Hormone Hellmouth


What a craptastic couple of days these have been. Lord. It's not in the least helpful to know that the biggest problems have been inside my own head, magnified by the mysterious chemistry manufactured by obscure glands hidden throughout my body. After all, I do live most of my life inside said head (more than is strictly healthy, most likely), and that chemistry stuff is impossible to avoid as long as I'm carrying around this body.

Sometimes I think, "Hey, I'm doing okay. I'm holding up pretty well, all things considered." Then I have a completely overblown reaction to a tiny criticism, from a source renowned for an utter lack of tact and sensitivity to human interaction, and I realize that maybe I'm a little more fragile than I think. Then again, maybe I shouldn't give too much weight to weepy emotional responses when under the influence of Fred. (Yes, I am twelve. I still have a stupid, cutesy, non-physiological name for my period. I don't even have a good excuse for that.)

The sad truth of the matter, though, is that I don't react well to criticism. I never have. I'll be kind and spare you my extended version of why I believe this is so, complete with detailed examples. (Told you I spend far too much time living inside my head.) I'm also well aware that a) this is not something to be proud of, and b) I need to grow up and learn to deal. But boy, it's hard.

I've come to the conclusion that there are two general kinds of criticism, each of which elicits a different reaction on my part. There is the kind that remarks upon problems with me, my methods, my behavior, whatever, that have never occurred to me, or facets/consequences of said whatever that I have failed to consider. This kind of criticism may sting at first, sometimes painfully, but it's the kind I take best--at least eventually. I either defend myself, or realize the comments have merit, and try to adjust accordingly. The initial reaction may be unpleasant, and the adjusting part may be tough going (or even impossible), but that's another matter entirely.

The other kind of critiques, though, those are the worst. They're the ones that speak to my own fears and insecurities, the ones that confirm the little voice inside whispering, "You suck, you can't do it, you've done a decent job of faking it so far but I'm onto you, you can't fool me, I know how weak and ignorant and stupid and incapable and disgusting you really are." These are the criticisms that send me into a tailspin. Instead of standing up, all feisty-like, hands on hips and chin jutting out at a stubborn angle, and offering a nice quippy comeback that boils down to, "Oh yeah? Well, let me show you just how wrong you are!", instead of being all Strong Confident Adult Woman... I crumble. I become a writhing blob of goo, sobbing and moaning, "You're right, I am such a loser and now everyone knows it and oh, god, how am I ever going to face the world again?"
It's quite pathetic. Also unattractive, since it's impossible to keep your eyeliner from running when doing all that writhing and sobbing.

Fred, well, he adds to that voice, turns it into a chorus that echoes through my veins. We have a code phrase around here to describe how I feel on those kinds of bad days: Brutta, grassa, scema. Ugly, fat, idiotic. It's shorthand, but to the point.

So yesterday and the day before I was feeling all brutta, grassa, scema, and in the middle of that I got some of the bad kind of criticism--although I do believe it was given with the best of intentions--and I kind of spiraled out of control. And the really awful thing is that I was aware, as I always am, that my reaction was largely the result of hormonal interference, but still it feels so real, and so familiar, since it's part of that running commentary that's accompanied me for as long as I can remember, to the point where it's almost comforting. Like a scratchy, ugly old sweater you know you should get rid of, one you wouldn't be caught dead in outside the privacy of your own home, but to which you've developed a secret and possibly unhealthy attachment. It's like the 80s Benetton version of the hair shirt.

Happily, that's behind us now. For a few weeks, anyway.