Yesterday, I somehow got myself lost in the tangled spiderweb that is the past decade or so of my life. It’s easy for me to do this, because one of the advantages (and also disadvantages, I suppose) of living most of your adult life online and going through a period of being a prolific letter (i.e. e-mail) writer, is that you have a lot of written evidence of your personal journey and interactions with others that got you to where you are today.

The reason for my search was simple: Somewhere between 2005-2007, I had a Yahoo! account. It is one I no longer use, nor do I remember it, but it is liked to my long-inactive Flickr account. For sentimental reasons, I’d like to access my Flickr account, but when Flickr merged with Yahoo!, I must have created a log-in with Yahoo!. This account is likely long de-activated, but I was able to find the e-mail address I used to sign up with Flickr. It’s not useful, because you can’t sign into “old-skool Flickr” anymore. You need your Yahoo! ID. I wrote for help on this subject, explaining the conundrum. They said, “Just sign in with the account you used to create Flickr, and we’ll send you the Yahoo! ID.” Great, except the account is linked to “jadedelegance.com”, a domain I no longer own.

Two days of bashing my head against the keyboard yielded no results. I started to have fantasies about beating Yahoo! employees unconscious with a bat. The anxiety caused by communicating with Yahoo!, coupled with some financial worries this week, finally got to a breaking point and I told Yahoo! just how unhelpful they were and made a list of the reasons I’ve used Gmail since 2007. After that, I got a sound night’s sleep. Obviously, I am never getting into my old Flickr account, and the 2,000+ photos that are in there (many of which I lost when Kodak merged with something else and deleted years of memories) will not be rescued. Corporations suck.

In any case, I gave it a noble attempt. I reactivated a few Yahoo! addresses I remember having back in the day. None of them were it. I then looked in the “storage” folder where I stored voluminous correspondence from 2003-2006 from my former Earthlink account, hoping for some reference to initiating a Yahoo! ID. Nothing. But I did naturally get curious, and take a trip down memory lane.

I read some e-mails from ex-boyfriends I don’t always remember fondly, but happened to be reminded of some of the good times. I read some e-mails from some of my best friends, including one where I was apparently mad because a good friend of mine repeated some unflattering comments his college roommate made about me, and I was all sensitive and hurt by the opinion/comments of someone I did not know. (Ironically, I remember neither the comments nor why I cared. Even more ironically, the roommate who made them is someone I am now fond of as a person and consider a friend. Reading the conversation about how this person and I would never get along was like discovering the book you’re reading has ironic foreshadowing involved.) I read some e-mails from some people in my life who are no longer in it, but a part of me can see why I’d miss them (which is not the same as ever wishing to speak to them again.) I read some e-mails from haters, including a friend of a friend who seemed preoccupied with tearing me to shreds whenever possible, and referred to me as “Alayna-Renee Vilemont” or “Alayna-Renee Bitchmont”. He saw me as kind of an allegory for all that was wrong with society, and said some of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard from someone, until I started dating Southern boys and met their mothers. I even read e-mails from people I used to really love and idealise and wanted approval from, and now I look back, and think “Why?”

Some e-mails I couldn’t read, because opening up old chapters of life is too painful. I somehow managed to only concentrate on the positive ones, through the laws of random clicking.

One of the more amusing conversations I came across was from 2002 or so, before everyone started living every detail of their life on the internet, but I’d already been sucked into a world that included blogging, long-distance relationships, IM, and any way possible to over-share with strangers. (I’d like to think I’m a trendsetter. :P )

One thing that most people don’t know about me is that, although I will talk your ear off about nearly anything and tell endless stories about myself and my life that you probably have no interest in knowing—followed by expecting you to share intimate details about your life because you find me so endearing— I really suck at small talk. One of the reasons people don’t always hit it off with me is because the endless social niceties bore me to death, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to hiding. Instead, I’ll jump right in with the colourful stories and psychologically probing questions, because it’s far more interesting than knowing you moved here 6 months ago and have a cat. I really fast-track all kinds of social relationships, which can make a certain kind of person uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the time or patience or interest to invest in people who are never going to be more than shallow acquaintances. Maybe it’s because I’m easily bored, and I want to hear about what makes someone different from everyone else, not the mundane details I could learn from reading your Facebook profile.

A good friend of mine is a similar type of person. Despite the fact that we met many years ago and logged endless hours on chat back in the day, he’s the type who grows annoyed and frustrated with some mundane,conversational type questions, like “What did you have for dinner?”. However, after a few years of talking to someone daily, you kind of become like an old married couple. The mystery is gone. What the hell else is there to chat about? Yet, you like someone enough that you don’t want to stop chatting because they now know your entire life story, and your present routine of “Sleep, work, internet, food, TV, weekend” isn’t terribly interesting either. Yes, I understand this is a somewhat boring question…but the point behind it is not. I think the habit of asking the question grew out of a relationship with an ex, which began as a long-distance relationship, and the conversation every night always included “What did you have for dinner?” It’s just a way of saying, “I’m curious about every little thing about you and your life, because you interest me.” Therefore, I get very annoyed with those who brush it aside as a “stupid question.” It’s not. Well, it is, but it’s not.

Alayna:”What did you have for dinner tonight?”
Alayna’s Secretive Friend:”Why? That’s a silly question.”
A:”I was just curious. Making conversation. You don’t want to tell me?”
ASF:“Well, I had roast beef. And potatoes. And vegetables.”
A:“Mmmm…that sounds good! What kind of vegetables?”
ASF:”Nothing special. Green vegetables.”
A:“Well,there’s lots of different types of vegetables, silly!”
ASF: “If you really must know, I had green beans. *annoyed sigh* GREEN BEANS, OK?!!

The funny thing about this conversation is that it is, again, kind of an instance of foreshadowing. A decade later, we live in a world where people perpetually photograph and Instagram their dinners, and share not only with their best friends, but the thousands of people they somehow know.

The world has somehow changed and technology has created a world full of people like me, who think every thought they’ve ever had is relevant. However, if everyone freely shares all the time, the process of opening up and sharing one-on-one with those you feel a specific bond isn’t quite so special. I, who once spent every waking minute near a “chat” tool, have largely gone back to old-fashioned letters and phone calls to keep in touch with those who really matter. Digital intimacy has been replaced by digital broadcasting, and it’s ironic that the more ways available to keep in touch, true connection doesn’t seem to happen easily via any of them. Once upon a time, it did, until it got easier and easier, and connection was designed to be as effortless as possible.

I find it funny that my views on communication have come full circle, and I disable all my chat tools. Facebook is great for checking in with acquaintances, but to be a good friend, you have to call me every so often, or better yet, make time to meet up and talk. I no longer ask anyone what they had for dinner, not because I don’t care about the people in my life, but because there’s no one with whom I spend all of my waking hours “virtually”.

In some ways, I think it’s so much better..and in others, there are things about that heavy level of communication I miss. What I know now, and didn’t then, is that quantity does not replace quality. When it comes to communication, the more we use technology to connect, the more disconnected we become, because connection no longer requires interest, effort, or putting too much of oneself on the line. It no longer requires thinking about other people, much less forming substantial bonds. Digital intimacy is now for everyone, and the way to communicate with those you value the most is to communicate in a non-technology-oriented way.

Sometimes, the more the world moves forward, the more we inevitably see the value in things left behind along the way.

I’ve been feeling a little better the past few days, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I had a really laid-back weekend with a lot of rest and catching up on TV. In fact, all I did on Friday night was watch sitcoms and episodes of Shameless with The Guy I Am Currently Dating, while eating dinner from Moe’s and dessert from Dunkin’ Donuts. (NOTE: Even if you try really hard to stick to your diet, Dunkin’ Donuts will undermine you by giving you free donuts. You can’t ignore free donuts.) During the rest of the weekend, I highly enjoyed only seeing a few friends who I enjoy being around, because there’s really no pressure hanging out with them. It’s less like a social event, and more like when you were a teenager, and would just chill out with your friends doing nothing special. Except, for us, “nothing special” means playing trivia at our weekly pizza place. We did have to get up early on Sunday, because The Guy I Am Currently Dating had his monthly brunch/Meetup. That was followed by us doing a bunch of errands, but then I spent Sunday evening in bed, watching reality TV and “Mean Girls” on cable for the 30 millionth time.

