People can also be really nice to kids

My last post got me feeling really miserable because I had to dig into some really unpleasant childhood memories that haunt me to this day. To counteract that post, I’m going to write one now about times that people were really nice to me as a kid. I’m going to start off talking about Mrs. F because most of the incidents in my last post were about her being super unreasonably mean to me, and I don’t want it to sound like she was a terrible person. She wasn’t any worse than any of my other elementary school teachers, nor many of the other adults I encountered along the way. It was just that I had one specific memory of her, and it opened the floodgates to a whole shit storm of other memories.

For whatever reason when I was a kid, I always wanted to have glasses. Maybe it was a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy that caused me to become as blind as a bat as an adult, but I didn’t get prescription glasses until I was 10. In third grade, I kept going on about how I wanted glasses because I kept seeing Harry Potter with glasses and it made me jealous because I always wanted them. So my mom took me to the store and we picked out a pair of sunglasses that were big, gold circles. She punched the lenses out of them and I wore them like glasses. I was so excited.

I wore them to school the next day, but I was nervous because I thought people were going to make fun of me because they weren’t real. It turned out that I was apparently surrounded by dip shits because no one knew they were fake except for Mrs. F. She looked at me and exclaimed all excitedly, “Well, look who it is! Professor McGonagoll!” She of course knew that I was completely obsessed with Harry Potter. I had not only read ahead in the first book that we were reading as a class, but proceeded to chew through the next 3 in the series throughout the course of that year. For the rest of the year, anytime I put on my glasses, she would refer to me as Professor McGonagoll, never breaking character. The glasses were also kind of magical because I have no memory of her ever yelling at me while I was wearing them.

It was just so nice of her to not only humor me and let me keep wearing my pretend glasses, but to completely go along with the whole ridiculous thing that I was doing. She never suggested to any of the students that my glasses weren’t real, never questioned why I was wearing them, and even defended me against other teachers. When the gym teacher asked me when I got the new glasses, she chimed in saying, “That’s Professor McGonagoll,” like that was an answer, so I never had to explain myself.

In first grade, I had a little trouble fitting in because it was the first time that there was the concept of friend groups. Before that, everyone played with everyone and we never really thought much about it. It first grade, there was the whole idea that if you played with these people, you couldn’t play with these other people. It ended up being perfectly fine, but at first it was an adjustment because the friend group that I thought I wanted to be in (which was actually full of 4 asshole girls that weren’t that fun) was so different than me and I felt like they didn’t like me because of it.

Anyway, they were always talking about stuff that I had no idea about, movies, music, video games, etc. I didn’t really know anything about that stuff because my parents didn’t really expose us to any of that. One day, one of the girls, Harley, mentioned about a new CD that she just got, and the other girls were like “Oh yeah! You finally got it? Isn’t it great I listen to it all the time blah blah.”

That was the last straw. I decided to fuck it and buy into all of their shit. When I got home, I told my mom that I wanted the CD that Harley has. She asked me why, and I explained to her about how they were always talking about stuff I knew nothing about and I wanted to be a part of it. I said nothing about liking the music and didnt’ even know what it sounded like, but my mom said sure and we went to Walmart to find it. My brother, Jason, came, too.

She took us to the CD aisle and then asked me what CD was. I had only heard Harley mention the name once, and I barely heard it, so I had no idea. “Something mound,” I said. “And the back of it is blue, I think.”

Those were all the details that I gave, but bless their souls because Jason and my mom combed through the entire music section of Walmart trying to find it. I couldn’t even help because I was too slow of a reader and I couldn’t handle those fancy fonts. Every once in a while, they would show me the back of a CD and ask, “does this look like it?” I would shake my head, and they’d keep going.

Finally, my mom showed me one that they had already shown me twice before and I denied. “Are you sure it’s not this one?”

I looked at the back and shook my head. “No, it’s definitely not that one.”

“It’s called Smashmouth…?”

“Oh yeah that’s it.”

After verifying that I was sure because I had said no to it twice already, we paid for it, opened it in the car, and listened to it on the way home. Both my mom and my brother said they kind of liked it. I don’t know if they were just humoring me, but it doesn’t even matter. They were so patient with me and really wanted to help me deal with my dumb issue. Neither of them probably remembers this moment because it was so anti-climatic, but it’s one of those memories I look back on and feel all warm and fuzzy and loved.

Another time in first grade, I remember we were decorating flowerpots for Mother’s Day. Some parent volunteers, including my mom, were there to help, even though the entire activity was just coloring on flowerpots with markers. I was so excited to have my mom there that I was being super energetic and reckless. After drawing some green stems on the flowerpot, I searched the room for pink and purple markers to draw flowers on the tops.

“Raise your hand if you need another color!” some mom said.

“Ooh! Ooh! Me!” I squealed, standing up on my chair. The flowerpot immediately rolled off of my desk and fell to the floor where it shattered.

Of course, I burst into hysterical tears. I was so sad about it not only because it was such a dumb thing I did, but also because it was a gift for my mom. Moreover, I had to just sit there watching everyone else decorate their ugly flowerpots while I had nothing to do. (Quick aside: As I was typing about dropping my flowerpot, I literally dropped my computer. Thankfully, it didn’t shatter. I guess I never learn…)

My first-grade teacher, Mrs B, was sitting at her desk grading papers during this activity. She was probably so relieved to finally have some time for herself to get work done, but she had to stop whenever shit went down. She saw me crying, asked what happened, and then, without a word, disappeared. She came back later with a hot glue gun and spent the rest of the afternoon gluing together my flowerpot. I have no idea how difficult that was to do, but it was definitely no easy task because the pot literally shattered. It wasn’t just a few broken pieces—the thing was nothing more than a pile of tiny, square-inch pieces.

Watching her work calmed me down. I just stared at her silently. At the time, I had no idea what was happening because she never said anything, and I think the helper moms were either too awestruck or didn’t want to get my hopes up in case it didn’t work.

