I’m mad at myself because I keep messing up, even when I try. But don’t worry, this is a happy story. In the end. Mostly. (We’ll get there! I promise!)
Usually, I would tweet about something like this. An impulsive string of words as a means to attempt to connect. A passive toss of a “here’s a thing that’s careening around in my brain, and I feel I need a place for it.” If you notice it and want to engage with it, cool yay hooray, you can. If it’s not too annoying. I hope it’s not too annoying. Oh god this is annoying, isn’t it? I don’t want to make anyone angry.
But also sometimes, yes I do. Sometimes I’m really angry. Sometimes I’m really sad. Sometimes Twitter is the only way I feel comfortable trying to engage with people and things and thoughts and, yes, get that stupid rush of feeling validated when you say something funny or true and people like it. Sometimes it’s earnest, other times it’s meta. Often times it’s hard to tell between the two. All of it is ultimately self-deprecating, in the end. And only sometimes does it really make things better. “Your Twitter is an emotional reality show,” my therapist cuttingly observed.
I’m trying something different.
I’m realizing more and more every day that I’m trying to get things I need from the wrong people, places, and things, and I’m mad at myself for what a cliche I am and have always been. We’ve got the daddy issues, some mommy issues, some sibling issues, and some friend issues thanks to being the former geeky theater kid who was fat and bullied and loud and could be abrasively awkward but goofily clueless about it. There are tough moments I won’t rehash nor do I feel the need to spill (a first?), but they’re ultimately not the point or the problem. It’s how the things that I used to deal with and survive then, no longer serve me. Not only that, but they now actively hurt me, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, seemingly self-sabotaging sorta way.
Sometimes it’s hard to see that until you mess it up a lot. I’ve messed up a lot over the past few weeks. I’m pretty mad at myself about it. Don’t all humans hate feeling dumb and that they should know better?
Something I will bring up: I have PTSD. I’m trying not to be ashamed about it, which is why I bring it up. Mostly because I’m not like, a fucking war veteran or anything, and therefore I feel like my shit isn’t “bad enough” to warrant talking about it. When the psychiatrist diagnosed me, I asked, “are you sure it’s that bad?” When I say it, I assume people are rolling their eyes in their mind and thinking something akin to, “what the fuck did you experience, white girl from Connecticut, that was so bad?” The voice in my head then pops in to say, “did you lie and exaggerate what happened to your therapist and psychologist to make them think things were tricky?” My PTSD carries with it a lot of shame because I’m ultimately mad at a little kid me who did the best that she could in an unfortunate set of situations and circumstances who was lied to and gaslit and told she was a liar (and then in turn learned to lie to try and protect people she loved, and protect herself from people she loved). And it wasn’t until, quite literally, the last couple of weeks that I’ve been able to truly dig in and unwrap any of this stuff and connect it to the surface level, reactionary shit in a meaningful way. It’s like I’m mad that it’s that simple. Or to admit it means everything was real, and really happened, and I have to confront the feelings I have about all of it and the people involved therein. I’m thankful for the last year of connecting with my little sister for maybe the first time in our lives; she save me last year. She’s helping me change simply by being there because for the first time I’ve felt trust with a member of my immediate family.
Trust issues! Who saw that one coming?! Hey-o! But also: literally doesn’t everyone? So many people leave all the time for all different reasons, and it’s heartbreaking and disorienting because people are so beautiful and the potentiality of the moments we have just being with and deeply connecting to other people is the best fucking magic stuff in the world. Like, isn’t it just the fucking best? When it’s happening, it just feels like it’s the point of all of this. Whatever this is.
So just to recap quickly: I feel things very deeply and to some great extremes, and I have PTSD. I love people so much and am addicting to connecting with them, but I also don’t trust a single one. You can see the mental conundrum I am almost constantly in, no? Maybe? Kinda/sorta? I hope?
