I picked up a book that I had started reading a few months ago and put down and this is the quote that jumped out at me:
“So whatever you do, just do it, without expecting anyone’s help. Don’t spoil your effort by seeking for shelter. Protect your-self and grow upright to the sky; that is all.” Shunryu Suzuki- Not always so
It was like slap in the face…the good kind. After I got over the hurt from two years ago, I wanted to escape and after that I wanted someone to fill the hole in my heart. I have been on the spiritual path and through enough therapy to know that this is my work to do but the illusion that another person could help and heal that emptiness is so seductive.
I was certain that I was leaving this town as soon as I could. That this place was nothing more than a lay over to heal my wounds and then move on to the promised land…wherever that might be. But it didn’t happen that way, not because there were not opportunities or because I didn’t try (tip to Portland) but my heart would not buy it.
Then I embarked on the dating distraction. This was highly entertaining but there came a moment when I realized that I was not willing to risk anything so I stopped pretending. And then I met someone. Of course being me it had to be the most complicated and impossible person to be with. I came to realize slowing that was a large part of the attraction. Don’t get me wrong he had lots of other wonderful qualities but the nature of the whole situation suited my melancholy nature far too well. And in the end it proved to be the impossible situation I was seeking. Minus two points for walking into fire knowingly.
I know your thinking (she’s at it again rambling about god knows what again) but when I read that quote this morning and it was like something broke loose inside me. All this time I have wanted to survive, over come, forget, start over but I never loved myself enough to protect myself. I put up walls and shut people out but that was only to avoid pain it was not to protect myself.
When I think about how I would begin to do that it seems hard. I am in danger from no one but myself and in many ways it is harder to counter than someone hitting me. My boss complimented me the other day and I shifted the credit to my team and she said “Amanda, take a little credit for your work.” It is so engrained to see myself as pass-able at best that I’m not sure where to begin pause the voices in my head, to protect myself from me.
But…I am going to try. Try to love my life because its mine, just the way it is. This holiday season was particularly hard, mostly because I didn’t make the effort to lie for other people’s comfort. When they asked if I was alone I said yes. When they asked if I was seeing my family I said no. When they asked if I was okay/ happy I mostly told the truth and said I didn’t know. If I had lied they would have gone on their blissful holiday way for the most part. But by telling the truth it gave me the opportunity to look at my feelings and choices. It hurt but it was honest.
As I go forward into this new year, I hope to be kinder and more forgiving to myself. I think it is a lesson I will be learning my whole life: how to love me.
So it’s late and I’m writing. A sure sign that my head is too full. I’m not sure I know how to have fun. Not that I don’t laugh or enjoy people’s company but somewhere along the way I got too scared to trust “good” things. Like life or karma or something was just waiting in the wings to bite me in the ass the moment I let my guard down. And the funny thing about self-fulfilling prophecies is that sooner or later you’re right.
I got very good about weighing the odds and making the “right” choices. There is a part of me that almost wishes I could go back and re-do my 20’s knowing that I would be fine. But my life didn’t set me up to know things like that. I only knew that it was on me, to make it or to fail. I believed I could do it but I never dared to dream of anything more, bigger than what I could hold with my own two hands.
There was a moment when I let myself think like that. And for a while it was inspiring and I was bold. And then it changed. Like a house of cards the years of “you will fail” that I had managed to hold at bay by graduating from college, getting and keeping a job, finding someone to love; suddenly none of that mattered. It was like ten years of life amounted to one epic disaster called me. No amount of careful planning, determination or restraint had saved me.
I wonder now why I “seemingly” wasted my time being so good? I’m really not trying to build myself up. I was that kid who didn’t miss a day of school and did all their homework. I didn’t drink before twenty-one and didn’t have serious relationship until after college. I lived my life trying to make as few waves as possible, to do things the “right” way. I know that all of these ideas were/are well rooted in the instability of my childhood and my own fears about being noticed and not measuring up.
But now as an adult I look back and wish I could tell myself that it wouldn’t have mattered if I had missed a day or two of school. If I had attended even one party in college. If I had a fling or two. But I do not know how to be that person. I do not know how to not look at what “could” happen given my choices. I envy those people who just feel like doing something and they do. I’m not saying that I want to become a care free hedonist. But it would be nice to not have to think all the time.
So I dance and I let my friends con me into stuff I would never do on my own, in the hopes that one day it won’t be quiet so scary to just go with something and not know how it will all turn out. To lay some little piece of myself in the hands of fate willingly.
