Abigail: a rubber band dog

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?




4 thoughts on “Abigail: a rubber band dog

  1. Perfectionism. I hate that complex. The only way I know of tackling it is focusing on yourself. Please yourself before others. Your mental state is just as important, and more so to you, as others. Don’t see how many problems you got wrong. See the solutions to those problems, and see what you did wrong. Improve. And don’t think for even ONE SINGLE SECOND that you cannot fail. Because you can. And you may. But the important thing is finding those mistakes, and where you went wrong. I’ve failed at being a student in the eyes of my peers and my parents. I don’t always straight As (I mean who gets a B in art? ART FOR GOD’S SAKE.) but I try to make up for those mistakes. As for the love intolerance, I know how that feels. Although my condition isn’t exactly like yours, it hurts for me to love someone, or to know that someone loves me. Everytime someone trusts me, or loves me, it feels like a glass shard is digging it’s way to the core of my soul. I’m afraid of breaking one day. But for now, we must carry our respective burdens, or teach them to swim.

    • When I say you can fail, I mean that don’t take it too harshly. Eat your share of humble pie and move on. Learn from the experience. That sort of thing. Sorry if I worded it a bit wierdly. (Yes, I made up a word because my wording was that weird.)

      • I think your responses on both my posts were very insightful and thought-provoking. This is definitely something I’ll be pondering and considering as the week progresses. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. 🙂 I’m glad I helped, even if my awkward wording may have thrown everything off by a bit. Your blog inspired me, and I feel as if I should repay that debt in the only way I know how.

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