Tag Archives: friends

Full Reversal

One of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced is alienation.

Being alienated is one of those feelings that just packs a punch…and that punch is not only stronger than a double shot of Everclear; it’s complex. For me, it’s akin to one of those whack-job drinks at chain restaurants with five different types of alcohol and a sidecar of another: It’s pain and insult and degradation and condescension and rejection with a hint of loneliness that only gets stronger and stronger until it becomes the most prominent.

But worst of all, if it catches the victim in the appropriate climate, it can make one question themself…be ashamed of oneself…feel like everything they are is wrong.
It can make one want to crawl out of their skin.

If you’ve read through my blog, you already know that self-esteem used to be a very prominent issue for me; being without confidence and struggling with self-loathing made alienation something that was equal parts devastating and terrifying…it’s just one of those situations over which one cannot exert control, no matter how much one tries. If a person or a group wants to alienate you, there’s not much you can do.

Alienation, though, was the worst when it came from somebody for whom I had strong feelings…such as romance or brotherhood.
A group of bastards who I don’t know, wanting to exclude me from eating lunch with them? Phfft. Go fuck yourself.
Somebody who I had forged a friendship with or I’m attracted to or whatever is a different story.

I grew up in a divorced family, and my father just completely checked-out when my mother left him; he treated both my brother and I not unlike a monster from a German fairy story, and I could never understand why. Things only became worse for me once he had his new wife move into the house with him. I was very comforted when he’d told me that we were NOT guests in his house, but that soon became a bit far-fetched once his adult  stepchildren moved in, usurping our rooms. It took me years to figure out that he hated me because he couldn’t bear the pain of being reminded of my mother every time he saw me, when all he wanted to do was forget about it.

The behavior became worse and worse: My brother made the decision to no longer use his visitation after he and my father had a fight, so I, having a pronounced sense of empathy and prone to gut-wrenching Catholic guilt, had to endure the brunt of my father’s unpredictable wrath.

The toxicity didn’t manifest primarily in physical abuse (even though there was the occasional instance of being hit with a belt); mental or emotional abuse was his poison. I could give examples and go on and on about this shit, but I won’t. I’ll tell you, instead, of one instance, and put it in the form of a question:

Have you ever been left out of a family picture…while you sat there and watched it happen?

Look there: Didn’t even need a metaphor. No wonder I had self-esteem issues, right?

The example is somewhat extreme, but no matter what kind of relationship one is alienated from, it still hurts. When you’re shut out, or it’s very obvious that you aren’t wanted in somebody’s ‘super special club,’ or you watch as others are welcomed into the same position you are banned from…you feel like a child again…a child being put in the naughty chair or stuck with the babysitter or banished from the swingset by their friends.

This feeling’s been kind of rearing its degrading head again lately and, strangely, I’ve decided to challenge this fucker instead of curling into a ball and hiding from it.

As I’ve been going through my ‘personal revolution,’ I’ve come to understand the importance of personal strength, confidence, and self-respect. The answer to the pain that comes with interacting with others usually leads back to having love for oneself, and this issue was no different.

So, please do allow me to tell you what I told myself:

Listen, bitch: Pull yourself together.
They want to play ‘clubhouse?’
They want to behave as if you aren’t ‘important enough’ to let you in?
They want to not take the responsibility to acknowledge the things that they should be acknowledging?
They want to make you the scapegoat, and hand you the short end of the stick?
They want to keep you out because it makes others ‘uncomfortable?’

Well, fuck them.
And that’s not in an angry way, it’s just putting your foot down: Fuck them.

There are people who will make room for you in their lives, and there are people who won’t: You know who they are, and you know what they’re doing. Acknowledge that. Embrace that. You’ve refused to make room for people before, and you know what that means.
So, stop with the pity party you want to throw, stop making excuses for them, and don’t even think about feeling ashamed of the way you run things.

Do you have everything that you’ve ever dreamed of?
No. But this is YOURS, and it’s special and unique and you try to do right and be a moral, honest person, no matter what.
And most importantly, YOU don’t need to toss anybody out of your life to make sure it stays on the straight and narrow, or to please anybody, because you bow to nobody, and you try as hard as you can to work through every issue you may encounter with people who you love because YOU value them.

Do you really want somebody close to you who wouldn’t do the same?
No. You don’t.

They think their lives are so wonderful, but they can’t negotiate themselves because of your presence; they want to shut you out because you can’t step to them? That’s cool. Maybe they can’t step to yours, either, but hey; at least YOU’RE not being a bitch about it.

But most of all, if they won’t make room in their lives for you, they simply aren’t worth it, no matter how much room you’ve made for them. Use a full reversal, and take yourself back from them, because somebody who is careless with you doesn’t care if you break.

