Posts Y'all Like

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bring it 26--I'm Not Afraid of You...Most of the Time...

So a week ago, on May 4th, I turned 26 years old. To be such a random, seemingly anti-climatic milestone, it certainly has brought out a gamut of emotions in yours truly. Of course, part of that probably stems from who I am--loud, stubborn, creative, crazy, sassy, angry, everybody else, only oftentimes 100-fold in intensity (or at least, this is how is feels). Most of the time, like about 80-90% of it, this mix of intense emotions and feelings makes me love the hell out of my life. I have wonderful friends, and a family that I'm finally coming to peace with--well, I'll get to that later. Something about my personality draws people to me much of the time, and I love my life the most when I'm surrounded by friends and strangers and laughing like there's no tomorrow. Perhaps this is the case because, after years of self-hatred and struggling to accept my issues and learning the balance between keeping things bottled up and sharing too much, I've come to realize that every day should be lived as if it's your last--not just because it very well could be, but even more so because this life we're each given deserved to be lived in such a way. Nothing is guaranteed, and never has this been more true than for those of us who have discovered that we were made in such a way that I can be, at times, my own best friend, and at others, the worst of all enemies--sometimes, I'm both at once. I'll say this much for certain-- life with me is, and never will be, boring. Or ordinary, routine, simple. When I enter a room, I like to make a grand entrance; in my hopes and dreams, I also hope that, when I leave a room, people are more than anything sad to see me go.

My 26th year brings with it much more responsibility, primarily financially (but isn't it usually the case that these are closely entwined?), since as of June 1st, 2012, I will be paying for all of my own health insurance (medical, dental, vision). I've paid for all of my own rent, car insurance, cell phone bills, gas, food and entertainment, utilities....well, you get the picture. I've grown quite used to it, and I know that my parents will help me out before they let me starve--after much complaining and making me feel bad about it first, of course. It must be said that I'm grateful in that I'm very respectful of money and very careful with my own (most of the time anyway--haha), and I'm extremely responsible in terms of work, friendships, keeping home--all of that sort of thing. People my age often have a shock coming to them after they get out of school (grad school or whatever it may be) and they have to learn to handle their money years after my brother and I did--all at an age where there is much more to lose than at, say, 15 years old. I didn't have that shock, though that's not to say it still doesn't hurt when a particularly large expense comes up or that I don't yearn to own things or go places that are in no way in my realm of reality for now....or for a very long time. Working all the time and barely scraping by isn't always fun, but that is why I choose to work at a place that I love with people that are amazing and good friends; it is also why I find a way to reward myself with something small with each paycheck (if possible--and usually it is)--a book, a $5 movie, a night out playing pool with friends, more organizational stuff (shut up)...little things, but so rewarding all the same.  Maturity has helped me take each new year in stride (for the most part), but sometimes I truly wish my parents had helped me and Brent out a little more over the years for the fun stuff. I had a stellar education, and they paid a fortune for it, but I wish I'd been able to go to more football games at Ole Miss, or more trips while at GPS. I wish I wasn't still made to feel bad for occasionally needing help; sure, I know that if I really need it (often for food or gas), I'll get help from my parents, but I wish we could skip the making me feel worthless for a couple of hours or days beforehand--especially since it is so rare, and I ask for so little each time ($20 is the average). It makes me want to shout, "Okay! I get it! Money is important, and it's better when it's earned, and y'all shouldn't have to bail me out of a bind ever..."--you get the idea. Except that I think they should sometimes. I work very hard, usually leaving for work before 10 AM and not returning home until well after 10 PM. On Wednesdays, I leave for work at 5:45 AM to arrive by 6 to sort the truck and get my specialist stuff out--most of it before we open at 10 AM. Usually, I end up staying longer than I'm scheduled, because I'm still a major register force in addition to my Key 6 duties (which, did I mention, I love, love, love doing? Seriously, I adore Key 6. I don't hate the register by any means, but I had no idea how much I'd love Key 6 before I started doing it), so I typically have 2 days on the floor (ie Key 6) and 3 on the register--to get everything sorted and out, and also to work on any new projects/tasks each week. I have a lot of help, both in Key 6 and at the register--I could sing Laura's praises all day, every day for training me well on Key 6 and helping me out even now when I need it, and we have some new register people who are stellar, and helpful, and respectful, and willing to listen to me (at nearly 3 years primarily on register, I am by far the most seasoned at it in our store--most burn out after 6 months to a year). These people are all my friends so nobody misconstrue any of this rant as in any way negative towards them OR my job. I love it all, and (for the most part, usually) I'm good at it. The point is, I do work hard.My parents are well aware of this, so sometimes I wish they would both acknowledge my efforts and show that they are proud of me and also...cut me some damn slack when I'm not perfect with my money every second of every day (or, I don't know, when gas prices shoot up seemingly overnight and I simply can't keep up for that week).

