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Circuits.

by MaryManatee

I apologize too much.
I’m sure the same thing can be said a lot of people, but I know personally that when I screw up, I apologize over and over because I honestly don’t know how else to be forgiven. I get mad at myself if I can’t seem to get a person to reconcile with me even if I’ve tried reconciling with them already. I’m not the most eloquent person you’ll ever meet. And for any of you who know me, you know I’m far from it. But I don’t need to be eloquent for you to understand a feeling, a concept. Those are human ideas. Last time I checked, we’re all human in here.
So I’m going to ask you some questions. When was the last time you fucked up? Do you consider fucking up a daily occurrence or something much larger? Is something getting fucked up referring to an object, a friend, a family member, or yourself?
There’s no right or wrong answer. Don’t think too hard about it.
However, if we’re speaking in metaphysical terms, I believe that fucking up can be compared to our circuits. As humans, we have hundreds of thousands of electrical charges flowing through us. We are electric rods shocking a negative and neutral world.

But even on-the-go powerhouses like me have electrical failures. And sometimes, when all the lights are blown out, you see the source of the problem runs deeper than the wires your boss told you to fix –you see the wires poking through the back of the breaker box. But you don’t know what scorched them … or what got them to that point.
You can try to put electrical tape around the wires and hook them up again. You can even get your whole circuit going. The mainframe may function, but it will never run as smoothly, never as cooperatively as it did before.
This is how I compare my social anxiety after my suicide attempt on November 19th, 2011.
Circuits and paths branch from hardware known as the “motherboard” of a computer. At that time, my motherboard was my friend group.  I knew quite a few of my friends through the DePaul Swing Society, which is a dancing club. It was a group of about 7 or 8 of us and we were inseparable. I’ve always been the girl that had tons of friends in a thousand different places, but this was the first time in my life that I’d had a truly settled group of more than 3.

This was monumental to me.
I’ve always been socially awkward and realizing that I finally had a group of friends that seemed straight out of a TV show made me never want to stop living that moment. I’ve never shown it, but I’m always worried what others are thinking. Maybe it’s more severe due to what happened, but it’s always been a part of me, a part of my anxiety, my fear to be loved throughout in a colorblind world that I couldn’t fit my rainbow self into. I thought my social inadequacies didn’t matter– at least, I thought they didn’t. These people tried to prove me wrong.
The problems began in October 2011. Regina was leading on one of my close guy friends. I was worried about his feelings, so I made it known to our circle of friends that I was worried about them. I’d done this once before for the same reason and she got angry then as well. She and her friends Bailey and Katie had ignored me for nearly four days straight. But I didn’t think that my concern for them would count as “gossip”.
Gossip, I learned, comes in many forms.
I remember mostly the guilt I felt after realizing I had betrayed my entire circle of friends. It started with the three of them ignoring me, then four, then five, then six, and then seven had joined on board.
All I thought the entire time was “Why?”
And when such a vague question goes unanswered, you begin to question. Question your friend not waving at you, question why he didn’t reply to your text sooner. You begin to worry about why they didn’t invite you out this time around, what you did if you even did anything at all?
You scour your memories and cleave yourself apart trying to fix yourself. In the end, you’re only making it worse, making your own insecurities into a breathing demon that tracks your every step.
It was during this period of paranoia that Regina delivered a letter to my dorm. She didn’t even say goodbye as she exited my room. I opened the letter in my hands. Inside was 5 pages of everything I had ever done wrong in our friendship, with her telling me to “go get help” and to “stop making everything so focused on myself” and that I was a “***** who could never mind her own business”.
I spent that night I received the letter shaking uncontrollably, staring at the white and sterile walls of my dorm’s study lounge. Silent tears streamed down my face on both cheeks. The walls didn’t have any words to say to me.
For the longest time, either did I.
When someone told me that practically everything I ever did was wrong, I began to doubt everything I stood for. I began to think that I was so utterly worthless unless I patched up my frayed wires and hooked myself up to a stable current again. There were so many times I wanted to die within those three weeks. And while most people had experienced this kind of social rejection when they were younger, I experience it in college, cracking open my already fragile ego like a keyboard smashing to the floor.
I spent days figuring out how to fix myself. I came up with these insanely elaborate plans – even a check system to keep myself and the undesirable traits in check. To lose these friends would be to lose the only grasp of true normalcy I ever felt in my life. I thought the things they told me were easily fixable and that if I fixed them, they would come back to me.
A few days later, I was audibly snubbed away by the entire gang. It finally hit me: my friends were gone. My work at self-improvement was failing.
I was a failure. Everything I had done was a failure.
Circuits? Fried.
Self-confidence? What the hell is that?
Sense of belonging? Is that some kind of foreign country? I don’t even speak that language. And even if I did, the dialect is constantly changing.

