Thursday, January 12, 2006
WYFP?

What's my fucking problem, you ask?

Well, what's your fucking problem?!

There are times when that time of your life coincides with that time of the month (or more precisely in my case, 7 - 10 days prior to that time of the month*) in such a way that one is rendered unfit for social interaction. At least if one has hopes of retaining all of one's friends.

(Unenlightened men may wish to avert their eyes at this point.)

I've spent the last few days hip-deep in a particularly rough bout of PMS, which is the reason behind the relative quiet around here... there's a good deal of whining inherent to blogging, but I try to be one of those who knows when to let it out and when to suffer in isolation. (Though honestly, you could see it coming in that last post.) It took me a bit by surprise, because while a day or so of somewhat-increased aversion to humanity isn't unusual (though also not inevitable), this three-day journey through low-estrogen hell was rather unprecedented. I got through it without hurting anyone's feelings, I think, but perhaps only because I sequestered myself so completely. I'm still feeling a little sensitive as I write this. For me, that usually means a tendency towards irritation, a tendency to more readily take offense at perceived insults, and a general, all-pervasive sense of frustration and discontent. My personal version of PMS seems to be of the aggressive variety; thank god, I was spared weepiness.

You've been there, you know what I'm talking about.

As it's often noted (by women), it's odd that this phenomenon occurs to half the human population on a monthly basis for more half their lives, and yet short of sharing a bathroom with one of us, you'd never know it.

Anyway, the thing that I wish more men understood (hell, I wish more women understood it, too) is that the stuff that bugs us when we're hormone-addled is the same stuff that bothers us all the rest of the time, too. It's just that for a window of a day or two every month, we get the opportunity to be really in touch with how much it bothers us. Estrogen is a friendly chemical that forces us to be nice to people (depending on personality, YMMV) no matter how aggravating they are. But once it all drains away, our natural buffer is gone and we're left with a month's worth of annoyance to cope with. Me, I'm pretty good-natured and laid-back anyway, so generally this isn't any big deal. But this last month has been a challenging one, and presently I'm working my way through some deferred anxiety about coming home again (which, as is also often noted, you cannot do.)

I really hate this part of things. Coming back and trying to fit back into a social group that has been continuing to change and evolve while you were away is like trying to join into a complex conversation already in progress -- first you have to catch up with everyone else, and then you have to find a new way to fit yourself in. At the moment I'm just feeling alienated and frustrated, though I'm trying to remind myself that this will eventually pass. At least, it did last summer. By the time I had to leave, I was finally starting to feel at home again. I've also got a little professional-jealousy thing going on, in not one but several directions -- all of which are completely meaningless, but still. And I hate that I feel that way, because it's unfair and unproductive, but it comes unbidden.

Taken all together, it left me feeling especially raw this time around -- although compared to a lot of people, I was probably still a model of calm and patience.I guess that's the positive side of this natural reserve -- it takes a lot to get me genuinely upset, and I have yet to find the provocation sufficient to draw out any potential for abusiveness or nastiness (and I've been heavily provoked, I assure you.) Ironically, the one thing guaranteed to produce a reaction is any suggestion that my irritability is connected to my hormones -- that one's dangerous to attempt even in jest. Especially when I'm hormonal. Seriously, don't try it, it will end in tears. And I already pointed out that I'm not weepy, so you know I'm not talking about my own.

Anyway, in other business, I've got a friend about whom I'm rather worried. This guy is young, and he's a sweet, likeable, friendly guy who's got a hard enough history that I find myself feeling almost protective of him, and yet who's also cheerful enough that you can tell he's made it through his difficult life intact. I think. I hope.

The thing is, he seems to be becoming awfully attached to his recreational chemicals. Or that's how it seems to me -- pointing out, of course, that I can be flinchy where drugs and alcohol are concerned. So maybe it's my problem and not his... and to be honest, it's none of my fucking business anyway. And I'm a staunch believer in minding my own business, so I take that part of the equation seriously.

I could probably stand to state a few key tenets at this point:

1) I've got nothing against drinking or drug use; I'm wholeheartedly liberal when it comes to mind-altering substances. People can make their own decisions and live with their own consequences (which I happily acknowledge also include things like enhanced creativity, enhanced awareness, and numerous kinds of pleasure, and not just the unlikely, dark scenarios spouted by egg-frying PSAs.) I am fully aware that, just as not everyone who takes a drink inevitably becomes the screeching wino squatting in the alleyway, not everyone who pops the occasional pill or snorts the occasional line will eventually find themselves squatting in the next alley over from the wino, using a dirty needle to shoot heroin into the veins behind their eyeballs. Drug use and responsibility can indeed coexist peacefully in the same person. And that's cool with me.

2) The other side of the story for me, though, is that during my teenage years my life was ripped to tiny pieces by someone who was heavily dependent on both alcohol and drugs, and in a very destructive way (to the point that he literally destroyed himself, and very nearly destroyed all that remains of my close family.) So there's definitely an element of irrational, reflexive dread at play. So while I have nothing against substance use, I do have a tendency to quietly, politely excuse myself from a room when a certain kind of drunkeness or fucked-up-ness presents itself. I can't quite explain how one kind of drunkeness differs from another, except to say that I know it when I see it.

3) And as for me, I'm essentially a teetotaler (barring a seasonal happy, tequila-fuelled buzz), but I think I would've been anyway. I've just never felt any attraction to the sensation of being under the influence of anything; in fact, I'm more inclined to feel unnerved or even panicky at the feeling of having my consciousness altered. When it comes to my mind, I'm a minor control freak, and thus probably a guaranteed bad trip.. or, on the other hand, maybe I could use to have some control temporarily wrested from my grip. Regardless, I am not experienced.

The point is, I've got my own issues about this, so maybe I'm not fit to even have an opinion on anyone else's drug and alcohol use. And even if I did have the right to an opinion, it's not like I'm going to do anything about it... except fret over the poor boy.

I mean, he drinks, and he drinks quite a bit. But then, young adults do drink a lot, so he's not unusual in that regard. It's more his eagerness that bothers me -- not only the eagerness to take advantage of any drinking opportunity that comes up, but also to make opportunities to drink. His drinking is still social, but I worry that it's only because he can always find someone to drink with him. And then, the thing that really set off the alarms in my mind: last time I saw him, the boy was flying several hundred feet above the surface of the earth. He could refocus sufficiently to respond to questions, but he'd fade out again before he finished his answers. But mostly it was the expression on his face. The slack, unfocused, zombie expression -- the junkie face. I shuddered inwardly.

But really, it's none of my fucking business. He's a grown man, and I'm not his mommy. All I can do is hope that he comes out okay in the end.

Tomorrow: I pledge to talk about something happy.**





* Myself, I'm partial to Communist-themed euphamisms: hence, "I've fallen to the Communists;" "the Bolshevik Army is storming my Winter Palace;" "Chairman Mao has set up party headquarters in my southern provinces."

It's pretty hard to think up one for Cuba, though.

** Pointing out that by "tomorrow," I really mean "by Monday, hopefully."
12:59 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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