Due to a combination of insecurity, paranoia and a struggle to understand other people most of the time, the two words “I’m busy” fuck with my head worse than anything else. In fact it doesn’t need to be those precise words – any variation on that theme, a lack of contact or even just an email or text that is a bit short can be taken by my inner critical voice as an invitation to put me down.
Of course “I’m busy” is the classic way of gently letting down the person you have been seeing without having to actual dump them – be “busy” often enough and consistently enough and I, sorry I mean they, will get the hint. I’ve been let go by this method a fair few times, and I’ve been outrightly dumped and I have to say the latter method is preferable. It’s like ripping off that plaster – stings like shit at the time but at least it’s over.
But it’s not just in romantic relationships that I fear the other person’s unavailability means the worst. Any mention of being busy makes my inner voice automatically assume the other person – not necessarily some unfortunate girl I am attempting to woo, but even a friend, a family member, anyone – is trying to avoid me. And by avoid I mean get completely shot of. Of course the logical side of my brain tries to shout down the voice. If it’s my brother or my sister who is busy, for example, experience should tell me that he/she is actually busy if an email isn’t answered or and invite to the cinema is turned down, and my paranoia has always been unfounded. But the voice loves to plant seeds. Yes, up to NOW they haven’t been avoiding you, but what have you said recently that could have offended or been misunderstood? You’ve done it this time haven’t you?
I’ve always had this inability to read what is going on in other people’s heads, combined with a wonderful talent for always assuming the worst. I am learning though, or trying to, that others can be genuinely busy you know, not everyone is sat round in their flat pressing refresh on the hotmail screen of their phone like a pointless recluse, some people have lives of their own and aren’t on 24-hour standby. And my improved emotional state recently means I am more able to remain positive and avoid slipping into decline over an assumed sleight. Not all the time of course, the insecurity is too well-established to be completely overcome and if I’m having a bad day, or week, or month, if my emotional defences are weak, then the voice wins, however ridiculous that seems to the logical side of my brain, whoever it is that hasn’t replied.
Sometimes I can ignore it, sometimes I can’t. There is no such thing as an overall victory in the battle for supremacy of my head, just a to and fro between the positive and negative parts, jostling across my emotional front line. Sometimes one side is ahead, sometimes the other. But with people I have known longer or people I am closer to, my ability to combat the feelings of defeat and worthlessness is getting stronger. I know the failure, the fault, in mine not theirs.
The other side of this emotional coin is that I hate leaving a message unanswered for fear that the other person is thinking “well if you’re not going to even bother reply then fuck you, we are finished.” I’m trying to beat this too.