The tracks of my tears

Around noon yesterday I headed to the toilet and saw in the mirror some dark, wet splashes on my T-shirt. Didn’t know until that moment that I’d been crying. I continued to cry…hot, heavy tears that literally leaked out of my eyes.

I was mourning the death of my dreams.

Step back: yesterday I had my one-one-one language lesson. Or should I say I sat in one a one-on-one conversation. The other student showed up, having been told that she didn’t have to pay for the lesson. I had to pay or I’d get kicked out. She gets a free ride. A bit of reverse discrimination that doesn’t sit well with me. It was obvious my teacher preferred talking to the other student. So little was said to me that I actually didn’t even have to be present or try to weave coherent sentences together for answers. And I heard two things. One, I need to calm down. Two, everyone is bloody well convinced I’m a fucking genius and with that conviction comes the expectation for me to do more.

Nothing – and I mean nothing – could have sent me back into 17 year old mode me like that. It’s not something I expected or was even aware of. It was my tears that tipped me off: I’ve been triggered, and I’ve got something going on.

This burden I feel to do more, be more, simply because I catch on quickly or register high on an IQ test is overwhelming. Making mistakes isn’t good enough: I’m too smart for that. Doing average isn’t good enough: I’m too smart for that. Doing only what’s expected of me isn’t good enough: I’m capable of more because I’m so fucking smart.

Oh fuck you fuck you fuck you!

Constant nagging. Constant expectations – and constant disappointment in those around me when they judge I haven’t lived up to their expectations.

I. hate. it.

It was like a memory bell going off in my head – aha! Yes! Now I remember. Now I remember why. And thoughts of teachers mingled with memories of my mother, and I heard echoes of those terrible words: You can’t. You can’t keep writing in English and master Dutch. You can’t be an actress or a musician because you’re too smart. You can’t do what you love because. Because.

I was told I need to establish boundaries. Yeah, says my brain, if I was capable of establishing boundaries I doubt I would count the rapes I experienced as three. Three times I’ve been violated. Plus the guy who liked to hit me, the stalker, and so much other sexual harassment and lack of boundary issues that it’s bloody well evident to ME that I have a real problem saying “no”.

And my heart and chest felt full. Congested, like your nose feels when you’ve got a cold. I found it difficult to take a deep breath. The full force of that terrible day – the day my mother quashed my dreams – came back to me. I felt every bit of me break. And finally the word I have so much trouble saying came screaming out at me in full lit-up neon letters:

NO!

You want boundaries? Here it is – and if you try and cross it again I’ll rip your goddamn arms out of their sockets.

…And why do other people need boundaries? Don’t they know how fucking rude they are? How wrong it is to harass, harangue, belittle, scold, or shame another person? Have other people NO empathy whatsoever?

Did I not say I was a writer? Did I not make it clear how necessary this is to me? Did you not see my face light up and my eyes glow as I spoke of my work? Did you not grasp that this is my reason for living?

*scoff* Put it aside! Like that’s gonna happen.

Ended up talking to my bro, getting it out of me. Went to the gym and burned hard; passed the 2km mark at 15 minutes. Spent the evening quietly, soothing my brain every time this issue resurfaced (and boy, did it resurface!).

What’s really bugging me is this insistent belief I have that I can do it all. Write my plays in English like a madwoman and turn around and ace Dutch. I’ve just been easy on myself. Lazy. I can do more. And the truth is, I can do more. I have, many times in the past. But…I also become a raging lunatic. Crazed. Angry all the time because I’m always doing something I have to do, or feel obligated to do, or shamed into doing, rather than doing what I want to do.

I mean…who’s life is this, anyway?

In the midst of all this desire to achieve, I’m in real danger of losing site of my main goal: happiness. I want to master Dutch. I want to write plays. I want to get in better shape. Goals aplenty; I’ve never had problems with that. But drive me too much, work me too hard, and I forget the basic axiom: be happy. I consider it a personality fault. A weakness. I’ve seen other people do more with less. Though, to be honest, I can’t speak as to their level of happiness.

All I’m really left with is a desperate wish that people would stop telling me how smart they think I am.

Stop expecting so much from me. Why is it you can be delighted with the offerings of morons, yet look on my contributions and efforts with a ‘eh, you could have done better’ attitude? Don’t I deserve a little cheerleading?

Don’t you see how much work I put in to look so smart?

…This is nothing I asked for. I was born with it. And, like so many of us, I pay the price for what I was born with every damned day of my life. And. it. sucks.

That much is evident in the tracks of my tears.

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I’ll take the stars

Well. I took my time off right to the edge. Don’t think I could have sat around on my ass for another hour without going ballistic. Headed to the gym, ready to kill anyone in my way or myself if no easy victim showed up between home and there. Did not hold back – couldn’t hold back. Impressed myself with my iron stomach muscles, easily lifting both legs off the floor and holding for a count of 10. Impressed myself again on the cross trainer, blowing thru an 8 minute kilometer and topping 3.7 km at 30 minutes. And then the free weights – DAMN, girl! Is that muscle I see in your arms? Lift, lift, pant, think about the meaning of life, lift, pant some more.

