I am “Tim Gibula” and will get over it

Anxiety-Ridden Man Rightly Ashamed Of Every Single Thing He Does

I don’t read The Onion, but wow this one is too good to pass up. Somebody over there really understands what it’s like:

…sources close to Gibula told reporters his perpetual anguish over his words and actions could not be more justified, as all of his missteps—ranging from minor lapses of politeness to his overall slightly disappointing career trajectory—are immediately perceived by those around him as evidence of his inadequacy as a human being.

“Tim’s the kind of guy who is forever second-guessing his behavior, as if the people in his life are constantly scrutinizing every single move he makes, and he’s completely correct about that—we are,” said Paula Ramirez, a coworker who admitted she can barely look at Gibula without a medley of his most embarrassing moments replaying in her head. “Anytime he’s been petrified at the thought of social interaction or obsessively reexamined something he’s said, his fears have been entirely reasonable, given our nonstop monitoring of his behavior.”

A few days ago, I screwed up at work, and this is exactly how I reacted, going into the downward spiral of embarrassment and beating myself up and extending this harsh judgement to my entire life.

In addition, hundreds of slight acquaintances who may have only encountered Gibula once or twice claimed they were able to draw clear conclusions about his entire personality from the fact that he….”

I’m cutting off the quote right there, because you can just supply whatever it is in your own life that you feel ashamed of and fear everyone else would reject you over.

As a matter of fact, I once came up with a rational response for those times that I fretted over encounters with “slight acquaintances”, or even complete strangers. It’s simple: 5 minutes from now, will that person even remember me? Almost always the answer will be No, even if the encounter was pretty bad.

Here’s another saying I once read: You wouldn’t worry so much about what people think of you if you knew how seldom they did. (I’ve seen this attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, yet Dr. Phil claims his father used to say it. Well, maybe Phil’s dad heard it from the first lady.)

(Realize that this is how shy people with low self-esteem go through the day, every day. It really sucks. That’s why social anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder are called disorders in the first place.)

The good news is that reading this story has gotten me out of the funk I’ve been in for the past few days. I feel more ready to get on with things and quit moping.

Go read the whole piece.

Hat Tip: The Social Phobic

 

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My Alpha Male Moment

~1~

I came to work and had an unusual craving for coffee. The coffee they serve in the break room is atrocious, but a craving is a craving. So I walked across the building to the breakroom. Of course, I frequently visit this break room to gather supplies of paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper cups… and to see if there’s any eye candy sitting around, since it’s where the customer service girls from upstairs take their breaks.

As I was filling my cup, I noticed a sheet of paper lying on top of the big canister of Coffee-mate Creamer on the counter next to the coffee urns. It was an email message that someone obviously had printed out then absent-mindedly left on top of the creamer.

I wouldn’t have given it a second thought except the name on the top of the page caught my eye. It was the name of a female coworker for whom I’ve had on-again / off-again attraction for since I started here. I’ll call her Charlize because she could be Charlize Theron’s homelier sister. My interest in her always has been wishy-washy for several reasons. First of all, workplace romance is often too risky in these days of frivolous sexual harassment charges; not to mention the gossip it can generate. Secondly, I’m just not sure how attractive Charlize really is – her appearance varies and she can range between a 4 and a 7 on the HB scale (I’d say usually she’s a 6). Lastly but most significant is that I’m too damn shy to do anything about it anyway.

I left the sheet of paper where it was and walked back towards my work area. I was going to tell Charlize about it, even though I usually try to ignore her (it’s a shy-guy thing, not a stuck-up thing). I passed by her desk. I stopped and said “Hey Charlize.”

She said, “Hi.” She was wearing a fancy blouse and she looked tired.

“Did you leave an email in the break room? Did you forget it?”

“Um, no, uh….” She seemed confused, or as if I just woke her up. Well, you never know what other people might be going through, especially when you don’t really know them.

“I saw it there and it had your name on it. So…”

She started getting up. “Oh yeah, I did.”

I began turning to go away (shyness makes me a hit & run conversationalist, in and out as quickly as possible, then I make a run for it!).

I told her playfully, “I left it there. I’m gonna make you get up and go get it.”

