Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On Being Approachable, or Loving the Damaged Parts

Free-associated thoughts in response to a comment I just got. 

Someone just said "thanks for being approachable." I thought to myself, is that it? Is that all I have to do? People can see it as such a gift for me to just be myself? Then I thought of all the people I know are not approachable and I thought well maybe it is. Maybe it is. I hope so, anyway. I just need to find my people... 
I am struggling to love myself. So many people are telling me all of my good qualities and that I need to love myself more. And I appreciate it more than they will ever know. But are they any match for memories like this one? I need help re-framing these moments into a self-concept in which I *can* be loveable. 

It reminds me of a time in college, a bad memory which I am glad I now have an antidote for. It was one of my worst memories from college. It was after a sociology class, where we had been talking about relationships or some related topic. I had already been feeling shaky when I went in, and always struggled with self-esteem being surrounded by so many people my age who I saw as better than me while living on campus. I began to get agitated by the intense feelings of self comparison that were coming at my fast and furious while she was talking.... I lost my composure which I usually could hold while in class (but not after class) and started crying... Harder... and Harder... while everyone ignored me. I have to tell you, being ignored when you are crying is perhaps the most difficult, most painful feeling I have ever experienced in my entire life. I shudder just thinking of it, but unfortunately I had *plenty* of time to learn it in the first two decades or so of my life.

Class ended, and the teacher stood there looking at me uncomfortably, not saying anything, or not saying much anyway. I don't think she was cut out for these situations. At my breaking point, I sobbed to her an agitated, tortured "Am I THAT untouchable??" or something of the kind. I felt as isolated and separated as a person can feel. It's painful just remembering it. She left, and if I remember right I proceeded to collapse on the hallway floor convulsing and sobbing (usually I managed to at least find a bench or couch in the hallways to have my post-class breakdowns, but not this time.) I remember my fingers and hands were tingling, maybe lack of oxygen because I was crying so hard. I was spent. It was an evening class and the building was empty. I do not know how long I would have stayed there had not a girl I knew only vaguely happened upon and asked me what was wrong, after quite a bit of time had passed . That was all I needed. Someone to care. Someone to care! Someone to feel connected to. That's all I ever wanted . I was able to pick myself up and be okay after that.

That's just a slightly more (but not much) intense version of what most of my days in college were like. Meltdowns, profound lack of connection, isolation, loneliness, and then, brief moments of human connection to put me back together again. Is it any wonder why I avoid most people my age like the plague? I've never learned to feel secure about myself around them. I do not know how to go about starting.

But I'm told I'm approachable. Well, at least someone likes me.

How am I ever going to do a presentation on Asperger's that is honest and true to my life when all of these memories make me cry....If I could find a way to heal them maybe I would start to love myself and I wouldn't have to try so hard to quash them down when I interacted with the world.

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