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29 April 2003 @ 01:14 pm
On being reserved  
Yet another product of my fevered mind. Maybe it's one of the benefits of being sick - the only one as far as I can tell.

I've said it before - people accuse me of being guarded. Of not letting people in. Arms length. Aloof. Cynical. The Ice Princess (which my roommate reminds me of occasionally, as he was around in the time when I acquired that nick).

Yes, I am all those things. All those things and more. The question is why? And how does it affect my life? Is there anything to do about it?

First, the why.

Mostly as a protective mechanism. Some of it is learned behavior, as well.

I was a *serious* ugly duckling as a child. A tiny little thing, all knees and elbows with an Annie haircut. I was the kid that the bullies picked on and everyone made fun of. Or overlooked. Picked last. I didn't have dates, I was the one that people came to for advice (even as a teen). Was never asked to a dance, but people wanted my advice on them. I didn't really have friends as a child, pretty much only my horse. Kids can sense fear and unhappiness and will prey on it as sign of weakness, so it was always better to hide it. It’s funny – the high school reunion people managed to find me yesterday via email. I am attempting to write a polite and cheerful note back without giving them any of the information that they want. I’m torn – on the one hand I really don’t want anything to do with those people. High school was a miserable time, and I cannot honestly call one of those people my friend. On the other hand, it would be entertaining to show up in a little black dress just to taunt them. *sigh* It merits some thought.

I was also a precocious child. Brilliant. Genius. All those terms were thrown around with great abandon when I was a kid. Being publicly smarter than the adults is *not* a good thing. Also, being publicly smarter than classmates is equally bad, if not worse. So I learned to hide the brains a bit. To accept information but not give it. Not always successfully, mind you. I also hung around more with adults than with kids my own age. Which is many ways helped me to mature and deal with life better than many of my contemporaries, but in other ways it kinda squished my outgoingness.

I had one sort of pivotal experience in high school. The only boy I dated before I hit my 20's was a German exchange student in high school. Charlie was gorgeous and smart and definitely sought after. Like by every one of the pretty little girls at school. For some reason that I never really understood he chose me to date. Which immediately made me a target. *Shrug* That was hard, but bearable. And frankly, having that many gals jealous of me was exciting and fed my ego a bit. But then, one humid Midwestern morning he killed himself. Stabbed himself 17 times. The other kids blamed me, as we were ‘going out’ at the time and I had yelled at him. And he wrote it in the damned letter he left too. Within a couple of days it was discovered that the real problem was dosage issues. I understood that and managed to keep the guilt to a dull roar for the most part. But back then most kids had no idea that some people needed to take medication, unlike now where it seems that everyone takes pills for something or another. So, they just blamed me instead - *that* they could understand. I think it was then that the mask became a permanent feature.

Reserve is also a learned behavior from my father as well. He was a generation older than my mother, and his generation was more reserved as a general rule than subsequent ones. Drama wasn’t really tolerated in our house. Yes, we were kids with all the attendant events, but there was never a lot of shouting in our house. Come to think of it, I can only think of seeing my Dad cry twice.

I think some of it comes from losing part of my childhood - those teenage years. I never really got to be a crazy teenager. The accident at 13 turned me into an adult almost overnight. In some ways I am more daring now than I was as a young adult.

Some people are threatened by me, which I really really don't understand at all. Never have. But I've seen it and it is real. Intimidated is perhaps a better term, tho that seems even more silly. Being reserved is a reaction to their… fear. I try to be unassuming to make others feel more comfortable.

My attention can be disconcerting, I've discovered over the years. I hear the stories and don't quite believe them, but still. I think it might have something to do with reading lips. When I pay attention or speak to someone I really *pay* attention to *them*. I can be as serious as a heart attack and blunt to a fault, on occasion. Mostly I try to hide it behind politeness and such. I can be intense and many cannot handle the full force of my personality, so I keep it under wraps for the most part. I am also a complex person, so it requires some actual effort on other’s part. Which doesn’t happen often. So being reserved is safe because it means there is less of an investment on my part. Less hurt occurs when I’m blown off.

Don't get me wrong I can be a great conversationalist and people always seem to understand that I am genuinely interested in what they have to say and how they are doing. The things that I know about people are absolutely amazing. Some of the things are frightening. Maybe I just make a good confessor or something.