Whatever the case, by the end of the day, I had my flowerpot, completely in-tact. There were still cracks in it, but Mrs. B explained that a lot of the professionals did that on purpose to get that look.

I took the flowerpot home, and my mom said that she loved it. I complained that I was never able to draw the flowers, but she said she liked the way it looked because it looked like grass that needs cut.

Another time, when I was a wee tot that never talked to anyone, I went on vacation to the beach with my extended family. I usually didn’t talk to anyone and just did my own thing the whole time because I was very shy and they often didn’t bother putting in the effort to come to me. Now, I don’t blame them in the slightest for this because it’s fucking vacation and who wants to force a small child to socialize with them? They were all busy drinking and having a fun time on the beach.

But I distinctly remember this one year. I must’ve been like 3 or 4 or something because it was before I started school. It was in the evening after dinner. Everyone was in my parent’s condo hanging out and drinking and having a jolly good time. I was sitting in the corner playing with some sand toys. My uncle’s girlfriend at the time, Bethany, whom we all had just met on that trip I’m pretty sure, came over and sat down on the floor next to me.

“What are you making?” she asked.

I didn’t answer and just kept playing.

“Can I have some?” she said gently.

I scooped up some imaginary sand from the bucket and offered it to her wordlessly.

She pretended to eat it. “Mmm that tastes good. Let’s make some more of that.”

We kept that going for a bit until one of my aunts pulled Bethany away for some adult thing, probably shots.

The whole encounter lasted maybe 10 minutes tops, and I don’t think I ever saw her again after that. It turns out she was an alcoholic, which is the story about why they broke up (I don’t think that’s the actual reason but whatever). I just think back to that all the time. I remember during vacation thinking that I really wanted her to be my aunt. I was so sad when I heard that they broke up.

It’s funny because Bethany has no fucking idea what an impact that moment made on me. That was over 20 years ago (fuck I’m old), and it was such a small encounter. Not only that, but I don’t think I said a word to her the whole time because I was so super shy, so she probably didn’t even know how much fun I was having with her and how much I really, really liked her. She was the only person other than my parents that went out of their way to interact with me on that trip. I think about that moment pretty frequently, and I really wish I would’ve at least spoken something to her so that she would’ve known how much I appreciated it at the time. And I wish I would’ve fucking slapped my uncle for letting a woman like her go.

Anyway, all of this is to say that, just like how small encounters can easily scar a child and stick with the child throughout their entire life, they can also hugely affect the child in nice ways and be incredibly pleasant experiences. None of these instances were monumental things. They were just quick little acts that some adult did that really stood out and resonated with me. Again I emphasize that it is so important to be mindful of how you are around kids. Even the teeny tiny things can have huge impacts on their life and their future, positive or negative.

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People can be really mean to kids

I was randomly thinking about this recently. People can be really mean to kids. Unnecessarily mean. And this is a huge problem because kids are incredibly impressionable and they internalize everything. There are so many encounters where a person was mean to me in an unjustified way and I still have a terrible gut feeling to this day when I think about it.

As a kid, my elementary school teachers would yell at my classmates and me all the time. That alone is not okay. Parents yelling at their kids is one thing—still not super okay, but the circumstances are different. Teachers should not yell at kids unless they are about to do something that will hurt someone else. But my teachers yelled at us all the time. I remember the feeling of dread and embarrassment when a fellow classmate was getting yelled at. Most of the time it was for perfectly innocent mistakes that any of us could have made, like throwing a wad of paper at the trash can and missing. The teacher would yell about how we shouldn’t be throwing things blah blah. Or when someone didn’t do their homework or was going to the bathroom too frequently or didn’t put their name on an assignment. They were ridiculous excuses for verbally berating a student, but at the time, I didn’t realize that they were totally out of line. It was just the way life was. That was literally my thought.

I remember a time in third grade where I got yelled at so bad that I cried. Yes, I know, I bring up crying a lot because I do it a lot, but this was an especially bad one. My mom usually helped me pack my lunches for school each day, but she didn’t have time to go grocery shopping one week, so she gave me lunch money to buy food at the cafeteria. The system for putting lunch money into your account at my elementary school was weird, and instead of handing it to the cashier, you put it in a brown envelope in your classroom, and somehow it found its way to them. Not a big deal, but you have to find where this envelope is in order to put your money in it. This was halfway through the school year, and I had never put money in the envelope because I always packed my lunch. I’m sure on the first day of school, my teacher, Ms. F, told us where the envelope was in the room, but I didn’t remember because that was 6 months ago. That morning, I went up to Ms. F and asked her where the envelope was to put lunch money in AND I SHT YOU NOT she fucking flipped out at me. She yelled at me, saying that I came into school in a daze (whatever that means?). Whatever. I knew I was in the right, and I found what I was looking for, so okay. Just another day in the life.

Later that same day, we were reading out loud from a book. It was one of those activities where we took turns reading. A student would read for a few paragraphs and then stop and pick someone else to read. Maybe the teacher picked the next person to read, I don’t remember. Anyway, someone was a section in the book, a regular chapter book, and I looked away from the book for just a few seconds to check that my shoes were tied (yeah, I had anxiety about things even back then), and when I looked back at the book, I had lost my place. I panicked trying to find my spot in the book, searching and searching across the page for passages that I recognized while the person kept reading.

