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the way that ice means you can't touch me

December 17, 2003

there is too much to tell and not enough hours to sleep all the sleep that wants to be slept. words or sleep. words for now, then sleep, because in the morning the words will not be the same and i want them as they are now.

so then.

tonight a good friend taught me something about myself. i learned about how i react when i am let down by someone that i care about. i turn cold, i freeze and glaze and i crawl inside myself and it isn't about punishing and it isn't even about angry. it is fundamentally about being so afraid that when someone lets me down it is because they don't want to be my friend anymore, like maybe they saw through whatever it was that they mistook for beautiful or interesting or worthwhile. all just below the surface of my rational mind which can say "no no, they do love you and you do deserve it of course" but the rational mind cannot hold such dialog with the subrational. the subrational says they regret whatever time and energy they have spent on you. it says they have better things to do. of course they have better things to do than to worry about you.

"is it a self worth issue?" she asked. the answer is yes. a learned self worth issue.

i was screamed at as a child, not often but when it came it was horrible. told in these precise words that nobody would ever love me because of this or that, i mean from the tiniest age told that i am not enough and i can either change or get used to being unloveable. i mean yeah poor poor me, blah blah, lots of people had it worse and i am past it and all that is okay now. but it still lives inside part of me that because i could not (would not) change or fix these things about me that everyone i love will leave. sooner or later they will leave me. when they really can see me they will go.

so i go along fine, open and honest and self aware, and then someone lets me down, they forget to call or they forget we made plans or whatever it is. and it is so fucking scary, like "okay here we go, here comes the end." like one way and inevitable and now we will never be the same. and i crawl into a small safe space inside myself that i carved out as a small child.

when my mother would yell and rage and despise i would hide inside myself and sometimes she would catch me humming to myself, or just saying words to myself, subvocalizing, pieces of stories. and she would be so angry. "listen to me, damnit! shut up and listen!" inside was safe and if i could seem cold and impassive then i could be protected and not hurt. let it wash past and then wait until it was safe to come out. not showing any emotion, any reaction, it was powerful and it was in control.

and never before tonight have i considered that i still have that tendency now. that i still use it. and how it might seem to the people who have to bear it. and i am so sorry about that, not sorry to anyone necessarily or for anyone, and not that none of my hurt feelings were warranted. they were. but sorry that i could never see it maybe. could never understand. fear and withdrawal are just remnants of a security system that was necessary for a small child. but not necessary anymore.

time for unlearning.