Someone mentioned that I was reserved, guarded, just a few days ago. I
pointed them to a Technicolor example of why I was. All could think was ‘Can’t you *see* why I hide in my cave?!’

Romantic and friendship things don't go very well for me. I think I do not make a very good friend or SO. It's like I make a great friend *to* people, but they rarely seem to be there in return. I was once best friends with someone. She was having problems with her marriage and I phoned her almost every day long distance, in addition to seeing her on many weekends (it happens in the SCA). I held her little hand as best I could. I was there when she was attracted to someone else and it was tearing her apart. I drove 500 miles to be there for her when she asked her husband for a divorce. And in return, what she told people is that *I* was sleeping with her husband and that’s why they were divorcing. It seems that when I do let myself get involved, when I do let people know what I want or need that I get *bapped * by the universe somehow. I’ve gotten other big baps from relationships as well (husband, Britboy). More recent events have only served to illustrate the point.

It's gotten worse over the years. The walls are raised every once in awhile, as I get *bapped!* on the nose.

So why not be reserved?

People can not hurt you if you do not give them the ability to do so. If you hide the pain, the confusion, the angst then the illusion is preserved. I can almost convince myself that I don't care. Makes it easier when the inevitable disappointment happens. Gods know why I'm stupid enough to place myself at the mercy of others anymore - you would think I woulda learned that by now. So the take home lesson is if you don't *care* then it won't matter what happens in the end. It won't hurt.

The bar is high, and when people make it I fall hard, whether it be as friends or as more. Maybe I need to raise it more, or be more careful or… something.

Perhaps I am too subtle. Actually, I know I am generally. Another legacy of my father, with a good dose of rich girls private school thrown it. It's not polite to be obvious. So few understand the understatement. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic…

What is there to do about it? Not much, I think, other than live with the consequences. In the end it's just easier to keep things on the superficial level, because that is all most people want.

Welcome to the masquerade.

So I will continue to have these conversation with myself here, in hopes that I will learn something. That I might not keep making the same mistakes again and again.

-the redhead-
Faith is... impractical. And trust is just an exercise in pain.
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IN LOCO PARENTIS: tattoolibidoergosum on April 29th, 2003 01:34 pm (UTC)
interesting... haven't had the opportunity to digest it all... but it seems a lot like my experience in highschool. Except, with me... instead of living a masquerade, I'm going to try and join the Army to reinvent myself by living a childhood dream.

do you mind if I add you to my friends list?
-the redhead-theredhead on April 29th, 2003 02:07 pm (UTC)
I don't mind at all *smile*

So how did you happen to stumble across my little corner of the world?

-the redhead-
IN LOCO PARENTIS: tattoolibidoergosum on April 29th, 2003 02:13 pm (UTC)
I was looking at happypete's friends list. He's one of my Fraternity brothers from way back when I was a freshman in college. You stuck out because of your Dawn icon.
-the redhead-theredhead on April 29th, 2003 02:35 pm (UTC)
Interesting. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who reads people's friends lists. But I don't think I'm on his friend's list either?

-the redhead-
IN LOCO PARENTIS: Smokin'!libidoergosum on April 29th, 2003 02:57 pm (UTC)
I think it was on a collective list between him and prettypammie (his wife)

I normally don't, but I saw a post of his yesterday regarding people from his past, and he mentioned specifically his Fraternity brothers.... once upon a time ago they, too were important to me... now I'm debating whether or not to close the chapter (no pun intended) on the Fraternity aspect of my life.
Sylver Wolfsylverwolf on April 29th, 2003 09:24 pm (UTC)
Except that in being a friend, in being a good listener, and being that intense... you can't help but care for the people. Walls or no walls, people sneak in, climb over or slip around behind. And some people are going to be asses, but Some people aren't, and that's what you've got to look for, and hold on to. Because Those people can help you deal with the asses, help you through the bapping universe.

I've had great friends myself, it's my love-life that's caused me to raise walls time and again. But there's always someone who manages to slip past that wall, and who breaks it down from the inside. Sure, some of those people have hurt me, but they've also taught me a great deal about myself. And my friends were always there to pull me through and stand me up again.

