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Barefoot Blue Jean Night

Why hello there. Welcome back to my mad ramblings.

So I was out playing soccer with some friends tonight. I haven’t had a streak of decent sleeps in a very long time, so I’ve been running empty but trying not to hole up in my room anymore. I didn’t even leave the house for three days before yesterday, so I really, really, didn’t want to tonight. And when I got there, my suspicions were confirmed, because the place was packed and people weren’t even respecting the walking spaces. Can you imagine? The audacity. So that was another thing piled on.Before we left for the field I had to spend quite a bit of time psyching myself up and giving myself a pep-talk in the bathroom, literally just walking myself through the steps of being normal at a social function. Like, I actually had to remind myself to smile and say hello to people, unlike when I came in and just plowed through people on my way to have a panic attack in aforementioned bathroom. All I wanted was to pull out my laptop and work, which I maybe could have gotten away with if I’d gone down to one of the rooms in the basement. As long as no one found me, I could have done that, but I was determined to participate and not have another incident like last week.

Incidences like this really get to me because I generally see myself as a social person. When I’m my best self, I love parties and having lots of people to talk to, and sometimes getting pulled aside to have a private talk. That’s my jam. But last week I couldn’t even stay, because I was upset that I came to volunteer and there was nothing left to do. other than socialize (shudder). So, the waves became too much and I hightailed it out of there. You see what I mean? I can’t enjoy a lot of the things that I used to love, and it makes me really hate myself sometimes. Like, what’s wrong with me?

I didn’t get the memo that we were playing soccer tonight, so needless to say, I was not dressed for success. I’m trying this thing where I’m trying to be more girly, so I was wearing pink jeans, a strapless bra, and high-heeled boots. My feet were killing me from my earlier outfit of the day, which involved me training myself in my red high heels again, despite knowing it would be a good idea. All in all, I was not in a good head space or physical state to engage in contact sports with tall, rowdy boys. But I did it. I took off my boots and socks and let my feet sink into the soft grass that cooled my self-inflicted wounds, and honestly I think I did just as well as anyone else on the team. Except for the fact that everyone else was wearing shoes.

The advantages of that were I had amazing traction and could pivot on a dime. I could feel the ball and actually managed to aim properly for the most part. I also got pretty decent at using my moose legs to reach in for some pretty awesome, contact-free steals. Or whatever you call that in soccer. But as you can imagine, it could be a pretty frightening and painful experience at times. Kicking the ball was a breeze, but if I made contact with someone else’s shoes, it was pretty terrible. And just in general, my feet were already pretty worn out, so I had to take a couple of breaks whenever someone wanted to be tagged in. Eventually, after a particularly nasty collision, I didn’t even want to go near the ball because I was afraid. Eventually, more people joined, including another person who took off their shoes, and I felt like I could leave without leaving my team in the lurch.

Do you see where I’m going with this story? Even though I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve conceived of every metaphor under the son to try and understand what’s going on in my head, maybe this is new to you – if you’ve got an emotional disability like depression, or anxiety, or something more complex like borderline or ADHD, you’re playing the game of life without emotional shoes. You’re emotions are trigger happy and exquisitely sensitive, which can have it’s advantages. Even conditions like PMDD and SAD can be experienced this way, and even if it’s cyclical and not emotional, the cycle can become draining. Right now, I walk through life wanting so badly to play, especially the way I used to before I got all these metaphorical scars and blisters on my heart and mind. But the reality is I can’t, not without sustaining more injuries. If I’d kept playing tonight, it’s very likely that I would have ended up with a broken toe or worse. I didn’t want to leave because the teams were so small, so I wanted to help, but I ended up not being able to do much after a while. If you’ve read my previous post where I talk about presenteeism in the emotionally disabled, you’ll be able to fit this idea into that framework. People with emotional shoes can take on the normal tasks of walking around, playing, and connecting without much trouble or thought. If they trip over a crack in the side walk, they will probably shake it off. They may not even feel it if they step on a sharp rock. But for you and I, these experiences can leave us bleeding, needing to heal quite painfully for a long time, and very hesitant to try those activities again. Even if it is the only way to get things done in life, sometimes we just can’t. We’re not lazy – we’re sensitive, and spend a lot of time healing from things that don’t seem like a big deal to other people.

Now, I’m still working on getting myself some shoes. Or, maybe I have them, but they’re the wrong fit. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with shoes these last couple weeks, now that I think of it. A few weeks ago I finally tried on some flats that I got at a thrift store. I was excited because it’s basically impossible for me to find shoes my size, but it was evident when I put them on that my brief try in the store was inaccurate. The shoes were immediately painful, but we were late for church so I just decided to go with it. I ended up taking them off and welcoming the sidewalk cracks and rocks as we walked back to the bus, because it was nothing compared to the pain of those shoes. Maybe you’ve experienced that when you jump into a new treatment plan or new medication that seems like it’s going to help you. Sometimes we just keep taking them because there’s no time to change at the moment, but eventually we quit and go back to the anguish that we’re familiar with.

Or, take today, when I was trying to be girly and wear my high-heels. Of course I got all sorts of compliments, which is what I was after, and reinforced this behaviour. Maybe you’re trying to be something you’re not, trying to be like all those neurotypical people around you who can go to work and then church and then out to dinner and then to karaoke and not even break an emotional sweat. Those people who can dance through life without even touching the ground. They’re the big successes who get complimented for admittedly unhealthy behaviours like workaholism and exploitation. Maybe you’re trying to be like them, and you’re killing it and getting those PTA ribbons and promotions and fifteen-million followers, but you’re dying inside and just wish you could stop. Just for a moment.

Things are dark right now, but I’m trying to believe that I’ll find the right pairs of shoes one day, and that I won’t be too wounded to put them on. Different shoes (coping strategies) for different situations, whether it’s interacting at a party, managing a romantic relationship, a job, roommates, whatever. One type is not likely to fit all situations, and that’s the exhausting part for me. Even with shoes, you can still get blisters, and if you wear the wrong ones to the wrong thing, you end up going barefoot. I can’t treat my bosses like my friends, I can’t treat my friends like my therapists, nd I can’t treat every person I’m mildly attracted to like the love of my life. I can’t hole up in the basement working on my book at church functions, even though that’s how I can cope with stress when I’m at home or on the bus. The algorithm is still in progress, and the neural network has been failing to produce reward-gaining results for an astoundingly long time. But the fact that I’m still here, writing this, after one of the worst days of my life, gives me hope that maybe this next set of cycles might go slightly better. One thing’s for sure, I’m just happy to no longer be in the trenches of PMDD, if only for the moment, and even if there’s still a lot of other things holding me down. At least that’s one blister heeled, for now, so maybe it’s time to at least look at some shoes. (Literally. There’s an amazing sale at my favorite thrift store tomorrow, and what better way to celebrate unemployment than blowing all my money.)  


Thanks for Stopping by!

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13


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