A Completely Sincere and only Mildly Sarcastic Note of Thanks

6 Jan

365 days ago, I was celebrating the New Year with a friendly game of Apples to Apples with my family as my husband spent the evening texting the woman that would eventually be revealed as his soul mate.  This love would persuade him to abandon his home, most of his possessions, his dogs and his marriage vows.  There are lots of sides to the story, it’s truly an octagon of bitterness and betrayal and lies and cruelty and hurt, but the main point is that he made a choice and it has changed everything.  Within the last 3 weeks I’ve moved out of my house, my divorce has been finalized and I had to suffer through the holidays.  Something about filling my kids’ stockings on my own made me break.  I went through a whole spiral of emotions that I haven’t allowed myself to feel because I’m proud and vehemently intent on being a portrait of strength and decorum.  But there they were, all the things I swore I’d never feel, do, or say, there they were, bubbling up inside me like lava. Luckily, I was able to keep things on the DL, you know, for the sake of my political career.  I was able to get my emotions and thoughts under control, with the help of good books and good friends and good hiking trails.  And while there are many things I’d like to say to him, most of them are far from nice, the one thing I can offer with complete sincerity is my utmost gratitude.

Thank you for setting me free. If it weren’t for your actions, I’d still be toiling over a dysfunctional relationship. I took my marriage vows seriously and even though it was literally destroying my soul and sense of self, I’d have sacrificed it to save my marriage.  I was living in a self-inflicted prison, my own ideals barring me inside a bitter situation.  But you handed me the get out of marriage free card, and for that I will be eternally grateful. 

Thank you for proving to me that people DO change.  I’ve carried the mentality with me for so long that people never change, they are who they are, but that has only served to limit myself.  You’ve taught me that no matter what you think you know, things can change.  My perspective, my perception, my outlook concerning what I expect from people and what I expect from myself: everything is different now.  I’m different and because of this, others get to experience the very best of me.

Thank you for leaving me alone every week.  Because of the fact that I’ve spent most of my parenting career on my own, suddenly finding myself as a single parent hasn’t been as devastating as it could have been.  Parenting is fucking hard and the prospect of having to do it on my own has been the most formidable challenge I’ve had to come to terms with. But it’s not going to destroy me.  It’s a chance to demonstrate to my children what an admirable mother and woman looks like.  And I never back down from a challenge.

Thank you for thinking something was wrong with me. I would have never sought outside help for my “problems”.   I’d have never devoured book after book only to discover that all my mistakes, all my problems, all my shortcomings have molded the person I am right now.  And I am fucking awesome.

Thank you for being so judgmental.  It led me to reevaluate all my opinions and ideals.  For instance, I don’t like eggs. And I love Meg Ryan movies.  And if someone wants to do something, they will and if they don’t, they won’t. It really is that simple.  I don’t believe in soul mates or destiny but I honestly think Astrology is a good predictor of compatibility. And I believe marriage is an agreement between two people that even when I hate your guts, I’m not going to bail.  I doubt I will marry again. I don’t know if I can sacrifice that much of myself to someone else, especially because there are two little humans involved now that deserve my sacrifice more.

I’m sure I’ll fall in love at some point.  I’ll probably even commit to loving someone for a good long while, maybe even forever.  Call me selfish, but I want the choice to bail if I end up hating the person I’ve chosen.  Marriage is serious business and some people are really good at it.  I’m not.  I’m not good at doing conventional wife things, like cleaning and keeping a home and making dinner every night.  It’s not a complaint or an apology or a personality flaw or something I even want to change.  It’s reality. It’s going to take a very unique person to compliment me. I’m skeptic someone like this even exists. Trust me, I’ve been online dating, and it’s rough out there. But like Meri says, I’m just going to do me.  In the end, I’m the only person I have to live with.

Swimming Solo

8 Jul

I was pretty much a single mom before the divorce, so being home alone isn’t really that much of a change. Generally, I like being alone.  I like to do solitary activities, like write or sew or read or Xbox.  I thrive on my own, kill my own spiders even.  I’ve never minded it at all.  When you have two kids, you’re never REALLY alone.  I can’t even pee without a child interrupting.  However, now that I send my kids to their father every other weekend, there are extended periods of time when it’s just me.  Uninterrupted.  