I'm well aware, especially at this point in my life, that much of my anger towards them stems from their unwillingness (inability as well?) to acknowledge all of my psychological issues at all. They constantly write them off, no matter what they are. I get it, you don't want screwed up kids, but you got them--and ignoring the issues and belittling them as individuals only creates more problems and exacerbates the ones that already exist. By trying to pretend they don't exist, you've helped make the problems so much worse and infinitely longer lasting. I wish my mom would admit that she had eating problems--pictures and little offhand comments don't lie. The thing is, I'm so much stronger because of my past, and I'm currently at a great place psychologically (both in how I express myself and work through problems, and in terms of medication), and that is almost entirely my own doing. I took the initiative and got tested (and my parents not only doubted the results of several professionals, but still continue to insist that the anxiety, depression, and ADHD don't exist), and I personally seek out emotional help in times of stress. Whether I have the backing or belief of my parents or not, I know what it feels like to see in yourself no other escape than cutting or starving yourself. I know how much it slowly destroys the soul to be your own biggest adversary. And I know how much it rips the heart apart to see the complete and utter sadness etched into the faces and woven into the hugs of your best friends when you go through periods of what seems like bottomless and hopeless relapses and it seems you will never be reached. Though I know it's silly, part of me is--and always will be--intensely worried about what I've done to the spirits and hearts of my best friends, and I will spend every day trying to thank them for helping me, believing me, loving me. I never want them to understand my darkest moments, but I'm constantly looking for a way to let them understand how wonderful it feels when they help me back out into the sunshine. They try so hard, and I love that they believe I am worth it. Regardless of how my parents and other family members want me to feel about it, I DO NOT AND WILL NEVER REGRET MY PAST. I AM NOT ASHAMED OF IT. I AM PROUD TO HAVE SURVIVED IT, AND TO STILL BE SURVIVING IT. I AM STRONG, AND I HAVE MY PAST TO THANK FOR THAT. Sure, I regret moments, things I've said, the way I've handled things--but my demons? No, not even a little.

What completely destroys me however, is the knowledge that--without at least their acknowledgment of the severity and reality of my issues, past and present, and even more so their admittance in their involvement of the issues themselves (not in causing them--that was all me--but certainly in exacerbating them to the extreme)...without these occurrences, I can never truly overcome my issues. I can fight them, and I can win much of the time. Even if everything came together and my parents stepped up to the plate, I'm aware that they are lifelong struggles. I'm not afraid of that. What I fear is that, as they continue to reject the things about myself I most know to be true, I will having a harder and harder time overcoming the itching, ever present feeling that I am not important, that I don't even exist. If those parts of me that so help define me continue to be rejected as true and real, I fear I will believe them in time. Don't misunderstand--I'll always (at least on a subconscious level) know that I am loved, appreciated, and respected by so many. My fear of feeling not real is far scarier than that, and much deeper. I began cutting myself years ago in large part to remind myself that I exist; if I bleed, if I hurt, if I can cry--I am a real person, worthy of all that entails. The deepest and darkest of my depressions don't reside in a sad or angry place; instead, I stumble into a black hole, and I feel nothing. I'd rather feel the most distraught of sadness or the meanest of angry a million times over than to be devoid of emotion. I don't interact with the outside world, and I don't feel part of it. More often than not, I have to physically be pulled out of it; as I get older, I can sometimes do this myself, but often I continue to need help. This dark hole is a rare presence in my life (much rarer than in years past, or even months past), but it remains as strong as ever. Stronger sometimes. I'm always afraid I'll tumble into a dark hole, and be unable to resurface. I'll be alive, but I won't be me. I'll be quiet instead of loud, hateful instead of loving, exhausted instead of exhausting. I fear it, yet I continue to beat it. Even amidst my fear, I have every belief and hope that I'll always beat it--but I know that it is a very real possibility that, one day, I could just be WRONG about that. Like I said, the support or even acknowledgement from my parents wouldn't be a cure-all, nor a guarantee, but somehow I know that if I had it, I may be able to get to the point where I'm never (or very rarely) afraid of that dark hole. Sure, it would still exist. I could still fall into it. But the freedom of NOT FEARING IT--well, I can only dream.