“Thanks.”

That was all.

~2~

Why is that “Alpha”?

Well, because a typical supplicating, pedestalizing Beta male would have brought the sheet with him and made a big deal out of rescuing it for Charlize and delivering it to her. He would’ve been seeking her approval like an eager puppy.

I wasn’t trying to be mean or inconsiderate, so please don’t misunderstand. It wasn’t that big a deal for her to walk over and retrieve her print-out. In the workplace I would not have grossly inconvenienced her, or anybody else for that matter. Regardless, I got a kick out of it. It was about proving to myself that I don’t always have to be so worried about pleasing others, especially not attractive girls.

But maybe I should’ve been more obvious in my teasing? (Oh boy, now the self doubt sets it….)

I think it might just be that being more of an Omega male than a Beta makes the adoption of the devil-may-care behavior of an Alpha a little easier for me

~3~

Note:

If anyone who reads this doesn’t understand the meaning of Alpha, Beta, Omega, etc, in the context of the SMP (sexual marketplace), please look the terms up. It has to do with Game theory. Several of the sites on my Blog Roll pertain to this.

The Breakdown That Turned Me On

~1~

I’d lost my careful crafted avoidant little world and it freaked me out. (Go read previous posts for details).

Down on the carpet

This is where it would happen

~2~

The stress kept coming. Like a rash that itches worse the more attention you give it.

When I returned to work from my training trip, Neo, my supervisor was on vacation and hadn’t taken his training trip yet. The plant manager suggested we hold a meeting, where I would tell them all about it. So, I was to present to everyone – senior management – what I’d seen and learned.

Hey, even “normal” people dread giving presentations in front of others. I have to remind myself of that, since it meant that if I felt wussy about leading the meeting, it was because nearly everyone does, not because of social anxiety.

Well isn’t that comforting? Pfffftt.

In the meeting I tried to recall and summarize what I’d noted in class. At one point, our HR manager asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to, and I responded by b.s.-ing my way through it. (HR! Sheesh.) Everyone was quiet. I think they knew that I’d been throwing lots of words at the answer without really saying anything. Exposure sucks.

I went through a crappy stress reaction over this. Over subsequent weeks I put way too much pressure on myself to try and prepare our plant for the transition to this new inventory system. And to make it worse, I seemed to be the only person stressing out over it.

Overreaction, oh how you love to dine on me. With fava beans and a nice chianti.

So there was that.

~3~

Seattle boasts, among other dubious SWPL-ish features, a couple of “alternative” newspapers. I think that’s how you could describe them. Alt-left-libertarian media, or something. Whatever; I’m no expert. Anyway, one night, about a week after my return from the Topeka trip, I took out a personal ad on one of their websites.  I don’t remember which one, so I’m not going to name it. It was similar to the “missed connections” section on Craig’s List.

I was reaching out to the Intense Stare Girl.

It was a long shot, but impulsively I took it anyway. I’d been preoccupied with thoughts of her since our paths crossed at the airport. Her big dark eyes fixed on me. The intense look on her face. I kept replaying it in my mind, daydreaming about what I would’ve said to her if only I’d stopped and spoken up. Maybe she wanted me?

Really, I was just waking up (unwillingly, unwillingly) to how lonely I was.

My personal ad went something like this:

It was October _th, about 7 pm. You walked past me at the underground train to the United terminal at SeaTac airport. You were about to get on, I was coming off. You were wearing a trenchcoat. I was wearing a [whatever the heck I wore]. I was taller than you and had red hair and glasses. You looked at me and didn’t look away. Something was happening. Our eyes were locked as we passed. We didn’t speak. I’d like to get to know you. Respond to me if you read this and are interested.

But then I had second thoughts, telling myself  the chances were remote that she’d even see the ad, let alone identify herself, let alone respond to me.

One night later, I cancelled the personal ad. I would never find Intense Stare Girl.

~4~

Then I took a shower. Long and hot, as I like it, the water cascading over me.

