From Eighty-Two With Love
August 1, 2009: I go insane..crazy sometimes...

I think I'm about to go through another transformation. I just feel like I'm on the cusp of one. I've gone through a rather low period the last month. Not depression, just not doing the things I'm supposed to be doing. I've been indulging myself a bit too much and not taking care of my health in a number of ways. But I've been trying to do something productive every day and I haven't just fallen off. I could do better, I've been mystified as to how to do better, and I feel like some answers are right around the corner. Maybe when I go to the convention tomorrow?

I've been thinking about mental illness in light of an article I read recently. I've gone through so much conflict and angst because I've felt sane and trapped. Control is so important to me, in large part because I've felt like it has been taken from me. I remember all the times I would get angry and have someone ask,"Are you taking your medication?" I was justifiably angry! But I wasn't allowed to be angry at people who knew I was diagnosed "mentally ill" because it's just another sign of "craziness". That happened so often that I still kind of twitch just thinking about it.

The most extreme was when I was (voluntarily) in the mental hospital, wanted to leave, and ended up being forcibly sedated. Then they let me go as if nothing had happened. I was angry over the way I was being treated, and years of distance have not changed my perception of those events. I was treated rather crappily and that hospital has since come under extremely heavily criticism and sanction from the state for their mistreatment of patients and overall shystiness. I was right! But I was "crazy". And an angry "crazy" person, even if she isn't violent, can't be justifiably angry.

Or sad. Or really happy (could I be manic?) Or introverted. Or too outgoing (am I rambling?). Or fat (she can't take care of herself!). Or have a crush (is she obsessed?). And especially not refuse to take debilitating medications that don't even do what they're supposed to do. I just cringe thinking of all that time I wasted on a particular medication that made me sick and worsened my mental state (not that anyone realized it). So so much time.

So I am trying to pick up the pieces of who I really am. The past year and a half of therapy combined with the life coaching sessions I had a few years back have done something fantastic: there are people who hear my story and listen to me without judging me. People actually truly can empathize with me (not just "you poor thing" but "I really understand how you feel"). I am NOT an alien (for so long I have felt alien, since I was a child). I am not "too much". I am rational and sane (not all the time, but most of the time!). And on this foundation of support, empathy, and practical guidance I am trying to build something: a whole self.

I have to learn how to talk about what I really feel and think, without lies, rationalizations, or going overboard because I don't think I am heard any other way. How else am I going to trust? Build healthy relationships? Have the motivation to get out of the bed and out of the house (not much to do if you're avoiding humanity).

August 5, 2009:
I know you know I'm into you...

Ever since April I have found myself thinking about what I want in a mate. See, in April I spent a week down south visiting a friend and getting to know people, including a number of eligible men. But I was only mildly interested in evaluating any men for relationship potential (I haven't seriously contemplated dating in a few years). Not only that, but when directly queried as to what I am attracted to and what I am looking for, I had only the vaguest idea! Physically speaking, I don't really know (or maybe I do but won't let myself think it). Short, tall, husky, slim, white, black, whatever, I don't really know for sure. I think I definitely have a fear of limiting my options because I really don't think I'm in any position to do so. Every time I'm in a group of women, I feel I'm one of the least conventionally attractive.

That's a weird mental space to be in. I mean, I'm not unattractive. I think I have some of the physical attractiveness traits that you're supposed to have. I also have some real issues. But other women just seem so much MORE than me physically, when I evaluate them. I just tend to think women are all very beautiful and attractive, even the ones who are lamenting their singleness. So I don't think I'm ugly, but I can't really latch on to the idea that I have much to offer physically. Which means I have a hard time using that as a way to evaluate what I am attracted to in a man.

But from another angle that seems silly and strange. I mean, I am attracted to something, aren't I? I'm just not allowing myself to give a voice to what I really feel because it's unfair somehow. And then I decide this is all too complicated or stupid and just forget dating and all that.

Another thing is that I never think I'm ready to date. I don't think I have felt ready to date since I was 17 (and then I actually WASN'T ready to date). There always seems to be so much more I have to do to improve myself before I take on that level of responsibility. I typically wear a calm, serene face, and outwardly appear very stable. Sometimes I think that if I could show strong emotion then I might provoke more in my environment. More would happen and I'd be forced to make choices and grow up more. But I am so outwardly placid and pleasant. I very rarely cry or yell or display passion about any person. With my friends I tend to take the role of "calm advisor/listener/psychiatrist" and recently my brother said that he felt like lying back on the couch and telling me about his dreams. My therapist implied that I wear a facade of strength and isolate myself when I don't feel strong (which is often), so no one can get all that close to me.

Now this is just what I'm like for whatever reason. Natural personality or the way I've adjusted to life who knows. I can't let my way of being keep me from experiencing intimacy. But I can't sacrifice my self for the sake of intimacy. There are good things about how I am. But I am so imperfect at the same time.

Argh, I'm actually getting kind of frustrated with all of this introspection. The more I "know myself" the worse things get. I need to ACT more, introspect less. So not think about dating, or making myself into marriage material, or what kind of man I want, or what kind of face or wear. Just go out, being myself, and learning by experience rather than trying to think everything out beforehand. Okay, that is what I need to do, now how do I do it without thinking about it? Again, I have resolved nothing with all of this writing.

August 8, 2009:
The moon up above, it shines down upon our skin

Intimacy has been on my mind a lot; what it is, how to achieve it, what it's like. Right now I don't know if I'm lonely so much as untouched in every way. I think the biggest problem is a lack of spiritual intimacy. Perhaps if I could be intimate with God then I would experience that deeper joy and peace and that sense of belonging. Right now it's my only hope of really feeling close to someone.

I want to feel like King David. What does it mean to actually delight in God's commandments? I feel so torn between the need to give myself over and the need to have complete control. No matter how much I mess things up, I can always rationalize it. "No regrets" is my motto after all. But then, earlier this week, I was reminded of how Jesus responded when Peter told him that he was being too hard on himself: "Get behind me Satan!" I must say, that really struck me. But I am so confused.

On the one hand, yes, I definitely excuse a lot of my wrongdoing and mistakes, and I refuse to dwell on them. i think there is a strong insecurity and a need to feel like I have some power and some worth. On the other hand, I am also a perfectionist and have a difficult time truly relaxing. That's a side of myself that I don't really like but I also don't know how else to channel that energy. I feel the most energy when I am making an effort to do something right. But my idea of what is "right" is based almost completely on my own ideas and perceptions, and not really at all on what God thinks. I have to be honest and that's the truth.

Back to intimacy, if I'm not letting God in, I sure ain't letting anybody else in. And I am trying, I really am. I can at least enjoy the company of others and really care about them, but I haven't even wanted to open myself up completely to someone for years. And I always picked the wrong people to open up to anyway. So when I wrote my little screed on dating and attractiveness, the reality is that deep down I knew that I wasn't really even trying to date. There's a part of me that just feels safer alone. I have always felt safer with a big part of myself closed off. I achieve "intimacy" by worrying about others and trying to rescue them and fix their problems, but that's not real intimacy.

So now I think the solution is to strive for intimacy with someone who doesn't need me, but who I need for once. Someone who is all-powerful, so I can be weak without shame in my weakness. I don't have to be shaken by my lack of strength. I don't have to be strident and irritated in order to puff myself up and appear powerful. And I don't have to be too lenient or too hard with myself because I am not the one who sets the standards.

Am I going to give up control for a chance at real closeness? A chance to be touched, a chance for peace, a chance for joy? Is it worth it to give up on "NO" if I finally have a reason to say "YES"?
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