I’m a very logical person. My world is at peace when things make sense, when I can clearly see causes and effects. I allow for a certain degree of error, mostly due to the innate faults of human beings, but even with that allowance I can usually manage to find a decent flow for all things. I find it really calming to see how things interact, even if they don’t interact in a way I like or a way that is beneficial to me. It’s the same sense of tranquility I get when I realize my life is insignificant. (That might be too dark for some people, I don’t know. I don’t mean that to sound depressing, I just think it’s amazing that I’m a tiny spec in this giant universe and the universe doesn’t care about me at all but I’m still here…yeah. I think that’s a wonderful feeling. Maybe it’s just me.)
So anyway, think of a flowchart, the most complicated flowchart you can imagine. Now multiply its complicated-ness by a couple thousand. Add some extra connections. Take others away. Throw in a couple infinite loops, just for fun. You might want some extra layers in there too, because 2d space simply isn’t big enough to hold all of the information this chart is representing.
This is an overly complex, very nerdy metaphor for how I see the world. This massive web is how I think of my experiences. Each node represents an event, the paths represent how one event leads to another. I’m on a certain path through the web, the one that represents what actually happened (or at least what I perceived to have happened). Other people have their own webs too, and our combined interactions are represented by our webs running parallel and occasionally getting fused together. (How romantic.)
Most of the time, I only care about the path I’m on, because I only need to bother with things that I actually know to be true. The other paths fade to the background because they are hypothetical. They didn’t happen. They are the “what ifs” of life. I need to keep these other paths accessible, though, because sometimes I need to revisit my experiences. When things don’t work out, I need to see where I could have made different choices. Bringing these other paths forward lets me see where something may have gone wrong. Of course, I can’t change the past. But the web helps me make better choices by illuminating those what ifs, therefore opening me up for different choices in the future.
As long as I have a clear view of my path, and as long as the events on that path logically flow from one to another, I can maintain a sense of calm. This is how I manage my emotions so well. I hardly ever get upset because I can usually see what lead me to feel the way I do, and that awareness automatically reduces my rage levels.
This clarity is harder to achieve when other people are involved, but it’s absolutely doable. You just need to communicate expectations. If I say that A will always lead to B, and you say that A will always lead to B, then great! We’ll meet at B. If you say that A leads to C, well then maybe we need to talk and figure out how to get me to C or you to B or both of us to D. (Are you still following?)
Given all that, the surefire way of turning me into an emotional wreck is to leave me stranded at B. Lead me to believe that you’ll be there waiting for me, and then don’t show up. Worse yet, announce that you’re hanging out at Q with no intentions of ever being at B in the first place.
This drives me insane because the logic of my web becomes invalid. I’m sitting here desperately trying to figure out how you ended up at Q when I didn’t even think that anything past B existed. Now I’m staring at my web, with all the hypothetical paths in full view, not being able to trust what I thought was real. I’m erasing arrows, pointing them to other events, trying to figure out why you’re not where I expected you to be. What did I do wrong? Why didn’t A lead to B? Why would A ever not lead to B? Do you exist in some world where there are letters between A and B? Does B not exist in your alphabet? Why didn’t you tell me about your fucked up alphabet? If in your world A always leads to Q then that’s cool, but I need you to tell me. I don’t want to put so much energy into hoping to see you at B when you’re never going to be there.
This is what overthinking looks like, at least for me. I’m not worrying for no reason, I’m worrying because I’m struggling to find reason. When the logic I thought I could depend on gets swept out from under me, I get lost. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I start trying things just to try them, because nothing makes sense anyway, right? If A didn’t lead to B, how can I be sure that C will lead to D?
I need you to right it again. I need you to tell me why you are at Q. I need to know if there’s a point is us ever getting past A.
And I need you to understand this terrible metaphor because yes, it is actually bothering me and I’ve been trying to tell you but I don’t feel like you’re listening.