Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Manipulation All Over The Place

Professional manipulation is a scary thing. Take a strong leader with the capability to get people on his side and add a healthy dose of well-placed manipulation, and now you have a leader with people willing to go out of their way to please him, to do anything to gain his support. Do something to fall out of favor? He will make you feel as though you've lost his trust, and he doles it out so generously that it must be a hard thing to lose!

"You're in a bit of a tough spot. Now you're in the position where you have to earn my respect back, which is so disappointing to me because you're one of the people I'm most fond of, if I can speak freely for a moment." Bravo. I'll take your compliment with a heaping dollop of guilt, please!

I am finding myself recently in one of the most confusing stages of my life. I have been thinking a lot more deeply about my childhood, and how I let people around me control my actions with fear. How easily they could.

When I was in third grade, I was finishing up a paper that the teacher said we had to finish before we left for lunch. I was the last one in the room with my teacher, Mrs. Ramsey, when she called me up to her desk. I knew she wanted the paper, but I just had a few words left to write, so I called out, "Hang on just a second!" Her response was to storm over to me, grab me, and lift me slightly so that she could yell, "Never tell ME to hang on!" at me. I panicked and left the room to lunch, scarred for the rest of elementary school. I never wanted to be yelled at for another absent-minded colloquialism again. I zipped my mouth shut and retreated into my shyness again.

All those stupid memories I keep in my head that make me cringe just thinking about how horrified I felt, and now that I'm older, I wonder if they even noticed or cared, or if they noticed, did they take pleasure in terrifying a nine-year-old kid who already walks the playground like she lost her family in the war?

Oh! Another great memory I had almost forgotten about: when I was in elementary school, I knew already that I didn't fit in. There used to be another girl in my class with my name, but she was much more popular than me. We would be out at recess, and the kids always shouted each other's names, and I kept hearing people shout my name every day, but they were never talking to me. That was depressing. Almost as depressing as being a fourth-grader and trying to tell your parents that you were depressed, but they just laugh.

Who would've guessed that this button-nosed little ham would have turned into such a hateful, unequally-yoked-with-your-son monster!

Life just gets more complicated as you go. I already see why people are so wistful about their youth. I would never want to go back, but if only to remember what it was like to not know so much about other people. I never thought people were trying to manipulate me when they did things that scared me. I just thought I was bad because I was raised to believe that any wrong move or mistake warranted being whipped. I just fucking thought I was a bad kid.

I also find myself, though, in a time of my life where I am trying to make a place for myself in a world that doesn't want me here. I feel like I'm always on defense for myself, and I think it's to my detriment. I'm finding myself on the side of the villain, I think. Some people are destined to be famous, and some people are destined to be infamous. I worry that my life will turn toward the latter, even though I know most people in the world don't know me. In fact, this is roughly the percentage of all the people in the world who know me: 0.0000071%,

The more I analyze my place in the world, the more I seem to step out of it. It is an elusive idea that bothers me. I want to always know how people feel about me, but when manipulation is all I know, I guess I know very few people.

I guess I will keep trying to push through it, but I also know people don't like you much if you don't respond to manipulation properly, so I won't be winning friends any time soon with that. I just can't win!

Anyways, I'm exhausted, and another protest is being live-streamed, so I guess I will close the night watching other people shout about their anger instead of me. :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Self Harm: Am I Normal Yet?

This got more fucked-up as I kept writing, and now I'm compelled to warn you that this is fucking sick and disgusting and hard to read. I don't encourage anyone to read it as it deals with bad shit that shouldn't exist.

I've only ever been able to function in normal society when I'm on drugs. Sure, I can get by fine on the day-to-day stuff and seem okay to most people, but I have only ever felt comfortable enough to smile with people after I've taken a couple of tramadol or sneaked a beer in my purse to my shitty job as a cashier, and feigned my period to go into the one-person bathroom to chug it (I haven't done this in years, by the way). I'd come back out with a smile plastered on my face (or was it the other way around?), able to discuss menial things with people for once. Nowadays, I just go in sober. And that's probably where my problem exists.