Of course, right then, I get called on to read next. I hardcore panic, searching the page trying to find the spot while I feel the entire classroom’s eyes on me. “What’s the matter?” Ms. F snaps. I keep quiet, eyes darting quickly across the page. My best friend sitting next to me shows me where we are, which is a huge relief, but just as I’m about to start reading, Ms. F fucking tears into me, yelling and going on and on about how I need to pay attention and that I’ve been in a daze the entire day. She brings up the lunch money, talks about how I can’t pay attention and that I’m not going to get anywhere, and I swear she even brought up something about how my mother would be disappointed in me. It went on for a long time. All of my classmates were silent with their eyes glued to the floor. I was so shaken by it (obviously) that when she was finally done, I was crying to hard I couldn’t even get through the paragraph I was supposed to read so she had to call on someone else instead. I remember my best friend rubbing my back and whispering that it was okay, which is just one of the reasons why I love her so fucking much. (I’m currently tearing up just thinking about that moment.) It was good to know that I had someone there for me when life was being so goddamn unfair.

There was a trivia game we played either every day or once a week in that class that was fucking Hell on Earth for anyone with the slightest bit of anxiety—which had to be everyone after dealing with that teacher. She would read a trivia question and then randomly draw a name for someone to answer the question. If they got it right, we would get 3 points toward a pizza party. If they got it wrong, she would draw another name, and if they got it right, we would get 1 point toward a pizza party. That was difficult and stressful enough because it was random, you couldn’t volunteer to answer even if you knew the answer, and everyone was counting on you to get it right so that we could get a pizza party. But what made it so much fucking worse was that she would only read the question once, and if you asked for it to be repeated, no points were given for that question (and, of course, you got yelled at). I don’t know if you can fully realize how stressful this is, but you would only hear the question once, and then the name would be drawn after the question was read, the person would flounder, and then another person would get called on. And these were difficult questions, and a lot of them had multiple choice answers and you had to remember all of that.

Of course, with my anxiety, I couldn’t concentrate on the question when it was being asked because I was so worried about whether or not I would get called on. There was one question that was a 50/50 guess. You were given 2 choices for the answer, so we were guaranteed at least one point because if the first person guessed the wrong answer, the second person would be able to just guess the other choice. Unfortunately for me, my name was drawn, and as soon as my name was called, I completely forgot every part of the question, including the two answer choices. I was blank, and people kept saying “Come on, Iris, just choose one of the choices,” but I couldn’t remember one to say, and of course I couldn’t ask for the question to be repeated, and so I just said I didn’t know and everyone was made at me and I was so stressed out from it that I couldn’t relax for the rest of the day.

In retrospect, is it that fucking hard to just read the question again? Jeopardy does it all the time. Other game shows even give you the question in writing. Why was that so burdensome for Ms. F?

One more thing with her—I have this nervous habit where I touch my bottom lip a lot, either pulling it, picking at it, or literally just touching it. It’s not a big deal, it’s really subtle, people don’t notice, and it’s not like I’m yanking on it. And I don’t put my fingers in my mouth, so it’s not gross or anything. But of course, for whatever reason, that was unacceptable behavior and literally out of nowhere, all of a sudden, Ms. F just flips out at me and goes on and on about how I’m going to screw up my face and get a giant fat lip if I keep doing that. I remember word for word she said “They’re going to look at you and say who’s that cute little girl with the eight-foot lip?” We were waiting in line to go to recess, but we had to wait longer to go outside because she was too busy taking time to attack me about this complete non-issue. I’ve been doing it for 15 years since then, and I’m completely fine and my lip is a completely normal size because that’s just fucking logic. And if it really did concern her that much, she could have just quietly said “Iris, don’t do that,” and the issue would have been taken care of. Instead, I got made fun of for WEEKS after that because of the fucking dog and pony show she put on about it.

All of these stories are coming from one teacher, but let me tell you, she was one of my favorite elementary school teachers. I really, really liked her, and I even became pen pals with her for a few months after I finished third grade. It wasn’t that she was an evil witch. She was a typical elementary school teacher (possibly above average) and what I’m saying is that most teachers when I was in school were so goddamn fucking mean and they thought nothing of the long-term impacts of what they did. This post right here is proof of the long-term impacts their meanness caused because I’m still fucking upset about these things to this day as a 25 year old successful woman.

Just so that it’s not just Ms. F that I’m getting all pissy about, I’ll go into one more that really, really upset me. In fourth grade, it was really snowy and icy one morning, and since I lived farther away in a rural area, none of the roads in my area had been plowed or salted, so I couldn’t get to school. I stayed home, no big deal, it happens. However, since I live so far away, I didn’t have any neighbors that could bring my work home for me. My friend apparently volunteered to bring my stuff home for me even though she lived far away. I had nothing to do with this decision. Mrs. D just asked if there was anyone that could do it, and Rachelle raised her hand.

Rachelle calls me sometime that afternoon or evening, but I’m watching a movie with my family in the basement, so none of us hear it ring. It isn’t until 8 o’clock at night that we realized she called. I call her back, but my mom says to tell her she doesn’t have to drive all the way out here when it’s so late at night. It’s a totally reasonable thing, especially since it’s just homework and nothing urgent.

However, when I go into school the next morning, Mrs. D fucking loses it and keeps going on and on yelling at me, berating me, and belittling me about how I don’t have my stuff done. I explain the entire situation to her, and it just keeps making her angrier and angrier. She asked me why I would tell Rachelle that she didn’t have to give me my homework, but then she wouldn’t even listen to my explanation.

I remember she kept belittling me about it, saying that I was “too busy playing in the snow to care” and stuff like that. At one point she just stops yelling, says “I can’t…” and leaves the room. We hear her go into the classroom next door and loudly complain to that teacher about the situation. After a few minutes, she comes back in and loses her shit at me all over again.

I felt so terrible at the time. I felt like it was my fault even though there was nothing I could have done. I hated Rachelle for volunteering to bring my stuff home when I could’ve just grabbed it the next day. I hated my mom for telling Rachelle that she didn’t have to bring it to me in the dark of night with the roads still bad and it being at least a 25-minute drive. I hated myself for not forcing my parents to drive me to school and risk a car accident, and I hated myself for watching a movie with my parents instead of doing something intellectual or academic or whatever.

