Open and Honest

One area in my life that I’ve been pushing myself to improve is my total lack of social skills. I am an introvert almost to the extreme, and often find myself content with no other company than my few closest friends. Building new relationships is excessively difficult for me.

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I think one of the reasons I find it so hard is that I kind of hate myself. I see myself as a whiney and annoying person with nothing intelligent to add to a conversation and a waste of space in the room. I labor under the assumption that pretty much everyone else secretly agrees with my self assessment, but are too kind to tell me they’d rather I left. So I leave without being asked. I slip away to be by myself where I’ll read or write or knit or whatever.

Most of this self abasement was encouraged in my upbringing by the way the household was run, and during the darkest periods of my struggle with Depression have led me to some very ugly thoughts. Today, the people closest to me often tell me that I hate myself more than anyone else in the room. I question the complete validity of this statement, but I see what they mean anyway. It would seriously be hard for anyone to dislike me more than I do.

Building relationships with the mental handicaps of Anxiety and Depression, along with my severe introversion, is a steep upward climb, but I recently had a breakthrough that I hope will become a new pattern.

My husband and I have changed churches. Again. These past two years have been the most up, down and unsettled period of my life. Though Timothy keeps telling me that now it’s safe to settle for at least the next three years, I haven’t seen enough in writing to convince me to unpack my emotional suitcase. So when kind and friendly faces in our new church body opened their arms to welcome me, I wanted to walk into them, but also wondered what was going to happen to their presence in my life come September. How much do I open up to these people? How much do I fight against my fears of rejection, only to meet with loss on the other end? Because one thing I’ve noticed in the last few churches we’ve gone to, is that once you’re no longer a member, the people who seemed to care don’t care anymore. It’s like you’ve switched from the goth click to the cheerleaders and you’re dead to all that’s past. All the trying, all the fighting against myself to get close to strangers becomes another example of people not actually caring about me, another example of my not being worth anyone’s time.

But what I’m now realizing is that I’m half the problem, maybe even more than half. My fear of rejection keeps my relationships shallow. Why should anyone miss me when I leave the room? They don’t know me, because I fear being known.

And here I am, standing in front of a woman who wants to get to know me, and I’m stuck. Yes, I’d love to go for coffee with you. It would be good for me in so many ways, and you’re being so loving and kind, but how do I tell you that, despite my being an adult, I don’t often drive places on my own? How do I tell you that I have such crippling anxiety disorder, that I’m afraid to schedule coffee with you on a day when I can’t rely on my husband to be around to prevent me coming home to an empty house?

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My new solution. I just do. I just say it, and hope that, if you really want to get to know me, you’ll help me think of another way. So instead of just telling her the easy bit about not having access to a car, I hear myself admit to her, “I have anxiety disorder, and driving is one of my triggers. I don’t really drive more than 20 minutes by myself right now.” And she says, “I’ll pick you up.” And she says, “I can drive you to the church where your husband is.”

Another falsehood I was taught as a child was that I was never supposed to talk about my mental health issues. It’s a secret that I’m ill, meant for just me and my doctors. So the worse my condition got, the more my relationships withered, the less I wanted to try. People don’t understand, I thought. I’m in the way. They must hate me. I’m such a nuisance. I wish I wasn’t me.

The thing I’m learning, a lesson I can take with me even if we do switch to another church in six months, is that a lot people are willing to help and want to understand, but they can’t do either if I’m not willing to be honest.

Honesty. It makes sense, really. Isn’t honesty a foundational pillar of any lasting relationship?

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Myths

On January 23, 2003 Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman aired the first episode of a show called Mythbusters. This wild ride of science, hilarious hijinks, and massive explosions, lasted fourteen glorious years.

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They set out with the goal of testing folklore scientifically, seeing if you could really make your stomach explode from eating poprocks and soda together, and if eating a poppy seed bagel for breakfast could really give you a false positive on a drug test. Overmythbusters-truck-explosion-o the years, they worked to make science fun for those who had begun to think it was all just book learnin. It was amazing and I learned so much. I personally have always loved science, but watching them perform tests that I would never have the ability to do, or bring up subjects that I knew nothing of, was a gift I’ll never forget.

I loved their ancient weaponry, myths, where they’d look at hwacha56o6jcenturies old manuscripts and blueprints and reconstruct the device. They  made cannons out of ice, catapults out of unfelled trees, torpedoes from 13th century Syria, and my favourite, the Hwacha!

They were well known to the public for their crazy explosions, one of my favorites still remains the time they made the creamer cannon. I love watching Kari Byron flee up the hill when the experiment went a lot better than they’d anticipated.

Their last ever episode aired on Sunday, March 5, 2016. This post is just me taking a minute to thank them. I don’t enjoy watching television as a general rule, so it’s hard to make me a loyal fan of anything on the screen. But the combination of history, science, and Adam and Jamie’s on screen chemistry won me over in total.

They’ve been open about theirs being a working relationship only, that they don’t see each Image-1other except on the set, because they don’t get along. Even if we allow for this being reality TV and some of their little tiff’s being staged or exaggerated, you can’t help but love them for how different they are. It was because of this, they made the ideal team. That was why when Jamie was asked to start this show, he asked Adam to join him, not because they were best friends, but because they made a good team.

This is gonna sound corny, but after 14 years I felt like I knew them a little. It’s like when you graduate high school or college and you give that favorite teacher one last goodbye hug. This is my hug to them. I’m going to miss you guys. Thanks for everything I learned. Thanks for jumping out of planes, getting buried alive, driving cars into swimming pools, and blowing up cement trucks. It’s been a blast.

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Text © Rachel Svendsen 2016