll. I eventually broke up with them completely, years later.

I was also emotionally violent with the people around me, and completely ignorant of that fact. "Why would I be violent when this is how I was raised? Isn't this just normal?"... Several years prior I'd learned, from a suicide hotline, that what was happening to me was anything but "normal". The girl on the phone line laughed at me initially and told me I was making things up because I was talking about everything my parents did so matter-of-factedly. She said I should be more broken up about it if it were true. I kind of broke down after asking her why I felt like killing myself then, could she please tell me what was wrong with me? Then she explained, "No, this isn't normal at all." That was a revelation for 17-year-old me.


I wrote on that forum for about 2 years, every day, multiple posts a day. I thought putting things to paper would consign them to the past, but in the end it made me relive everything, I felt like a damn victim and I despised that because that was the epitome of my mother's behavior: woe is me, the world is against me, oh why won't anyone please save me? She was (is still?) a consummate narcissist, not an evil one who's self-aware at least, but she was damaging... that's all she knew to be, that's how she'd been raised. I speak to her maybe twice a year, maximum; can't handle her the rest of the time, and can't handle dancing around the multiple elephants in the room, each of which are triggers to her.


On that forum, even though I wrote mainly to forget, I processed many, many superficial things... I grew up, I became wiser... but the cores of the problem were mostly untouched. The one main thing I took from all that writing, was I just ended up hating my mother and father, which is something I had not yet allowed myself to do.

After those few years I stopped posting on the forum entirely. I was afraid I was compromising my anonymity... I'd made a few IRL friends on there, and I hated the image I was projecting to them (a broken human being)... so I wanted to stop writing, stop showing that sick side of myself, and keep my friends instead. I couldn't imagine anyone really wanting to know me and my 100001 faults. Heck... I don't want to know anyone else as broken as I am, I can't handle myself half the time. :( although I wish I could (handle others like that).

I just lost an old forum friend from back there after, I guess, he realized I hadn't gotten better over the years after I left. It hurt... the mask would still have been necessary, apparently. But I'm at peace with him peaceing out, it's easier than having to rebuild the mask. I lost the desire to fake a "normal" personality about 1.5 year ago and developed an aversion to it instead.


On that forum people replied with their own experiences, nobody seemed to know how to get out of the pits that were dug for us, or that we'd dug for ourselves. My posts ended up as ranting/venting grounds for other people. I felt even more alone and invisible except for those online friends, who really were all I had, after breaking up with my bad BF.... so I eventually left. It wasn't helping, I knew that much.

And I couldn't turn the knowledge about experience processing through writing into something positive, because I have serious, serious trouble thinking in positive terms. I also believed that writing down positive things would break them... make them less powerful. That might be why it's so hard for me to write down good things... if they lose their essence, I'm basically killing the few, rare good moments of my life when I attempt to put them into words. Better to keep them as amorphous, beautiful, unspoken thoughts.

So I can write about negative things, for sure.

I can write about neutral occurrences... that's where I give situations, experience and people the benefit of the doubt. I can imagine things will be OK. But I'm not sure what "good" is.

It never seems like it's good enough, or like it's even real or valid... even though I'm the first to give other people a break and tell them "it's good enough, stop fretting over it" when they ask those questions. I can understand that people are having a good time, but I never feel like I truly belong in the picture. At best I'm someone who doesn't bother them, but I cannot believe I really contribute to anyone's happiness. I guess they're exceedingly polite and tolerate me, since I'm polite too and can try to be entertaining... but it never feels real. It never compares to how bad things feel when they are bad. "Good" feels... superficial, made-up.

I figure, if I can't really feel it or I'm not that good a person, I'll give everyone else the breaks I can't have. I don't really believe I deserve the breaks, because I have so much lost time to make up for anyways.


One thing that hasn't changed this whole time, while I have been on that other website and until I came here, is that I feel like I have done nothing that is worth a damn with my life. I have spent years being depressed, making bad decisions and just ... getting by. But I have nothing of substance on my resume anymore. Nobody knows me. I have few real interests.

I don't think I'm worthless per se, although I used to, as a teenager. I just have managed to do nothing to redeem my existence. I'm just here... consuming resources.


