My Brain on People.

2015-07-29_134332This weekend I learned that I’m an introvert. Long time readers will say “Well, duh! This is not news to anyone, least of all you!” and they would be right. This weekend I felt extra introverty (It is too, a word).

I was at a lifestyle event attended by hundreds of people. I can be ok with that. I have been ok with that in the past. I stand, mostly silent, by the people I’m with, ducking my head to discreetly close my eyes if I need a visual breather and, as the kids say, it’s all good. The way this particular venue is set up, that style of “I’ll just stand here and look cute” coping mechanism doesn’t work. One has to be and do around seemingly endless chaotic stuff. There is so much seeing and doing. That’s just how it is.

Now, I’m a pretty decent actress. In a group, I can pretend that being bubbly and friendly is effortless. I can even manage to be funny on occasion. I can do it and it’s extraordinarily draining as well as extremely stressful. It’s like being the only one without a script performing in a play. Everyone else seems to know what’s going on – where to stand, what to say, what actions to perform – while I flounder around, completely lost, trying desperately to seem in the know, hoping I don’t embarrass myself or worse, my family. I hear there are people who have nightmares about being naked in public. I have nightmares about not having a script. Truth.

Nearly all of my time was spent chatting or doing for extended periods of time, and often into the wee hours. As is usually the case when one is at an event, there was no chance for quiet, opportunities for sleep were very few and, even when in bed, sleep just didn’t happen. It took more and more to recharge and tiny amounts of recharging were less and less effective each time.

After a couple of days of this, I had marshmallow brain. Professional students will understand what this is. This is how you feel at the close of the semester when all you’ve done, for days on end, is cram for exams, eating crap food and consuming tons of caffeine. Your body craves sleep but you can’t sleep because all of the information you’ve crammed into your brain is smashing into itself like a bunch of coked up psychos in a hyperactive mosh pit. When someone speaks to you, the first few words are missed. You can see their lips moving but cannot register anything they’re saying. Even when you hear words, they often come through as a twisted form of English. “Sock grass nickle frown, know what I mean?”

That’s exactly how it was for me this weekend. Repeating over and over again “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you” and “I don’t understand” ad nauseam. As the weekend wore on, the repetition became less and less helpful as fatigue stacked the deck against me. I don’t imagine I was much fun to be with as my frustration with myself grew to epic levels in direct proportion to the decline of my ability to be of any use to anyone. (Congratulations! You’ve unlocked a new achievement! Epic Stupidity: Level 500! A bunch of broccoli would function more effectively as a brain! Find a chair and sit in it because that’s all you’re good for.)

It was a great opportunity that I was/am enormously grateful for AND I feel like I ruined it utterly. I’m still beating myself up about it and, yes, I likely will be for a very long time.

Demons of Doubt

Because I am not worth the time
Because I am not worth the effort
Because I am not worthy of Him
Because I am a white elephant
Because the best service of which I am capable is an absurd parody of what anyone else can do effortlessly
Because He is rehearsing for life without me
Because I am weak
Because my brain is worthless
Because my best is not, nor will ever, even approach being good enough
Because Yes, I am that fucking stupid
Because I worry. About everything. All the time.
Because I am a pain in the ass
Because proximity and convenience are exceedingly more important than anything I offer
Because there isn’t a single thing about me that is special and cannot be easily replaced
Because if I have any hope of remembering, it is in asking why
Because I am not universally welcome there
Because I am incapable
Because I cannot accept compliments with grace
Because I internalize
Because if I’m going to remember something that was said you can be sure it will be negative.
Because He is tired of me
Because starting from square one with someone else is still easier than dealing with me
Because I am not enough
Because if there is a way to assign blame/guilt to myself I will find it, no matter how twisted the logic, usually with very little effort
Because there is nothing I do that cannot be done better, more efficiently, and without discussion by someone else just down the road who will not forget in ten minutes
Because I have more baggage than a transcontinental air bus
Because I have zero self confidence
Because I believe compliments are almost always little white lies people tell in an effort to make me feel good
Because I have no trouble believing that insults, spoken in the heat of the moment, are the cold, hard, unvarnished truth revealed when anger obliterates the filter of kindness
Because I cannot understand what anyone sees in me
Because He has grown weary trying to show me
Because I expect the worst
Because familiarity breeds contempt and I am contemptible
Because we have talked about [insert thing] multiple times and I don’t remember any of it
Because writing down absolutely everything is impossible
Because He has to look for reasons to endure having me in His life
Because I will only remember how I feel
Because the effort:return ratio is abysmal
Because I get headaches
Because I have arthritis
Because I’m only going to get older
Because I am fallible
Because my only consistency is failure
Because He has finally seen me the way I see myself

Kintsugi

The woman stood under the spray of the shower, lost in thought, while steam filled the room. She had planned on having a solo dance party, as she so often did when happy. Alas, a segment of the morning’s conversation looped through her mind, the bump and grind rhythm of Madonna all but unheard in the background.

