Biting the Hand That Feeds
This week's navel-gazing manifesto. (tl:dr version: I am a weird, bitter person. Run while you can.)
Once I've reached the point that I admit I am feeling needy, I'm nearly unreachable. Any good thing said to me at that point is only being said because I whined. It isn't real. It's false kindness offered out of courtesy, obligation, pity, annoyance, a desire to shut me up.
Is that true? Rationally I can say no. Intuitively, I can't feel otherwise. This is what early emotional damage does. The residual effect doesn't wear off. It distorts praise the way a carnival mirror warps images. It turns positives into negatives. It leaves only narrow channels of contact.
No amount of positive thinking will eradicate those scars (which is one of many reasons I dislike those who insist happy thoughts cure all ills.) The Tower of Pisa will lean. The foundation is askew. IT can be shored up, it can still be beautiful. It will never be straight.
All I can do is work around the problem as best I can. I can accept praise, even if I cannot believe it. I will hug it and cherish it, and wish that someday it becomes real like the Velveteen Rabbit. I hoard it up against future need, hoping that maybe I'll believe it next time. (Not so far, but there's always tomorrow.) But remember what I said about narrow channels? Not all prise is created equal.
I don't care to hear that I'm good at anything, including writing. Being good is meaningless to me. It's praise based on the past. The past is over and done. It's a compliment, I will say thank you, it's a nice thing, but its purpose will roll off me like water off a duck's back. It doesn't penetrate. It can't. There's nowhere for it to go.
I rarely fret about "being good at something" anyway. I am secure in state-of-being sense, in my general abilities. That much, I preserved. My fears will always be specific. I worry about whether particular things I've done are bad or good. I worry about specifics with a deep anxiety involving tears or panic.
When specific fears are met with general encouragement, the reassurance has a paradoxical effect. Vague praise feeds doubt. Thumbs-up and warm fuzzies are proof that the problem is so bad no one dares address it directly. Or, tangentially, that it's thought a lie, a false flag operation, a cry-wolf. Positive hand-waving creates a vortex of deeper fears.
Fear of this response is one reason I fight so hard to not admit I'm consumed by doubt at all, even when I'm being eaten alive by fear. (also known as "being awake" some days.) The cure can be worse than the original injury. I would rather suffer in silence than fight the force of the whirlwind.
The other reason I'm reluctant to speak is that resistance builds up to even the most sincere, specific praise. That scar is tattooed with the words, "Yeah, yeah, you've said that before." After a few repetitions, opinions stop mattering. It's the inverse of a superpower. The most interested, enthusiastic fan on the planet would be no match for my ability to think I'm being humored out of pity. I struggle against this, but again, when the foundation is cracked, things leak out. I would beg people to keep trying anyway, but...I can't be cruel like that. I totally understand and sympathize when people give up on encouraging me.
So, in conclusion, I am super-duper-overwhelmingly jealous of all the people whose friends offer words and specific encouragements without prompting. Yes, you, friends. All of you. I love you all. I am also sick and green and rotten with envy, and i don't care who knows it. You all have lives, you all have much better things to do than talk to me about things that make me fret. I get that. I do. I don't care. I want people to talk about me, all the time.
People are reluctant to get involved with me when I'm needy. I bite the hands that feed.
The hands that feed are holding inedible things or offering me flax seed when I need raw steak, but that isn't what matters. I'm peevish and ungrateful and selfish.
And I write about it because...well. Because I write about everything.