After that, I got out my long-ignored paper journal, and decided to start writing about some of the things that were bothering me. I’ve had things on my mind, and they’ve been interfering with my sleep, despite the Valium that’s supposed to make that not happen. Whenever I talk to someone about them, I end up just feeling depressed, anxious, and angry. So, I decided to write three pages in my journal about whatever was on my mind. Three pages turned into 6, which turned into 8. I only stopped writing because I ran into a page where I’d just randomly decided to stick an entry last October. (even my diary isn’t in logical order!!) In any case, the result is that I had a very good night’s sleep, and pleasant dreams, and woke up feeling fairly positive about life.

Years ago, I did a class based on Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”, which is about exploring yourself and your creativity and helping you get “unstuck”. For many people, it eradicates the fears surrounding “What if I create something that sucks?” and “What if I’m not good enough to ever do anything right?”. Artists have a reputation for being laid-back, flighty, Type-B personalities, and many of us are—but many of us are also hopeless perfectionists, insecure narcissists or even more insecure misanthropes, and feel like we live in a world where nobody’s listening to those who are marching to a slightly different drummer. The Artist’s Way really helps with that. One of the things it recommends is writing three pages in the morning of whatever pops into your head, in order to release what’s weighing you down. I don’t write in the morning, since I am not a morning person, but I used to make time to do that before bed. I find it incredibly helpful, and think it’s a habit I need to stick with for a little while, at least until I feel in a more positive place about myself, my life, and my relationships with others.

At the same time, I’m working on a chapbook of short stories and poetic musings, and I hope that taking the time to write every day means this is a project I will be able to finish. Writing, for me, involves a state of high emotional awareness and willingness to address emotions that aren’t always pleasant to access. As an actor, I was trained in “the Method”, which relies on the ability to relive experiences and have unguarded access to often painful emotions, which can then be related to the scene you’re acting in order to feel as if you’re living it, rather than acting it. I suppose writing for me is much the same, and the consequence is that when I am too happy or too sad, I tend to avoid it. It requires a vulnerability from me that I’d rather not have, although I do. Sometimes, I’d rather not go probing around my emotions and my psyche with a pointy stick, so projects get put on hiatus. Then, when I return to them, I decide that they suck, and I am not particularly talented. As a result, my hiatus gets longer and longer. Therefore, I try to make the most of my introspective periods, while they happen to be around.

I think I may be slightly happier because I’ve started taking my vitamins again, another thing I need to do, but tend to forget—for weeks at a time. I am not only anemic, but deficient in D and B vitamins, which are linked to energy and mood. Less than a week into taking them again, I feel more energetic and happier.

Perhaps I’ve just come to terms with some things in my life I’m not terribly happy about. Sometimes, friendships don’t work out, and you invest in people who abandon you. Sometimes, it’s really hard to relate to other people. Sometimes, you get really attached to people who don’t see or value everything you have to offer in the way you wish they would. Sometimes, friends and lovers and family are mean to you, and make you cry, or make you doubt things about yourself and your life. I’ve been dwelling in the bitterness and genuine anger about the “disposable, disconnected mindset” people have in the way they treat one another, and how I so frequently get hurt because I do not share than mindset. But, I can’t change other people….and the reality is, I don’t really want to be a harder, less accessible person. I don’t want to invest in others less, fall for people less frequently, take fewer chances. I want other people to be willing to do those thing more often, but I can’t control that, which is why I often feel angry as well as hurt. I need to remind myself frequently that I have no influence over what other people do, beyond the ways in which my presence in someone’s life affects them. And if it doesn’t affect them that much, either because that person puts up too many walls, believes others to be replaceable, or simply didn’t care about me as a person that much to begin with, I have to make peace with that.

That is terribly hard for me. I’m a little controlling. I’m a little used to getting my own way. I’m a little used to thinking of myself as charming and having an odd quality that draws others to get to know me, so why should someone ever find me disposable or of minor importance or be “just not that into me”? Yet, it happens, and if someone chooses not to invest in me, or to be a part of my life at all, or to set limits and build walls that prohibit any sort of real emotional bond from occurring, I have to accept that and move on. It isn’t my job to convince anyone else how freaking awesome I am. It’s just my job to remember *why* I am, and that there are always going to be people in my life who appreciate those things, and want to be a part of my world.

Every time someone hurts me, or a friend betrays my trust, or a lover breaks my heart, or a crush turns out to be little more than that, I swear that I’m going to become a different kind of person, the kind who doesn’t care too much and doesn’t get hurt. The kind who keeps relationships frivolous, and sees the word through self-centred, opportunistic glasses. I tried that for a number of years. Not only did I find myself lonely and incapable of truly connecting with other people at all, I caused a lot of drama and heartache. I hurt people, including myself. I earned a lot of bad karma. And, on top of it, I was doing it in order to protect myself from being hurt. Instead, I just made certain I was always alone.

I don’t really want that. I don’t want to change. It’s just easier to say “This person hurt me, so it reminds me why I don’t like who I am.” than it is to say “This person hurt me, so it reminds me what I don’t like about who that person is.” The first, I can control, but the second is totally something I can do nothing about.

I remember, during my brief journey into therapy, my psychiatrist telling me I didn’t understand anger. When I yell at people, I cry. When people hurt me, I feel like something must be wrong with *me*. I used to be a pretty self-destructive human being, even if I kept my feelings inaccessible enough to not realise that my behaviours were destructive and self-destructive. I remember being told I was this way because I was angry, and too spirited to simply be “depressed”. I always directed anger at me, because I felt powerless over my emotions as they relate to other people. I have too many, and many times, I’d prefer to have none at all. It’s taken me a long time to explore a healthy middle ground.

But I still think that when someone makes me cry or treats me badly or I start to think they aren’t the right person for me, it’s a failing I direct at myself…even if I logically see it is not. I know how to be angry at others, but I don’t know how not to be sad when such things happen, how not to wish I were a different sort of person entirely. It is easier to understand “I feel sad” than “I feel angry”, or “I want something you won’t ever offer me”.

At some point, I have to realise I don’t feel sad, and I don’t want to change. I am just angry when other people hurt me, and reinforce the idea that people, even those you love and who claim to love you, sometimes suck. I can’t take the whole burden of “What’s wrong with humanity” and make it my responsibility. I can only be who I am, even if that person is too sensitive, or will always be too easily hurt or open up to the wrong people or idealise others in a way that is perhaps unrealistic. At some point, I have to believe that being who I am is as much of an asset as a detriment, even if people continue to suck. Because, the truth is, people are all sucky and hurtful sometimes, and everyone makes mistakes. Nobody really understands friendships and relationships and emotional connection and how to cope. We’re all just doing the best we can with who we are.

Maybe it’s not about being perfect, but about finding people who either have matching baggage, or know how to help you carry yours.

Back when I was a healthier person, I’d routinely take off to visit friends and family that are scattered along the East Coast. It helps that my friends and family tend to be in cities that you drive through to get to other cities, giving birth to the idea of what I call the “Alayna National Tour”. I couldn’t go to visit family in Philly without stopping to see a friend in D.C., another in NYC, or meet another for dinner during a layover in Richmond. I never thought this was anything special: I genuinely love the people in my life, and if someone is important to me, I will make time to see them. My year of illness has gotten in the way of this, something that’s made me very sad, but my recent travels have proven to me that I may not have the stamina I did before I got sick…but I can handle more than I think I can. I definitely plan to have the energy to get myself to NYC and Philly by the end of the year.

