Small talk and how I hate it [rant]

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Small talk and how I hate it [rant] Empty Small talk and how I hate it [rant]

Post by Glides on Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:48 pm

This is something I'd forgotten about for a while, but I kinda wanted to address it because I'm curious about what everyone else's thoughts are on this because it's been bugging me recently.

So when I went to pride, I was in line to get some grilled chicken from a food truck (really good, by the way), and there were two guys standing in line behind me. Because I was very stoned and very drunk already, I honed in to their conversation because I had nothing else to do, and it was like a light bulb went off in my head, that this was how social interaction truly worked and how I'd been fucking it up all this time, and it left me exuberant that I'd finally cracked it and miserable because the process is so deeply tedious at its core.

So let's play a game called Text Vs. Subtext, using the paraphrased comments of these two guys talking to each other.


1st Guy: I really love chicken, do you love chicken?

2nd Guy: Aw yeah, I really do love chicken. Do you like it best when it's grilled or fried?

1st Guy: Grilled, for sure. I love how it tastes.


1st Guy: I want your cock inside of me or I want my cock inside of you.

2nd Guy: I also want this.

1st Guy: We want this but we're beating around the bush for God knows how long because America is based on Puritan values and we can't just start off being direct about anything. Also chicken.


1st Guy: Do you like nature?

2nd Guy: Oh yes, I love forests and beaches and lakes.

1st Guy: What do you like the most about forests?

2nd Guy: I love how peaceful they are.


1st Guy: The moment I saw you for the first time I wanted to sexually stimulate myself using your body and then project all of my intrinsic fantasies, more than likely based on a parent or other authority figure cuz I read too much Freud in college, onto you.

2nd Guy: I want to confuse hormonal impulses for emotionally meaningful feelings and enter a deeply codependent relationship with you that will culminate with us discovering that neither of us are capable of the action work it takes to maintain a healthy relationship and will fall back into our vices to compensate, and we'll repeat this until we realize we're getting too old and will settle with someone unsatisfying out of desperation

1st Guy: I too would enjoy this because I'm kind of taking my entire life for granted, and have never suffered the kind of trauma or abuse it would take to make me doubt my own attractiveness. I want to suck your cock, and I'm not questioning the appearance of my own body, whether it has flaws or not. I exist, therefore I am physically attractive to everyone.

2nd Guy: We're a couple of really narcissistic bastards according to that one chubby mentally challenged Jewish person in front of us who will probably not make it to 30 at the rate they're binge drinking, huh?

And so on and so forth. Honestly I had never hated two people as much as I hated those two guys, though in retrospect it was a very irrational hatred because I had no actual interaction with them whatsoever. I hated them because they had learned the code at a proper time and even seemed to enjoy going through the motions. They probably didn't even see it as a code. They saw it as what was natural and right and true, it was ingrained into them, they didn't have the hangups I had and I hated them because I hate what I'm jealous of.


Case in point was the decision to enter my next big social gathering playing by this new code. I knew the code now, I had always seen small talk as people's attempts to polite engage until they didn't have to anymore, but that's the code all along! it seemed so obvious, the inane topics, the pointless discussions, all of it were people slowly testing the waters before beginning the projections that are sexual and romantic attraction, those projections that always end in miserable failure but provide momentary comfort from the cold reality that this world will cease to exist in its current state within the next 20 years and we'll all roast in a climate-changed induced fire started by 100 corporations providing 71% of pollution according to that one article you saw on Twitter.

I would engage in the code myself, I would engage in it so wholeheartedly and I'd be better at it than anyone else, and the second my good friend invited me to the house of someone working professionally as a model that I'd had a crush on for a while, then it was my chance to use the code to prove I could socially interact properly.

To clarify, despite the crush I made every effort to avoid the model because she's a very intimidating person and I'd once drunkenly made a comment behind her back that someone as physically attractive as her couldn't possibly be anxious and had to be faking it, and then immediately had to apologize to my friend for saying something so insensitive. He'd never told her this, but I still felt guilty as hell for being such a judgmental asshole and hating her just because she's genetically superior to me. I hate people for stupid reasons and I'm trying work my way through that. Our interactions were almost universally pleasant. Almost. I'll get into it.

However, there is one crucial part of the code that I still haven't quite figured out, and it took this party for that reality to slam into me very hard and remind me of my place: everyone else (hyperbole) can engage in the code while sober.

I can't. Or at least I can't until I've done way more work on myself mentally.

So what I proceeded to do, in the backwards logic that I can't engage with the code while sober because I'm too anxious to talk to other people because I can't stop thinking that they all hate me, is to take the model's very expensive bottle of brandy, larger than the size of my head (and I've got a very big head, one of my least favorite features is how comically large my head is compared to the rest of my body, even more so now that I've lost a bit of weight), and consume as much of it as possible along with a girl dressed as the singer of the "Bitch I'm A Cow" song.