Things were on my mind. Women. Life history. Airports. People. Girls I’d liked long ago. Social failures. I stood there showering and thinking. I finished the shower and noticed I’d forgotten to put towels in the bathroom. Dripping, I half-ran/half-tiptoed to the closet and grabbed a towel and began drying my body. Things. On. My. Mind.

You can hold it back for only so long, and when the flood hits it carries you away and you can’t stop it. You can’t, you can’t, and so the heat began flooding my face – heat not from the shower but from the first hot tears – crying now, and my legs buckled and I hit the floor knees first and then in a split second my hands. I was on my hands and knees and the tears were falling. I couldn’t stop them. I was sobbing.

Everything came out at once, all that I had bottled up and denied for years. Each and every missed opportunity to be with a girl as a kid or with a woman as an adult. Missed and gone. All the unrequited crushes I’d had. Missed and gone. Girls who had flirted with me but I’d not responded to them because I was either too shy or couldn’t believe they’d really be interested in a guy like me. Missed and gone. Too many painful memories. If the phrase EPIC FAIL had been around back then it would label my experience. Amazing how much it could hurt.

I stayed in the same spot on my bedroom floor, naked, legs folded underneath me, my face in my hands on the floor, like a broken supplicant at prayer. Perhaps I should’ve been praying but I wasn’t – I was bawling. Like a baby, yes. I’ve only cried like that a few times my whole life, mostly when I was young.

I’m a grown man.

Amazing what a quantity of fluids can come oozing out of your face when you’re bawling. Not just tears but slobber and mucus too. Your nose starts running, as if there are more tears than the eyes can handle and they start flowing out your nostrils. (My nose was crying!) My face was raining on the carpet. What a mess! This was mouth-open-wide bawling, with that breathy moaning sound that comes out, you know what I mean? And what struck me was that usually at some point you’ve had enough and you can pull yourself together and get cleaned up. Every time I thought I could do that, a new flood would overwhelm me and I’d fall right back into it, into the sobbing slobbery mess. Surprise!

Missed and gone. Opportunities for love and puppy love and infatuation, lust and romance and hooking up, hell even just flirting, and dating and relationships and touching and being touched and holding and being held.

All avoided. And now I was paying for it.

~5~

Something was changing on the inside.

I’d kept myself so dead, so hopeless for such a long time, yet never got away from feeling bad. I’d simply been ignoring it. I hadn’t been dead, only deceiving myself. It turned out that I was still alive and it hurt like hell.

It followed me from Topeka, part 2

Or: Remember the Rental Car Lady!

~1~

Since I had no family or friends in the Puget Sound area, there was no one to give me a ride home from the airport. Instead, I had to get a ride on one of those airport shuttle vans that will drop you off at your home address.

I wish they’d had this YouTube video back then:

So, does that top arrow mean go forward, or go up a level?
[Courtesy Shuttle Express and YouTube]

If memory serves, at SeaTac you have to take an elevator or stairs to get from the main level to the shuttle van level. Anyway, I went the wrong way and got on the wrong level. I wandered around briefly before figuring that out. Another mistake. Slumping shoulders.

I walked back over to the elevator area. There are four elevators, and you wait for whichever one arrives first. I pressed the up button on the wall between two of them. Another man stood near me. One of the elevator doors opened. It was empty. I took one step forward, then hesitated. It was going in the wrong direction, so I took a step back. The man got on.

Just then woman walked into the area. She was wearing the uniform of a rental car company — I forget which one, maybe Avis. Ahe was headed for the the elevator door as it began closing, but it took me a couple seconds to realize what was going on; I was tired and worn out — and not just physically from the travel, but psychologically even more so. The man already on board didn’t see her.

The elevator doors closed, and she missed it. We looked at each other. Socially, my defense mechanisms down, I was now sort of fatalistic about my interactions with others and I wasn’t going to be hiding or playing it cool like I typically would’ve. I interacted with her. Typically I’d pretend to not even have seen her, ignoring the situation and hoping she wouldn’t get mad at me. Well, none of that happened this time. I wasn’t going to pretend that I hadn’t seen her nor understood the situation. No excuses this time, just being laid bare. I said oops, explained how out of sorts I was, and apologized for not catching the elevator door for her.