He had expected her to cry when he said it: the thing about not being a slave, about not being able to be a slave because of who she is, because of her home life. He was correct in this expectation. A short time ago, in the relative timeline of their relationship, she would have cried, insisting that of course she could, that she would try harder, that she could live up to that title – and that is how she had once thought about the word slave, that it was a title. Instead, she lifted her left shoulder in an almost imperceptible shrug, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a slave This is not news … And? she thought, while the conversation moved on to other things.

In the shower, some hours later, she was contemplative. When did this change? When did slave become just another word? When did it lose its title status? When did she decide it is of no importance what she is called? When did this happen? When did she stop torturing herself, trying to live up to that impossible ideal? When?

She stood exploring the possibilities and, just as the water ran cold, she realized it – The day His collar was removed, she heard, and understood, she wasn’t good enough. The crystal clarity and accuracy of this thought was so powerful that it should have stolen her breath, caused her to stand stock still with shock, a hand on the cold tiles while she regained her equilibrium … something … anything. Instead, there was that same lift of the shoulder and Of course. Of course, that’s when it was.

That day destroyed everything she believed she had become, destroyed the idea of what she thought she was to Him, destroyed her identity, destroyed the small amount of confidence she had managed to gather, destroyed the germ of the idea that perhaps she was worthy.

In the aftermath, she was able to pick up the shards of some of those things. She glued them back together imperfectly. Gaps, where slivers that had been completely obliterated should have been, an agonizing illustration of the parts she could not restore. She pretends she is a piece of Kintsugi, though she fears the reality is that she is held together with passed-its-expiration-date white glue that will surely fail under the most insignificant pressure, leaving her in fragments once again. She doesn’t know what she will do if that happens. It took her so very long to reassemble even this admittedly shabby approximation of what she had been.

Many fragments were left on the ground to be crushed underfoot, waiting to be pulverized into unrecognizable powder, as if they had never existed. Being worthy of anything, finding pride in providing the best service of which she is capable, proving unquestionably to her community that she is who she says she is, having her best efforts lauded. She understands that the only place these things ever truly existed was in her mind, no one else’s, hers alone. These are the things that were left to return to dust. She no longer speaks of them, refusing to engage if any one of them comes up in conversation. Fully grasping now that they had never been real, she will not be seduced into believing again.

Slave is just a word. A meaningless arrangement of letters with which some choose to label themselves or, perhaps, their dynamic. It is not something to aspire to. It is not something remotely attainable. She moves through her days applying herself to her service with the same level of dedication that she always has. Serving Him to the best of her ability, knowing she cannot be proud of her service. It is not good enough. It never was. It never will be. It cannot be. She will always forget. She will always need to think things through. It will always take at least twice as long for her as it does everyone else. She will always be horribly inefficient. She will always miss at least a beat when frightened.

She wishes she could become an unthinking being, obeying perfectly, without error, and without thought or hesitation. She knows that, too, is unattainable.

 

The Swimmer and The Lifeguard

It is as if a marathon swimmer narrowly escaped drowning immediately after a near fatal shark attack. The Swimmer, who so once loved the water, can now barely stand a whisper of the idea that she might, perhaps, at some point, get the tip of one toe damp while standing safely on the shore.

The Swimmer always loved the water. Always. Always wanted the buoyancy. The sparkle of the sun on the waves. The communing with sea life. The working of muscles against the resistance of the current. The burning in her lungs as she pushed the limit of her physical endurance. When The Swimmer was not in the water, she thought about being in the water. She longed for it. She pined for it. She counted the days until the next time.

Maybe next time, if everything was perfect, she could spend an entire day swimming instead of just a couple of hours. She imagined how grand it would be to never have to come out of the water. Wouldn’t that be something?, The Swimmer thought, I could live with the fish, as a fish. Never to return to dry land. Surely, if I just try hard enough … maybe with just a bit more training … maybe then …

Then the thing happened. It was so much worse for being beyond The Swimmer’s control – for the lack of causality in spite of repeated examination. Mercifully, most of the memory of it has been banished to The Hall of Lost Memories. The Swimmer is pretty sure this is a good thing. Mostly sure. The Swimmer wants to believe this is for the best. The Swimmer also has a nagging voice that says perhaps the key to getting back in the water lies in The Hall of Lost Memories.

