Things No One Ever Told Me, Part 1
But first, Cabrogal over at Neurodrooling turned me on to this really insightful post(1) about how maybe there’s a different lens through which we could possibly view bipolar, which hooked in rather directly to a lot of other stuff D and I have been talking about a lot lately.
- Potential content warning: it deals with with the with the idea that perhaps mental illness isn’t really even the right model. Some readers might feel like this invalidates their struggle, and that is a totally okay way to feel. There was definitely a time not too long ago when I would’ve felt that way. If you’re there right now, you might want to skip this particular link for now.
Okay, moving right along.
I’ve been at this adulting thing for a while. I’m slowly getting, like, less bad at it—much more slowly, I am forced to admit, than I expected, and also more slowly in some ways than seems to be typical.
I’m pretty pretty sure that’s okay, though.
We all live in our own timelines and on our own time scales. I come from a family of people who mostly live a really long time and often seem to take a while to figure things out. I’m also pretty sure that dealing with some major trauma (or, more accurately, not dealing with it for a long time) set the clock on the process of reaching a kind of functional maturity back by ten years or so for me. For a long time, I was stuck being 14 and severely traumatized.
Yesterday I wrote a G+ post about how I’ve learned to deal with D’s dietary preferences. Backstory on this: historically, he has been pretty into Southern “comfort foods”and sweets and not at all into veggies, and since I can’t eat that way and stay healthy and I’m morally opposed to cooking two separate meals all the time, I’ve had to find a middle way.
The analogy that came to mind was that our life together isn’t a tandem bike ride; it’s just a regular bike ride. Sometimes I get up the hills faster than he does because I like climbing on the bike. That’s okay. He still gets up the hills at his own pace, and I am okay waiting for him at the top(2).
- In real life, I used to do a lot of riding ahead, then descending back to my friends, then riding ahead, until I figured out that too much of that makes you look like an annoying show-off.
Sometimes we even take a different route, either because he doesn’t feel like climbing or just for fun. That’s okay, too. At the end of the day, he rides his bike and I ride mine. I can influence the route we ride, but can’t ride his bike for him, and the funny thing is that we both enjoy the ride more when I don’t try to ride his bike for him.
Anyway, I’m slowly realizing that same analogy applies to other things, like adulting.
Maybe I’m not getting up the climbs as fast as other people—hell, tons of people my age have responsible, well-established careers—but I’m still on the road, pedaling along.
I’m way behind the group I started with because an asshole threw a stick into my spokes early on, and I had to scrape myself off the tarmac, and then I got lost for a while when looking for a shop to help me fix my wheel.
That’s okay, too. I’m back on the road now; the one I want to ride. And, honestly, if it hadn’t been for for the asshole who broke my wheel, I don’t know that I would’ve ridden my own road. Having lived through something that really shattered my whole life early on has made me both unable and unwilling to struggle through a life that doesn’t fit(3).
- No judgment implied, by the way, towards the folks out there doing exactly that. Sometimes you have to live the wrong life in order to get to the right place—just like road work happens and sometimes you have to take some crazy-ass detour to reach a treasured destination. I admire people who have the strength to do that.
Anyway, so yeah. I feel like I’m learning things now that, in retrospect, should have been obvious—things maybe other people learned way earlier.
One of them is that being a grown-ass married adult doesn’t stop you from developing intense and enduring crushes on people you admire.
Not that I subscribe to the philosophy which dictates that marriage should make you blind or you’re doing it wrong. Honestly, part of being human is admiring other people—ideally, people who are worthy of admiration, and not giant self-aggrandizing dicks. Sometimes those people will also be hot and kind and insufficiently whatever-it-is-that-prevents-crushes-for-you(4).
- For me, it’s a certain flavor of authority: I have never had a crush on a boss or an academic teacher or advisor; that feels too much like crushing on a parent. It’s like, “Squick, and also, no.”
Sometimes, you will develop an uncomfortable and enduring crush on someone with whom pursuing a relationship would be a Bad Idea For Reasons even if you were single, or if you were poly and sure they were fine with poly relationships.
Sometimes, regardless of your best efforts, you will go on crushing on said Amazing Person no matter what. It will be weird, but you’ll stick it out, because regardless of the fact that the person in question “makes (your) heart kinda flutter; makes (your) eyes kinda blur,” it it is really good to have them in your life anyway.
Nobody ever told me that, so I’m passing it along.
It is also possible that living with such a crush might sometimes be as wildly uncomfortable as, say, crushing on your best friend or lab partner or Lofty McPerfecthair was in high school.
Part of you might still desperately want to lay your absurd crush at their feet in hope of (chaste) validation; in hope that they will say, “No, if things were different, we would totally happen, and it would would be awesome because you’re amazing and also really hot.”
Part of you might desperately hope they never find out, because it would wreck you at least a little bit if they were like, “LolWut?” and a lot if they were like, “Yeah, um, this feels too weird. I’m outies,” and even more if they told
all the cool kids your peers or colleagues about you and your ridiculous crush(5).
- Which, of course, leads to the feeling best identified as, “If s/he ever finds out, I’ll never be able to set foot in the coffee shop/studio/office/chemistry lab again! I will have to move. TO ANOTHER PLANET.“
So you endure, trying to figure out how to make yourself stop having a crush, because it would totally be super weird for everyone involved if Awesome McDreamyface ever learned The Awful Truth(6).