The thing that infuriates me so much is that it wasn’t a big deal. Sure, I didn’t have 2 of my textbooks that I needed that day because Rachelle had kept them at her house, but I just shared with someone else. I completed all of my homework and reading assignments and everything else for the following day and got A’s on everything. I didn’t miss out on anything, and I didn’t create an extra burden for anyone. It was a complete non-issue that got fully resolved anyway, but I’m still left with a god-awful feeling of dread to this day whenever I think about it. I actually almost couldn’t even finish writing about it just now because I felt a tightness in my chest and a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought back to that memory.

This post is really long because I’m airing some childhood grievances, but my point is that people really, really need to think about how their actions can impact children, especially children that they are responsible for. I understand that, as a teacher, dealing with the shit kids do can be frustrating and a daily test of patience, but it’s something you just have to do. Everything you do affects that child, and it is so easy to scar children or negatively impact their future. Luckily I had a good family life and I was good at schoolwork so it didn’t negatively impact my future, but these incidences caused so much emotional damage, and this doesn’t seem to be something that people talk about. Maybe it’s better now, I don’t know because I’ve been out of the loop since I left that school. I’m just saying please, please, please be mindful of the impact you’re having on a child.

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My past is coming back for me

I would like to thank Franzia for fueling this post and forcing me to make a new category called “Drunk Rants”

Right now, it’s Friday night, but you won’t be reading this until sometime Saturday afternoon probably because I already posted once today and posting twice in a single night (especially a weekend night) is a little excessive in my opinion. But I need to write because I’m having a meltdown.

Remember stress free 2018?  It’s all crashing down right now. This is the moment of truth. They’re trying to test me, trying to make me crash and burn and fail and go back to my stress-ridden, anxiety-fueled life of misery. But I can’t let that happen. You hear me? I can’t. Can’t.

At first it was okay. My childhood best friend texted me out of the blue asking how I was doing, and we had some nice exchanges and set a Skype date. It was wonderful, and I was so relieved to know that she didn’t hate me after how things ended in high school. (More about that later, maybe. There’s no time right now.)

THEN, Thursday at 6:02 AM (and holy shit that was JUST yesterday? I scrolled through my phone to see what day it was, thinking for sure it was Monday or Tuesday, but no, it was only one fucking day ago), I get a text from my former significant other. Completely out of the blue. Well, maybe a little provoked. I’ll explain in a sec, but still, a total surprise and 100% unwelcome. This is the guy that I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. This was the man who got down on his knees, held my hand, and told me that he intended to marry me as soon as I finished grad school. This was the monster who put me though a week of absolute turmoil while he couldn’t make up his mind about whether or not he wanted to stay in a relationship with me after 4 goddamn years.

He texts me: “How is your third year going?”

Like, where does that even come from? I texted him back a quick “It’s actually going pretty well which is suspicious… Are you still at [company he works for]?”

He said some shit about how he’s at the same job and same apartment but his work is going better and he’s happier blah blah.

I respond that I’m glad things are going well and that he’s happy smiley face whatevs thinking that’ll be it. He just needed to insert a little thing about being fine without me as a sucker punch to make himself feel good. But nooooo he throws back a long paragraph about how he’s still trying to figure out other aspects of his life whatever that means, and then has the audacity to ask me, his words, “are you still working insane amounts with insane expectations from insane people?” What is that even supposed to imply? I’ve always worked crazy hours because I have fucking anxiety issues and never feel like I’m accomplishing enough. My boss is super chill and doesn’t keep track of hours, and everyone else in my group works a solid 10am to 4pm shift, so I don’t know what insane people or their expectations he’s talking about, but the stress levels associated with my work are a very sensitive subject for me because they’re deep-rooted in my mental health issues, and he fucking KNOWS that, so to just casually bring it up in conversation like that is completely uncalled for. So, I casually tell him about my stomach ulcer because I tell everyone about that because I wear it like a sort of badge of honor like “look how stressed I am!” Perhaps that’s a whole different issue to address, but I’m only realizing right now in real time that I need to address that. I was actually excited when they said I had a concrete physical health problem that was caused by stress. What is wrong with me?

But, back to the issue at hand because, like I said, I don’t have much time. He texted me a semi-coherent paragraph about how he’s glad I’m taking care of myself but that’s a scary thing to have blah blah he’s sleep-deprived and about to go to sleep. I say “thank you for the kind words. Sleep well!” thinking, again, that this would all be over.

But noooo he texts me again the next day with a paragraph explaining how he was in a zombie state and then proceeded to explain how he was flying from one state to another, and then driving all the way from that state down to Florida, and about how he’s visiting family and such. It’s like he’s updating his pal he hasn’t talked to in a week, not his fucking former potential future spouse that he completely ignored for 9 months.

Okay, so I enjoy testing the waters from time to time with people I have delicate relationships with. It’s just what I do, baby. So I bring up the time that we spent spring break together in Florida because I had never been to Disney World and he wanted to take me there and it was our first trip together. We drove from Pennsylvania to Florida, and it was particularly miserable because he wouldn’t let me drive his car (well, there’s a whole issue to dissect with that, but I have neither the time nor the emotional strength to dive into that right now) but it was a long drive for him. I texted him saying that I knew him well enough to recognize his zombie form and that I thought he learned his lesson after our trip to Florida together. I figured that if he was texting me in order to bring up something about our relationship, that was his time, since I alluded to our former relationship twice in that message. Of course, he did what he does and ignored that part and went into a very detailed explanation about why he was in Florida, which family members were with him, and then a little bit of history about “something new from last year,” which is just that he’s spending time with his aunt.

Okay, so first of all, why tell me this? Second of all, who the fuck cares?

