Part of recovery from abuse in all its forms is that you’ve been told all your life through thought, word, and deed that your mind doesn’t matter…. so that when you finally do start having opinions, it’s awfully hard to tell which ones are for company and which ones aren’t. I say shocking things because I don’t have the ability to not. There’s no filter in my head that says, “this might upset someone” because I’ve stopped ruminating on every possible way that I could hurt someone so that I could tailor the entire conversation around it. For instance, say you’re sensitive about your haircut. Before I go up to you, I will have things rehearsed in my head that do NOT include what a freak show of a haircut you have.
I don’t pre-record canned responses anymore, and I think that’s what people are noticing about me right now, but they can’t put their fingers on what’s different and/or why.
It took 24 years to realize that it wasn’t normal to plan out conversations beforehand (to a certain degree? OK. FOR HOURS? No.) in order to avoid any possible hurt on either end of the interaction. When I stopped spending processing time to ensure that everything that came out of my mouth was pre-approved, I changed the tape in my head that says, “your words don’t matter.” I have strength and hope for the future because I was finally willing to say “i can’t live like this any more” and mean it.
I was so emotionally abused for so long that now I never think my words are going to mean anything to anyone but me. So when I say things like, “I walked into a wall I thought she was so cute,” it would never occur to me that anyone would take those words seriously, ever. because what do I know? I’m just a writer. No one listens to me, anyway. My words don’t matter.
It’s not reality, but it’s my thought process. When my words turn around and mean something to someone, anyone, I am surprised- as if I have discovered some new species of bee. Every time, it’s like it’s never happened before.
I wasn’t watching my mouth, and I got smacked for it (deservedly). In some ways, it’s nice to know someone was watching and cared enough not to let me make a bigger idiot out of myself than I already had. In others, I started to ruminate and couldn’t let go. By the end of the night, not watching my mouth was the most horrible thing I’ve ever done and I punished myself for it by spending far too long on recap.
That’s the other thing about abuse. When you have a conflict with anyone, you automatically assume that there is no meeting of the minds for resolution, because clearly anyone willing to engage with you is right. Why? Because someone told you you were wrong about something so gargantuanly huge that now you can’t trust your opinions on anything.
For me, it was that Diane Syrcle was in love with me. She groomed me, she planted the right kind of evidence at the right time, my mind caught up quickly… and then she left down and our dance was interrupted. There was no clear anything, so it was easy enough to make me believe that she only had my best interests at heart.
This was…. inaccurate.
All of her flirts were seductive to the melting point, and if you’ve ever met her, you know what I mean. She knows that look. She feeds on it. Dopamine hits her brain like crack cocaine.
So, guess what? My flirts get fucked up, too, because I don’t know how to flirt without sounding too serious, when in reality, all I meant is that it was funny because Dana was laughing at me. The modifier was not the cute girl. The modifier was the amused wife who watched me walk into a door jamb and fell on her butt laughing because she was right. Her friend was cute and I hurt my nose trying not to notice and just be cool. It’s the just being cool part where I trip. Where I’ve always tripped.
But that’s as far as it goes. There’s no substance. There’s no there there.
There’s only Dana and me, letting our words matter to each other.