When I was very young, and I’m talking single-digit ages here, I was an extremely gregarious, open, talkative, & mostly-happy child.
I had friends, I was involved in Girl Scouts, even had a “boyfriend” (in 10-yr old speak, that meant we spent a summer talking about horses & riding horses around town.)
In 1981, after we moved from Iowa to North Dakota, I started to change.
Through no fault of my own, when I started school, I was immediately tagged as “other”.
Small town, everyone knows everyone, & either they’re related, or their families have been friends for generations.
Me – I was smart and didn’t play their traditional sports, so automatically, a geek, and a loser.
Mind you, I could’ve ridden circles around them on horseback, but put both my feet on the ground?
Completely uncoordinated & awkward.
Anyway, I got bullied a LOT in middle & highschool.
So, I started building defenses.
And while my first defense was to retreat from social interactions, after being “Mean Girled” multiple times,
Sarcasm was one of my favorites languages.
I just kept my comments low, usually one-line zingers, so that only the closest people to me could hear.
And, I wrote.
A fuckton of bad emo poetry.
And some interesting essays, that I still enjoy re-reading, sometimes. Ahh nostalgia, you saucy, philosophical bitch.
Once out of highschool, I went a little bonkers.
Of course, this was post- 16-yr old trauma, but… Some of it was me, searching desperately for my younger, more outgoing self. And, it was the late 80s. EVERYTHING was overblown in the 80s.
The hair, the clothes, the makeup, movies, music, hell, even the jewelry.
And, so was my Attitude.
With a CAPITAL-FUCKING-A.
I drank, I partied at one particular fraternity in college (TKE, love your house forever), and, after I left college, I partied harder.
I spent a lot of time perfecting my “fuck off if you don’t like me” persona.
When, in reality, I cared a whole mess of a bunch.
Emotional defenses are some of the most difficult to break through, both from outside AND within.
And it affects the reasons why you do the things you do, as well as how you react to things around you.
My current defense mechanisms are strong, and mostly unconscious.
And with this being Mental Health Awareness month, I’m gonna spill some of my deepest-held secrets.