Lesson Learned

I never feel quite as alive as when I’m being rebuked for something.

It’s like all of my blood freezes in place; my breathing shallow; my eyes wide and nearly watering.

(It’s awful.)

Truly, every other moment in life is blissful dreams compared to how a perfectionist feels when being asked to improve.

The problem this time is that I have no filter.

I don’t know when to stop.

And I sometimes even take a kind of sick pleasure from seeing people squirm when I break conversational norms.

I’ve been told many times by loving friends and family (and my therapist) that there is a place and a time to share my story; a right and a wrong way to convey information. I am quite accustomed to the solemn head shake that means: “Have you no shame?”

My parents, siblings, and husband have taken to ignoring my crass and provocative commentary, noting wisely that usually I just want a reaction from them. It certainly takes the fun out of being blunt, but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

What isn’t fun is when I take my genuine, teasing, curious personality into situations that I perceive as safe and welcoming, when in fact I should have checked “Miss Blunt” at the door. My reasoning? “Miss Blunt” is fun, but she can lead to a rebuke.

As I’ve been thawing out my frozen blood all day with hot tears, blankets, and cocoa, I’ve officially learned that there is a time to be genuine Maney, and there is a time to be someone else. It’s a skill I needed to learn, and painful though it has been (and will be), rest assured that I will try to remain vulnerable, sincere, and genuine as I write to you, dear readers.

Keep being brave as much as you can. I still have anxiety and depression on the daily, but I’m still going and I hope you are too.

Dear Professor: What I Can’t Say

Dear Professor,

I’m really sorry for missing class today. I took the bus from home as usual, but half way to the school I was feeling so nauseated that I had to get off the bus and wait for my dad to pick me up. I attribute this to the cold I’ve been dealing with, dehydration, or possibly lack of sleep. I have therefore spent the day drinking water and sleeping.

I missed all my classes today, but I feel the worst about missing yours. This is probably because I have now missed four times. There are always excuses, but I know excuses don’t mean much in real life. Your class is my earliest one, and mornings are hard for me.

Mornings are more than just waking up and getting on the bus. Mornings follow late nights of dealing with the anxieties of the day, when all the depression rushes up to my chin like cold bedcovers. Mornings comprise of me convincing myself that everything I’m doing is important. When I finally coax myself out of bed, I should earn a Nobel Peace Prize for the diplomatic negotiations I have made with myself. When I eat breakfast, every bite is purposeful, because with every bite I remind myself it is important to eat so I can function all throughout the school day. When I put on jeans instead of sweatpants, it is with silent conviction that the world will see me not as I feel, but for who I am deep inside: strong, capable, and willing to become the girl I feel I’m merely masquerading as.

Anyway, I’m sorry. Believe me, I have anxiety gnawing a sizable pit in my stomach for every absence. You will probably start deducting points for each time I miss now (because I am sure I will have excuses to miss again), and I might be kicked out of my student research group, but I promise that no punishment you could give to me will ever be as deep or as detrimental as the shame I will mercilessly inflict on myself.

Please let me know if there is anything I need to do to make up for today’s class.

Sincerely, Maney

Shame On Me

It happened again today, and all it took were a few clicks of a mouse and a percentage.

Shame, rushing through me in a hot wave. I’m suddenly self-conscious. I feel upset. I feel anxious. I feel like a failure. I’m not enough, not good enough, never good enough. I need to apologize for something. I owe someone my happiness, my self-confidence, my peace. I am bad.

I recognize it now. In past years I didn’t have a name for it. I just assumed it was the correct reaction to low grades, awkward social situations, ugliness, anger–even for when people didn’t like me.

What caused it this time, you ask?

I got a 77% on a speech I gave in COMM 1020. Seventy-seven percent. That, my friends, is a C. As in, passing. As in, COMM 1020! This is so not even a big deal, right?

I envy the people who get C’s and cheer. I envy their ability to love life and love themselves no matter what a teacher slaps down on their report card. I love being around these people. They help me breathe, help me love myself. Literally, they keep me alive.

I mean, granted, my need for approval has gotten me some classy scholarships, but it has also almost driven me into an early grave.