When I decided to visit my friend in the Durham area, and then two others in Charlotte, I really didn’t think anything unusual of it. I visit people because I like them, and because I like spending time with them in a world other than the one I inhabit each day. However, a chief concern of mine (and if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard why) is that visiting my friend in Durham would result in chaos that might end our friendship permanently. However, we’d managed to create that scenario numerous times over the distance since he came to visit me in Atlanta, so I thought it might be the best thing to either work out our issues or realise exactly why we could not be friends—an odd concept for me, as I’ve never been able to not be friends with someone I genuinely liked, save for very complicated situations that were simply never going to change.

There was, in fact, a moment that followed a very nice evening of bonding and spending time together where it became pretty obvious that either we were going to talk through things in an open and honest way, or end our acquaintance with him leaving me sitting in a bar in North Carolina. (No, my friend is not that big of a jerk; I am. I am the one who told him to simply leave me there because I deserved better treatment. He simply considered taking me up on it.)

This friend has told me he dislikes being a character in my blog—admittedly, not the first time someone’s told me that. When someone tells me that, the chief reason is because the person is either afraid they’ll be obviously identified by the rest of the world and judged unfairly, or because the person is an introverted soul who doesn’t wish to be put on display. My friend is an extremely private person, and I am someone who has lived my life on the internet for 12 years, and sees this blog a little like my own reality TV show. So, when he told me it made him uncomfortable to see personal aspects of our friendship made public, I promised I’d skip the whole “who, what, where, when” saga of us managing to work through some of our issues and build a better friendship. Or an actual friendship. Or something. *laughs* Instead, I’ll post this rather nice series of thoughts on friendship that I recorded in my personal journal while at a cafe in Charlotte.

“Some people come into your life because they remind you of who you are; who you really, truly are, beyond the layers of artifice, social propriety, expectations, and carefully constructed walls and defense mechanisms designed to protect at the expense of real connection. They are the rare, unusual people with whom you can laugh, cry, yell, discuss all manner of thoughts and feelings, be as silly as possible or as intense as possible, and feel you’re not only accepted, but that you should like yourself as much as those individuals do. They are the people who make you feel as if being yourself is simple and easy, and being vulnerable and unpretentious isn’t frightening, but the most natural thing in the world.

Others come into your life to remind you of who you have yet to become, because even though they are wise enough to see you clearly, recognise your flaws, and even identify your capability for being a tremendous pain in the ass and making life harder than it needs to be, they also care for you. As a result, they somehow see you as something better than you truly are, as something better than you see yourself.

If you’re fortunate, every so often—not frequently, but in a time period measured in years in between such people appearing in your life— you’ll meet someone who is all of these things, and discover a connection that isn’t quite ordinary. These are the people who affect you on some deeper level, teach you a little more about yourself, and make you a slightly better person for being a part of your life. These are the people who can affect you in a very emotional way, not on account of being mean, difficult, horrible people, but because you understand it is right to trust them enough to let them.

For some time, I’ve suspected this friend might be one of those people in my life, an oddly intuitive and inexplicable reaction to have upon meeting someone you’ve known of and about for a long time, yet don’t know at all. I’ve been consistently saddened by our inability to bridge certain points of conflict, while having the ability to connect in a fairly unique and special way. It has seemed that it would be a great loss to walk away from knowing a person I immediately, intuitively, and inexplicably gathered might be important in my life, on account of common phrases like “too different” and “complicated”. The odd thing is, once you look past those differences and points of conflict, and accept that someone being able to affect you on some level isn’t cause to run and hide and employ all sorts of anti-vulnerability shields, you often discover that opposites are simply mirrored reflections, the same picture expressed in a contrary direction.

I am so glad this friend and I made the decision to put aside issues of mutual distrust and communication complicated by a lack of willingness to be open and invest in knowing another person, while asking that person to give that level of trust and faith and understanding. I’m glad we seem to have chosen the option of recognising our friendship is one for which it is worth learning to understand and appreciate our differences—a choice which, strangely, unearthed more similarities and understanding than natural and unavoidable reasons for conflict. Sometimes, once you understand someone a little better and are willing to invest a little trust (the hardest thing for many of us out there in the world), you see that not that much compromise is really necessary to end up on the same page, or even face in the same direction.

You can’t demand what you’re not willing to give, and spend months wondering why the result isn’t positive. Trust and faith are things I don’t have to offer in abundance, and I have always been the sort to hesitate to offer them, even to those I consider a important part of my life. I have a way about me that I’ve perfected over the years, one that allows me to appear extremely open and accessible, to engage in abundant communication rather than real, meaningful connection, all while keeping any sense of real vulnerability hidden. This isn’t something that has ever worked in this particular friendship, because I would always feel as if I were uncomfortably transparent, as if this friend had a gift of getting to the core of who I happen to be. Meanwhile, I always seemed to be able to look through this person in the same way, never being able to take things at face value because of a weird sense that I was looking at one picture that was truly another.

Some friendships just don’t have room for games and walls and unwillingness to trust. Getting to know this relatively new person in my life has made me see more clearly that trying to build any sense of emotional intimacy while still maintaining impenetrable protective walls is not only not possible, but almost toxic and destructive. It isn’t real, and it’s often manipulative. It’s anything but accepting, because you’re too focused on protecting yourself adequately to truly see another person clearly. The attempt ends up hurting everyone involved. Some people—even those that haven’t been in your life long enough yet to become essential and permanent pieces of it—deserve far more, even if you don’t quite understand why. When you find one of those rare people, you kind of just have to make space in your life, which means taking down a few walls. In the end, it is usually worth it, and often even more so than you anticipated.”

During the rather unpleasant argument that preceded the “Either we have to be real and honest and trust each other, or just not try at all.” conversation, my friend asked me why I would visit him and what I expected from doing so. I thought I knew the answer, and that it was simple: “I visit people because I like them”. I didn’t really see it in terms of as big of a deal as he was making it out to be, because for me, it wasn’t. It touched me that he saw that as something beautiful about me. Now that I’ve had some time to look back on that, I realise that on a deeper level, I understood there was a more important decision to be made in my knowing this person: either we were going to take a chance and develop a real friendship, or agree not to be part of the other person’s life. Some people simply make terrible casual acquaintances, and connect in a way where that doesn’t work as easily as it should. Others can only have a conflict-free friendship if there’s very straightforward communication and honest expression of thoughts and feelings. I think both are applicable here.

I think I can safely say it worked out for the best, and I’m glad we chose to make the more difficult choice, and decide that our weird, confusing, complicated acquaintance was worth turning into a friendship of some substance…or at least getting it on that particular track. I actually believe it is one we will both value for some time to come. However, you may not hear about it, as I will henceforth avoid making this particular friend a recurring character in my blog. Fortunately, that may be a sign of a distinct lack of conflict and drama both of us will appreciate.

I have no doubt that I’ll find my drama elsewhere…which will be illustrated tomorrow by my piece on my relationship with annoying corporate entities. *laughs*

That sounds like a band name, or a really violent Meetup event, but it is neither.

Yesterday was not really a good day. In fact, it was such an upsetting day that I don’t even really want to write about it. However, since that’s how I best process and make sense of life, I will.

Yesterday, I had a fight with a friend of mine. Or, more accurately, I had a fight with someone with whom I’ve been attempting to become friends (based on some comments made during said fight, I’m not sure if he considers us friends or not.)

This is not the first time we’ve had this fight, as it’s happened at least twice before. It had, however, been a month or so since the last time this fight occurred, so I rather thought we’d successfully worked through the issue. Other than this particular issue, we don’t seem to have any problems communicating, getting along, or building a friendship, which makes it even more frustrating.