It’s overwhelming.  Mostly because my brain goes into hyper-drive.  I can’t stop thinking.  I used to have this annoying habit of visualizing the worst possible scenarios and then plan my reactions to them.  It was my way of controlling things, because we all know how much I love to control things. The funny thing is, it didn’t make me feel better at all. Now, I plan distractions.  So I won’t have to be at home with my head.  

I heard this article on the radio about busyness and how people who have some underlying unhappiness in their lives overbook themselves so that they’re always busy.  Being busy gives them a sense of importance and relevance.  It also gives them an out, in case they get invited to something they don’t want to go to, they have that excuse, “I’m just too busy” instead of just saying “No thank you”. 

I know that I’m doing this.  I have booked every free weekend until like November or something.  When I was dealing with depression, I never wanted to leave the house.  I wanted to curl up in my own little world and fester. I feel like distracting my unhappy feelings by being out and active is really the lesser of two evils.  I want to be out.  I want to talk and visit and socialize.  Not just because I love my friends or because I feel like I have a lot of missed opportunities to make up for, but also because I really don’t love thinking all those negative, pissy thoughts that swim around in my brain when I’m home alone.  

I don’t really know how healthy this approach is, though.  It seems to be the other end of the spectrum, where I used to dwell, now I distract.  Ideally, I’d like to be in a place where I don’t need distractions, negative or positive, in order to deal with my feelings.  I want to be able to feel sad and disappointed without it completely taking over my life.  I think it may be important to acknowledge those unhappy feelings.  It’s like they’re that bee that fell in the pool and is drowning and instead of picking it up or splashing it out, I just swim around it.  I don’t ever resolve the problem, though, and on my next lap, I’m going to see that damn bee again.  Bees maintain balance in our ecosystem.  We need them, dammit!  Even if they sometimes sting. 

The distractions are my excuse.  “Sorry, Mr. Bee.  I’m far too busy to deal with you today.”  The truth is, I don’t want to deal with it. I wish it weren’t there or even better, I wish someone else would just skim the pool already and get the bee out for me.  All this stressing about what I’m going to do about that fucking bee when I could have scooped it out right away and been done with it.  

It’ll happen again, I’m sure.  Bees fall in the pool all the time.  You’d think they’d find their water from a shallower source, but that’s a whole other analogy.  I guess it’s time for me to start scooping them out.  Let them dry their wings and fly away.  I can’t think of anything worse than an shitload of dead bees in the space where I swim.  

You down with ADD?

12 Mar

There’s really no excuse for it.  I have a smart phone, Google Calendar, Facebook and other various notebooks and scraps of paper that litter my purse, bedside and car.  I should not completely forget important appointments with lawyers.  I should remember that I have purple dye in my hair before running my hands through it.  I should know when my bills are due and be able to simply call a friend back or keep my phone charged.  The black hole that is my memory is my greatest nemesis, and it’s constantly making me look like an inconsiderate asshole.

I’m currently reading the book “Delivered from Distraction” and for anyone dealing with ADD, whether it’s you or someone in your life, it’s kind of like finding a shady, cool oasis in the middle of the desert.  ADD isn’t really depicted as a disorder in the book, it’s described more as a personality type.  As with all personalities, there are challenges and there are strengths.  This book urges the reader to focus on the strengths and it really explains the challenges, which to any casual observer looks like assholish behavior.  Like when I see that my mom called yet I forget to call her back.  Or when I talk through an entire movie, blurting out my thoughts and incessantly asking questions.  Or how I can’t stop fidgeting when I’m trying to listen to someone talk and they think I’m not paying attention.  Or worse, when I’m not paying attention and they’re telling me something I really need to know.  All of these quirks have influenced every one of my relationships and while some have survived, due to the extremely tolerant nature of my darling friends and family, some have not.  Not everyone is cut out to deal with a personality like mine.

I’ve spent a good amount of time blaming myself for these “shortcomings”.  They’re not exactly personality traits you would seek out in a friend or partner.  And I’ve also spent a good amount of time trying to change these behaviors.  I write myself notes.  Set alarms.  Use a timer.  Make lists.  Offer incentives.  I’ve snapped a rubber band on my wrist and tied string around my finger.  Short of tattooing that shit to my forehead, I’ve tried every trick in the book so I won’t procrastinate or forget things.  And still, today, I forgot something super important.  I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve thought it too.  If it’s so important, how could I forget?  It must not be a priority.  I just don’t care enough.  I know this isn’t true but it’s really hard to explain it to others, especially secretaries in law offices who are very busy and intolerant of assholes who blow off appointments.

