I can’t talk about the most current proof of this, because it has to do with work and the very last thing I want to do is bitch on my blog about work. Hey, corporate ladder.
But it’s become obvious that I am unlikeable.
When I was a kid, I really, really didn’t fit in. The first school I went to was mostly people who were a different color from me, and I seemed strange as a result. I don’t really blame the kids there for not welcoming me. My parents were very into me going to an integrated school, and I’m glad I had that experience, but I was also very alone and often teased. I was scared. Like, all the time, I was scared.
So in third grade, I got transferred very suddenly to the religious school in our neighborhood, even though we weren’t religious. I remember I left that first school in such a hurry that I forgot my Snoopy glue, and I’ve always regretted that.
Anyway, I didn’t fit in again.
The kids at the new school were sort of no-nonsense German farming people, and my parents were fekking athiest hippies.
It’s easy to look back on it and say, Well, that’s why, then. You just weren’t around like-minded people.
But then the summer before I was supposed to start junior high–we called it junior high then. It was 2,300 years ago–I was in a very bad accident. I think I’ve told you about it once or twice, but if you missed it, suffice it to say I might have died. But I didn’t. If I had, I’d have lead with that.
The point is, you don’t want to be the person who starts seventh grade two months late, and sort of sickly and pale on top of that. You really don’t.
So, again, it’s easy to say, Well, that was why, then. That was why you didn’t fit in in junior high.
It got to the point where I’d have these sort of…attacks, I guess they were, of nerves. Like, being “on” all day was too much, trying to fit in was too much. I knew it wasn’t working anyway, my form of “on,” and the thought of going to school was horrible. But I was made to go, so I went.
In high school, I did have friends. I had my friend Donna, who I met the first day of the first hour of school, in homeroom. She was my people. We were exactly alike, even down to our June hair, and we were inseparable. We started hanging around the boys’ swim team, and we were like their two mascots or something. It was great.
There was also a group of girls I dearly wanted to be friends with. I thought they were rich, mostly because I was so not rich. In reality, they were just sort of normally monied. But they had, like, houses! Houses with two bathrooms!
I dearly tried to glom onto their group, but they just weren’t that into me, and in retrospect, of course, I have no idea what I found so riveting about them.
A few years back I tried to friend one of those women on Facebook. She didn’t accept the request.
Then I got to college, and was part of a big old group in my dorm. Those attacks I was having in junior high? At this point they were full-blown, debilitating panic attacks. Instead of gaining the freshman 15, I lost 15. I was so nervous all the time, and the very last place I felt comfortable was the cafeteria, with all those people. So I hardly went. I hardly ate.
And I told no one about my panic attacks. I was ashamed of them; I thought it meant I was crazy. So I was “on” as much as I could be, cutting up, being outlandish, and then having to retreat to my room as much as possible to sort of refuel and panic quietly.
My diary from that time is just me, day after day, measuring how anxious I got and how well or badly I managed to hide it that day. I remember one time having to just jump up and leave a restaurant in the middle of a date, I was so anxious.
If you’ve never had a panic attack, let me try to describe it. Let’s say all of a sudden you have a medical event and you think you’re going to die. That’s what it feels like. Then you spend the rest of your time worrying you’re going to have that feeling again, and sometimes you do.
Panic attacks: fuck ’em.
The next year, that anxiety turned to depression, and that is when I lost all my college friends. One by one they either started ignoring me or being outright cruel. I remember one person saying, “I don’t want you or your cat anywhere near me.”
I had a cat. He was copper-colored. He was a Persian. He was the nicest cat you could imagine, and no one in their right mind wouldn’t want to be around that peach muffin.
So I know it wasn’t the cat.
Finally, I couldn’t figure out what was going on anymore, so I asked Donna, the friend from high school. She had transferred to my college, and I still considered her my best friend in the world.
“You want the truth?” she sighed. “The truth is, nobody really likes you anymore.”
I do have to say, because it’s important to me: You know my college roommate Sandy that I talk about? She never, ever gave in to the “Everyone hates June” thing. She never wavered from being my friend.
Anyway, I dropped out. Moved back home. Found new friends in my hometown, but after a year, that group didn’t like me anymore.
I’d gotten this horrific boyfriend, who once during a fight sprained my ankle. He was kind of the cool boy in town, but after the ankle incident, we broke up. Obvs.
But my “friends” kept going to parties at his house, because he had the cool parties. I remember one night knowing he was having a black-and-white party, and the person who was allegedly my best friend then showed up to get me, to just go out drinking, wearing black and white “just in case we want to go.”
The thing is, when you’re living here inside your bones, you don’t have perspective. Because as I texted a coworker last night, from my perspective, I just get up, write something funny, go to work, DO my work, say something funny in the break room and go home. I don’t know what I do that offends. I really don’t. I ask, How was your weekend? I say, Nice shirt. I feel like I’m being a normal, likeable person.
I can’t figure out what I keep doing that’s so off-putting. I really can’t. Look, I know I get cranky. Is that it? Is it the cranky thing? Maybe it’s the cranky thing.
So here I am, 52 years old, and I’m being ostracized again. At this point, I figure it’s gotta be me, and I either have to figure out what I’m doing, or just live with the fact that this is how it’s always going to be. I no longer even try to have a female best friend. I just don’t trust it.
I’ve been reading up on ostracism, and how if affects your psyche. It’s as bad as being harassed or bullied, because we have this need to be part of something. We want to belong. That’s why I’ve liked this blog, because we all seem to belong with each other.
The thing is, I can’t change anyone else. I can only change myself.
But I don’t know what I have to change.
And that’s today’s conundrum.