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a wall you can walk through
"A Shot in the Arm" by Wilco
September 13, 2021 Monday 3:22 PM
I'm having the kind of anxiety that makes the palms of my hands ache. They're weak. I tried to play the piano but everything's curling in like a dead bug on the windowsill. Ah, rigor mortis, is the word. The pain in my stomach is faint and has been there for awhile. I keep thinking I'm dying. This has been a near-constant thought in my head for the last few weeks though. But I never get past that initial fear: that I'm dying. I don't worry about what I'll leave behind or how much it'll hurt right before I close up. Right now, I'm just afraid of the physicality of it all, and the implications it will have on my immediate daily life—the way everything will still be static, only more permanent. Pinned in place. Can't move forward when you're sick, right? Or you can, but that's cruel. Isn't it?
I spent the weekend in Cambridge again, because Maria's birthday is on Wednesday so we were just sort of hanging out and spending time with each other. She and Nadiya and I all watched the NGE movies while I was there—ending with 3.0 1.0 yesterday.
I have a lot of thoughts. A *lot* (in addition to more thoughts I had about Rascal Does Not Dream etc. etc.). But I can't talk about them right now because, unfortunately, my anxiety takes precedence.
We'll start with the kicker and work backwards: by this point, I'm familiar with the Lee rest stop, and today I cried in its parking lot. Lucky I keep tissues in the center console. Plus, thank god for masks and the sunglasses I keep on me, because both things hid 88% of my face when I went inside to pee, and when I returned to the car, I checked myself in the rearview: I looked fine. My nose a bit red, but that's it.
Nadiya called me on the road as I was about to pull into the plaza. She apologized in advance for potentially asking a "weird question": "I just wanted to see if you were okay—with the Anti-simp stuff last night?"
It's just—so much. I didn't know what to say. Because I'm not, to an extent. I genuinely don't like being touched very much. It pretty frequently causes a spike in my anxiety unless under specific circumstances. It is also true that Maria touches me a lot. That has always been the case.
- Maria is my best friend
- Maria jokes a lot about being in love with me
- Those jokes make me really uncomfortable
- Maria likes to hold my hands, hug me, lean on me, etc. and I do not like when any of those things happen
- However, sometimes it's okay. I slept in their bed the other night because I felt like it. We didn't cuddle or anything, it was just for warmth, really. Maybe a brief hug here or there. Which made me feel a little safer. I was also a little bit tipsy, which is another thing that also always drops my physical barriers, and I always feel sort of guilty about that too.
- I did not sleep in their bed again—I didn't need to.
Ugh, even relaying this kinda makes me uncomfortable because I know I'm taking this entry in a really specific direction. It happens to be a direction I would not like to go! However—Nadiya has given me a lot to think about. And so, I should think about it. I can't just... avoid things. Even though I'd like to. People get older when they do things they don't want to do in an effort to make their environment better, in a broader sense. Sacrifice and such.
I don't want to be old, but I also don't want to be sad (because of) or anxious (because of) or uncomfortable (with) or far away from my best friend.
So in the interest of bettering our relationship, rationally speaking, it's a good idea to assess this conflict.
Do I hate it? Yes. But I'm not asking myself to act upon anything right now, just to reflect. So do that. Do things you don't want to do. You're not a baby and you don't get to make yourself suffer (I had another bad dream last night—Professor Haunt said a similar thing, only he said it nicely and admonishingly, which was objectively worse).
Why is this hard!!! I generally had a good weekend. But it was time for me to leave, I felt. I don't like when people love me sometimes. The popular way to express it is kissing and touching. The thought makes me want to cry. I wish it wasn't so freaking hard for me to do something simple like that.
Like—I can lean into someone or having them lean into me and it's okay. But if they lay their head on my shoulder, I will seize up. It's a thin and wavering line.
Historically, I am not great at setting boundaries.
Nadiya said she was, in fact, thinking about my history, which is why she decided to follow up with me in the first place. Because she had thought if I were truly uncomfortable, I would say something. "But then I remembered all the stuff you've told me about, the guys we shit on... I really should've asked, so I want to ask."
She's a really, really good friend. I feel like—I can always rely on her.
Ugh. Maria and I spent most of yesterday on Newberry street, looking at manga and records and going to Muji and clothing stores and also an anime store. And I pooped at a Starbucks. Before that, we had dinner at a weird diner with Nadiya and Maria's friend (he's really funny); the food was mostly really delicious, except the scrambled eggs had virtually zero seasoning. Nadiya went off somewhere on her own. After Newberry, Maria and I ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant where the waitress was rushing us, LMAO. The pork buns were not that good, but the lo mein was sooo delicious.
