A Carnot engine of self-loathing (calypsomatic) wrote,
A Carnot engine of self-loathing

hey u guys give a fuck about my psychology and personal history? then i got good news for ya

I've always considered myself a weird mix when it comes to insecurities. There are a great many traits and habits frequent among people with pathologically low self-esteem or insecurity that I do not seem to exhibit in the least. Whatever it is that convinces people to allow others to treat them like dirt doesn't exist in me. Much behavior in this vein is very baffling to me; it would never occur to me to have these types of insecurities.

And yet I am not a self-confident person. I have severe doubts about myself, even beyond what might be considered a realistic assessment of myself, I often have very low expectations. This of course evolves over time, and although I can't remember my inner life over time with much clarity*, I think most likely I've become overall more confident and less insecure.

The trajectory is difficult to trace though, as I had some very disruptive periods in recent years that changed it dramatically and also obscure my perception of myself from before these periods.

I became temporarily invincible for about a year starting about three years ago. I was suffering through the worst case of heartbreak I've ever experienced, and, trying to act against my immediate desires and make the decisions that might end up helping me, I became very socially active. I was withdrawing from the group of friends I shared with my ex, as they became too painful to be around, so I went out and joined multiple other groups. I went to events, I met friends of friends, I followed up with people, I dragged myself through interaction after interaction, put myself in situation after situation. And I didn't care about the outcome of any of it. I didn't care if the new people I met liked me, I didn't care what they thought of me or how things went. I wasn't worried about anything, and I didn't *want* anything out of anyone. I would talk to people, and would learn what they are like and find it interesting, and appreciate and like them but in a detached way. Everything was other people and their interests and desires and emotions, and I was not a part of that. I could go up to people, talk to them, compliment them, accept compliments back. I expected people to like me, and they often did, but I didn't care either way. Nothing could hurt me. I had nothing to fear. I could make friends, they could reject me, I could act in any way and if people thought I was stupid or lame or unattractive or worthless, it would make no difference for me. What's the worst that could happen? Someone would wait until I had revealed my deepest self, was at the peak of thinking I had connected with someone, that I had really found something special, and then say, 'Eh, never mind, I guess I don't like you *that* much. And you're not that cute.'? Nothing else could even matter, all other pain would be nothing. I was invincible.

But I suppose it's a part of the healing process that you lose that invincibility, that you slowly become weak, grow your vulnerabilities back, your defensive structures dissolve, until at the moment you are at your softest - and the last phase of complete vulnerability before regrowing the armor begins.

And so, although I'm primarily back to something like a bria-normal, I have new cavities, soft spots throughout my person where none of the self-awareness and confidence I do yet have are present. Where I can be quite suddenly submerged in the kind of social and personal fears and anxieties I had forgotten existed these past three years. Where for a moment, no matter what I may in my mind think I actually want, my body panics at the prospect of whatever phantom has grasped me this time.

And yet, I've only just realized, that what happens when I am struck with these terrors, when I slam into a fear full force, is actually quite... good. It is a psychological behavior in myself that I think is the way I would *want* it to be, which is quite rare. And it is something that I think possibly is not common in others, and that certainly was not present in me most of my life.

When I recognize a worry, feel my heart clench and guts drop out at some potential future event or unrealized truth about a situation, I don't grab it and hold it close to me. But I do grab it, just for one minute. I grab it and I hold it in front of me. I let the idea of the world in which that thing happens, in which that thing is actually the case, float in my mind, and look at what it would be like to live in that world. I acknowledge the unpleasantness of it. I know that due to the nature of the thing, my ability to evaluate how likely it is to happen is faulty, but I recognize both that it is possible, and that it is not certain.

And I accept it.
I do not want things to go this way: it is good to be aware of your fears.
I cannot predict with accuracy whether it will happen or not: To say that there is nothing to fear, to dismiss the fear, is not a viable strategy. There is no law that says that things will always go well for me, go the way that I want. Very few fears are entirely unfounded; things like this have happened and do happened, and I am not immune. This is the strategy that many people trying to combat things like low self-esteem seem to promote or engage in, and it concerns me, seeming very dangerous and unwise.
But, it is, still, a worry, and for most of the ones that occur, I can recognize the evidence that a friend might point out to me in an attempt to reassure me, and from a perspective undistorted by anxiety. It is at least unlikely enough that I can behave as though things will continue as they are, and that they are as they appear to be, until more information is gathered. I can stop worrying and just live.
And I accept the possibility that it will happen: I would not like it, but I would deal with it. This is life. There will be pain, but pain is not all there is.

*A problem inherent in the storage system and not peculiar to me, as the nature of inner life is that it accords with the current psychological and cognitive state of your brain, and as such is distorted when remembered from the framework of a different state
Tags: confidence, heartbreak, insecurity
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