Anxiety, Inadequacy and “That Girl” – on melting down
I meant to have an awesome post about the cervix ready for you folks today but I seem to have acquired the dreaded “crud” and don’t have the mental energy to deliver that post as well as I would want to. Instead I’ve unearthed something I wrote a while back- at the very beginning of September- but didn’t post for a couple of reasons. I only really remembered it when I was taking stock of what I had written in the last couple of months. Posting it back then wouldn’t have worked, it would have just been venting. Posting it now though, now that the larger story of which it is a part has finished, feels right. Why? Because looking at it now I see what I couldn’t see then – that so little of it was about my weight, my inadequacy or even the girl and so much of it was just about being unhappy, about feeling that I was not good enough. My meltdown in this situation was the result of hiding my feelings, trying to pretend I was okay and fighting to make myself believe the situation I was in was right. I’m seeing how things fit together and I’m excited to share it with you.
Anyway, I’m off to sleep and get better. I’ll be back next week with cervixes and some fun with toys.
September 1, 2013
I’ve been a ball of anxiety lately. It could be credited to any number of things including but not limited to:
- Recovering from the shock of the cross-country move
- Doubts about my professional future (I know, I’m fabulous but even I don’t know what I’m doing all the time)
- Financial stressors
- The impending 2nd anniversary of my father’s death
- My first real relationship since my divorce
- My first non-monogamous relationship ever
- Health issues – my immune system is a shit-show right now
- Feelings of complete unsexy-ness resulting from said health issues
- Weight gain that has resulted from those health issues leaving me with a body that I don’t know, don’t like and am not equipped to dress
- My seeming powerlessness in fixing the weight issue (seriously, not budging – and this used to be my job, I know how to fix it)
- The feeling that as a sex-positive, body positive educator I’m not allowed to be upset about the weight issue.
- Physical pain that I think is connected to stress or the extra weight or both.
Anyway by the time I arrived at this past weekend I was a kind of a mess. I was hating on my body and myself pretty hard. I had been through week of back pain and what didn’t hurt was so tight it felt like the back of my body had been assembled from boards. Basically my nerves were like catgut.
So then we went to a party. I’m still just meeting people in Portland, parties are still a little scary and then there was “that girl”
I entered my twenties in the early 2000s when “that girl” was in full effect. You all know “that girl” especially if you remember that time period. She would talk loudly and provocatively about sex for no reason other than attention. She would make out with her female friends because “guys think it’s hot” She’d say things like “Oh no! I lost my pen! I must have left it behind at my last lesbian orgy!” My personal favorite “that girl” story from my early twenties involves a night out with some friends that was pretty much defined by a girl who sat at the middle of the bar and proceeded to hold court (loudly) on her great love of anal sex.
As a quiet, awkward introvert who struggled with embracing my own sexuality and had no body confidence I spent years being passed over, overlooked and straight up pushed aside so people could get at “that girl” I went to college with a version of “that girl” and the joke was that it didn’t matter how awesome a connection you made with any guy because she would do everything short of erecting a mud wrestling pit in the middle of the party to make sure the attention landed on her- and it always worked. What I learned was that “that girl” always wins.
I had kind of forgotten that feeling. I’ve been a badass sexually confident functioning adult for a while now. Lately though (and I’ve been so hesitant to admit this) since my weight has gone wonky and I haven’t been able to figure it out I have felt so not myself, so unattractive, so not sexy and just so uncomfortable. My swagger has been gone. My confidence has been shaken. I just haven’t been me. It has been a big part of the anxiety lately.
So, of course, now would be the time to run into “that girl”
We’re at a party on saturday and a girl starts fawning all over the boyfriend- telling him how hot he is (which, yeah, he is), kissing his neck and hanging all over him. Needless to say (I think?) this person was drunk or high or something and maybe a little over the top but she was being funny and we are non-monogamous so it wasn’t a “get your hands off my man” situation, I was actually enjoying seeing my boyfriend get that positive attention. So we all had few minutes of niceties and then went our separate ways for the evening.