After discussing with my mom, who, let me tell you, is a terrible person to ask for advice because she is so goddamn enamored with this asshole that anytime I bring up his name, she gets all excited that we’re getting back together. So she’s not helpful, but she told me that I can’t just tell him to stop texting me and that I don’t want him in my life anymore. This is what I had planned to say because I make it a point to be open and honest with people. She and I came to an agreement that I should respond with a terse statement that ends the conversation, and if he doesn’t text back in 24 hours, to stop texting him altogether.

So, I said back, “Aw that sounds nice.”

Now, let me tell you why I can’t just tell him to stop texting me, and it’s not because of what my mom said because, like I said, I can’t trust her. She’s sad that I’m not dating him anymore, and I think she’s even sadder now that she’s aware that I’m also partial to the ladies 😉

Listen, back when we were still dating and things were going really well but we were long distant, I was at work one weekend while he was visiting me. He was bored and left a metric fuck ton of notes hidden all over my apartment, saying that I’d never find them all. It was cute but also really dumb because he used up my whole notepad and most of the notes were really stupid things that weren’t even cute or funny (these are verbatim my thoughts from at the time, when I still fancied him, so no bias).

After finding out that I had a stress-induced stomach ulcer, I decided to redecorate my room to make it more relaxing and stress-free. I went to print out some inspirational quotes to hang on my bulletin board, but discovered that the ink was empty, which is very unsurprising because I hadn’t used that printer in 2.5 years. That’s an important detail because when I opened the printer to switch out the ink, I saw one of his goddamn notes there. Without even thinking or feeling, like it didn’t phase me at all, I sent him a picture of the note with the caption “look what I found lol.” Just a simple haha inside joke let’s get a good laugh then fuck off. He responded and we talked about printer ink (riveting) for like 2 exchanges. That was it, and I thought nothing of it or about him since.

That had been the first time we talked since April, when I went through a rough patch and day-drank my feelings and accidentally texted him “I MISS YOU” in the middle of our conversation, and he never responded, and then I apologized, acknowledging that I had been inappropriate, and he still never responded.

Okay, quick aside because, like I mentioned before, this is all happening real time right now, and I’m STRESSED THE FUCK OUT and so I’m guzzling Franzia because my roommates are out of town and I don’t know how else to cope. He just texted me continuing the conversation even though, and I realize this is a trend now, I thought that was the end. But now he’s just continuing the one-sided conversation talking about his family and I don’t even know what to do because I’m too upset to eat dinner but I keep drinking Franzia and so I can’t trust my judgment at all right now but all I want to text him is “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME YOU CRUEL CRUEL MAN.” I want to text him back, but I can’t trust my judgment right now. I already said that.

I’m trying to get my childhood best friend to Skype tonight, and I’m frantically texting Norm (my wise best friend that I write about a lot) but we got into a dumb fight while I was in Pennsylvania over break and so now I think he might be purposely ignoring me. Actually, I know he’s not ignoring me because he doesn’t do that, he’s probably out painting the town red because it’s Friday night, but texting him offering to apologize (even though it wasn’t my fault) makes me feel like I have more control over this situation than I actually do.

Fuck I’m drunk. I need to eat dinner but I’m not hungry. This is a meltdown that I’m having. I don’t know if I’m actually going to publish this, but I’m on the verge of tears right now. I shouldn’t have drank so much goddamn wine but I thought it would get rid of the tightness in my chest.   A few more glasses and maybe it will, but a few more glasses and god knows what I’ll text this asshole. Brb. I’m going to get food and text Norm again.

Okay, I’m back and here’s the thing I didn’t make clear before. As much as he’s an awful person and I hate how he treated me and his mere presence in my life stresses me out, I still really want him to text me back. It’s an incredibly polarizing thing. I hate him so much for how he treated me during the 4 years of our relationship, but we also had some really great times, and he was my best friend. I texted him back “that’s cool” and now I keep checking my phone for his response. There shouldn’t be a response. The only time people every say “that’s cool” is if they don’t want a response. But I keep checking.

It’s okay, though, because this will all be over soon. It’ll be hard tonight because I’ll keep checking my phone for him, but Franzia can take care of that. It’ll be hard tomorrow, but I’ll be at work, so I’ll have a distraction. By Monday, I’ll be back to normal and everything will be fine.

As long as he stops texting me. I swear to God if he texts me again I’m going to throw down and ask him what on God’s green Earth he wants from me. I’ll do it.

Part of me doesn’t want to publish this tomorrow because it was a Franzia-fueled tirade of rage from start to finish and isn’t coherent at all, but also, it’s probably one of the most authentic things I’ve ever written since it’s all happening in real time.

I just really hope I don’t text him again tonight…

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I think I want therapy

I’ve wanted to try therapy for years, but I always had this weird paranoia that people would see in my medical chart that I went to therapy and they would think I was crazy and wouldn’t hire me. It’s an incredibly unrealistic worry because therapy is incredibly common, and people use it for a variety of issues that don’t necessarily involve a mental illness, like getting over the loss of a loved one or couple’s counseling. The problem for me was that it wasn’t normalized for me. I didn’t know anyone personally who went to therapy except for one friend who had really bad depression. All of the people I heard about who went to therapy had drug problems or tried to kill themselves. It just seemed so extreme, and I didn’t want to be lumped in with those people.

I didn’t know anyone in college who went to therapy, but at least then I knew a little bit more about the resources. My school did a great job explaining what resources were out there for mental health, and the university health services made everything confidential and easily accessible.

The one thing that prevented me from getting help in college was that the first step to accessing the services was to complete a triage interview. That would be fine, except the only way to do it was by telephone. You would complete a questionnaire, and then they would make an appointment to call you the following day. I have terrible anxiety about talking on the phone, and the thought of discussing my mental health on the phone with a stranger was mortifying. It would only be a 15-minute call, but it was too much for me. Unfortunately, there was no other way to access the services. You couldn’t make an in-person appointment without first going through the phone triage. It’s crazy that I couldn’t do that simple thing, but I really couldn’t. There were so many times I put it in my to-do list to just make the goddamn call, but when it came time to actually do it, I couldn’t.

