“[P]eople like him make me feel like a screw-up, even if they don’t mean to at all and it’s just me projecting my insecurities on to someone completely innocent.” (Bryony Gordon)
Anger. Hate. Disgust. Pain. Mocking. Dismissal.
I’ll be absolutely fine, my usual self, and then I’ll read something innocent and be instantly transported one step away from absolutely seeing red.
Things that are said to me/about me that should hurt me never really seem to, because I’ve always been empathetic towards other people. I know that the anger being pushed in my direction isn’t truly at me, so I don’t take it personally. (Unless I’m having an episode, but even then the rational part of my mind that I eventually stop ignoring screams YOU’RE ABOVE THIS WHY ARE YOU RISING TO THIS)
The particular event that got me going this time around was a small thing I read this morning that was along the lines of, “I can’t wait to write my dissertation, I’ve got such a good idea for it.”
Probably what my face looks like when I get angry at “I made an amazing cabbage soup”.
That wound me up. I instantly put up the curtains. And I was angry at myself for getting angry at such an innocent thing. I went to the shower, practised deep breaths, and focused. Why, I thought, is something like this enough to make me livid? It took around 15 minutes of solid thinking, of examination, before I came to the only logical answer I could. (One of the illogical answers, by the way, was that I was rightfully angry at the writer was showing off. There’s a million things wrong with saying something like that which I won’t get into here, but I’m sure if you’re reading this you can understand.)
I’ve been repressing my emotions for a while, basically. I suppose all this time I’ve been ashamed to admit it to myself even though It’s something we all feel as humans. I am a repulsively jealous person. The real kicker with an emotion like jealousy is that, because I am so ashamed to admit to myself that I’m jealous, I make excuses and cover it up with something else.
I am repulsively jealous whenever the notion passes through my mind that somebody else might be having a more fulfilling life than me.
And the anger I feel? I know now it’s not really at that person or that group of people etc… it’s at myself. I’m angry at myself for not being in the position where I can say, for example, that I’m excited for my dissertation and that I’ve got an amazing idea for it.
And I hate feeling this way, but it’s so hard to stop. I know that one method of extracting this rotting tooth is to stop treating absolutely everything like a competition, but that’s so much easier said than done, especially when I’ve been taught to do so by society my whole life.
An angry jealous little ball of thought
People show off or lie or stunt or seek validation through a variety of ways when they’re feeling insecure. Or perhaps, the fact that this person knows what they’re writing for their dissertation filled them with such excitement and happiness that they couldn’t help but share the fact with as many people as they could, expecting everyone else to be happy. Or something else like that. The rational part of me understands. It’s the goblin side of me that takes “I can’t wait to write my dissertation, I’ve got such a good idea for it,” as a personal attack. Goblin Elsa thinks, how DARE you not consider my feelings. How dare you write this innocent thing that you’re thinking about for your own satisfaction. Did you not even consider that it would make ME, who should be the most important person in your life no matter how much we’ve spoken, panic about my own dissertation? I HATE YOU. YOU’RE SO SELFISH. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW OFF ABOUT HOW THOUGHT OUT AND TOGETHER YOUR LIFE IS AND LAUGH AT LITTLE OLD ME WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE’S DOING.
I know how totally irrational that is. I’m finding ways to change this weird goblin jealousy thing I’ve got going on. Because life isn’t a competition, but a level playing field, where we all stand equally and share the gift of growth by reflecting ideas and exchanging experiences. I know this, but it’s so easy to fall back into the trap of self-destructive attitudes and behaviours, especially when grades are a competition and scholarships are a competition and awards are a competition and jobs are a competition. When you spend the first decades of your life at school, an environment that can attack a delicate mind, you can be put pretty firmly into competition mode for everything when you’re just… tired and doing the best you can.
I’m currently in the process of ungluing myself from that permanently alerted state of mind and when I manage to do so, I never, ever want to return to that way of thinking. Everything is good in moderation, including competition, but I don’t think me and moderation are very good friends.
Old habits die hard and new habits grow slowly. I promise to keep doing my best.