I’m going back for more today.

My rheumatologist is happy. My condition is stable, and my joints show no signs of decay since my last x-rays. Yippee. Even said I could try to take the methotrexate down if I felt up to it. Assured her that although my hair loss continues, I know I can’t go without these drugs – and if I do go bald, I’m tattooing my entire head. Got that gold star I always want from someone plastered on my forehead: good on me for exercising, good on me for weight loss, good on me for doing so much. I needed that.

Upset with myself. Realize I’ve got a mother-thing going with one of my teachers. They gave us a spot check test just before class ended – those pesky irregular verbs. Oh, the look of disappointment that crossed my teacher’s face when I didn’t get the answer correct! And the gut wrenching hit of guilt that washed over me – I didn’t do enough, I didn’t try hard enough, I’m not good enough or smart enough or – … That shit has got to stop. Right here and now. I am NOT learning Dutch from a mother substitute. I refuse. For the last 36 hours I’ve been telling myself I’m doing what I can, when I can. I’m learning faster and faster, more and more. I’ll get it. I’ll get it. But Gods! It feels like one of my old nightmares. I get surrounded by these huge, disappointed faces (in my head; I’m not actually surrounded by monster faces – tho mentally, that’s the picture I have). I feel small, ashamed, and trapped. It’s not a good combination. Working to shrink those disappointed faces down to mini-size. Being as triggered as I am, it’s a real challenge.

Bolstering myself up with my newly grown confidence in my English writing. Think I’ll take time – this morning, while it’s quiet – to read part three. Haven’t had the time to do so since I banged out the first draft. I’m already reviewing it in my head, making mental notes of changes to add. But I want to just experience it, front to end, without interruption. How well did I capture what I see?

Had a good, long, hearty laugh yesterday. Was talking to my bro (big surprise) about social situations. We’ve both got our problems. Mentioned my lack of filters, how I can’t stop blurting out these deep truths. My brother laughed, and said ‘What do you expect? You learned your social skills from an agoraphobe.’ Yeah. Dad was very anti-social. More than six people in a room and he got real nervous. As a kid, I didn’t realize this. I knew Dad was less social than my mother. But he didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 and we had tickets to a show downtown that I realized Dad had problems in public situations. He became more and more wound up the further into the city we drove. He was tense, angry, swearing a lot. After the show was even worse: the crowd let out, and I thought Dad was going to have an heart attack. And Dad…he said whatever was on his mind. I grew up thinking politics, religion, and sex were good to go topics at a dinner table. Had a lot of missteps with friends and acquaintances. Still do. Dad welcomed my input, welcomed me to these cultural and philosophical debates. Even, I think, wanted me to speak my mind. Why was that? Now that I think about it, why did he do that? I’m replaying memories in my head right now, and I see him encouraging me to lay out a sound argument. Back up my statements with facts. I don’t remember him acting that way with anyone else in the family. My oldest brother would say something in support of what Dad said. He’d get a nod, maybe an additional exclamation. My sister would add in her two cents: generally a snide comment, again in support of my father’s statement. And then Dad would look at me. Challenge me with his eyes. Say it, his eyes would plead. Bring out your views. Tell me how wrong I am. As I grew older, these debates would get hotter. My logic improved, my access to facts to back up my statements was wider, and I think I was cutting too close to the center at times.

Did my father think that at some point I’d change? That money would change me? Or was that part of the original challenge I read in his eyes: can you stay true to who you are right now for your entire life? Can you hold onto your innocence, your faith, your dreams, in the face of everything life has to throw at you?

In the end, Dad was very clear about what he wanted for me. I want you to be happy, he said. Over and over. Not rich, not famous, not thin, not smart, not skilled, not useful, but happy. I know happiness is a mode of travel, not a destination. I can look at life with stars in my eyes or a sour pussed expression that will ruin everything before I even touch it.

I’ll take the stars.

Stop!

Down time for RA. One of the worst things ever was growing up not having this disease diagnosed. I experienced a lot of pain, and was told I was being over dramatic. Truth was, my bones were minutely fracturing and my inflammation at a level that should have put me in hospital. But I didn’t know. I listened to the hateful people in my life who blamed me. I told myself I was weak and stupid. So I’ve still got a real problem with taking time off for pain I didn’t actually cause. This time, it’s in a foot, and bad enough I’ve been limping. Lovely.

In ultra paranoid mode. It’s the last week before the play, and the most dangerous time period for me. I’ll be working every night, up late, with people (who all seem to have sick kids or sick spouses or a nasty cough themselves). That’s a recipe for disaster. Washing my hands dozens of times every day. Pushing juice. Picking meals for health value rather than taste.

Heard from the publisher I was pursuing for my brother’s book. Sadly, they passed. Can’t shake this feeling someone on their side fucked up; we were passed off to another person, and he seemed to discount it out of hand with a ‘we already have enough music theory books’ statement. Which seems odd to me, because they DON’T have a book like this. Theory books are written from piano keyboard standpoints. This one works from guitar and bass fretboards, too. But, okay. I’ll move on. Have pages and pages of publishers to check out.

