Friday, May 11, 2007

I am She, She is Me

It has been a process for me to realize that I am not as open as I had thought, presumed, and presented myself. It is true that I was raised to tell lies about my family, as many of us were. It is also true mine were convoluted and were not about physical abuse or running from the law. The lies were about identity, relationships, and to hide. I did tell one friend, Christine Domino who lived on Sackett Street, the truth. In retrospect I figure it was a fair trade since I watched her family crumble during our friendship. Hers was the first up close view I had of a real divorce.

When things crumbled in my family the binds where untied and my father told me I could tell anyone anything I wanted. I assume, again in retrospect that he meant about the mechanics of things not my feelings and upon further reflection I suppose it was part of his way of getting even now that his world had fallen. I did tell people, the shock value was excellent, the surprised looks were priceless as the saying goes.

Perhaps in part because of my family history I felt a desire to be an open book. In many ways I have been. If asked a question I generally answer, quite honestly I might add. A number of years ago I realized though when I answered those questions or told stories on myself that had serious content I had developed interesting walls through which truth seeped out. I rarely spoke with any emotion, it was like reading a script. I usually did not even report my emotional reaction to something, again I was a like a news correspondent offering the background story only with even less emphasis on the drama or grief than is given the most innoucous of crimes on most television stations.

It became apparent that as much I craved input, an emotional response to my sadness, that if I never expressed that or any other need I would not get it, which recreates my childhood over and over. Part of this realization is due to the internet. On the list I have been part of my posts would rarely garner a response. Even when I asked for one it was clear I that I wrote in a such a way that did not invite one. After being hit on the head with a two by four I have shifted my postings, at least a little. After being told by one after another of close, intimate friends that they don't know me, that I have these thick walls I am trying to install some windows.

For the past few months I have been battling, with growing failure, depression. Depression has been a familiar companion for decades now, since childhood really. There are times when I serenely accept the descending veil on my world, though that is more rare as I age. More times than not I rage at it, yelling at it as if I can command it back to it's figurative dog house in my psyche. I rarely can allow myself to wallow in it, to sink into it's cobweb arms as one lowers oneself into a warm bath. There are times that I think that would help and I indulge in an hour or two of such revelry to find comfort in the shadows.

Clearly TGF knew what was going on but when I finally called my BFF (ew I can't believe I just wrote that) Greg, in an absolute state of distress he said, "Gosh you have been hiding it well." There it is in a nutshell, I hadn't been really talking to even him. We email and/or call each other about weekly, he even reads this blog (though refuses to comment here!) but he was able to dismiss signs and I clearly hadn't reached out to even him. TGF says that our friend Ruth had mentioned that I seemed off. I see her 2-3 times a week when walking our dogs so my lack of upbeat dialogue was obvious I'm sure. It is also true that I might bitch to her about some stuff but I don't really talk to her about my inner world. Or much of anyone except once I'm totally passed the point of coping.

Yes, I know the tags say CSI and Lady Heather. I'm getting there, but now that I started writing the pen, as it were, took me down a slightly different road that I had in my head when I opened this page. Last night we watched CSI, the original and clearly the best, thank you very much. Because television likes to bait you, we knew that the recurring character of Lady Heather would be back much to our mutual delight. We were discussing the characters and I posited that Lady Heather would not be involved with Grissom or anyone else. I was having a hard time putting into words why but I said something like, "She's too much of a loner, and she has all these walls to keep people out." The reply I got was "That's like saying you can't be in a relationship." TGF went on to explain that Lady Heather reminds her of me. Given that she needs towels any time that actress is on screen anywhere, I said I would take that as a compliment. Beyond that, I was changing the subject, which I did.

Yeah I have some work to do. Gotta order me some windows, maybe even a door.


Jennie said...

(big, strong hug) Hard work, but good work. Bless you for doing it.

Ancrene Wiseass said...

So much of this sounds so familiar.

I think the news-anchor approach to telling people about past traumas--and the wall-building--are pretty common for those of us with depression. I have another friend who's dealing with major fallout from the same syndrome right now.

It's just that, when you've been hurt so much, you tend to build up ays of protecting yourself that you shield even yourself from noticing.

heather said...

i love that you wove in last night's CSI. i love lady heather (hot, mysterious, what's not to love?) and what a relevant episode that was.

i wish i didn't relate to so much of your post, but i do. anyway, congrats on coming out of your shell enough to get some help from your friends. it's not easy at ALL, so lots of props to you! i am sure that as long as you let them, they will help you take a sledgehammer to those walls.

Kelly said...

I, too, can really relate to the sense that I'm an open book but being told that I'm really not. I can talk to anyone about very deep, personal, painful things but only in a clinical, detached manner.

Big virtual hugs from me, Dharma. Hang in there.

dykewife said...

empathies and sympathies

depression sucks (verily in a nearly literal sense) and sucks down. like trying to find a solid place to stand in a vast morass of quicksand. allowing people into that place is, i find, difficult because so many people are happy to stand on the edge of the swamp and tell me what i'm doing wrong while the sludge oozes over my head.

so no, i don't usually let people in close enough to see where i am.

Jbeeky said...

I love "Lady Heather". And you. Hope things turn up around there.

louisiana swamp rat said...

Wow - this resonated so much with wasn't until I was diagnosed with PPD that I realized I'd actually been depressed my entire life. It explained so much - especially the feeling that I'd not been experiencing life so much as acting it - for as long as I could remember. It's only now at 44 that I'm starting to realize I can let myself really feel things without the buffer I usually put up. It's making for some good changes in my relationship with the wife.

I'm sorry you're in a bad space, just keep someone you trust close by so you have a hand to hold onto when you head down that dark path - it can get really tight and small down there, and you might need someone to pull you out. I'll be thinking of you.

wen said...

writing it out is always a good step...

and as for lady heather--i love that character!

goblinbox said...

I learned this about myself, I offer it in case it resonates with you and not because I'm at all qualified to know much about how you work.

For me, the news anchor reporting was because intellectually I had no reservations about people knowing what sorts of things had befallen me in my past. I'm not a particularly private person, and I'm not ashamed of anything so like you I'll answer nearly any question.

So my judgment wasn't against experiences, but it was against weakness. At some past date I'd determined that weakness and emotionality were linked, that I wasn't victim to my past, and that expressing with too much invested would cause people to think I was broken, damaged. And I'm not, I'm strong and capable and just fine, thank you very much.

For me, the foundation fear was that someone would see me expressing and take a snapshot, and think to themselves, "This weeping, emotional person, THIS is who she REALLY is." And I desperately wanted to avoid that, so much so that I simply didn't process things that required me to be emotional.

Why I thought that that was the worst thing in the world - that someone would see me in extreme emotion and identify me as that person - I haven't yet discovered, but it informed my way of processing for decades... and it had never occurred to me that a lot of people are actually prepared to let the people around them be dynamic, changing creatures.

I had to make space for extremes of feeling, from great joy to great despair or fear or neediness or anger, and I had to let go of that 'snap shot' fear: that I'd be captured in someone's mind as being that crying woman, or that raging woman, or that fearful woman.

On the depression front: ah, hell, I hate depression. It's hard to speak to depression, there being so many causes, so many manifestations...

My desire is to urge expression: it's always better out than in, and even if the process of getting it out is nasty-looking, it's not all of who and what you are but just a facet.