self justification.

I have all kinds of phobias and fears: bees (duh), most insects (but not spiders) and escalators are just a few. None of the things I worry about on a normal basis are too freaky. I drive like a grandma because I am nervous about car accidents. I just can’t accept that I might be a decent driver. I double check the locks in windows in my house, because–let’s be honest–I live in a sketchy neighborhood. Nothing too unreasonable there. What if they economy gets bad and I lose my job? That’s not too unrealistic.

And then some of my concerns become really overwhelming and frightening for about five minutes, and then I forget about them. What if Dylan gets cancer (this is not too crazy, considering my own health history)? What if I get cancer again (my father had it twice)? What is something bad happens to my mom? What if my brother and his wife get a divorce someday? What if one of my cats gets some sort of life-threatening illness and I can’t afford the treatment and then they die? What if nuclear weapons fall in to the wrong hands? What if the rate of global warming accelerates? What if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

But my two greatest fears follow me around every where I go:

1. What if I hurt someone’s feelings, possibly scarring them forever and giving them a whole boatload of issues to follow them around for the rest of their lives?
Okay, that might sound ridiculous at first, but let’s think about it. Once in a heated argument with my mom–I think I was 20 at the time–she said that she wished I had never been born. Obviously she didn’t really mean that, but I have to say, every once in a while I will think of that moment…and it hurts more than words can describe.
And so, I swallow all of my bad thoughts. I have literally bitten my tongue so many times. I have avoided phone calls, emails, and social functions solely to prevent myself from accidentally letting it all out.
Oh sure, there are plenty of people who deserve an earful. Ryan’s parents (a complicated, unfortunate story for another time). Half of my relatives. Former friends. Former boyfriends. A specific hateful little Portland resident.

“You will never see Dylan if I have my way.”
“You are a small-minded racist and your hatred is killing you a little bit every day.”
“You have alienated every positive female in your life by being a pathetic thieving slut.”
“Everything about you is fake. Your writing, your alleged suffering, the life story you present to others.”
“I can guarantee you are going to spend your whole life alone and miserable. I am just waiting for you to kill yourself.”

I justify the stifling of my anger with the notion that I am being the “better” person and taking the “higher” road.
I want vengeance as much as the next person. I long for apologies and admissions of guilt. Oh, validation!

2. What if I am disappointed?
I hate Easter egg hunts, unless they are in my grandma’s back yard. But those epic Easter egg hunts thrown by the town council or the VFW…forget it. When I hear the word “disappointment” I think of a specific hunt in third grade. I stood in the center of the field for 10 minutes, realizing that I had not found a single egg. I was worried about how disappointed my grandma would be. And I was disappointed with myself for being too slow, too nervous, too something bad…to find any eggs.
Disappointment comes in many packages. Your boyfriend forgets your birthday. You don’t get a raise. No valentines in your construction paper mailbox. Standing along the wall with your other socially unacceptable friends during slow dances. Discovering that your romantic feelings are not reciprocated. Failing the written part of the driver’s license exam three times (true story).
I just can’t stand even the faintest hint of disappointment. I would rather not allow myself to have expectations. I think I am doing a favor for myself by never going out on a limb.
So suddenly my avoidance of all potentially disappointing situations is catching up with me. Or at least, it’s wearing on me. And my allegedly selfless strategy of never, ever expressing my negative feelings is really, really tiring me.

Janelle [4:41 PM]:
you just need to loosen up
Janelle [4:41 PM]:
sometimes
Amanda [4:41 PM]:
really?
Janelle [4:41 PM]:
stop thinking so hard about what might happen
Janelle [4:41 PM]:
i dunno
Amanda [4:41 PM]:
ha
Janelle [4:41 PM]:
sometimes
Janelle [4:41 PM]:
you thnk about the consequences too hard
Amanda [4:41 PM]:
cite some examples
Amanda [4:42 PM]:
obviously i don’t want to be so crazy all the time
Janelle [4:42 PM]:
well i have a bad memory. sorry
Amanda [4:42 PM]:
ha!
Janelle [4:42 PM]:
me neither
Amanda [4:42 PM]:
a lot of help you are
Janelle [4:42 PM]:
im not crazy
Amanda [4:42 PM]:
i can’t help it: i worry a lot about bad things happening.
Amanda [4:42 PM]:
but when confronted with an actual bad situation, i don’t just fall apart
Janelle [4:44 PM]:
i know
Janelle [4:44 PM]:
but sometimes its ok.
Janelle [4:44 PM]:
to be vulnerable.
Amanda [4:44 PM]:
i think the thing i fear most is disappointment
Janelle [4:44 PM]:
and nothing THAT bad will happen. . that you can’t keep living and move on. and learn from it.
Janelle [4:44 PM]:
NO REGRETs
Janelle [4:44 PM]:
I MEAN, you know, all respectively
Amanda [4:44 PM]:
i know, i know
Amanda [4:44 PM]:
i think i’m suffocating myself by holding in my feelings
Amanda [4:45 PM]:
i was thinking that might be what that dream about piling the rocks on my chest might be about
Janelle [4:46 PM]:
true

I can agree with what Janelle is saying. But the thing is this: in the distant past, I have been that super crazy person who just went around letting it all out all the time. And everyone thought I was crazy, unreliable, ridiculous…really, I felt like a caricature. I don’t want to be that person again. I’m glad that my friends think I am strong and at least somewhat wise. At the very least, I’m taking care of business.
But it would be good to stop worrying about what COULD happen and devote more time to what is ACTUALLY happening. I guess at least I’m not stressing about what is NOT happening. Oh wait…maybe I am…
And I have to admit this: I AM suffocating under the weight of my internalized feelings. I’m not sure what to do about this, short of taking an epic road trip wherein I confront each individual on my bad list. Janelle–do you want to come along? We could probably find good thrift shopping AND we could do lots of fun tourist stuff. I would probably lose my voice from all of the shouting I would be doing, so you wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up steady conversation on the road.

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One thought on “self justification.

  1. janelle says:

    1. moderation

    2. quit living in the past. look forward and concentrate on new experiences. progression only!

    3. your readers are going to think i’m the worst speller because all of my chats are so quickly typed – resulting in misspellings. for the record, i’m not that bad of a speller, just lazy.

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