Along with taking a hit of every pipe being passed along that night, without even being entirely sure what was in said pipes. I'm almost certain of what was in the joints though.

And for a very blissful hour or two, I'd hit a point of inebriation which I've called The Sweet Spot. The Sweet Spot is my platonic ideal, it is the literal perfect Glides, it is the moment where my infamous Jerkbrain is so overwhelmed by the power of drugs and drinks combined that it plays ball for a little while and allows me to ascend to the level of Humanity. It is more psychological than anything else, a Pavlovian thing where it associates being drunk and high with being Normal, and therefore Worthy of Existence like Everyone Else. It is a very abstract space, a space where suddenly it's impossible to feel shame or awareness of your own intrinsic ugliness that everyone else can clearly see but are too polite to openly comment on it like they would when we were all kids.

I mean, logically speaking, even if a physically unattractive person showed up at a party you were attending, and approached everything with so much intense enthusiasm and genuine joy and passion, and gave you nonstop compliments that were sincere, and bounced all over the place like a tornado acting like Peter Pan, you'd probably like that person. So people liked me! They really liked me!

The first downside of The Sweet Spot is you forget every other time you were in The Sweet Spot. You do things you'd never be able to do sober, because you've forgotten you're mentally ill and disgusting and sickening. You've forgotten all of it. My particular friend, who has witnessed every Sweet Spot to the point where such stories have become infamous, also tends to forget the other Sweet Spots we have both experienced because we tend to experience them in tandem, though his isn't as dramatic because he doesn't hate himself nearly as much as I hate myself.

As it turns out, becoming confident is very attractive. So in this case, the "Bitch I'm A Cow" girl was apparently into me.

Ah yes, the second downside of The Sweet Spot: it's only a Sweet Spot if you end up forgetting the entire night and suddenly it's like time skips and you're somewhere else entirely and everything else you clearly remembered before are vague and distorted and you're being told you did things you don't actually remember doing.

I am not the only person with an equivalent of a Sweet Spot. I believe each person's Sweet Spot is the truest reflection of their own personality, their own platonic ideal. Mine is apparently intensely gleeful and joyful about the world, wanting to engage with everyone, telling strangers personal secrets, blatantly flirting but not even in a creepy way!

However, the third downside of The Sweet Spot is that it is a period of euphoria followed by reality crashing back in. The second a tiny little ounce of sobriety is regained, Jerkbrain kicks back in full force, and suddenly you crash and burn.

So in my case, it's abruptly puking my guts out on the front lawn, stumbling into my own car, and having a panic attack so loud and so violent that people think I'm being physically attacked in my own car.

I don't remember much of this. I am told the next morning that I was flailing and screaming at the top of my lungs that I wanted to kill myself, that I hated myself, that I'd tried so hard to drink enough to poison myself and it wasn't fucking working. I screamed that I wanted to be good, that I was a bad and terrible and evil person, and that people needed to let me die for the sake of the planet. This is what was interpreted through the screaming, anyway. Needless to say, "Bitch I'm A Cow" girl did not stay interested after all of this.

I'm uh, not happy about this, because for a blissful two hours, I was Human. Completely Human. I had always looked physically Human but my mind was always Sub-Human. Even now my mind is Sub-Human. My mind has changed, because it used to just insult me nonstop and tell me I was worthless but now it just warns that Everyone Will Hurt Me, Everyone Is Out To Get Me, And If It Hadn't Been For All This I Wouldn't Even Be Here. I watch in real-time as the Sub-Human mind slowly becomes less and less human, until I slowly decay and fizzle out because there is no therapy and no drug on the planet that will make me Human again. My mind even apologizes for the state it puts me in now, it says often it doesn't know how to stop saying these things.

For the record, none of the stuff about my mind is literal, it's just my imagining of my own mental process.

My friend drove me back in my own car, as I was apparently spending the whole way sobbing and screaming and crying and begging him to kill me, just end it all already, I can't take the pain, and him very calmly saying that he wouldn't, though in his own words the next day, every Sweet Spot causes an even more intense crash and burn afterwards so maybe you oughta cut it out. I protest weakly that I only feel human when I've drugged myself up so much that I don't have the energy to hate myself.

My mind tells me that everyone is happier than me, even if they suffer. My mind tells me that they've moved on from such childish pursuits, that they've all earned the right to exist. My mind tells me it won't be a liar like everyone else, it tells me it doesn't know how else to help, it tells me it's only saying what so many other people told me as a kid, what was beaten into me over years and years and years and now it doesn't know how to say anything else, and it hurts it so much to tell me these things and it wishes it could tell me nice happy things but it can't even form the proper words to do so. I know I am the product of years of hurt, years of pain, and I've inflicted it on others in turn, and my emotions are almost completely out of control, and I try to pretend like everything is OK but at this point I'm so bad at it that most people seem to be in a perpetual state of concern towards my well being. I wonder why I haven't made progress, I wonder why I can't recover from an abusive relationship and sexual assault and horrible experiences at work and school the way other people seem to. I wonder why my reaction to my abuse was to become physically averse to touch. I wonder a lot of things, I wonder because I've isolated myself from most people and have to be coaxed out of my place to go anywhere even as my savings slowly dwindle because I'm now too afraid to go anywhere alone aside from movie theaters.

