Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Very Long; If Anyone Reads It All, I'll Be Impressed

Today's good news is that I slept like a normal person at night and, unsurprisingly, my mood was better today. Yay! Though my chronic pain is flaring up like whoa, which figures. But I can ignore that more easily than horrible depression hole. So I went out to run a couple errands at the shops with the housemate. It was a quick outing but sunny and with good company, so I'm glad I got out for a bit. I'm feeling it now, of course, as I'm lying in bed watching TV and wishing I could deaden all my nerves... but still 100% worth it for my mental health. If I can get to sleep reasonably tonight, too, this might be a good sign of the depression lifting. But I've learned not to get too overexcited and taking a few days easing back into functionality. Overdoing will leave me feeling worse if I'm not careful.

The best way to describe it is that I am slowly building my spoons back up. (If you haven't read the Spoon Theory, it's a great way of describing what it's like to live with chronic illness, mental or physical. In short, our energy and ability is limited by our number of 'spoons', whereas healthy people have unlimited 'spoons'.) During my depressive period, I was on super low spoons. And it's really tempting to go, hey, I feel better, let's go do all that shit I've been unable to do for ages! (Been there, done that SO many times.) But that way leads quickly back to negative spoons territory. Still, it illustrates pretty vividly how much my depression and related stuff is an actual illness and not me being a lazy blob, because I really want to do everything like normal people but I just can't. No one makes themself miserable on purpose, so next time you hear someone calling a depressed person lazy, punch them in the face. For me. (Okay, not really, but tell them shove it, at least.)

I read this on Tumblr today, attributed to Stephen Fry:

"When you’re depressed, your self esteem is at absolute zero. To stand up from the sofa and walk to the fridge is an act of unbelievable effort. Everything that happens is because you are a cunt. It’s because I’m a wanker, it’s because I’m an arsehole. You sort of have a Tourette view of yourself. You think about death all the time. Even if you’re not feeling suicidal, you’re just constantly aware of death and aware of your own death and how welcome it would be."

It hit home simply because I think the end of it is something people still have a lot of trouble discussing regarding depression. I've been there a lot lately with my recent episode. I haven't been in crisis and I haven't harmed myself, but when you are so low and miserable and hopeless, it's a comfort to ponder what it would be like to simply not exist anymore. I recall one time at work we were discussing someone who killed themselves by jumping in front of a train, and a coworker said, "I just can't understand wanting to take your own life like that." Silently, I thought to myself, I do. I understand the impulse all too well, even if I don't actually want to die 99.9% of the time. It hadn't really occurred to me before that neurotypicals don't understand it, because it is such a part of me and my thoughts all the time. Really made me think about how much my illness controls my thoughts. I mean, recently, the phrase "I want to die" flew through my head countless times in a day, which is terrifying to admit, but it's true. When your brain tells you enough times that you want this to happen, it's understandable that sometimes people lose the fight to resist it. It feels melodramatic to say that mental illness kills, but it does, quite literally. People who fight depression in all its forms are fighting to survive every single day. If you know anyone with any level or type of depression, maybe take a bit of time out to tell them that you think they are a fucking badass, because they ARE. (I've had friends tell me that, and you know what? It felt amazing to know someone noticed all the effort I put into just being here, so it's a small way to probably make their day/month/year/life.)