When I was younger, I thought that self-harm meant cutting. I didn't know that the angry nights I would slap myself across my face or bang my head against my bedroom wall were me "self-harming." Weird, huh. Mostly, I wasn't thinking. I was just trying to get my brain to work correctly so that I wouldn't push people away anymore or cry all the time like I did. I took the anger I saw in my father out on myself. He didn't even have to hit me (although he did anyway). I guess I didn't know until now how most past-times I had as a kid were pretty destructive.

The first outlet I ever discovered for my anger came when I was seven or eight. I had just gotten my life upended from the trashy downtown house in the ghetto with an abusive and violent father to living in the country with my mother and grandparents (while my mother was on house arrest for some thing I'll never look into). I remember destroying the month on the calendar at my grandparents' desk next to the computer with scribbles and violent carvings into the paper. I told my grandma it helped me deal with my anger, to which she replied in an annoyed voice, "Good. Do that, then."

But I didn't want to do it after that. It only helped the first time. Instead, I took to the AOL messenger chat rooms. I was nine when the boys discovered me. They found me as a real outlet for their sexual frustrations. I "cybered" with supposedly sixteen-year-old boys who would send me choppy videos of their very unpleasant-looking dicks, and I became very good at multitasking my browsers so that it always looked like I was doing something else, and the innocuous-looking window of text in the bottom corner was of no concern to my grandparents and mother.

I wasn't overly interested in sex at the time. I just knew that I was doing something wrong, and I wanted it to continue. I wanted to be kidnapped and killed. I had fantasies (as a nine-year-old) of someone coming into my room at night, drugging me and taking me out, and waking up naked to find empty bottles shoved inside me in some kind of busy party full of people standing around me. My imagination ran wild with horrible simulations about myself drowning in pools of leeches and getting lost in crowds away from my family forever that were so realistic I had to go into the other rooms of my grandparents' house to make sure I was still living with them and not some new family.

There was always this sense of disconnect with them. I understood that they were my family and they knew me, but I was always worried that they were gone or that one day I'd wake up to no one. I was worried about comas and delusion and being schizophrenic, even though I've never heard actual voices in my head. I wonder if the voices are just bad thoughts that are indistinguishable from my own. I don't know if there is anything wrong with me, but I constantly worry that my reality is not real, and that everyone else gets to be part of something better. My head is so full of thoughts about not living in a real world that I'm always thinking about exactly how other people see me, and subsequently, spend a lot of time rethinking things that I've said or done and kicking myself for not doing better.

I'm re-reading this right now, and I'm crying. How have I lived like this? This isn't a good life. I try so hard to be good at things and to be better than other people at stuff because I won't be noticed otherwise, and so my life is just filled with competition at things I have no real desire to do, but do just so that people won't have to notice me as a person. I guess I will never be normal. I have no idea what it is like to accept reality instead of constantly wondering if I'm either dead, dying, or don't exist.

Maybe I should see a doctor. I know what I have. Depersonalization-derealization disorder. Yay for labels. All they can do is prescribe me therapy or pills. I don't know if I want either.

I just want to be happy, but I keep having these moments all the time. They are weighing me down like a thousand people grabbing at me from under the water and dragging my body under the current. I'm sorry to the people around me for having to interact with me all the time. I'm sorry I barely exist. I'll get better, but I just wanted to get these feelings out while I am experiencing them. Good night, folks.

Emily Dickinson Wishes

Remembering my childhood fantasy of becoming Emily Dickinson right now. Definitely sounding a lot better to be a hermit than leave my space to interact with people who don't seem to enjoy my company. First day of work and I've erased the good feelings of my vacation. I guess I'm just not good at making friends, and especially when it's people I work with. I tried to say goodbye to someone before my vacation started, since I knew he would be leaving before I got back. But when I tried to say something, I got a "shoo" hand motion instead.

I feel like I'm one of those people who thinks that everyone around them doesn't like them, and that they are just pretending, but instead of it being my imagination, it's real. I don't think the people I know like me. I am a pathetic waste of space who over thinks too much and doesn't do enough of anything.

I wish I could be like Emily Dickinson. Although much of her life was marred by death. I just don't know how to cope with life.

