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10:11 p.m. - February 12, 2004
Follow up on this, investigate patterns
Doesn't happen often, or hasn't happened lately, but today I screamed like a girl the way that makes me feel like shit, the one that comes from the gut and seems to last until I can't breathe any longer. Was in the parking lot killing 20 minutes listening to music, windows down, and I reached over to grab a bottle of water when my eyes registered someone standing just inches away next to me. There is a three second delay between perception and registration of stimuli and in that time my mouth opened in that scream that scares the shit out of me all the while my head knew who it was so why be scared? I despise myself when this happens and how embarrassing to have it occur with a colleague.

He apologized profusely and I tried to laugh it off but you know, it threw me off the rest of the day. When this happens I think about why I respond that way and while I haven't talked about it with Mean Therapist or Dr. Indy, I have some theories of my own. I think generally speaking I'm constantly vigilant and the few times I'm caught off guard in a powered-down mode, far more elemental than merely closed eyes or distraction, that basic fear of surprise and being purely vulnerable provoke that scream response. It's terror, pure and simple. And I wonder if other people respond this way, or if there's a difference between this type of fear and one incited by scary scenes in movies or a ghoul jumping in front of you on Halloween.

My colleague was dismayed and apologized repeatedly and all I wanted him to do was go away so I could regain control. Later he apologized again and I cut him off, didn't want to hear how he's jumpy from time to time, too. It is not jumpy, fool - it's hands shake, stomach flip flops, heart that won't stop pounding, and unfriendly thoughts of shit from long ago.

Sad thing is, I liked this colleague. I enjoyed working with him and would request being paired up. And just like that I don't want to see him again, will be professional and polite, but will not go out of my way. Punishment or embarrassment? Something in me turns, goes on the alert when I'm vulnerable and things are never the same.

It is less embarrassment and more distrust. A healthy dose of the former, however; no man wants to scream like a girl in front of somebody else.


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