Tell me about your coping mechanisms, friends. Because mine are driving me up the wall lately.
When you have a moment of success, what do you do? Call up someone you love [mom, dad, partner, goldfish?] and share, or have a quiet celebration with yourself and light up the world from the inside of your soul? When somebody does you wrong, do you confront them or cry about it in the corner of your bedroom? Do you call your best friend at three in the morning because you are having an anxiety attack about the general direction your life is taking, or go run for about ten miles and meet them the next day? Do you swallow bile or get a punching bag? All of the above? None of the above?
For someone who has a short fuse regarding so many things, I internalize. I take it all in. I process on the inside, and only share when I am good and ready, or when I find myself so mentally contorted that I cannot separate my head from my ass.
And like with many other things, I take it too far. I have no measure. I turn hibernation into agoraphobia, independence into isolation. I have kept some sad things from my parents because I did not want them to hurt because of me. I will make myself physically sick before I allow myself to admit that I am up against the wall and could use a little help, goddamnit. There is no pressure from the outside, it was not the way I was raised. It is just who I am.
I am fascinated by people who resolve their issues externally. I wish I could do that.
I had a coworker who sat across the room from me. She had no filter. Every task she had to tackle, her first instinct was to ask me what or where something was, and what to do. Pretty soon she was calling me “Ms. Google It,” because after having to explain the simplest things to her [sometimes right in front of her], I had to tell her to actually look things up before tugging on other people’s sleeves. I, on the other hand, almost brought a conference to a halt because I was running in circles trying to figure out a conceptual issue. By the time I knocked on my other coworker’s door and asked for advice, it was almost too late.
I get that. That was foolish, and I learned my lesson.
But I don’t get the bank clerk yelling at you because they are having a bad day and you just asked them a question they don’t know the answer to. I don’t get people who take a mile when you give them an inch. I don’t get acquaintances that don’t respect personal boundaries, or your time and space. I don’t get displaced aggression, or that childlike attitude of bringing you their broken toy and telling you to fix it. I don’t get people who do things just to get a reaction from others, or just to see where their limits are. Testing, manipulating, venting, dumping responsibility into other people’s laps. Expecting them to carry your burden, be your whipping post, fix your life for you. I do not get that to such a degree that I feel like I might be from another planet sometimes.
The very thought of someone doing something because I made them, of having an effect on someone’s behavior, no matter how well-meaning, goodhearted or justified, scares me. Don’t get me wrong. I am a functional human being. I say Hello to neighbors and earn money, I love and play as much as the next person. But the principle behind that thought of being the agent of something freaks me out. You know fight or flight? It does not exist with me. I freeze. I endure. I do not run away, but I refuse to fight either. Because I have found that the rules of direct engagement usually disagree with my sensibilities. More often than not, the other party will try and get you to communicate with them in their code. Yellers need to be yelled back at; bullies need to be bullied to actually understand what they are doing to people; control freaks need to be subdued; drowning people will take you down with them. Me? Like that poor bastard Bartleby, I would prefer not to. All of it taints me, compromises me, contaminates me.
I understand that we are all blood and goo underneath the skin, and that the ‘externals’ are doing pretty much the same thing that I am, which is trying to make it through the day and not feel as shitty about yourself as when you woke up. They are two sides of the same coin. And the right way to go about things is probably somewhere down the middle, helping as many as possible and victimizing none. I understand that getting your hands dirty is necessary sometimes, and that lofty mastheads make for long falls. I just have a hard time not preferring not to.