As a kid, it was the fact that I loved sweets so much.
Ugh, Ice cream is my Nemesis.
As a teenager in high school, I was called “the fat girl” in my class, even though I was a pretty healthy 130-135 lbs at 5’7″.
I’ve never been svelte, like some of my Scandinavian extended family members; instead being closer to the stockier build of my Germanic/Austrian family.
Looking back, I don’t see a fat girl when I look at myself, but I was sure made to feel that way by others.
After having my third child, my weight ballooned. Part of it was getting older, having kids, & not fighting super hard after the third one to get back to my pre-baby weight.
Part of it was emotional abuse I suffered during my marriage.
And, the weight was a “convenient” way to subtly protect myself, and fight back.
The weight prevented anyone from getting “too close”.
It prevented anyone from seeking to get to know me, because there’s that invisible dividing line that stands around fat people…
Fat people are lazy
Fat people are not attractive
Fat people aren’t worth the time, because if they don’t care about themselves, why should anyone else?
And so on…
I lost a bunch of weight after my divorce, too. I went on a program of supplements, worked out really hard, & lost almost 70 lbs, at one point. I felt better physically, sometimes, & mentally, a little.
And then, shit started to go downhill.
I had a bunch of things happen that affected me both physically and mentally, that just…stopped… any progress I’d made.
And, I started to go backwards as far as my weight was concerned.
Physical limitations due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis didn’t help.
Well, the weight was yet another wall between me & the outside world.
People couldn’t, wouldn’t get close enough to hurt me if my weight was keeping them away, right?
I’m sarcastic. This is a given fact, and if you’ve ever met me in real life, it’s fairly obvious after about 5 minute’s worth of talking.
When I’m at work, in front of customers or certain coworkers, I mask.
Masking – a process in which an individual changes or “masks” their natural personality to conform to social pressures, abuse or harassment.
If I’m in an unknown social situation where I’m expected to “conform” to social norms, I mask.
But catch me in a known, comfortable, or laid-back social setting (ex., with friends, or my kids)? And you’ll get the Sarcastic Sister.
And… I use it to deflect criticism, as well.
In fact, I will use sarcastic self-deprecation to head off criticism from others.
I mean, if I’m cutting myself down… what good is it for someone else to attempt microaggressions & insults?
After all, I got there first, and with far better sarcastic insults about myself than anyone else can come up with. Who knows me better than me? Who knows right where to stick the knife so as to thwart further injury by outsiders?
I emotionally cut myself to prevent others from doing so.
That’s priceless logic, ain’t it?
So, to show what I mean, a friend of mine upon moving away, gave me a box of affirmations. In the “advent calendar” style, you can pop one open & read something nice, that’s supposed to boost your mood about yourself.
So, of course, I’ve started opening them, & immediately twisting them.
Cause of how I do.
One day, I decided the shit was deep enough around me, so I’d take it easy on myself…
One of my coworkers asked me yesterday
“How the hell.do you think these things up? Do they just pop into your brain as soon as you read the cards?”
It’s called Maladaptive Cognition.
There’s always that small “voice” in my brain that pipes up to knock me “back into my lane”.
Another coworker told me I should write “sarcastic self-affirmations”, cause they’d sell like crazy. Meh. I know they might, but why risk yet another form of rejection among so many others?
I usually just shrug it off in front of others, & lay it off to “Well, I’m just twisted.”
They agree, & we go on about our business. They’ve been entertained with my antics, & I’ve prevented someone else from hurting my feelings by beating them down a little myself.
Winter is, for me, usually a time of inner reflection. It’s when I do what is called in Paganism, Shadow Work.
And, my Goddess, it’s been a heavy season of revelations.
I’m not listing these in any specific order, just as they come to me.
1. I have been planning on moving for a while now, but the process to get to the actual moving has been slow, and daunting. It’s a lot of work for 1 person to do on her own.
In this, I realized just how much stuff I have.
Gads, the shelves, piles, boxes, rooms… Of stuff.
I’ll never be able to take all of it with me, especially since I’m going to be downsizing my life, considerably.