I have no idea how--or why, for that matter--my blogs always go from short and sweet to long and (semi) venting. Apparently, I have a lot to say...ALL THE TIME haha. Of course, this is probably the biggest factor behind the infrequency of my blog posts. They take hours, and while they are intensely therapeutic and helpful, they are exhausting. There are only a couple of people who read this blog at all, and perhaps one or two with any sort of regularity, but those who do must think I'm all kinds of nuts. Luckily, these people know me well, so naturally they already discovered long ago that I'm just a wee bit crazy, mostly in a good way (I hope!), not to mention the fact that I do not readily give out this URL anyway. It is a public blog, and as of right now I have no plans to change that fact, and I never will make it private unless it becomes a HUGE issue for an extended period of time--meaning, if my safety or that of those I love is ever threatened, I would make it private. Honestly though, I have no fears. My life, while unique and interesting to those in my inner circle (and perhaps to others, especially should they stumble upon it while in the midst of their own struggles, similar to mine or not), is not globally (or even nationally) vitally important by any means. Since I haven't posted this URL on Facebook and never intend to (I also ask that nobody else do it either, unless you ask me first and you have it set to certain people) and I've personally given it out to a handful of people (like probably few enough to count on two hands), I have little fear of feeling the need to change anything about this blog as it is. I'm aware that people will lead others to my blog, and that's fine. All I ask is that nobody clue in my family, particularly my parents; my brother is another story, and at one time or another he has known the URL and accessed the blog, and that's never a problem. He may still know it, and if he doesn't, he is always welcome to that information. He and I understand our family and childhood, the world, and each other in a way that is completely unique. I love it and I hate it--but I will always love him. It never fails to amaze me how alike we are in terms of caring for others, and wanting to give back, and in being so accepting, and especially in our shared disdain of the judging of others. We were raised by wonderful, hilarious, insanely smart parents--who sometimes I think may have been better off not having children. They are awesome to their friends, but much of their world is a show. Their best friends have been the same for years--many they knew before any of them had kids--and it's fun and interesting to see them all interact. Thirty years (and 10 and 20 years in other cases) is a long time for any kind of relationship, especially friendships. There is a different kind of love, patience and understanding that sets the stage for such long, true friendships. I respect them in that way, and in many ways, I emulate how they interact and treat their friends with my own precious friends. That all being parents' friends (and let's be honest, my parents themselves much of the time) can be incredibly fake towards the outside world, and I sometimes wonder how much of that (and how often) spills over into the lives of the others. Appearances and their importance are tricky subjects for me, and I fully acknowledge that I'm often naive about such things, but I'm learning. I think all of us will always be learning about so many things--at least, I hope we (especially me) always strive to--and how the world views us ranks right at the top in terms of things that are ever changing and often lead to sticky situations. I work with the public every day, and have for 11 years now (restaurant chains, waiting tables, retail), so I have a pretty good understanding of how fabulous and also how terrible strangers (and family, friends, acquaintances, etc.) can be to each other. People get nasty when they are made to wait for their food, for example, and don't care to hear about the accident with an employee and a slicer in the back, or that you ran out of something, or that others have been waiting for far longer than they have, or that IT'S A GAME WEEKEND IN A COLLEGE TOWN SO FREAKING DEAL WITH IT. In retail, people get angry about the weirdest things, and it's a balancing act that constantly requires revision dealing with the public. About 75-85% of the time, I love people. I've been surprised hundreds of times over by the kindness of others, or their interest in me, or in their ability to bring me to tears with words and actions to loved ones that they don't think twice (or don't think about at all in some cases) about putting on display. Of course, all it takes is that one VERY nasty person to ruin your day, or at least (these days after lots of practice in calming down) your interactions with the next few people you must help after they leave. Again though--the reactions of contempt from strangers who stand up for you without being asked or even expected when others take nasty to a whole new level, well, few things make me feel more special, or important, or in a way, loved. For every awful customer there are 10 wonderful ones, even if it's not readily obvious.

