Y is for Yuck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was small I wanted to be her. I thought she was the most beautiful, graceful, perfect creature ever to walk the earth. I loved everything about her from her curly hair—so unlike mine—to her pink painted toes. I looked more like her than I did my own mother, and I often wished she was my mother. When she asked me to be in her wedding I decided she was a goddess. If she had told me she invented sliced bread I would not have been surprised.

When I was small she would give the best hugs. She never complained if I wanted to cuddle. If I could, I would have melted into her, soaked her up, drowned in her.

Of course this hero worship did not last long. I don’t know if it was the pain her husband caused me or if it was just part of the normal aging process, but eventually I saw who she really was. A beautiful person, but flawed. The older I got, the more flaws I saw until not only did I not want to be her, I didn’t want to be near her.

She was my aunt and I have not seen or spoken to her in five years. I still love her. How could I not when she was my favorite aunt as a child? Due to a schism—isn’t that a great word? It makes me feel so smart!—due to a schism in my family I no longer have contact with her or her children, except through Facebook.

Have you ever walked by a mirror and caught a glimpse of yourself out of the corner of your eye and swore it was someone else? I did that the other day and swore it was my aunt.

Yuck.shadow face

I nearly threw up.

Then I studied my face and found all the little family resemblances I could find. The nose, the eyebrows, the eyes, even the shape of my face, are all like her. And my father, and brother, and cousins. I hate it. And love it.

I love my family, even my aunt. Who did not protect me or her children from the pain her husband inflicted on us. I love that I resemble them so much. But I hate it too. I hate that every glance in the mirror reminds me of her. I hate that I can never speak to her, hug her, hear her voice. I hate that I cannot have contact with her children in real life. I watched those kids grow up, saw their first steps, their school plays, first boyfriends and girlfriends. Now I’ve missed their weddings, the birth of their children.

Every time I look into the mirror I’m reminded of what I’ve lost. A whole chunk of my family that lives in my heart but are, more likely then not, forever lost to me.

One day I may tell the story of how thirty-odd years of cracks resulted in a schism (that word again!). I hesitate to publish it in this forum as those who do not know the story may stumble upon this blog. It’s unlikely, but possible. Some of those people would be hurt. Some would be horrified. Some would never speak to me again.

I’ve been told (by my counselor) that I should tell the story again and again until it no longer hurts. Until I can forgive my aunt and her husband. And myself. By telling the story on this blog, I may even help someone else. I don’t know.

All I know is that every time I look in the mirror lately and am reminded of my aunt, all I can think—all I can say—is “yuck.”


 

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

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L is for Loser (and Winner)

L aslBefore we get into the main topic of today’s post I’d like to comment on a few things.

First…

As seen at psychokitty.blogspot.com.

As seen at psychokitty.blogspot.com.

Happy Daylight Savings Time!!! Yay to more sunshine!

That said, I’m done with winter, snow and ice. Despite what Mother Nature may or may not show me outside my window. So from now on you’re gonna be seeing a lot of flowers on this blog. In my little world, it’s spring.

Second…

I’d like to thank all those who “like”d my last post. I know it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever written, so I’m assuming the “like”s were you showing support for my decision. If you haven’t read the post, I basically said that I’d been inhibited by focusing on my stats for this blog and that I was going to start paying less attention to them.

Frankly, I thought my last post sucked. It was incoherent and self-indulgent. I’d delete it if I hadn’t promised myself when I started out that I wouldn’t do that. I’m gonna do my best to write better from now on.

Anyway, if you “like”d that post: Thank you! I don’t get a lot of feedback on this blog so it felt really good that you thought enough of me to click that little button. I hope you’ll continue to do so. Oh, and feel free to leave comments. I like feedback!

Third…

Click on the pic to go to the source.

Click on the pic to go to the source of the image.

As you may or may not remember, I’m Catholic. And what a lot of Catholics do is pray to saints. More on that here. I’ve decided to dedicate my blog to my personal patron saint St. Joseph (aka Jesus’ foster Dad). If anyone wants to know more about why I’m doing this (or anything else really), please leave a comment.