Have not yet addressed the issue with my uncle. Waiting until after the play. I don’t need the distraction. Must admit to feeling half and half – half anger, half pity. I’m still angry he thinks he has the right to rile me up on my own page. But I pity him, too. Took a look at his FB page, and can I say, it’s little wonder he comes to MY page to get some attention. Nonetheless, it’s got to stop. Lucky for him, that top fresh edge of my rage has worn away. I’ll be gentler now.

…Got to admit to a growing sense of…disappointment, I guess. I feel flat and let down. Almost depressed. Not sure why. If anything, I should be feeling up and excited this last week of rehearsals. Maybe I’m just tired, and the RA flare up doesn’t help. Maybe I’ve been working myself too hard, or worrying too much. I look forward to performing again, and yet…yet I don’t.

Coming to some hard realizations, too. Deeper levels of understanding. I’m beginning to really understand my 20-something self, why I did what I did. Started calling my mother by her first name in conversation and in my head. Found it helps me disconnect a bit from that ‘but she’s my mother; I’m supposed to love her’ shit. C was a bitch, and should have NEVER had children. Full stop. Found an article about daughters of unloving mothers. Had that ‘oh my god, they’re talking about me’ thing happen with a couple of items they noted, particularly a bit about children not knowing if the good mommy or the bad mommy was present. That hit home. Hard. I’ve also been admitting to myself how often I sabotaged my success, or turned away from opportunities because I just didn’t feel worthy. I take responsibility for these actions. But I lay the blame on C. She boxed my mind in, she made me feel helpless and worthless. I hate her for it.

Unfortunately, there ain’t no do-overs in life. I can’t go back and reclaim those lost opportunities. I can’t go back and make myself feel worthwhile. Wish I could. I’d like to see how far I might have actually gone if I was unfettered by self-hate. If I was given just a tiny bit of real support and love.

I am so jealous of people with loving families!

But even if I could go back, I know now the only things that would change would be how quickly fights would escalate and how early I left home never to return or talk to C again. Because she wouldn’t change. The rest of my family doesn’t ever change; why should she? It’s not like she wanted me. She didn’t. And she sure as fuck wouldn’t change her martyrdom for her children. I could only go back and tell them to fuck off. Say the things I should have said. I couldn’t spare myself hurt or pain, because that would still happen. I could just get out of it sooner, stop acting out against C earlier.

It’s difficult to change this aspect of myself. To stop hating myself so much.

Hell! It’s difficult to just stop.

A Nod to Vanity

Forgot for a few days to check with the theatre group about all those pictures. Signed in and found the above, set as THE advertisement for the play.

Yes, that’s me on the left.

After all my moaning and thinking I wouldn’t even MAKE the promotional picture, here it is. Just me and my acting partner (there’s 8 of us in the cast). Can’t help but feel it’s a nod from the group, here’s the people you really want to come and see. Popped a note off to the director’s girlfriend, who did the poster, and thanked her for all her work. Yeah, she’s got PhotoShop and yeah, it’s a simple posterization of the original photo with a few words thrown over the whole thing. Nonetheless, I know what it’s like to work on the behind the scenes – often a thankless job. So I thanked her, and told her I was really jazzed and honored.

So far, no reply.

I’ve thought about using the pic as the desktop for my computer. I probably won’t; that’s more than a nod to vanity, that’s an outright leg-spread.

Can I say, though, that I’m more than pleased to see this picture of myself and say I DON’T view myself as fat? Maybe I’m not a stick, but I’m not a balloon, either. Photographic proof. I have this bad habit of hanging my sister’s body off my head in my mind – obese. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been around many full-length mirrors. Maybe it’s because my mother treated me as a mini version of my sister: matching clothes, hair, and even (reputedly) naming me after her.

But I’m NOT my sister. Nor my mother. That’s a unique person in that picture. Truly unique.

One other thing. I usually don’t pull my hair back from my face like that. Since I was 15, my bangs generally hang low over my face, half obscuring it. It makes me feel safe. Hidden. But I like the way I look with my hair pulled back. It’s open, inviting. Friendly. To me, that looks like someone you could walk up to and begin a conversation. Ask for directions. Comment on the weather while waiting for the metro.

Am I finally seeing myself the way other people see me?

Got to the gym for exercise. Feel much better for doing it. Blew all the calories I burned by buying and eating several fancy little cakes. I know! I know. Counter-productive. And it’s an old coping mechanism. But I have to admit, the past few days with the memory of feeling good, performing well, and now the picture…It’s brought up a few things for me. More than a few things. In fact, it’s brought me right back to my formative years. That frightened and angry kid. Frightened because I half believed my mother, and thought maybe I wasn’t good enough. Angry because I knew it wasn’t right. You don’t do that to someone you care about. So I turned to that old comfort: sugary treats. I’m not proud of it. But I can admit the truth.

