3.) Trust. (inspired by Queen of Chaos)
I've always had trust issues. Not the "I need to see a therapist because I am completely borderline/hystrionic/insert the mental illness du jour here" kind of trust issues. More the "Is this guy making fun of me?" trust issues. The "Is this person joking or not?" trust issues. Vagueness is the hallmark of anxiety, and I'm an anxious type, and I have trust issues. I don't trust the world not to end up smacking me in the face with a lemon meringue pie while dressed as Milton Berle. There are many reasons for this lack of trust, in addition to my general anxiety. We moved often, and I don't think that I ever really learned to bond with peers until later in life. Since I had to adjust to leaving a place right when I was finally comfortable enough to make friends, I just stopped allowing my peers to get that close.
My dad was gone for a lot of my childhood. He worked all the time because in the Army he was the low man on the food chain, and I understand that. I think six months after I was born he was shipped to Korea for a tour, then at some point he went to Viet Nam for a tour. I just grew up with the expectation that he wasn't going to be there. That is just the way it was, so I learned to deal with it. I learned to be independent, to make my own decisions, but I also learned not to rely on other people. As a result, I don't trust other people to do things, such as complete a task or tell a joke. Instead, I do them myself, then I resent the other person for not magically reading my mind and figuring out what I might not even be aware that I wanted. What I should do is trust the other person enough to tell them what I need, so they can help. However, since that actually makes sense and would be most helpful, my brain doesn't want to do that.
Another reason for my trust issues is that I am humor challenged. It's not that I don't laugh at people's jokes or that I believe everything people tell me. It's that I don't always pick up on those subtle cues that let you know a person is being facetious, such as tone of voice, or facial expressions. I tend to take those people at their word, thinking that they are truthful, when they aren't. Or I go overboard the other way and just don't believe anything that they say. I'd say that I only do that around people I don't know, but I've failed to pick up on cues from people I've known for years, simply because they did something different like wink with the left eye instead of the right. I need a safety word, such as the word "alabaster", that people can say to me, that will let me know that they are not being serious, without interrupting the flow of their conversation.
There were many moments in my childhood when I just did not "get it." From the first time my dad asked me to "pull his finger", I've been a straight man. I've fallen for jokes so many times that I started to think everything is a joke, which isn't exactly helpful, either. Humor challenged. I was an easy mark--I sometimes wouldn't even realize that I was being made fun of until someone who actually liked me told me so. Bullies usually had to explicitly tell me that they were bullying me, because most of the time I had no idea.
And my brain runs on a tape delay, so hours later, I would sit up in the darkness and say, "Heyyyyyy..." and then be too upset to sleep. I would feel stupid, and be angry with myself. I can count on one hand the number of people that I do trust, but even with those people, there's a little voice inside my head telling me that this person can't be trusted for one reason or another. It drives me nuts that that little voice, as squirrelly as it is, overrides my reasonable decisions, and makes my husband think that I am completely off the deep end. I am working on these issues, but it's going to take a long time. Time to get comfortable with myself, accept who I am. Maybe if I start with trusting myself a little more?