There’s a comedian by the name of Craig Ferguson. He’s Scottish, used to host the Late Late Show, and has done a fair bit of voice work. In one of his standup specials, he talks about people converting to Catholicism. He jokes about how these converted Catholics feel like they need to make up for only turning to the faith later in life by being “extra catholic”. It’s a terribly funny bit where he demonstrates a convert’s overzealous enthusiasm at practicing the faith to the point of becoming obnoxious to life-long Catholics.
I kinda feel like that’s where I am.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid to late twenties that I realized “Oh, hey, you know how you like girls? Yeah, you’re pretty cool with dudes too. Also you don’t care what is or isn’t in a person’s pants or how the express, you just wanna feel a connection. Congrats, you’re in the LGBT brigade now!”
So, because I “converted” later in life, and because it was actually fairly recent (all things considered), I may have some subconscious desire to be louder about it in some ways. Like on twitter. I constantly retweet stuff that shows my interest in LGBT content or my outrage at attacks on the LGBT community. I feel like maybe I’ve gotten kind of obnoxious about it, like I have something I have to prove or some stupid shit. I can’t just be chill about it. Why do I have no chill?
Twice in as many weeks, I’ve had instances where I’ve let myself get too deep into the weeds on topics that really I don’t know anywhere near as much about as I should probably if I’m gonna talk about them. And both times, I ended up making a complete and total ass of myself. Both times, I retreated, just shrank away from wanting contact with anyone. These modest failures in my ability to just keep my stupid fucking mouth shut result in me just wanting to close myself off completely from everything.
I feel like I end up doing more harm than what little good I might actually contribute to any conversation. I cannot say if that’s true or not, but the feeling is still there and I can’t shake it. If I was a smart boi™ then maybe I’d have more situational awareness to not speak. Or the willpower to shut my mouth as I get wound up and ready to eat a big, nasty, fungus-riddled foot sandwich. I know I have social awkwardness issues, and I sure as hell don’t know how to deal with them. They contribute to other problems I have, like being able to sell myself in a job interview, or advertise my work online so that I can reach more people who might be interested in reading my obscure, highly-niche fetish-based trash-fics.
See? I even insult myself and my work on the reg.
It’s a fun little cycle that I like to label using a term I learned from one of John Green’s books, specifically “Turtles All the Way Down”. He wrote about a young lady in high school who has mental health issues and enters into what she calls ‘thought spirals’. Now, I’m not educated in the field of mental health so I have no idea if that’s an actual thing, but I feel like it could be. And I feel like I get caught in those thought spirals pretty often.
Some seemingly innocuous thing transpires that doesn’t go perfectly the way I’d like it. One example might be an interaction in a group where I end up embarrassing myself by doing something monumentally stupid like transplaining to a trans person. Yeah, I’m a peach, lemme tell ya. I recognize just how much of a colossal prick I am, and I retreat back into my shell like a frightened turtle. I cut myself off, wanting to avoid contact with anyone for fear I’ll say or do something equally stupid and potentially harmful to someone else.
Then, I start to question why I even bother reaching out to anyone in the first place. The overwhelming majority of the time, I just sit here at home, waiting for a staffing agency to contact me with potential employment opportunities, watching Youtube or Netflix, maybe writing, maybe proofreading, isolated from everyone else. I might get a conversation in with someone I know, but then they have to go on about their responsibilities (like oh, I don’t know, having a job, which I do not), and I’m left to my own devices. A small part of me wants to be greedy and demand they give me attention and companionship. But I squash that little fucker really quick. That’ll blow any chance I have of keeping what few friends I currently have or making any new ones. So I sit, and I pity myself for having no one in my life I can spend time with regularly. I mean like… every day, like a roommate or something.
That turns to thoughts of “You know, all these people you’re friends with go and do things. They tweet about it, share photos, hang out with one another, and basically just have a good time. And none of them ever reach out to you to see if you wanna join. You ever wonder why that is?”
Of course I wonder. And because your brain is programmed to answer any question it’s given, I get thoughts like “Yeah, it’s because no one really likes me that much. They either think about me so little that I’m not a blip on their radar, or they know enough about me to actively avoid inviting me to do stuff. The former is because I don’t have anything to offer and thus I’m not a big enough part of the community to register on everyone else’s social sensors. The latter is because I’m an obnoxious little twerp who reminds everyone around him as to why they don’t hang out with him more often.”
Getting back to that book by John Green, at a certain point, the protagonist and her best friend have a big, loud fight. The friend ends up calling the protagonist exhausting (because of her mental health issues and how they constantly make her difficult to be around) and I realize I have pretty much the same thing going on with me. I exhaust the people around me. I make them throw in the towel at dealing with me when they interact with me because I worry too much about a thing, or I bitch too much about another thing, or I don’t know how to read the room and deduce when I’m supposed to get the fuck out at a gathering. Sometimes, I forget how loud I’m talking. Sometimes, I feel an irrepressible impulse to try and sound witty so I try desperately to crack a joke. Most of those jokes fall flat.