I left BYU for several different reasons, but one of the main ones was that I was surrounded by people who seem to base their self-worth on others’ approval, which is my problem. I’m sure they will go on to live very successful lives, but I am not programmed to thrive in that kind of environment. I need to be with my blessed self-proclaimed sinners, my beautiful C’s-get-degrees friends, my beloved I-have-no-idea-what-I-want-from-life people. They are so wonderful.

Anyway, just wanted to tell you guys it happened to me again. And I’m grateful I’m back at my state college. And I’m still working on the whole shame thing. (Still plugging away through that book by Brené Brown!)

Do good things, team. Love yourselves, no matter what crap you’re being fed about how you’re not good enough–even if that crap is coming from yourself.

Personally, I’m going to try and be a little sassier, with inspiration from “Grace Kelly” by MIKA. I’m also going to try and stop embodying the lyrics,

Say what you want to satisfy yourself
But you only want what everybody else says you should want

Much love, Maney

Words

This is a post.

Update:

I recently totally BS-ed an English paper and got a 92% on it. No-name state college, I LOVE YOU. (My dad calls this negative reinforcement or something.)

Spent a few hours writing a script for a short horror story. It was fun but I realized I’m terrible at horror (prolly cuz I have a whopping zero experience in the subject). Then I tried to make it a horror comedy. I got bored after half a page. But it was fun.

Yay, President’s Day! I hope to make it a day of much relaxation.

Oh, I did this:

Yeah, I’m trying YouTube out. I’m not so good at lip-syncing. Why am I trying YouTube? I have a friend that’s into film and I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s her YouTube channel: TransparentClouds. (Look familiar? I’ve advertised for her before.) (And… actually, I quoted her here, too. Er… just check it out.)

I’m still reading Brené Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough.” What a mouthful, right? But it’s really good. It’s slowly healing my heart. Counselor-recommended, ya know?

Anyway. Hooray for life–or at least the moments that make life bearable, right?

Cheers.

Puzzling to Peace

*trigger warning*

(I should probably go back and add that warning to like half my posts…)

Maney is a puzzle that I’m trying to piece together. It’s like I am separate from Maney, and I need to get her back in gear to live and hopefully someday desire life.

One thing I like to do is read. I recently received a plethora of my favorite books, used and cheap, the way I like my literature. So far I’ve consumed Peter and the Starcatchers, and I’m inching my way through Life of Pi (a favorite) and I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brené Brown, which is new to me. Books are like friends–safe ones I don’t have to worry about thinking that I’m mental, since our entire relationship is mental. Who says money can’t buy happiness? If money can buy friends, then I wonder what it can’t buy.

Another thing I do to piece myself back together is play guitar. It became a hobby over this last semester, as I’ve explained before. I’m not the best at playing or singing, but I love it. I love hearing my voice intertwine with the strong, reverberating chords, or the gentle, rhythmic pluck of my fingers. I love finding songs on the internet and then playing them within a few minutes. It makes me feel beautiful. It makes me feel desirable. It makes me feel worthy of love.

The final and hardest thing I’ve been trying lately is talking to people. It’s almost daily that I want to run my wrists over shards of glass, or cover my ears and scream in a corner, or bash my head against something until the stupidity of life ends. I often long for the peace I associate with death. Peace, and reunion, mostly with Jesus Christ, because it’s hard to imagine that meeting being anything but wonderful.

But anyway, talking to people. It’s hard. I get distracted. I start to feel guilty for things I don’t have any right to feel guilty for. And the guilt usually morphs into shame–I ask myself why I even exist if I’m so pathetic and depressed and awkward. It’s exhausting. It makes me want to go to sleep and never care about anyone or anything again. (I’m doing better, though, because at least I can separate these feelings from other, happier ones. Better than moving from bad feelings to numbness.)

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, this being alive thing. It’s so hard. It’s His love that keeps me going. He gives me a flicker of hope to move forward, to take another step, to hold on a little longer. So, Team, hold on, if only because I am holding on. If only because He loves you, and He wants you to have joy.