In general, I have a hard time meeting new people. A lot of that comes from growing up and being conditioned not to speak to anyone outside of our inner family circle. Some of it is this underlying fear that people can see right through me and know all of the disgusting truths that lie within. And then a small part of it is just lack of social skills, which sort of ties back to my shitty upbringing.
Even though I’ve been down here now almost six weeks, I have, for the most part, actively avoided meeting people. I haven’t really had the energy to expend on others because I have been so preoccupied trying to keep myself together. Luckily, I haven’t been approached by anyone, so it hasn’t been an issue. Until yesterday.
I clocked out of work at one o’clock and went to the lounge to grab my things. I sat down at the table to make sure I had everything before I left to catch the bus, when a man’s head popped out from the couch in front of me to say hello. I recognized him from having briefly been introduced the first day I started. He immediately struck up a conversation and I found myself sitting there, listening intently. Then he said “I don’t even know why I’m telling you so much, I just feel really comfortable talking to you.” I get that a lot. Which is weird to me, because I also have been told by a few that I am completely unapproachable due to my permanent resting bitch face. Even so, most people have felt that same inexplicable comfort in coming to me with their problems; I’ve been “counseling” people since I was in high school. I always found it ironic because my greatest desire was for someone, anyone to help me, and here I was helping everyone else.
Back to work guy, he started asking me questions. Not in a pushy way, just general curiosity. He knew I just moved here (I had mentioned it in our brief introduction), and he asked me where I moved, if I had a roommate, etc. I explained I had a roommate I just met. He was a little shocked, so I explained that I moved here on a whim. He seemed naturally curious and asked why someone would do that (which I should have expected, I didn’t think that through). At this point, I’m playing out all of the scenarios in my head. What do I tell him? Do I make up a story? Shit, I should have come up with a cover story beforehand. I don’t have enough time now. I can’t tell him the truth, these people won’t understand. That’s way too much to throw on someone I just met. My head was spinning. I just went with what came out. “Have you ever just been around toxic people? I was, and I just got to a point where I knew I needed to make a change, so I did. And I left.” I’m pretty sure I panicked the ten seconds between my last word and his response. But he didn’t freak out. He said “I understand toxic people. That was a big risk you took. I don’t think I could ever do that.” Whew. Crisis averted.
Here we are, now 35 minutes into a conversation, still going well, still not needing an Ativan to keep it together. Then he asked about my duck. The duck I carry around to help keep me grounded. The duck I held close to me that day like it was worth a million dollars because I was still so unstable from the day before. Why did he have to ask about the duck? I turned my head away from him and said “It’s stupid. I’ll tell you another day.” But he persisted. “I won’t make fun of you or judge you,” he said, “I really want to know.” There went my head again. Cue hurricane of scenarios spinning in my mind. I couldn’t be rude. This guy seemed really nice and genuine. But there’s only so much people can understand. I know for sure he wouldn’t know about DID. PTSD? Maybe. Let’s go with that. So I told him I have PTSD, and I carry it around to keep me grounded in case I start having flashbacks. His head dropped and he apologized, but he had nothing to be sorry for. He knew what PTSD was; he knew a few people who had it. He asked me what caused mine. I said I had a really traumatic past. At this point, I didn’t even hesitate or overthink on what to say. My response just came out. Then he opened up about his childhood and how he has dealt with his stress.
We talked about Superman (he noticed my bag), the movies (we both like going), about people who drink and smoke too much, and then about crazy customers. Before I knew it, an hour had passed. He was about to go punch in for work and asked if I was on any social media. Fuck. Everyone is on social media. Unless you are in hiding from your abusive family. FUCK. The reality of my situation really set in at that point. I realized that even though for the last hour I felt almost normal, I was still living the life of a person in hiding, because I very much am a person in hiding. I said “Well, I did. I do, but it’s under a fake name.” I looked to the floor like I was ashamed. He said “That’s alright. I don’t know much about you, but from what I do know I’m sure you have your reasons for it.” What is wrong with this person? Why is he still talking to me? And then…THEN…he asked for my number! Even worse, I gave it to him. I don’t know what is wrong with me. Fuck this human connection shit.