Maria kept trying to hold my hand in the Macy's and at other points during the day. I kept squirming out of her grasp or screeching. I said, "I just feel really trapped when people hold my hands!!" and this is true. Plus, I always have that anxiety, that hand-holding means something intimate that I don't want it to mean. I am not of the strain of people who can give and accept casual touch. I remember feeling similarly with Liv, too.
Anyway, oftentimes, people don't listen to me when I say shit like that, they really don't. I didn't really—categorize Maria's actions among those folks, though.
Historically, people have liked to tease me, because my reactions are animated and funny, and I like being able to provide that kind of entertainment. But it's a double-edged sword, because that also means it's really hard for people to tell when something seriously bothers me. I remember Sandwich would go too far with his comments all the time. And also, I felt kind of unsafe turning my back on him, since he liked to play pranks.
I didn't want to ruin anyone's fun, so I didn't, and for the most part it didn't matter. I mostly just hated the rubber band wars because when I got caught in the crossfire it actually really did hurt and I almost cried once after the bell rang and I went off the pre-calc. I couldn't even understand why I was so emotional about it, I just was.
Diego's a good guy, but he also didn't respect my physical space a few times, and my emotional space either. Although I had a much easier time being emotionally honest with him because he was psychologically strong and I could feel that he wasn't going to be disappointed in me just for disliking certain things. But yeah, I remember him touching me and I'd flinch, and he'd get that hurt look— "Wow... do I really scare you that much?"
Nadiya also had something to say about that back then. I was pretty stressed about Diego in the fall of 2019, stressed about the boundaries he kept pushing. He wanted to hug and cuddle. He put his arm around me on my couch and I felt sort of sick. Nadiya is the voice of reason whenever she says, "That's not okay..."
Makes me realize—oh, yeah. Wait. I don't actually have to let these things happen to me?
Months later, when I felt he wasn't going to push those boundaries anymore unless I initiated, I felt a lot more safe and comfortable. I still experienced a moment where I felt kind of distant and anxious, but it passed and it had less to do with him and more to do with just how I get about these things.
I don't even know what to say about Adrian. I don't want to touch that, lmao. Those memories to me are just—painful, especially at a moment like this.
Isaac's boundary-breaking was more in the emotional realm, but that was still very alienating and uncomfortable. Actually, sometimes Liv had a similar effect on me.
I am just so~ funny and so~ cute that people cannot resist making me screech or yelp or make that face with the big eyes or snark at them or whatever. It's a rapport, a back and forth, and I am weak and to soften to blow I laugh when I say, "Don't touuuuch, I don't like it, please." The words are pretty transparent; the tone is not. To me, I am being genuine. But to them, I'm just being kinda quirky or something?
Huh. I'm surprisingly mad about that. Not sure where that anger is directed, though. I'm hesitant—no, I think I'm scared? To investigate? This is already so much to think about as it is. I just—want to focus on this one train of thought.
I hate feeling this way. Anxious and unfocused. Or rather very focused, but on the type of things I'd rather forget. Which is what I had been planning on doing. Just—being alone and working the social overstimulation out of my system.
Maria got me a squishmallow!!! For her birthday??? I already know what I'd like to get her as a present, but I have yet to settle on where to buy it or what type, lmao... I'm gonna go to this store downtown tomorrow to see if the guy working has any recommendations. Oh, shit, I forgot I also have to go in for my inspection, which was rescheduled from Friday...
Maria was complaining about how she's such a simp on our way from the train station back to her apartment.
I said, "Do I really have to drive you to work tomorrow?" because she'd asked earlier, but I couldn't tell if she was being serious. I really don't like driving in Cambridge and I also didn't want to have to leave for a 3 hour drive that early in the morning.
She sighed and said, "No, it was just a fantasy. In my fantasy, you drive me to work every day and we're married and we have two dogs..."
I'm the queen of side-stepping, because I avoided most of that, and continued the conversation with a recommendation that she stop being a simp. Besides, I am not positive that that fantasy is me-specific. She jokes about having a crush on me, etc.—I don't know how genuine it is. I'm sure she had a crush on me at some point. I mentioned this to Nadiya on the phone, to which she was suspiciously silent. Whatever. I don't want to know, I really don't—I don't know how casual attraction works in other people.
Point is, Maria was like, "I always do this, where I build up a fantasy with people and then nothing happens."
