Wherein I Do Some Observing

He was an entirely new experience. In all these years I’ve never had the experience I’ve had at the end. Isn’t it the woman who is supposed to lose their mind? I know, that’s a moronic stereotype, but that’s the kind of conversation I had last night.

“I don’t understand this. I need to understand.”
“Nah, not really. People are just fucked up.”
“But why? Do you know anyone who’s ever done that?”
“Nope. But I don’t know everyone.”

I try not to be curious about certain things. Let it go, Jennifer, I tell myself. Let it go. I’d love to do that. Wish I could. But my brain is making connections whether I want it to or not. There’s a puzzle to be solved and my subconscious is busily putting together pieces. I can never get my brain to just be quiet. Every small little thing that I thought was a small little thing fits together with this other small thing. Then the whole picture emerges.

I used to have the “uncanny” ability to read people pretty easily. I’ve always been a people watcher and their behavior is generally pretty predictable. People are shaped by their experiences, which lead them toward other experiences and blah blah blah. I’m sure there’s a scientific term for that. I don’t know what it is. I can see the patterns and then I can take a pretty good guess about the inside of someone. Or I used to. Not so true right now.

That pisses people off. And it creeps them out. Some folks have likened it to some kind of magical power. Well, yes, I suppose, if utilizing the power of the brain is magical. They get agitated and avoid me if I get too personal. Or they become fascinated and want to see more. What else can I guess? It used to be a halfway fun parlor trick, really. I suppose I could’ve chosen to get into a field where this skill can be fully utilized. I never did. I want to know why it happens. I want to know how it happens. I don’t care about the rest of it. Except for stories. I like to tell stories.

My great-grandmother was an amazing storyteller. I would sit at her side for hours upon hours just listening. Her life was long even when I was a small child so there were so many stories she told. She told the stories of the history of her branch of the family. She told stories of all the neighbors she could remember. She could describe the colors and smells of her memories in such a way that I could see inside her mind. She was an old-school storyteller and I loved every minute of it. Aside from the vivid descriptions the way she spoke was beautiful to me. Her hands moving randomly. Her eyes glazing over as she stepped back in time to bring the stories forth. That was magical. It started before I even entered kindergarten. I loved the stories. I loved hearing them. I loved collecting them.

I have always been an observant person. Ok, not always. Most of the time. When I’m driving my eyes are everywhere so I can see everything there is to see. It’s nothing for me to point to something interesting and by the time anyone else bothers to look up it’s long gone. I am always curious. Always need to know what is going on in the world around me. I always need more information. I listen and see and read and learn. Sometimes I take in way too much, though, and it’s a struggle to sort it all out. That has been my curse.

“You overthink.”

Damned skippy. I always have. I’m the ringleader, the idea person, the troublemaker. When I was a child I would take things apart to see how they worked. I don’t know how many times DB flipped his lid on me because I took yet another one of his toy cars apart. I can count at least two instances of nearly dying from electrocution as child because I just had to see how a television worked1. I was reading and writing before I even entered kindergarten. In fact, The Mother taught me how to write my name in cursive when I was 4 years-old. When those gears started to move I was never able to stop them again. I still can’t. No matter how I try to medicate it away.

My intelligence and curiosity were a point of pride to The Mother when I was very young. I don’t exactly remember when she decided that she hated me for it. Before third grade, for sure. They didn’t have advanced classes when I was young, but my teachers took extra time for me. I was cute and smart and a bit of a mystery. I never voluntarily spoke to an adult outside of my family. Not even in school. But I watched them. I listened. The Mother used to tell people to be careful what they said around me. “You think she’s not listening, but she hears every word you say.” It was true. I had to learn everything about the world. How else was that to happen?

There were many times when the only thing that saved me from bodily injury, death or jail was my deep fear of disappointing the adults. I’ve never been able to tell when I went from the joy in The Mother’s heart to the bane of her existence. She just switched. And so, for many years, I didn’t want to further the rift between us. I tried to stay out of trouble, but couldn’t contain my curiosity. That curiosity extended to human behavior. As I watched The Mother I learned subtle forms of manipulation. As I practiced, I became good at it. I wanted to understand how other people thought. There’s probably a deeper explanation to that, but we’ll leave that alone for now. My traumas started young, but I’m not telling that story.

As I teenager I either creeped people out or fascinated them. My friends were all broken people who wanted someone to understand them. And I could do that without any real effort. But most people didn’t want to deal with my weirdness. And I didn’t like people who lacked intellectual curiosity. When we moved here? It was all over, charlie. There was no overlap for my social status and my intellect. None. It was impermissible. I have been called “stuck up”, “a snob”, and whatever else you can call someone you think considers themselves better. I didn’t think of myself that way, really. I was smarter than my peers and I’d been conditioned to believe that was a good thing.

That is not a good thing where I live. “You think you know everything” and “Well, I don’t agree with your facts. In my opinion facts change” and “you don’t respect other people’s opinions”. Actually, it’s not their opinions I don’t respect. It’s their utter lack of curiosity. It’s their refusal to learn past what they were taught in 8th grade. I haven’t changed in that aspect at all. I can’t stand that because, well, that’s not how I am. I need stimulation. I need conversation about more important things than a box full of shoes. I need my thinking challenged. I need to learn new things. Always.