And yet, I have so many things that were originally given to me as sentimental gifts…
How do you decide?
I was contemplating a clock. Literally.
My grandmother, who passed on some years ago, now, gifted me with a Grandmother clock when I got married the first time. (She gifted clocks to every one of the grandkids when they got married) It’s a gorgeous thing, made of a reddish-stained wood, with beautiful glass in door on the front, split into top and bottom. The top, of course, shows the face of the clock. The bottom is a square in the middle of clear glass, and 4 framing pieces of a lovely wavy, bumpy glass. The bottom shows the pendulum as it swings. The door swings on a hinge so you can open it up and wind the clock with a “key”, instead of like most pendulum grandfather clocks that have chained weights.
This clock used to play a tune on the hour & a piece of that tune on every quarter & half. My first ex-husband broke the music part of it shortly after we received it, by trying to set the time incorrectly. It’s never played music since, but the clock part still works.
During my second marriage, my now 2nd ex-husband, decided he didn’t like the “ticking”… said it was too loud. (Yeah, seriously)
So the clock was stopped, and never rewound. It’s hung on my living room wall ever since, silent.
It has hung there for 20 years, almost 21, now, silent.
And, as I stood there, looking at it, I wondered to myself…
Why do I have a clock hanging up that never works? I should take it down, put it back in its box, and pack it away for moving.
When I move, I won’t have a place for this clock. My grandmother, rest her, is gone. My marriages… both are gone. The whole reason for the clock being gifted… is gone.
Hmmm… maybe one of my girls will want this? My son definitely won’t want it. Has no attachment to it.
And yet, neither of my girls have ever evinced an emotional attachment whatsoever to this clock. This silent clock that they’ve never heard sing. Have barely ever heard ticking.
No one wants this clock.
Even I don’t really want this clock anymore, other than as a tangible reminder of my grandmother… and yet.
I have many other things that remind me of her.
What do I do with it? Do I get rid of it?
I’m sure my mother would tell me to hang onto it. That one of the girls, or one of my grandkids will someday want it.
And yet. That’s so many years in the future. I’m downsizing. I don’t have, and won’t have, room for storage of “future maybes”.
If I get rid of it, my mom will surely have her feelings hurt… but again… it’s my clock. At least right now.
So, it sits on my floor now, I took it down from the wall, and am reminded every day about it.
When I took the clock down, the pendulum started swinging again, and now it sits… on my floor… ticking with the wrong time.
2. I was emotionally and mentally abused in my last marriage.
It didn’t start out that way, of course…(when does it?)
He told my best friend (who introduced us), that when he met me, he loved the fact that I was a “take no shit” kind of woman. I didn’t take crap from anyone, adult, child, or animal. I stood up for myself and made no apologies for that.
This ability was slowly squashed out of me over the 12 years we were married.
I don’t want to go into all the details, but he was a narcissist who had very little, if any, empathy for anyone other than our son, his golden angel.
It took me almost those same amount of years after we divorced to finally come to this realization.
I finally stood up for myself, and we’ve now been divorced for… well, it’ll be 10 years at the end of May this year.
Almost 10 years to finalize the conclusion that I had back then. And it took a friend, former boyfriend, really, to make me realize that. This man, my friend, asked me one night while we were messaging back & forth on facebook…
Are you happy?
And it took me too long to answer him.
I was going to answer “Of course I am!” But, I took a breath, and answered him honestly, instead.
And that was the beginning of the end of my marriage.
The passive-aggressive insults, the subtle slap-downs, the quiet commentary on my lack, on my family’s lacks, on my friend’s shortcomings… they’d all built up into a deep, searing resentment that I couldn’t live with anymore. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I now realize that he’d been doing the same things to my daughters, who were his step-children, and that this constituted emotional abuse of them as well. I waved it off at the time, not wanting to admit to myself that he was really hurting them. I wanted us to be a nuclear family like I’d grown up in. But I was wrong.
