Self and that in which other people hold us. Yeah, baby, that is what I'm talkin' 'bout.
I could work on this for a million zillion years and still allow myself to be knocked back on my ass when someone deliberately slights me.
I am not referring to those things that humans do and how another human may or may not perceive what just happened in that brief interaction. We all go around in our little self-absorbed fogs, brains concentrating on lots of stuff whilst attending to whomever is with us. I do it all the time; so does everyone else, being human and all.
I met an old friend for lunch today, and was reminded why it was too painful for me to hang around with her. The thing that kept happening back then, oh, six years ago, happened again today. Then it was a planned hospital visit for which she offered transportation because of the general anesthesia for the procedure. On the way home she mentioned that doing that for me reduced the time she could spend with her then-partner, something that I knew nothing about and every time she said it again I felt badly. I had messed up a day she could have spent with the most important person in her life, and with whom she was having problems. Sounds just like every other relationship, so no big deal there, but it would have been better for all of us if she had just told me and I had made other arrangements. They eventually broke up and they have not seen each other for a year or so.
Today at lunch, near the time we were sort of finishing up, she received a text message from that person, her former partner, asking to get together. My friend said that this person had been texting her all day, wanting to meet and she really did not want to. My friend suggested that maybe the two of us should just go to the bookstore, and we did that. After an hour, she told me that she was going to meet her former partner.
Again, no big deal, except that I think she was with me today only to fill the time until the two of them could meet. Or, that she could have time to make a decision either way. And, it really was not a problem, because I was just glad to see her again and catch up on our lives.
It triggered all those old feelings about being used to fill time for someone until something better came along. And, I wonder why this bothers me so much, at least enough to have to come home and write about it.
I am a nice person. I should be good enough to be someone's friend, you know, just her friend, without all the freaking drama. I cannot understand why I am feeling so sad and rejected and unworthy about this, but I am and it totally sucks.
So, anyway, I drive home, call the older woman who needs me tomorrow and decide to finally put my name and flat number on my mailbox. All three of the mailboxes here are identical, and the numbering system is ambiguous. I bought some of those letter and number stickers at the hardware store months ago. It is a nice and warm day, perfect for stickering something.
Whilst I was out there, my upstairs neighbor and her daughter came home, parking on the street in front of the house. I watched her get out of the car, and waved to her. She looked away and entered her flat.
So, why does this bother me? Do I have some sick and perverted need to be liked by everyone? Are my insecurities so great, so disabling, so inappropriate that I need...not want or even crave, but need...constant reassurance from other people? Even freaking neighbors?
It is a mystery why I care. It is a mystery how much this bothers me. It is a darn shame that these kinds of things send me off, thinking that my expectations for interaction with other people have to be positive, have to have some element of friendship.
In my other life, none of this bothered me overmuch. Sure, it is nice to be liked, to have friends and neighbors with whom you can be friendly, but it is not the end of the world, anyone's world, when that does not happen. The Universe does not revolve around me and my pathetic need for acceptance. My work and other friends, and most especially my family should be enough. They are. And, yet, I go around like I am, well, not exactly waiting for it to happen, but awfully able to notice this sort of thing, when it is most likely that I am really not on anyone's radar or in their mind, and that my perception of these encounters, though rare and random, is so negative.
I have never much liked the term self esteem. I have always thought that the concept was valid, but that self worth, acceptance, comfort and pleasure from relationships and casual interactions is dependent only on me, and that it should not have anything to do with other people. Oh, I guess that is the concept, although it seems that it should be separate from anything that other people say or do. You know?
I am not stupid about this. I know that this hyper-sensitivity is part of the PTSD. I know that time and continuing personal work on my crap, as well as decent therapeutic resources will help in recovering from that other life. It is that I am feeling impatience about the progress I am making. I do not want magic, or some kind of quick-fix, or even for the process to be easy and painless. Mostly.
I just wish that I could avoid these perceptions and feelings. It is not any fun, not at all. I am thinking about it today, as much as possible, both to help myself and to internalize the experiences and feelings as much as possible so that I will have access to those feelings when I work with others, those who are recovering, too.
Just to be clear, I know that my friend is like that, and it is about her own issues. It is not about me. My upstairs neighbor was probably still engaged in conversation with her daughter, probably did not even see me. I know, right there in my head that none of this is about me. Unfortunately, my default response is always that I must have done something wrong and that the other person is upset about whatever it is that I have done wrong. I have a feeling that I may never stop doing this, the whole blaming myself over nothing and the resulting shame spiral. At least I can recognize that that is happening and I can sort of wallow in the fear and sadness and despair and then move on. But, those moments are just terrible.
No randomness, hey? Nothing is wasted or without purpose. If only it did not hurt whilst in the moment. Or, maybe the pain is part of what makes the learning stick, makes it something that I can have to help me the next time I am feeling vulnerable and helpless. Man, this being responsible for myself is hard work.