My fake plants died because I did not pretend water them.-Mitch Hedberg
We don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out when someone doesn’t like us. We don’t even have to know that humans are biologically wired for connection; belonging is our most basic survival reflex because back in the day losing our tribe meant death. Losing our tribe in school might feel like death; Omg no one liked my post. I could srsly die right now. The secret is, there’s life after emotional infancy. What happens when we put a baby down and walk away? The baby cries because we know from the time we’re born we can’t survive alone, until we can reach the counter ourselves. There are documented cases of children being raised by wolves who fared well, all things considered and while I once fantasized about getting adopted out of my own family by either Bigfoot or a vampire, it turns out nothing can replace the sense of confidence, safety or hope that comes from being understood by someone who gets us. In the absence of self-awareness we turn to every insubstantial substance man created to cope with the pain of believing we’re unlovable. Our insecurity is really working out for someone’s interest. Therapists call these behaviors mental health disorders. Doctors call us sick. Churches call us sinners. In addition to this unholy trinity of classifications for the human condition there’s a gamut of unsanctioned experts who redefine our quirks into more humanistic, sometimes overly palatable soft science:
- Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Take this quiz.
- Is your child gifted? Take this quiz, then take these other five quizzes if that quiz doesn’t support your mompothesis.
- Are you an empath?
- 50 Signs you’re Enlightened.
- If you do this you’re probably suffering from Radically Extroverted Goddess Syndrome.
- 12 signs you’re more special than most people.
- Tired? You probably have one of these 90 non-medical conditions, like being a parent who works full time.
- 30 reasons procrastination isn’t your fault.
- If you can read this special thing you’re probably very amazing.
- Put your face in this app and we’ll make you generically attractive.
They’re usually fun, stir up some drama, give us great venting fuel or temporary good feels but mostly don’t lead to problem solving, much like a billable diagnosis. They focus heavily on symptoms while skirting or scapegoating a root cause. Yeah but why are we like this? I don’t know but don’t blame me!
Graphically focusing on problems feeds our sense of powerlessness, belief that it’s all their fault and usually comes with a trendy t-shirt, bumper sticker or rubber bracelet. No judgment here; I take all the quizzes when I’m tired of thinking and just want to be entertained. After that I tackle myself like a defensive end at super bowl cause fairy godmothers didn’t come to the projects sprinkling trust fund dust over me. Ok. People with private jets need love too. I saw the Bucket List. They just get to hide easier. Therapists, doctors, religions, Buzzfeed and sometimes the rest of us, all have it equally wrong.
This morning I learned about my newest favorite fake diagnosis: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. What? I found it tumbling down a research rabbit hole after reading about a mother in Coventry UK who’d gotten a disturbing voicemail from her son’s school. A man from the school called to check on Harley, a little boy with Autism who’d been out sick. The man left a seemingly kind message and thought he’d hung up the phone. What followed was crude banter with an unidentified woman about how they hoped the boy would stay out of school past the end of the year because he was a non-royal pain the arse. If you google cruel school voicemails too many similar stories pop up. Compassion fatigue is nothing new. Public servants are asked to do too much with too little while pretending it’s a noble cause. The truth is our workplaces are unsafe, underfunded, radically dysfunctional and brutally exhausting, on a good day. This lame ‘diagnosis’ is just a new phrase for the oldest need in human history: a longing to be loved.
According to WebMD, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a bs term that showed up out of no where. It means: my feelings get hurt and is associated with ADHD, Autism and ‘personality disorders’ according to no one we’ve ever heard of.
Confession: I’m sick to death of being told who I am and what’s wrong with me according to the only person who’s ever had a voice and is anything but kind. Hey colonists are you really gonna tell us global natives are suffering from Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria? Like they just made up the capitalist invasion? Excuse me while I laugh hysterical tears.
The truth is all human behavior since the beginning of recorded history is one collective, dysregulated, chronic, destructive, salacious and at times insatiable cry for mattering…and pizza. Just because some jackass in a white coat gives our universal hunger an updated, invalid label doesn’t mean we’re any better or worse off than we were before. It’s always been and will be the same need until we start deciding to genuinely care about each other, instead of ticking off perfunctory check boxes of niceness. I said please and thank you. What’s your problem? How ’bout everything you’re really thinking but not saying out loud? Hurt people can tell the difference between someone pretending to give a shit versus authentic compassion. Dear fancy people perpetuating the impossible Social Contract; stop dehumanizing us with your disempowering labels. We know how you really feel and maybe we’re about to stop caring what you think.
This is the hard part: we have to go first. I love you. Instead of throwing shade back on Mc. or Ms. Shady we have to be the one to throw sunshine. Is that a thing? No, you’re a dork. Fine. I love me anyway. Instead of diving head first into some cheap, comfortable category and declaring ourselves the best-worst, most special hurt person that ever lived, we can choose to believe we matter even if they keep saying we don’t. Who the hell is Bill Dodson anyway? Probably some guy who needs a hug.