I'm stress-avoidant in all shapes sizes and forms these days. I used to work for a retailer for years, when I dislike retail and its profit-driven "mission". It was just a job at first, then I got older and realized who I was working for, and that only sales results and competition mattered. I left that place.

Then I ended up at my dream company (the company I thought would be the best place for me).... learning a whole new position by myself, because the building was going down in flames, except, working for a client who does everything they can to destroy and circumvent anyone's rights to privacy. I felt like a traitor to humankind and the hours were bad. I ended up having to quit because I hated the client's business. I also never understood why everyone else was able to take a break, go on vacation, but I was stuck with the worst account in the building and told "if we move you, you'll complain about the new account just the same" while being given no support and looked at askance when I asked for more resources to meet increasing demands.

So... I guess I just wasn't good at my job and people were happy to see my butt out the door when I quit. I managed to keep the account at the company for some time when they were threatening to leave, but I guess I did so incredibly badly and people were stunned that I didn't know how incompetent I was? I'm not sure...

So I haven't been working for a few years. First because I can't take that amount of stress and the cognitive dissonance that comes with having to stuff down my principles in the only life I'll ever have on Earth. Second because I screwed myself, the only skills I have are working for companies like that... every company looks like that, and NPOs hire people far more skilled than me (they can't afford dead weight).

Third, because after a few years off the workforce and that most recent experience, I don't feel like I can do anything well. I would screw everything up. I would think I'm doing OK only to realize too late I'm just holding on for dear life. The mistakes I would make would be my doom, they'd be proof I'm too old... a bad investment. I feel like I either have the worst case of impostor syndrome ever... or I really, truly am stupid, slow, just lucky to ever have had a job. Just like dear mother and father pointed out so many times in my youth. I can't figure it out. I figure I sound like an intelligent person, but am I really, if I was that worthless at my previous position? If I let depression get the better of me at the one before?

So many people come out of situations like mine being overachievers. Guys, if that's you... please thank your stars. I didn't, I came out of that with a massive disdain for authority and stubbornness enough to kill a sloth in a staring contest.

I knew my parents were no good, so who the hell thought they knew any better than me? I was a bully and smartass in gradeschool and bullied all through highschool, by students and teachers alike. I just hated everyone, and everyone hated me. So eff authority.


So maybe I am actually really dumb. How dumb am I if I can't fix even this goddamn thing that's wrong with me and can't do anything else right? I've been at this for years and I feel like I'm still at square one. I've changed but I am never going to be the person I could have been. I feel like whatever this condition is... it's quicksand, and every day I lose a little more hope. Hope itself is starting to look like cognitive dissonance.

I keep cycling between briefly hating my parents again and realizing, again, that they were as stuck in mud as I am, and they couldn't have done anything better, because their parents were stuck in mud too. It's a generational thing. I'm responsible for who I am now. Except... they really didn't become anyone better. No fairytale ending for them.

I'm ashamed of what my mother has become. I don't know if my father got fired or not before finally deciding to retire, haven't seen the bastard in 25 years. I guess I'm on track to be ashamed of myself. Thank the stars I have no children and will never have any.

Both my parents drove home how useless, worthless, stubborn, defiant and mean I was. With how little I've done, I guess they were right? I was a disappointment to my father (who was always a disappointment to his mother... he became a doctor at her wish, instead of a mechanic like he would have liked, and drank himself to sleep every evening.) He was a functional drunk but also a violent one. He beat my mother regularly, he beat me a couple times. I can't figure out anything I want to do... I'm not confident I'm truly, realistically good at anything, either, which is more important.


My mother was pitted against her siblings as a child and learned that screaming at the top of her lungs was the preferred mode of communication to get what you want. Screaming matches 2-4 times a week were the hallmark of my childhood from ages 10 to 19. Before then she had weekly screaming matches with my father, who could give as good as he got, until he threatened to kill both of us and we left. Mother blamed him for everything since she was a "battered woman", emotional and verbal violence weren't a thing back then, and it wasn't until my mid-twenties I realized, damn, she was as much at fault as he was.


I've been told by an anon commenter, somewhere else, that I'm "past my abuse" because I managed to understand and somewhat forgive both my parents.

