Office Hours

I am, as a type this, sitting at my desk, my iPad open to the side. Canvas is showing me the link to my professor´s office hours. I had wanted to go, and felt I had a good reason. But now I am just not sure. I write better than I speak. When I am talking with people, especially face to face, even on Zoom, I tend to freeze up or just say stupid things. Whatever eloquent words I wanted to use evaporate and I trip over my tongue.

As a child, I was taught that nothing I said or did was important. Nothing I want is important. That was reinforced over 25 years of an abusive marriage. So I have to overcome the idea that I´m wasting the professor´s time. Isn´t this just something I can send in an email? Why am I using up this time for a conversation? What purpose does it serve except to give the professor more of an opportunity to see just how really stupid I am?

The screen has dimmed to that pre-auto-off thing it does and still I sit here wondering why am I torturing myself with this. It´s powered down now and I feel better. It´s off and maybe I can stop thinking about it. I can just go on with life and not bother her, or any of the others again. I am, after all, just a problem.

Over the summer as I worked through Internal Family Systems, I was very cautious about my level of excitement. I likened that time to being in some isolated program where nothing from the outside world interfered. I knew the biggest test would come when I had to be around people again. And it has come, and it has hit hard.

Now, I have to face all those parts that really got a break over the summer. All the parts that have been programmed to be as anti-social as humanly possible so I can protect myself from anyone who is likely to do me, or my kids, harm. And that is, in my mind, everyone I meet. Even though I know this is not true, that there are some good people out there, my experience with my family has taught me that people fake kindness. It takes only a second, one small thing, and they will turn on you and hate you. I have had this experience outside my family. It has happened again just recently and it has made me more skittish.

But this is an area I will have to work on because some day I´m going to have to go out my front door again and into the rest of the world. My job times out at the end of this term—it’s an intern position. There are not many jobs available. And I have to have this people skills thing down or I´m going to fall apart as I have in the past.

I try to focus on how far I´ve come, the fact that I am handling this mostly well. But fifty years of abuse doesn´t just dissipate overnight, or even over one season. This is a long, very difficult road.