The irony is that the very few times recently I've reached out to people for help they've given it to me. When I was too afraid to go to pride my friend called me while I was nearly in tears declaring I didn't have the right to call myself queer saying that I was queer enough and that I was beautiful and then another friend bought me a nonbinary flag and a genderqueer button because I didn't know which fit better so she said I got to be both and anyone who said otherwise could rot. The same friend who took me to the party told me multiple times on the drive back that he loved me like a sibling and how proud of me he was that I'd been eagerly walking around coming out to every goddamn person I saw and how I'd never looked happier and "if you could do that shit sober who knows how high you could climb, you dumb bastard." And then when I was really hating myself a couple days ago a couple friends I hadn't talked to in a while ordered me to come out to downtown and walk to a gas station playing Pokemon Go and buy a frozen banana and just sit around complaining about how awful life is and how we'll all die in 20 years probably but fuck it lets' burn the fucker down. And then my other friend who put googly eyes on a rock and started talking in a weird Elmo voice to make me crack up, but instead of teaching kids how to draw it teaches kids how to vandalize public property and dumb shit like that.

And I feel really guilty because I don't feel like I deserve any of that, people giving me things and not asking for anything in return, and people who seem to realize that the people who shatter and break are the people without a support system in place. And I know without these people I would shatter and break, and that every person who shattered and broke are people who either didn't have anybody or rejected anybody who tried to help, and that the only difference between me and my ex-girlfriend was that I accepted help more often than she did, and as much as she tore my goddamn heart out and broke me she also refused to accept people wanted to help her and that was her doom and she's likely dead by now considering how much worse off she was than me. And I just rant and scream and cry and try to pull the broken pieces of myself back together as much as my mind screams at me about how once you're broken you can't be fixed. And then I watch the Hannah Gadsby comedy special on Netflix and cry again because she talks about how there's no one stronger than a broken person who has rebuilt herself, and I watch things to make me cry because I need a tiny little reminder that other people have felt broken too and they've fixed themselves, and I have to remind myself of all the times I nearly broke had someone not gotten in the way of me and jerkbrain and yelled out "YOU GOTTA GET PAST ME FIRST ASSHOLE." And there's so much pain. So much. Not just from me. From others. And all the desperate times I've tried to help them out after they've given so much of themselves to help me. And how we're all broken in a way, and we're all adrift in life and no one knows what to do and there are no answers anywhere and goodness isn't even natural, it's a learned trait. That's my theory about the world, that we start off selfish and goodness and compassion and empathy are things we learn and you can't BE these things, you DO those things and I'm really trying to learn that because I want to do good. I can't be good but I want to DO good.

Yesterday I met up with the D&D group I've been playing with for a while, and they're all very buff and physically imposing dudes, albeit very nice people in general. I'm the tiniest of the group and no one has given me shit about that. They've kinda inferred through the months that I'm very obviously Queer and Isolated (two things I've never really wanted to admit to myself) but kinda just pretend they don't know because of how much I'm clearly struggling with it. I get scared because the DM's sister's boyfriend is gonna be there and he's apparently a hardcore Jock Bro, but he's actually really nice too and spends a lot of time asking me for advice on how to play and I'm already inexperienced but I try to answer as best I can. So we all go rock-climbing afterwards and I go despite having a really intense fear of heights. And I'm panicking so bad doing this, I'm so high up and Jerkbrain is screaming "THIS IS IT ASSHOLE YOURE GONNA DIE AND YOU CANT CONTROL IT NOW YOU STUPID SHIT" and it clicks all of a sudden. I know why I want to be dead. I want to be dead because I want control. I want control and I want it so bad and it feels like the only thing I have power over is how I die. That's how I do it. And I panic and flinch and topple off and if the guys hadn't ran to the other end of the rope and grabbed it I would've toppled the 50 feet and they're screaming up at me asking if I'm alright and I'm yelling back that it's really fucking high and finally, the biggest and brawniest of the bunch screams out "YOURE NOT DONE YET ASSHOLE" and I twist back towards the wall and grab the handhold and yell out in pain because the goddamn psoriatic arthritis swells my joints and I can't exert myself like most other people can and I didn't want to admit that to them and I get so goddamn mad at myself in that moment that the adrenaline takes over and I leap and hit the top of it as hard as I can and they're all cheering as I swing back down

It was the easiest wall in the entire facility. But it wasn't something I'm able to do. It was a little victory. I've gone so long without those that a little victory is a shining light in the goddamn darkness, I didn't even know I was capable of little victories anymore, that I could physically do something my body won't allow me to do. And I've hated myself for my chronic illness as much as I've hated myself for my mental health and everything else I judge myself for.