Feel free to skip the next bit if this kinda thing gives you the willies…

Here’s my prayer of dedication, written by me (keep in mind that I’m still a newbie Catholic, so this prayer might sound a bit strange. I’ve been told that there is no wrong or right way to pray, so I’m not gonna start worrying about it):

 Dearest St. Joseph, foster father to our Lord, I dedicate this blog to you. Help me to follow your example of humility. Help me to always write the truth. Protect me from those who would try to hurt me with their words because of something I have written. Pray for me and for my readers so that we may do God’s will and live in holiness. Surround us with your loving goodness. In the name of the father, and the son, and the holy spirit. Amen.

Moving on to today’s topic: Loserdom.

Four years ago, I was working at a job that I didn’t particularly like. It wasn’t a horrible job, I just didn’t like it. So I quit. Despite my problems since leaving that job, I have never regretted it.

Everytime I passed my old workplace I reminded myself of how awful I felt working there and how glad I was that I left. Everytime I put gas in my car I celebrated leaving that job. I had to commute 30 minutes one way to get there, so I spent a lot of money on gas. With how much gas has gone up since I left, I would have spent soooooo much more money on gas then I’ve had to in the last few years. Everytime I completed a task at my current job (when I was working) similar to one at that old job, I appreciated how much that old job taught me and how happy I was that I no longer worked there. Everytime I went on a break at my current job (again, when I was working) I was happy that my blood sugar was higher (because I hadn’t had to work for six hours straight before getting a break) and my blood smiley facepressure was lower (because I wasn’t so frustrated). Everytime I was treated with respect by a supervisor, or given a “thank you”, or a “good job”, I mentally did a happy dance because I left that job. Everytime I filled out an application and had to write that company’s name down I calculated how long it had been since I’d worked there and smiled a special smile.

Every. Time.

I just reapplied to work there. Why? Cause I haven’t worked since May and it looks as if Congress isn’t gonna reestablish long-term unemployment benefits. On the upside, the company was bought out by someone else so it may be a better place to work now then it was then. On the downside, I feel like a complete loser.

I know I shouldn’t feel that way. It’s not really my fault that I lost my job. After all, I didn’t decide to fall down the stairs and break my arm. I didn’t decide to become suicidal and hospitalized. I didn’t decide that the combination of the two made me unable to meet my job’s qualifications. It just happened. And I got fired. It wasn’t my fault. The unemployment office agreed: it wasn’t my fault. And now I need a job. At this point, nearly any job that would be healthy will do (read that as any job that doesn’t involve fast food or vast amounts of chemicals). But I still feel like it’s my fault and I’m a loser for having to apply to that job. A job that I did because I could fake it, because it wasn’t too hard, because I had to.

If I look at this situation logically, it’s actually a triumph for me to apply to that job. A few months ago, I couldn’t getblue rose outta bed, much less work at a job that required a commute and a smile on my face. Logically, I know if I end up working there again it doesn’t have to be forever. It could just be until I find something better, closer, requiring less energy.

I know this because that’s exactly what I said when I took that job in 2000. And 2001. And 2002. And all the way until I quit the damn job in 2010. Ten years of telling myself that I was only working there until I found something better, closer, blah blah blah. Loser.

Let me tell you a story: Back in 2000, when I first applied to work at that job, I was unemployed. But that time it was my fault. I had been working as a data entry operator (for perspective, this was back when computer scanners for office work had just been invented) and had quit that job on impulse. It was a boring job and I was a self-destructive idiot. Back then if you didn’t have a criminal record you could pretty much get any job you wanted without references or a DNA test. So I walked into this company, applied for a customer service job, and two weeks later was working.

At first, I didn’t mind the job. I’d worked in customer service before, so I was used to the whole “smile while they yell obscenities at you” thing. And the job, which had a government contract, was different. Especially after I’d been there a while and was trained to do more than take messages. So I stayed. And stayed. And stayed. Eventually I got promoted (that was the work six hours straight position), then promoted again. Most of the people I worked with were nice and the pay was okay. There was plenty of overtime, so bills got paid (when I didn’t spend all my money on food that is). And when my attendance was poor, they yelled, but didn’t fire me. Did I want a new job? Sure. Did I look for one? No. Most of the time I was too busy dealing with family stuff (people dying, becoming alcoholic, etc) to really do much job searching, so it was okay. I learned a lot about myself and about the workplace.

