This is going to sound like the most conceited thing ever, but the quotes I live by the most are my own. This is not because I count on them to tell me what I’m doing right, but what I’m doing wrong. I can hold myself accountable for my actions, publicly, and I am hugely capable of dealing with criticism given enough time and space. I can’t say that I never feel rejected, because it simply isn’t true. I react because I don’t take time for myself and really figure out what I want to say. My trauma reflexes work faster than my superego, where everyone should be able to operate. I go back to id over and over because I’m in survival mode. If I am writing down what I am feeling over time, then I can tell when I’m solidly all id and need to protect my energy, because giving more emotional energy to myself so that I can fly under my own power is the most important thing on earth. That’s because in order to get rid of my rejection echo chamber that turns everything from a simple mistake to life-ending crisis, I can never, ever count on external validation. I have shown that I am willing to run my life based on what other people think, and it doesn’t pay off for anyone on earth. I am not special.
I think one of the things that bothers me about the internet relationship is that because it was all written word, all the time, the punches felt so much harder. I’d hear whatever she said in my head constantly, and focus on the ways I wasn’t serving her by being her friend, because I didn’t get the reaction I wanted. I think that’s because she was unwilling to notice we had a problem and face it head on. When we’d get the most angry, we weren’t even seeing the other. We’d go into id jointly and severally. Or, I thought we were, anyway. I think this because she never thought she could do enough for me, either. We had that same worthlessness loop inside us because I felt horrible that we had problems at all and wanted to move past them, she thought I was being a drama queen and making it worse than it was.
It was even worse when she’d get offended at the smallest amount of teasing her ever. I don’t mean the big things that actually were offensive. It was even offensive to joke about our city mouse, country mouse existence. To not even notice that your reaction probably comes from something bigger than that always came across to me as “I don’t care how you feel.” When I told her how she was coming across, she’d change the subject. It didn’t matter if she changed how she treated me… to her, that is. I wanted to know it was going to get better in the future, and the only way to do that was to talk about it. You can’t build a relationship with someone who always sees conflict as the other person trying to hurt you, which we both said to each other on multiple occasions. We hit the same triggers in each other all the time. What wasn’t getting better was either one of us turning them off. Now that she didn’t fit into the mold of friend I needed her to be, of course I was out. It wasn’t because I couldn’t be that for her, it’s that I couldn’t be that for her anymore. She’d told me too much for me not to be absolutely wound into her the way I’m protective of Bryn, Cora, and Lindsay. When I say that just because she was chronologically older than me and it not meaning anything, I mean that I am older emotionally because I was allowed to grow that much more early on. In fact, she’s never had a big sister, and I have a feeling that went into our demise as well. Once we had one fight, she couldn’t see me as trying to protect her anymore. Being stern with her the way I would if any of my babies had problems- trying to say what I felt in a way that would help them without seeming judgmental. And stern is even the wrong word here, that’s just how I’d describe my writing because I can’t hug someone while I’m only writing to them.
I can’t tell them all the times that tears have been running down my face in empathy, and at the same time, knowing that if I don’t say what I mean and mean what I say, then I won’t get what I need out of our interactions, either. I can’t tell them how much they mean to me if they’re not looking for it. All I can hope for is that my words matter to them enough to go back and hear the message they missed in the middle of the mess. She thought I was ragging on her, I thought I loved her more than life itself…. but how can someone take in that message if they’re determined to believe that someone is hurting them, or wants hurt for them?
What I’m learning is that every time I go back to this topic, I hurt a little less because it’s a shallower well of injury. I care so much less about the outcome that I’m able to do the emotional work more objectively (I hope). I am trying to explain what happened so that I understand where I’m coming from. To acknowledge that I’m an angel and an asshole. That I am capable of every emotion in the spectrum. Sometimes I use my power of empathy for good, sometimes for bad, but generally when my propensity for bad decisions comes out, it’s from trying to get approval from someone else.
It bothered me that it pleased her to be thought of as the mom in my life, not because she became my mother, but because I’d describe her mother love as that feeling inside me when it was good. She’d cut and paste those lines into an e-mail and tell me she loved them…. while also not letting me talk about problems we had on that level, either. I took the good with the bad, loving her whole spectrum of emotions and respecting all of them. Hers were even bigger than mine if she looked at them that way. I chose to focus on her superego, she chose to focus on my id. I don’t blame her for that in the slightest, because I barked up the wrong tree. But my god is it easy to see how I got there.
I am not letting myself off the hook, nor her. Because for all the up and down, hers are the quotes I live by…. even the tiniest.
Sausage, bacon, light mushrooms.