TW: discussion of flashbacks
I like the internet. For one thing, it lets me talk to people who aren’t here. One of the things I’m meant to be doing in my “recovery” is (“re-“)learn to express emotions when I have them, because I only survived this far by shoving everything down. One of my auditory flashbacks is the senior partner saying “it sounds important, so just go back out there and do it”. That happened when I was collapsed on the floor, unable to move or breathe. It’s a joke, and it isn’t.
The expressing things isn’t working. I have about 30 friends on my Facebook account. I keep everything on filters, because there are people on there who can’t be trusted. (One of them is a man, who decided, when I chose to ignore someone harassing me, to explain his idea of my medical condition to that someone, because he was annoyed. This led to that person harassing me more, because all that he understood was that “she wants to talk but she can’t”, and he was all set to “look after [me]” all night. Then the explaining person added me on Facebook and informed me that he was a friend of one of my therapists and that was how he knew me, even though I’d never seen him before or been introduced, and I still don’t know how he found me on Facebook, since I didn’t even know his name until I got the invite.) I keep them there because they think that that means they are friends with me, but it means I can use the events they sign up to to know where they will be and therefore where I should not be. So, if I express something on Facebook, it only goes to about eight people, and only one person reads it. It’s meant to feel safe that way, but it doesn’t, because Facebook is also where people harass me for money, and where I get ads about gendered underwear, and every few months, it decides I’m pregnant. Facebook, though, is the only way I can keep in touch with my relatives interstate, and with music people, which I need. I use a lot of spoons on getting through my arbitrarily-filtered feed every day.
Today I pointed out a spelling mistake in an article, one which has been repeated as week after week, the writers copy +paste and make small changes. A reply came back from someone else, because I had put the correct spelling in my comment and it is apparently the done thing to refer to people in those articles by made-up but similarly sounding names which are varyingly offensive and sexual. I normally don’t post on that page at all, because the people there think that sort of thing is highly amusing and appropriate, and it’s the least of the things they say. Because I had posted, though, his reply came as a notification, because I generally forget to turn them off. Behind my screen, though, I felt safe enough to tell him he was being rude, and that everyone on that page was there to be supportive, not offensive. He never came back, but I didn’t want to have to deal with that. Apparently I’m meant to be proud, because standing up to him is meant to be progress, but it means nothing, because he’s just going to go off somewhere else and say the same things, and I will not see it because I won’t follow.
Because of reasons, I have ended up taking over control of a daily community. A daily community is one of those pages where every day, you get a picture, belonging to a common theme, like an inspirational calendar but online. Every day, I spent up to an hour picking pictures, uploading them, and then posting and cross-posting them, because nobody else would. Apparently, that doesn’t stop everyone else telling me what I should post. Despite the theme of the community having nothing to do with sport, yesterday I was told off for not posting sporting pictures, because apparently there was a game and a riot and something or another and it was exciting to a certain subset of the community. This comes after people have taken it upon themselves to post pictures they feel I have omitted, generally – like the sporting pictures I was meant to have known to post because one subscriber out of 7,000 was interested – highlighting anatomy. One of the places these pictures go is Facebook, where you can’t link to these sorts of pictures, let alone post them. And, also, they make me uncomfortable. When I was watching the community, before I took it over, I skipped most of the posts, and now I take particular care to post something for everyone at least once a week. And yet, people still tell me I’m not doing well enough, because I should know something I don’t. None of these people stood up to take over. Because I have to do this every day, I do not have my last sanctuary of cutting off people entirely, because I always have to get on a computer, on Facebook, and I cannot have a day with no internet. And so, every day, someone is yelling at me – for something I did, or did not do.
I write stories, which is a thing I used to do a lot more. I stopped because someone told me that my stories were too hard for them to understand because they do not speak English. I was very upset by that, because it was a story I cared about and felt guided to tell, and I don’t think it’s my obligation to choose words that people can understand over words that fit with the story, that the characters would use. Since then, I have received many similar comments, the most recent ones coming with an ending of “but it was a good story anyway, may I please translate it/record it/share it/alter it”. When I expressed, in an anonymous forum, my feeling that I didn’t want people to comment to my stories because I felt it was intrusive and unnecessary, that my work should be able to go out on its own without people needing to come to me with their questions and write essays on what they liked and didn’t like, I was told that I shouldn’t post them because it wasn’t socially acceptable to not want comments, and that that preference made me a bad writer anyway. That wasn’t all they said, but you get the point, I hope. But if you liked a story enough to want to transform it, then why would you spend a page telling me what you disagreed with in it? “I don’t think this is in character, but it was well written anyway,” isn’t really a compliment. It’s not something I asked for. If it’s well written, why isn’t it in character? Why do they feel the need to criticise before they say anything positive? Why do they feel it’s necessary for them to contact me directly and force me to observe their opinion? It’s their opinion, and ultimately they’re saying it either doesn’t matter to them (if they want to transform it) or it’s something I can’t control (their level of language). And then, of course, it triggers a flashback.
But it’s not socially acceptable to want to avoid triggers, so I don’t post my stories anymore. It’s hard enough to write in here, making sure the words all come out right, when the red line under a correctly-spelled word makes me cry and hear their voices in my head. I cry when I’m going to fill in a form and start typing something like an account number or a postcode and the field turns red and tells me the input is incorrect when I haven’t even finished typing it in. I can’t read red writing on a screen on the best of days, anyway, but it being there is enough, because I should have known to be better even though the site wouldn’t let me. It, too, is yelling at me for something I should have known to do even though it’s illogical or impossible.
So it gets worse, and not better. It’s meant to get better, because it’s exposure therapy, but it’s not something I’m even meant to get used to, because when I ask for help dealing with it, I’m told that people being like that is not normal, and that’s not what I need to be exposed to.
I know there are people who like my posts here, have subscribed and read them. I am very grateful to you, because I hope that my words help you somehow, even if it’s just that you see once sentence and think “I am not alone because someone else feels like I do”. I am grateful that you don’t comment, because I do not know how to deal with that yet, and I want to release you from any obligation to do so, because I’m sure that at least sometimes, it’s as hard for you as it is for me. We all know the other is out there, and that can be enough, even if we have to huddle away in a dark room which doubles as a Faraday cage.