The fight is about communication: specifically, how I spend far too much of my life engaging in it and he is less inclined to it than most people, both out of time constraints and temperament. I am really like a teenager with communication, constantly texting people and checking my FB and going through withdrawals if I am in a technology-free zone. (This, I’ve discussed in a previous post.) He is not; he is comfortable not communicating with people for fairly extended periods of time. Although I attempt not to judge, I think perhaps both of our views on communication are slightly unhealthy and make other people in our lives (not just each other) a bit frustrated.

Yet, yesterday’s fight almost ended with us walking away from a friendship that appears to be of some importance to both of us.

The odd thing is, I am aware that this person in my life actually *likes* me, as a friend and as a person. He’s had many complimentary things to say to me, appreciates my snarky,witty, occasionally self-deprecating sense of humour, and has been willing to engage in the exchange of long telephone conversations and Facebook e-mails full of what he terms “emotional intimacy” and what I call “bonding”. He’s told me he enjoys talking to me more than he enjoys talking to many people in the world. He’s mentioned he thinks I have a wonderful spirit, and am an intelligent, attractive, insightful, funny person. Whenever we spend time talking, we laugh a lot, and very easily. We also talk about more serious things, topics I wouldn’t necessarily open up about to someone I barely know.

Yet, as he reminded me yesterday, we barely know one another. He feels I am forcing a friendship to happen through demanding communication, and is angered by an approach he feels is aggressive. On the other hand, I had a hurt and confused look on my face that said “I thought we *were* friends”.

The fight ended with him basically wanting to walk away from our friendship entirely and say “This isn’t working”, and to be honest, I considered it. However, that isn’t my way, and I don’t think it ever will be. Almost all my close friends in life are people with whom I’ve gone through a period of struggle, contention, personal growth, confused feelings, miscommunication, or just arguing about something at some point in time. Yet, most of these friends have been in my life for a long time, and have proven to me how much they care. When times were bad, not one of them abandoned me. It means a lot, those type of friendships, which I treasure greatly. Because I don’t trust people easily, I don’t often invest the time and energy and feeling needed to form those “real” friendships. I think what happened is that I very quickly sensed that this friend of mine could be one of those rare people in my life…eventually. I also thought, based on his reactions to me, that it was a mutual instinct at work. I assumed that he was investing time and energy in me because we could develop a “real” friendship, something not so easy to come by in this day and age.

So, you can imagine how hurt I felt listening to this person basically point out that we’re not really that close and in friendships, as in relationships, you have to pay attention to when someone is “just not that into you”. However, the most hurtful part of the whole exchange was him telling me he doesn’t feel comfortable having me in his home when I am in his part of town in a few weeks, because he doesn’t have that level of trust in me, and sees all the ways in which allowing me into his personal space might go wrong.

It is not that I don’t get why a relatively new friend wouldn’t offer to host me when I was in town. In fact, when I informed this friend I would be in his part of town in June, I didn’t request to stay with him. When we met one another because he was in Atlanta a few months ago, he didn’t ask to stay at my place, and I didn’t offer. Why? Because we didn’t know one another, despite years of the occasional text and e-mail and connection via a mutual friend. I also know this person is someone who values his personal space, and honestly, I tend to get annoyed with sharing the same space with others for too long. I’m an extrovert who needs decompression time, so no matter how much I like someone, not having my own space can become tiring for me. So, I made my own arrangements and didn’t even think to ask about crashing with my friend.

Yet, he is the one who offered…over a month ago, when he knew me less well than he does today, and had less reason to have any level of faith and trust in me. So, when I decided to extend my stay by an extra two days in order to accommodate some extra plans, I asked if I could sleep on his floor for two nights..a short enough imposition to not really be an imposition. He of course said yes, and reminded that he offered to host me some time ago, and I declined.

I am not hurt by the fact that someone feels they don’t know me well enough or like me well enough to have me stay at their home. I am hurt by the fact that someone would offer, and then say, “I no longer feel comfortable having you in my space.” That’s personal. That’s a slap in the face to someone whose greatest crime is trying too hard to be another person’s friend. It’s extraordinarily personal when someone who has always claimed to be fond of you and said numerous positive things about your character and your friendship no longer has the same level of trust and esteem because you had a fight. It hurts that when someone knew you less well, they had more trust and positive feelings towards you.

Ironically, before he offered to host me when I was in town, we had the same exact fight. And just a few days ago, when we spoke on the phone, he thanked me for being patient with his lack of communication and not pushing the issue when he was really busy with other stuff. I pointed out the reason it was easy for me to do that is because we seemed to have reached a compromise; he reminded me that I wasn’t unimportant by saying hi now and then, and I didn’t require constant communication in order to build a friendship. I thought, as with most things, we’d found a point of compromise that made both of us react positively to our friendship.

It utterly shocks me that me sending texts—and after two or three days of no reply, becoming concerned that I’d offended him during out last conversation—should provoke such a dramatic reaction as “I no longer feel comfortable with you in my personal space, and am not so sure we should be friends”. After speaking with him, I do understand why my text habits seems aggressive and make others feel pushed or bullied, something I’ve never considered before. Yet, I don’t feel as if I deserve the lack of trust or faith or friendship or esteem or whatever that came out of this disagreement. If the worst thing you can say about someone is “I know this girl that I consider funny, intelligent, attractive, charming, and enjoy talking to, but she tries way too hard to be my friend”, I’d like to think that’s not really all that bad. If I were, in fact, the obsessive, psycho-stalker type, I’d understand the concern…but the fact is that I don’t pick up the phone and call this guy constantly so he’ll talk to me. In fact, the only time I’ve *ever* invaded his personal space by calling was when we were in the middle of arguing via text, and since I think text is much of the problem in this situation, I’d prefer not to have arguments escalate via text. It’s too easy for people to be impersonal, to say things they don’t really mean. Other than that, we speak on the phone when he has the time to call and talk to me. I send the occasional card or book via the mail…something I do with most of my close, long-distance friends. I share stuff on FB just to share and don’t expect a response.

The irony is that neither my friend nor myself are the type to have much interest in small talk and banal conversation. While the phone calls we share are often rather personal and require a level of openness to “emotional intimacy”, they leave us both feeling positive about one another and our friendship. We say a lot of positive and supportive things to one another during those chats. If we’re *not* yet friends, it’s a pretty good approximation. Yet, the texts that are the source of argument and cause these destructive fights are typically the most banal things in the world, stuff I’d feel comfortable sending to someone I met yesterday. We have had real, extensive chats via text that are of some significance..but generally what I send out is “Hey, hope you’re having a good day” or “YAY! 1st place at trivia”. The only point is me reaching out to keep this friend, who does not live near me, included in my life, helping to create some semblance of friendship and connectedness. Yet, I don’t even know why I would…neither of us is the type of person to be interested in the day-to-day small things that comprise life, except as experiences to be enjoyed while they’re happening. I think we both prefer to talk about more substantial things–and that’s the part I could see someone feeling tired and emotionally drained by—so it’s an irony that we fight over the appropriateness and timing of trading small talk via text. People do it to stay connected..but in this instance, do either of us really care? I personally appreciate a text saying “I’m off doing this interesting thing but cared enough to connect” far more than I do saying “Hi” to everyone I like every day. Maybe my friend feels the exact same way

I think the difference is that I don’t think of text or IM or whatever 140 character communication tool one uses as a way of invading anyone’s personal space. While I would not call someone anytime, anywhere, to share something irrelevant—because I’d consider that a little inconsiderate and rude—I kind of see text as a medium of “that’s what it’s for”. I text people often because I can’t talk to them every day. Sometimes, I can’t even talk every week. But it’s my way of keeping people involved in my life and bridging the distance. Yet, I *do* get upset when someone does not do that in return. Part of it is that I simply don’t like to be ignored, but another part of it is that I don’t want to feel I’m the only one who wants to keep others involved in my life. I do want to feel I’m just as important to others as they are to me, and it doesn’t occur to me that everyone doesn’t walk around attached to their phone at all times, and isn’t constantly texting and FB-ing everyone they know. (Many of my friends do.) The funny part is that most texts I share with people are relatively emotionally insignificant and impersonal. It’s an example of being “connectedly disconnected”. I don’t know if I actually feel closer to people by trading “Hey, how are you?” messages everyday, because there’s no real bonding involved. It’s just this social convention that seems like the right way to reach out to people. Yet, it lacks any of the “bonding” that’s made possible by chatting with friends on the FB messenger every day, talking on the phone, or sending an e-mail (which so few people do these days.) So, the odd thing is, I’m constantly reaching out to people in attempts to feel connected, through a medium that doesn’t really provide a sense of connection. And, those who know that are irritated by this tendency, as well as my tendency to demand that these attempts to connect without really connecting are returned.