I said, "I think that's pretty common. Sucks, but it's common. But don't you think you'd be disappointed? When the people aren't what you thought?"
Somehow this led to my pushing my anti-simp agenda. You see, generally speaking, I am really not a simp. I don't have a strong desire for a romantic relationship—I'm not that interested in having sex with people—I don't find that many people physically attractive—I find even less people emotionally attractive.
I'm not a dead fish or anything, I *have* simped (I mean—prime example being Melvin, lmao. Nadiya, when I relayed the concept, said, "Didn't you also simp for Moby?" Moby being the most serious... romantic... scenario in which I've been involved??? To which I said, "Not exactly," because simping, to me, gets complicated once you factor in reciprocation—because that's where I tend to withdraw and face the consequences of my fantasization; simping is, at its core, fantasy). But I am not really a simp.
The concept of wanting to just—be close to people, to *friends,* is weird to me. It's not like I'm stone-cold when I see a cute cashier. Obviously, I think they're cute. But Maria—reportedly—thinks "ask me out on a date," whereas I think I wouldn't get that far. Although, I know Maria and I have similar problems with intimacy. Once a date happens/is happening, we tend to recede and be disappointed. We're not so different there.
We're definitely different on the friend-front, though, right? I can go an entire friendship without hand-holding, probably. Maybe a lean here and there when we're drunk, but everything else—is a lot, and runs the risk of becoming a regret, even if I find it comfy at the time.
This is to say—my anti-Simp agenda. Me, a master-class anti-Simper, of both the platonic and romantic variety.
It was sort of a bit, a joke. Me, saying, "Ok, I'm going to compliment you—don't respond with 'will you marry me'"
—because this is quite literally what she had asked me minutes before when she spouted off some Star Trek knowledge I didn't know she had—me, being impressed by her nerdiness, said "You're really cool!" and she groaned and said, "Marry me," as one does.
"I think your outfit is nice."
"I know," she said, etc. etc.
Once we got back to the apartment and met up with Nadiya there, we told her about our ongoing anti-Simp class, and I think Maria mentioned it was because she was touching me too much or whatever? I don't know.
And Nadiya was like "But you'd stop if she hated it."
And I said, "I do hate it!" half-laughing, because I'm a dumbass.
And Maria said, "Yeah, she does hate it," and maybe she added "she doesn't love me" because that's what she says sometimes when I recoil, lmao.
And Nadiya said, "That's... not great, that's nonconsensual," only she said it very lightly too. But I can read her—I'm sure Maria can too—so I could tell she was also serious. Nadiya asked me if I really was uncomfortable. What was I gonna do, lie? I mean, I already said it to Maria anyways. so I just repeated it, trying to make it as light and casual as possible. Softening the blow however I could.
Sandwiching it between iterations of "But it's fine," because it is.
This morning, Maria was still doing the anti-Simp bit even though I was half-asleep and couldn't carry my half of the joke; if it even is a joke anymore. I think Nadiya's words affected her. Anyway, I was relieved in a way, but also still uncomfortable. More because some things had been admitted the night before, which in turn made me admit stuff to myself, and maybe made me have some consciously not-good thoughts about people that I love.
So Nadiya called me and asked about all that. This is so stupid.
I said I'd rather make myself uncomfortable than Maria, basically. Because ultimately, I'm worried that if this hurts Maria, it'll be in a way that I can't soothe, you know? And it definitely *will* hurt. And what if she recedes from me because of it? I wouldn't be able to do anything about it.
Nadiya had been in a similar situation with Maria years back, which is both comforting and not, because Yes Nadiya resolved it successfully, but also that might mean Maria has the seed of a complex about it. Or the complex was already there?
Nadiya was like, "If we were talking about someone else, I would tell you that if your friendship really is solid, it will survive a conversation like this." Which was her way of saying that, even though she felt too close to the situation to be entirely objective—even though she really empathized with my fears, having felt them herself before—she still thought I could use this piece of advice. I wanted to cry. (I mean, I did cry.)
Because she's also the one who brought up the fact that this situation seemed a lot like my past situations, and that this could be a good way to try and work on my boundary-setting skills.
She is... such a good fucking friend.
Anyway, I got overwhelmed, and I'm still overwhelmed by all of this. I feel a bit better after writing. Not that I feel this does the situation any justice. And I think I wrote it confusingly, but I have been extremely confused! And nervous. And upset.
I don't have to do anything right now. Just think about it. That's all.