Education About the Self

This semester I’m taking a class called Applied Psychology in which I have been instructed to treat myself as the patient, and apply each psychological method to my own issues.  It is, at once, quite illuminating and disturbing.

My term paper – shit that came up fast – was on the defense mechanisms I’ve employed throughout my life during difficult times.  This paper, despite the insistence of how likely I would be to procrastinate writing it, was actually very easy to compose.  It took me a week of not very dedicated work to apply each of the 14 defense mechanisms to some aspect of my past, and I, in fact, could think of several examples for some of them – in recent and distant past.  After working on that paper, I thought whatever subject the professor threw at us next would be a piece of proverbial cake – no problem at all!

Now, we’re figuring out our personality types according to several psychologist’s popular opinions of such things… and a spot on Jungian Archetype test result started up some pretty severe anxiety within me.  It’s kind of odd, because I just kept reading and thinking that this is fascinating.  “Yea, that’s right,” and “That explains a lot,” I found myself repeating more and more frequently.  As I read on, I found myself feeling shaky, reverberating from the center of my body outward.  It stole over me like a spider creeping in darkness, and before I realized it, I was gripping my shirt and gasping for air.

The thing is: the results weren’t at all disturbing!  A little surprising?  That they were, yes.  I have a personality type that is best suited, it turns out, to acting and technical careers.  I’m, apparently, best suited to low social and high danger positions… and not as suited to writing (though it’s not unheard of for this personality type to make a living as a writer… it is rare).  I found it enlightening.  I don’t quite know why it gave me anxiety, though.  It seems an unusual physical reaction.

Perhaps my professor will be able to offer some insight when I see him tomorrow.  It’s honestly too bad that I have another class during his only available office hours.

Anyhow, I’m mostly just speculating aloud here, as, one, it was a rather confusing event for me and, two, I haven’t updated in a while.  This post doesn’t seem to have an overarching theme, unlike my others.  Perhaps I’ll work it out in reflection at a later time.

I hope you’re all doing well.  Thank you for reading and have a lovely week!

Permanence & Change

I feel a little bit like I’ve been avoiding this place, lately.  Not necessarily on purpose – just, I don’t think I’ve wanted to delve into my subconscious during the past couple of months.  Things in there are – dark and kind of bad, right now.  Something’s struggling to come to the surface with which I’m not entirely sure I’m prepared to deal.  I’m lonely and tired and depressed and constantly second-guessing myself.  This doesn’t seem unusual, really.  It’s just more intense than it has been in a while.  I keep wondering why I’m even trying.

This is, of course, the kind of attitude I’ve spent the past few years trying to fight off.  I know those doubts are in there; I even have a decent idea who put them in there – and parents, especially mothers, should fucking know better.  I’m tired of fighting, of people taking advantage and calling it caring, and I’m absolutely sick of – just – life, at the moment.

I’m fighting it.  I’m weary.  I can’t see anything good, right now.  I think what I need is a little break… unfortunately, only the privileged class get those.  I don’t know what to do.

On Writing: Reviews

Yesterday, I asked for a quick review of my most recent piece, which was written in kind of a hurry for a writing contest prompt.  (If you would like to read or review my piece, please find it here.)

To be plain, I’m more of a ‘write what I want when I want’ kind of a writer.  However, I feel that my writing will – eventually – improve if I throw myself into unknowns, and allow myself to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  So, bring on the writing prompts and contests.  (That and, let’s face it, I’m a student so I’m broke.  Entering contests where I can win money between semesters seems like quite a good idea when it might allow me to continue to pay for rent and dog food and, I suppose, my food, as well.)

So, when I write things about which I’m unsure, I ask for reviews.  I have accounts on both DeviantArt and Writing.com for this exact purpose.  They both have very different readers so the same piece posted in both locations is likely to get a very different response on each, though not always.  I’ve gotten some very good, constructive reviews in both places, actually.

However, today I’ve been made to wonder: what do you do with a review that is completely useless?

Let me explain: I recently got a review on a short story, which I wrote to explore the mental devolution of a female character as she entered into madness and, later, to became a serial killer.  Now, I’ve gotten some very good reviews of this piece, and a few that were very harsh but in areas that, yes, could have used improvement.  Today, however, I received a review that criticized the fact that my character ‘is not confident enough to be a serial killer’ and that she ‘doesn’t get sexually aroused enough by the thought of murder to be a serial killer.’

Now, I have no idea what to do with this review, which was clearly written by someone who’s read one book or seen one movie about a psychopath or sociopath or narcissist type serial killer, and knows nothing whatsoever about the other types of madness that can lead to this twisted occupation.  What frustrates me is his insistence that, until these things are fixed (and here’s exactly how you should go about fixing them, listed here in my ‘oh-so-helpful’ review), my piece is worthless.

