I am almost positive everyone has had those awkward moments where you’re home alone, not thinking about much and WHAM! you remember something from when you were in middle school that is so embarrassing, you physically get uncomfortable. Maybe it was high school, college, or two weeks ago and you’re remembering just a moment where you were so incredibly awkward that your heart squeezes and your stomach tightens. Well let’s just say that’s been my last two weeks. And it’s been a mess…
Truth be told, I am incredibly awkward. Simple conversations make me sweat and social interactions are a grand affair for me. Believe me when I spend more time obsessing over what I am saying than you when we are talking. Every-single-time, I pep talk myself before I leave to go to a social situation. I tell myself “do not talk, just stay quiet this time” or “do not provide an anecdote, not every conversation requires you to commiserate.” Honestly, this is my pep talk every morning before I go anywhere and yet, without fail, I do it any-damn-way.
It’s not a seasonal thing, it’s a permanent state of being for me.
However the past two weeks have gotten beyond the simple “why did you say that?” and escalated to more of a self-esteem issue. Listen, I never thought I’d be an adult and still obsessing over things I can’t fix or make better. I didn’t even think I’d be this stuck in believing I am still not quite good enough.
So, where did it stem from?
I have always had a knack for being the woman that men have, at some point, come back and apologized to for their behavior previously. In Amanda Lovelace’s “To Make Monsters Out of Girls,” there is a poem called “-My Open Door” and it’s about allowing monsters (men and maybe women) keep the door cracked on you. They threaten to leave you – or do – and they don’t quite shut the door on you or the “us” feelings. To be honest, some relationships (friendship, romantic, sexual, or otherwise) just slowly unravel and kind of fade off. That’s not what this is talking about.
Truth be told, I used to think I was really good at slamming doors. I’d make myself entirely ridiculous that they’d leave me behind. This is not to say I did it on purpose, but people have a funny way of making you into the person they want you to be to them when you’re weak enough to believe you need them more than you need yourself. That, my friends, is my biggest problem. Anyway, if anything the past two weeks proved to me I haven’t done a really good of closing the doors and it’s almost solely based on fear.
The biggest fear was thinking how so much less I truly am/are/was (? one of these). How many people did I let in and make me the bad guy? How many people did I let convince me that I was just a flat rock in their path across their streams? How easy did I make it for them to treat me like their call girl, their back up friend, or their Uber before there was one (and I certainly didn’t get paid)? I even stopped writing this blog for ten minutes while I looked up people on my social medias who made me feel like crap. This is just sad – so where am I going with this?
It is tremendously difficult to close a door you don’t know you’ve left open. If you’re someone like me – you have a hard time being mean to those people when they sneak back in, even if all they’re saying is “hope you’re doing well” or “I like this pic!” You have a hard time facing those people when you see them out in public. You become hyperaware of every moment you wasted hoping they’d give you more, you’d be more to them and they didn’t and they take those moments to reach out for whatever reason they do. And truthfully, it’s probably because they can sense you’ve left them a little sliver of light on the other side of the door. They probably don’t even realize how you feel – I’m not entirely sure if that’s my fault for not being brave enough to say something or their own naive state of mind.
Most of the time I just ignore the messages, I pretend I never saw them but it doesn’t stop the onslaught of feelings of not good enough. Whys and what-ifs plague my thoughts and for days I ride the wave anxiety causes.
The best you or I can do is to realize in those moments, the door was cracked and do your best to shut them. It’s not a slam, some doors close and lights just go out quietly, without much sound. People who want to make an effort, who want to be within your space and respect that the things they did are done, will acknowledge it. They don’t have to apologize forever, but they know when they’re pushing an uncomfortable line.
And if you happen to be one of those people to someone else or have someone doing that to you (hell, if you know you’re that person to me), maybe figure out how you want to continue. Not everyone is meant to be your friend forever and you don’t have to continue to try for something your’e not truly invested in. But it’s ok to acknowledge when you were wrong. We’re all a mess, after all….
The least we can do is be nice to ourselves.