So life…it’s the holiday season for me. I always want to love this time of year but for the past few years it has been hard not to see all the changes and differences in my life. My family does not do big get togethers. In fact Thanksgiving usually marks the beginning of my father’s “I hate Christmas/ this season in general,” story that I have had to listen to every year.
I last year I just wanted it to pass by but this year I find myself needing a little holiday cheer. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t have my own issues about the holidays. It is hard to listen to other people tell their happy stories and know that more than likely that will not be me. But I’m working on making my life what I want it to be instead.
I spent Thanksgiving with my friends and the weekend with my sister and her family. It was really wonderful. There was no drama, not fighting and I even clocked a few new good memories. Christmas is harder though. I can’t really remember a good one while I was married. We always went to see his family because he didn’t like/ was uncomfortable with mine. And I have a hard time crashing someone else’s Christmas. When I was child it was a special day for families (nuclear) and I don’t have one of those. Just me and the cats.
I’ll put up my tree sometimes this week and the boys (cats) will begin the yearly camp out. I’ll burn candles that make the house smell nice and I’m sure a few batches of cookies as well. But all these things are just things. I miss singing carols with my sister. I miss baking with my mom. I miss having someone to share things with. I know that in part the distance is my choice. But I would rather have an empty Christmas than one that is filled with fighting and guilt.
So I’m off to find my own holiday. Don’t know if I’ll be successful but I’m going to give it a shot.
I am not as interesting as I seem:
Once I believed that I was funny, kind and that people found me interesting
But you have set the record straight.
I can never forget what you taught me.
What I had mistaken for leopard print was merely poke-a-dots.
My child like ways, simply childishness.
Compassion as weakness.
In the end, even the sound of my voice made me think I had done something wrong.
So now that you are gone, why do I still hear your voice?
Why do I fear what others will see in me?
What if they see what you saw?
Will they feel the same? What if you were right?
I don’t believe the things that I once did.
I get tired of fighting your voice in my head.
Because some part of me believes you;
Believes that I am less than ordinary.
A crow among nightingales.
Amanda C Nov 2012
I’m not sure when it began the need to fix things. I know I felt it long before it was a conscious choice in HS. I wanted my home to be quiet, safe and stable and it was not. So like most young minds I though that it had something to do with me, the constant tension and fighting and that if I could figure it out it would stop. Of course that is ridiculous and it had nothing to do with me but my frightened young hart didn’t know that.
So I spent years learning how to read the slightest discomfort in people. Taking on the unseen weight for not being able to foretell their moves and motives when I could not stop the inevitable fights form starting. I worked hard to be unseen and never to do anything that might cause an issue. I got good grades and was a good daughter. But I was scared all the time. Scared that I would come home and not have a home. Scared that my dad would make good on years of promises and really leave. Scared that it would somehow be my fault.
After college and a few abysmal relationships. I transferred this issue on to my students. I found it hard to keep a safe distance from the issues in their lives and found myself drawn to the ones with similar life situations as my own. My intentions where good but now I if they were a bit misplaced. How much was really becasue I cared about them and how much was about my need to be fixing something.
My marriage was something I spent years trying to fix, to the detriment of my body and mind. In the end it showed me just how far this need to fix and make things okay had gone. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to live if my marriage failed. I got so hopeless.
I said all of that to say this, I don’t know how to be still. A life time of being on edge and worrying about what could or would happen next has left me bereft of the ability to relax most of the time. Don’t worry, I learned my social cues well and most of the time people don’t even notice that I’m still watching, still taking responsibility for what is happening around me weather it has to do with me or not.
The most oblivious manifestation for this issue is my apologizing. I know that it is a dead give away so I work hard to suppress the need to do it a lot. But if i get too unnerved there it is. My best friend says she can tell how well I’m doing by how much I apologize. At this point I’m sure that I sound really neurotic but there is a point to this endless diatribe about my issues.
I want to be quiet. I want to sleep at night. And I want to realize that the people I love will be unhappy and have issues and that it will have nothing to do with me and not be my place to fix. I remember the first time I told my parents no as an adult and decided that my well being was more important than their happiness. I felt sick but I knew that I had to do it. I remember the choice to cut ties with my ex-husband. I am getting better at remembering that the people I love are capable and if they need me they will let me know. But I don’t know how to extent this to myself.
I don’t know how to love myself when there is no back up plan. I don’t know how to stop and just enjoy where I am, how far I have come. There are moments when I get it but they are just moments.