You often do not realize the dimensions of your armor until you are caught in being any percentage of your ugliest self in light of others. Armor by definition not only protects but renders you less affected, distanced from what's going on close enough
to you that it makes direct contact.
I don't often recognize how numb I've become to people until they fight back, until there's some confrontation. For reasons I will learn in time, I seem to be the one that's provoking. I yearn for confrontation because I believe that opening a wound heals it. I feel like I do it to see if people themselves are real, if they actually pay attention or care about anything. Just because they talk and socialize doesn't mean that they hear you, that they're really there, that you matter at all either way.
I wrote this thing in my blog today (which has since then been deleted and revised) about many things, but mostly about my friend Sandi's decision to leave the office where we both work. I have this tendency to say or do something that hurts her feelings or upsets her, and then to get it out in the open, I have to make her talk about it. While there is that theory that if I merely gave her some time to cool off, she would confront me, I can't let a whole day go by with her ignoring me at work. She'd read it earlier today and instead of talking to me about it, she ignored me. When I wanted to know what was wrong, she blew up at me. While it was hard, I felt a release because I'd gotten her to talk to me. I either hurt her a lot or she doesn't hurt me at all so it appears that it's all my fault, or one of us is cold and the other numb.
Armor for the self is something that is built over time. After a while, you adjust your walk and stance and movement to allot for the layers of armor around you so that it is as natural as skin, as breathing. And when you're guarded like me and laden with as thick an armor as I have, it takes that much more force to knock you over.
But still, but still, I go into recon mode. I immediately work to fix whatever plate of armor has slid out of place. Saying I'm sorry never seems like enough. I waste no time. I make plans. I leave the office early. I write out a long note for her and slip it in her purse before. I contemplate not coming into work tomorrow. I consider getting a different job simply to avoid having to deal with her again, of shrinking away from the world. I was harsh, but I was also honest. I care and yet I act, I take action. I am a robot with a human heart.
My world seems terrifying and incapacitating when there's a lot of people in it. I didn't go outside after I got home. I slept, I watched re-runs of My So-Called Life, realizing that I'm more like Sharon than like Angela, more concerned about other people being treated fairly or getting away with things than about my own preoccupations with boys like Jordan Catalano.
We lament when we cannot get close to people but we're the ones who make it so hard for people to touch us. We blame the world when the fault starts in us. The fault line inside that, like natural fault lines, just continue to widen and deepen. No one can really pinpoint what started a fault, nor can any one determine where it will go. They know only to move their cars and plants out of the way. We are as small and insignificant as ants when it comes to natural disasters. How much more so, it seems, in matters of self-preservation.
People keep moving to California. People keep giving me a chance.