And the pic threw me. Got too excited after seeing it. Too wound up. Set my head off on that manic streak again. I allowed it, again. In fact, I vow to do it completely different from the manner I was brought up. Acting wasn’t something that taxed you, and if you took time off after performing you were lazy and weak. That’s not true, of course. And it drove me to many unnecessary illnesses while growing up. Now, it’s an automatic down for several days. It’s an automatic assumption I’ve caught something and need to fill up on vitamins, juice, and hearty food. And the manic thoughts…let them come. They vanish, eventually. Fade back into the half-dreams I console myself with as I fall asleep. But they are not wrong, and I am not wrong for having them. Nor am I wrong for being so wound up after performing that I can’t sleep. Many performers go through that.

I feel bad for my parents, on some levels. They were small, provincial. Their worlds were tiny. My understanding of that brings compassion: they didn’t know any better. I recognize they did the best they could with the day to day. Still angry over the outcome, though. Won’t make any bones about that.

This is all so new. Feeling good about me, and what I’m doing. Taking care of myself while feeling good about all of it. Reaching new levels of understanding. Feeling like I’m letting go of some stuff. Does the past matter now? It gives me a certain perspective. And that perspective colors everything I do. So, yes. But also no. My mother’s doubts, her lack of support and self-centeredness…that’s melting into the background.

I’m not afraid to look in the mirror these days. I see ME. Still beautiful, still vital, always talented.

That kind of talk would have meant a sharp reprimand when I was a kid. Vain! Don’t be vain! There’s always someone better than you, more talented than you, funnier than you. You’ve nothing to be vain about!

But a nod to vanity isn’t always a bad thing, either.

Swimming

Lesson learned. When I began this whole theatre thing, I didn’t know if my health would allow me to do it. It’s always been precarious, and with all my meds (and this older body), my health has become downright rickety.

Needed two days down after ‘performing’ for our small group. Planned to be tougher than that, but woke up Friday dead to the world; had four cups of coffee to put an end to my caffeine headache and promptly fell asleep for another three hours. I’ll say performing is performing (pretty much), so I’ll use a two day gauge as my guide. Or as my minimum. Maybe that’s better: minimum. Standing around in a crowd of fans for an hour after performing might just add a day or two to that schedule.

My manic episodes have almost ceased, if that’s what they are. Mostly, they consist of me garnishing huge laughs on stage and then standing around gathering praise afterwards. Sequels to what I felt on Wednesday night, only bigger (because you know the sequel has to be bigger).

And time off was needed; woke up Thursday with a full nose and a scratchy throat. Babied myself. Scolded myself into sitting around and resting on Friday.

I think I’m ready to get back to the day-to-day.

First up is exercise. Of course. Said to a fellow actor that I have to move or I feel pain. Nothing like being accurate with your own Catch 22s. A couple of days down, and my side pain is kicking up again, aggravated. Off to the gym for a light session today. Still have a scratchy throat, still not 100%, so keep it light.

This prolonged lag has me a bit worried. I’ve got to do back to back performances on our first weekend, then be ready to go again the weekend after. It might take me all week to recoup.

My brother is more than supportive right now. Well…he sees it. The joy. The sheer, unbelievable JOY I experience just having this opportunity again. If my knees were in better shape, I’d get down on them to thank the Goddess for these precious memories.

Because I no longer doubt. For so many years, I questioned myself. Was my mother right? Was I just not talented enough to give acting a chance?

No. The bitch was wrong. Every bit of me is screaming it.

But, then, my mother…We’re talking about a person who could make a fish feel guilty for swimming.

And let me tell you (seeing as I am that fish), allowing myself to swim again after so long is an unexpected treasure. I knew I enjoyed it. I knew, even, that I loved it. But I forgot how much. I made myself forget it when I gave up on my dreams.

It hurt so much to turn my back on myself.

Now, more than ever, I’ve got strikes against me. I’m older. Have this illness to contend with. It’s going to be an uphill battle all the way.

But I have to. I am the salmon, returning up stream to spawn. It’s in my nature to battle the rapids, the rocks, to take on the odds and win.

I’m a fish. And baby, I’m swimming.

Monsters ahead and behind

One, two, three – send. The script is out to the competition it was written for.

Worked on my synopsis. Asked my bro for advice; he IS the person in the house that’s gone to a Uni scriptwriting class. Was surprised. I worked hard on the synopsis, particularly the opening three lines – which, after I read them aloud, is where my brother stopped me with a ‘Right there! That’s perfect!’ Thought I needed more, but my bro feels I should just let this loose on the world with a three line write up.

So it’s out. Sent. Available to read. Again. Hopefully I will NOT receive a reply stating the terms and conditions have been changed.

Bolton may get a mini-teaser. A short 700 word scene that ties into this script. I want a few things done first, tho.

Today: memorize. Seven pages to learn for the play. Rehearsal is scheduled for Tuesday and I’ve barely begun to learn my lines. Been reading it through, but reading isn’t the same as memorizing. Put in the time now. Not particularly worried; as I’ve said before, I say a lot of “yes” and “uh-huh” in the first pages. One larger monologue to work on, but I already have the general flow of dialogue.