Here at grad school, it’s a little different. The basic setup is the same, except instead of having a phone-call triage, you stop by and talk to someone in person. Also, it’s different because it’s more normalized here. In grad school, it’s incredibly common to have mental health issues. The did surveys recently on my grad program that show that an overwhelming number of students not only have mental health issues, but have reoccurring suicidal thoughts. The department was incredibly receptive to the results of the survey and tried to improve the climate. They included mental health seminars, listening sessions with a trained therapist, and they talked about the issue frequently. It became more normalized, and I knew more people struggling with it. My roommate is very open about going to a therapist, which helped make it feel more accessible for me.

I finally broke down and went after a particularly bad spell in which my anxiety was so bad that it was interfering with my work to a large degree.

I went to the triage appointment, which is on a walk-in only basis. You stop in on this special floor and the receptionist gives you an electronic tablet with a very personal questionnaire on it. You fill it out, and then you’re escorted to a computer lab, where you fill out a much more personal and much, much more detailed questionnaire in which you’re worried about providing so many details because this is very clearly going in your medical record. You finish that, wait a bit, and then a very nice looking physician’s assistant takes you back into a dimly lit room with comfy couches, a box of tissues, and drapery.

At this point, it felt so emotional for me. It just seemed too real. The way everyone was tip-toeing around me, the setting being incredibly comforting, and the PA being so nice, understanding, and listening. As soon as I started describing what I was going through, I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I just kept crying and crying while the PA looked at me with a patient, understanding expression on her face. It was the first time I ever told anyone that I had depression and anxiety, and it was the first time I was being open about this part of my life.

But, of course, this meeting was just a triage appointment, and so she was only there to listen and make me an appointment to see a real person. Still, I left feeling optimistic that things would get better. It felt so nice having someone to talk to, and I felt like it was possible for me to have a happy life.

Unfortunately, a month later, when I met with my actual therapist, it didn’t go well at all and it crushed all the high hopes that I had had. I realize now that she just wasn’t a good fit for me at all. She was an analyst, and so she focused on finding the source of the problem and correcting it. I guess this is the logical approach, but it didn’t work for me at all. I felt like I had to keep justifying my feelings. I would say what I felt, and she would immediately ask me what caused that feeling. Maybe that’s a normal thing to ask, but I don’t know what causes it. When everything in my life is going well but I can’t bring myself to even get out of bed because I feel so hopeless, I don’t know what’s causing it. When I get panic attacks in the middle of the day, I don’t know why. She kept asking follow-up questions and pressing me for answers and I felt like I was frustrating her when I kept saying that I didn’t know. I would try to explain myself, but I didn’t know how. Afterward, she gave me a homework assignment to write down every time I felt anxious and what I was thinking about immediately before. Then, she looked at her watch, saw we still had twenty minutes left, and started scheduling our next appointment to fill time. We ended up finishing fifteen minutes early, which is a big deal because, through the university, I’m only allowed a finite number of appointments within my entire career at the university (which is a long time because I’m a grad student). It felt like this appointment was a complete waste.

More importantly, I left that appointment feeling like therapy wasn’t a good fit for me. I blamed myself for it, thinking that I wasn’t able to articulate myself well enough to talk about my problems. It was a shitty feeling.

Our next appointment was 4 weeks later. I was feeling okay about it because I had kind of done my homework assignment. It was hard, though, because I didn’t really know what counted as being anxious. Like, severe panic attacks or just anytime I felt nervous (which was close to all the time at that point)? I wrote down a few times, but during many of my panic attacks, I couldn’t remember what I had been thinking about right before, so I just made up something to write down. This was really bad, I know.

However, the night before the appointment, my significant other of 4 years told me that he wasn’t sure he still wanted to be in a relationship with me. This set me into a whole new world of panic (I might talk about this more later), and I absolutely did not have the strength to go into therapy the next day and be interrogated and talk about that with someone who felt so cold and distant and unwilling to help. I wrote her a message through the health center explaining what had happened and why I couldn’t make my appointment. She never responded, and I never rescheduled.

That whole experience kind of ruined therapy for me, and I never seriously considered going back. Now, though, after talking to people who benefit from therapy and listening to Karen and Georgia talk about it so candidly on My Favorite Murder, I think I want to give it another try. I think my previous therapist just wasn’t a good fit, but with the right person, it could be highly beneficial to me. It has become very apparent to me recently that I need to make serious changes in my life, and I think this would be a good step for me.

Have you had any bad experiences from therapy? Did it take some trial and error to find the right fit? Do you feel like it’s beneficial? Let me know, and thanks for listening. xoxo

Posted in Anxiety, Mental Health, My life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I’m Okay with Being the One Left Out: A Resolution

Last week, I wrote a few posts about my concerns with being left out (here and here). These feelings were triggered by plans for a Europe trip that I was excluded from for whatever reason, but they stem from a rich history of me being worried that I’m being left out by my friends, whether this is a real thing or not.

I’m not going to get into my rich childhood history of this anxiety and why I’m always so worried about it now. I don’t know why I’m like this. It would be easy to blame it on my high school friend group, where it actually happened pretty often, but for one, that’s just what cliques do in high school, so it shouldn’t have affected me this much, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had this fear since before any of that stuff happened.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I’ve always had this crippling fear of being left out. It materialized in a weird way though, where instead of trying to insert myself more into situations that I was worried about being left out of, I withdrew more from my friends, by not going to things, not reaching out to see if it was okay that I went or to check what other people’s plans were, and by declining the invite to go when it was a last-minute invite.

So whenever this whole Europe trip situation happened, I was all prepared to just retreat into my little ball and wallow quietly in my self-pity. However, since I’ve been writing so much about it, it forced me to think about it from an analytical perspective and to really pick apart what I was going through.