Maybe there’s a bigger issue here than just my relationship with this particular friend, but my relationship with the instant gratification, impersonal medium of text and IM. I had to give up IM when I realised I was spending far too much time chatting with people but not really connecting, multitasking, and trading pleasantries. I didn’t think I could function without IM. But I ditched my AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, and every other messenger I had installed long before IM fell out of vogue. And, surprisingly, I felt happier, and my friendships with others became more substantial. I wonder if I–like much of the world—have fallen victim to the same trap with texting.

Text actually upsets me. Because I know it takes 3 seconds to send one, if I don’t get a response, what occurs to me is usually “Is this person mad at me, and why?”, or simply, “Why don’t you like me enough to reach out by returning my text?” Yet, I would not react that way if someone was too busy to call when they said they were going to or took days to return an e-mail.

I’ve had to make peace with this communication issue with others in the past, and it typically resolves itself. In fact, it’s a dispute I’ve experienced with some of the closest people in my life. For instance, The Guy I Am Currently Dating does not text, and most of the time, if I call instead, he’s unavailable because he didn’t have his phone with him. At the beginning of our relationship, when there was less trust and understanding, this was a huge issue for me. Strangely, it just isn’t anymore. We found a solution that works for us.

I’ve also had this issue in platonic friendships, where communication—when, how, how often, what’s an invasion of personal space and what’s merely annoying as opposed to thoughtful— had to be resolved. Somehow, these issues disappear as I grow to trust someone. Yet, I’ve never had anyone willing to walk away from a potentially meaningful friendship with me over the communication issue, or lose a sense of trust or level of comfort in me because of it. It may be that the previously mentioned friend simply thinks it’s more trouble than it’s worth, considering he doesn’t think we’re that close, or it could be that, speaking on a friendship-oriented level, “He’s just not that into me”. The result is that I am perhaps dispensable.

But intuitively, I don’t think that’s it…and it’s so rarely wrong about these things, or I’d just agree to give up and walk away. I feel like there’s something under the surface of this situation that I can’t see or put my finger on, but it’s there. I feel like there are things about my friend that I don’t understand because I don’t yet know him well enough, and there are certain things that touch a nerve and evoke an emotional reaction from someone who is usually very calm and laid-back about all things of a personal or emotional nature. The frustrating thing about intuition is that you can sense that things aren’t quite just what you see on the surface…but you can’t see the why. If someone is especially guarded, you can’t even always see beyond the surface level—although I often can, and do. But not always.

And it doesn’t matter…why someone is who they are, or why they respond as they do, is none of my business. But when someone revokes their level of trust and comfort with me…that’s personal, and it hurts immensely. I’m not sure why I care as much as I do, but I do, and that tells me something. It tells me that not only am I an emotional person, I still believe this friend/acquaintance/whatever is someone worth not giving up on. It’s hard to believe that after someone has hurt you or made you feel less special than you like to consider yourself, but deep down, I still do…and that inner voice is always significant to me.

Likewise, I know that I am important to someone—whether that person likes me enough to consider me a friend or simply considers me someone he barely knows—when he walks away from what he’s doing in order to answer a phone call and “work things out”, something that could easily be avoided by not picking up the phone.

I’m not inexperienced when it comes to people; I’ve met a lot of them—admittedly, though, never one quite like this friend. I know when someone cares. And even though I push too hard sometimes by insisting on reminders of that via rather pointless text messages, I actually do know, regardless of someone’s communication tendencies.

It’s just nice to be reminded that those you care about think you’re an awesome person—and both hurtful and humbling when you realise that maybe someone doesn’t think you’re quite that awesome anymore. (especially when they indicate they used to like and trust and feel comfortable with you, and suddenly, no longer have those warm and fuzzy happy feelings about your friendship.) Trust and loyalty are so,so,so important to me in my life, and it’s the reason why I have many acquaintances, yet choose my “real” friends very carefully. To have someone I care about no longer feel able to attribute those qualities to me, someone I might have grown to consider a true friend….it breaks my heart a little.

Regardless of whether or not this person in my life still feels any semblance of positive emotion towards me, or any connection that was there has somehow been undone, I know that in certain ways, I’ve still been a great friend to him—even if I was one that was unwanted, or didn’t know how to express that properly. Although I am cynical, the ability for me to reach out and put myself out there for someone I barely know, based on little more than intuition and connection, is still there. Not everyone has that, and I’m really glad I do. I haven’t let being hurt by life and people take that from me, and while it may not be wise, it is me, and I think it’s good. :)

I am lucky, because I do have people in my life who I know genuinely find me to be an awesome person, for one reason or another, and others with whom I don’t always see eye to eye, but I know they’re still always there for me, because there is something important about our friendship. The Guy I Am Currently Dating is the kind of guy who will let me cry and offer support when someone else I care about hurts my feelings, and not everyone out there would do that—much less for little old me.

I’m not perfect, but I obviously can’t be doing *everything* wrong. I think I have the occasional redeeming quality. My texting and communication habits, admittedly, are not one of them. *smiles*

“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.” – Sam Keen

I don’t really have anything of interest to share today. It’s undoubtedly a “blah” day. I’m not unhappy, but just..”blah”. I’m still sick, still terribly boring, and still not the world’s most fun or inspiring person with whom to spend time, or even with whom to converse.

Very rarely do I have those days when I am on the telephone with someone and there is an awkward lull in conversation, the inevitable “I don’t know what to talk about because my life really isn’t that interesting” pause. I used to think I was quite the boring conversationalist, because I had a friend— one who was later a romantic partner, who is now an acquaintance— and our talks would be filled with those pauses. They made me feel uncomfortable.

I am not uncomfortable with silence, in the company of the right person. There are times when silence, in the company of the right person, is indicative of a thoroughly magical moment or a connection not needing words or a mutual enjoyment of stillness and silence because you’re both in exactly the same space, at exactly the same time—physically, intellectually, emotionally.

In the company of the wrong person, silence is draining. It makes you feel dull and insipid, as if you have no tools with which to charm or captivate another person, and on top of it, so little in common that friendship doesn’t occur naturally. Silence can simply make you feel badly about yourself, and bored with others.

The telephone is one of those mediums that enhance that tendency, and, to come full circle, for a long time, I considered myself a boring conversationalist. Never mind that I had certain friends and lovers with whom I could easily chat for five or six hours on end, even via telephone. The fact that I knew this one person, someone who knew me better than anyone on the planet for quite some time, and we couldn’t converse for more than 20 minutes without awkward silence, that was enough to convince me of my conversational ineptitude.

As it turns out, I’m a perfectly charming conversationalist. It just doesn’t naturally happen with all people. It’s actually a good tool through which I’m able to judge my level of friendship and compatibility with another person. If 60 minutes on the phone seems like an eternity, something is missing. However, to this day, when the “awkward silence on the telephone” starts to make an appearance, I start to again believe that sadly, I’m really quite boring to chat with.

This happened today, for some unknown reason, and I realised it wasn’t simply the phone, or Facebook. Being trapped inside my house, inside my head, inside a body that’s too weak and uncooperative to do what I want it to do in life, it doesn’t give me much to share with others.