Get to the gym. Tidy up the house. Do those weekend things that always need doing.

Had a nose bleed this morning. Usually blood doesn’t bother me, but my nose hacked up a bloody mass that looked (apologies ahead of time) like an aborted fetus, and I almost threw up. It stopped fairly fast, and it wasn’t really all that bad. But it was my first nose bleed ever, and I really didn’t expect such a stomach turning reaction from myself.

Haven’t buckled down on my research yet. Still need to take notes, check some online documentaries, and order the book I want. I think…MAYBE…I’m learning to accept my timing and writing rhythms. I know what I can do, and how quickly I can do it. I also know the longer I allow my head to think, the shorter the writing time is. So I’m not freaking out despite my apparent foot dragging. I’m not actually dragging my feet; I’m working. Just on a different level.

Boy, do I wish I could tell that to my mother!

…Boy, do I wish I’d stop thinking that thought! Maybe I do look backwards too much. Oh, hell. There’s no maybe about it, and I know that. Just trying to soften the blow for myself.

But, you know…rear view mirrors were created for a reason. ‘Cause every once in a while, shit creeps up on you from behind. And as every horror film shows us, if something creeps up on you from behind, it’s up to no good.

Looking back isn’t a bad thing. As long as you don’t run into the monster right in front of you, that is!

I’m well aware of the monsters behind me. Narcissism, neglect, self hate, depression. They’re all still hot on my tail. But what’s the monster in front of me? That’s easy: fear. The future. Uncertainty and doubt.

One thing I’ve learned: that monster in front of me is gonna come no matter what I do. But the monsters behind me…now those, I can fight.

The Dame’s Still Got Game

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It’s good to know I still gots da touch. The blueberry muffins I baked and took to the comic shop did a magic trick and disappeared before my eyes. And there were only two guys at the store! I’d been there once before, and met one of the owners. Yesterday I finally met the second owner. Good thing, too! Oh, I’ve heard so much about you! Yes, my partner said he had a chance to meet you before! I guess the first guy I met has been lording it over his partner; I got to meet her and you didn’t. Now the second partner has something to crow about: she brought me blueberry muffins! Did you get any? My brother laughed, and said now there’s no way I can go back without baking more. Happy to do it, too. For one, they always give T good deals on the comics he wants. For another, once again I was given free comics, this time in Dutch, because they’re just nice guys. And finally, what more could a baker ask than to see her baked goods fly off the plate to be devoured with ecstatic eye rolls and muffled exclamations of oh my god, these are so good?

Who knows? Maybe that small bakery everyone has told me I should open will become reality. I don’t know where my life is headed.

I do know where my day is headed: catch-up work. The house needs cleaning, I have even more Dutch to read now, and my body isn’t getting any thinner with me sitting around eating blueberry muffins. Everything is twice as hard as it was before I got sick. The house is twice as dirty as usual, I’ve found no way out of my muddle with the language yet, and I’m so fat and lazy at this point it’s hard to not just sit around playing computer games all day. Just getting motivated to begin work is tough and seems to take half the day.

*sigh* And J, the comic store owner I met yesterday, made a comment that’s nagging at me. He said, ‘In my experience, you don’t ask parents, you tell them’. My reply was that had I done that, I’d be in a very different place right now. That’s true. It’s also true that J didn’t have my experiences and had he gone through them, he might have done the same as I. But I’ve been feeling bad about it, and it’s showing no signs of going away.

I’m guessing I needed something to beat myself up over.

And hey! I’d love to stop blaming myself. I’d love to do the impossible, and just not think about that kind of stuff. I’d love to have the confidence to be want I want to be. I don’t. Not one bit. I’m not sure how, exactly, my mother managed to convey to me that I was worthless, but she did. And as with most things my mother did, she did it impeccably well. Just as my mother would rise half an hour early to tidy up the house before everyone else woke up, making it “magically” appear neat each and every day, she somehow slipped in under the surface of the perfect mother enough derogatory language to make sure I knew just what a total loser I was.

That’s living with a narcissist. I’ve read up on narcissism. How you…How I may never fully ‘get over it’. I don’t know that I’m ready to face up to that. Hasn’t a pill been made for this shit yet? C’mon! You’re telling me they’ve got virtual reality game play but can’t help people drop the crap that got programmed in from childhood? And no, going through CBT is NOT gonna do what I ask. I want something easy. Why do I have to work so hard? I’ve been working twice as hard most of my life: trying to please everyone else so they’ll at least tolerate my presence plus accomplish one or two things that are important to me. Now I’m told that to shed what my mother drilled into me will take more years of hard work – and it’s all on me. CBT. What a fucking load! The damned therapist sits there, never sharing anything to make him or her vulnerable, while the patient does all the work. I mean, really! If I walked into any other doctor’s office and was told I had to get over a sinus infection or cancerous growth by myself I’d sue for incompetence. But with therapy, it’s a given.

Christ! I don’t want fucking therapy. I just want to feel better.