Finally, I think I got myself some answers.

First of all, acknowledging how much of this was a mental thing was a huge awakening for me because the mental part of it is the one thing I can control. Like I’ve said before, you can’t change the way people feel about you, but you can change the way that affects you. This is what helped me to get through this situation.

I’ve found that the best way to cope with these feelings and suspicions is to ignore them. I know that sounds like I’m just hiding from my feelings, and it’s probably not healthy, but it’s really the only thing that works for me. If I just don’t think about it, my life continues as before, my relationships with others feel just as authentic as they did before, and I’m not stressing out over something I can’t control.

Just last night, I had a really great candid moment with my roommates. It was one of those weeknights that turns into an impromptu wine night, and there were at least 4 separate occasions during the night where I was laughing so hard my stomach was aching. All we were doing was sitting at our dining room table talking to each other, and it was so refreshing and so relaxing. We have a lot of nights like that one, so it wasn’t like this just came out of the blue, but my point is that I was able to have this super fun time with them because I had stopped ruminating over how I feel they had betrayed me. Our friendships felt perfectly normal, solid, and comforting.

Now, as soon as I think about the Europe trip, I get really upset and angry with them and all of those feelings rush back, so it’s not like I achieved peak mindfulness and forgave them and am at one with myself. This isn’t a perfect resolution, but I’m able to continue these friendships that I value so much, and I’m able to reap the benefits of them that are so important to me, like being able to laugh and unwind with them after a stressful day, confess openly about personal problems like my narrow vagina and crippling anxiety, and dissect my problems and anything that has been going through my head. These qualities of our friendship haven’t changed the slightest.

So then I got to thinking about how this strategy affects me, since I figure it has no net effect on my friendships. Really, I think my life is exactly the same because I’m not an outgoing person. I don’t like going out or meeting new people or going on adventures to new places. I do these things from time to time because I’m either forced to or over-caffeinated or I’ve given myself a really good pep talk, but so many times, I just don’t want to go and so I don’t. When I have plans to do something with someone and they get canceled, sometimes I’m disappointed because I don’t get to see that person, but most of the time by a long shot I’m super excited and relieved to not have to do the thing. So whenever I hear about an awesome party that I wasn’t invited to because I’m not Facebook friends with the person throwing the part, I’m relieved because I’m not obligated to go. If I still wanted to go, I totally could because I could just go with someone who was formally invited on Facebook, and I could get them to ask the host if I felt weird about it. I don’t do that because I don’t want to do the thing, and when I’m upset about not being included, it’s never ever because I’m disappointed that I don’t get to have a fun time at the thing. It’s always because I feel that my friends don’t care about me enough to think to include me, and it makes me worried that my friendships aren’t as good as I think they are. That’s the real reason.

And that’s not even necessarily true because not being invited to something doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t like you enough or that you’re easily forgotten. There are certain times only specific people are invited, either to keep it small or keep it with people who have something in common, etc. Other times, plans just pop up as a spur of the moment thing while people are talking, and each person can’t go through their entire friends list inviting everyone to also go. Furthermore, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fun person. When I’m drunk I can be fun, but it’s always a 50/50 tossup between Fun Iris and Frighteningly Angry Iris when I’m drunk. So I completely understand why I wouldn’t be number one on people’s radars. And that’s fine. I don’t want to go to something if I know I’m not going to be fun for other people, which is another reason why I often skip out on plans if I’m just not feeling it.

With the Europe thing, I was lukewarm about the idea. Aside from a bus trip to Canada when I was like 4, I’ve never traveled outside of the country, and I am terrified about doing so. I’ll do it one day, but I would want it to be a structured thing where I know I’m safe, with responsible people, and have had plenty of time to think it all through. Also, I was nervous about traveling to Europe for an entire week just two weeks before I’ll be traveling to a week-long conference, and around the same time, I’m probably going to be traveling to New England for a week to learn a technique from a lab out there. Also, my parents will be coming to visit me for a week in June, and I would like to go home for a week sometime in the summer to visit my whole family. Basically, it’s a lot of traveling, and it’s a lot of time off from work, so it makes me nervous. So I hesitated to answer, and I’m still on the fence about it. Like, if they told me right now that the whole thing was a misunderstanding and they hadn’t made any plans without me and I was totally still included and they were really excited for me to go and assumed I was going and blah blah blah, I’d say there’d be at least a 75% chance I wouldn’t go. So, bumping that from a 75% chance when I wasn’t excluded to a 99% chance when I’m pretty sure I was excluded doesn’t really change the outcome if there’s only one outcome because the odds are in the same direction.

What I’m saying is that these situations where I’m being left out of things (again, whether real or not real because I can’t give an unbiased verdict on this) has no affect on my life unless I make it have one. Forcing myself not to think about these things seems like a perfectly viable solution, so long as the thoughts don’t creep up and haunt me throughout the rest of my life. What also helps is writing about them because it forces me to break them down and think analytically about them. And it’s really helpful throwing all of my feelings onto this page. It doesn’t even matter if people read them. It helps just knowing that I threw them out there. They’re out of my head. They’re the rest of the world’s problem now.

I hope this is helpful for anyone reading this who might be feeling similar things about their relationships.

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Questioning everything

After looking back through my old posts and then my recent ones, I notice a huge shift in my subject matter after my rebirth (at the beginning of this year). My old posts used to focus on positivity and making meaning out of things. Each post was either an informative article about a subject matter, my opinion on a controversial topic, or a description of something that happened in my life that I’ve analyzed and come to a definitive conclusion about.

Now, looking at my recent writing, it’s just a series of questions. I’m pretty much treating my blog like a reverse self-help manual. I lay out my problem and beg the void to help me solve them. The questions I ask these days aren’t the least bit rhetorical—they’re a cry for help. It’s like I’m at such a loss with everything that’s going on in my life. Even things that I thought I knew for sure no longer feel substantial in my brain. Literally my last post was me talking about how I don’t know what the fuck sexuality is when I wrote an entire post (and illustrated an informative graphic) explaining what sexuality is. What happened to me?

