Emotional range of a teaspoon

Hello, my name is Erica and I like to pretend that everything is a-okay, always. I get all squirrelly when people try to give me an earnest compliment. My ability to laugh off actual problems is unmatched. Minimizing that which is upsetting is second nature. Having serious conversations is difficult for me. I have the emotional range of a teaspoon.

Here's a secret: I'm actually all mushy inside. I'm a hopeless optimist, even in the face of a bleak pessimistic reality. When I love people, I love them instantly. I love them hard and without exception. It's why I'm ready to go to battle for them at the drop of a hat. If you upset one of the few people I hold close to me, prepare for all hell to break loose.

When I sit and think about how I deal with Things Of Significance (please note the intentional capitalization), I can easily pinpoint the reason I have this strange juxtaposition. My sister's the same way; we grew up this way. We don't want to burden people with our problems -- or even letting anyone know that there is a problem at all -- but we will protect those we love against even the greatest threats in the world. We'll bleed for them, but refuse to accept the fact that we've got wounds that need tending to ourselves. I've talked about this before. My ability to repress my own problems is one of the reasons I can have a panic attack and the person sitting across from me may have no idea. I box it all up and bury it deep. I place it in The Void, as I like to call it.

I have a problem, as I think most people do, of talking myself out of acknowledging that whatever issue I have in the moment is something that deserves to be addressed. I'll tell myself things like "other people have it so much worse." I convince myself that whatever I'm feeling is petty and unimportant and, at its core, selfish because I have a life more privileged than so many others in the world. And while all of this may be true -- people do have it worse than I do, and I do have to recognize the privilege I've seen (of which I am very grateful for) -- it doesn't devalue what I'm going through in the moment. It doesn't take away the anxiety/pain/etc.

Suffering is not a competition. You do not need to have it the most worst to take the time and care for yourself.

Again, like accepting compliments, realizing that I need to sometimes ask for help makes me squirm. I hate it, but I'm working at it. I'm slowly trying to tell those who are important to me more about my life and why I am the way that I am. Not because I have an obligation to tell anyone anything, but because I want to -- because I think that when they know about the things who made me who I am today, they'll understand me better. And while I've always been one to hold people at arms length so they don't really get the chance to understand me too well (because, you know, fear reasons and the whole "emotional range of a teaspoon" thing again), I'm starting to drop my guard.

I use this blog primarily as a way to expel some of the thoughts bouncing around my head. Shake something loose and let something go. Maybe, in the process, I get to know myself better. At the very least, I'm learning to exhale. So, with that in mind, here are two of the small secrets I like to keep to myself because I'm afraid that if I tell people, they'll see me differently. (They'll see me too well.) Deep breath for a moment of vulnerability.
I know why I have panic attacks; my mother gave them to me as a way of remembering her, even after she left, and I can never forgive her for what she's done to me or my family. 
My biggest fear is that another person will find it overly taxing to love me back. I don't want to be seen as "too much work."
Slowly, I'm letting go of my secrets. Even if most of the time when I share them I shrug them off like it's not a big deal, I'm getting a slightly better at it. It feels good in the end, though I'll be honest in saying that in the moment it makes me really nervous. But we can't keep holding on to secrets. Share them with those who love you and they'll understand. Let others in, even if it scares you shitless. Even if you have the emotional range of a teaspoon.

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