So I knew one thing for sure: the world didn’t need me. I knew what I had to do. After all, no amount of apologies could ever make them forgive me. To ice that cake, the man I’d been infatuated with turned out to be dating my very close friend Alice. I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know where to turn. Everything hurt and my circuits were overloading and the world around me seemed to scream in my direction to go run and hide.

I wanted to die. So I tried.

On November 19th, 2011, I tried to commit suicide by overdosing on 8 painkillers, 4 sudafeds, and 3 30 mg Adderalls.  At the time, I thought it was the only logical solution. The feeling of parting with the world sounded so incredibly beautiful. I could be with God and my Grandma and Grandpa who loved me so dearly. I could watch over my family and know I would never be a financial burden again.  Death seemed kind – and death was the only easy button I had in mind.

After I took my medications, I turned off the lights and lay down in my dorm bed simply waiting to die. But as my muscles started to shiver from the mixture of medications and I grew nauseous, I started to grip my blankets. I hurt everywhere, but it burned me even more to think of parting with the world. I texted my friend Max, the boy I was infatuated with,

‘I’m scared, Max. I don’t want to die. I really don’t want to die…’

And like the incredible friend he was, he called campus security and rushed to my dorm with 4 of our closest friends. I’m still close to all five of them today. When the cops arrived, Max hugged me before I was loaded into the ambulance. Sirens blaring, I was rushed to the hospital at 3 in the morning.

For nearly 12 hours until my parents brought me home, I stared at the hospital ceiling thinking,

‘I fucked up. I…fucked up. I seriously fucked up. Crap, I have finals this week.’

But my circuits were too broken to truly focus on school at that time. I knew I had to tell somebody and get it off my chest. Over the winter break, I told my two best friends what I’d done. My two best friends were still accepting of me, though, and they made me realize that real friends will never shove you away. True friends may be near or far, but they will hold to you like glue. But the issue wasn’t over; I had a lot more repairs to make.
It came up again when I returned for winter quarter. Only three weeks into the semester, Regina dropped out from DePaul. And piece by piece, one by one, the clan started to dissipate knowing their “alpha female” was gone. I watched from a distance. But even as I watched the group fall apart, I felt like nothing could cover the scars that I’d left on myself from my suicide attempt. I’d come to terms with myself for my attempt, but I couldn’t forgive Regina or Katie or Bailey for the intense pain and suffering they’d put me through. How could three girls be so cruel? They were the throwing stones and I was the glass.

But glass can melt again. I knew I could start to reform myself. Maybe, just maybe, I could learn to forgive them.

It was early fall quarter of sophomore year that I knew a higher force was pushing me to forgive them. I was terrified, though. What if I had to see them again? Either of them? What if I had to speak to them?

The second week of school, I had switched into a higher-level German class and lo and behold, Bailey was there, sitting in the seats across from me. I froze. I didn’t know what to say; I was paralyzed with fear. Then the teacher had assigned us to work together for a project that coming Friday. We spoke for the first time since the incident about our project and even shared a few laughs. I knew it wasn’t our teacher who had put us together for that assignment; fate did. Fate wanted us to speak and acknowledge each other after such a long year of suffering and agony.

