Owning Myself Pt 2

Read Pt 1 here

When I was a junior in high school, I was super involved and there were a litany of reasons for that. One spring afternoon -- the details of which escape me -- I found myself sitting outside of then-BFF's mom's office in the middle of the student center during the busiest time of the day, crying. I remember I felt like the weight of the world was on me, that I had no one on my side and that I desperately needed a hug. Through my tears I saw people walking past me staring. I was relatively popular -- people knew me, even if they didn't know me -- so the crying thing was an attention grabber.

I had previously been inside the office with my 2 best friends and when I didn't return after a few moments, they came looking for me. Though my head was down, I knew they were standing there and I waited on one of them to pat me on the back or hug me or even just ask me what was wrong. They didn't. They both went back inside the office with not a word. They treated me no better than people I didn't even know.

Eventually I got up and went to dry my eyes in a more private location. As I sat in the chapel composing myself, I subconsciously and consciously internalized that my emotions were too heavy for others to handle. That experience taught my 16 yr old fragile self 2 lessons. The most damaging one was: I didn't have a right to cry or be upset -- that it wasn't safe to do that; if I did, no one would save me, no one would care and I would be left alone.

That's a lot for a vulnerable 16 year old to ingest. I was already emotionally fragile and that was the straw. It was that moment that I became emotionless. It just wasn't safe, otherwise.

And in the ensuing years, that lesson has been reinforced for me. More than once I've been told by someone close to me that I had to be strong for those around me. When J killed himself, so many people supported my inability to express my deep sadness, fear and loss. They told me, in essence, that I was a better person because I didn't fall a part like I wanted to inside.

When I've tried -- because I think this person will get me, because I hope this new person will be the one with whom I have that relationship -- I've been shut down. "Calm down..." or "It's not that serious" or "If you cry, I'll cry..."

I've been made to feel like I'm of no use to anyone if I'm emotional and I've gotten very good at shutting it down. I don't feel. If I do accidentally feel, I shove it down. I can't be seen weak and vulnerable because my weak and vulnerable self is not a person anyone wants, cares about or can love.

Gosh -- does that not sound terrible? It feels terrible. The other lesson I learned that day was how terrible it feels and I vowed not to let anyone else feel that way. I'm really good at making people feel comfortable and I do it with ease. I'm the consummate friend -- I never need support and I give endless support. The only trapping is that I DO need support; I probably need it more than most.

I think all of my little beefs with some of my friends really go back to not feeling like we have genuinely intimate relationships; that they're getting a hell of a friend and I'm getting superficial bullshit; that I'm replaceable, not worth noticing and unimportant. In some ways this is their fault, but in a lot of ways, it has nothing to do with them and revolves around things I have to handle and deal with.

This is me owning that I have this wall and I have to get over it and I have to reframe the lesson I learned that day and the lesson that's been reinforced. Maybe I need to get rid of friends who can't support me emotionally -- who are, in essence, emotionally incompetent and unable to hold me up when I'm falling. I need to find people who not only can do that, but who do so with little fanfare and effort, who do so because they care. But whatever I do, it has to happen soon because I've been given yet another chance to have the support I've been wanting and needing and I really feel like if I don't jump on it this time, there won't be a next.

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