Now, I know I’m not an asshole.  I also know that if I’m not completely cognizant of my behavior at all times, I will probably act like an asshole.  I have lived my whole life with this fear that if I’m allowed to be myself, I will piss someone off.  It’s kind of like I’m The Hulk.  What if I hurt someone I love?  What if I ruin everything?

If I were to draw an ideal image of myself, this would not be a part of me.  But the fact is, it is.  As much so as my hazel eyes and my flat feet. I can’t get rid of it, and for at least twenty years now, I’ve been chastising myself because of it.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  I want to understand it.  I want to own it and love it and blend it into that beautiful montage that makes me a delightfully quirky individual.  And I’ve discovered that people so offended by my personality aren’t worth having around anyway.

Even though it seems they hand out ADD to every hyperactive kid that goes to a pediatrician, trying to get diagnosed as an adult has been a painstaking process.  My therapist made the suggestion over a year ago.  Then she told me to talk to my psychiatrist, who said I should be medicated for depression first.   It was obvious I was depressed but the more I read, the more I think the depression was a symptom of  the ADD.  So, after a year of multiple antidepressants with no real effectiveness and because I’ve been super persistent with my psychiatrist, I’ve been referred for ADD testing.  Yeah, progress!  With a diagnosis, comes a more effective treatment and whether that is chemical or behavioral, it will allow me to maximize the strengths of an ADD personality without having to constantly battle the challenges.  I know it won’t be a magic quick fix, and it’s possible I won’t be diagnosed at all.  But it’s movement and in a journey for understanding, that’s always positive.

I really hope they do one of those high-tech scans of my brain activity.  Because that’d be fun.

I also hope I remember to make the appointment.

Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate…leads to Suffering..

28 Feb

I’ve been having a lot of feelings.  Bad ones.  The kind that make me want to scream and say ungraceful, nasty things about people I barely know.  I want to judge them harshly and fit them into this neat little category of stupid, dumbshit, motherfucking bastards.  I’m warning you, this is not my best side.  But my therapist said it’s okay to be angry.

After some investigating, I found out that my husband has been mixed up in an unsavory relationship with some chick in Arkansas.  I’m not going to give you all the gritty details, even though I’d love to plaster it all over the internet right now.  I realize that at some point in my life, I might regret that.  Like if I want to be president or something.  So I’m just going to keep this focused on me.  Because that’s what this blog is, a self-serving wankfest in which I attempt to make sense of the clusterfuck that is my life right now.

You know that part in Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin’s gone off the deep end and even though you know what’s coming, you just can’t believe that this person who started out so promising could end up so evil?  That’s how I feel about my husband right now.  I have no idea who he is anymore.  He’s turned over to the dark side and the more I uncover, the more I realize he’s never coming back.

I know I’m not blameless in this scenario.  I was emotionally absent from our relationship for a long time due to my depression.  This was hard for him, as it would be for anyone watching their partner self-destruct.    He still doesn’t understand why I couldn’t just stop being depressed.  After all, I really had nothing to be depressed about.  He still thinks it’s an excuse, so I don’t have to take responsibility for my neglectful behavior.  I know this isn’t true.  But there’s nothing I can say or do that will convince him otherwise.  Before I knew about the affair, I could completely understand his point of view.  I didn’t agree with it, but I could understand.

I’m absolutely not taking blame for this, but I do realize my part.  At some point in our relationship, the physical distance caused us to grow in different ways.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s nobody’s fault.

What I do blame him for is the lying and deceit.  I never in a million years thought he would do something like this.  I’d even go so far to say I believed him incapable of doing something like this, because of this high moral standard he tried to uphold.  These standards made him admirable.  He was security.  He was constant, fixed, a certainty.  But probability never really reaches zero.

Every time I tell someone I’m getting divorced, their response is always to apologize.  I guess because divorce is a hassle.  There’s paperwork and lawyers and laws and loopholes and time frames and deadlines and a bunch of shit I don’t understand.  This gives me anxiety.  And I really don’t want to move again.  I hate moving.  I’m disappointed my children will be a product of divorce.  I never wanted that.  I always said I’d do whatever it took to make things work for my children.  I never really took into account the fact that he might not be as willing to make that sacrifice.