I think that's bullpoop to be honest... somehow forgiving them is supposed to make me into someone who was never bullied because she was socially inept? Who was socially inept for over 25 years? Who sometimes stumbles over the simplest things even now? Somehow forgiving my parents is supposed to magically give me the ability to trust when I've been told to be wary of everyone for over half my life?

I respectfully reject your authority on the matter, anonymous commenter.


Most weeks, I teeter-totter between two points of view several times a day, every day.

In the morning I wake up, usually feeling hopeless (which I attribute to the cortisol rush): I'm useless... too old, unskilled, unusable... alone, still depressed, I missed my chance, I can't hold my head up and explain how I live to anyone anymore, it's shameful... I don't even know what I want to do with my life, and I'm a symbol of ridicule to those people who have no choice on that matter, while I still have some choice that I'm not making.

By the afternoon it's usually turned to the opposite... I'm just someone who's had a hard time and is bright enough to figure out how to seize the rest of her life, I'm not that old yet, I can get a lucky break, I can retrain somehow, I'm not my parents, I can do this, there are still good people out there. I'm not stupid at all and I can make something of myself, at least for the future, if I can just figure what I want to do in the world. I can learn, that's for sure (except I can't learn what I need to apparently...)

I don't know how to keep doing this alone but I have to. Sometimes I get stuck in the morning perspective for days at a time... there's no one to help me shift to the other one. It's all me, fighting every day, or I'll just kill myself at some point if I can't keep it up. I don't want to at the moment but I clearly remember poring over the logic of suicide in the past, where killing myself would be easy if I wanted to do it.

Both points of view don't mesh together but they both feel very real. I just don't know how to get rid of the first one. It always comes back, somehow.

I just wish there was someone who could tell me "You actually are stupid as f*ck. That's your lot in life. Deal with that." Then I would know what I have to do, what to aim for, and I would stop trying to do things that are never going to work because I don't have the skills for it. It would be a blessed, welcome relief. Much better than knowing I am an intelligent person who somehow managed to f*ck. everything. up. for herself. and squandered gifts I realized too late I actually had.
 

SableCat

New Here
Some days I wish I had a spare brain that had grown up in a parallel universe. It would be handy to plug that one in and compare data between the two. What would each of my brains think is "normal"?

Maybe it'd help me be 100% sure that the way I wake up in the morning, especially when I forget to take tryptophan before bed, just isn't normal. There's no rational reason to wake up feeling something close to dread every day... like the worst things in the world are just about to happen, or like I'm a failure for not doing XYZ random things during the day... I recently noticed the latter was one of the reasons; and I mean it when I say those are absolutely random, stupid things or details, and not actually important things... I end up feeling bad for putting stupid things off in the evening when it's time for bed, even on days when I have accomplished a lot (and taken care of the important things.)

I've learned to detach that feeling with the reality that most of the time, I haven't procrastinated on anything truly important. Except no matter what I do, something attaches itself to that feeling of wrongness or failure. I really have to watch myself closely to avoid it, the urge to connect the dots that way is extremely strong. Most days like that I have to remind myself a couple times per hour to cut it out, because it's so easy to fall back into that. I also have to watch what I'm doing and judge whether I'm trying to distract myself from that feeling instead of processing it. That happens several times a day. I figure rewiring my brain is going to take years, so I want to process this instead of running from it... hopefully I'll be free of it someday.

I don't know what to replace this pattern of thinking with. If I want my neurons to reprogram themselves / create another highway, I have to give them something else to do, right? No clue what other thought pattern I could create. If I knew, I'd already have created it.

I guess Spare Brain would show me a different map for stupid and important things, another set of thought patterns. I'm reminded of how stupid, unimportant details were always the damn end of the world for my mother, whereas she let a host of critical things go until disaster mode erupted and someone else had to come in and fix everything for her. I think I've done a damn great job with reprioritizing stuff, but not with changing the way I think.

Plus, there's a nagging corner of my mind that wonders if I feel like this because I'm basically defective somehow. Maybe that comes from my need or willingness to always look at both sides and edge of every coin all the time. Just being told "it isn't normal" never cuts it. Where's the evidence?
 

SableCat

New Here
I watched a show yesterday and something came flooding back. Couldn't get much sleep because of it. Can't talk about it or it makes everything worse, so I tried putting it off... ended up writing about it, which was cathartic, but I chose to not put it online because it's too messy.

