If it's gotten boring over here, blame my dissertation. I'm trying to finish it this year and folks, it's getting me down. I don't want to write too much about my professional stuff here but let's just say poor Freedom Girl is probably sick to death of hearing me rant about whether I'll ever finish and why I can't write short drafts and how miserable I am. And also how working in a room that hovers around 60 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time is not impossible, but is not massively pleasant, either. End of rant. Follow me on Twitter if you want this self-pity in real time.
Jess wrote recently about making a plan to live and eat more healthily. It's an admirable goal. For me, the thing I need to make a goal for is not so much how I eat (it's ok, I'm not worried about it, and FG makes sure I don't run off the rails too much and survive on cheese, granola bars, and coffee alone). It's more about mental health.
That's not easy to write about... but here it goes... as I've mentioned before, I have a problematic relationship with my family. My dad and I didn't even talk for over three years, and though things are ok there now, well, there's some leftover baggage, how could there not be? And more pressingly, my relationship with my mom is just so damn fraught. I sometimes wonder if I should migrate to Wordpress and do a whole series of ranting passworded posts about her which no one would actually have to read, of course, but which might do me some good. Is that a big hassle for everyone, the Wordpress migration? Or is there any way yet to password protect a Blogger post?
I blogress. So there are issues. And mostly I muddle through, putting FG through lengthy sessions of venting and decompressing after family visits or phone calls, but mostly getting on with life. Other times, though, I have to be honest: I fucking fall apart. The scary thing for me is that I don't know know what will set me off, or when.
As Tina would say, TMI ahead.
The other night, FG and I were messing around. And in the course of this messing around, which was getting serious but had not yet progressed to getting nekkid, she grabbed my boxer shorts, a handful on either side, and pulled me down towards her, and I freaked out. I felt myself grow cold and a wave of feeling tiny, small, helpless, and saturated with shame overcame me. Gently, I disengaged from her, and tried to explain what was wrong. Of course she felt terrible, though it was not her fault at all, really. I really couldn't move past feeling upset. She tried to comfort me and I couldn't let her even touch me. Eventually I explained enough and she went to sleep, as did I eventually; the only way I could get comfortable was curled up tight, one arm in my stomach and the other over my neck. For context... ass-grabbing is a perfectly normal & acceptable part of our repertoire. But something about pulling my shorts instead triggered something in my head. I don't know exactly what it was, though. I'm pretty stone, and that's fine with me, but this was something more, this was not a sane boundary but a minefield of distress that I've barely even acknowledged.
In the course of talking about this incident the next night, and all the feelings about my childhood and myself that it brought up, FG said two things that struck me and that have led me to write this post. One was that I really, really need to talk this stuff over with a therapist. So, I thought, if Jess can post her physical health goals, maybe I should post my mental health goals, too. I'm reluctant and it's logistically a bit challenging (see re: dissertation, above) but in the new year, I aim to start to address these problems in a systematic way, with hopefully effective professional help.
The second thing she said was that she can't be my entire support system; and in the context of that, she said how I go through life and everything seems ok, and, "I'm the only one who knows something is wrong." That's a powerful point. I think somewhere in my head I believe that if only she sees me fall apart, it means I've got it under control. Which of course is nonsense. So to lighten her burden, if only symbolically, and in a gesture of combating shame, I'm saying to all of you--I go through life, and mostly it's fine, but something is wrong, and I know I need to deal with it, and I'm working on it.
Post title: Melissa Etheridge, "Heroes & Friends"