- By the way, this is powerfully amplified by the conditions of dance and circus arts, wherein we interact at close quarters in our fancy underwear and touch each-other a lot. Perversely, these exact conditions, coupled with the inevitable admiration and hero worship involved in doing difficult things with other humans, all but guarantee that dance and cirque are first-rate Crush Incubators.
Nobody told me that, either.
Like many socially-challenged people, I’ve learned a great deal about How to Human from fiction.
In fiction, though, conflicts kind of have to resolve. Nobody(7), to my knowledge, actually writes about the poor, happily-coupled schmuck who goes on having an awkward crush and never speaking of it and not even being a total creeper about it(8).
- Maybe I should? This seems like a topic that Anne Tyler might handle well, so maybe I should just send her an anonymous note suggesting it?
- Creepers be like: “I punched him in the face because he never should have said that purple isn’t your color! He doesn’t deserve you! You deserve someone better!!!” *suffers in deafening silence* “Also I made you this scarf. I knitted it from from my own hair.” Silently, to self: …Which I have shorn, mourning the great love between us that can never be. Oh, why will you never see how much I love you?!
Come to think of it, “Making peace with yourself; learning to go on being friends happily in spite of The Most Awkward Crush,” probably is a valid resolution, so maybe I’ve just missed that book, but if it’s out there I haven’t heard of it. Maybe if I’d read more in the “Written Rom-Coms” or “Touching Stories of Friendship” genres, I’d have encountered this idea earlier.
Anyway, I’m filing this with Things That Don’t Automatigally Fix Themselves When You Turn 18 (0r 21, or when you graduate from university, or possibly ever). If I come up with a solution, I’ll let you know. If you have any suggestions,
please please please for the love of of all that is holy feel free to leave them in the comments. If you’ve had similar experiences and want to to leave those in the comments, that’s awesome too (even if you, too, are right this very moment in the throes of The Most Awkward Crush and haven’t the faintest idea how to deal).
The other one that’s grinding my gears right now is the thing about being afraid that
the other kids in your class project group your colleagues, with whom you’re working on a group project dance that you’ve choreographed, secretly would rather do something else and wish you would stop bothering them and are only working with you because your English teacher is forcing them to out of pity.
I kept feeling weird about inviting dancers to work on my piece, and then feeling weird again when trying to schedule rehearsals—like I was imposing upon them or something.
I finally figured out, as a by-product of realizing that I was afraid that no one would come if I threw a party, that I am still convinced in some level that people just kind of tolerate me because they have to, but aren’t willing to tell me.
Basically, it seems that I’m still convinced that, once people realize how much I suck, it will be just like middle and high school again. No one will want to hang out with me or participate in my projects, because I don’t really know How To Human.
I think, though, that maybe grown people—some grown people, anyway—figure out how to get along with the socially awkward weirdos of the world and how to be more comfortable with their own Inner Weirdos. And I hope that they learn to say no instead of agreeing to work on the project and then fervently hoping they really won’t have to.
So after the difficult and awkward Nobody Told Me That…,there’s this one. Nobody told me that I’d still feel just as certain of rejection now as I did in middle school. The upside of this one is that I think I know how to approach it, now.
For me, the best way to deal with something scary is to run right towards it. Sometimes I can’t yet, but I think I’m ready to run straight towards this piece of of this problem. The work I’m trying do as (I guess?) an artist isn’t going to get done any other way. It doesn’t matter how great my ideas are if they stay locked in my head as I sit here doing doing the equivalent of waiting for Prince Charming to trip over me and decide to marry me on the spot(9).
- My inner cynic is picturing Prince Charming saying,”Well, now we’re lying here on the ground together, so I guess we had better get married, because people will talk.”
Given my past and the fact that I’m both shy and still a little fragile in the self-worth department, I’m not going to say Go Out There And Grab Your Dreams By The Balls!
… Because, let’s be honest, that’s not what I’m doing at all.
Nope, instead, here’s what I’m trying, and maybe what I recommend if you’ve got big dreams and you’re afraid they’re gonna kick you in the face, hard:
Get out there use binoculars to spy on your dreams. And then when you start to get a feel for their habits, maybe get a little closer. Then a little closer still.
And then kind of follow them around, so you maybe just seem like a particularly persistent tumbleweed or some other part of of their normal environment.
And then integrate yourself into the herd of dreams, and over time get a little closer and a little closer until you’re standing around next to your dream, pretending to graze (because you definitely don’t want it to suspect anything).
And then eventually lean on your dream and later maybe skritch that one spot right behind its ears, to make friends.
And then sort of wriggle yourself up on its back a little, like you’re just another dream and just cuddling.
And then when it doesn’t even worry about that, just kinda slide up and throw a leg over, and hope that it’ll just just be just be like, “Oh, no problem.”
And then stay up there and ride.
Then if you do fall off and get kicked hard in the face, it’s 100% cool to lie there and lick your wounds for a while.
I guess what I’m saying is that, even where dreams are concerned, you’ll get up the hill when you get up the hill.
And that’s okay.
Posted on 2017/01/06, in adulting, adventures, healing, it is a silly place, life, mental health and tagged field notes on adulting, stalking your dreams, The Most Awkward Crush. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.