Next week I have to go way out of my comfort zone.
I have to leave my hermit cave, go somewhere unfamiliar and socialise with people I don’t know, who don’t know me either.
My innate nervous tension has been rising.
I’ve been having stress dreams. One of which was OCD-ish – I was watching flying military vehicles passing by the window in a long and orderly procession.
That was influenced by an episode of a TV show I was watching wherein a character had OCD. Everything had to be clean, neat, controlled to the nth degree, or he’d have a meltdown. He was also agoraphobic. And could not stand to be touched. I can relate to all of that.
I never quite got that extreme with it (TV and film tend to exaggerate and simplify to make their point) or at least I kept things more contained, hidden from the eyes of others… when I mentioned it to others they invariably reacted with disbelief – so I guess they didn’t notice it at all or maybe they did and chose to white it out, ignore it, that thing does not compute and will be erased.
I’m one of those people who has the impression that other people often use me as a mirror in reverse – whatever they are, I’m not. Whatever they have, I don’t.
If they are shy, I’m not. If they lack self-confidence, I don’t. If they have anxiety or depression, I don’t have it, never have, don’t know anything about it.
Sometimes they’ll compare themselves favourably with their view of me – they feel good because they have what I don’t. Sometimes it works the other way around and they’ll envy me for what they’ve decided I don’t have which they do or have which they don’t (it works that way around too).
If I do have what they have too, and dare to say I do – they get annoyed with me and deny it. Which leads to me thinking: “Oh shit, here we go again on this unmerry-go-round“. The ride usually ends with them denying me – I cease to exist because my existence is impinging on their reality.
If they try to keep the ride going… I’m getting better at finding ways to end it, even if it means behaving in a way which I’d prefer not to. Flexibility is key… it’s part of resilience, bounce-back ability which is a big thing atm in pop psychology.
The mirroring thing is an old issue which is a part of my nervous tension. When nervous-T rises, so do old issues which rattle their bones, chains, and my nerves.
I used to have to go to many places and meet many people when I was a child, during my formative years.
I was an only child surrounded by adults who were not nice to children even though they regularly told me how nice they were being to me just in case my dumb child-mind thought otherwise (which it often did, and was right but how dare a little be right about a big).
And my experiences led to the formation of a fervent child-wish – to have powers of invisibility.
I didn’t want to use them to rob a bank or anything nefarious. I simply wanted to disappear so that I wouldn’t be seen by the eyes of others who often used me to de-stress themselves.
An example of that on a more impersonal level came to mind late last night.
When I’m stressed I tend to get intellectually angry, and furiously write blog posts in my head, analytically eviscerating experts and theories which are considered facts.
During the day I’d read a wonderful post wherein the author spoke of being an only child.
Here’s the wonderful post on a great blog created by a beautifully soulful blogger – Celebrate Good Times, c’mon! by Kacha of Food.for.Thoughts
Later on the words “only child” echoed within and reminded me of something something…
Years ago I’d read a book – They F*** You Up by Oliver James. The title comes from a line in a brilliant poem – This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin.
I did not like the book (but adore the poem), and came away from my reading of it, disliking the author, more so because he is a clinical psychologist and he really should be more careful about what he writes since his professional position gives weight to his words. People might take his personal opinion as expertise, fact and use it to injure others or something like that.
From what I can recall (and I am aware I could have misunderstood him and misremembered), in his book he spoke about the problems he’d suffered being a middle child… and how he’d envied only children because they had it all, all their parents’ attention, toys just for them, they never had to share their stuff with others, with siblings, never had to compete for love and so on.
His view of the only child was incredibly subjectively myopic and rather hateful. Basically only children were spoiled brats who deserved no empathy from anyone, including a mental health professional.
It was rather disturbing to read.
He’s not the only professional mind expert who has that perspective of only children. My child psychologist Godfather did too… but he was being messed with by my narcissist parents, used against me, as well as having me used against him – when narcissists are bored or stressed, they use others as vessels in which and with which to relieve themselves.
Those with that perspective of the only child, thus far, all seem to be not only children themselves. They think they’re right – but they have no personal experience of being an only child.
After I’d written a short rant post in my head (my posts are shorter when they’re in my head, they get longer when I put them down on cyber paper), I calmed down, switched gears, perspective, due to feeling empathy for Oliver James and people like him who… are like me too.
We have issues and slowly, sometimes agonisingly so, we work them out… in a variety of ways, hopefully doing as little harm to other humans as possible, but you can’t always control it… and sometimes trying to control it is what causes harm.
A thought popped up in the calm after storm – perhaps only children are better listeners, better at noticing small invisible things, because they were small invisible things.
