Q: What happens when a paranoid has low self esteem?
A: She thinks nobody important is out to get her.
Oh my. It's fun to make fun of paranoia, right? So much material, so little time. Unfortunately, it's not much fun being a paranoid. Especially when my own form of paranoia is not the glamorous, they're all out to get me, it's all a conspiracy kind of paranoia. No, I am the sad little paranoid with low self-esteem. The one who constantly feels left out. All of my friends and family are doing wonderful things, and they didn't invite me because they're embarrassed to be seen with me, or I'm stupid, or I'm too fat.
My grandma, the one I often write about, was a paranoid. I adored her, trust me, I honor her memory every day, but she was always talking about what "they" were thinking about her. "'They' think I should walk more" was a comment she often made. She kept the drapes closed in the front room so "they" couldn't look in. She was referring to her neighbors, of course, who really could care less if she walked more.
When I was little, I had a friend who lived across the street. Every time I spent the night at my grandparents' house, I would go over there and spend hours playing with my friend. You know how little kids are, I'd want to go over there as soon as I was dressed and fed. But my grandmother would tell me, "they don't want you around all the time." When she saw a picture of one of my boyfriends in high school, she informed me that he was "too good looking for me." She wasn't trying to be cruel, I truly believe she was trying to spare my feelings from the inevitable rejection I would receive when I went across the street one too many times or when my boyfriend dumped me. I always thought that would be the name of my memoirs, should they ever be interesting enough to write. "They" Don't Really Want You Around. Coming soon to a psychologist's office near you.
It really is all about an inflated fear of rejection. The constant fear that every time something happens without you, it's because nobody really likes you. Because, deep down, maybe you feel like you would reject you if you were them. Does that make sense? You don't feel like you are worthy of friendship, or love, or whatever "they" may represent, so you get that pit in your gut every time you are not invited along somewhere. Social media has made it worse, because you see the smiling pictures and status updates of all the friends having all the fun while you sit at home watching Doctor Who. Who, incidentally, never invites me anywhere, either.
Intellectually, I know my friends probably don't spare a thought to how the fat girl will bring the group down when we go out. People are allowed to have other friends besides me. A lot of my family members are terrible communicators, and have busy lives. They are not ignoring me or trying to exclude me. But paranoia doesn't sit in the intellectual center of the brain. At least on me, it sits in my diaphragm, and my stomach. I feel an emptiness, which then travels upwards and makes a hole in my heart. It is a completely emotional reaction to other people's normal behavior. And it hurts, a lot.
This is not a "pity me" post. But it is an explanation of why sometimes, when I'm talking to a group of friends, especially people I'm not necessarily comfortable with, I often try way too hard to sound witty and clever. Which just comes across as loud and uncomfortable. Trust me, I'm working on this.