The truth is, I’m not hurt.  I’m shocked and irritated and pissed off at the injustice of it all.  I hate to see people get away with being smug, dishonest assholes.  But it doesn’t really hurt.  I know that every issue he has with me is a product of some ideal that he’s formed in his head.  I don’t fit those ideals anymore.  It’s possible I never did.  Instead of changing myself to fit him, I can surround myself with people who fit me, just the way I am.  This is so incredibly liberating.  Like my whole world just exploded, a big bang of opportunity and I don’t know what kind of universe is going to form around me.  But it’s going to be amazing.  It’s a little scary and exciting and so incredibly hopeful.  With all this positive energy whirling around in my brain, I don’t have room for the hate and aggression.  So please, no apologies.  It is what it is. And I’m not sorry.  I’m not going to mourn a future that may have never happened.  I’m going to plan the one I want.

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” -Robert Frost

15 Feb

I just love this quote and think you should too!

I’m a Picker, I’m a Grinner, I’m a Lover, and I’m a Sinner

14 Feb

I’ve been listening a lot to Tony Robbins lately, mainly because he’s in that new Kobe commercial.  I generally tend to think motivational speakers such as Mr. Robbins are a bit of a hokey gimmick, but most of what he says is pretty similar to what I’ve already learned.  He did say one thing that made me actually stop my car on the side of the road and cry for a good six to ten minutes.  And it’s so stupid because you’d think everyone would know the answer to this question, especially a moderately established mother in her thirties.

Who are you?

I can’t even begin to answer this question.  All those little boxes that I had to check when I did my taxes hardly define who I am.  This is what made me cry, the sheer magnitude of trying to figure this out is just overwhelming.  Sure, I know my labels, but is that who I am?  Even sitting here, trying to find words to describe the disequilibrium that I felt makes my stomach hurt.   It’s not like I’ve never thought about it before.  I enjoy self-assessment.  Personality tests and brain function quizzes are exciting.  I always feel I will unlock some great mystery that will set me free.  That I will learn something so profound, and all my insecurities will melt away and it will just click in my brain.  This is who I am.

As I was sitting in my car on the side of the 215 freeway, listening to Tony Robbins, I had this urge to write down everything I know about myself.  Like in a panic-stricken manner.  I had to figure this out.  I’ve already lived a good third (realistically more like two-fifths) of my life on autopilot, earning tons of labels that I still attribute to myself.  I know I’m morphing, like a motherfucking Power Ranger, but those labels are like gravity.  It’s nearly impossible to get away from them.

This is somewhat due to the fact that the people in my life expect a certain behavior from me.  They anticipate and when I don’t comply, they’re confused.  They may view this change as dishonest, that I’m not being true to who I am when my identity was never really clear to me to begin with.

I started dating my husband when I was 19.  Who the hell knows who they are at 19?   We grew up together.  And now we’ve grown apart.  I guarantee I’m not the same person I was back then.  For one thing, I eat onions now.  And cooked carrots, occasionally.  And I hope I’m not the same in ten years.  I hope that I will continue to grow and change and evolve because it seems only a feeble mind would choose to meander in the mundane.

Everything in my life is changing right now.  My marriage is all but dissolving.  Greg and I have separated and while we are going to couples counseling, I’m faced with the possibility that for the first time in a decade, I’m going to be alone.  Truly alone.  Just me and my thoughts. And I have no idea who I am.

I used this book  to literally define my sense of self.  The book has you describe certain aspects of your life and personality and then rewrite any negative wording into unbiased facts.  For example: I’m a fat ass becomes I wear a size 14.  Then you’re supposed to read it twice a day for like thirty days or something but I generally just take a peek when I’m feeling weird.  And today I’m feeling weird.  So you get a peek too.

My Self-Assessment

I have long eyelashes and hazel eyes that squint up when I smile.  My hair is wavy and dark dark brown.  I have round shoulders and long arms, long fingers that were made for playing piano and am freakishly strong.  I have a dazzling smile that’s genuine and slightly crooked white teeth with a gap in the front.  I have olive skin that tans nicely in the summer and lots of freckles.  There’s a scar on my nose from having the chicken pox with impetigo and one on my right hand that I still use to determine which hand is right.  I wear a size 14 and have stretchmark scars and loose skin on my stomach from carrying two babies.   I have a flat booty and decent boobs that nursed two babies for thirteen months.  My waist is small, my hips are shapely and my legs are strong.  I look lovely in skirts.