A part of me wishes I had some kind of life-manipulating disease that would take a fews years off my hands. I don't want to die, but I don't know what to live for, either.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Memories and Being Normal

I'm on vacation! Vacation, vacation, vacation! (Some bastardization of a Greg Warren bit)

Small town Indiana
I'm back in sweaty, swampy Indiana, and over-thinking as usual! Yay! Currently I am chilling in the lovely central air at Brandon's parents' house, which allows us to pretend like we are somewhere else besides this humid nightmare of a red state. But it's all good, because I am enjoying myself, I promise. I just like to be real, you guys. And part of being real is acknowledging that things aren't always butterflies and unicorns and magic. Although I wish it could be. Magic would be pretty sweet.

If we all labeled ourselves (which is something I'm everyone does, but I don't know what's inside everyone else's head), I would call myself a self-commentator. That's all my life is. Me doing stuff and then thinking about the things I'm doing and wondering how they appear to others. It's great that I kind of keep a blog, so I can go back and reread the things I wrote to ponder how they might affect others who (probably don't) read it. What can ya do? I've kind of accepted it, and I try to just let it happen naturally, but not take over my life. I'm getting so much better.

My family is very happy that I've come back for a visit, but I feel bad that I'm spending most of it at Brandon's parents' house. They're probably just happy I'm here, but I know they wish I would stay with them sometimes, too. It's hard to talk about, especially because my mom tries to keep such a clean house, but I hate being in that trailer. It's a reminder of the bad shit that I went through in high school.

I felt like white trash. I lived in a room where paint just peeled right off the walls. We went from living in a three-bedroom house near town in a non-scary neighborhood to a shitty trailer with black stuff all over the bathroom and the walls that I wondered if it ever came off. I had to live in a mold-infested room in the back of my grandparents' old cottage while my parents lived in Indianapolis and looked for a place for us to live (which turned into the trailer).

Me in the back yard of my house
When we lived in the house, I felt normal. I had a nice room with a window that opened (just having the window was a step up from my previous bedroom, which had none), and I could go into the living room without being in a cloud of cigarette smoke. I played guitar on the porch and ran around in the backyard with my friends. I felt like I finally had a normal life.

I don't want to romanticize the house, at all. The neighbor was some crazy old couple who beat their dog, and when I would take walks around the neighborhood (at thirteen), I would get propositioned by older dudes driving by. Fucking creeps. They knew I was thirteen. I even got asked to join a gang, but it was literally just a bunch of poor white kids with squirt guns. No, thanks.

While we were living there, my mom got into a car accident on her first day of work and ended up living in her bedroom for a year, so I didn't get to see her much. My stepfather would ignore me for months for reasons like me getting a boyfriend. I was alone much of the time (except when I was with my best friend), and I spent most of it dieting and exercising. I would work out for hours and eat very little. I starved myself because I was dealing with the after-effects of being mercilessly bullied through middle school for being "disgusting."

I wasn't happy, but I was getting attention from people at school for losing weight and being prettier, so I felt like things were starting to look up. (This was through the end of eighth grade to the end of ninth grade, by the way)

But then, I found out that we were being kicked out. The land-lady needed to sell the house because she developed lung cancer and needed to get money quick. We couldn't afford to buy it, so we were tossed out. My parents broke the news to me, and I calmly nodded, said okay, and walked out. I remember shaking a little as I went to the backyard, picked up a big stick, and started bashing it against the shed and crying. I just wanted to have a normal childhood, and now, I had to pick up my life and put it into a new place. I just knew we weren't going to be able to afford anything like what we were living in then.

We had to leave the day after my birthday. It was a great birthday, too. I had so many people show up, and we danced and listened to my then-boyfriend's band play grunge rock, and we had cake and a chocolate fountain. It would have a depressing echo to my graduation party years later that brought a grand total of four people to share in the party, and the food sat untouched. After we moved out, I began a depression that led me to losing all my friends and lashing out at everyone.