I guess it’s kind of a good thing that no matter how I feel, life goes on. Happy or sad, angry or blissful, things like grocery shopping and dishes always need to be done. Dust always needs wiping up. The floor could always use a good cleaning. Somehow between my feelings and all those normal chores, I’ve been living my life. I’m not entirely unhappy with my choices. But it’s not what I would have chosen for myself long ago, either.

It’s just that every once in a while, I’m granted a vision of what could have been, and that makes me sad. That always makes me sad. Deeply sorrowful to never have experienced a supportive family growing up. Deeply sorrowful over what I imagine I might have been, had I had the courage.

I feel small, and insignificant.

But that’s me looking back.

Time to turn my head around. I’ve enough on my plate right NOW without adding yesterday’s regrets to the pile. A new year is right around the corner. A fresh page, to start my story anew. There is no rulebook that disqualifies me because I’m over 50.

And the dame’s still got game, baby.

Just DIE already

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I don’t get it. I don’t get how or why people are supposed to love extended family members. These aunts, uncles, and cousins you may see once every five to ten years. Even grandparents. I saw my grandparents twice a year, a few days at a time. Grandpa terrorized me with his two day unshaved face, swooping me up in his arms to rub my tender three year old cheek against his rough old one. I hated it. I squirmed and screamed. His beard hurt. I felt it was punishment, and I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. Yet he did it, every time he saw me. And I was supposed to “love” him. It wasn’t until two years AFTER my grandfather’s death that I saw a vision of him in my dreams and finally received the love I felt I never got. Only THEN did I cry for him. Only THEN did I mourn. Only THEN did I understand that yes, underneath all that sadistic cheek rubbing was someone who genuinely cared for me.

My uncle is yanking my chain again. Asks my opinion on something and then blows me off with a single dismissive sentence. I spent six hours yesterday hot under the collar, trying VERY hard to settle down. I paced. I smoked. I listened to soothing music (even wrote a new piece). The culmination of my effort was my ability to turn on my computer and delete the conversation without comment. Then I had another few hours, telling myself I did the right thing. More pacing, more clenched gut.

It is days and times like these that I used to get a lot of ‘don’t let it bother you’. Still do. I don’t bother pointing out that giving me a negative statement (using ‘don’t’) isn’t the best way to go about letting it go. Nor do I point out the fact that I had I been able to let things go throughout my life I’d probably be in a very different situation. Nor that the people who tell me to let it go and calm down generally have problems letting go and calming down themselves.

Like my brother. We disagree on some very basic ideals and when we argue, that’s it. We can find no common ground. Worst of all is his tendency to cut me off mid sentence because he THINKS he knows what I’m going to say. He puts his words in my mouth. Doesn’t listen to me at. all.

None of my family angst is helped right now by my recent viewing of Absolutely Fabulous The Movie. *sigh* Two things are now terribly clear to me. One, Jennifer Saunders has been riding the same jokes for 25 goddamn years with her characters. Two, as Saunders ages she looks more and more like my mother (the hair is wrong, but the face and the wrinkles she’s sporting give a pretty good imitation). That’s the real kicker.  I was a big fan of Ab Fab series 1. Loved the second and third series, too. But then…then Jennifer began to age noticeably on screen. Then she began to do this thing with her mouth that set off such a hard reaction/memory in me I really kind of freaked. Now, all I see is my mother and old jokes I’ve seen since series one. It’s really a turn off. I’d like to like the series again but I’m finding it impossible. And I couldn’t really like the movie. It was bigger, it had more money put into it. But better? Not really. Just a rehash of every episode you’ve already seen. There was Saunders, doing the same gags she’s done since the pilot. The same jokes. Even Patsy’s ‘Gabon? Gabon?’ line was resurrected and reused. Characters and guest stars we’ve seen on the show for ages made cameos, doing and saying things very similar to what they did and said in the original episodes they starred in. And Saunders orchestrated it all, in my mother’s face. The wrinkles around her mouth and eyes. Her thinning upper lip. Her sneer.

It was an unsettling 90 minutes.

How am I supposed to feel something warm and fuzzy for people who don’t care enough about me to listen to what I say? I’m not asking for AGREEMENT, just hear me through. Give me a nod and say ‘we don’t agree, but I’ll respect your opinion’.

I’ve never heard that. Ever. Not from ANY family member.

And do NOT give me some holier than thou advice. Do NOT say I’m the one that needs to rise above it. That if I want respect, I must give respect. I was raised in this manner – verbally beaten down so bloody often I have a hard time making ANY choice as an adult. I feel guilty for just about everything in the world because at some time, somewhere, I’m to blame.

I am TIRED of trying to be the better person. Sick to fucking death of it. It’s so goddamned bad that it throws me right into suicide ideation; might as well bloody kill myself since no fucking person in my family is even decent enough to give me the most basic of respect due any person alive. Fuck them. Fuck them for fucking with my head so fucking much. These are the people who are supposed to be my support system. Instead, they’ve always been the most damaging to my self confidence. They’ve always made me feel wrong and bad. They’ve always made me angry. I just feel like if my FAMILY treats me this way, no one else is gonna treat me any better so I might as well just check out.