Hence, there’s no thought for the day, no blog entry. There’s simply a quote that someone shared on my FB wall, and I realised I liked very much.

I must work on becoming more interesting. Banalities bore me, illness keeps me from adventure, and some days, there simply aren’t any intense feelings or experiences to speak of…or if there are, I’ve required some time off from them. Maybe I’ll watch a movie tomorrow. :P

I had an unfortunate experience last night at trivia. One moment, I was feeling fine (with the exception of the grumpiness and cramps women suffer through every month; the kind that made me want to wear a giant t-shirt and leggings and minimal makeup out in public, because I didn’t care if I looked cute in any way.), and ordered a salad, Coke, and shared some garlic bread with the Guy I Am Currently Dating. I ate about half my salad and two pieces of bread, and started to feel really awful…like someone was stabbing me in the abdomen with a sharp knife. Since I already had my appendix out, I assumed I was just having some very painful cramps at an inconvenient time (common for me; my body wants to be a little more physically delicate than it should, and doesn’t tolerate pain or illness that well. I spend two days out of every month curled up in a little ball that says “Do not approach.”.) However, the more I tried to ignore it and go on with dinner and trivia, the worse I got. By the end, I had relocated permanently to the restroom and was having a hard time standing up.

The verdict? It seems Mellow Mushroom gave me food poisoning, which is just what you want to deal with when you already feel like crap. Last night was fairly rough, and I woke up feeling a little like someone drove a truck over the middle of my body. However, I seemed to feel better until I attempted to eat breakfast. Now I’m curled up in a little ball again, writing on my blog and feeling unloved by everything and everyone, instead of doing my work.

I’ve had food poisoning 4 different times in the past decade of my life or so. Somehow, I don’t remember ever having it before then…maybe it’s an Atlanta thing. 3 of those times came from eating salads with chicken at restaurants. Three different restaurants, three different types of salad, three different salad dressings and other veggies. This leads me to believe it’s not an allergy problem…unless my body hates green stuff. (The fourth time was undoubtedly the worst food poisoning experience, and it was after eating pasta (again with chicken) at the Olive Garden.)

Do restaurants simply not know how to cook chicken properly? Or, is it that, being largely the only meat in my diet, my body chooses to reject it and is urging me to eat vegetarian meals more often? (I was a vegetarian for a number of years, and if I eat a food that I still no longer eat—I once accidentally ate pork—it will also make me very ill.) Or, is it just that items like lettuce and spinach are suspect? This food poisoning salad thing only happens during warmer weather.

Either way, it seems to pay to eat crappy food. The scale doesn’t go down, but you’re not wondering why someone keeps stabbing your stomach with a knife.

So, instead of taking a lunch break, I’ll just write a blog about stuff.

I am a person for whom many of my very best qualities are also my worst qualities, depending on the situation, and of course, who you happen to ask. One of these centres around the idea of communication; in case this blog isn’t a giveaway, I like to communicate with people. A *lot*. Most of my good friends hear from me on a daily basis, or if this isn’t possible because of conflicting schedules, get a lot of little notes and texts reminding me I’m thinking of them. I interact with most everyone close to me who uses Facebook on a daily basis, sometimes keeping a steady stream of chatter throughout the day. At one point, I was using 5,000+ minutes a month on my cell phone. Now, I’ve cut that back significantly due to time constraints, but send thousands of texts and FB messages a month. Yes, I am a big fan of communication.

Over the weekend, I had a fight with a friend, who *isn’t* such a big fan of communication. Not only is he a much busier person than I am who has little free time for frivolity like chatting, he’s also just not the kind of person who feels the need to be in constant communication all the time, especially with those who aren’t necessarily his closest friends in the world. After a few days of silence, I will naturally start feeling rejected. (“Why don’t you like me anymore? It takes 10 seconds to send a text/FB message and you don’t care about me enough to talk to me!”.) Meanwhile, my friend is more like, “YAY, peace and quiet and not being bothered by other people.” It’s definitely a huge incompatibility and personality difference, and I’m surprised it took as long to cause conflict as it did. The conflict has since been resolved, but part of me still wonders how to be friends with someone who isn’t all that into communication. Especially for me, a girl for whom communication is the lifeblood of everything I do. I mean, I *communicate* for a living. If I’m not talking to someone, I’m writing stuff for someone, or venting on my blog, or random posting on FB. Social media and unlimited phone plans were pretty much designed for me.

This led me to think about my past history with communication, and how it has occasionally led me into trouble. Aside from my drunk texting/calling/FB messaging habit (my friends used to confiscate my phone before we went out clubbing), even sober Alayna doesn’t have the world’s best judgment when it comes to communication. I have a habit of saying whatever’s on my mind, and because I’m a better writer than a speaker when it comes to uncomfortable topics, email has been one of the best things to ever happen to me.

A prime example of this involves a college boyfriend, who was really just a friend I hung out with a lot. I was attracted to him, he flirted with me, but (not shockingly) was a bit older than I was, and so I didn’t know if he was really interested. What I *did* know was that he was single, and I was going to make it a campaign in my life to turn our friendship into something more than it was. As long as he was single and I was still interested, there didn’t seem to be a time limit on this, so I never really made any moves. At that time in my life, I still had the opinion toward relationships that said “I’m a girl. I’m supposed to wait for you to make a move or express your feelings.” The more I waited around and this didn’t happen, the more I became disheartened.

One week, I heard he was going out on a date on Friday with a perky blonde dance major, and needless to say, this upset me. Rather than be an adult and sit down with him and say, “Why do you keep flirting with me and going places with me and sending me flowers if you’re not interested, and then ask someone else out?”, thereby risking the destructive face-to-face rejection, I made a beeline to the computer lab at 12 AM. (yes, this was back in my early days of college, when not everyone had internet access in their dorm room or off-campus apartment.) I sent a long, and what I assumed to be well-written, letter full of sadness and rejection and vulnerability and “Why don’t you see how I feel about you?” (for many of my teenage years, I was a walking Alanis Morissette song.)

Of course, after I hit send, I wanted the e-mail back. I spent the next two days avoiding the computer lab, avoiding any place I’d see this guy, and not answering my telephone. It was probably the most confusing and immature behaviour ever, but that’s what you get at 17: “I’m secretly in love with you, and now I’m going to be an adult and tell you—wait, no, I’m now going to hide from you forever.”

Things worked out, although not to any credit of mine. I was too busy hiding to read his very touching, romantic response, to find out he’d canceled his date with the dancer, and wanted to go to dinner with me instead. Instead, I made him take a trip to my dorm room, where, upon seeing him, I didn’t smile or offer a hug, but threw a blanket over my head. *lol* Nothing is more endearing than a girl who sees you and becomes a parakeet ready for sleep. :P

That relationship didn’t last more than a few months, and he ended up sleeping with the dance major anyway. But, I digress. The point is, it was the point where I learned something important about myself, interpersonal relationships, and communication.

The main realisation was, for all my going on about how I wanted to find a sensitive and romantic guy who was going to woo me in old-school princess fashion, I didn’t. I liked being the pursuer in relationships. As I got older and became more experienced in life, it went from being the kind of girl who likes pursuing the object of her affection, to outright seducing people. There’s a very masculine quality to my personality that enjoys the chase, the flirting, the conquest. It’s probably why I’m eternally attracted to and involved with unavailable men. Even the ones who are single end up being unavailable in some way that means I don’t always get what I want, and life is a constant source of drama, and there must be something about me that is drawn to that.