Then things changed, or at least I changed. I got my Associates degree and I reached a point with my family where it looked as if I could focus on myself (instead of taking care of elderly or addicted people) for awhile. I wanted to get graduatemy Bachelor’s degree. And I wanted to do it NOW. Before any other family members got sick and had to be taken care of. Before I lost my motivation. Before I got any more stuck.

So I changed everything about my life. I moved, quit that job, went back to school, and held on with both hands. Some of it worked out: I got my Bachelor’s degree. I’m proud of myself for making that goal and achieving it. But a lot of it didn’t work out: I got evicted, sick, and spent too much time in hospitals.

Writing this out just makes me realize that part of why I feel like a loser is because I’m in a very similar place now to when I first applied to work at this company. I’m unemployed, self-destructive, a bit lost. Back in 2000, I had no idea what I was doing with myself. I was just floating along, waiting for life to happen. Now it’s 14 years later and I’m still floating along, waiting for life to happen.

The difference is that I have some idea what I’m doing with myself. I’ve achieved something, a Bachelor’s degree, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. My counselor a couple weeks ago pointed that out. She even had me think about how many odds I had to work through to get to that darn degree. And I did it. The fact that I’m just now able to appreciate it shouldn’t negate the fact that it was a HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT (that and the fact that I’m trying not to compare myself to others).

I could have given up anytime in the past few years and not gotten the degree. Frankly, I could have given up anytime in the past few years and ended up dead.

What I’ve got to keep reminding myself is that I’m not the person I was in 2000. And if I go back to work at that company, it’s not gonna be the same as in 2000. The company’s changed. I’ve changed. Even if there are some people still working there that I knew, they’ll probably have changed. It’s 2014, I have a Bachelor’s degree, I’m on proper meds, and I have more tools now than I did then. I am not a loser. I’m a winner.

A winner who has the opportunity to change with every breath I take. Even if I end up making those changes at the same physical place I was working at in 2000.

A winner who has to remind herself of that even if she feels like a loser.

After all, the location I am in is not the same as the place I am in.

forest

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

R is for Relationships

r recycledSince this is the week dedicated to all things heart shaped (aka Valentine’s Day week), I thought I’d write a bit about my issues with relationships.

I am horrible at all kinds of relationships other than your superficial kinds. If you want to talk about stuff while at work, I’m your gal (or I would be if I was employed). I’ll talk about anything other than politics (and/or religion if you’re not able to be open-minded/respectful of others’ opinions). If you want to tell me all about your life, spill your secrets, discuss your sex life, whatever, I’m good to go. I’ve got a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and may actually be able to give you some insight or help with whatever you’re going through. No problem. Just don’t expect me to tell you more than the superficial stuff about my own life.

Sure I’ll tell you a bit about my parents, brother, grandmother, and so on. I might tell you stories about growing up heart conversationpoor in a mostly affluent suburb or about taking care of my dying grandmother. I’ll tell you about the safe stuff in my life: career dreams, places I want to travel to or live. But I’ll never get to the meat of anything unless you divulge it first. And even then I’ll stay at the surface. For example: I’ll tell you that I suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a relative, but I won’t tell you who, what happened, or how it was resolved. I might tell you that I suffered guilt and shame over it, that I never told certain people about it, that I’m still somewhat angry about it, or that it took about thirty years for it to become a “minor” part of my life. But I’ll never tell you the details. You’ll never know that my shame isn’t that it happened, but that it hurt those who never knew about it.

In the past, when I’ve told people about some of this superficial stuff, they’ve told me that I’m “open” and that they feel close to me. I nod and thank them for their thoughts but inside I know that it’s just a sham. I know that I’m incapable of real relationships.

How do I know this? Because, to me, when it comes right down to it, real relationships are those that survive outside of the boundaries of the structures of modern life.

Two years ago I worked at a job with a woman who was having trouble in her marriage. She told me about some of her struggles with a previous marriage where her husband was abusive, verbally and sexually. She said that her past made her hesitant to trust her current husband. I divulged to her the superficial details of my own sexual abuse, correlated it to some stuff I learned in school, and gave her advice about talking to her current husband. She took my advice and said it helped. Later she told me that my openness helped her to realize certain things about her relationships. After I quit that job, I never saw or heard from that person again. To me, that was not a real relationship. Was it a worthwhile relationship? Sure, she got something out of it and I enjoyed helping her. But it was superficial. It was the only kind of relationship I am capable of. Other modern life structures that my relationships don’t survive past are school, apartment buildings, even online support groups. After I’m done with a class, graduated from college, moved from a building, left a group, those relationships don’t last. They’re gone. Like they never even happened.

