I can’t really get it together.

My friend is making it worse.

This seems to be unavoidable.

I am trying to dye my hair. Did I mention that? I think I did. So, I was talking to her about it, she had some suggestions and we went off to a shop together to look at hair dye. I happened to notice some instructions about how you are meant to blend colours from two different boxes in order to cover gray (the point of all this). So I began to look at this, and I called her attention to it. I didn’t quite understand what it meant.

From that point, the whole exchange degraded and I don’t know why. She began to talk faster. She took the paper out of my hand and began to look at more and more things. I was still thinking about the two lines I had read about covering gray that I didn’t quite get, and I wanted to understand them and she had more and more suggestions. After ten minutes, I said I don’t think this will work.

She had been talking and talking and directing my attention to various colours and brands and looking at different bits of fake hair in a folder, and it was like that was the sentence I had been struggling to locate in my mind for ten minutes. She said a few more things, including this idea that you just have to take risks with it. We were completely out of sync. I was trying to slow down, and she was speeding up. I was looking at one thing, and she was pointing at other things. She was taking things out of my hand, pointing to writing, and putting it away before I could read it. She was disorganized and I was dissociating.

Anyway, I thought about this later and had an idea about three elements of the situation. It seemed to me that she felt rejected or about to be rejected, because I had pointed out this issue of blending that I hadn’t understood, and she felt unable to tolerate the feeling of being rejected. So I had to agree. I had to be forced to agree or persuaded to agree or in some way pleased, because she could not sit with her fear of rejection. I hadn’t rejected anything. I was just puzzled, but the idea of rejection had raised its ugly head. That’s why she was going faster and faster. I had to like something she suggested, and I didn’t seem to like any of them. In reality, I did not have any opinion about any of them. I just didn’t get it.

My thought lately about how people advise me—her advice was basically just pick something—is they are usually telling you to do what works for them. They aren’t being malicious.

Probably that’s what she does. Rather than stay in her anxiety, you pick a solution and go with it. Which sometimes does work, but I am mostly trying not to do that. I am trying to stay with things that are unpleasant and painful and difficult—not push myself into a meltdown by ratcheting everything, but just trying to stay calm and stay with it, because that’s the payoff. The payoff is learning to stay with things, and learning how to do that will outlast the consequences of anything I actually do.

I felt my boundaries were being violated, and it was making me freeze. As soon as she took the card out of my hand while I was reading it, I felt violated, and it was triggering a freeze state. I think that is what used to happen with VP Ma’am: I felt my boundaries being violated, and I froze.

Something similar happened later in the evening and again in the morning. There is this issue where I asked VP Ma’am to write a letter for me to use in my job search. She is a senior teacher. We worked closely together on various projects. She is my friend. The other VP (now the only VP, in reality) suggested I ask her to write one. It was the logical choice to him. So I asked her. And she said can I write it for you later and send a scan and I said fine, because I asked her on the 17th. I wouldn’t even be in the US until ten days later. I had done everything else I could do to start my job search, but it seemed reasonable to let that one thing wait.

Then I got here, and I didn’t push her about it. My mind was on trying to adjust, trying to sleep at night, settling into a routine. When I started to look at job postings, I was reminded I really need this letter. So I reminded her. She said no problem. Then nothing happened. That was nearly a week ago. Deadlines are looming. It’s the start of the semester. A few things are opening up at the half-way point. The schools with midyear changes want to hire this week.

I sent her some examples of letters yesterday to prompt her. She did not reply to that.

That is one thing. If she doesn’t send the letter, I probably will miss the deadlines, because I haven’t asked anyone else to write one, and they need some lead time and can’t reasonably expect them to send them off immediately. If I had started on all of this earlier, I wouldn’t be in this situation, but I have been trying to titrate my grief so that I don’t lose my mind.

That’s the backstory.

My friend periodically gets stressed about my job situation and inquires about it. That’s maybe reasonable, since I have been living in her house. We haven’t discussed rent or anything, and I haven’t paid her any money. So last night at 7:30 she asked me what I was going to do about the letter. I hemmed and hawed. She had some suggestions. I said whatever I do, it is probably going to be fine.

Finally, I came around to what I really think. It’s 7:30 in the evening. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it at this moment. I am tired and my mind is not really working, and I have absolutely no idea. Also, I try not to think about anxiety-provoking problems in the evenings before I sleep.

Fine.

In the morning, again 7:30 am I suppose by coincidence. I have had a provoking chat with C. Nothing overtly so, but I have a lot of feelings. I have had a cup of coffee, but not breakfast.

She asks me again: What am I going to do about this letter? She has some more suggestions, as well as the pros and cons.

This is not on my agenda at 7:30 am, although it probably is a good time to start planning your day. Although my idea is that I might make some breakfast and mull the question for a while. I could have said that.

Listening to her talk about it made me utterly terrified and my brain shut down.

It sheds some light on a dynamic with VP Ma’am. She violated a boundary (I am trying to get to class, I am trying to get work done, I am trying to concentrate on something, I am trying to calm the fuck down) and, because I was already in a sensitive state, I froze.

Anyway, I returned to the hair dye issue, after I had a shower. I thought I would start with that. You are supposed to test it, to make sure it doesn’t permanently change the colour of your skin. (Good times.) I did that. Nothing happened. There should have been some sort of mark left from having dye on my arm for 45 minutes.

I thought I must have done something wrong and tried it again. Again no change.

I washed it off, did some other things, cried a lot (on topics unrelated to that), and suddenly it occurred to me I had used the wrong bottles.

That’s what happens when my brain freezes up. And that’s why I try to calm down, instead of pushing on with solutions which are all fine, but the person executing them is not.    

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