When TheMan and I were married I stifled that. My weirdness was a big deterrent in getting my life together and so I put it away. He didn’t like that I had opinions. He didn’t like that I was better at trivial pursuit. He didn’t like that I read so much. Here was a man who wanted to save me, but he didn’t like how different I was. I went to the library and learned about spirituality and gardening and computers. Then I got on Google and I learned about websites and blogs and politics and more spirituality. I learned about people through their writing. I learned that weirdos like me are abundant on the internet. And, so, I made my home here. I experimented, I taught myself things, I let other people teach me. I would think I had something figured out and someone smarter would come along and shake me up. But in the real world? No one wanted to have these conversations. I stopped watching the people around me and started learning about the people I couldn’t see. I stopped learning about myself. I stagnated. I stopped growing. I stopped giving a shit.

“I don’t like the way you look at me. It’s creepy. Stop it.”

When the time came for me to give up on the sham of a marriage, I looked outside of this little bubble and tried to find new friends. I’ve said this before about small towns, but there is no way to move out of your social stratum here. If you’re a weirdo that’s doubly true. I had friends from high school who I reached out to for support. And it was there for a while. But then I’d start talking about politics or the environment or any number of topics that could lead to thoughtful debate (or passionate areguing). I was shut down so hard. So, once again, I turned to the internet. I stupidly believed I was still able to see inside people. That they couldn’t really shock me and that I still had that creepy talent most people hated. For a while I did.

I never had a really bad date from the online site. I had some fun dates and some really intellectually vigorous conversations. I may have had one or two connections. But I was having a hard time keeping it together. I’d lost every ounce of confidence in my mind. I have no idea if these people were even decent. I just know I had a good time with some of them. Not good enough to continue to seek them out in most cases, but better than any of the interactions I’d had with TheMan ever. My brain, though, had atrophied. I lost my confidence. At least, that’s how I think of it now. I can hold my end of a conversation, true. But I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t so much curious about the people I was meeting as I was curious about why I wasn’t curious. So, I stopped and went back to what I’d gotten used to.

Until he lost his ever-loving mind and gave all our money to his mistress. Then that was the end of that.

I hadn’t seen that coming. I could’ve told you every single thing there was to know about my husband’s personality, but I didn’t see him doing that. I was shocked. Not that he was a cheater. That I didn’t see that he was willing to throw his family away for someone he was cheating with. I was thrown for a loop. My brain started putting the puzzle together. I know now what I missed. Because my brain spent a lot of exhausting hours piecing it together after it was over. I never stopped thinking. Then when I struggled with understanding myself I sought help. But that hasn’t saved me from the pain of relearning myself.

“Stop thinking so much. That’s your problem.”

No. I can gather what my problem ultimately is – I want someone to accept me for exactly who I am. I want to meet someone who will not try to change me and who will actually help me to grow more. I want to be in a relationship with a partner who challenges me without triangulating me with a third or fourth person. I want someone who isn’t afraid of my weirdness and who isn’t put off by both my curiosity and my determination that they also have curiosity. That’s the problem and that’s something that stems from childhood. It’s different.

I sit here and write and allow my brain to sort itself out. I can see myself better through the words I type. I love that. I love that I can almost see these little grains of truth being plucked from the air around my head and put into the overall puzzle. I get excited when I finally figure it out. This creeps people out. “The truth will always be set free” or some such bullshit. They can watch it happen right in front of them if they’re paying attention. Most people aren’t that interested.

What happens in my brain when I’m “overthinking”? I’m solving a problem, of course. The same with everyone else who is overthinks. After I met Lucifer, the biggest problem I had was why the fuck didn’t I see it? No matter what anyone else thinks – I’m obsessed, I’m not over it, etc. – that is the puzzle. I think I may have figured it out finally. But I’ll leave that to another post.

This last one? Am I overthinking? Yes. I want to know what happened exactly. I want to know exactly how foolish I was. My brain keeps grabbing pieces and throwing them together. Yesterday, I was alone at work when something hit me. Something big. Something I should’ve noted as soon as it happened but I was focused in the wrong area. The penny finally dropped. It’s not important what that something was other than when it hit me – out of the blue – it made complete sense. Everything made complete sense.

I haven’t lost this “magical” power of observation at all. It’s just slowed down a lot. It’s been unused for so long that I didn’t recognize what was happening in my life when it was happening. I’m not nearly as put off this time as I was with Lucifer, though. There was no sudden impact. Nothing that made me question every damned thing about myself. The entire thing was much more simple than that. It became just another puzzle to solve. I think that happened yesterday.

Will that make me stop overthinking? Are you kidding me? Not at all. I forgot how to trust my mind. Of all the things that are wrong with me, all of the problems I have, my intellect was never one of them2. Until I made it that way. Until I allowed my weaknesses to have all the control. I was selfish and weak and not thinking nearly enough. If I’d have put those pieces together sooner? If I hadn’t let myself get stale? Well, there’s no going back. But there is going forward. And I’ll take this “L” as a gift. I was almost to a point where I didn’t care why Lucifer had so much power, because it’s over now. There was nothing else to learn. I was better and I was in love and all was well with me.

No, it wasn’t. It really wasn’t. This entire experience is proof of that.

What was I even thinking? I know what I was thinking.
Why did I even bother? I know why I bothered.
What could have changed the outcome here? I know what could’ve changed the outcome.
Where was I so weak? I see that plain as day now.
How can I be a better person now that it’s over? I haven’t quite gotten that far, but I’m working on it.

I like geeky stuff, politics, squirrels and monkeys.

  1. I am now terrified to mess with electricity, for what it’s worth. []
  2. My emotions? Well… []

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