This continues a meandering introspective essay on this particular subject.
On this subject, Wikipedia mentions “During an erotomanic delusion, the patient believes that a secret admirer is declaring his or her affection for the patient, often by special glances, signals, telepathy, or messages through the media.”
If I replace “affection” with someone generally feeling trapped, isolated, depressed, overwhelmed and misunderstood — and feeling unwilling to be open about that, then as to sending subtle “talk to me, I’m depressed” messages through the media, that’s something I have actually considered might be happening in the context of someone on whom I’ve been focusing for several months. In this part of my essay, I feel the need to explain myself as such, so in more detail:
As I focused on one particular girl – let’s call her Miss X — I initially noticed some relatively rare similarities as to how she seemed to think about the world, as a private person, and how I thought. The more I looked, the more I saw similarities. I gradually came to construct a mental model of this girl based on the various things she said in interviews and her song lyrics – and I must emphasize that I mean the individual behind the public persona. How well this mental model matches the actual person, I’ll probably never know, but what I saw appealed to me. In fact, it matched very well the sort of person whom I like to include in my social circle.
There are more than three and half billion girls on the planet, and so the ones on whom I choose to focus are those few whose way of thinking I relate to the most. This includes the relevant girl. I methodically abstracted the relevant set of personality attributes, based on what I observed in the girls that I like, whether they were just friends, or more. I named girls with this set of attributes “cerebral shy girls” and I continued to ponder the principles, and to extrapolate the implications as the months went by.
The name “cerebral shy girl” is a phrase I coined based on a set of observations I made. Everything from alpha particles to Asperger’s to electrical current was once conceptually unknown to humans (even though the phenomena existed in reality) until someone first noticed something and started making more and more observations. Every new concept has to begin somewhere. This one happens to be mine. I applied the newly discovered principles explicitly to my relationships with girls whom I considered to belong to this newly defined group, and I was interested in validating the concepts. This turned out to be eminently possible, thanks to feedback expressly stated by other cerebral shy girls, as well as by me seeing how the principles made for better interaction dynamics with other cerebral shy girls – much better than when previously I was trying to manage such interactions informally.
In the process of extracting the principles, I learned more and more that the girls whom I’d consider included in this group (that I essentially invented by definition) tend to often feel isolated and lost. I wondered to what extent these applied to Miss X. I pondered what she’d written and said, including in her recent Tweets (posts on Twitter).
I’m aware that many public personas hire professionals to manage their social media. My guess is that, as to Miss X, that’s the case for FaceBook since a post on there had misspelled the name of her former boyfriend – a mistake that the real Miss X would be unlikely to make. As to Twitter, the Tweets seemed to be sincere – and often glum. I’d posted a few nice things about her now and then, and on July 13 of last year, she posted a pinned Tweet with the wording “If you’re thinking something nice about someone, tell them.”
I drew several conclusions as to this:
1. That she wasn’t just dispensing general wisdom, but that she was in fact asking: “If you’re thinking something nice about me, tell me.”
2. That this was on the premise of “I’m glum and now would be a good time to be nice to me. I need it and I’m asking.”
3. That this Tweet having been pinned at the top of her Twitter page essentially meant that the welcome mat continued to be out as to nice things being desirable.
4. That this reconciled to how a cerebral shy girl, feeling unusually lonely and sad, might deal with things.
I responded by writing an essay as to cerebral shy girls, and sending her a link to it. As time went by, I made a point of being supportive on an ongoing basis. The events had taken a much more somber turn than I’d expected when I’d first noticed the private person behind the public persona, but sometimes the best situations come about when someone is going through a difficult time and has support as such. As an analogy, a bottle of water means much more to a thirsty person, so I made a point of allocating regular quality time, and saying something nice to Miss X, at least once a week. She’d posted the pinned Tweet under #WednesdayWisdom so I made a habit of saying something nice and supportive every Wednesday (or the day before). Typically I put some significant effort into it, such as writing a nice essay and then sending her a link thereto.