I’m aware that some of those types of relationships are meant to fade away. My counselor tells me this and I read about them in school. But if those are the only kind of relationships I’m capable of, what does that say about me?

The other day I sat down and tried to think of who I’m always honest with (outside of psychiatrists, counselors, heart metaltherapists, etc). I counted seven people: my high school best friend, that friend’s parents, my brother and sister-in-law, a cousin, and a neighbor. Only one of those people is within walking distance of me. Two are in another state all together. And I only speak to one, my neighbor, on a regular basis.

Yes, all of them (and more) are Facebook friends and yes, I can text, email and/or speak to them by phone pretty much anytime. But I don’t. Even when I know I should. I’ll reach for the phone or keyboard and something will stop me. Something dark and ugly will rise inside me and I’ll put the phone or keyboard down.

Sometimes I think that dark and ugly thing is my mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, and/or the eating disorder). And sometimes I might be right because those things seem to clog up my brain and throat until I can’t communicate with anyone other than God.

But other times I think that dark and ugly thing is just me. My innards are so disgusting that I don’t want to expose them to the light, to my friends and family, to anyone with even a little bit of goodness in them. So I shove that ickyness deep down with food. I keep relationships superficial. I keep everyone away from my ugliness.

It’s safer.

Maybe for them.

But mostly for me.

I’ve accepted my inability to have real relationships with anyone other than those seven people. Mostly. Sometimes I surprise myself and make new friends. Like my neighbor, I’ve told her details about my sexual abuse, about my mental health issues, about my previous struggles with cleaning, and so forth. For some reason, I haven’t scared her away.

I think she may be Superwoman.

I know she’s extraordinary.

We’ll see if my relationship with her will last after one of us moves away. I don’t have much faith that it will last, but then again I also didn’t have much faith that I’d live past thirty either so it might. I hope it does. Because if it does, that means maybe I’m capable of a real relationship. One that lasts beyond the boundary of our building.

And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll be capable of having more of those relationships.

And then maybe, just maybe, I could date, have a romantic relationship, marry. I haven’t dated since high school (I’ll be 41 this year.)

Would you date, or marry, the circus-lady fat gal?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

I’m not holding my breath. I’ll be satisfied with becoming capable of having real relationships. Down deep, I know I’m not meant for a romantic relationship. All that disgusting ugliness may be tolerable in friendships (superficial or not) but it would be impossible in a day-to-day-till-death-do-you-part relationship. After all, you can get away from a friend and wash off that gross scum. A romantic partner (in my case, a man) is required to live with it, carry a bit of it in their heart, meld it to their soul.

I couldn’t ask any man to do that.

Does that mean I don’t miss those types of intimate relationships? Not on your life. At one point, when my biological clock was ticking with the power of Big Ben, I thought the yearning, the loneliness, would kill me. I cried at the sight of a baby, leaned toward the TV when watching romantic comedies, sobbed myself into migraines.

Even now, years after my biological clock short-circuited, I still yearn for closeness. There are days, weeks even, when I just want someone to hold me. Someone to tell me it’s gonna be okay. Someone who would worry with me about bills, broken down cars, unemployment. Someone to hold my hand under the dining room table when my social anxiety kicks in. Someone to bring me an apple when I’m binging on chocolate. Someone to look me in the eye and tell me I’m important, worthy, loved.

I want that someone. But I don’t think he exists. At least not for me. I only know one man out there who is that kind of gentleman, who would have that kind of patience, that kind of acceptance, that kind of pure-heartedness. He’s my high school best friend’s father and currently married to her mother. They have a son, but unfortunately he doesn’t take after his father. I doubt very much there’s another guy out there like him.

So I’m assuming I’m gonna live out the rest of my life alone. Slowly working on having real relationships but never having that ultimate relationship that makes life worth living.

It’ll be lonely.

It’ll suck.

But I’m used to that.