And then I did the second easiest wall and the exact same thing happened, Jerkbrain screaming in my head about how I didn't have control and I never had it and now I can't control anything because my life is in the hands of Someone Else and if it's Someone Else Someone Else Will Hurt Me They Will All Hurt You Because They See You Are Weak And I'm Just Trying To Be Honest and once again I fell off and once again they had to catch me and once again I had to struggle just to get up the second easiest wall and once again I hit the top of it.

Two little victories in one day. I'll take it. It was more than I was told I could ever do again physically. And even now my muscles are burning something fierce because of the inflammation and I'm having trouble walking but I don't give a goddamn shit. I had spent so long pretending I was things I wasn't. I had spent so long pretending I didn't have a chronic illness and hurting myself that way, I spent so much time pretending I didn't have mental health issues I have. And whenever I was about to fall off one of them would scream "YOURE NOT DONE YET YOURE STRONGER THAN THIS" and I'd get up another handheld and yell out and I think by now they realized this wasn't a strength thing but they all had gotten kinda determined to see me surpass my own expectations. It was the most frustrating thing knowing my arms and legs could physically do what I needed but the joints in my hands and feet and elbows and knees weren't up to snuff.

But I did two more than I could physically do and I won't make it a habit because I don't need any lasting damage. But I did do it. I got a laugh out of the whole group by marking under my eyes with the chalk and calling it "war paint."

I don't really know how this fits anywhere. I had to say it. I had to say it all. I had to say it because I'm really scared I'll never amount to anything and I'm scared everyone who ever hurt me was right to do so and I'm scared of so much but I don't think certain people will let me break and I'm not sure how to get the job I want or the life I want or the relationship I want. I don't think I even want to date for a long time, even if I had the option. I don't even know. I'm scared. There's a lot of fear. I could've began and end this by saying I need ways to slowly get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I have to expose myself to fear. Thats' the only thing that can possibly save me. If i don't do it, I'm doomed. I know why I want to die and I know why I hate myself and the surface level of my brain gets it but the "inner child" doesn't get it. I'm at war with myself, the "inner child" still thinks I'm the kid taking daily beatings, being taught to hate themself.

I'm not putting any more time limits on myself. I will heal at the rate I have to heal. Even writing that, Jerkbrain is scoffing at the sentimental comment but I have to write that quote from Dune on the wall and recite it to myself a bunch and try to heal. I'll heal through exposure, I'll heal maybe by making a thing for YouTube and releasing it and letting it go out into the world. I'll heal by trying all the things I was too scared to try, bit by bit by bit, and I'll learn to be less afraid that way. I can learn somehow to feel like I'm in control in a healthy way and maybe then I won't want to die. I don't know. I want to heal. I want to Do Good. I want to help and I want to make people happier and I want to reduce the suffering of existence by a tiny little percentage point. I want to be a person I'd want to be around. I want to accept help when I need it. I want lots of things. I want people to feel safe and secure. I want people to never worry. I want good things.


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Post by Enail on Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:02 pm

Wow, that was a hell of a ride, but it seems like it ended in a good place, so yay for little victories and letting yourself heal at the rate you have to heal and trying things you're scared to try and helping people and accepting help and good friends.

But re: the small talk thing, nah, I don't think that's the code. That can be the subtext, but the subtext can be anything from that to "hi human, I don't want anything to do with you particularly, but I'm engaging in this social ritual to show I acknowledge you as a human being and am willing to peacefully co-exist," to "I have no idea if I'll like you or not, but I'd like to find out." I think of small talk essentially as a practice round where you take a little tour through safe topics together to try and find an off-ramp to a more interesting/more personal topic you'd both like to go onto together.

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Post by Datelessman on Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:57 pm

I like small talk. My trouble is pivoting towards expressing any sort of romantic feelings in a way which is noticeable without being awkward, inappropriate, or make me look too vulnerable. Neutral

That is quite a ride, though.

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Post by Sahrimnir on Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:44 pm

About that "sweet spot" thing, I remember that. When I was younger I was very confused about this whole "social interaction" thing. Between the ages of 16 and 18, one of the main reasons I drank alcohol was that I felt I needed it to be able to socialize with people (the other reason was peer pressure). Then I decided I didn't want to need it. I am now 29 and have been teetotal for a little over a decade. After a lot of practice, I think I'm starting to get a hang of doing this whole "social interaction" thing while sober. I'm still not a big fan of small talk though.

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