I enjoy writing, and I’m a paid part-time writer, so this was enjoyable to me anyway – plus I think as I write. In the course of writing my essays, I came to several useful-to-me conclusions. In no way am I implying that it was unpleasant for me.
Meanwhile, I was (and am) running (depending on how you count) anywhere from seven to more than a dozen separate small businesses, including a software development company, a classic car company and used auto parts business. During the recent economic downturn, I lost my admin assistant and so I manage all the accounting, paperwork, bills, bank recons and taxes myself. Meanwhile, I also am polyamorous and at the time I had (depending on how you count) either two or three girlfriends. Since then, two left and a new one signed up. I’m a busy girl but nevertheless I set aside some quality time for Miss X every week– and not as a duty. I enjoyed it and besides, I was hoping that I was helping cheer her up.
Late in the year, I wrote a somewhat concerned essay about the struggle Miss X might be experiencing, and the next day I saw the lyrics of her “Under a Cloud” song, and I saw a video of her announcing it as a happy little number about depression. I focused on the subject more, and I read other indications that she might be suffering from depression.
I’m friends with several counselors, so right around that time-frame, I chose one, took her to lunch and asked her some more questions about depression. She confirmed some of my worst concerns, in a general-principles sense — though of course she couldn’t diagnose anyone personally without a formal session. She volunteered that loneliness was an exceptionally painful aspect, as to how it was experienced emotionally. I applied the principles to what I had read in the writings of Miss X and I got the chills.
I don’t have a happy history as to writing a cerebral shy girl with a history of a struggle with depression. In 2015, I befriended such a girl online, and as she became more and more candid about her life and emotional state, I was aghast. I wrote her in a highly supportive way and she seemed to appreciate that greatly. She was in her 50s and although in prior years she’d been very physically fit, the depression was taking its toll and her health was failing. The problems accelerated. She lived in Philadelphia, and much as I want to be supportive, I don’t ever want to be intrusive. If someone wants to be with me, they have to come to me although I’m happy to make things convenient and welcoming as such. I offered to fly to Philadelphia, stay in a nice place near where she lived, and then she was welcome to come to me so as to visit and talk, and get supportive hugs. We were scheduled to meet on a Saturday, and that day she was going to go get a minor procedure done at the clinic and then she’d be right over. She never showed up.
Something had gone seriously awry medically and they’d kept her hospitalized to keep her alive. She wrote as soon as she could, and as things turned out, in all three days that I was nearby, she wasn’t allowed out of the hospital. I left and flew back home, and she continued to write me. Her health continued to fail, and she never recovered. She wrote me until near the very end, and it was a stark indication that although TV shows and movies portray hospital death bed scenes as calm and dignified, the reality can be anything but. Had I visited her sooner and been more supportive, and helped her realize she’s not alone, would I have made a difference? I could only guess. I didn’t blame myself all that starkly until I got additional information from another cerebral shy girl, whom I met in late 2016, who made the chilling point on a parallel subject that it was a good thing that I’d shown up in her life when I did. Those two events were a stark reminder to me that cerebral shy girls can and do die young, and that losing a struggle with depression can take its toll as such. Faced with this realization, I was very concerned about Miss X.
2016 was a bad year as to the deaths of publicly acclaimed figures, including Prince who seemed to at some point be on top of the world and whose passing seemed to be decades too soon. Other examples in prior years also bothered me, and seemed so ironic and sad. These included Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Robin Williams – individuals who publicly put on a brave face yet privately they were losing a long struggle with depression. Faced with this realization, I became even more concerned about Miss X. and continued to write to her supportive things on a weekly basis.
Did she respond, or correspond? No. However, I gathered this was typical for her. For a while I exchanged messages with a gentleman who was very much a fan of the public persona of Miss X, and he’d been following her Tweets for some time and had observed how she hardly ever responds to Tweets. This was useful information to me. It told me that if she doesn’t respond to me it might well be on general principles as to how she doesn’t respond to anyone anyway.