But I hang on. I LIVE for the time when they’re all dead, when I no longer have any echo of the childhood shit that’s been pressure sprayed under my skin. And here, the only place I have to speak my mind and NOT be interrupted or made to feel bad, here I will say what I haven’t said to those family members that treat me this way.

Just DIE already!

House of Mirrors

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Yesterday I decided the best thing I could do would be take a walk. Right after posting I got out into the air. Pumped my lungs full of freshness. Looked up at the sky. Listened to the birds. My treat to lighten my mood wasn’t food (for once). It was fresh flowers. Wound up at the supermarket with the best flower selection and spent several minutes dithering in front of all the bouquets.

Lemme state this clearly, because J and his boyfriend were gobsmacked when we took them into the store and they saw prices for flowers. Standard price for a small bouquet (about 7 stems) is €3 or 2 for €5. That includes roses. Every week. Even on Valentine’s Day.

But not for Mother’s Day.

I managed to walk out of the store without spending a lot, but damn! Highest prices for flower bouquets all year long. Fifteen euro as a start price, and they went up from there. Other than a slight annoyance at finding a nice bunch of blooms for a more reasonable price, none of that really bothered me.

The ads for Mother’s Day did. Good Goddess! Always that perfect fantasy picture of mother with grown up daughter. Oh, honey, I’m so proud of you. Barf. I didn’t have it so I make fun of it to hide the fact that my heart aches every time I see something like that. I WANT to believe I had that relationship with my mom. With her dead, I can almost do it. Just remember the good times. Color in things with a bit more love. Fool myself. For a moment. That dream can’t last long for me. Too many hurt and bent pieces inside to sustain it over time.

Today I hear a cruel echo in my mind. Just get over it. Those words were not uttered by my mom, but by my pseudo-mom, ie, my sister. It was not a role she chose to be in. It was not a role she SHOULD have been in. But it IS what happened. I think I’ve come to accept that lately. And I think if I’m ever to get myself out of whatever knots she tied me in, I have to approach the situation as if she WAS my mother because she was, so often, just that. A surrogate mother all the times my real mother was absent due to her job (her job, her job, her almighty fucking JOB!). It’s been easier to deal with this since I’ve accepted both of them fall on the narcissist scale. The word itself – narcissist – is almost a Pavlov’s dog thing for me: say it and my ranting begins to quiet down. I remember WHY, or at least have answers that feel right and true to me.

I DO spend an inordinate amount of time wondering what it would be like to have parents that really support me. It’s an odd feeling. Kind of makes me all shivery/laughy up and down my spine. Not that heavy weight like when I think of the real thing.

And I can’t help but be aware that any problem I have is so first world. So damned inconsequential to the overall picture. AAAAAAaaaaargh! Global guilt on top of everything else. Danger! Danger! Circuits are ready to overload.

I took the Myers Briggs personality test (thanks, Kim). Came out an ENFP-T. I read the description thru, and it’s pretty damned accurate. Here’s the link: personality test. There’s one caveat to the test, tho. You’ve got to be honest. I’ve taken the test before and I’m positive I didn’t score as an ENFP-T. I’m also positive I answered some questions by indicating how I’d LIKE to respond rather than they way I’d REALLY respond (’cause that’s my thing, ya know). A few questions were no brainers for me. A few I spent several minutes thinking about. It’s always the qualifiers that trip me up: frequently, always, usually. My response range is the full rainbow. Look deep enough into my past or present and you’ll find actions across the spectrum. And at times, those extreme behaviors from me stick most in my mind, so I’ll answer yes, I do something ‘frequently’ when in fact I only do it occasionally. That doesn’t give an accurate picture of me. It gives a skewed image.

…Which makes me think. Hard. If I project a skewed image from time to time, I’m only amplifying my problems. Bouncing things from what I say I do to what I actually do. No wonder I get feedback. Piercing thoughts that wake me up at night. Too much static in my brain so I can’t think.

Think. That’s the key. My mind ran down this maze. Now it’s time to find my way out.

*sigh* Been looking for someone to point the way, but I realize I’ve been asking people who are just as lost and afraid as I am.

Everything circles one drain: loving myself. Ach! Just typing that out hurt my fingers. It’s too trite. Too compact for such a complex idea. It’s accepting myself AND turning my arrows outwards. Hearing and accepting others. Seeing the world for what it is, without my rose colored glasses, and dealing with it.

I wanna hold onto those rose colored glasses. I’ve needed them for SO long. To nurse the hurt. But maybe I can take them off now and then. Here and there. Just take a peek. I don’t have to LIVE there.

…That’s my real challenge. Not the smoking, not the extra weight, not my issues with my mother and my sister. It’s getting out of that world I built for me. Participating on the same playing field everyone else is on. I don’t particularly care for the rules, or lack of them. I don’t find it safe, and I usually don’t find it fun.

It’s bloody HARD to find your way out of a good house of mirrors. And I’m in a good one.