Of course, I was still nervous working with her, but I knew I had to forgive her and Bailey. About four weeks into the quarter, I was on Facebook one night, messaging my friend who is joining the priesthood. I told him of how nervous I felt trying to forgive Katie and Bailey. I kept making excuses as to why I couldn’t forgive them like,

“They’re bitches.”
“Do you realize what they’ve done to me?”
“They made me want to die.”
“Do you understand what they put me through?”

But for each excuse, he came up with a rebuttal as to why that wasn’t true. He kept asking me, “So why haven’t you forgiven them?” before I realized 2 hours into our conversation that he was trying to make a point; I needed closure. I needed to remind myself that that experience with my former friends didn’t need to define how I built my friendships after that.

A few days later, I took a piece of paper and folded it two. One side was dark, scribbling letters in black and red and grey of all the things they made me feel and everything I’d wanted to say to them. In huge font was “I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU” across the page. The other side was all white with “I have forgiven you, Bailey and Katie” underlined in pink. My roommate handed me her lighter.

“I’m so proud of you.” She smiled, hugging me. She knew how much this meant to me.

I stepped outside our apartment that night onto our doorstep. I held the lighter to the black side of the page and watched the tears, feelings, anger, and hatred slowly burn on the ground. Before I’d realized it, the flames had eaten up the black part of the paper and I spread the ashes to the wind. I cried in happiness and took the white part of the paper inside my apartment, taping it to my wall. It’s still hanging there. After that, I no longer lived in bitterness.

I did, however, live in brokenness.

I still do. And to be honest, my crippling social anxiety still hasn’t left me. So whenever a problem arises between me and my friends, I freak the hell out and think it’s entirely my fault.  I trigger myself into believing that they’re all going to turn against me just like my former friends did. I can’t even stay in a friend situation for long without wondering if they all secretly “hate me” for some stupid mistake I made ages ago.

I fucked up again when I’d made a repeated asshole of myself at these local College of Computing and Digital Media parties.These parties were usually held weekly and I’d usually go with a few acquaintances. A rumor was spread in my name that was false and I made a drunken mess of myself. Because of my mistakes of wasting alcohol and this apparent rumor, I became barred from the parties. Being banned from such a crucial part of my personality started to dig into my soul, scouring what I even thought of myself. Did they all hate me? Is that why I can’t come back? What if I told them that rumor was false? Who even started that rumor?

Even though this scarred me, I realized in the end that my truest friends are the ones who never even attended those parties. Friends are the ones who will plan parties to celebrate with you, not reject you. But even outside of my friend circle now, I am so terrified to try and get close to anyone. My social fear tells me that what happened before will happen again. And when I do try to build friendly relations with anyone, I recognize my anxiety is still sitting there, still waiting. But at least we can sit in the same room peacefully.

I’m a broken girl. I’ve put up walls to try and save myself from having to deal with that pain again. I just want another friend group to trust again, but I isolate myself knowing my small group of 5 friends and my scattered ones will never hurt me. I want a community. But I don’t know how to get back into one. I don’t even know how to go about doing it.

I’m a broken circuit breaker right now. And I’m still healing. The world shows each of us what it means to reconcile with others and forgive ourselves of our pride and anger. We are all sinners. Shit, I know I am. Maybe you’re angry at yourself. Maybe you’re enraged at others like I was. Maybe you fucked up. But understand that those who matter will love and accept you no matter what. I’m still teaching myself that, too. In the end, Reconciliation isn’t about apologizing; reconciling is showing the world how you can put your forgiveness into motion.

Maybe you can get your circuits working again, too.

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Persephone 8/16/2013 - 4:21 am

I know how you feel when it comes to complicated friendships and rejection. I experienced it all in college as well. It is difficult now to be friendly with others, knowing they’ll probably never care about me. For most of the people I knew, I was just ‘there.’ I knew this because once we no longer lived in the dorms, they did not bother seeking me out. Everyone goes on fine with their lives without me, even my ex, who gradually started to lose interest in me while we were still together, and once we broke up, turned all his attention to some other girl (at least, I think so). Now he doesn’t even care if he ever talks to me again, despite telling me he still loved me only a few months ago.

It’s difficult, but since we’re alive, we must go on. I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

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