For a little over a week, I've been struggling with something and it's taken some time for me to figure out how to articulate it. Specifically, I want to be able to understand why I end up feeling like I do after certain interactions and how it haunts me for days, sometimes even weeks after.
Yes, yes, I know that rejection sensitive dysphoria is a thing, and I'm really pretty quite sure that I'm ADHD which predisposes me to it. That only plays a part of it. It's not the whole thing. So, I'm going to just kind of... brain dump I guess?
Odds are this won't necessarily be entirely accurate but I need to get these thoughts out of my head and down into words somewhere because I feel like the act of doing so can be helpful, or at least therapeutic. Also, I might want to figure out a situation where when I'm having toxic thoughts as I'm starting to spiral, I can put them down into text somewhere without them being seen and thus further embarrassing myself like I tend to do. Twitter is usually a good format because it forces short, rapid fire thoughts, but it's still public and people see it--which leads to embarrassment. Something to explore I guess.
Anyway, I attended a group event last week and... it became very clear that the person running the event was more than just a little done with me. Lots of microaggressions, lots of body language and shifts in tone of voice aimed explicitly at me, and when I tried to address it and apologize if I had come off as frustrating or annoying--no answer. At all. Just complete silence, even when we were face to face. So... yeah, not going to be attending that meet-up anymore in the future because clearly my presence is undesirable.
Also, during this event, another person was chatting with me and started to relay to me how they had been required to participate in a bit of running across town to scout for another event someone else in the group was hosting, and how they had only just gotten back from a business trip and they would have preferred to stay home and relax. That scouting run was prompted by my asking questions about said event in a group chat, bringing up the notion to the person running it and so they snagged this person and took them on their adventure an hour across town. If I had said nothing, it would not have happened. While this person wasn't overtly making mention that it was my fault--it's really hard for me not to take it that way, and I felt like dogshit because of it.
I decided rather than stay after the event had officially ended like most people do--just sitting around, hanging out, chatting, maybe getting food--I would just head home. What probably went completely unnoticed was as I was leaving, I was struggling not to burst into tears because... well... my fucked up brain had convinced me I shouldn't be there and that the people that run these events were tired of my shit. The drive home, I was still fighting back tears but because driving around here is a fucking nightmare, I couldn't really afford to be distracted by my... "antics"... as it's been described to me in the past. So I just waited until I got home to stew in my own misery, thinking about all the things I screwed up, all the missteps, all the social ques and missed until I replayed the interaction later in my head. It just secured for me the idea that I am fucking insufferable.
Hell, anytime I ask a question about an upcoming event in the chat, I feel like I'm stepping over some kind of boundary and annoying someone. It also hasn't been lost on me that the number of people attending events I go to from this group has slowly gone down. I can't help but feel like people see that I'm attending and opt out because they just... don't want to deal with me.
So, I've made a decision. I'm not going to attend any more of these events. They're all open invite which means no one gets asked directly. If the person running the event asks me directly, I might consider it, but as a general rule, I'll be opting out.
My reasoning for this goes beyond just what I've detailed above, but it certainly pushed me to where I am now. It was likely the catalyst that triggered the thinking that I've been going over for the last seven days. To the people who know me in meat-space, this will all probably seem like more histrionics to ignore but it's not like I chose to be this way.
In general, yes, this should be no surprise given the state of my city, state, country, and the entire god damned world. There's a lot going on to validate simply feeling utterly fucking exhausted about fucking everything, but that's not what I'm really driving at.
Whenever I go home to see family, I have to put on a mask and pretend to be only a small part of who I am. I can't say that I'm queer. I can't say that I'm an atheist. My family already knows I'm a leftist--hell my brother-in-law tries as hard as he can to bait me into an argument almost every time we see each other, so I've decided I just can't go see my parents anymore because he lives literally right around the corner from them, and my going down there means my chance of encountering him increases by several orders of magnitude. And when he successfully gets me going... I'm the fucking bad guy. I'm tired of being treated like I'm the uncivilized one when I keep my fucking mouth shut, I don't bring this shit up, I don't start anything, HE is the one looking to stir the pot... and my mom has the gall to say "He thinks he's trying to save you. It comes from a place of love."