I relate well to others and view situations from an objective viewpoint.  I can easily put myself in someone else’s shoes.  I’m very curious about how others think and ask a lot of questions.  I have a diplomatic personality.  I think  my sense of humor allows me to make light of situations that would normally be tense.  I’m clever and witty and like to laugh.  I’m much better at communicating when I have time to really think about what I say. However, I usually impulsively say exactly what’s on my mind.  I like curse words and dirty jokes and think the inappropriate is always appropriate.

I have a fun, quirky personality and a very forgiving nature.  I’m generous and give freely but it takes a while for me to open up.  I second guess myself in social situations, mainly because I have a hard time reading people and rarely pick up on social cues. This makes me hesitant to engage in social interactions with new people. I’m a passionate and tactile person and sometimes feel like I have a heightened sensitivity to emotions.  I like being sexy but I feel like my body image gets in the way of how I feel.  I have had a lot of misconceptions about sex and intimacy but I now feel I can now be proud and frank about being a sexual being.

I complete tasks to the fullest and never half-ass a job but I put off or don’t complete tasks that aren’t engaging. I have a very active brain and need redirected often.  I daydream and lose focus but paradoxically fixate on things I want to finish, working all night if need be.  I like to do my very best and have a hard time asking for help.  I’m not very balanced in my allocation of time, yet once I dedicate myself to a cause, I go all out.  I analyze everything and worry about things that are beyond my control.   I spend a lot of money.  Opinions matter to me.  I like to be appreciated.

I’m independent and self-sufficient.  I play with my children, I talk and joke and rough house with them.  I’m an excellent cook.  I have many talents and am super creative.  I’m a night owl and a morning person because I don’t need much sleep.  I like intellectual interactions.  I excel at school and love to learn new things.  I’m a gifted writer and a talented seamstress.  I have a lovely aesthetic, though I choose comfort over beauty.  I’m not afraid to be silly and have a clear, loud voice.  I have a natural sense of rhythm and pitch and love to sing.  I have a knack for remembering song lyrics.  I’m a delightful person to be around and when I get a wild hair up my ass, there’s no stopping me.

You hear that?

There’s no stopping me.

Load Saved Game

1 Feb

Do you ever wish you could start over?  Sometimes when I play video games, I save right before something really difficult so that if I die or if something sucky happens, I can simply revert to that previously saved state and try again with new knowledge.  I know all my mistakes are learning experiences and there are certainly a few things I would never ever change about my life (like the two munchkins climbing all over me as I type this) but sometimes I really really wish that I could go back in time and start over.

It’s been a tough week.

I am the 30%

30 Jan

At least a third of people dealing with depression are doing so unaided by medications because they simply don’t work.  I don’t think anything that has to do with depression can be characterized as “simple” but right now, that is where I’m at.  Surprise!  My brain is resistant to medication.  Imagine that!  My brain?  Defiant?  No!  SHOCK AND AWE!

I had an appointment with my therapist and psychiatrist last week and they both feel the medication isn’t really helping my mental state.  I’ve been on antidepressants for over a year now and while there has been some improvement in mood, the crapiness of the side effects greatly outweighs any benefit I may be experiencing from the medication.  Therefore, it has been decided that I shall cease medication.  My therapist also feels I’m not being medicated for the correct disorder.  Because you know, I have so many of them, it’s hard to decide which ones to medicate.  She’s pushing the ADHD and feels that if I were medicated for this, it’s possible the depression would simply disappear.  She’s also mentioned all kinds of more frightening buzzwords, like bipolar and manic-depressive, but generally I think this is just in an effort to root out what’s really going on in my brain.  She doesn’t think I operate as a clinically depressed person would operate and she’s starting to see that my mood isn’t necessarily situational.  I definitely have triggers but I also can get down for no reason whatsoever.  It’s all very confusing and a little scary.  Because when there’s proof that drugs have worked for others and yet they’re not working for me, it feels very hopeless.  It’s also so frustrating because it feels like it’s taking so long for things to settle.  I know for a time in my life I wasn’t depressed, but currently it feels like depression has been my life forever.  It makes me wonder if this is what I can expect for the rest of my days.  I liked having depression because there’s lots of solutions.  There’s a lot of people who used to be depressed and now they aren’t.  But you rarely meet people who used to be bipolar, or manic, or ADHD.  It’s only sinking in now that this problem might not get better.  I just have to get better at managing it.

