Have you ever had a dream so real that you can’t shake the emotion it evokes upon waking? I had one of those last night. I’m a pretty social person and I like to talk to people but I am finding myself wanting to pull my head into my shell today and just be quiet within myself. This is a bit difficult with what I do but I’m going to just try to look busy and push through until I can leave and go home.
I know what caused the dream and why I had it. The participants were a bit of a surprise. It was a combination of three things that caused the dream – a story I re-read from this blog last night, an excerpt from a TV Show called “This is Us” and a conversation I had with someone at work yesterday.
In the dream I was high school age and a popular boy had shown some interest in me. That in and of itself should have sent up red flags but just like when I was in school I fell for the cute boy only to find out that it wasn’t genuine. I found out when I went to a math tutoring session and one of the participants in the session told me – being kind – that he had made some unflattering comments about my appearance. There were some anomalies – Abby from “The Eight is Enough” was the tutor but then she left and Muhammad Ali (post Parkinsons) took her place for one. The kind sort of acquaintance was a girl I used to work with and the popular boy was a guy I used to work with, to whom I can absolutely guarantee you I was never attracted. All very odd. I wasn’t able to do the math Muhammad was trying to help us with and I realized that I was completely unprepared for the math we were learning so when I woke up I was trying to figure out how to extricate myself from the tutoring session without letting the other people know it was because I was out of my depth.
It wasn’t hard to figure out why I’d had the dream. The boy represented the boy I wrote the story about – someone I met when I was right out of high school. He was charming and funny and cute and he ended up being kind of a jerk in the end. The math was because I had a challenging (good challenging) day yesterday at work and I had a couple of things thrown at me that I was unfamiliar with but I’m determined to learn them! I have no idea where Abby or Muhammad came from – that is a complete mystery. The “fat girl” feelings evoked upon learning that the boy was not for real come directly from the show. In the show there is an overweight woman and they show her both as a pre-teen and an adult with all of the trials and tribulations of going through what we go through, including a pretty, slender mom and siblings that don’t have the same issues. It’s no ones fault but my own that I look the way I do and I take full responsibility for that but it happened and every day I have to figure out how to deal with that.
Because of the way I look people make assumptions about me. I know some of you are shaking your head and saying “No that’s not true” but I live it every day and it absolutely does happen. People look at me and they assume I am unhappy, slovenly, undisciplined, uneducated, unintelligent and lazy. I have to work twice as hard to prove what people would just assume about me were I a size fourteen. Yesterday I met a new person here at work with whom I have been interacting for six months on the phone and via email. He wasn’t at all disrespectful in any way but I saw the look of surprise on his face when he met me and I know that look. People underestimate me when they have a visual first but if they “meet” me over the phone they don’t have a pre-conceived idea of my capabilities and they respect my abilities.
Am I projecting because of my own insecurities? Absolutely that is a factor. Over the years I have developed an armor of protection to stave off that judgment. I use my intellect, my abilities and my personality to change their stereotypical minds and force them to see me as I am. I am a person – not just a fat person. I’ve said this before in other ruminations and it’s not something I’m proud of but it is my reality. I strive to be the smartest person in the room because I have something to prove. I can’t allow people’s pre-conceived ideas about who I am based upon my appearance to stand unchallenged but, being this is polite society, I can’t call them on it, so instead I work extra hard to make sure they see ME – the complicated person that is me. I can’t allow them to see my insecurities because that would defeat my purpose. I need them to know that I’m completely capable and to trust that I can take care of business.
This sensitivity to other peoples’ image of me does spill over into all aspects of my life and I can say beyond a doubt that my shyness and reticence at large events or places where I will meet new people is due in large part to this. I know I shouldn’t care what other people think but it is my reality that I do. I put on a good front mind you. I had a very close friend tell me last year that she was shocked to know that I lack confidence. This is a good thing because it tells me that my mask is firmly in place.
I feel very protective of the vulnerable person inside of me. This isn’t a “poor me” statement but the truth of the matter is that on more than one occasion in my life I have allowed that mask to fall and have shown my vulnerability only to be hurt or taken advantage of, which no one would ever feel great about. I’m not blaming the other person or persons in this scenario though because I’ve made choices to allow those people to be in a position to cause me that pain. I’m less likely to allow that now as I get older because frankly I don’t have the time or energy for all that nonsense. My life is good. Simple.
Anyway, the dream has stuck with me today and it is impacting my reactions to things. I’m finding myself feeling defensive and that automatically makes me build more armor and my responses are clipped and intolerant. This morning a co-worker was speculating about a companywide meeting we are having tomorrow. As usual the rumor mill is hard at work and half the company thinks they’re going to lose their jobs. It’s illogical and silly but it’s not fair of me to negate their feelings. People stress about this stuff and after going through four lay offs I can understand it but the reality is that there are too many mitigating factors that make their concerns unfounded. Most of the time I would just listen and nod in understanding and move on with my life but today I find myself wanting to snap at these people for creating unnecessary drama in their lives. I know this is mean spirited and that I should be supportive of their need for reassurance without validating their concerns but I’m just not in the mood.
So today I’m going to just work hard and keep my own counsel and avoid any in depth conversations as best I can until I can get home and meditate or whatever and pull myself out of this funk. The best thing about today? I’m having an amazing hair day!