I know it could use some editing, obviously, or I would not have submitted it for review.  I also know that it’s a good piece.  Coming from a writer, that is saying something.  (I can say this because I had two fiction professors and an entire short-story writing class review it last semester.  I also had a literary magazine hold it for possible publication for four months even though it was over a thousand words longer than the suggested word-count.  It didn’t get published in this issue, but they’ve asked if they can hold it for consideration in the next one.  It’s not perfect, by any means, but if at least three separate people who read and write fiction for a living tell me it’s a good piece, it’s been considered for publication, and an entire class seems to approve of the story-line, if not the content – then it’s a good piece.)

So I’m debating what to do with his review, which is unnecessarily harsh and misleading to other readers.  I have the option to hide it.  I have the option to respond to it (which I have not done because every time I begin to write a response, I find myself correcting his ignorance about mental issues relating to serial killers as well as serial killers themselves).  I don’t know what to do with it.

Now, I should also point out that this is a male reviewer, and, to be honest, the piece could be seen as offensive to male readers.  That’s just the character; the situation.  She has a background of bad experiences with men and sex, and it’s an integral part of her descent into madness.  There’s no way to make the piece easier to read for men, and, to be frank, there’s enough bloody fiction (movies, tv shows, etc, etc, etc) out there that caters to men and their male power so why should I edit my one piece to make it easier for a man to read?  I shouldn’t.  This reviewer thinks that my character should have a better relationship with sex and arousal, equating it with the one thing she finally finds as a release for all of the pain she’s been feeling for years.  So, since she’s a woman who gets picked up by men at bars often, he thinks that she should have some positive relationship with arousal?  Is every woman who goes to a bar and gets hit on constantly supposed to want sex?

I’m not entirely sure, but as far as a review goes – this one is entirely useless.

Of course, I do realize that I’m complaining about a review to people from whom I recently asked for reviews.  However, I doubt very much that you guys write useless reviews, or you wouldn’t be bloggers.  Bloggers think about things, then arrange these thoughts into sentences that lead from one thought to the next in a nice, if sometimes roundabout, line.  This reviewer couldn’t put two and two together – simple foreshadowing and mentions about the past that rounded out my character (according to other readers) completely eluded him.  I think most readers, and – especially – writers can spot the little things that add to situations, and turn them into stories.

Perhaps I should have began this post with the phrase: ‘Sometimes I just need to vent.’  Anyhow, thank you for reading, and may you have a lovely day.

Another Relationship Rant

Sometimes little things just annoy me.  This bothered me today.

“It’s good to see that you’re still alive,” says the woman who is likely my ex now.

So, I should probably start by pointing out that I’m a little bad at confrontation, and I’m still learning to say things like, ‘No,’ which is how every single one of my previous exes has pushed me around.  I mean, it’s really amazing how good I am at finding people who will, consciously or unconsciously, happily push me around and force me into doing the things they want me to do, and nothing else.

This last situation, she told everyone including her family that I was her new girlfriend before ever checking with me on the matter.  As stated in my last post on relationships, this is the second San Francisco area relationship where the new ‘love interest’ decided we were closer than we truly were – an assumption with which I am not okay.

Now, when she finally did ask if it was okay to call me her girlfriend, I felt a bit cornered into the new title.  After all, she ‘okayed’ it with me during a party at which all of her friends were in attendance, and I couldn’t very well pull her aside to discuss how unsure I was about being in a relationship, right then, particularly when she’d already told everyone there that we were.  So, coward that I am when it comes to confrontation, I nodded and added some related anecdote – an okay.

I sort of fell out of interest with her after that.  I tried really hard to be as attracted to her as I had been before that happened, even tried to blame myself.  “Oh, it must be my depression shutting me down, again.”  Now, yes, I have been rather depressed for about the past … 20 years or so.  However, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving, when she tried to push me to go to her family’s holiday dinner, that I started to figure out what exactly was going on.

I mean, a Thanksgiving invite can be a nice thing, and I would appreciate it if, upon telling her that I had been feeling depressed and being social at that point in time would be a bad idea for everyone involved, she had backed off.  Instead, she got defensive and moody with me because I didn’t want to go.  So, rather than endure a fight, I turned off my phone that weekend.  When I turned it back on the following week, I had a text message from her and several voicemails to which I still have not listened.  The text message asked if I had had a moment to talk, but had been sent the prior week.  I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation so I didn’t respond, which is – again – a cowardly thing to do, I admit, but it’s not as though she didn’t know what was going on.  I had outright told her during our ‘argument’ that I needed to be alone when I felt like this.  She deals with depression issues, as well, so she should have understood… or so I assumed.

People who deal with depression shouldn’t be judgmental about other people who deal with depression.  My dad understands when I’m ‘too busy’ to call him sometimes for months on end, because he has the same problem.  My best friend texts me every couple of months then disappears, and I understand no matter what I’m going through.  Sometimes, people who deal with depression really just need to disappear for a while and deal with it.  After all, it’s not as though I’ve never reemerged.  I always come back.

Today, two (or has it been three?) weeks later, I emerged.  I woke up and told myself that I was going to all of my classes no matter what.  I told myself that it was going to be a productive, social day.  I pushed myself out of bed, forced actual clothes onto my body, and shoved myself onto the bus; I was at school.