My therapist recommended some herbal therapies for both depression and ADHD so I will be trying those pronto.  In the meantime, I’m going to continue to adjust my mental attitude.  I have this image of what I want my life to look like, what I want to look like, what I want to feel like: future Cam.  Cam 2.0.  Honestly, I think I’ve been waiting for medication to kick in, so I could have the proper mental clarity to transition into this new me.  Or maybe it’s yet another attempt to procrastinate.  It doesn’t matter because while I’ve been thinking about who I want to be, I should have just been doing it.   In everything that I do, I should be asking myself: How would Cam 2.0 handle this situation?   How would she walk?  How would she dress?  Would she eat that?  Would she lay around and let her house clutter around her?  Would she skip a run because she was mopey?  Would she let this minor setback get her down?  See her smile?  See how comfortable she is?  She how fun and happy she is?  I see who Cam 2.0 is and I’m going to copy her.

 

Change? Shit…

26 Jan

I do not like it.  I’m a very habitual person, mainly because if I switch up my routine, I forget things.  It throws my whole life into turmoil.  If I don’t put my keys, phone and bag in the same place every day, I will lose them.  If I don’t start my coffee before letting the dogs out in the morning, I will forget it and without coffee, I’m useless.  I look forward to those aspects of my routine that I enjoy and I can deal with those things I despise.  I know they’re coming, I’ve prepared myself mentally, I’ve accepted it and I can deal.  I like things that are dependable.  Not because I don’t like spontaneity, I love it actually.  But I have to be the spontaneous one.   It’s a mode of control, I know.  It all comes back to that: I am a control freak.

When things beyond my control change, this is when I’m most vulnerable.  When I can’t predict an outcome.  This mode of thinking makes it extremely difficult to put aside the negative self-concept I’ve been perfecting for the past thirty years.  Every person I speak with or book that I read or listen to has said the same thing: I have to reject those negative distortions and replace them, at the very least, with something objective.  Fostering self-love is the greatest defense I can have against feeling out of control.  I’ve had the hardest time with this and I can’t really figure out why.

It’s not that I don’t love myself.  I like my brain.  I like my sense of humor.  I like that I’m inherently drawn to balance.  I like that I’m creative and a critical thinker and that anything that I try, I can master.  I have a lot of confidence in my abilities.  All of this gets obliterated when it comes to my confidence in others.

All these methods for altering behavior and mood and managing emotions and fostering self-love, all of it requires me to trust a system.  To put faith in a process.  Sure, there’s evidence to support their claims, but I also have evidence to support my claim that humans can’t be trusted.  This claim has been fact in my head since I was a little girl and it’s been reinforced over and over and over.  I’m knowledgeable now.  I’ve read lots of books and articles and my therapist agrees, my perception is shit.  Rationally, I understand that not all people are out to hurt me.  NO ONE is out to hurt me.  It’s not personal.

How do I tell that to my ten-year-old self?  How can I look at this girl, knowing the shit she’s going to feel in the next twenty years, and tell her, it’s not personal?  I feel like by accepting this process, by actively seeking out change, even though it means a healthier, happier me, I feel like I’m turning my back on that kid.  I like that kid.  She’s been tough.  I want to protect her.  I want to scoop her up and kiss her forehead and hug her forever.  Obviously, I can’t live with the mentality of a ten-year-old forever.  No matter how funny farting is.  I have to detach myself from her.  I have to reject her negative distortions.  I have to let her go.  And honestly, I have this incredible sense of loss.

So I wrote this, in an effort to not leave her completely defenseless.

A Letter to my Ten-Year-Old Self

In a few years, you’re going to turn into a lonely, cynical, young girl.  Kids are going to tease you because you’re an individual.  Because you’re different and fearless.  Because you’re silly and emotional and so filled with love, you just can’t contain yourself.  They won’t know how to handle this.  Don’t let it make you feel foolish.  You don’t have to push them away.  You don’t have to be ashamed.

You’re going to be challenged.  You’re going to want to fit in, to be awesome and cool.  You’re going to want people to like you.  But the truth is, they already do.  You are a beautiful little girl.  You’re smart and strong and quirky.  Embrace it.  Embrace everything that you are and everything that you aren’t.  This is what makes you unique and valuable and unlike anyone else on this planet.  I promise you, you’ll be loved.  You’ll be awesome and kind and brilliant.  Limitless.  Depend on yourself, my love, because you are enough.

