Life as an Extreme Sport

I’m Not Big and Scary

Honest, I’m not.

Except for that bit where, apparently, I am, if I get hurt/upset/angry. Seems the going opinion is that I puff up like a snake and get very hostile, defensive, cold and bitchy, and that this is the sort of thing that makes me look like I’m pulling a Jekyll and Hyde. Although I’ve become more cognizantly aware of this, it’s still hard for me, because while it seems like a “wtf” reaction to those outside my head, I’m inside my head, so I have causation linked to my reaction (and causation changes interpretation).

I haven’t been terribly impressed by my behaviour since Wednesday, and to lesser degree since last week. I’ve been very, very tired – between Saturday and Wednesday I only got about 13 hours of sleep, and I know that, after several weeks of sleeping badly, I finally reached my breaking point and emotional walls tumbled, judgment failed, and I became cranky (to put it mildly). But I’ve also been thinking about the comments I quoted here, and they play into everything, too.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those ideas of self-denial, and feeling like a fool, and a sucker, when you’re around people who perhaps don’t have those same impulses towards self-denial. I’m not sure I’d place myself firmly in that camp, but in the last 18 months I really have been living my life very differently. One of the major differences is how I interact with the world – I very tongue-in-cheekly call it my “shiny happy Kelly.” I, for lack of better way to phrase it, exude love and affection and openness to the world. I know I have an infectious smile, and I use it to the very best of my ability. I laugh loudly, long and hard, and take as much pleasure as I can in other people and life.

I wear my heart on my sleeve these days. I give affection and love to people, and I try to do it as freely as possible. But I’m not perfect, and I still occasionally snap back into the person I was for a very long time – the one I might label the 12 year old goth girl, practiced at sulking and wearing sunglasses as a visible shield to keep the world away. (I don’t think it’s coincidence that I grabbed a pair of sunglasses to wear, yesterday, for the first time since late summer.) A friend very bluntly but accurately pointed out that I’d been in the role of victim for a good chunk of my life, and she thinks it’s easier for me to go there, sometimes. She’s right. When I’m in that role of victim, of playing the martyr, well – it’s a role I played lead for 1/3 of my life, and in many ways I played the secondary martyr for another 1/3-1/2. I know the rules innately and intimately; I can do it with my eyes closed. I know what notes to hit and when – it takes very little thought, and in that ‘naturalness’ comes comfort and security. It’s what I know.

I’ve been trying very hard to break out of what I know, not the least of because I like myself when I’m shiny-happy-Kelly. I feel best about myself when I wear my heart on my sleeve and give myself freely to others, no strings attached. I love the way I feel, and the way it makes other people feel. I very emphatically do not like the hurt and misery I cause both myself and the people around me when I revert to that 12-year-old-goth. I don’t like being immobile in bed, staring at the walls and wallowing in perceived hurts that are overblown, don’t like being a misanthrope, and hate that my actions hurt the people that I care about. But I still trip into that person sometimes, and have to dig myself out when I get there.

I wish I could strike some sort of balance, where I can be the person I like being without reacting with fear at certain situations and curling up to protect myself. I’m getting better about seeing when I do it, and I’m becoming more aware of what it is about my behaviour that is so Scary (and self-fulfilling), but I still do it, and that frustrates me. I know that some of the answer lies in practicing Buddhism a bit more and better than I have been (after all, it gets much of the credit for getting me to where I am now), but it’s not the entire answer, and I’m not certain what is.