Yesterday I had an appointment with my
evisceration expert – oops – I mean psychologist.
Honestly, she should be known as an evisceration expert, and that’s the God-honest truth. I came home, again, numb to my core and feeling as all the deepest, darkest secrets in my brain had been laid open, rubbed with salt and scoured with bleach.
I’ve spent my entire life responding to a simple question with a simple answer.
Question: “How are you?”
Answer: “I’m okay.”
The psychologist is digging deeper and its not something I’m comfortable with, nor something I’m happy about exploring. I’ve spent – oh, I don’t know – my entire adult life ignoring the true answer to the question ‘How are you?’ Mainly because I didn’t know how to answer it. Mainly because the answer is too complex. And mainly because the answer isn’t much fun. The truth is, that its a very rare occasion when I’m actually okay; most of the time my head is a very messy place to live in. Even more so in this past four months, when I’ve had a complete meltdown and don’t know how to get the pieces back together.
I’m terrified of going out. My safe places include the house, walking to the letterbox, going to the local shops with my husband or one of the gang of four in tow as support, and I’ve recently extended my safety zone to my BIL & SIL’s house. Even their house has ‘rules’ – I have limitations for how long I’m comfortable, being away from home. There’s a fine line between ‘comfortable’ and ‘I need to go home now’.
The question has been asked – “What is it about leaving home which frightens you?” – and answered – “I don’t know.”
We’ve cut it down to people. People frighten me. It’s kinda funny, because I’ve spent my entire life warning people that ‘I don’t like people’, but now it’s morphed into ‘People scare me.’
Why? I hear you ask.
Because I have to relate to them. I have to talk to them. I have to think of interesting things to say, keep up a witty repartee and not come across as being a complete doofus. Yes, that’s right folks. Inside I am a complete doofus. I’m terrified when I’m socializing that I’m going to say the wrong thing, that I’m going to stand there, mute with nothing sensible to say. That people aren’t going to like me, or are going to think I’m an idiot, or I’m going to say something which they’ll roll their eyes over and I’ll see them roll their eyes and that will give me something to be anxious over for the rest of my days.
A prime example of how my mind works, or doesn’t work, can be gained below, in two recent examples:
The Tea Bag Incident
This wasn’t a big deal. It shouldn’t have been a big deal. I know, deep down inside, that it isn’t a big deal. But I fretted over it for hours – at least until the evisceration expert gave my mind a good wipe-out with salt and bleach and numbed down my thinking (and worrying) for a bit.
We went to the BIL and SIL’s house on Sunday afternoon. During the week, we’d gotten a free sample of ‘Yorkshire’ tea bags with our groceries – the same teabags I’d bought at an earlier stage and decided I didn’t like. So I took them to the BIL and SIL’s house, because I knew they like English tea, and told them they could have them, because I didn’t like them. (Not to say I can’t drink it – but I prefer Lipton or Tetley).
My SIL announced ‘that’s what you drink when you’re here’ – which I know – but as I said, above, it’s not that I can’t drink it – it’s just not my first choice.
For anyone else, the conversation would be over, right? No biggie.
For me, it caused a night of anxiety – worrying that I’d hurt my SIL’s feelings, annoyed with myself for taking the tea bags over there in the first place. A practice run through or ten on how I could have better dealt with the situation and what I could have said which would have been the right thing to say. Because that’s what I’ve done my whole life – looked for the right thing to say.
I’m quite certain my BIL and SIL have given the conversation very little thought since then – but it’s worried me to death. And I have no way of stopping myself from worrying about it. (Which the evisceration expert assures me can be remedied… in time)
The Police Incident
We have moronic neighbours. They’re in the process of getting divorced, still live together in the same house and have settled into a regular pattern – playing music incredibly loudly, drinking too much, then fighting like cat and dog.
On Friday night, they had a party, playing loud music from 4pm in the afternoon. It continued on throughout the evening, meaning we had to turn up our television to hear it. Now the problem is, the back of their house, backs onto the side of our house – the side where our bedroom, and our daughter and son’s bedroom windows face. Meaning a sleepless night if they’re having a party/argument/screaming-knockdown-fight.
Midnight came and went, and the music continued. My husband managed to get off to sleep, and our daughter relocated herself to the family room to sleep, on the other side of the house. My son was up and playing on his X-Box, so although annoying, it wasn’t stopping him from sleeping.
Which left me. Wide-awake and watching the clock as I listened to the dulcet tones of music and arguing from next door as the clock worked past midnight.
By which time, I could ring the police. After midnight, they should at least be turning the ruckus down. Perhaps toning down the drunken fights. So ring the police, right?
Wrong. I thought about it, I really did. I thought hard… and long… and fretted over the decision. What if I ring the police and by the time they get here, the moronic neighbors have turned the music down and gone to bed? Then the police would think i was making it up. Or what if I ring the police over loud music and interrupt them when they’re busy with something much more important? It’s Friday night, there’s bound to be real trouble somewhere else. The police won’t be impressed if I call them. What if they get here and it exacerbates the situation even more. What if the neighbours figure out that it was me who called, and come knocking on my door, hurling abuse at me and my family?
And so it went, on and on, until 2.01am when I finally forced myself to pick up the phone and ring.
Get the picture? I’m sure most people are now shaking their heads, thinking ‘this woman is batshit crazy’. I know I do.
But the facts are – this is my life. For years, and years, and years – I relied on ‘Strong Deb’ to force me into social situations. She would bully and cajole me, coax me and yell at me to get out there and do things. I’d spend hours in the week beforehand, practicing the ‘appropriate’ conversations and small talk – prepping myself for the social situation I was to find myself in. Thinking up witty repartee. Practicing until I was sure I wouldn’t make a mess of things.
But ‘Strong Deb’ is gone. She exploded into a million pieces around the time that my world shattered in a meltdown which I’m still recovering from. So now there’s just me, trying to figure out how to cope out there in the ‘real’ world. The psychologist assures me it will happen – but it’s going to take a long time. I’ve spent my entire adult life with ‘Strong Deb’ holding the reigns – now I have to relearn how to cope with ‘Just Deb’ holding the reigns, in her shaky nervous hand, while the other hand just wants to cover her eyes and hide in a corner.
In many ways, this is why I love writing, it’s my refuge, my place where I’m whole. The written word is a powerful tool, one which I can control, I can manage and I can use to smooth out the bumps in my road. As I told my psychologist yesterday – words are easy – I can fight any battle, argue any point, come up with all the witty repartee I need with words on paper. It’s where I’m safe, where I’m comfortable and best of all – it where, if I make a mistake, or write something stupid – I can take it back. Hit the delete key and start again, finessing, refining until it’s perfect.
I can’t do that in the real world. And that’s what worries me most.
And now, I’ll go back to my comfortable, safe life in my own home – until next week – when I go to see the evisceration expert again. Sigh.