You are enough.

 

It’s Not Me, It’s You

16 Jan

I’ve been reading a ton of books, looking for that perfect mix of prose and clarity that will spark an epiphany.  That “ah-ha” moment, as a lovely friend put it.  I’m desperate for it.  I can see it, that person I want to be where insults bounce off me like feathers and my head is high and my jaw doesn’t clench and my stomach doesn’t hurt.  I want to walk around this planet with my heart open and my mind clear.  I want to be comfortable.  In my clothes.  In my skin.  In the many roles I’ve adopted.  Sometimes I think I’m there, and then something happens.  A test.  A challenge.  A betrayal.  And the first thought in my head is negative.  This really is a two steps forward, one step back kind of process.

In my search, there’s one mantra that soothes each and every time.

It’s not personal. 

This is a direct contradiction to everything I’ve ever known.  I’ve always thought everything that happens in my life is my fault.  My relationships, my job, my kids, my achievements and my failures: they’ve all happened because of me.  I have this fear of abandonment, like the smallest misstep on my behalf will change the way my friends and family feel about me.  They will lose their love overnight.  Because this has happened, as it has in the lives of many, where someone I trusted has hurt me, ignored me, rejected me or abandoned me.  I’ve always thought if I control my behavior, I can control how people feel about me.  If I’m perfect, they will always love me.

I’ve never had trouble making friends.  I have trouble keeping friends.  When I’d meet new people, I’d recount my interactions, looking for signs that could be misconstrued as rude, or stupid, or ugly.  I’d hide aspects of my personality to seem more appealing to others.  I’d accept behavior that was disrespectful, setting no expectations for the way I wanted to be treated.  Then, if there were any changes in the nature of the relationship, I’d go into survival mode.  I’d emdlessly explain myself, search for reassurance, fight to return to that place where we were most at ease.  But it was no use. They figured out how tedious it is to keep me appeased, so they bailed.  And rightfully so.  My good friend called it a negative self-fulfilling prophecy.

All my life, I have believed this.

It’s a narcissistic load of shit.

I read the book, The Four Agreements, and when I got to the second agreement “Don’t Take Anything Personally”, I had an “ah-ha” moment.  I do this.  I take personal importance for everyone’s actions.  I think everything they do is about me. 

I was completely mortified.  Even typing it out now, I’m mortified.  I don’t consider myself a selfish person, but this type of behavior is completely self-serving.  And because I believed I was being blamed, I would immediately act defensively.  I know it made me a very hard person to deal with.

After I got over my mortification, I thought about all my relationships with people I love and admire and how my behavior has marred them.   Those friendships might never be resurrected.  They might always view me as that needy, insecure person who’s too much work to deal with.   I accept this but I also choose to learn from it.

I can’t control the actions of others.  I can’t control what they think, how they feel, even how they perceive me.  We’re all viewing things from our own, unique spectacles.  Some are rose colored, some are shaded.  Some are smudged and scratched and broken.  Some have been replaced and some need new prescriptions, but the truth is, not one of us sees the world as it truly is.  There is no reality because we all have a different perception of the world and our interactions in it. Despite all my attempts at perfection, it doesn’t really fucking matter.  People will see what they want to see, based upon opinions and beliefs systems they’ve already created.  And those opinions and belief systems have nothing to do with me.

Don Miguel Ruiz calls this being immune to poison in the middle of hell.  I call it freedom.  No one can hurt me here.  I can love openly and it cannot be used against me.  I cannot be rejected or abandoned or ignored because these are ways people deal with shit that’s going on in their own heads.   I can be disappointed.  I can be sad.  I can feel regret.  But I also know that everything I feel, is because of my own perceptions.  And that’s something I can control.

I listen to this chapter constantly.  When I’m in the car, when I’m cleaning or writing or trying to fall asleep, I listen to it.  I wrote it on numerous note cards and put them everywhere, on my fridge, in my purse, in the cabinet, in my desk at school.  I chant it out loud, when I feel my stomach begin to knot and my face is flushed and I’m about to be offended.  Every day, whenever I can, I devote my mind to relinquishing that control.  After all, it was never mine to begin with.