I graduated with one friend, and my boyfriend hated me. I hated me. I was more alone than I ever wanted to be. But part of me noticed that people only liked me after I got skinnier. And they only liked me when I was living a normal life in a house with a fenced-in backyard and a mailbox. I wonder, though, if people just didn't like me anymore when I stopped liking myself.

Maybe now that I'm older, I can figure things out. I am much happier, and I'm in such a better place, but I have so much left to figure out. I am friendless, but I've been without friends for so long that I'm more comfortable this way. It's scary to invite people into your life and allow them to see you as yourself, and not just your small-talk persona (of which I have none, so people probably don't see me in a very good light).

I want to keep getting better, but it always helps me get these things out of my head. And with that, I'm going back to being on vacation.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Quit My Job

Today was my last day as a manager. Strangely enough, though, today has been one of the happier days I've had since I started this part of my career. As it turns out, I am not much of a people person. Surprise! Well, it's not so much that I hate people, but more like afraid of them. I guess that might not be the best word for it, either. I just struggle with small talk.

There is so little time to accomplish everything on my goal list, and when someone starts talking about the same tired tropes like weather or road closures, I get so uncomfortable. There are a lot of smart people who say that you should "master the art of small talk," but then, there are others, like Doug Stanhope, who say that it's much better to skip past that and get right to the good stuff. Now, it's not always possible to know how strange you can get with a stranger or an acquaintance, but so much of our lives is dominated by watered-down conversation that goes nowhere and accomplishes little, and it feels wasteful to do so.

How was your day? Fine, good, okay, etc. Those are all acceptable answers. But how can you respond to someone, who, when passing by, says, "How ya doin'?" "Terrible, I stepped in a puddle of water on my way in, and I am slowly going broke due to my monthly student loans, and my soul is being crushed because I can't find a job in my field!" That might be an exaggeration, and definitely not my life, but it's just fascinating and odd to me how people can go through their day getting asked how they are doing and not ever really being able to properly answer.

Well, I'm getting off topic. I am going to the fair in a few minutes, and I've had too nice of a day to let imaginary small talk ruin it.

I quit my job as a department manager to take another position in the same company, technically a step down, into the back end operations, where I will learn "everything there is to know about the department." That was the idea when my manager noticed that I wasn't very happy in my position. He took extra care to find something that could be available to me (although I did take a pay cut) that was away from customers, and steady. Monday through Friday, 7am to 4pm. Pretty nice. I am very grateful.

So, I will have a steady sleep schedule, and I plan on losing weight and wearing nicer clothes, and really working to accomplish a lot of the things I have set aside. More on that later, though. To the fair!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tainted: Am I Being a Good Person?

There's no easy way to start an article in which you're going to tell the world that you don't think you are a good person. When you wake up every morning and cringe at the thought of something you accidentally said or did, and wonder if the memory you have with that person will have tainted their view of you forever. You wonder if everything you do has some kind of irreparable consequence, by which you cannot escape and will always be labeled. 

And so, you feel like you'd rather have some kind of terminal disease just because living feels too complicated because you think that your existence has become too tainted by the mistakes you have made.

You don't want to be known by the things you've accidentally done to others, but it comes to be eventually that those moments are the way people really do remember you, as you retreat in shame and make those memories a much larger piece of the pie chart graph of connections between the two of you. The idea of talking to this person is marred by the fear that their reception of you is tainted by your actions. And even if you think about how self-centered people are, and how you wouldn't let others be represented by the mistakes they have made, you worry that others still will.

Being this exact kind of person, I find myself in a very painful situation with my life. I have burned bridges, thrown stones, and ignored friendships past the point of repair, simply because I am continually ashamed of my actions/inactions and cannot bring myself to experience reality as it exists, and not the way it seems to in my mind.

Moving to a new place always quells my anxiety for a while. It allows me to be a new person, to start over with people who do not know my mistakes. They see me as this person I would always like to be: uncompromising, quietly peaceful, and kind. Maybe funny, too. I always want people to laugh.

But then, I make a mistake. It haunts me. I remember every mistake from before kindergarten to yesterday, and they completely take over my life. I recall being at my brother's birthday party when I was 6 and he was 4, and he got a Playstation from my grandparents. I, having just learned the value of money, was excited to tell him to take care of it because it cost "some amount of dollars." And the whole room (and at that time, my whole world) laughed at me. I still feel shame from those (practically meaningless) encounters.