Now, I understand that I may not have been as communicative as I could have been.  I’m bad at talking about my own problems, or really anything that isn’t done via writing.  I also don’t like talking to people verbally who know anything about my communicative issues, because if it’s something they’re not going to like they always use my inability to communicate verbally on the spot against me.  So I write everything, I plan out difficult conversations with a list of points to address, or I simply write it down and give that to them.  I think I’ve developed a bit of a handicap by doing this, but it’s difficult to practice tough conversations beforehand so I don’t know how to improve this.

I had to go to the class we share together.  I almost talked myself out of it.  I went.

In this class, I have a close friend who almost made me cry when, upon seeing me, she gave me a huge hug, told me how much she missed me, and instructed me to sit next to her and tell me about the past couple of weeks.  So I did.  Fifteen minutes later, the probably-ex-girlfriend walked in, but I didnt’ see her at first.  All I know is that in the middle of the conversation she interrupted us to say, as sarcastically as she could manage, “It’s good to see that you’re still alive.”

Have I mentioned that I’m A.D.D., and that I’m bad at on-the-spot conversations and interactions?

My friend was still talking.  I managed an “Oh, hi!” to the probably-ex, turned my head as my friend kept talking (trying not to lose the thread of the conversation), and when I turned back, to let her know I hadn’t forgotten about/was not ignoring her, my probably-ex was already walking away – not my best moment.  I let her go; I was too distracted to think through it properly.

Then during a class that I really didn’t want to be sitting in, I started thinking.  I thought, wait a minute!  Granted, I never responded to her last text message, and it’s always possible that there’s a voice mail on my phone from her to which I have yet to listen.  She did not, however, send any messages to see what was going on with me.  She did not take into account the deep depression, which I did warn her about when it started.  She ignored the fact that I had mentioned I could not endure the company of others in that state, at-fucking-all.  She did not try to find out if I was better, or if I even received her messages.  She has also gone months without listening to her voice mails, missing several I have left her.  She’s ignored or forgotten about or simply not responded to texts I’ve sent her, as well as emails.  So, as an opening statement, I found her response today to be completely out of line, and really rather annoying.  That’s rich coming from you (we’re taking a Shakespeare class together… I’m allowed one cliche).

So I left class without saying anything to her, knowing that, annoyed as I was, anything that came out of my mouth was likely to be far too blunt and/or unkind.  I don’t think she deserves for me to be unkind to her, so I walked away.

I think she assumed my walking away was a kind of unkindness, in and of itself.  It could be perceived as such.  It could be.

The thing is: I’m so tired of people pushing me into doing something they want me to do without considering my feelings on the matter, and then getting all upset about something I finally do to stand up for myself.  It’s not my fault that I felt pushed into a corner, and trapped into a relationship with someone.  It’s not my fault that I need a bit more time, and perhaps some real moments to feel as though I’m close to someone new.  In fact, I feel as though that is how most people who live in reality feel about being in personal situations, with very few exceptions.

Why should I just automatically trust you when you went behind my back to create this situation, in the first place?  Why should I take your feelings into account now, when you didn’t bother to consider mine in the beginning?

I’m being blunt now, and that’s something on which I need to work, I know.  However, I think that it’s best if I work on it alone, without someone who’s trying to fit me into their fantasy world without bothering to considering the reality in which I live.  Relationships are mutual.  You cannot make someone live in your fantasy without considering theirs, and you cannot force someone to feel a certain way about you without earning at least some part of it.  Maybe, I just exist too much in reality?  And, maybe, irony is just really overrated.

On Assumed Intimacy & Other Relationship Lies

I’m beginning to think that all my relationships (barring those with some family members and one or two friends) have been with people who see some idealized version of me, and assume that’s the person with whom they’re in a relationship.  They don’t see or want to see the real me, and when they can no longer ignore her that’s when they’re disappointed or annoyed.  These individuals try to force me into being someone I’m not, becoming surprised and/or angry when I refuse to bow down to their mental image of ‘the perfect (girl)friend.’

To add to this, in this new city in which I now live the trend is to assume an unearned level of intimacy; a trend that I cannot understand.  Why would anyone want to pretend with another person, who has not yet actually proven they can be trustworthy, that they have shared experiences that have not been shared?  It makes no sense to me.  You cannot tell someone that the two of you ‘are really close’ when all you’ve done is share a few weeks’ worth of conversations.  That is not intimacy, it is a budding friendship – relationship, if you will.  Even sex is not enough to achieve intimacy, though it is mistakenly believed to be enough by many people.

Assuming that you’re at a greater level of intimacy with someone with whom you’re not is a shortcut that can only be pretended.  With all this fabrication going on how can anyone maintain a relationship?

This is the real reason why marriages fail – constant assumptions, miscommunications, fantasizing, and expectations of instantaneous fixes to any problems.  Until people can accept other people for who they really are this institution will continue to fall and these relationships will continue to fail.  I, for one, am fed to bursting with the idea that someone can just tell me how intimate we have become, or how I should behave in our relationship.  Your fantasies hold no sway over my mind or my actions.

Thanks for reading my relationship rant, and have a lovely day.