This story is not the only instance of me sending communications to people that were extremely direct, and in some cases, romantically aggressive. (for the single ladies out there, you’d be amazed how much more effective and appreciated this tactic is than subtle flirting and hoping you’re sending out the right signals. But “Sex And The City” discussed this long before I ever did.) I may have never gotten together with The Guy I Am Currently Dating, had I not had enough of him showing up to my events and making me feel ignored, and sent him a pretty direct FB message along the lines of “Why don’t you like me? Everyone likes me. Why do you bother coming out to my events if you don’t like me?” *laughs*

That being said, some of the most fulfilling relationships I’ve been in have been with those who are extremely dominant personalities, who see something specific in my personality that likes to take control of situations, and beat me at my own game, so to speak. I don’t consider myself a particularly aggressive or even assertive person—I just say what’s on my mind.

But, it’s made me realise that, particularly in the world of romantic relationships, that makes me a rather aggressive and forward person. Were I not that way, I’d probably be the kind of girl with Gentlemen Callers who was wooed with flowers and compliments and romantic gestures. Part of me wishes I’d had more of that demure Southern Belle experience, waiting around for the day the guy I like will pay attention to me. I haven’t had too many of those, because that largely isn’t me…but also because the guy who goes out of his way to do that isn’t the one I’m going to find attractive. It’s the one who ignores me, the one who is unavailable because he has a demanding job, a wife and kids, or a mom that wants me dead, the best friend who likes to flirt and keep me guessing about his feelings, or the one who has a need to prove he’s more dominant than I am that somehow gets my attention. (somehow, despite all this, I’ve actually had some very good relationships…just the psychology of it is all screwed up.)

The moral of this long-winded trip down memory lane? Even from a platonic, “I want to become better friends with you” perspective, don’t tell me you don’t like to communicate with me too often or that I’m like a number of other people in your life. I take it as a direct challenge, and you are going to get an e-mail. *laughs*

I have a friend who learned that this weekend, and it made me realise that even though I’ve matured a great deal since I was a teenager, I’m still essentially that same girl who can’t stand to be overlooked or dismissed or not appreciated, and I still have an inherent need to express that….and then not pick up the phone.

It is really a wonder that I have friends, much less any semblance of a stable romantic relationship. *laughs* What’s even more confusing is how I survived almost a decade of polyamoury with *any* of the people I was seeing being willing to deal with me. If there is ever a book to be entitled “Aggressive Communication, Instantly Running Away”, I will certainly write it. :P

Lunch break over…time to go back to writing about more important things, such as plastic surgery and electricians. ;P

Sometimes, in life, it can be difficult to get a word in edgewise.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve spoken about difficulties with individuals who find me too loud, too extroverted, too overbearing, or simply too much, in one way or another. As a result, I’ve tried to work on becoming a better listener and a more patient person, although neither come naturally to me, as a highly reactive person.

And, yet, it seems I can’t please anyone with my style of communication. Either people are tired of hearing from me, or I feel frustrated that I am not being heard, that I am not important enough to validate or to consider I might have a worthwhile opinion, story, or even an answer to a question.

Recently, The Guy I Am Currently Dating has repeatedly mentioned (at least twice in the past two weeks)that I “tell X,Y,Z to every person I know”, making me feel highly invalidated, as if he’s become so bored with me that he can’t stand to hear me go on about the same things for another day. Finally, I asked him if he’s so bored with my stories, why is he still bothering to converse with me? He apologised, but it still ended up making me feel extremely self-conscious, as if I truly don’t have anything witty or interesting to contribute to the world, other than repeating the same stories to new audiences.

Then, last night at trivia, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I were playing with the same friends we always play trivia with, a married couple relatively close to my age with whom we get along well. Except, yesterday, while we were all debating a question, I wasn’t even allowed to express my opinion. It wasn’t an opinion, even, but more a point that I was confused on what my teammate was saying. I wasn’t the only one. Others were confused, too. But this friend didn’t want to hear my feedback, so he put up his hand and simply told me to “Shhh.’ (incidentally, none of us knew to correct answer.) I was very hurt and angry with this person for the rest of trivia.

It didn’t help that after trivia, sitting and talking to a group of guys that play on teams we compete against, I felt frustrated because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Every time I tried to contribute to the conversation, ask a question, or share a related anecdote, someone else would talk, as if I weren’t even there. I finally just got my stuff and started to head out, because, really, what’s the point of conversation with people who don’t find you interesting enough to listen?

Today, we went to a Meetup that The Guy I Am Currently Dating organizes, which is for fans of a sci-fi show. I don’t particularly care for sci-fi, and I’ve not always found it the easiest to make friends in this group. In fact, in the past, I actually made enemies. (I didn’t do anything but show up, so I don’t really know how that happened.) However, slowly but surely, I’ve been working on trying to get to know people, although virtually everyone seems to be rather opposite of me in personality and on the level of interests/hobbies. At least I no longer sit there in silence for 3 hours once a month, as I did the first year of coming to the group.

But when I was talking, I guy I barely know replied to something I said with, “Wow, that’s really self-centered. I know you admit to being a narcissist and you like being the centre of attention, but that’s pretty self-centered.”

It took all the willpower in the world not to just get up and leave. If I’d have attended that event alone, I probably would have. I’ve known this guy from this group throughout the 3 years I’ve been attending, and we’ve had maybe 5 conversations. None of them have allowed him to get to know me on any meaningful level, much less make judgements of my character or psychological makeup. This was especially offensive to me because what I was saying wasn’t self-centred at all, it had to do with me expressing an insecurity (specifically, I shared that when I was out with someone and they specifically asked me not to “check them in” on the FB app that does so, it made me feel as if they were ashamed to let the world know they were hanging out with me. Why? Because I’ve encountered people who have treated me that way.). So, it was actually a moment of human vulnerability and an attempt to connect as a real, honest human being—but of course, nobody could see beyond “That seems self-centred because that’s how Alayna is, based upon the absolutely NOTHING I know about her.”

No matter what I do, it seems I can’t win. It seems “being myself” is not only wrong most of the time, but I’m hard pressed to find people who find anything positive in the feelings I express, what I have to say, or the personality that I am. Even the douchebag at the club dismissed me as “bizarre” and “stuck in my own head” because he wasn’t interested or intelligent enough to engage in witty repartee when I offered it.

It seems like either people are forever judging me, telling me to shut up, pointing out how I have nothing to offer of substance, or simply not listening…so the question is, why do I even try? Why do I have an internal need to express myself to a world that simply doesn’t care a great majority of the time? Even many of my close friends admit to not reading this blog because “it’s too long” or “too intense”.

Why is it so hard to find someone on my wavelength, someone who actually enjoys my conversation, and recognises that I’m a smart, authentic, vulnerable person? If you take the time to not judge a book by its cover, you’d find out I’m more than entertaining, snarky, and narcissistic. And, yes, if you hang out with me long enough, you’re going to hear some of the same stories repeated, which is a hazard of hanging out with the kind of person who meets 500 new people a year. It doesn’t mean I tell everything about me to everyone I meet. In fact, there’s plenty I tell no one, not even those who spend three years hanging out with me.

The more people I meet, the more I realise that I don’t really relate to most of them, and most of them in turn judge me fairly incorrectly. It’s not a new problem. I’ve suffered from being chronically misunderstood my whole life. I remember sitting on the couch with an ex, who was then not an ex, shortly after moving to Atlanta, and I made a witty comment. He laughed and looked surprised. When I asked what was up, he said, “You surprised me, because I never knew you were witty.”

We’d been together at least 9 months.

I, of course, smiled and said nothing, but in my head, I thought, “How can this person possibly be my soulmate?”

There was an easy answer to that, of course, although it isn’t the one I wanted to hear.

Likewise, I often wonder how I can spend time routinely with so many “friends” and acquaintances that just don’t get me, aren’t interested in getting me, or are so convinced that the one side of me they see is all there is that they’re not interested in getting to know the others.

Because I am interesting. I am smart. I am witty. I do have interesting stories, and since I’ve met thousands of people in my lifetime, I will repeat them numerous times for the benefit of strangers and friends who know me, but not as well as they could. And it may make me narcissistic to say I’m worth shutting up and listening to now and again, and if you stopped judging and started listening, you might find a real person rather than an entertaining personality.