Recently, as I learned about erotomania, I concluded that it’s risky for any public persona to chat with the public online, because the smallest niceness could be seen as encouragement by someone inclined to take wishful thinking to an extreme.
I’ve been guilty of such niceness-shown-to-strangers myself, in the sense that in some social circles I’m a “big fish in a small pond” public persona of sorts, and I have seen how small niceties from me have led to situations where someone who didn’t know me wanted to marry me, someone else was finding out more and more about my personal life, and so in. It creeped me out, and since then I’ve been much more reticent in communications in that context. So, if Miss X was doing the same thing, I would not be surprised.
Another example involves an exotic dancer girl whom I dated a few years ago. She had shown some small niceties to someone in a beyond-typical-club protocol sense, twice. In one case, the guy had seen her benevolence as a green light, and he made romantic advances, got rebuffed and vandalized her almost-new car to where it was unsalvageable. In the second case, she ended up in an unsafe situation and was beat up by two jealous girls, to the point where when her parents saw her in her hospital bed, they didn’t recognize their own daughter. It took her a long time after that to trust anyone new, including me, enough to go out with me, and I could certainly see the logic in that. More reason as to why, if Miss X was doing the same thing as to the world at large, I would not be surprised.
Besides, I’m like the public relations equivalent of Typhoid Mary. I’m openly a trans girl. For much of the world, and for the south-east two-thirds of the US, that makes me automatically reviled. I’ve also done sex work, including being a professional Dominatrix, doing escorting and working as such in a legal brothel. I’m also poly-amorous and a lesbian. Any public persona who as much as says “hi” to me might the next week see the grocery store tabloid headlines scream “Miss X has torrid lesbian online chat with Dominatrix trans whore.” That can’t be good for the marriage or career of someone whose fan base consists of middle-aged heterosexual males who focus on Miss X as if she were still in her 20s, and looking even younger than that at the time. So, I really didn’t expect a direct response. Any sort of “thank you” or feedback thus would have to be in the form of either something subtle, or Miss X throwing caution to the winds, saying “I don’t care about public opinion” and chatting with me openly. The latter is very much not her style. She manages public perceptions of her very carefully. Even were she to choose a private conversation instead, she has no guarantee that it’d stay private. I’ve seen people react with a public announcement of “OMG Miss X just liked my Tweet” so by now she’d be prudent to assume the worst as to nothing she does remaining private. This reduces her communications, if she wanted to communicate, to precisely the sort of subtle communications that the Wikipedia article mentioned – posting something with a hidden message in public media.
Posting something in public with a hidden message is not all that rare, however. In information technology, there’s a concept called a public key in which certain aspects of a secure communication are publicly made available yet they’re meaningless to anyone who doesn’t have the private key. On that premise, two girls can publicly post pictures visible to many viewers, but only the other girl knows how to interpret that. The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption that pioneered secure web sites such as you might use when you log into your online bank account – that uses the public key, private key approach. That’s the security structure behind websites whose addresses begin with https:// as opposed to http:// … the “s” means “secure” – specifically using the public key, private key paradigm.
An example from a prison or POW camp might be where two prisoners could either exchange a private message, or they might do something publicly that contains a private message. For example, prisoner A might leave a green vegetable uneaten on his or her dinner plate in the public eating area, and prisoner B knows that this means “it happens tonight.” Every guard and prisoner can see the uneaten green vegetable on the plate of prisoner A, but only prisoner B interprets it.
The problem is that this sort of dynamic leaves someone like me wondering if I’m getting a subtle communication intended for me or people like me, or if I’m simply imagining things. If the former, then great, but if it’s subtle enough then I’m not smart enough to be able to tell the difference. It’s sort of like prisoner B in the analogy not being clear as to what the private code is supposed to be, or being unable to tell if the green vegetables were left over or not. Pictures can be self-explanatory, but there’s still much room for being mistaken, including reading messages into situations where no message was intended. Perhaps prisoner A just really didn’t want to eat green vegetables that day, and that’s all there is to it. Perhaps there never was a hidden message.