I’ll just have to content myself with a cat.

cat sofa

Happy Valentine’s Day to all who celebrate!

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

L is for a Letter to God

l smoke blueDear God:

Over the past few days over a foot of snow has fallen and the wind won’t stop blowing. Right now, it is thirteen below zero with a wind chill of forty below. I am sitting inside, warm, comfortable, with electricity, and an internet connection. And I’m going stir crazy.

I cannot stop thinking of all the things you have given me. Things that many people don’t have or have not been given. When I was homeless, a home was opened to me. When I was unable to control my suicidal impulses, I was admitted to a hospital. When I needed a friend, one was given to me. So many times you have pulled me back from a brink: homelessness, suicidality, illness. I have a college diploma, live in America where I don’t have to worry about genital mutilation or being stoned if I get raped, have plenty of food, electricity, clean water, and a safe place to live. But I don’t know what to do with these gifts.

For the past few weeks I’ve been fighting the undertow of depression. Instead of using the tools my counselors have given me, I’ve done what I’ve always done: binge, sleep, spend money I don’t have, and yell at myself.

I feel so unworthy of all I’ve been given. God, you sent my soul onto this earth in as perfect of a state as possible and all I do is mess things up. I’ve misused my opportunities, ignored possibilities, lived in fear, and allowed my soul to become black and ugly.

Why? Why am I still here? What do you need me to do that I haven’t done already? How do I do whatever I’m supposed to do if I can’t identify it? How do I do it when I’m often too paralyzed to do even the simple things like brush my teeth, shower, cry?

I often think of an instance in my childhood where I felt your presence so completely. I woke up in the middle of the night for no reason that I can remember and opened my eyes to find that you had flooded my room with moonlight. Beautiful silvery moonlight poured through my window and hugged me. Somehow I just knew that it was you who was causing it to happen and you were telling me that you loved me.

So often God you have given me these little signs. A song played on the radio with lyrics that seem to speak directly to me. A flickering candle where there is no draft. Warmth when I should feel cold. Little signs that speak to me and tell me that you care.

I love those signs but I don’t know what to do with them. How can you care for me, love me, when I’ve misused my life? So often I think that the world would be better without me, that I’m worth less than the smallest insect.

When I was in high school, I was in the musical Godspell and had a small solo in a song called “You are the Light of the World.” In my mind, I’ve replaced those lyrics with “I am the scum of the earth.” I try not to sing these lyrics but sometimes I can’t help it. I believe that I am that green, gross, disgusting stuff that you pull out from sink traps and moldy insulation.

Logically, I know you would not bless me with all the things I have if I were so awful. I know it in my brain, but I cannot seem to feel it in my heart. And I know, God that I cannot move on in my life until I do. But I also think that I cannot move on, cannot feel worthy, cannot do what I’m supposed to do until you answer my questions:

Why am I always so scared?

Why can’t I motivate myself?

Why does food do more for me than interaction with people?

Why can’t I be content with what I do have?

Why can’t I open myself up?

Why can’t I accept love?

Why am I still alive?

Why does it hurt so much?

Why, please God, please tell me, why?

Sincerely,

Bonnie.

 

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

O is for One (Reason I Hate Myself)

oI am lying in the fetal position in my bed. Eyes wide, I stare at the fan blowing dust around. It feels like insects are crawling through my innards. My head unconsciously moves side to side. Hair crumples then smoothes, crumples then smoothes. A wet spot grows on the pillow.

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

I sound like a child refusing to eat their vegetables. My breath hitches and I inhale spit. And I can’t stop the fear.

Two minutes ago I had been sitting up, talking on the phone, acting normal. Being normal. Then I said yes. Not to anything weird or illegal. I said yes to a job interview.

Yep, something I’ve been asking for people to give me for the past two months of unemployment sent me into a tizzy. An anxiety fuelled, irrational, inexcusable, tizzy.

A simple request for an interview, something I’ve done many, many times over the years, reduced me to a weepy, childlike, shadow of myself. No longer am I the owner of a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. I’m not an adult woman who took care of her elders for the majority of her life. I’m not even the author of a story that was published in her university’s literary journal of no renown.

From the moment I gave into the anxiety, I believe I became a failure of a person. Unable to handle reality. Unable to be me.

People ask me why I hate myself. This is only one of the reasons.