Stubborn Not Strong

Through the mirror Nicola looked into Angie’s eyes. “You know, you’re very strong,” Nicola said.

“Thank you.”

“That’s no compliment. It’s your weakness. If you weren’t so strong you wouldn’t have to take it and so you wouldn’t.”

That’s not from the book I am reading now, but I believe from the one I read before it. There were many little lines and moments in it which captured my attention, and this was one.

I wouldn’t consider myself strong by any stretch – not by any measure, either. Not physically, emotionally, mentally…any of the “ally’s”, really. (See what I did there?)

But I have still had moments in life wherein I’ve wished I was just a little more fragile – just enough so that I could break and whatever broke me could become someone else’s problem to deal with. Or no one’s. Just so long as it would no longer have to be mine.

I think in my case it’s more a combination of stubborness mixed with an almost overwhelming fear of embarrassing myself. I don’t like making a scene, or drawing attention to myself. Most of my reactions to things and situations happen on the inside, and I keep them as hidden from the public eye as possible. I may jump a bit when something startles me, but I don’t scream and carry on. I’ve actually been trying to force myself to admit when something scared me, rather than focus on hiding it. Keeping myself closed off is the product of decades of practice, and so now it is a very difficult habit to break.

It’s hard to learn to express things when you’ve spent so long doing the opposite.

On the other hand, though, appearing to not have a reaction sometimes still comes in handy. Bit of a catch-22, now, I guess.

I’m super easy to take advantage of, too, because I never cause a stink or stand up for myself. I don’t return things to where I purchased them. I don’t send food back to the kitchen. I don’t rasie my voice when someone’s being an asshat on the subway.

I just take it.

Not because I am particularly strong, but because of some backwards fear of how I feel if I do things any other way. So in that much, at least, the strong and I have something in common.

We all feel like we have to take it.

Tiny Baby Steps

I recognize that I need to get my life together, but I also realize that a statement like that comes across as far more daunting and melodramatic than it ever needs to be. Without really thinking about it, I’ve already begun taking steps to affect change in my world – possibly since my last therapy session a couple of months ago. She said something that, while true, was actually more on point than even she knew. More than even I knew, at the time. I just kind of realized it later on.

I mean, I definitely got a boost when a friend helped to update my resume earlier this year. I went from thinking I had nothing to offer any employer, let alone my current one, to thinking I kind of rock. And since I still have as much an idea of what I want to be when I grow up as I did when I was a kid, taking time to really break things down and see what life has taught me thus far is probably a good step, if only because it makes me feel a bit better about myself sometimes.

If this volunteering thing works out, that ought to make a difference in how I feel overall, too. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not volunteering out of the goodness of my heart or to help anyone or anything like that. I’m volunteering because I want to do something that no one will pay me to do. And I can do it on weekends, which is a huge bonus. But it’s for me, to hopefully put me in a better frame of mind, give me a ton of different things to learn, challenge me, and help me grow. Hopefully. If it doesn’t work out, I think I might actually be left feeling worse than I do not having done it yet, but we’ll see. I remain nervous, excited, and cautiously optimistic. At least for the next few days.

I’m having trouble really talking to anyone about anything. I’ve been making a list of things to tell someone in particular, but not sure I’ll actually do so if and when I get the chance. And I can’t talk about most of it to just anyone – let alone all of things I’m leaving off said list because I can’t talk about them at all. Blah. Communication is hard.  It’s partly why I am so closed off most of the time.

Also because I’m very finicky in my choice of people. Even more so than Piper is with food.

My focus is all over the place as far as personal projects go, but this past week or so I’ve been ignoring most of them in favour of focusing on matters closer to home. The cats and dogs I keep in captivity, family, even some friends. Especially in terms of the apartment and critters who live with me, I’ve taken super tiny baby steps to perhaps better our general lives. If I keep working on it, and taking those tiny steps. I have a tendency to get so excited about the possible end result that I wind up never getting past the first or second stage, and leave myself dreaming about what might have been. Right now, I felt good once I’d made a decision, I felt good when I came up with a first stage plan, and I felt good when I took the initial steps to put that stage in motion. My hope is that I will continue to feel good with each baby step, and instead of thinking about the end, I’ll try to focus on the feeling each of those steps gives me on the way there. Then it’s a win-win, really.

This post probably sounds more cheery than it actually is, but whatever. I still feel more negative than positive, but I don’t feel the need to write it all the time. There’s a difference.

And that’s a start.