That Includes Me

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Been trying to sneak a new word or phrase each week into language class. Try it out first with my teacher. Yesterday I managed ‘in de war’ which is the Dutch way of saying confused. Ik ben in de war. Also stretched my memory to come up with herinnering (literally ‘memory’) which is a word I’ve seen often but not tried to pronounce before. I do really well with pronunciation. Exceedingly well. Over my head I don’t even know what I’m READING type of pronunciation.

Fuck. Why am I bringing this up? Because I ran into a word yesterday I didn’t understand. I pronounced it flawlessly and just ran past it as I usually do with a new word, waiting for understanding to dawn on me rather than looking it up. Got tripped up by my teacher, who’s playing a new game. He stops us and asks for the antonym to various words we’re using. It’s an excellent learning tool. Anyway, it was one of THOSE moments. Everyone looking at me with that ‘you didn’t KNOW that?!?’ look on their faces. I owned it; the word was ‘krijgen’ (to get or receive) and I was mixing it up with ‘kijken’ (to look). Gimme a break. The two words look similar and sound similar. I confessed to my confusion and everyone laughed.

And I can’t get their faces out of my head.

My reaction goes way beyond embarrassment. There’s real shame in me for not knowing the answer. For being SO far off base. For being the ONLY person in class who didn’t catch on.

I can handle making mistakes. Mistakes are small things that can be corrected. What I have problems with is flubbing. I flubbed to a major degree. Flubs can’t be fixed. They’re the type of things that get caught on camera and show up on Ridiculousness. They’re the type of things that (goddess forbid!) define you if you’re unlucky enough to have them happen as a teenager (there goes The Flasher…yeah, split their pants right up the middle and didn’t have any underwear on…everybody saw).

Ugh. I’m sure no one else has been ruminating on my mistake. Just me. Just me and my own shame.

Knowing that doesn’t help.

The more I try to pin down the why of it, the more I think it’s a very, very early thing. There is no specific memory that pops to mind. Just the repeated HEAVINESS (and oh! how heavy that burden was!) to be brilliant. Always. With everything. Mom made a point of never telling me what my IQ was when I was young. What she DID do was repeatedly tell me I had too many brains to be stupid. ‘Stupid’ to me included flubbing (which was often scoffed at as temporary ‘stupid’ behavior). And it didn’t matter what the subject matter was; my brains meant I should be able to grasp it and grasp it fast. Getting things wrong didn’t mean getting hit or punished. It meant mom’s mouth clamped down into that thin, white line. That instilled enough terror in me. I still get the willies thinking about that look.

And I was told I was a disappointment. Not with words. Oh, no! Never say it with words. Say it with tone of voice. Say it with body language. Communicate two things at once because that’s what people do, and of the two methods of communication humans will take the non-verbal message over the verbal every time.

Bitch.

So I’m tight in my body because part of me is having a damned hard time letting this go. I’ve stopped myself from a knee jerk reaction of diving off the deep end, intensifying my studies so I never make a flub like that again.

It ain’t easy.

Got to run a couple of errands today in between rain drops. That should afford me enough opportunities to make an ass of myself that I’ll probably stop thinking about yesterday’s mistake and start thinking about all the ones I’m currently making. Joy.

Bright side, bright side, bright side. I guess I’ll never mix up ‘krijgen’ and ‘kijken’ again. That’s something.

And DAMN IT! I’m NOT a machine. I never wanted the mantel of perfection. It was fucking thrust upon me by a narcissistic mother, complete with a dirty hem of SHAME for when I’m not perfect. Fuck her and her ‘gift’. Fuck her and her ‘nurturing’.

Time to let that go. Let HER go.

I am me. Here, now. I begin today. No one knows me. I can be anyone I want. I don’t have to carry shame over flubs and mistakes. I don’t need to see myself as less than other people.

I can be worthy. Of ME. True to myself. Honest in word, thought, and deed. No subterfuge.

And I can tell myself it’s okay. Even flubbing is okay as long as you learn from it. There’s no lesson of shame in this. Those faces I see in my head – that’s a distortion. The surprise is exaggerated. The laughter is not unkind. In fact, I handled the situation well. Diffused it with a little comedy. It’s only my battered brain that refuses to let it go. It wants to build it into something different, to make it another reason to feel guilty. I’m onto your tricks, you devious bastard…

As for the two people who wanted to start up lengthy conversations with me yesterday..Yes, it was above my head. I was back to catching about 40% of what they said. That does not negate my little victory when I understood the woman asking for directions. It just says there’s a lot more to learn. And no doubt. I feel like I’m a sponge, just trying to absorb words here and there. There’s thousands of words to learn AND I’ve got to learn how to make sentences. Throw in the fiddly sayings of any language and you’ve got a hell of a lot to catch on to.

Considering I began with my current instructor in November, meaning I’ve had a scant 5 months of lessons, I think I’ve come a long way. At this rate yes, I’ll be speaking pretty fluently after a year. And reading even better.

Everyone takes time to learn. Everyone. That includes me.