The Swimmer sits, swim suit in hand, toes buried in the sand, watching the water, trying to recall the joy. She sits next to her personal Lifeguard, close enough to feel the Lifeguard’s body heat. This is the very same Lifeguard that pulled The Swimmer from the water that horrible day. Though much is lost to The Swimmer, she remembers clearly, being held in the aftermath, with a gentleness that belies The Lifeguard’s strength and size. How The Lifeguard called for assistance and there were two holding The Swimmer. The Swimmer recalls this living fortress. Feeling completely safe while she recovered.

The Swimmer logically understands that it is statistically unlikely that the shark will be there when she braves the water once again. Logically, she does understand that. Logic does not slow her pounding heart when she smells the water. Logic does not regulate The Swimmer’s breathing when she closes her eyes and tries to imagine being submerged in the place she once loved more than any other.

The Swimmer understands that staying on the shore will not bring back her love of the ocean. The Swimmer pulls out her suit every night, pressing it to her face, inhaling the faint scent of salt that no longer washes out, wanting desperately to have the increased heart rate be due to anticipation instead of terror. Wishing it were so.

The Swimmer knows unshakably that, on her return to the ocean, The Lifeguard will be there. He will keep The Swimmer safe as He always has. The Swimmer knows if The Lifeguard had seen the shark coming it never would have happened. The Swimmer knows there is no way to predict the return of the shark.

The Swimmer knows there is no benefit in going back to swim class at the local Y. The Swimmer knows there will be no time spent in the shallow end of the pool. The Swimmer knows she must jump off the pier. She must close her eyes, hold her nose, and jump feet first.

The Swimmer knows all of this. The Swimmer understands. What The Swimmer does not know, what The Swimmer cannot begin to imagine, is how she will ever find the courage to simply stand on the pier … much less jump off it.

Prompt Stress

Prompt: 10 things that really stress me out are…

  • Being among many people – even if I have met the majority of them prior to the occasion – even if all those I know are perfectly nice people
  • Rush hour traffic – the accident that caused my TBI was during morning rush hour.
  • Being a front seat passenger – stress in this situation is amplified if I don’t know the driver extremely well
  • Entertaining in my home – I strongly dislike anyone outside my immediate family unit in my personal space. When social obligations require others to be in my home it can stress me to the breaking point.
  • Being in environments that cause my routine to be disrupted – I am a creature of habit, nearly to the point of ritual. This is born of memory issues. If I do it (whatever “it” is) the same way every single time it is far less likely anything will be forgotten.
  • Not getting adequate sleep – This is two-fold: My already poor memory becomes significantly worse if I am not rested AND my thinking becomes fuzzy. I do not remember instructions that include multiple steps (usually more than two). I will often forget what I’m doing, even if it’s obvious. I have had the experience of holding my toothbrush in my hand and not remembering what to do with it. Disconcerting to say the least.
  • Grocery shopping – Too many people and the probability of forgetting things. Yes, even if they are on the list. Yes, even when I check the list. No, I don’t understand how it happens.
  • Any situation in which I will be judged for any reason.
  • Attending social functions alone – by necessity I have learned to cope with this and have improved a bit in the last year or so. I am still stressed as much as before. I’ve learned to hide it and function from a slightly less angsty place.
  • Being watched – In any situation other than a well rehearsed performance, I find this extremely difficult to tolerate. Any one, any where, any time. I’m not even comfortable watching myself. I spend as little time in front of the mirror as possible. The only exception to this is in the dressing room when the entire cast is shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the mirror. Somehow that makes it acceptable.

……………………………………………………………………………..
Today I am grateful for: Living with two males who are smart enough to feel the “Leave me the fuck alone” vibe and who are also smart enough to do it.
Today’s funny moment: n/a
Sad moment: going over December’s schedule
Protocol: n/a
Water: 4 liters
Corset:24″ am, 23″pm
Hood: I worked with the newest hood on the overnight. This hood does not cause ear pain with ear buds (for white noise) as with the kissing hood. I woke after two hours and decided to see how well seated the ear buds were and what it would take to dislodge them. They were seated relatively well however, I do not believe they will stay in place during play. Several stout tugs on the wire had them out the base of the hood which was snugly laced and tied.