Speaking of Tumblr, I also saw this (bottom bit is my contribution):
emotional abuse is when someone does something to hurt you, and when you express your feelings, that you’re upset, they turn it around to be something you did to hurt them and they force you to apologize for it, and your feelings, like always, are rendered invalid and silenced, forever damaging the ability to trust others with your feelings because they always are used against you.
this is important because so many people don’t know this
Purposeful or not, having your feelings invalidated is really damaging. When I realised this was happening recently with a friend was when I knew I needed to GET OUT. Others aren’t always so fortunate to recognise it for what it is. Emotional abuse slides under the radar so easily.
This is basically why I’m having so much trouble ‘getting over it’ and ‘moving on’. Least helpful advice ever, btw. I’m hurting, just let me be hurt for a while. And if you really care, sit with me a bit so I don’t feel so alone in it. Otherwise, I’ll get there in my own time. <3
I wanted to elaborate a bit, because it sums up so well why this has been such a traumatic experience for me and what exactly about it was so damaging. I know I have brought all this up before, but I don't think I've put it into words nearly as well as above. This will be the last time I mention the entire mess (I hope) cause I am done done done done done. Basically the cycle was:
  1. I express hurt and anger.
  2. He tells me I'm being unreasonable, irrational, and emotional.
  3. He says he feels no guilt over his actions, and I'm being manipulative by saying things that imply he should feel responsible.
  4. He'd shut me down and refuse to talk until I found 'perspective' (i.e. agree with his point of view).
  5. AND if I argued something I previously admitted guilt for, he'd use my previous admission as proof it was my fault.
  6. I'd feel bad and convince myself it WAS my fault because of my emotions and I WAS being unreasonable since I did express my hurt and anger in a 'poor' way.
  7. Things would go well briefly until he hurt me once again in some way. Go back to 1.
After reading that description of emotional abuse, I went back through some of our old chats and emails and realised that was exactly it. Everything I ever tried to blame him for got turned around back onto me and was my fault in some way. Everything. And the fact he refused to talk anything through until I 'came around' just seals the deal, because no alternative view was acceptable other than his own.

Here are some of the last emails we exchanged before we stopped talking. His:
Look. You are going to calm down at some point, maybe vent your shit at someone or whatever. Then you are going to freak out because you will think you've just destroyed our friendship. It's a pattern. And I like to think I have a pretty damn high tolerance for that kind of thing. But you are walking on very thin ice, tracing the circumference of my no drama policy. 
So, in the event that you do at some point realise that you are being completely unreasonable and the above scenario transpires, I will say this: 
You are very dear to me and I value our friendship. However, I'm /not/ willing to deal with this amount of drama, from anyone. So if you do in fact want to maintain our friendship, this has to stop. 
No more expectations of how I should or shouldn't act, no more trying (intentionally or otherwise) to guilt trip me over how /you/ are feeling or into me spending time with you (I say trying because I /don't/ feel guilty in any way). No more emotional venty outbursts at me for what you perceive I've done wrong but inevitably, and usually after talking to someone like [REDACTED], realise that you were, in fact, being unreasonable. No more drama, period. 
If any of this continues after this particular incident, I intend on cutting communication with you for as long as it takes for you to fix your shit so we can go back to being friends without the drama. Hint: this will be measured in months, maybe even years, not days/weeks, to give you some perspective. 
I don't want to talk about this with you, it is not open for discussion. I want our friendship to work, but if time apart is needed then so be it. This is the last time I will deal with it. At a minimum, I don't want to talk to you at all until you've calmed down and got some perspective. Whether you can accept these terms will determine whether I will maintain non-communication beyond that. And if the scenario I've predicted here never comes to pass then feel free to ignore everything I've said because it will be irrelevant anyhow as we will no longer be speaking. 
I don't think I can be any clearer than that.
 My reply:
Don't worry. The cycle is broken. What failed me before was the strength to say that I don't need to put up with how you treat me, and the emotional strength to not let you twist your words into me guilting myself about my behaviour. I am not upset that you won't spend time with me. I neither expect it nor feel that you are obligated to see me. I'm not upset that you'd rather hang out with people other than me. And I have zero expectations from you except for those I have inferred from our conversations and your behaviour at any given time.

What I AM upset about: because I react emotionally, you disregard my feelings entirely as being valid and ignore them. You make assumptions and decisions about my capabilities to understand and cope with things if I express strong emotions, which are always incorrect. You refuse to openly and honestly admit to me just exactly where I stand with you and how you see our friendship functioning even though I've repeatedly asked for that honesty and check in to see where you're at with things, because your behaviour does not match your words. And, while I accept you make decisions based on your own health and well being, you refuse to accept or admit any consequences of these decisions.