Why? I don't know, Maybe I need to speak to a therapist. But for now, every mistake goes right back to my head, filling up this internal quota I hope I never reach. Every mistake I make comes across to me as a failure, and one that can never be fixed, since there's no way to go back in time and right the wrongs.

They say "time heals all wounds" but I have yet to experience the healing of my past indiscretions. Maybe it's not time that heals, but the person. Maybe the person is supposed to somehow let go of their mistakes, or accept them and move on, but I have no idea how to do that. It's very easy to tell someone to let go, but it's hard to be the one who has to do it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Very Real Explanation of My Work Life

I find it incredibly difficult to suspend my sense of disbelief, even for a moment. Completely gone are the days when I could imagine myself away from my life, into a new one, where I could be happy and calm. I used to think that it was because I didn't need to anymore, but now, I feel unhappy with myself, and I'm stuck in this reality. This feeling is made worse by the knowledge that I have done so well for myself, at least in the eyes of others.

My formal education ended when I quit college, and the respect I got from my family also quelled. I felt ashamed, although I kept telling myself that I didn't care what my family thought of me. They never really had my back to begin with, anyway. I was going to use my intelligence to move up in the world, and college wasn't really a necessity for me. So I went back to work, and the story bloomed from there. I met someone who shared my love of travel and photography, and he would help me transition into someone better, someone who didn't starve herself to feel attractive, and someone who created her own validity.

Complications held us to Indiana for three extra years than I wanted, and I began to feel miserable. I stopped writing and exercising, and started wallowing in my own misery. And I still must be digging myself out, because I shouldn't be miserable anymore. I got myself out of Indiana. I did it. My hard work throughout the past three years has put my in this apartment I can afford, surrounded by things I can walk to, parks, shops, nature, restaurants, etc.

I have gained a lot of weight. I have squandered my opportunities, and I am ashamed of myself. But where do I go from here? My job is in retail, albeit a manager (though I never really wanted it in the first place), so I can continue to try to excel there, or I can work on my creative pursuits and eventually pull myself out of retail. Everyone always tells me what a great job I'm doing there, but I don't have much motivation to keep customers happy when they are complete assholes to me collectively. I was told that I'm naive, but maybe I don't like being treated like scum for terrible reasons. At least, if I'm going to be treated that way, it should be more deserved, and not because I sold out of a refrigerator they want.

My ideal job would probably at this point be part-journalist, part-comedian, part-podcast host. Oh, yeah, very reliable, very easy-to-obtain. But I've found that I'm much happier working toward practically unrealistic goals rather than mindlessly working in a retail job with little end-goal besides making more money. Money is great, but when you don't have happiness alongside it, what can you really do with it?

Everyone keeps telling me that management is great for my resume. That I am making such great decisions, that I should definitely keep trying to move up into the company, and that I will make a great this or a great that. But my mind is telling me that I am unhappy with management, and that I just don't function well when I have to tell other people what to do. I really don't want more responsibility, and I have been doing this to further my own interests at home, not to move up in a corporation that really only likes me at my absolute best, and probably not really even at that point. People say I should stick it out so that I can have something important to put on my resume if I want to move out of retail eventually.

I never wanted to be in retail. I am not making a big deal out of this. I am a very introverted person, and every day, I feel like I need to come home to a quiet room to decompress for the night, and every day that I'm off, I would now rather spend it indoors on my couch than out in public, as I have grown to absolutely hate people because of my job. That is not healthy. I've been doing this for long enough that I know it won't be any better, even if I say it will be, because my creativity eventually drains back out and I am left ragged and miserable.

So, I'm faced with a dilemma. Do I continue working in my management position, with erratic hours, good pay, and potential to move up? Or do I take a potential pay cut, downgrade in position, but steady M-F hours that will also allow me to get away from horrible customers and focus on my personal life more? Because those are the options I'm faced with. On Wednesday, I have to go back into work, where they are more than ready to accommodate me, and make a very big decision.