I’d goofed and been seen to goof — usually a dreadful experience. But not this time. I didn’t have the energy to conceal how I was, I suppose. This was the final release of the dam. And I felt something softer come over me, a mood that was more accepting of my shitty week, not trying to fight it or run away from it.

She must’ve been able to tell I was tired or something. She was cool with it and even sympathetic. I could feel it. Then I let her know I was looking for the shuttle van area. She was helpful and told me. And I thanked her

All of this might seem trivial to you. It wasn’t to me. I let my uptight, worry-wart defenses down, and it was all right. The thing is, however, that it had taken four days of unrelenting stress for me to reach this point!

 
~2~

In sum:

  • I went to Topeka for “train-the-trainer” training on my own in order to avoid socializing with my coworkers.
  • It backfired and I wound up forced into social interaction with strangers, having to face my underdeveloped social skills.
  • I tried too hard to learn the new database system and couldn’t; I was supposed to return to my plant and teach others how to use it.
  • I (a virgin, never had a gf) had to be in close proximity to attractive women and couldn’t avoid it as usual, reminding me how alone I was.
  • Travelling, I was forced into new tasks for which I had to impotently depend on others.
  • I’d lost my careful crafted avoidant little world and it freaked me out.

 

~3~

For several months after my return home, I kept wanting to recreate that mood of letting-go, of letting things be as they were, of letting myself be as I was and not hiding or avoiding. I even came up with a little motto to remind me of it: Remember the Rental Car Lady!

~4~

Tune in next time….:  One night, few weeks after returning from my trip, I found myself on my hands and knees bawling like a child and couldn’t stop.

Sometimes a pencil is…

… all you really wanted. However, the person whom you asked for the pencil felt compelled to go the extra mile for you and you wind up with not only a pencil but also a whole big box of pencils, and a new eraser, and some ink pens and lunch and a puppy, while they’re at it.

Overkill is funny.

I had taken a screen capture from my pc and printed it. I walked over to the printer. As often happens in a shared printing setup, I had to leaf through a small stack of printouts which had yet to be retrieved by their owners. I came across one – quite unnitentionally I assure you – that caught my eye (my easily distracted, attention deficit eye, that is). it was a concise glossary of useful terms that would come in handy.

Someone was standing behind me as I oooh’d with terminological lust. My Gatekeeper was silently urging me to feel embarrassed at having been “caught” doing something forbidden, as if I’d been prying into someone else’s privacy. I wasn’t consciously aware of it, I just felt surprised.

Anxious to play it cool and act like this was no big deal (it really wasn’t a big deal, but that’s not what my neurotic emotions were telling me), I told the person behind me “This is pretty neat.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a list of terms that we could use, and what they mean.” I set the sheets back on the printer.

“Oh. Do you need to know who printed it?”

“Umm…” We were both walking away now, back to our seats. She stopped by someone’s seat and asked them if it was theirs, explaining what it was and that I “wanted” a copy. Speaking for me (don’t you hate when that happens?).

No, it wasn’t them. She kept asking other people. One offered to look for it online and print one out for me. Like a zit that gets bigger and redder if you pick at it, the situation was growing way out of proportion to its humbler origins. I hadn’t even said I wanted it, hadn’t asked for it, but everyone was dropping whatever they were doing and attending to my “request”.

WTF?

Has that ever happened to you – when people overreact to something you’ve said which was really just an idle comment or desire? You try to tell them it’s no big deal, you didn’t really mean it / didn’t really want it that bad, to no avail. They react as if it’s more important to you than it really is, and they go to way too  much trouble to answer your question or acquire for you what you (half-jokingly, or just to make conversation in an effort to demonstrate that you’re not a shy, avoidant loner who thinks too much and takes life too seriously) seem to be requesting.

Then I get annoyed. (I got annoyed but don’t show it.) I got annoyed because I felt embarrassed. I got embarrassed because I felt exposed. I felt exposed because I felt self-conscious about the sudden increase in attention being paid to me, especially over something trivial.

I made it back to the safety of my seat and waited for the inner alarms to die down.

Yeah, I know – silly story. But (mostly) true. Based on real events, the blog’s motto.