::Hugs::
dirtstar on April 29th, 2003 11:11 pm (UTC)
This was a fascinating post that took me almost ten minutes to read because I felt it was worth focusing on.

It's funny - I think you would have been one of those girls in school I would have wanted to ask out but was too afraid to.

And on the friends thing - the walls and the care you take with people makes total sense to me - most people are not worth it, but even with the ones that are you can get fucked over. Then again wasn't it still rewarding in some way while the relationship was in a great place? Aren't the memories alone worth it?
paradoxymoronparadoxymoron on April 30th, 2003 01:35 am (UTC)
wow. yet again, I read one of your posts only to be dissapointed by the stunning lack of n00dy pixors.

wait. That wasn't why I added you in the first place.

I am not a nice person. I act like it sometimes, but I'm me. Selfish, bratty, generally an ass with moments of non-assness. But I did/do have my friends. And my friends were friends with everyone in school, so I could float between cliques, within reason. And, it turns out, sometimes the people that no one would truck with were the most interesting people to talk to and hang with.

But I must go, as I need sleep and the Orbit gum cutie is on. Discuss?
Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.melanie on April 30th, 2003 10:26 am (UTC)
i fail to see what is wrong with a reserved person. granted, i'm married to one such person...anyway. to me, it makes it even more of a warm fuzzy feeling when someone like this takes a chance on opening up to me. i feel honored when a person who is generally reticent puts out the energy to give me internal glimpses here and there. otoh, i spent the first half of my life having to hide everything and keep lots of big secrets, so when i gained control of my own destiny i became a very everything-on-the-table sort of person. to me, it just feels really good to not have to fear things, not have to hide things. yes, rejection is the risk. but i have been consistently surprised at how, as the years go by and my peer group matures, less and less of that rejection happens. and when it does, well, i look at it as a useful weeding-out tool, saving me the trouble of investing time, energy and emotion in people who can't handle the truth about who i am and where i've been. my husband, the reserved one, sometimes has thoughts that i devalue myself in a way by sharing so openly with so many. but i don't feel that way, and it's My Me, after all. as long as i'm not devalued in *his* eyes, we don't have a problem.

i think there's a point in there, somewhere. maybe not. it was fun looking around, though.
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2003 10:33 pm (UTC)
B-O-R-I-N-G.

-the blonde-
-the redhead-theredhead on May 1st, 2003 12:31 pm (UTC)
Dear Paul-

thank you so much for your lovely and caring comment in my journal. May I suggest that your attempt at anonymity was less than successful? I might also recommend that you consider getting a life.

-the redhead-
...has tools, knows how to use them. Has people in pastry hats too...
(Anonymous) on May 1st, 2003 01:08 pm (UTC)
Wow, you're just full of shit all across the board, aren't you?

Paul must have a life because I am not him; I found your journal off of someone else's who said you were profound. The more I read you, the more annoyed I became at your drivel. As far as me having a life, I do indeed! It's just harassing dumb cunts such as yourself is more fun that doing the dishes.

Oh, and I REALLY am afraid of you and your "tools". Really. What a joke.
Stormy Weatherororo on May 1st, 2003 02:14 pm (UTC)
There appears to be a pre-conceived notion that you're writing your journal for the benefit of other people. Sheesh, talk about an overblown sense of entitlement.

-the redhead-theredhead on May 1st, 2003 02:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, well I guess some people have no other way to feel important.

And now he's used the C word in yet another anonymous comment in my journal. *sigh* I hate that.

So now we get to dance...

-the redhead-
Musings from the CZ unitcz_unit on May 1st, 2003 05:16 pm (UTC)
Tisk tisk...
Hm. Our friend here (let's call him.... "Shoe") doesn't seem to realize that it is un-becoming to be an anti-social ass on LiveJournal, and that this can have reprecussions. Even if he chooses to hide behind "anonyminity" (which doesn't work if you're a LJ admin...).

At the best case he will get his account revoked for being a jerk. However making threatening comments to someone could result in either having RoadRunner dropping his cable modem internet access into the toilet or possibly even result in the Bakersfield police department paying him a visit.

Of course he could always apologize profusely, remove his posts from this journal, and find something else to do. That would be a nice thing to do.

Just sayin'
CZ