Trying to stay awake until early evening so I can stay on an early morning sleep schedule, otherwise I might start creeping back up to sleeping until noon like I used to.

The advantage of waking up early is I get a lot more cleaning done. Except I feel guilty now for having left it half-unfinished... it's an entire room I let become a mess, close to a hoarding-level mess. I started tackling that today. Set up donation piles near the door. Did recycling and trash. Cleaned out the cat box which I'd let get too messy as well, and I feel like I have good reason for hating myself for that because I hate thinking I caused discomfort to my cat. I love that little creature more than many humans I've met in my life.

I'm still struggling to figure out a good sorting system. I end up using most of the things I own to keep myself busy, and there are a certain number of things I want to keep because I want to start doing their associated projects someday. Those, at least, are neatly binned.

The rest of my living space is clean. I tend to just dump clutter in that room instead of figuring out what to do with it, so the mess accumulates quickly.

I can tolerate a mess better than my mother could. I guess it's an improvement in the sense that I don't feel like red hot rage causing me to scream my head off whenever I see a mess, whether it's my own or someone else's. I'm not consumed by OCD like she was. I was never allowed to have any of my possessions in the rest of the house... only my room. I wasn't allowed to exist in the house, I just had a room there. So I lived in my room, with my things, and she got mad that I never wanted to come out to talk to her. She'd get mad when I left any of my things anywhere, at all. There was no space for me in her house.

She used to buy me toys that I couldn't use because I would "make a mess". They were basically just fancy gifts so she could show off how good of a mother she was, not actual things for me to use. She also used to ignore the things I wanted, as any normal kid would have wanted certain things over others. She needed to buy me the things she thought I should want.

I'm over all that, but I think I went in the opposite direction a bit too much. Now I have soooo. many. things. Everything I couldn't have as a child, I eventually got... at least, an adult equivalent. I used to feel horrible guilt at the thought of buying a book for myself... just a novel, something to read and enjoy more than once. One of my boyfriends had to explain that I was actually allowed to have things for myself to enjoy, and not just for show; that I could actually choose what I wanted to buy instead of having someone pick it out for me.

I haven't bought anything new in quite some time due to lack of funds, but I had managed to accumulate just about everything I could have cared for before quitting work.

Only problem is, I never learned to shop for clothes properly. I still don't really know what suits me and what doesn't, really... I can't make sense of fashion magazines, I have no idea why the stuff in there looks good on people and what I should avoid. I stick to a few brands that fit me well all the time, but I dislike shopping for clothes in general because it fires up my uncertainties in a horrible way. Mother used to pick clothes for me and complained that I was too fat for anything, so I was frumpy for most of late gradeschool, way past high school. Dressed mostly in black although I wasn't goth by any stretch. Grey felt like a huge deviation from the norm. Took me a long time to realize I liked blue, green, purple and hated brown. I just wasn't allowed to really develop preferences as a kid.

When I do discover preferences these days, I tend to overdo them. I binge on the things I like in case they get taken away.

I guess that's why I still have half a hoard to clear up in my spare room. I'll get to that tomorrow, since nobody's going to die for me not finishing the cleanup tonight.
 

SableCat

New Here
Midweek, I got to spend a few days with people I'm close to. It was great seeing them again; lots of highs, lots of fun. Lots happened in 3 days and life felt very good and very full, it was super easy to keep an elevated mood without too much effort.

Tonight, everyone's gone back to their regular business; I'm alone again. The moment I stepped out the door of my friend's house (and I mean this literally, it hadn't been 10 seconds!), I felt that familiar emptiness in my chest and lump in my throat.

I've been trying to cope with being alone by keeping busy around the house with various hobbies, going through a few interesting tv series, taking lots of free online classes (Coursera is great for that among others, I truly recommend it; now if only Lynda had some discount on membership for "poor people", because that's where all the resume-critical stuff exists)...

I am however unable to cope with the amount of loneliness in my life. I have a few close friends which I happen to see once every 2-3 months. This month it happened that I could see all of them back to back. They all have work with longish hours or long commutes, or positions that require lots of travel all over the US. I won't be able to see them for a few months. In the meantime, I have... a cat. You know, I don't feel like going all Crazy Cat Lady just yet...