But, I guess that’s just me. After all, I’m pretty self-centred.

“What a man wants is to believe that a woman can love him so much that no other man can interest her. I know that is not possible. I know that every joy carries its own tragedy. Oh, it is beautiful to love, and to be free at the same time.” ~ Henry Miller

After my last entry, regarding communication and relationships, I’d asked The Guy I Am Currently Dating if he’d read my journal…and in specific, that entry, which mentioned a lot of things I was pondering about relationships.

I was hurt, because he said he didn’t, and also because he said “Why should I have?”

It made me realise that although I’m not creating any great works of art here, either with my online journal or my personal diaries, or—in this day and age— my Facebook and Twitter communiques, I have been spoiled. I have had a number of people in my life absolutely fascinated by my thoughts, people who have not even really known me but become enamoured with me because of my form of self-expression.

I didn’t answer, but I wanted to tell him that that’s why. I don’t know if I can date someone who doesn’t make time to read what I put out there (although he mentioned he was busy at work all day, he also spent time on FB and linked to other articles he found to read elsewhere.)

I think I have been spoiled by learning there are people out there that are fascinated by my mind and my communications with the world, and the realisation that I am—not for the first time—with someone who doesn’t share that fascination because communication is so easy to come by, and to be taken for granted, that’s instilled a feeling of discontentment.

We managed to have a good enough weekend together, but I still couldn’t get out of my mind that his response to not reading my thoughts was “Why should I?”…and the feeling that perhaps I’m still looking for a certain type of connection we do not share.

It is this that often makes me wonder if I need someone in my life with whom to share this type of feeling-based, intellectual, artistic, introspective discourse. It reminds me of the days when I’d send special people in my life books to read, and we’d have great fun discussing them; the days when I had time for long e-mails and very open, personal conversations, and special connections.

I believe I need more of that in my life these days. I love the friends I surround myself with on a regular basis, but by and large, we do not share that same type of connection.

I believe I need people in my life who read this journal simply because it interests them, and by connection, because I myself am of interest to them. Perhaps that doesn’t really exist anymore; we’ve been pared down into a fact-based, text-message-Tweet-and-status-update kind of world. It doesn’t necessarily leave room for the connections that I inevitably value the most.

“A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.”~ Leo Rothsten

I don’t know why communication is so hard and frustrating. I’d like to meet one person in the world with whom it wasn’t; someone who didn’t always either yell at you or shut down completely and make you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall.

I’m so sick of feeling like everything I say or do or am is wrong. It’s exhausting. And the past two months, I’ve felt that a fairly good deal…not just from my relationship, but from friends, and former friends, and family, and my roommate, and virtually everyone in the world. I do, though, feel like a relationship should be a sort of oasis from that, all that judgment the world hurls at you…and,if you’re a sensitive person, bothers you more than you’ll ever let on.

I feel like a relationship should be that safe place, where you can take down the walls, lower your guard, and share how you truly feel. It’s no secret I believe in a level of openness that most just can’t handle, one where your lover, your soulmate, your best friend, your confidante, and your life companion are the same person; one where that person understands you as intimately as you understand yourself, and never seeks to limit your growth…both inside and outside of that relationship. I understand that such things are an ideal…and not realistic, and to look for that is to always find disappointment and perhaps miss out on a good deal of love in life…but even if a bit of that could be put into practice, it would be like a missing piece, something I genuinely *need* in order to be happy and to feel loved.

Sometimes I feel like I often make the same mistake in relationships: I try so hard to make things work with someone who is so different from me, it’s very natural they will never see things the way I do, that I feel lonely and abandoned and misunderstood. And because I grow to love that person, I don’t ever want to walk away, but I have to think…..can you love someone and want them in your life, but still know that on an essential personality and compatibility level, they’re not the right person for you? Or is it just a matter of learning to understand and live with the differences? Because, over and over, I’ve tried with people so very unlike me; relationships full of love and a few shared interests, but never really bonded in that way you feel when you meet someone who seems to relate to you effortlessly. Perhaps that effortless communication just can’t exist in relationship-world; it burns out after a few months, and you stop sharing and start avoiding and judging and criticising.

Sometimes I feel like I’m with someone and I can’t talk to them about something that’s upsetting me without having them fly off the handle, blame me, and make me more upset…the person I’m with isn’t really the person I can most easily talk to.

I feel like if I’m with someone, and I can’t express my honest feelings…particularly my feelings about that person expressing honest feelings about me….without that person then refusing to talk to me, and saying they’re just going to go be alone now, it’s like being punished and abandoned for having feelings, and for expressing feelings the other person doesn’t want to hear. It certainly doesn’t feel safe to know that communication always runs the risk of emotional abandonment. :(

I’d say that I feel like it’s a sign that I’m with the wrong person, but the honest truth is, I’ve never met the person who could communicate with me in a way that was open and accepting and didn’t end up making me wonder if our relationship would work without couples’ therapy.

It’s odd, because people tell me often how it’s refreshing that I’m open and encourage honest and straightforward communication. My friends compliment me on this attribute. I’m not afraid of feelings, and some have told me they really like and/or admire that. But I can’t seem to maintain a personal relationship where healthy communication is natural.

They say opposites attract, but maybe being involved with someone too unlike you means you can never really communicate on a level where it’s healthy and effortless and encouraging. Maybe opposites never really understand one another.

I would, one day, like to find someone who understands me, who isn’t going to punish me for expressing my feelings by retreating into silence, or make a bad day worse by yelling at me about all the mistakes I’ve made and what’s wrong with how I’ve handled a situation, when I’m already upset about it.

I don’t need a father figure, one who will yell at me when I do something wrong and encourage me to do something more with my life, yet become frustrated when I confide about my problems…even if I’m not turning to anyone but myself for solutions. I’m old enough and experienced enough that I don’t need to be taught about life. I need a soulmate, someone who truly understands how I think and feel and communicate, and what I want and need from my relationships. I need for someone to be on the same page with me, for discussions about difficult topics to happen without yelling, crying, or silence.

I’ve never found that. I don’t know if it’s because what I’m looking for doesn’t exist, because I seek out people too different from myself, or that people get worn out and overwhelmed by me. But I wonder if it should always be this hard in relationships. It seems as if it always is, for me…and I’d like to know why. If I get upset that I’m being yelled at after expressing my feelings, I’m not validating the other person’s right to feelings. If I get upset that the person shuts down and won’t communicate, I feel as if I’m being punished for wanting to express my feelings at all.

Either way, I feel like the key to a successful relationship is to avoid talking about anything too unhappy, and make your close friends your confidantes. This goes against everything in which I believe, who I am. I’m that idealistic, overromantic person who thinks the person you end up with should be your best friend, the one who loves and accepts everything about you, supports you even when you’re the one who made the mistake that caused your bad day.

I just want simple, old-fashioned communication that’s honest and open and doesn’t end with conflict, silence, and people feeling horrible about themselves.

This isn’t just an issue today, or lately,or in my current relationship. It’s been an issue in many.

I don’t want to be with someone I want to change, or someone who wants to change me. I somehow just have this idea it should be natural and uncomplicated and right…the right connection with the right person. Not that people should never argue, of course they will….but every relationship I’ve seen where all communication attempts turn into either screaming and crying or complete withdrawal of communication and affection has ended in a breakup or divorce; or in the case of many in my parents’ generation, people who really just don’t like each other much agreeing to co-exist without much commonality.

Maybe I really am an “alone” person, despite my overabundance of feeling and need to share and communicate. Maybe this blog is the closest I’m ever going to get to the kind of understanding I desire…and something about that is just terribly sad.

*gives up on others and retreats into the little happy world in her head, where being herself isn’t such a bad thing to be, and expressing her feelings is valued rather than cause to hurt feelings, lose friends, and end up alone. Maybe this is just, naturally, what everyone does. *