The girls have grown up since, both lovely adult women with lives of their own. My EldestDaughter is now a mother herself, to 3 beautiful children. Her eldest, my Schnicklefritz, is my buddy. The younger 2 don’t know me well enough yet to define our relationship, since they’re in Washington state, while I’m here. But once I get moved, and I’m planning on moving closer to them, that’ll shift too.
My YoungerDaughter is a no-nonsense upright young woman who is the first in our family for 4 generations to finish college, and is now a 2nd-grade teacher in Wisconsin. She lives with her long-time boyfriend, and I can see them getting married within the next few years.
My OnlySon, lives with his father. There’s a whole story there, but it’s not always an easy one, and I’m not going into it right now.
Suffice to say, the girls’ upbringing didn’t cause them irreparable harm. They have both been able to overcome it, and have built lives that suit them both.
Me, I’m getting there. It’s been a long, rocky road.
I’m still prone to times of severe depression, with longer periods now of only mild depression, thanks to changing a few things in my life, and the treatment I follow for it. I still have anxiety, pretty much always, but that’s manageable most of the time too, through my medication & things I do for it personally. I am working on it.
And as far as relationships go? Well, I’ve pretty much given up on that, since they’ve all failed, for one reason or another. I’m 50 years old, living alone with my cat. (My son’s cat went to a new home this year)
For right now, I’m contemplating finishing out my years living close to my grandkids, my daughter, and her husband, Moose. (yes, it’s a nickname, but appropriate… he’s 6’4″ for goddess’s sake!)
I’m contemplating being content doing that alone, because I can’t see anyone wanting to take on any of the myriad of years’ baggage I bring with me into any relationship.
Yeah, my self-esteem is still crap. Being ghosted, and/or told you’re not good enough to be in a permanent relationship, lied to, had promises broken because “it’s just not that big of a deal”, having one tell you that the depression is the deal-breaker, and any other number of “yeah, I’m just not going to deal with this woman” actions, is kind of a self-esteem killer.
But… it’s what it is, really. This is my life now. And I’m comfortable with living alone now.
I do what I want, when I want. I am obligated to no one for my time. I don’t have to apologize if I want to stay up late reading, or gaming. I come home, drop my stuff where I do, and it’s still there when I go back for it.
(unless the asshole cat has done something to it)
I can play my music at the top volume, singing along loudly, and dancing through the house, if I want.
I can, and have, paint whatever I want on the walls.
I can rearrange my life, my house, and my mind, in whatever way I want, and I don’t have to apologize, or explain, or defend my choices to anyone.
It’s not horrible.
Yeah, I’d like to have someone to share it with. Sure, who wouldn’t?
But, Relationship has 12 letters.
So does Fuck this shit.
Maybe, someday, I’ll be able to say I’m over it. It’s better, now that I can recognize what it is, truly.
Now, I can focus on what I need to do to heal.
These 2 things are not the end of my realizations this winter. But I’m emotionally exhausted from this session of reliving them for the page, so I’ll end this here.
I’m still going. I’m slower now, more cautious, in my decisions & actions. But I’m still moving, working toward my goal.
Balance. My life for the past… Oh, at least 23 years, has been about trying to find,and maintain, some kind of equanimity. And while there have been a lot of highs and lows, I’ve done alright, for the most part, at my search.
I had a really bad 2 year stretch, depression my constant companion, with anxiety keeping me strung tight & riding the line between dread & the feeling of utter numbness.
I’d fake my way through the days, keeping everything light & surface at work… then I’d come home, and static would settle between my ears. I’d sit in my chair, & stare at a wall for hours on end, until finally realizing the sun had set & it was time to sleep. I’d then lie awake for hours, not able to get my brain to shut off that static noise, problems whirling around inside like a tornado, eluding my grasp & stymying any problem-solving abilities I thought I had.
I came very close during those 2 years to just cashing in what few chips I had. 3 times, I almost took that last, long step.
But something always pulled me away from the edge.
My children. My grandchildren. My Beloved Nephew. They held me to this life long enough to claw my way out of the hole I’d sunk into.
And don’t bother asking what held my head under water, because I don’t know.
Depression doesn’t work like that, at least for me.
