Feels and needles

A strange discovery : when I feel anxious it’s not the feeling that’s the anxiety, it’s just an impression of the anxiety in my mind. To put it another way, feeling the pain of being pricked with a needle doesn’t mean actual needles penetrate the skin, flows through the blood and into the brain.

It’s such an odd discovery and it’s taking me longer than usual to make the differentiation because for all my life I was under the impression that my feelings were the needles. To think that my feelings are neutral and that it’s possible to detach from focusing on the pain is like I’m being told the sky is red and not blue.

You see, I’ve created an entire life around the belief that my sensitivity is why I seem to suffer more than those who aren’t as sensitive. Naturally, I thought if I could be impervious to my feelings and dissociate from them then the pain would stop yes? Through sour experiences I learnt that the pain was signaling to me that I’m not in the right place or space and turning that warning signal off made me vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation and injury by those lacking empathy and conscience. It put me at the mercy of those with no mercy.

I didn’t create reality

It’s not my task to make people feel comfortable with the truth I perceive, nor is it my task to change what I perceive into something more appeasing for others. It’s such a relief to write this out because disappointment has been the bane of my existence and I’ve taken it upon myself to shield people from the uncomfortable truth because that’s what they were demanding I do. And that set me back so much and kept me stuck because my forte is to see, not change the look of reality to make things more comfortable.

▶ Play it back

If someone projects on me instead of connecting to me when in doubt or when I seem ambivalent, then I’m no longer going to take on that guilt and absolve the person for their transgressing judgment that they then affect me with, either verbally or emotionally.

I used to think that empathizing with me in my silence would be a tall order, and so I internalized and normalized the projections and adapted to them. I would fear leaving an ambivalent gap without putting the person at ease. This, at the expense of the person inquiring into my withdrawal- or not.

I’m no longer responding to shame or acting on guilt. Someone conflating their feelings with my actions is a lazy, egotistical, insecure person and I don’t have room to do homeworks for others. I got my own.

Sign the dotted line

I can accommodate for you but I can’t make my mental health adapt to your convenience. If a last-minute cancelation annoys you more than you’re concerned for the anxiety attack that made me do it, then I’m sorry to tell you that there will probably be many such inconveniences in the future ; changing my mind, wanting to be alone, not being able to finish an assignment, backing out of a project, ending a trip early. I’ve tried to discipline my mental disorders and regulate the attacks so that I can work around having to clash with commitments and expectations. It was not only impossible but it was deeply unfair to myself and traumatized me further and deeper. I was effectively telling myself that I didn’t matter and that it’s normal and ok for others to not be understanding and empathetic. I shouldered the guilt on top of everything else.

So now, this is where I stand : my mental health issues are just a symptom of adapting to a toxic system. The more that I can care and hold space for my sensitivities and vulnerabilities, the more efficient and proactive I can be. When the weakest link in me is protected, all of me is protected and anyone who finds that ridiculous is someone I don’t want to mingle with. Period. It’s bigger than just me. It’s about being a considerate human being who can make space for other than one’s ego. Someone who’s unable to transcend their base desires and neurotic habits of controlling others and the weather is someone I’m fundamentally incompatible with.

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