But I am working on it! Gosh I am working on it so hard, y’all! You don’t even know. I want to show and tell it to the masses but it’s also still in progress. And I need to learn that some things are my own, and stronger for being just for me. My therapist has been so proud! I’ve taken a lot of proactive steps to take care of myself both mentally and physically! I never do proactive things for my physical and mental wellbeing! Pish fuckin’ posh, y’all. That’s not as important as…uh, I dunno, work? Watching America faceplant into a garbagefire? Being scared all the time about everything but barreling through it, often with more feeling than with thinking? Sometimes that last one works to my favor, usually only when I’m writing. My impulse control is weird. I don’t understand my brain. But I’m trying! A lot of things are weird about my thought processes and what my brain wants me to be thinking. It’s exhausting to constantly have to pull back and analyze why I’m analyzing something, or just try and stop myself from thinking too much, and sometimes I mess up.
Honestly a lot of times I mess up. Never with malice or negative intent, but sometimes I do go overboard with the apologizing and taking responsibility for my perceived role in something (I am literally always looking for ways I’ve negatively contributed to something), and explaining it all in a way that makes people go. “Wait…what the fuck?” and sometimes maybe even second-guess me. Most of the time I bet it’s just fucking exhausting (and definitely way too self-involved). It’s like the time at my second internship — first time I was ever sick enough that I had to call out. I hemmed and hawed for an hour before sending the email. Was I really sick enough to not go? Am I just being lazy and tired? What if I miss out on something important — an internship only lasts so long and every moment could be A Moment towards furthering your career! Plus these people count on you! You’re just being a lazy baby. When I tried to walk down to the train station I almost passed out so I went back upstairs and wrote an approximately 500-word email explaining the entirety of the situation and my thought process as an apology for not being able to make it in to…stuff press kits. Luckily Aaron, my advisor at the time seemed to get me and the next time I was at work he gave me a very kind and casual heads up that sometimes emails like that read like bullshit if the person on the other end doesn’t know you. (I just really wanted him to know I’d thought about it and wasn’t one of those slackass interns.) I am still fucking up that lesson even today. Literally a few hours ago! And also several times over the last two weeks! Every time I think it makes sense and every time I look back and it doesn’t.
I’m so so lucky I have a therapist. I am such an overwhelming person to myself and other people, I only wish I’d started going sooner. I would only ever run for president in order to get this country free, comprehensive healthcare that included like, the Rolls Royce of mental health coverage. A therapist for every man, woman, non-binary person, and child figuring it all out! A fun guidebook on how to better communicate our thoughts and feelings! Oh what a world! I would quit immediately after it was accomplished. (Sorry gramps, I don’t want to be the first woman president anymore!)
But wait this is actually about Twitter, I guess. Which, as you recall, I use too much. I use all social media too much, we all do, but I feel like I should know better by now just how much it affects me. I am extremely sensitive (I feel so much shame about that fact I’m railing against every impulse inside of me to write something really sassy about it right here!) and sorta take on and internalize a lot of the pain, anger, and frustration I feel or see from even reading a lot of it. And that goes on top of all the other, non-internet feelings I have in my life offline (is there such a thing?!). But also in so many ways I owe so much to Twitter: friendships, job opportunities, fun connections and catharsis when the world is being dumb and you can’t believe you’re rolling your eyes this much at a president of the United States — you were alive for Bush! But back to the point: all of those feelings build on each other and metastasize, and it ends up feeling like Twitter is one of those pimples you see on a pimple popper video, only it keeps refilling with more and more pus and it hurts and keeps looking worse and suddenly isn’t so satisfying anymore. (Or so I’ve heard, I’ve never watched a pimple popper video because I already have my own face.) I probably use Twitter too much to rail against that idea that it IS sometimes too much for me like, “see? I can use it and it’s FINE!!!” Please, Alicia: you come from a family of addicts, you know what those words mean!
But also, I’m a freelance writer: I need to be engaged on some level. I write about culture and life and movies and television and people and discourse and the news, and the town square where it all culminates in front of a million tiny water coolers is Twitter. And when it’s at its best, Twitter can really make you think and examine! It can educate! I like so many of the people there and follow a lot of very cute animal accounts.
And also, I’m a freelance writer: I work from home and rarely see people outside my roommates and my one roommate’s dog, Arvo.