It seeps in under the door, around the cracks in the windows, like dark fog, slowly obscuring the light.
You don’t notice it at first.
It’s just a light haze, and you can easily brush it aside.
Until it fills the rooms inside your head with maladaptive thoughts, urging you to give up, give in.
You’re not really going to make anything out of yourself, after all, where are you now? What do you have? Who’s on your side, anyway? Everyone talks about you behind your back. You’re so weird, they can’t handle it. You’re too much. You’re not enough. You’re just….. wrong.
And, it’s always easier to believe the bad stuff. An overheard remark… a backhanded compliment/insult. Passive aggressive comments. A glance in the mirror after your anxiety/depression kicks in, and you’re done.
Yep. You’re just not worth it. No one wants you around. Not to keep. Get over yourself, & just do it.
And the strains of Hotel California start playing in your lizard brain, urging you on.
“You can check out any time you like… but you can never leave.”
You walk a tightrope, every day, between barely making those 24 hours, with your heart in your throat, and your chest on fire, your whole body clenched in knots, or slipping from the heights, plummeting to your final stop.
It’s hard to see the light right now. I can feel the fog rolling in again, after having a respite from the blank spaces for a while. I try to drag myself away from that edge, but the land tilts under me, and I slide…..
Being sad – is not the same as Depression. Being sad is for a reason, for a space of time, even if that space of time is a long one. There is a reason for it, and there are ways to work your way out of it. It’s explainable, logical, even expected, at times.
Being Depressed… *sigh* for me, most of the time, there’s absolutely no reason I can point to where the slide starts. No “thing” I can point to that is the catalyst. It just, exists.
I do the talking thing, not with a therapist, which I can’t afford, but with trusted folks in my life.
I do the medication thing, which helps to keep the BigBad from clawing my chest open, but doesn’t “fix” the problem.
Believe me, if there was a fix, I’d take it.
But, you can only keep the fog at bay, sometimes.
Walk the tightrope.
And hope… that the light starts burning off the fog when morning comes.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this, yesterday, on my drive to & from my folks’ house.
I am a tangle of contradictions.
Most people know one side only, as I keep its opposite pretty well hidden from view.
And nearly all the people who know me IRL, know the jokester, who mixes in with the caring, nurturing part of me. (If I care about you, I care enough to joke with you/about you)
Something I don’t say often, though, is that – once I love someone, it’s forever. No matter how much this can hurt ME in the end. And I’m not just talking about being in love with someone, I’m also talking about Chosen Family love. And there’s a few of those out there.
Beloved Nephew is first & foremost of the Chosen. He is now, and has been for years, my best friend. There could never be anything intimate between us, because we’re family to each other, but he knows me better than anyone else alive.
And he’s seen both sides of my personality.
There are also kids, well, they’re not kids anymore, because they’re godsbedamned grownups now, (yes, I’m feeling the age, here). Kids my children brought home with them, who needed an adult at the time to tell them that they were going to be ok. That they were enough, that they could do this thing called life. I don’t get to see them, or talk to them anymore, because they’ve moved on & past needing me, but I still consider them Chosen Family.
And yes, it stings a little sometimes when I think that, once I wasn’t needed to prop them up, I was forgotten. But that’s what happens. And I don’t want anyone to feel any kind of obligation to me because I was kind to them. That’s selfish. I’m just glad they’ve grown, and hopefully gotten themselves to a good place.
And, yes, there are people whom I’ve been involved with in the past, exes. Who doesn’t have those?
And yes, some of them I love.
To this day.
NOT to say that I’d go back to them, because most I wouldn’t. There was a reason behind the split, and it was needed. I’m healthier, emotionally, mentally, without them in my life.
There’s a couple that I would, but it probably wouldn’t be good for me, so I keep my damn mouth shut. Go me. (sarcastic eye roll)
Not one of them can say they’ve truly seen my other side.
The dark coldness that I keep for only myself.
Y’all have no idea.
There is a detachment that happens when my switch gets flipped. And I can honestly say I, myself, have only seen it truly come out a couple of times. Always in the most dire of situations, and ALWAYS as a protective measure, either for myself, or for a loved one.