I don't want the drama, EITHER. This is not at all how I want things to be with us. I am an extremely reasonable and emotionally mature person, but the other side has to believe that to be true of me TOO for it to happen. If I am hurt or upset, there is a reason and I am always happy to discuss whether or not those feelings are reasonable IF the person I'm discussing them with acknowledges that I am having them and shows some sort of sympathy that they exist and some sort of interest in understanding WHY, in addition to explaining their position as to why they feel that I shouldn't be reacting a certain way. Disregarding that my emotions exist entirely and invalidating them based on their existence is both painful and makes me (as you saw last night) even more angry. I in no way at all regret expressing my anger to you. In fact, I take back any previous regret about expressing how I feel at you, too. RationalMe agrees, you are a dick.

So here's the bottom line: it doesn't matter how emotional I act or over-react, my feelings are both valid and real and deserve to be addressed by someone who claims to care about me. Here is a hint for future dealings with someone who is upset: instead of nitpicking their words and ignoring that they have emotions (reasonable or unreasonable as they may be), acknowledge they are angry or upset, regret that they feel that way (whether you feel guilt or not), and then explain your position and why you have made your decision. After that point, a calmer discussion will proceed, not one in which the hurt person feels even worse.

So yes, I've done my venting. I've found my perspective. They all say I need you out of my life, at least for now. Possibly forever. Even [REDACTED]. You are right about her feelings about obligations but what I knew and you didn't was that she ALSO really hates people who back out of commitments and who mislead you about their priorities and where you stand with them overall.

Yeah, I let myself get into a cycle with you, because I'm a fucking idiot who tries to salvage broken things, even when they are bad for her. You'd think I'd have learned from [REDACTED], but no.

If and when you are ready to apologise and accept that you have made mistakes and would like to talk about them and how to resolve this, I will be here. Until then, our friendship is through.
Yes, the reply was after I'd calmed down some, but I don't read it with the 'augh, why did I do that' regret I get sometimes when I've been angry. But no wonder his behaviour was ringing all sorts of alarm bells at me once we got to that point. Anyway, you know his response? Two sentences: "Don't hold your breath. See ya."

This from someone I trusted implicitly and considered one of my closest friends ever. AND from someone who was very judgemental about the way the husband treated me in our marriage, and I'm STILL FRIENDS with the husband. He's lovely. He made mistakes, yeah, but he's also not a complete asshole?

Okay, I may have made myself angry all over again.. but ugh. Really, I'm tired of being walked all over again and again. No, I won't be so quick to trust ever again, but I also will be quicker to recognise toxic people who do not deserve a place in my life.

1 comment:

  1. This one's also great, from an earlier email of his. Note no specifics of my wrong behaviour and talk of my being in 'denial' so we couldn't discuss things properly before, either. Plus his twisting it so perfectly around to being my fault and not taking it 'personally'. Ugh. Asshole.

    "You do have a problem with self-regulation, because you (self-admittedly) react in ways when anxiety/emotional brained that when you calm down you understand were not helpful/in your best interest, etc. And you do have a problem with dependence, which, other than being observable, you've said as much yourself when you've calmed down. This is not something that just came out on the night after Mardi Gras, though that was the point at which I realised it had reached a problematic level. These are not imaginary hurdles, regardless of how you are feeling right this moment.

    Now, whilst I accept my part in not being vigilant enough in trying to help you, to not let it become a dependence thing, the communication was /impossible/ until after you spoke to [REDACTED] on Wednesday. Because you were both in denial about the problem and quite defensive/hostile about it. Evidenced by times since the day [REDACTED] came over last week or the week before when I /have/ talked to you about it.

    So whilst I accept that non-communication might be triggering for you, I do not feel responsible for being the trigger. Nor, given the context, do I think it's fair of you to try to tell me I'm responsible for.

    Now, if after calming down and maybe talking to [REDACTED] or [REDACTED] you realise that much of what you've just said was in no small way disturbing, I'm happy to ignore it. Either way I haven't taken it personally, or let it impact how I feel about you. "