No... no it fucking doesn't. It comes from a place of hate and smugness and wanting to feel superior. No one has the kind of politics he has and then tries to start an argument OUT OF LOVE.
Dad meanwhile just sits there stewing, angry at me for talking over his tv shows. He doesn't want to get involved unless he can tell me how wrong I am for having an opinion that he doesn't agree with.
So yeah... limiting my visits to the absolute bare minimum. I MIGHT go visit mom and dad on Christmas... briefly... I MIGHT visit them BRIEFLY on some other occasion. But dad is going to need to learn how to fix his own fucking television because I'm not going to drop everything to go down there to fix it for him--so he can watch the same 20 youtube videos on repeat over and over and over again because he can't be bothered to figure out that there are literally TRILLIONS of hours of content on the site... if he would just fucking explore. He might even accidentally stumble across someone more to the left of him that he'll actually listen to. Doubtful... but... stranger things have happened.
I just can't be down there and be reminded constantly that my family absolutely, 100% does not have my back on any of this--because I'm too different. I've fallen for the "dark side" of politics.
It left me with a pretty rotten feeling for a good long while after I came back from Thanksgiving. I thought "hey, I know what will perk me up, I need to go hang out with furries. They're usually pretty like-minded about a bunch of stuff, and I don't have to worry about bad-faith arguments or being purposefully humiliated" and the couple of meets that I went to were pretty alright. I still had that sense of being metaphorically out in the cold because of what happened with my family, but I was doing okay at keeping it pushed down.
Then I had my spiral. Suddenly it felt like I didn't really have ANYWHERE to turn to because I just wasn't wanted anywhere. This time without the mask I wear around my family.
But therein lies part of what has me so exhausted. When I'm around other local furs, I still put on a mask. It's not the same one I wear around my family, but it's a mask none the less. I still don't feel like I can fully be myself. I have to tamp down parts of my personality, which sometimes I'm less good at, and sometimes the mask slips a little and I'm immediately punished for it. Weird looks, responses that reek of "why the FUCK would someone think/say/do THAT?", being judged, being told to modulate my tone, various microaggressions, etc. The folks in question probably don't even realize they're doing it.
I will admit that there is a possibility that I'm misreading people--but when someone gestures at you in front of others in a pantomime of strangling you because you're struggling to understand something... that seems like a pretty clear indicator.
So... yeah... I'm tired.
I'm tired of pretending. I'm tired of having to keep myself constantly in check. I'm tired of not understanding these unspoken rules that I can never fucking figure out until after I've broken them. I'm tired of not understanding social ques as well as everyone else and being treated like it's the most natural thing in the world just automatically be able to read them. I'm tired of saying just the wrong thing leading to someone getting low-key pissed at me for bringing up a subject I didn't know I should bring up. I'm tired of mentioning someone I didn't know was a forbidden name to discuss. I'm tired of pretending like I'm okay all the time. I'm tired of pretending like I'm not royally pissed off at everything in life.
I'm tired of pretending like I'm not fucking lonely when I go home to my empty apartment while just about everyone else I know has a roommate, a significant other, or some other means of socializing that fulfills them. I'm tired of seeing evidence of people in the group going and doing things outside of the meets and being left out because I don't even ping on the radar--and having to pretend like it doesn't bother me. I'm tired of being judged for not having consumed some supposedly deeply important piece of media that I didn't exactly have much of a chance or access to when it was new, and never bothered to get around to consuming later.
I'm tired of having to remind myself constantly of "you are not the center of their universe, they do not revolve around you" and letting that drag me down into "you don't matter to any of them, because you haven't done enough to make them THINK you matter". I'm tired of not knowing what I fucking have to do to matter. I'm tired of not mattering. I'm tired of being invisible, forgotten, or even actively avoided. I honestly don't know which of those it really is, but it all feels the same, and I'm tired of pretending that this doesn't fucking drive me out of my god damned mind when all I fucking want is some god damned companionship... to feel like there might actually be someplace I fucking belong. I'm tired of constantly chasing something that feels eternally out of reach--my own friend circle in meatspace, a support network, a few folks who--if something truly awful happens to me--I can rely on to provide some kind of assistance, even if it's just a shoulder to cry on or a couch to crash on for the night.
