I’ve been wondering a lot about my “love intolerance” lately. What causes it? When did it originate? It’s really unclear to me when the intolerance started. I’m going to conclude that it was a gradual onset, probably beginning sometime in fifth or sixth grade. The causes are still unclear, but I’m going to take a stab at it and link it to repeated rejection and verbal attack. Seems like a lot stems from those experiences. Who knew so much damage could occur in a time span of three to four years?
One thing I’ve observed is that love intolerance almost never arises around adults. I’ve been blessed with fairly stable adult influences, and I know my family loves, even as screwed up as we all are. Peers, on the other hand, are a different story. This is where my love intolerance becomes an issue. This is where the problem arises. I try not to let it get in the way…
I know I’m loved, accepted, all that. I have the knowledge in my head. Somehow, though, I can’t etch it in my heart. I don’t feel it. I can tell myself twenty billion times, but it’ll rarely sink in. I could be showered with love and acceptance, then start freaking out whether or not the person even likes me two hours later.
Love does make a difference. I’m overjoyed when I feel wanted. What I’m saying is that I can’t make it last, no matter how much I want it to. I’d like to feel at peace knowing I’m accepted–peace in both my heart and mind. I don’t want to live like “I know you love me, but you don’t really.” It’s terribly confusing.
To me, love is performance-based. A high performance receives a greater quantity and sincerity of love than a lower performance. Sort of like a dog. The dog performs the trick and gets a treat. If he fails, the treat is withheld.
The dog analogy came to me sometime this past July. It felt true to my issue, so I ran with it. I’m going to extend and analyze this analogy now. It’s funny how I see myself as the dog and my peers as the humans. Deep down, do I feel inferior to them? Absolutely. A lot of this is rooted in inferiority, I think. Life, to me, is a ladder. Other people happen to be further up on it than me. When I fail or mess up, I’m knocked down a rung.
It’s scary how performance-based I’ve become, not only with peer acceptance, but with everything. Especially grades. I’m getting straight A’s. By most people’s standards, I’m doing really well. But I don’t see that 97 percent in English. I see the 3 percent I failed to get. A perfect score on that French test isn’t enough, because I missed the bonus point.
In eighth grade, I failed to achieve. Academically, I accomplished little that year. Most of the time, I was failing almost all my classes. Only by getting partial credit for late homework and retaking tests and quizzes did I manage the grades I did. At the end of the year ceremonies in June, almost everyone in the auditorium got up to receive an award, even if it was just the A/B Honor Roll certificate. Not once did I move my butt from my seat. It was then that it really, really hit me–I’d failed. No, I didn’t fail the grade, but I had in my mind. The pressure I put on myself to achieve, or as I put it, “bounce back”, increased dramatically that day. Now, I’m in ninth grade. For most, the slate is clean. But not for me. I have an entire year to make up for.
That’s why I’m retaking Algebra 1. And even then, I’m still only scratching an A minus. I’m ashamed of that A minus. What would’ve been excellent last year is scum now.
There you have it, folks. I cannot fail. Not when I have friendships, college, expectations, self-esteem, and so much more on the line. I’m walking on a tightrope, and I really, really, really can’t screw up now.
Please. Somebody. Show me that it’s okay to fail. Give me a reason to believe that. I’m afraid I’ll snap from the stress, like a rubber band at its breaking point.
I guess I’m a dog and a rubber band. How does that work?