Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From My Journal: Selfish




Anxiety is selfish.

This is what I realize while on the train, conversing with a friend who's having a rough time at work. I've just finished unloading on her. I spent our first six stops telling her about my nervousness around my upcoming trip and the new guy that I'm kind-of seeing. She took it all in, like a normal friend, processing it and relaying advice.

Her problems are much more serious.  I listen intently, I feel myself latching on to each one, taking them on as my own. 

"Don't."

This is what she beckons me to do, when I tell her that I'm extremely worried. I tell her that I don't process things of this sort, like her other friends do. I will carry them with me, until she's found resolutions.

& even though I've sent her countless articles. 
& even though I've sent them to my parents.
& even though I tell my lovers, before they become that way.

There's still an air of: 

Woman up.
Grow up, this is the way the world works.
You can get over that.
I thought that was a phase. 

She thinks I'm selfish. She says this out loud. It's the first time I've ever heard it and I absolutely agree. That notion is followed by the anxiety that all my other loved ones feel that same way. 

My empathy is so immense that it's better off that I don't use it at all. Unfortunately, I don't have that option. I'm an educator, with a ton of students that I constantly carry concern for. I am a supporter of friends and family members that need help with their burdens. I can't turn it off. It isn't human.

But sometimes..it's too much. 

I feel it welling in my chest, stacking as a person unloads. 
& sometimes I have to ask them to stop.

My friend is flabbergasted. She's turned to face the other side of the train, disinterested in our conversation. I touch her shoulder and explain that I care, I just need a second. She says she understands, but after she got off on her stop, after her absence for a week or so...

I know she doesn't.

But I want her to understand me...

My heart is a to-do list. I etch the troubles of others and my constant distress beneath my skin. It thumps like a check list:


  • Remember to follow up on that. ____
  • She can't find love. I know that feeling too. Follow up on that, too.____
  • Find a way to help so and so pay for that thing.____
  • If I can't...will so and so still love me? ____
  • Will they think I'm a good person? ____
  • Am I good person?____
  • Why don't you know that? ____
  • Write it out. Figure it out. ___

It starts as a small notion and spirals out of control. My mind finds correlations that aren't relevant, but its convinced itself that it's of the utmost importance. 

& so I've decided that...when I'm in this mode...I will stop you mid-sentence.

I will touch your arm and tell you, "Not today. I love you. I will eventually listen. But I cannot today."

& yes...I'm selfish. 

I'm sorry, but I have to be. 



“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”




― Audre Lorde







1 comment:

@nellynova88 said...

I couldn't relate to this more.