Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me . . . Nah, I draw the line at eating worms.

Soooooo, last night I realized something.  (Cue the drumroll!)  I think I spend my life as a 7-year-old.  Ish.  7-ISH, really.  But in that general vicinity. 

I’ve written ad nauseam about childhood bullshit, so I’m going to keep this as short as possible:
Smart kid.  Really smart.  REALLY smart.
Knowing, even as a kid, that I was different.  I did not fit in with my peers at ALL.  (And not even the best parenting can stop all awareness of one’s own circus-freak-ness.)
Starting school – private school, zero tolerance for bullying and shitty behavior.
Transferred to a public school – not so much with the zero tolerance rule = lots of bullying and shitty behavior.
No learned skills for dealing with the bullying and shitty behavior (due in large part to aforementioned “differentness”) = spending a lot of time wishing to be left alone, but getting bullied mercilessly instead.
Wishing desperately to fit in – to be thinner, blonder, more affluent, more self-confident, more popular.  To be anything but different.
Knowing that the only people in my corner were the adults, which in turn, made things worse.  It made me MORE different and led to all kinds of “teacher’s pet” crap. 
Knowing that if I pissed off the adults, I was REALLY up a creek.
Bullying got so bad that Mom pulled me out and homeschooled me.
Started college at 14.
Spent a year on the sidelines, still insecure, watching the groups around me.
Deciding to become someone else – I spent a year watching the “popular” girls in the dance dept (my major at the time), analyzing power dynamics, clothing choices, conversation topics, attitudes, etc.  (Me and Jane Goodall, man.  We are SOUL SISTERS, ok?  LOL)
Showing up the year I turned 16 as a WHOLE DIFFERENT PERSON:  I became my own avatar.
WDPerson is wildly succesful: liked, pretty, popular . . . also kind of mean, but I DID NOT CARE, because you know, LIKED, PRETTY, POPULAR.
WDP sticks around, gets nicer, but otherwise stays pretty much the same.

WDP has been around for more than half my life now.  I’m 33.  I’ve been WDP Marste for longer than I’ve been Marste.  Man, THAT’S weird to think about.  I don’t know how NOT to be that person anymore.  And honestly, I don’t even know how or if Marste is any different from WDP.

But inside, I am still 7 years old.  I still spend my life in abject terror (and that is NOT drama – there are not words strong enough to describe the level of that fear) that people only like WDP, that if they really knew me, they would laugh and point and confirm all over again how different and unloveable I really am.  I eat and drink to squash that terror.  I eat and I drink because that 7-year-old is anxious ALL THE TIME, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I eat and drink because that 7-year-old is struggling against being wrapped up tight and stashed in the closet, even though she scared to DEATH of what would happen if she came out.

It seems funny, because everybody likes me.  I mean, I’m sure there are individuals who don’t like me after getting to know me (not in an insecure way, just that not everyone likes everyone), but on a purely superficial, see-you-at-work, hang-out-in-groups level, everybody likes me.  I have worked damn hard in my life to make that happen.  But on the flip side, no one likes me – they like the persona I’ve constructed.  No one actually knows me. 

And that in turn, informes my WHOLE FREAKING LIFE. 

If I eat compulsively, I don’t have to feel the 7-year-old: not her anxiety or her constant whispering (man, THAT sounds horror-movie psycho, doesn’t it?).  If I stay fat, I can say that it’s the reason I don’t date (not much, and almost never seriously).  If I stay busy, I don’t have to have close friends who might catch me in an unguarded moment and glimpse the 7-year-old circus freak.  If I excel at my job, then those in authority will never be unhappy with me (hello, teachers!).  When those in authority ARE unhappy with me (or even just offering genuinely constructive feedback), I panic, I get flustered, I get angry: I AM DOING MY BEST, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT?  YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN MY CORNER, GODDAMMIT!!  WHY ARE YOU TAKING AWAY THE ONE THING I AM GOOD AT?!

That persona informs EVERYTHING.  People are shocked when I tell them that I am an introvert.  They’re incredulous when I admit that I’m almost cripplingly shy.  Because see, those are things about ME.  But WDP can walk into a room and work it like a public relations professional.  (I figured I’d better clarify what KIND of professional there, LOL.)  Most of the time, anyway.  Sometimes the anxious 7-year-old wins, and I spend half an hour at the party, cowering in the corner, trying to bully myself (yes, I see the irony) into socializing before making an almost panicked break for the door. 

No fucking wonder I’m always so tired.  It’s not a sleep issue.  I’m maintaining a fucking PERSONA 24/7.  It’s exhausting.  No wonder I go home from work and don’t want to see anyone after: when I’m home by myself I don’t have to maintain that performance.  But then, that’s when I have to deal with the anxious 7-year-old, which is also exhausting. 

So.  Right now I don’t have any non-depressing way to end this post.  So I’m just going to call it a day and go do some of those damn Geneen Roth exercises.  (Which, supposedly, will eventually help.)


4 responses to “Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me . . . Nah, I draw the line at eating worms.

  1. If it helps at all, we’re listening.
    Can relate, in part.
    (Didn’t start college at 14)

    If it helps — and it probably doesn’t — I have a feeling that being a square peg in a round world makes for a better writer.
    There was nothing like that not fitting in feeling to stimulate the old magical nerves… – Terry Pratchett

  2. (big fat juicy ones, long green slimy ones, itsy bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms!)

    I think, in some ways, we ALL have those fears – at least, most of us do. And we all have those ‘public’ personas. At least, I do, and if I do, then everyone else must too, right? I can’t be THAT much of a freak!
    Your early years sound much like mine (substitute too skinny, too blonde and curly, being younger than everyone in my grade, and wanting to be right-handed like everyone else), which convinces me that we all struggled with wanting to fit in. No one wanted to be different when they were a child. No one wanted to be singled out and ridiculed, yet so many of us were. I can still recall the “in” crowd befriending me, convincing me that in order to be their friend I had to kiss a boy, then ostracizing me for doing so, all in the space of one day in grade 3! To this day, I can still recall the pain of their rejection and scoffing. (to say nothing about what it did to my opinion of kissing!)
    It shocks people, too, to learn that I am a shy, introverted person…. and I find it exhausting to work with people all day. If there were money in cattle, I would be more than happy to stay on the ranch, living inside my head, building elaborate fantasies, and expressing my creativity in all sorts of ways. Sadly, I have to make a living.
    Oh, dear, I have prattled on a little in this comment, haven’t I? Sorry!

  3. I love you guys. (Long comments and all. ;D) Thanks for reading. /sappiness

  4. Can relate to most parts. Get that feeling that everyone’s just being nice to me but behind my back, they hate me. But whether or not that’s true I don’t have the guts to figure out.

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