Usually, when people start questioning things, it’s a good sign. It means that you’re being awakened and thinking for yourself. If you look for answers, you’ll find them, blah blah blah. Or it could be the opposite—that I’m devolving into something ignorant and misinformed about the world. Since I already feel like my old blog posts were pretty woke, what if I maxed out on woke-ness and now I’m shifting in the opposite direction?

Okay, that might be an irrational worry because if I’m seeing the opposite direction as the wrong direction, I’m not going to shift toward it, subconsciously or otherwise. But, why can I figure out my own problems anymore? Every time I post something, I hope for a comment answering my questions. I used to be able to figure this shit out myself. I would think about something for a while, really let it marinate in my brain, and then I would write about it and at some point in the process, I would reach a definitive conclusion about it. Now I just get bothered by something all day, spew some words out on a page about it, beg the internet for help, and then just hope for the best. How is that even an acceptable strategy in my mind?

I like to tell myself that I’m “raising awareness” and all of that, but that’s illogical because I don’t even have awareness, so how could I possibly expect to raise it? Okay, that was a rhetorical question at least.

Maybe it’s that I’m posting too quickly without giving myself time to properly let the ideas marinate. Or maybe I’m too excited about confessing my deep-rooted flaws that I just don’t bother with the conclusions.

I don’t know what it is, but eventually I’ll have to start answering some of these questions. I can’t just leave them hanging in the air forever. It’s one thing for you guys to just scroll past it and be like “meh, I don’t know/care,” but this is my life I’m talking about. It’s not your problem, It’s my problem.

I just thought of a fun idea. Maybe I can have a Q and A section of my blog, except the fun gimmick is that all of the Qs are my questions from my past, and then I can just fill in the As as they materialize before me. That would give me an obligation to answer the questions—and I’ve asked some dumb fucking questions—but it could be fun, right?

I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud at this point. Hit me up if you have any ideas or answers for me. xoxo

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But what actually is sexuality?

I’m asking this question in earnest, which is a little bit embarrassing because I wrote a post about 2 and a half years ago specifically explaining what sexuality is. Now I feel like I’m about to discredit myself, but I have to get this off my chest.

I honestly don’t know what sexuality is, and I don’t even know where to begin explaining my lack of understanding. I know what the definition is, and I know what people describe it as. I know there’s a whole spectrum for it, it’s a fluid thing, and it doesn’t define us but is still part of our identity. But what the fuck is it?

What confuses me is that it’s sexual attraction, but it’s not what makes you aroused. I first realized my huge confusion with the idea of it when I was trying to figure out what asexuality was because I thought I might be asexual. I have a very, very low sex drive. I never get aroused. That’s why I thought I was asexual, but asexuality is different than arousal. Since I never get aroused, I’m a-libido, not asexual. There are some asexual people who are very sexually active and they feel arousal all the time, but they don’t feel sexual attraction toward a particular person.

So then I thought, maybe sexuality is a matter of who you would be okay having sex with, but this is also weird to me. I would think that it couldn’t be defined by femininity and masculinity like that. I could understand if you aren’t okay with a penis inside you or if you’re not okay with figuring out the complexities of a vagina because those are tangible things that directly affect the act of sex. But sexuality isn’t based on male/female. It doesn’t matter what parts someone has; it matters who they are.

So then I’m confused about why it’s categorized by the gender binary. How can people be okay with having sex with someone who demonstrates masculine traits but not someone who demonstrates feminine traits? And what if someone demonstrates only slightly more masculine traits than feminine traits? Are you proportionally less attracted to them?

And it’s more than just getting along with the person. At least, I assume it has to be because people see sexual attraction very much differently than friendship. It has to be much more than just a personality thing because it is so common for people to have really good friends of one gender but then go after a sex partner of a different gender.

Maybe it’s because I’m bisexual or a-libido or just fucking dumb, but I don’t get it at all. I honestly don’t understand how people can identify as heterosexual or homosexual. Where do you draw the line? For me, everyone is a person, and if I really like a person, then I want them to be my romantic partner. It doesn’t matter what pronouns they use or how they make love to me.

And another thing, if sexuality is just a preference for a specific type of person to have a romantic connection with, why is it based almost exclusively on sex and gender? There are so many factors that are way more important in assessing compatibility. Like, if I were to define my sexuality by those standards, I would be Clinton-sexual because I am only interested in people who think highly of Hillary Clinton. Why is sexuality so entwined with gender, which is a social construct and therefore not even real?

Also, I’m just going to throw this out there: I’m convinced (with as much certainty as one possibly can be without the slightest bit of data to back it up) that the overwhelming majority of people would be bisexual if we weren’t all conditioned to be heterosexual from birth. It is my (uneducated) opinion that people are attracted to people, and most people just assume they’re straight because they’re expected to be straight, and gay people found a special person who was a different gender and since they were also expected to be straight, realized they were not that and so assumed they must be the opposite of that. There, I said it.

I just want to know what it all means because there’s something that I’m not understanding. I’m not trying to discredit people’s sexuality, although I’m sure that’s exactly what it sounds like, for which I apologize. I want to learn, but I can’t find any explanation of it out there that does more than describe it in terms of attraction, which doesn’t make sense to me. Why am I writing publicly about this instead of trying to educate myself? I don’t know. I’m just really frustrated because I’ve been trying to figure this out for years, and I just end up understanding less and less about it.


~ This post might be offensive because of how blatantly ignorant I am. I’m sorry. Please correct me if I said something wrong, yell at me if I said something mean, or ignore me if it’s not worth your time. ~

Posted in Gender and Sexuality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment