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amazing tales from the abyss

March 26, 2014

I have been off Twitter for 70 hours, and I thought I was home free, but now I’m feeling so twitchy that I’ve eaten three sugary things in a row. Since I’ve essentially gone cold turkey on all of my (behavioral) addictions at once, self-soothing . . . is going to be kind of tricky. Maybe writing will help.

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Despite changing my names, twice; despite a penchant for burning bridges; despite a history in which “reconnecting with old friends” has tended to be an unmitigated disaster . . . some small part of me has managed to cling to an illusion that . . . someday . . . someone I used to like / love /crush on / admire from afar will “come looking for me”. So I will need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, so they can find me.

This has never once happened.

This is not ever going to happen.

But if it did happen? I have to guess I would be . . . disappointed in how the other person(s) turned out.

See, the whole point of the dream is that the other person is as amazing as I am, and therefore we “deserve” each other.
This dream . . . isn’t really about other people. It’s about me. (I guess I’m a narcissist. But at least I’m aware of it. Maybe this is my normal developmental phase, just delayed by 40 years or so. Maybe I’ll outgrow it eventually.)

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Earlier today, I was reading about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, when I remembered someone I went to school with a guy who became a college basketball coach. I Googled him, read about him, then Googled one of his brothers. If I found the correct person with his brother’s name, the brother is a lawyer. They were both pretty good looking as kids, but as 40-something men, they’re conventionally-ordinary-looking. If I somehow ran into them somewhere, I can’t imagine what we’d talk about.

To be fair, if I ran into anybody I went to school with, ever, I can’t imagine what we’d talk about.

Since I’m being honest about being a narcissist, I’m gonna go whole hog and admit . . . I just don’t find a lot of other people very interesting to talk to. When I tried to get to know better the one woman I really liked at my volunteering place last spring, I first complimented her on her rain boots, which were brightly-colored, with a pretty pattern. In turn, I heard all about her daughter’s horse farm (which she bought the boots to walk around in). Much later, I asked her about a recent vacation she’d taken; I heard all about her sister’s recent heart attack, and how her sister wasn’t doing very well.

I’ve asked other people how they’re doing, and have heard about their jobs, their annoying coworkers, their kids’ accomplishments, their parents’ health concerns.

Does anybody in this world know what their own feelings are? What experiences of their own make for interesting sharing with others?

Apparently these are questions that are of no interest to anyone but me.

I don’t actually care about every single problem experienced by every single human being on this planet. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to do that. Even if I could find the bandwidth, that’s not how I would use it. (I refuse to say, That probably makes me a Bad Person, but oh, the compulsion is strong! Mrs. Nocerino is in fighting form tonight.)

I care about the people I care about . . . because they are distinct individuals. Not because they are interchangeable with their coworkers (whom I’m never going to meet), their spouses (whom I usually have no relationship with, and may not have even met), their kids (whom I wouldn’t recognize), their parents, etc., etc.

Where are the people that recognize their own amazingness, and own it? I don’t know.

Who am I to think that I belong in “amazing” company? I haven’t written any books. (Yet.) My proudest accomplishments are projects no one else probably remembers, never mind cares about. I’m a conceptual artist who . . . hasn’t done much of anything that’s tangible, that I could show people. Well, outside of paintings, various ceramic pieces and tiles, mixed-media collages, drawings, tapestries, a few quilt experiments, beaded jewelry, an art exhibit catalog that I designed, garments I made, photo sessions I styled, 30,000 or so photographs, 50+ poems, the 9-foot scarf I’m still knitting, the 310,000 words I’ve written on this blog… But, maybe I’m not good at any of those things. Possibly. (Still shows a range, having tried all those things, doesn’t it?)

I would agree I’m not good at making music on guitar or recorder, singing for an audience, ballet, giving speeches, ice skating, tennis, bowling, yoga. I don’t know if I can act, or not, as I never got any feedback on my performances.

Once upon a time, I performed decently well at high jumping, swimming competitively, archery, roller skating, and downhill skiing. I’ve dreamed in both Spanish (took it in high school) and Latin (college). I used to be an excellent baker, and cake decorator. I have a dab hand at flower arranging. I competed in my K–8 school spelling bee three consecutive years, and won it in 8th grade. In my 30s, I graduated from college magna cum laude, and was named my department’s Outstanding Graduate of that year. (I paid my own way through 15 part-time years of college. No loans.)

Before I started my book fast, I know I’ve read at least 1,212 books since sometime in 2010.

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It’s easier to admit that I’m a narcissist than it is to publicly assert that, just perhaps, I might “deserve” a label of “amazing”. Despite not being famous, having no friends, being no one’s parent or grandparent, not being a role model and apparently never having been anyone’s “secret crush”, not being beautiful, never holding a prestigious job, never earning more than $39,000 a year (and the last 2 years I worked, I earned < $15,000 combined).

I don’t really know where to go with this. Yay, go me?!?

Okay, this started out because I feel . . . cheated? . . . since no one “amazing” ever comes looking for me. But, in fact, the issue isn’t what other people do or don’t do, it’s somehow my issue. The obvious answer is I’m looking for my selves to come looking for me? But they’re right here, aren’t they? Why would I need to go looking for them, or have them come looking for me? (How could they “come looking for me” when, presumably, they exist inside of me already?)

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Just when I think I must surely have reached the end of layers of self-loathing, I stumble across another one. If I can recognize “amazing” in other people, which likely means the “amazing” I’m responding to in other people corresponds to my own “amazing”, I should be able to “own” the amazingness. Except that I actually feel like I can’t do that . . . because then people won’t like me! Um, people don’t like me now? Being self-effacing (out of self-loathing, not genuine humility) has not made me broadly likable. I don’t think anything, short of perhaps a lobotomy / personality transplant, could possibly make me broadly likable. I don’t think I even want to be broadly likable.

Why is this a sticking point?

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If my narcissism is in fact the developmental phase that naturally occurs in human beings around age 6 or so, but mine either got hung up, regressed, or just didn’t proceed normally, could that mean that my current inability to care about stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with me . . . is also a phase that I might grow out of? I thought it was more a function of ADD brain / neurodiversity. It’s also . . . rather useful (albeit socially awkward) since, after all, emotional energy is a limited resource. If I could be converted into someone who could care about everything, how would I know what was important, to me personally?

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Some part of me wants me to point out that trying to walk my way through these threads of thought is “ridiculously self-indulgent”, and no one is going to want to read this! A different part of me wants me to answer that with “I/we are writing this for our own benefit. If someone else starts reading it, and doesn’t like it, they can stop reading it. So where’s the problem?”

A third part of me says, why are we writing this as a blog post, rather than as a private journal entry? Well, main-me answers, writing my blog is my ongoing series of conversations with the universe. In which I pull no punches: I don’t lie to myself, no matter how difficult revelations turn out to be. And this is a way of honoring both my process, and the me(s) who are doing the process. I’m learning to listen to my selves, and to treat them like people, which seems to require not hiding them away where no one else even knows they exist.

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I keep blanking out, forgetting what I’m writing about. Which only happens when the parts of me that don’t want us to write about something are in charge.

This is really scary and hard. I’ve been writing this blog post for three hours.

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Say CS, KBH, TK, OO, KH, KJ, etc., etc., did, somehow, come looking for me, and found me. Then what? 5 of these 6 people are men. I bet that’s not coincidental. Because when I’ve dreamed about “amazing” people, they are either clearly men, or they’re no gender. Around the time I turned 40, I dreamed about certain ones so often that I gave them names. And I still remember their names, which were (deliberately) ungendered, but clearly had (what I call) “Ariesian” / “teenage boy” energy. The one I named Chrysalis (who went by something that sounded like Chris in the dream) was a polymath genius well beyond the level of anyone I’ve met in waking life. My dream self was enraptured by his charisma and marvel-ness. Micantis was exuberant, playful, and brilliant; Dainius, a gifted poet.

Of the real people designated by initials above, I was at least nominally friends with four of them; close friends with three — I had crushes on all of them at least part of the time we knew each other. So, if any of my three old friends came back into my life, I might feel . . . unworthy of their regard because of the reversals in my fortune since 2008 . . . but we loved each other once, and in most cases, I was a lot worse off (in some ways) when they knew me. So we could probably enjoy each other’s company.

But when I think of the dream-“amazing” people… what could people like that see in me? I’m nobody.

And now my brain has stuttered to a stop.

(But I’ve been off Twitter for > 74 hours.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2014 22:25

    It’s actually really reassuring for me to read your blog because I know that someone else out there in these wide worlds think hard about their emotions, patterns, and processes. I’m very introspective and occasionally feel very lost when I realize how much many folk out there are not.

    “I’m learning to listen to my selves, and to treat them like people, which seems to require not hiding them away where no one else even knows they exist.”
    This hit home with me. I think my girl-self/dead-self needs listening to. By the way, I am having a funeral for her on my birthday next week! I’ll probably blog about it beforehand and blog again once it is done.

    • March 27, 2014 00:20

      Yeah, that’s another reason why I post this kind of stuff – in case someone reading feels like they’re the only “weirdo” who thinks about this kind of stuff.

      I’ll be interested in reading about your birthday stories!

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