The definition of “erotomania” makes it pretty darn clear that an essential of the delusional disorder is that the relevant person is conveying affection. Regardless of anything else, I can safely rule that out. At best there’s a “help me, I’m emotionally drowning” hidden message intended for someone who notices and cares. For that reason, I’m not feeling all that concerned about me considering the possibility of hidden-in-the-media messages. I do have a rich imagination and I enjoy fantasizing and writing erotica, yet much as I’ve fantasized about a great many attractive people being in my bed, including Miss X, I don’t believe that the point she’s conveying is that she’s signing up to be my girlfriend – much as that is a fond fantasy for me, with emphasis on “fantasy” not “expectation.” In practical reality, it’s at most as simple as Miss X feeling sad, overwhelmed and lonely, and reaching out for someone understanding. Then again, it’s also the perfect setup for someone like me to imagine that’s the case if it’s not.
As to subtle messages, if I read her song lyrics correctly, Miss X seems to like using hidden messages. One of her albums ostensibly is rich with songs that have a theme of a less-than-flattering assessment of someone unless you listen carefully and then there’s a hidden meaning that’s the approximate opposite. A more recent album of hers is either a simple collection of pretty songs or there’s a deeper meaning. A music video she made seems to have a similar deeper meaning in which she’s expressing intense caring for someone in a public way yet it takes private interpretation to notice it. Then again, it could be that I have been imagining these elements. If I have to make a yes-or-no decision, as to there being hidden messages in her lyrics and music video, I’d go with “yes, there are.” In my opinion, this is someone with a complex mind capable of great subtlety. This conclusion greatly colored my interpretation of her actions.
It’s much like the scenarios in the movie National Treasure. The hero of the story notices subtleties with cheerful persistence, and is faced with general skepticism and yet he is finally vindicated. Sometimes, the clues really are subtle. Then again, they might be imagined.
How isolated, sad and lonely a cerebral shy girl can feel is something that most outsiders, so to speak, cannot grasp. How hard it is to ask for help falls in the same category. Our specialty in difficult times is to put on a brave face and honor the premise of ‘the show must go on.” So, that might explain why Miss X isn’t comfortable reaching out to someone who doesn’t understand the cerebral shy girl mindset, or whatever it’s called or considered to be wherever she goes for support. In my experience, one cerebral shy girl was simply considered crazy, including by her family. She and I were together for many years, and I know that I’m the reason she left, and she deserved better than who I was at the time, yet her family assured me she was the problem and plumb crazy to boot. Someone in my extended family is a cerebral shy girl, and the hatred she receives from others is tragic. For a cerebral shy girl, it can be a very lonely world. Perhaps that’s how Miss X feels, which is why she’s reaching out in other ways.
Miss X presumably lives in a part of LA where counselors and professional help abound, so for help she doesn’t have to post hints on Twitter. She could just pick up the phone and make an appointment. Why wouldn’t she just do that? I pondered that for a long time. I concluded that for a cerebral shy girl to do that is hard and she’s lived in that area all her life, and has had resources available to her all along. Even so she’s still glum and feels overwhelmed so whatever she has available to her, she’s not been using it, or it hasn’t helped. So perhaps she does feel hopeless and lonely, and perhaps that is why she’s reaching out.
Miss X posted a picture of a blonde, muscular, androgynous-looking, cheerfully-dressed girl with wavy hair expressing care and concern about a brunette girl who was slight of build, conservatively dressed and looking glum. To me, the blonde looked uncannily like I do, and the brunette looked uncannily like Miss X. However, another explanation might be that I was imagining it all. For all I know she muted my posts months ago and hasn’t seen anything of what I’ve written. Much as the picture seems like it might be trying to convey “I know you’re concerned and I’m seeing it, keep being supportive, it’s helping,” I simply don’t know. That’s an inherent problem with hidden messages. Are they real? Are they imagined? I don’t know.