They had no siblings, they were alone, often painfully lonely, getting all the attention… but was it nourishing and nurturing attention or stressful, pressurised, because you were the only one who could live out all of your parents’ dreams and ambitions for you? You were the only one to get punished and criticised, no one else to share that kind of attention, no one else to shift blame onto, no one else to take it away from you, distract and deflect from you.
Have you ever watched the series 24, and felt sorry for the person who was “the only lead” in an intense investigation even if they were a terrorist, the villain. You know, the one who was shoved into a tiny box, wired up, injected and tortured by the heroes, any means justified to get what they wanted to save the world.
The other day I mentioned being an empath… it still makes my skin crawl to say it out loud. I know why, I shared a couple, but there are many other reasons why.
The reverse mirror is one.
When others tell me they’re an empath… for me that’s a red flag, because so often it means I’m about to be used and abused by an “empath” who is actually a narcissist. They’re going to tell me what I feel (and it won’t be what I’m feeling at all), then tell me I’m wrong if I say it’s not what I’m feeling (I can’t argue with them because they’re the empath and I’m not). I’ll know the feelings they’ve picked up from me are theirs projected and transferred… to be denied, dismissed, and other things along those lines by them. “My” feelings are bothering them, would I stop feeling them right now!
This article describes the dynamic above perfectly – Narcissists Claiming To Be Empaths & Three Methods To Uncover The Truth by Dr. Ava Pommerenk
This post is also worth reading if you’re looking to understand, as it’s a personal confession with an insightful twist – Are You an Empathic Narcissist? by Aletheia Luna
And this article explains real, ordinary and thus more powerful, empathy at work in the every day – 5 Steps for Developing Real Empathy: How to avoid the pitfalls and be a more empathic listener by Marcia Reynolds Psy.D
Here’s an excerpt:
In some ways I’ve succeeded in being invisible to a degree.
When I’m with others, especially when I’m in a new environment socialising with those whom I do not know, I tend to blank myself out, empty myself of ego – or at least put ego and self on pause.
The ego is a valuable part of the self, it serves a purpose – so those telling you to get rid of ego… well, that’s their ego talking, if you get rid of yours there’s more room for theirs, and other “spiritual path” pitfalls.
However sometimes the ego gets in the way, especially when it’s babbling while you’re trying to listen to someone else, get to know them, get a read of them, their story, and the room you’re in.
The ego can survive not being centre stage and focus, even if it screams in your head that it can’t and will die if it doesn’t have your attention 24/7. It won’t die, its animal totem is a cockroach. It prefers an animal totem like a tiger… but the tiger is being driven to extinction by human encroachment on habitat and such, while the cockroach has adapted to humans and will survive long after humans are extinct.
Two related to the above links:
My favourite site for looking up animal totems and symbolic meanings – What’s Your Sign by Ava Venefica
I didn’t bookmark the other one I was thinking about, it was about resilience and adaptability which are trending concepts in psychology today.
While searching for the article just now, I came across a couple of other articles whose titles made me chuckle in a Wtf woah psyche-synchronicity way.
One is – Five Reasons to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – which has just popped up and was published today after I began writing this post.
The other is – How Do I Increase My Compassion Without Becoming a Doormat? – which was published on the 5th of November and ties in with a previous post I wrote recently (which I published on October 31st).
I haven’t read either of them so I’m not linking to them. They’re on Psychology Today/gb if you’re interested.
However… I love it when something I’m focusing my attention upon, happens to coincide with something that others are also focusing their attention upon. It shows me that I’m on a collective wavelength, which is cool for me – someone who is often not anywhere near a collective anything perhaps due to being an only child.
I also like it when I notice it but am not necessarily on the same wavelength, like today I noticed that Melanie had written about what is “taboo”:
And it coincided beautifully with a post an astrologer I follow had written about the transits of the now:
November 9th, 2019: Black Moon Lilith Speaks Again – Ruby Slipper Astrology – wherein she says – “Once again, BML is given a voice as she harmonizes with Mercury. The investigation of secrets or a closer look at taboo information will enable her. Women’s sexual energy that is powerful, disruptive and unorthodox can be verbalized, and the sextile to Pluto (which rules Scorpio) adds even more power.“
Plus last night I read a great article which I expected to be awful on the BBC news website – Five things everyone with a vagina should know by Paula McGrath – wherein the female expert on the vulva and vagina who was interviewed and profiled made the most brilliantly hilarious and practical statement of: “It’s a vagina, not a pina colada,“.
Since a couple of the new people whom I don’t know and am meeting way outside of my comfort zone next week do work for the British news… maybe I should bring up vagina pina coladas as a conversation icebreaker? Maybe not… maybe I should leave the conversational ice-breaking to them and just keep quiet, stay invisible.
Aha, re-found it:
I think that’s the one… I read a few different articles on that day (November 3rd), including that one.