Because you’ve read this far you deserve a treat, so here’s a photo of good boy Arvo that I took when his alligator toy fell on his back and he was nonplussed, he thanks you for reading:
Anyway, point is, Twitter and emoting on social media and/or to people who don’t know me has become a bad coping mechanism in my life. Especially as I am dressing down behaviors that end up happening ON Twitter! Plus, I second guess everything and am constantly looking for outside validation that what I am seeing and experiencing is real and true, while also trying to take into consideration as many of the possible ways I might be being inappropriate or possibly misinterpreted or just plain disliked for, I don’t know, reminding people I exist? I want to connect with people but I don’t want to annoy them. Mostly I want to make them laugh, but also I have a compulsion to be honest about what I think or feel. Because of all of that other stuff I talked about before. It’s tiring and also a lot.
But sometimes it turns into a thing where I have to admit even I don’t know what it is anymore: is it a joke? Is it a real feeling? It is a combination of both? Do I even feel or believe what I’m saying, or do I just think that’s what other people think I think or feel? Am I tweeting just to be tweeting? Am I avoiding doing something more real (yes the answer is always that.) Shame, delete, sadness, repeat: feeling a need to explain myself or re-explain myself again. Why? What is this gaping hole and wound inside of me that feels so desperate to connect and be seen?
Oooh right. All that other stuff. Bad coping mechanisms, depression and anxiety fueled by chronic hypomania (forgot to mention those). Bad habits and behaviors borne out of not dealing with that, of just being told I’m lazy and dramatic, that everything is good and fine. I have to give myself permission to heal, and Twitter is no place for woundcare.
I’m starting to think the past few years I’ve just been yelling out loud because I’m mad about the gas-lighting, and the lies. (Yes yes yes, everyone who knows me nods in aggressive agreement.) And I feel a lot of shame about my part in all of it or, at least, not learning and growing past it already as a woman of 33. But I’m learning, gang! And I’m trying so hard! To be nice to myself and forgive myself for not being the person I want to be already and making mistakes along the way! I don’t hold other people to that standard: why, then, do that to myself? (My body is comfortable and used to/addicted to feeling bad.) And I’m trying to remember that some people don’t even come this far, or try to do the work.
Most of all, I’m trying to remember that my friends really do love me and I should trust that. (Fuck man, trust!!) I don’t need to live every moment thinking, “oh god what if this is the thing I do or say that pushes it beyond the limit and they leave never to be seen again?” Because often times then I don’t talk. And not talking or reaching out turns me into an emotional teapot where I then, in an act of desperation, unload on them at random times and then run away hermitting out of shame of what I just did. I have some pretty aggressive agoraphobic tendencies, apparently! Plus I generally sweat less when I’m not around other people. I have a really sweaty head and that just really messes with the hair.
(Don’t worry I’m on medication! For the mental health stuff I mean, not the sweating. One step at a time on the working on myself journey! Maybe two at a time because I’m working hard! Wait is this parenthetical starting to sound too sad? This is a positive story! I’ll go back and add it in at the top. Oh wait you’ve already read that first so you know it already. ALICIA!!!)
Also if you’ve read this far can I just say thank you so much but you really didn’t need to do this and I love you? This is mostly for me, even if it is written under some sort of pretense of me “explaining myself to other people.” (Old habits die hard, hopefully by calling them out like this.) It’s like I never feel as if it’s enough for me to know something within myself — everyone else has to know I know. Probably why the jokes get messy and weird and feel sometimes too-sad and like I’m hurting.
That is the truth though: I’m hurting right now, sometimes quite a lot all the time for a bunch of reasons and other times not quite that much. Not in a sad, woe-is-me, pity-me sorta way. It’s because the hard stuff always hurts, but the hard stuff is worth it. And also, yes, I have also had some sad and difficult/trying things happen for spell there. It’s been quite a long spell, too, which I keep getting mad at myself about during therapy as if I could control when my grandmother who raised me was going to die, el oh el. But also to be a real fucking millennial about it: I don’t want all this sadness and flailing to be my “brand” (ugh oh my god ick I’m sorry I really hate that term. We are humans not t-shirts) and I’m worrying that it is. If I want to be known for anything, it’s funny honesty, and honestly? I’ve been doing this all wrong. The jokes aren’t landing. And I’m often mad at myself because I keep messing up, even when I try.
But this time I’m trying something different. And yes, sure, maybe I am writing this on a public forum so in some ways it isn’t for me. But it is, for me. Because I’ve got to do what’s best for me, and this is how I figure it out.