This isn’t really about “starting shit” so much as “I have a lot of tangentially related feelings”.
It’s funny because, like, I can sympathize because I understand having a visceral negative reaction to something even when you know it isn’t real and it isn’t actually dangerous. But. I can’t actually say “This would have bothered me too.” If I had stumbled across that specific thing, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me.
I know how to cope with people yelling at/lecturing me, and
By experience I’m not primed to expect actual physical violence from angry people, and
Even if I felt like I was in actual danger, I don’t react normally to danger, anyway.
I’ve had an experience where I honestly thought my life was in danger. And I was maybe not completely rational during it, I wasn’t making the smartest choices, I wasn’t communicating as clearly as I could have if I was actually okay, but I know I looked and acted 100% calm and collected. (Because at first no one I talked to understood that it was a serious problem.) I acted 100% calm and collected, if a little stiff, for probably about 24 hours. Then I acted completely fine for a week. Then, I cried myself to sleep a few times, and for a long time– maybe a year?– I couldn’t think about it without tearing up.
In stressful situations I almost always have some degree of unreality or insulation from what’s happening. Even my anxiety is freezing, stilling. I don’t know what it is to actually feel scared while fearing for your life. I can maybe just barely imagine it, just enough to make me feel really fucking uncomfortable about how far my experiences are from normal.
Next time on Minty’s Brain!
Why have I got a well-developed set of ways to cope with people yelling at me, when I also feel like actual real-life yelling isn’t something that’s happened to me too terribly often?
It isn’t really that abnormal to feel numb initially and have more of an emotional reaction later. But this is just something I’ve been told– I don’t think I’ve actually heard anyone else describe this in a way I really identify with. I think I really do have this in an unusual way/to an unusual degree.
Normally I feel pretty okay about this insulated state of being that I have. It works okay for me. I can still think, no worse than I can when I’m stressed about minor things. It doesn’t feel bad in itself, and it takes the place of actively feeling anxious (even though the effects are similar) so you could say I actually felt better while debating calling 911 than I have while e.g. waiting my turn to play an audition.
…Okay, on really considering my memories of various auditions, I felt MUCH better psychologically while I thought my life was in danger. Really truly. I would actually rather redo that night than be teenage!me doing a solo performance in front of judges.
At the moment, I can only think of two downsides.
1. Other people don’t get it. If I’m telling you something is seriously wrong and I don’t look worried, you’re likely to be confused. If you know something is seriously wrong and I don’t seem to have any appropriate negative reaction, you might think I don’t care.
2. I didn’t used to be aware, explicitly, that this was how my brain worked, which made it hard to take good care of myself around stressful things. And even knowing intellectually that “I feel okay now, but I’m going to be really upset later” is likely to happen, I sometimes don’t realize when it’s happening.
The type of interaction that I’m actually scared of in the abstract, as opposed to stressed/anxious during– the thing that might make me go OH NO GET IT AWAY if I saw it unexpectedly in fiction– is the kind of thing that makes me stop thinking.
At least that’s the wording that comes to mind right now. Contrast with how up there I said that the numb/insulated feeling doesn’t make it harder to think in any significant way. I mean this thing, this thing. (Wow, I’ve done a really bad job of tagging this general area of topics. I have like four or five different tags that mean roughly the same thing but overlap unevenly. Not surprising, I guess. I’ve done a lot of grasping for words about this.)
Plenty of other things are stressful or anxiety-inducing, but that’s the only thing I’m scared of. I’m not scared of making phone calls. I’m definitely not scared of Sparkly’s mother being an asshole for the millionth time. I can deal. But I am scared of this thing.