He mentions being on autopilot, and “tigers”… the ego side of us is often on “autopilot” in interactions.
We feel semi-mysteriously compelled to only semi-listen when people are expressing themselves, waiting to insert our “I AM” statements, impress ourselves on others who… are doing the same thing with us… and that means the conversation is two monologues passing by like ships at night, rather than a dialogue creating a real connection, communing, and perhaps making a baby together. Not a real baby but a two minds sharing and listening to what is shared, blending and merging, creating something new and inspiring for both together.
Things like what I just said… are partly why I sometimes wish for invisibility powers, but then also get annoyed when I achieve invisibility and someone else thinks they came up with an idea all on their own, doesn’t give me credit for my part.
Invisibility powers aren’t what you think they are when you wish for them… because nothing ever is.
And we’re supposed to learn from oopsies like that.
We’re supposed to learn something worth learning from our anxiety too. It too serves a purpose… not always the one we think it’s serving.
Anxiety and depression are great teachers of many things, they’re a curse with a strong blessing aspect, including empathy – real empathy, real ordinary truly useful empathy.
Since my anxiety has been acting up – inside, not so much outside, but it wants to act up outside too…
I noticed an article about it which I might have ignored because… when you have anxiety, reading up on it tends to trigger it rather than calm it, but since mine is already triggered… why not!
This is the link – Anxiety Basics It’s Not Primarily a Psychological Issue by David Hanscom, MD
It gives a completely different than the usual perspective on it, which was refreshing.
This is an excerpt:
I particularly noticed what he said at the end of the article – “Your capacity to enjoy your life depends on your skills in minimizing your levels of stress hormones and stimulating your “play” chemicals.“
My anxiety has lessened since I’ve allowed myself out to play more… but… there’s always a but!
I use humour, and have done so since I was a child, to alleviate stress, and while it does work it can also be counterproductive…
My “humour” can go OTT when I’m super stressed, I may play the clown a bit too much until what’s funny becomes super creepy and thus stressful for others.
It may be calming for me but isn’t calming for those around me.
I’m basically passing my stress and anxiety onto others when I do that, which isn’t solving the personal problem even if it feels like it is momentarily. I’m turning myself into the “calm one” compared to the others who are now “anxious and stressed out” – because I’ve made them that way by triggering their stress and anxiety with my self-calming tactics and coping mechanisms.
I was thinking about that, playing with perspectives. What if my being stressed and anxious is better than my not being that way? I know it doesn’t sound productive or helpful but … maybe my being stressed and anxious helps others be calm, they have to be more calm because I’m not.
Weird, right? But not totally illogical. Think about it… when you’re with someone who is stressed/anxious/panicking… compared to them you’re really calm, maybe you go extra calm to deal with them. Okay maybe they make you stressed and cause you to panic when you were fine before… so there’s that too to consider.
There’s a lot to consider all the time in the humaniverse.
For me there is much to consider as I prepare for next week, trying to carry as little with me as possible into it. Wear clothes but not too many… be naked, real, but not inappropriately so.
Things I’m telling myself – You have to be careful when engaging “play’ to minimise “stress” for yourself as there are pitfalls.
But that’s stressful to worry about…
There’s nothing like someone telling you to “be careful” or “be cautious” when you’re already doing that.
That’s the thing about anxiety – you think things through from so many perspectives and have probably already thought of everything and anything which anyone else may say, point out to you.
You’ve definitely done all the be careful, be cautious checks and it’s making you more anxious so you’ve toned it down, and are trying not to do it so much that it stifles you to death with careful cautiousness… and along comes some friendly neighbourhood goody-two-shoes who thinks they’re empathic but aren’t, handing out good advice which isn’t… be careful, be cautious they say to you just as you’ve decided you need to be less of that because that’s part of what’s making you super anxious.
Great! And then they’re hurt because you snapped at them… sigh! One more thing to be anxious about. Shit, I hurt them, omg, I have to unhurt them… or maybe I don’t!? Maybe that’s not my responsibility???
I’ve been on both sides of that equation and in between while watching someone else do it to someone else – those are the best versions of it, when you’re in-between and not directly involved, if you observe it with a note-to-self eye. In other words – Ah, so that’s what it’s like when I’m not part of the equation on one side or the other, that’s really annoying either way.
There’s no perfect solution… just slight adjustments here and there to balance things a bit better for self and others.
The best stress/anxiety reliever is to be honest about it… simply, not with added complications of expectations connected to honest revelation… because pretty much every other human being on planet Earth can relate to it. Has been there, done that more than once, more than they want to… especially in these modern times.
I’m okay, just doing the expressive writing thing…
please don’t “solve my problem for me”… that’s not what this post is about. Just focus on you, not me, thank you.
Was that rude!?! Never mind…
Thank you for listening. Or knowing when to not listen.