I'm... fucking... tired.
I don't fit in that great with the group--I dunno... because I'm not queer enough or something? I know I pass for straight. I probably come off as PAINFULLY straight to a lot of these folks. For all I know, that probably makes them DEEPLY uncomfortable, like there's this STRAIGHT person who has invaded their exclusively queer space. I don't know. These are the thoughts my dysfunctional brain keeps feeding me. All I know is I can't seem to figure out the spell or codeword or magic handshake or whatever the fuck to make myself less awkward or less undesirable or whatever so that someone from the group has this moment in their brain like "Oh hey... we're gonna do [x] thing... maybe Smokey would like to join us."
I've tried reaching out to a couple of folks from the group, but results have not been encouraging. Most folks in the group I don't feel like I know well enough to just contact out of the blue and go "HEY THERE FRIEND, WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO SOME UNSCHEDULED, UNPLANNED HANGING OUT!?" like a fucking feral dog running up to a human because they might have treats.
I feel like I have to keep the mask on all the time around these folks because if I let the real me, the unfiltered me, the gets-way-too-excited-or-angry-about-things me slip out into the open... well the possible quiet discomfort will turn into overt calls for me to be excluded.
For all I know, I might literally smell bad to other people and I don't even know it. I prefer to use very neutral smelling soap and deodorant. I don't like scented detergent. Most cologne just smells awful to me. I would rather have no smell at all.
I know some will say that I just need to stop caring what other people think of me, but I kind of can't? Complete strangers, sure, I'll ignore what they think if they're being a jerk, but friends? Family? People I actually want to spend time around? No, I have to care what they think--at least a little. If I'm doing something that bothers them, I'd like to know so I can not fucking do it. But no one tells me anything--which sure, some might think "oh hey, I'm good, I'm in the clear, I'm not doing anything that's annoying anyone" but... yeah no... that isn't the vibe I get.
I would like to be able to not give a fuck, but I'm not Wednesday Addams. I'm just not wired that way. And maybe that smacks of desperation, and other people can sense it on me... like a predator smelling fear or some shit.
Whatever the case... I'm fucking tired.
I'm just going to go back to interacting with other furries online only. There might be one or two local furs I still see face to face, but I just don't have it in me to deal with the social bullshit that I can never fucking figure out. I just wanna sit and chill and vibe with folks, learn some shit from them I might not have known, maybe share some stuff I know they might find interesting, and not feel like I'm being judged because I came to queer late in life compared to everyone else I know. And's not even purely queer stuff I feel like I'm being judged on.
I feel like I don't know how to fucking PERSON--and everyone else I know just... does it so naturally.
If I end up falling back into the lonely spiral again--so be it. I'd rather be lonely than continue to try to force myself into a group I don't really click with purely for the sake of not being alone.
And here we find my brain telling me shit like "maybe you deserve to be alone" and I can't shut that shit out.
For everyone who looks at me and says "You're exhausting"... yeah... I fucking know... imagine being stuck in my head 24/7 with no hope of escape. I EXHAUST MYSELF. I GET IT. If you really do think that of me, do yourself a favor, just cut me out of your life. It's not doing you any favors and I'm just going to feel more and more like dogshit for making you unhappy.
I know I need help--like... professional help. It's not easily found or paid for, especially when it takes a paycheck and a half to pay for rent... and you really only get two per month... and again... you're taking care of everything all by yourself.
It would just be nice to know I'm not completely fucking alone. I guess that's what my internet friends are for--mostly people who I will almost assuredly never meet face to face so they don't have to endure the frustration and annoyance that is meat-space me.
Anyway... I don't think I've got anything else to add to this right now. Maybe I'll have more thoughts on the matter later.
Whatever the case, I wish you--whoever you are--only hope and joy in whatever the future holds for you.