(There have been times that I have been snarky to those waiting on me at various places--usually at fast food drive thru lanes for some reason--and often will turn back around or drive back through the lane to apologize. I'm sure they see me coming and are waiting for rudeness or yelling, and it too often surprises them to hear me admit fault. Being on both sides of such situations, I can truly tell you that words can not describe how much it means when customers do the same for me-- it's the little things people, and an apology can completely change somebody's day for the better, or help them feel important once again.)

Anyway, see what I mean about the long posts? Haha, I can't help it! Really though, I started talking about the public because of the importance of how others view you. Appearances matter, and I'll be the first to admit that. I think we all need to be flexible enough to work with others, no matter where or when. It's important to not offend others, or hurt the feelings of another just to make yourself feel better (never understood this by the way). That being said, I refuse to change the core of who I am or go along with a trend or idea to make life easier for myself or others. My beliefs are important to me, and I will stand up for them, as I think everybody should. But I try not to offend others, and though I know I often still fail in this regard, I'm growing out of this as I get older. Those who first meet my parents (new work friends, for example) love my parents--and who wouldn't? They are fun and exceedingly nice to strangers and those they know alike. Those that really know them, however, are harder to convince when it comes to liking my parents. Some of my friends all but hate them, but these friends are the ones who have had to argue with my parents about how they talk to me, or present me to the world, or most of all how they make me feel about myself. These friends have had to literally pick me up from the floor where my parents words and actions have left me, and they've wiped my tears more times than I can count after my parents succeed in ruining my good mood in under ten minutes. I believe these friends do not hate my parents per se, but instead just love me too much to get too close to them. Their love of and for me far overrides any feelings towards my parents, good or bad. My brother gets this, but he is far away (10 hours in the car, approximately). Also, there are aspects he does not understand, because I haven't let him. For some things, I haven't let anybody understand. I'm working on that though. All in all, my brother and I seem to be overly giving and loving and trusting and respectful (most of the time!), because we want others to feel how we were never allowed to feel--needed, wanted, loved, respected, believed, and understood. I guess I have to thank my parents for instilling all of that in us, even if they did it completely backwards, and typically without knowing they were or meaning to show us any of it.

I feel bad ranting about my parents so much, because they are wonderful people. It's just that the hole they have ripped open in me is a tough problem to fix, and in regards to anything personally psychological, I remain a little kid in how I feel and deal with those subjects. Sometimes, I act like a 7 year old when it comes to them; even as people are telling me to not care or worry about it, I always will. Many of these feelings of inadequacy and self-contempt have roots beginning when I was about 7 years old (or before, in some cases), so that little kid brand of pouting is mixed with very real adult emotions and problems. But only sometimes, of course. I genuinely love going to my parents house to watch DWTS and just catch up on Monday and Tuesday nights (when I can make it). My mom makes something delicious for dinner (and frowns when I get seconds), we drink some red wine, and lounge. It's great, unless it isn't. At 26 years old, now that I'm more friend than child to my parents, I'm glad that they are mine. The pain they caused or helped cause doesn't go away, mind you, but the older I get, the more human my parents become. They had lives before me and my brother were born, even before they met or had dreams of a family, and they both suffered different, but very sad, forms of, well, abuse, at the hands of their parents. Though they got spanked with belts, and my mom still has scars from the fingernails of her angry mother, most of the abuse they received was psychological, emotional, and mental. Oh, patterns in behavior. I'm lucky--and very glad--I was raised by them and not by their parents. My grandparents are cool--well, since I really have little contact with my mom's parents (none with her mom since I was 19) and have a love-hate relationship to say the least with my dad's mom (she likes to make up stories, and we are always the bad kids for some reason) and barely remember my dad's dad, since he died right before I turned 11, I guess I can say they were cool. I have fond memories with and of them, just none in the past 7 or so years. They are strange people, and I commend my parents for turning out even kind of normal.

Anyway, I sort of just realized that I need to make a concerted effort to blog at least twice a month--once a week would be even better, but let's not get crazy here! I just have too much to say, and it would probably all be better expressed in 1-2 hour increments instead of 6-8 hour chunks of time. I'll work on that.

In conclusion, however, 26 isn't so bad so far. We'll see how I feel when those insurance premiums start draining out of my paychecks, but for now--I'm okay. Wiser, funnier, smarter--and all while many think I'm still 21 or 22! As I've grown up, I've become better at doing just that. It sounds strange, but for someone who always so hated change, I've actually come to accept it better, and in some cases, embrace it.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.