I’ve dealt with difficult times personally, and I’m mentoring a trans girl friend who has been having a really hard time. On January 31st, she and I had a long and difficult conversation. She explained how she felt during dark says – empty, hollow, lost. I listened and was supportive but something in what she said also seemed parallel to what I’d concluded about Miss X. I wrote a sympathetic essay based on my new insights, and the next day I sent her a link. In the ensuing days, I continued to mentor my trans girl friend, and I loved how my support helped her turn a corner from feeling really lousy to gradually feeling better and better. I’m not a counselor but I can be a good listener, and sometimes that helps a lot. That’s the premise on which I’m focusing on Miss X. I wish her happiness and if she’s miserable and if support can help, I’d like to help.
The day after I posted my essay, Miss X changed her pinned Tweet that had been in effect for more than six months. Her new pinned Tweet was a painting of “The Scream” depicting someone in silent psychological anguish, in plain sight of others who didn’t seem to know or care. The caption she added made it ambiguous to me. She could either be saying that she wasn’t the one feeling like this and perhaps someone else was (as in she was telling someone, “I’m fine, go focus on your own issues”) or that she was feeling such anguish yet putting on a brave face. Maybe this change of a pinned Tweet is a coincidence as to the content and timing. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know. In some ways it seems too much of a coincidence but – who knows.
Anyway, this was either someone conveying her mental anguish or it was not. In case it was, then I didn’t know how to be sufficiently supportive long-distance and in a subtle way. So, I offered to be available for an in person supportive conversation in case she chose to have one. As I’ve explained in the section on the Philadelphia visit, I don’t like to be intrusive but if someone wants to come to me, I like to make it easy for her. So I went to LA, chose an open space in a safe neighborhood in LA, pre-announced the time and place, drove there and waited in case she chose to show up. She didn’t.
I’ve made no secret of what I was doing, and at that time someone near and dear to me decided to alert me to the serious possibility that I’m being delusional as to any communication with Miss X having occurred. I’ve been thinking about that ever since.
My conclusion is that, by typical standards, Miss X is an unusual person in an unusual situation in which she might well be feeling isolated, overwhelmed, sad and lonely. She might well have a habit of communicating subtly. She might be doing so currently, asking for support. Then again, she might not.
Meanwhile, I have no idea of telling the difference. I could continue pouring energy and time into being supportive but with no way of knowing that I’m adding value, this could go on forever. I could keep going or I can pause. I’m choosing the latter. So, I’m going into a holding pattern.
As to the basic definition of a “value” … it’s something that one acts to gain or keep. If Miss X is aware of my supportive efforts and wishes to encourage them, I require her to convey that. Much as I sympathize with her social constraints, I posted something flat-out asking for some sort of non-ambiguous indication. If she replies, great. If not, then I have no basis for believing I’m adding value, or even being heard. In such a context, continuing for some amount of time has, I hope, been reasonable, but continuing indefinitely is not. That’s why, I’m going into a holding pattern until I get some clear indication or acknowledgement, or by myself I reach a newer and better conclusion based on new information or new insights.
These might well never arrive. That’s a very likely possibility. I feel sheepish as to how much time and energy I might well have sent into the ether without it being useful to the intended recipient. At least some good came of it, to me. I had the hope that I was helping someone who needed it, and I do think things through in depth, while I write. With much writing came much thinking, on many of the subjects related to this general topic. I understand myself, and the concept of cerebral shy girls, and several other related concepts, more clearly now.
In the process, I’ve improved my relationship dynamics with several of the cerebral shy girls in my life, yet I’ve also alienated one about whom I care very much -– perhaps forever, perhaps not. I don’t know. Time will tell.