Example – cutting my male sibling out of my life.
I’m not going to retell the story, just know that I did it to protect myself from further emotional harm.
The point here, is, that I was able to do it. With no guilt, no remorse, and no second thoughts.
And no one has ever, nor will they ever, talk me out of it. Familial guilt gets nothing.
Talk of blood, of dna, gets nowhere.
After all, his blood, his dna didn’t stop him from hurting me in the first place, now, did it?
Anywho, before I get completely derailed off onto a rant, this is only one example.
But it’s an effective one.
The level of darkness to which I can descend, should I deem it necessary to the situation, is one which most would never seek, and I’m sure, they would never suspect me of reaching it.
But a part of me lives there.
And only the Nephew has seen it, or heard it in my voice.
Probably because he recognizes a kindred spirit when he meets one.
But, I digress.
My tangled dichotomy is pretty balanced, ironically enough.
Because as deep as my darkness goes, that is how far my love extends. And vice versa.
In order to work on myself, I’ve been doing some hardcore soul-searching, and past-life regression.
As in, taking a long, hard, look at who I really was when I was younger…warts and all.
I’m not going to sugar-coat any-damn-thing, or try to rationalize bad behaviors for myself.
If I’m truly going to make any progress with figuring out how I ended up where I am today, & how I can move forward in a healthier way…
I need to get out of my own fucking way.
Because what I’ve been doing up until now?
I know this.
I just don’t know, yet, how to fucking change it.
I know what results I want to see…
I just don’t think I’ll ever get there.
And that makes me even more depressed.
I – grew up fairly sheltered, as a kid. I was a nerd, didn’t play sports – was horribly bad at them, in fact, unless they happened from the back of a horse.
I was shy, and teased and bullied throughout my school years until I graduated high school.
Except when I was around my best friend, who I trusted. Then, I was outgoing, funny, sarcastic & able to open up. She saw a whole different side of me than everyone else, including my creative side, & encouraged me to express it.
In college, which only lasted about a year and a half (I shouldn’t have gone, I really wasn’t ready & wasted so much time & money there), I truly changed.
I had, by this time, lost my virginity, after throwing it away on my one and only high school boyfriend. (Who lasted about 2 months, until after his prom…no joke. But then, I had decided my virginity was mostly a hindrance, anyway, & used him to “get rid” of it… Not because I was in love. *snort*)
At this point, I wasn’t thinking about what had happened to me when I was 16. I wasn’t flashing back to being molested… Although, I’ve never slept on my stomach since that night.
Not once. Not ever.
But, I was using sex as a weapon. Of sorts, anyway.
I used it to feel good about myself.
Because if a guy wanted to have sex with me, that meant I was desirable, right?
That meant I had worth, right?
I meant something, even if it was only for a little while…
It made me feel powerful…in the moment.
Until I felt cheap.
When I was just ignored the next day, if I was even remembered.
But hey, I was a badass, right?
I stomped through the parties with my smartass, snarky mouth, my nickname “Dragon Lady” more because my words could burn people down than because I smoked. I gave no shits…
At least where they could see.
God, did I care.
I burned through a handful of “boyfriends” in college, short-timers, because I would inevitably be a bitch at some point to them, & they’d wander off in search of calmer waters.
I never cheated, don’t get me wrong.
But, I’d drive them off, usually finding that one pet peeve, guaranteed to piss them right the hell off, and pick at that until they’d had just ENOUGH.
Done and dusted, I would be vindicated once again, knowing that I wasn’t worth the trouble. No one was really willing to chase me down & stick with me.
I just wasn’t worth it.
Not for anyone.
After all…when I was molested, even my parents didn’t believe me. They couldn’t even be concerned enough to come get me, instead having family members bounce me from one house to another for almost 2 weeks, before I finally reached home, after the “incident”. And then, it was never mentioned again.
Not until the summer after I quit college.
The summer of my complete abandon, my downward spiral, and their accusations of drug abuse & attempt at throwing me into therapy.