I feel like everyone around me has more experience at everything, like being social or navigating career shit, or just… knowing how to person. I feel utterly and completely broken with no hope of being fixed. Because I end up genuinely feeling like I’m just not worth the time to fix. I feel like I’m not worth anyone’s time. I circle and circle, falling deeper and deeper into the spiral, questioning my self-worth and why I even exist. I find myself wishing my mom had not been so diligent in giving me mouth to mouth as an infant when I suffered from vasovagal syncope. That’s a thing where you shut down as an overreaction to stimulus, for me it was pain. I would stop breathing; as a baby, with no concept of consciously holding my breath, would stop breathing. My mom said I turned blue in the face and she had to give me mouth to mouth to keep me alive.
And here, while I’m circling the drain, I’m thinking to myself about why she bothered to try so hard. I clearly wasn’t worth it.
Then I start to think about how my family would disown me if they knew all these fascinating little tidbits about me, like the fact I’m not straight, and I’m a liberal, and I’m an atheist. That all sounds so correct in my head, like they should actually disown me. Because I’m just not worth keeping around.
I spend hours, sometimes days, mired by these hateful thoughts. It blocks me from writing. It blocks me from proofreading. It blocks me from being productive in any way. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to try and get my limited daily exercise in. I just want to sit and be lazy and distract my brain until it stops hating me as much as it does.
Someone out there might think I need to be on meds, and that’s probably right. I might actually need something to even me out. Problem is, that shit’s for someone who has a job and insurance and money. I’m unemployed, which means I can’t afford health insurance, and I only have so much money to pay for internet each month, maybe Netflix, and the occasional trip to the grocery store. Recently, I’ve been eating out way too much, and it’s cutting into what limited funds I have. And that in turn adds to the heap of stuff my brain uses as reasons why I should hate myself.
The extra fun stupid part is when someone actually does reach out to me, wanting to help me feel better, I shun them, or I debate them out of helping me. Why? Say it with me now, “because I’m not worth it”. It’s like my brain is an evil Loreal commercial.
I’m sure anyone who knows me well enough to know these episodes of mine chooses to keep their distance from me while I’m like this. And that just feeds into the whole “you’re so exhausting” mindset.
In short: I suck, my brain sucks, I get way too overzealous about shit I haven’t really earned any right to talk about, and I crash way hard when I get put in my place because I realize just how way the fuck far out of line I really am.
I hate feeling like this. I wish I knew how to short-circuit my brain when I get this way. All I can see when I look in the mirror are my failures, which are many and varied. I don’t want to keep going this direction because I fear that if it keeps up, I’ll borrow deeper and deeper into these thought spirals until I can’t find my way back out. Then, I might do something that can’t be taken back. But… I can’t afford professional help. Which leads back to “what the hell makes you think you deserve help?” and the circle continues.
If there was anything I could do to make it stop, like putting on a piece of music or watching a particular movie or television show, maybe play a game or something, anything that forces my brain to shut the hell up and think about something else until the moment’s passed, I would give just about anything to know what that is.
No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try and convince myself that I’m okay, that I’m worthy of friends and family and help and love and all that stuff, I just can’t believe it. Normally, I can just ignore that lack of belief and do the whole ‘fake it till you make it’ thing. I just put on a brave face and pretend that nothing’s wrong. But I’m just so tired. I hate putting on the mask and smiling because I don’t want other people to know I’m not okay. I don’t like people worrying about me and coddling me and fawning over me and babying me. I just want to be okay. I just want to be someone people actually like being around, maybe to the point where I get invited to go do a thing from time to time.
But that requires me to be able to keep from being the derp-ass little shit that I am. I can’t even do that when I’m on my own.
I howl and scream and claim righteousness in the name of LGBT rights when I’ve not had to suffer any indignity or discrimination because of being part of the group. I tweet and comment and type furiously at my computer, but I never actually do anything meaningful. And why would I when I’m so prone to screwing up so badly? I would hurt whatever cause I might try to help. Maybe it’s a good thing that the people I idolize don’t actually get to meet me, so they don’t make the mistake of showing me their reactions upon learning I exist.
I’m just a shitty ally, because I can’t control myself when it really matters. And I don’t think I ever really will be able to. Maybe I should just move away somewhere terribly remote and disconnect, be an actual hermit and give up any hope of having meaningful connections with people, so that I don’t hurt them. I damn sure can’t help make things better.
At least, that’s what my brain keeps telling me. Maybe writing it all down will help flush it out.
Maybe. I’m not gonna hold my breath.