I feel grateful to be able to see my friends at all; one of my hobbies is preparing fun stuff to do when we do see each other, for example party favors or game setups and such--or I cook and bake, a lot. It really helps to have other people eating all your tasty homemade things when you're trying to keep reasonable eating habits......!

The question that I figure would pop into any reasonable person's head upon reading the above is "Why don't you try to make more friends?" Would make sense, wouldn't it?

Someone who thinks making friends is simple, or that I'm just "not trying hard enough" would say it's easy "if I just try".

Thing is, I dislike the idea of meeting people just to fill a hole in my life. I also hate the idea of calling people "friends" who are really nothing more than "activity partners" or "acquaintances" you can't share anything personal with. I don't care about having people like that around me, they are just draining to be around. They need to be entertained and listened to, and offer little in return (often, not even that). Can't count the number of people I've listened to who couldn't be bothered to shut up and return the favor once in a blue moon...

I would hate for anyone to do that to me, and so I filter a lot to avoid that. Meetups might work if I were less shy and felt like I had more to say, but I can actually just go places and stay quiet and observe people for days before feeling I have anything meaningful to contribute. I can't make space for myself in existing social structures because I'm not loud or showy enough (at least not in the way they expect or find acceptable), and I take too long to start talking in newer groups, they just give up on me "truly" participating after a while. Well I guess I could show up there drunk but I doubt that's a viable long-term strategy...!

I could always take physical classes and concentrate on learning something new instead of talking, and make friends over time; but for that I'd need a job for some income. I have no spare change anymore. It's a catch-22; plus if I'm honest with myself, I have to say I wouldn't be able to afford the mental energy to go to those classes anymore due to the socializing requirements of the job itself! I haven't figured out a polite, solid and irrefutable reason to decline going to bars or restaurants after 8 hours at work, to spend even more time with people from work whom I only know because of work and who'll only talk about work work work because we don't mesh on anything else. NOT an interesting proposition to me, at all... but past refusals have gotten me summoned to HR with criticism that I'm "not a team player" at 2 different jobs. It sucks, but apparently socializing is an unwritten requirement now. I learned a lesson there.

Psychology Today has something interesting to say about loneliness in an article called "The Cure for Loneliness" (a cure which, surprise, isn't going to be served to you on a silver platter, and I can't link to the article yet because I'm too new here.)

At least the article says something about maladaptive coping strategies concerning loneliness. I'm full of those bad strategies, it seems. I have them where stress management is concerned, where anger is concerned, where fear is concerned, and where loneliness is concerned too. Just peachy.

"It turns out that fundamentally, long-term loneliness isn't about being awkward, or the victim of circumstance, or lacking opportunities to meet people. Each can be the reason for relatively short-term loneliness - anyone who has ever moved to a new town or a new school and had to start building a network of friends from scratch certainly knows what it's like to be lonely. But this kind of loneliness needn't last long, and new relationships usually are formed... unless you've fallen into a way of thinking that keeps relationships from forming."

Yeah, I guess people could say I have a way of thinking that keeps relationships from forming; I don't see all relationships as being equal. I don't see every person as worthy of being a friend; I don't think I would make a good friend to everyone, either. I also don't want to waste time and energy on people who drain me more than anything else, because it's already damn hard to have enough energy to get out of bed on some mornings.

I'm probably stuck in "scarcity mode" partly due to loneliness. But I'm probably lonely because I'm very picky... because I'm in scarcity mode.

So where do I get a break here? Putting on an act to be interesting to people is not in my nature and I'm apparently pretty bad at finding the people who'd find me naturally interesting. Heck, I tried being more agreeable in general but quit that fast when I realized I was a magnet to people with no class, or gossips, or unreliable types who wanted me to do their work for them or always needed money... ehhhhh. I'd rather filter and keep those relationships from forming.

I don't know how to recognize people who are like my present friends... I warmed up to them over time because of frequent contact in other contexts. I couldn't have spotted them among a crowd, but somehow they stuck around in my life. Maybe I was super lucky to find those, and they are quite rare indeed. Maybe I'm obviously at the age where people expect me to already have a circle and they see me as unapproachable.

How do you make yourself look approachable as a friend when you're in your mid to late thirties? How do you meet people to connect on a level that's more than just superficial, random, day-to-day stuff?
 
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