Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not Yet

"Katie!" Adam called as I moved toward the lobby at a near-trot yesterday afternoon. "Halt!" I turned, hurriedly trying to muster some energy to return his grin and hating myself when I failed and his expression shifted from amusement to concern. "Are you OK?" he asked and I made myself nod.

"I'm just not feeling well," I told him. "I need to go home."

"That's fine," he replied, frowning. "I'll see you tomorrow?" He mimicked the gesture when I nodded at him and I raised a hand to wave as I finally escaped into the fresh air. I breathed through my mouth on my way to the car, trying to ease the awful pressure in my chest. I drove home, swallowing against nausea and wincing at my headache, and barely made it into pajamas before crying myself to sleep.

"You'll call back tomorrow?" Mom asked, impressing me with the job she'd done to mask her worry. "Then I'll call the doctor for you if you don't get to it?" I spent nearly an hour talking to her and my dad. I felt OK. Not great - still queasy and unbalanced - but better. Congratulating myself on only losing 3 hours of work to this episode, I prepared to feel increasingly peppy today.

I did not.

I wasn't as sad this morning, feeling instead that terrible disconnected sensation. I frankly cared about nothing and no one and welcomed the ease of the weight. I pulled my laptop toward me, looking up the number I was to call at 7AM. Then I blankly watched the clock located on my digital cable receiver show that it was 7:00. Then 7:05. Then 7:10. And I never called, unable to manage even a twinge of guilt or duty or energy.

I did open a conference I'd arranged three hours later, having emailed Adam and telling him I'd be in later. The exquisite relief I felt when nobody called in pierced the numbness enough to make me cry again.

My trigger is rejection. I know this, so I ask very few people to like me. I have no personal friends in town - everyone knows me professionally and I'm completely content with that. It's far safer than the alternative and offers the option to socialize and share meals without risking anything very real. I'm a peripheral entity and there I will stay.

But when someone I do know on a social level withdraws - even though I've done the same thing before for reasons having nothing to do with my friends - I get locked into this horrible spiral of how I'm unattractive and unlovable and can't figure out what I do to make people who initially liked me turn away. I have faults and, selfishness being one of them, I've taken more than my share. But I try to be up front about them, neurotically warning any new people about all the ways I screw up relationships so I can avoid growing to love them if they're naturally annoyed or repulsed.

Yet it happens - people get to know me and then stop wanting to do so and it triggers episodes a lot like what's happening now. And even as I realize it's ridiculous, I get sucked down into it.

"How bad is it?" Mom asked, not able to contain her worry tonight after she took the phone from Dad.

"Bad," I replied. "I'm taking a double dose of pills and I left a message for the doctor today. So it'll get better." And I listened as she told me about Smallest One's upcoming party.

"I can't do that," I interrupted. "Be with strangers and socialize for hours with Brother's friends from the bar." I paused, shuddering as I pictured it. "I just can't."

"I know," she replied softly and I brushed at tears that had started to fall. It's horrible to know that I have to avoid my niece's birthday party because I'm ill. My breath caught as I remembered visiting Grandma in the hospital, waiting to be let in through each set of locked doors that protected the psychiatric ward.

I don't want this. And while I know I will get better, it's not helping at the moment.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes when people stop interacting with one another, it has nothing to do with whether they want to or not.

Anonymous said...

Of course you can go. You're not contageous. You don't have to want to hang out.

You should go to the party. You do not have to go for hours. Give a gift. Hug the child. have a pice of cake. Make your excuses and go home. There is no need to hurt youe neice over your being sad and not wanting to hang out.

Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstood..

Hugs, Katie, I hope you feel better soon

Krazy Kitty said...

Oh, Katie, I hope you get better soon and that you'll be able to attend the next social event revolving around your niece. Please don't beat yourself up for not being able to go; blame the illness, not yourself.

Jenn, PhD said...

Just wanted to send some hugs, I'm reading along and hoping this will pass soon for you

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

Oh Katie. I'm thinking of you and hoping that this will pass soon.

Amelie said...

Sending more hugs. I'm so sorry that it is so hard right now.

September Blue said...

Ah, this sucks. Thinking of you; I hope it lifts soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie,
I'm thinking about you, too. I'm willing to bet that the person who's withdrawing is doing so not because of you, but because of their own issues. Anyway, I, too, hope you pull out of this soon.


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