Cut to a couple hours later. I have hit my “done” point for the evening but it’s Portland so we have to call for a cab and then stand around for 45 minutes waiting. I’m feeling extremely done and standing with boyfriend and 5 other people when I hear “that girl” behind me talking about her (I shit you not here) “boobies” which she is now clearly showing someone. Then I hear her say my boyfriend’s name. Then she comes over to where we are and announces that she will again be displaying her “boobies”. One of the other women engages her and they do this together and get very little response (it was a burner party- exposed breasts are fairly normal). With one noteworthy exception- my boyfriend- who leans around me to look at them and say “You are both very beautiful women”
I freaking lost it. I walked out front (where of course there was no cab and wouldn’t be one for ANOTHER 45 minutes. – F you PDX. Be a real city!) and proceeded to argue about what the problem was with my boyfriend and it was not terribly successful because I couldn’t really name it all that well. All I knew was all of the anxiety all of the tension and all of the self-hatred came out right there and it grew even bigger because I had failed.
I wasn’t the cool non-monogamous girlfriend. I was the psycho jealous girl who gets angry at parties and henceforth everyone will be like “oh, watch what you say, she’ll get all upset!” “That girl” had won. She might not have taken my boyfriend but she certainly took me down.
I was a mess for the bulk of the next 24 hours. I cried multiple times. I couldn’t get myself to do anything- everything seemed overwhelming. I weighed whether I should even be living in Portland. It was like a slow-motion, large-scale, very long panic attack. It wasn’t about the party. It was just everything. I had never been more aware of the meaning of the phrase “the last straw” because really I could have taken so much and remained cool. If our cab had come within a normal time of us calling, if this girl had not been acting absurd. If my boyfriend hadn’t rewarded her with the exact attention she wanted, I could have taken it. Hell, if all things had gone down the exact way they had but I wasn’t feeling all low-self-esteemy/self-hatred-y it probably would have been fine (boyfriend would have been treated to an eye roll for the ages but still) but all of those things together added up to too much.
I recognize that I have a lot going on and just need to take some time to dig out from it but I needed (for myself) to unpack what, about the incident at the party, made me so upset, It was bigger than “you looked at boobs” It was a freaking burner party- there were boobs everywhere. It was not “that girl wasn’t me” because, well, that’s something we often talk openly about. I batted a couple of ideas around and it wasn’t until this morning that it hit me. The fact that I’m hating on myself so hard and feeling so sexually unappealing and the this girl was doing the whole “I’m going to be overtly and loudly sexual to get the attention on me” thing brought up so many familiar feelings of inadequacy and self-hatred. It took me back to a time when I was convinced that sexuality was for other people. It conspired with the voices that have been telling me I suck to make me feel like a joke – the world’s least sexy sex blogger.
So, now I’m regrouping. I’m finding ways to take care of myself. I’m trying to not be mortified by the incident at the party and I’m moving forward.
I’m also taking a few days away from social media. I miss you guys but the world is a little too loud right now.
Finally, and this is the important one because I want you all to learn from it, I’m trying to be kinder to myself. To forgive myself for:
- Needing time to adjust to my new life
- Not being an expert
- Freaking out about money
- Still mourning my dad
- Being scared of relationships
- Still figuring out non-monogamy
- Not being the size I want to be
- Having feelings about that
Further I’m trying to physically take care of myself. I told you I’m having health issues and right now I think my health stuff is causing stress which is making the health stuff worse which is causing stress. etc. It’s craziness.
So, will you guys do this with me? Can we all just be nicer to ourselves?
Thanks for listening
Curious as to how this relates to now? Check out last week’s post “Calling Myself Out- I Haven’t Written in Months” to see where I landed 4 months later.
© Copyright 2014 JoEllen Notte, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Redhead Bedhead