As many of you may know, yesterday was October 31st. Some cultures celebrate it as a sacred day, others don’t celebrate it at all. In my corner of the world it is celebrated as a fun, commercialized way of being in brief community with neighbors you don’t know, with children in costume knocking on doors and acceptably begging for candy, while caregivers observe from a short distance…aka Halloween. (It’s also a way for those same caregivers to get their own sugar rush when they tax the candy haul.)
Anyway, that only has passing connection to why I’m writing today.
Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. For some of us who blog, this is Nano Poblano – “the World’s Least-Official November Blog Challenge”
I won’t be writing a post a day, as I have attempted in other challenges. Instead, I’m committing to 10 posts this month. I’ll also be linking to 10 other posts this month.
Welcome to my first post of the month. Now, back to what I was writing about.
Last night I shared the requisite costume pic of my youngest, who will be 11 in a little over a month.
She looks older, huh? Sooo not ready for that.
When I woke up this morning, there were many “👍” and a few “♥️.” The last “like” was from a guy who had attended the same high school as I did. Just about the only interactions we have are reading and occasionally clicking our reaction to each other’s posts. But, he posts nice pictures of nature and other things I find mildly interesting. We reconnected at our 30 year class reunion a couple of years ago.
He may or may not remember, but, we had previously connected on FB back in 2010 or 2011, when I first joined the ‘book. It ended after a contentious interaction when the world didn’t end according to the 2012 Mayan Calendar predictions.
Depression had its hold on me and I posted some joke about being disappointed that the predictions had been wrong. He took exception to that and expressed his disagreement and disapproval.
That triggered anxiety and activated my defensiveness. I felt attacked. I was shaky and feeling threatened for no apparent reason. That was about the time another h.s. acquaintance and I got in conflict over something else, entirely.
I reactively “purged” my FB account, hoping to deactivate my hypervigilant hypersensitivity of the moment. I remember that I still felt threatened in some vague, amorphous way.
Some of that stemmed from my desire and need to be understood and accepted. However, I equated being understood with being agreed with and being accepted meant being justified and approved of. Anything else felt like I was under attack and unsafe.
I still don’t really understand the root reasons I experience anxiety around feeling rejected and not acceptable. I guess that hearkens back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with a sense of belonging being a basic need.
All I know, is that my gut clenched, my breathing got shallow, and my heart hammered when I saw the guy at our class reunion. Our online disagreement had such an impact on me. I wanted to avoid him and hide, because I was certain he would remember our interaction and be judging me by it.
Chances are he doesn’t remember that interaction. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be connected today. If he does remember, it likely doesn’t matter to him one way or the other. Regardless, the fact is that a molehill had been amplified to seem like a mountain, and, I think it’s possible that interaction will stay with me for a long time.
Part of me looks back on that time and sees the degree and type of reactivity and judges past me harshly. However, there’s a bigger part of me that understands and accepts who I was back then.
So, here’s my message to the me I used to be:
I love you. You’re not ridiculous and never were. You were living with the results of trauma. You were living without knowledge or understanding of the mental illnesses in your brain. I’m proud of you. You knew your reactions were signs you needed help and you paid attention to those signs. You had the courage to ask for help. You put in the work to change, heal and grow. You had the strength of character to own the consequences of your actions and behaviors from then and before. I’m grateful to you. You made me, me. You’re amazing. Thank you.