It seems like forever ago, but I used to be able to cope with things better than I do now. I didn’t take every little thing personally and relied more on rational thinking than raw emotion. There’s a reason I got called a “crazy bitch with no heart.” To get an idea of what I mean, think back to when the internet was obsessed with “FML.” You’d visit the website and you would “vote” each story as “I agree, your life sucks,” or “you deserved it.” I RARELY saw a story and thought, “wow, that sucks.” My reasoning was pretty simple: we create our own circumstances and when something goes wrong, it’s the result of whatever choices we make. It can sound an awful lot like victim blaming, sure. But to me, it was straightforward and logical. Emotion played very little part in it. I locked out emotion entirely and basically became heartless.
I need to get that back.
I didn’t change overnight to become the mess I am now and I’ve been thinking a lot about why I changed. I could be wrong, but I have kept coming back to a few things that might have influenced it.
I went through another major depression after my family’s business closed down. (There were a couple of other things going on at the time but I’m not mentioning those. In retrospect, they’re really stupid.) Anyway, the business shut down and that was devastating for a bunch of reasons. I completely withdrew from everything. I stopped answering my phone, I stopped leaving the house, and I basically just gave up on everything and everyone. Including my best friend. By the time I started working again, we were in touch and hung out and all that but not like we used to. A few years went by and she went back to school and I started a new position and we pretty much just stopped talking. The new position was a whole new level of stress for me but I didn’t want to give up and end up back in the same position I had been in because I thought that would be worse. In some ways, it was worse than the new position. I can’t help but wonder if I’d make the same decision now.
Around the same time, my brother and his wife and kids moved away. I remember sitting at the dinner table with all of them, our parents, and my son when my brother told us that he was taking this great new job. He’d talked about interviewing for it and all that but he wasn’t entirely certain he’d accept it. When he told us, I was looking down at my plate and tears just started dropping. I had to get up and leave the room. I heard him say, “Is Astrea going to be okay?” His wife replied coldly, “Oh, she’ll be fine.” She really pushed for the move and she kind of got off on the effect it was having on my parents, me, and my son. It broke all of us and she knew it.
So at this point in time, I was working in a position I felt totally unqualified for and most of my family had moved away. The stress on the job only got worse when the new manager came on. Now, I do overthink things and worry about things that aren’t a big deal and I know that. But what happens when your seemingly irrational fears are proven right? She read our emails. She had her favorite employees reporting on those she didn’t like. She was blatant about her favoritism. She deliberately scheduled breaks and lunches so certain people wouldn’t be able to hang out together. If she was “building a case” against someone, she’d print off emails to the main printer that EVERYONE used and she’d leave those emails sitting there instead of picking them up. That’s how I found out she was on my case. I’d print something and have to sort through all of the unclaimed papers and I’d challenge anyone out there to honestly say that they wouldn’t read something that had their name in the text, when they knew they themselves hadn’t printed it. She did that to a lot of people. Yeah, it made me even more paranoid.
The depression didn’t go away during this period, but it definitely took a backseat to the anxiety that was getting worse and worse by the day. Gradually, my ability to keep emotion at bay wore down. I had abandoned my friends because I was so stressed out and tried to rationalize it by telling myself that they were too busy to talk to me anyway.
I changed positions again, and I thought for a little while that things were going well. I’d stuck around long enough to finally get the job I had originally applied for years ago. My anxiety level went WAY down but that meant the depression that was still back there and I hadn’t dealt with came pushing forward. It hit hard.
But I was talking to my friend again, trying to rebuild things. That seemed good. The problem was that I honestly thought I didn’t deserve the friendship and got stuck in this mindset that she’d give up on me at the slightest misstep. That manager showed me that the worst was possible and I couldn’t stop reading too much into little things and panicking all the time. Instead of leaving emotion out of things, I let it creep into everything.
That’s basically where I’m at now. I’m an emotional wreck and everyone I interact with is negatively impacted by that. I need to become the cold, heartless bitch I was. I think I’m pretty horrible now, but I still feel everything too deeply. I need to shut it down and stop caring so fucking much about everything and everyone. I know others don’t see it, but all I do is worry about how I’m fucking other people up. They see it as me being selfish. I don’t seem to be capable of doing anything right even though I want to. If that’s how people see me already, why not become the monster they think I am? Their opinion of me can’t seem to get any worse and it’s obviously too late to fix anything and I’ll never be good enough to earn back the trust I lost. I guess there’s always the chance that I’m wrong about that but what if I’m right? I don’t think I could handle hoping I’m wrong and getting nothing but silence as an answer again.
No, I don’t necessarily want to get back to being the raging bitch version of Spock I used to be. I’m not sure if I’ll hurt less if I do that. It would mean completely cutting myself off emotionally from everyone and it would probably mean everyone giving up on me. But I feel like that’s already happened in some ways. It feels like I need people far more than they need me. I feel alone all the time. Why not put the walls back up? It would be good for me and good for other people. The only problem is that I don’t really know how to do it. But it sure would be nice to stop hurting.