Use the effort for somebody who will reciprocate.

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Ordinary Part 2

So, if being a skinny, rich woman with perfect hair is no longer your aspiration, what is?

I want to be a craftsman.

I admire the Hank Hills and Ron Swansons of the world.
I aspire to be being able to rip up a gross, old carpet and lay a brand, new tiled floor…to get an old Mustang and make it purr like a large, disgruntled kitten…to dislodge the God damn garbage disposal out of anger because that thing has fucked with me for the LAST TIME, tell the guy who tries to help me ‘I know more than you’ as I grab a new one at the store, then return home and install it.

There is this…indescribable beauty, this amazing feeling when I remove a clog from a drain or fix a faucet or install a chandelier or rip up a carpet or paint a room, and there is NOTHING like it. I still revel in the time I was changing my mass air flow sensor in the parking lot of an auto parts store in a skirt and pair of high heels, rejecting the multiple offers of help by the men going in or out of the store because I fucking knew what I was doing and LOVED doing it. Even refilling the salt in the water softener gives me such a sense of pride and victory that doesn’t want to go away for a while.
I take pride in home and car maintenance, and I don’t care how strange that sounds.

I want to reside in a smallish community.

Yes, I’m from New York, and I LOVE New York, but I’ve decided that I no longer want to permanently reside in the city…it’s too much: Too much money for too little, and too many people to maneuver around.
Where I’m residing at the moment is wonderful; if one turns right, there is a bigger intersection a few feet down the road that crosses into a more populous and thriving city with many businesses and stores…turn left, and it enters into my town where the traffic is slow and reasonable, the restauranteurs recognize you, and there are wholesome places, such as an antique store, a local history museum, and plenty of small businesses that the townspeople frequent and adore. Hell, I know where the public access TV station is (only two minutes away from my house…it’s great)!
It’s strange because the hustle and the smell and the entertainment of New York is something I never could imagine being happy without, but the more I experience this lifestyle, the more I love it, especially the part about having a yard…that’s irreplaceable.

I want to be able to work in or provide for my community.

Oh, long commutes…you are ridiculous.
I want to know and/or work within my local ‘tribe,’ being a part of where I live, to contribute. I want to build relationships with the people I work with and for, and be able to get together, knowing that they’re only a few minutes away. I think that people are far too detached from one another AND work too far from home, spending so much of their precious time behind the wheel…it’s a waste of life, time that could be spent with pets and family and friends, and it contributes to our apathy. My mother is a nurse, and when I was a kid, she worked five minutes away from home…it was perfect.

These things sound so ordinary, I know.
Usually, if people are speaking of their aspirations, they’re sky-high and glittery…but that isn’t what does it for me. And maybe my aspirations are boring to the rest of you. I know. But when the neighbor across the street gets into his car with his cup of coffee, dressed and ready for work at 4:30 am, I feel the thrill I imagine others feel when they spot their favorite celebrity stroll the red carpet: It’s incredible.

When has it been Easy?

Oh, blog…
Oh, my few but faithful followers…
I have neglected my blog yet, again.

I do apologize.

It was not an easy summer, nor has it been an easy fall…

To address the elephant in the room: I have had some personal projects in motion, and neither have been completed. No, I did not, indeed fulfill my fear challenge or my Jus Sanguinis stuff.

I DID do one of my fear challenges in August, but the other two…well, if you knew what had happened to me, you’d probably understand. Within 10 days, the life I knew was turned upside-down.
I learned who my true friends were, though.

When you have an anxiety disorder, it takes much longer to bounce back; speed-bumps become walls and bee stings become sledge hammer wounds. It takes all of an anxious person’s fortitude, every ounce of it, to pull it together and fight to put the pieces back together.

I fight through perceptions…perceptions of my own, perceptions of others, of what they think I am, of what they think I should be, of where I am, of what I should be afraid of, of what I should be strong enough to endure…along with reality. And, I fight with anger…anger at myself and anger from other people who think I should be able to do this, or should be able to do that and feel slighted when I’m not feeling able to do any of it.

And on top of it all, you need to somehow find compassion for yourself, because if you don’t, you may never find any.

I came to the conclusion tonight that I want to put my Italian citizenship ordeal to rest and find out what happened to my bisnonno. I need to stop running from the truth…to stop procrastinating.

Jus Sanguinis: The Well-Traveled Letter

Three letters made it to the mailbox yesterday:
1. My parents’ marriage certificate request (signed by my mother with her photo identification, the return address being hers, but the money order signed by me);
2. My grandparents’ marriage certificate request (signed by me with my photo identification, the return address being mine, and the money order signed by me);
3. My bisnonno’s birth certificate request.

I drove to the post office to send the letters because honestly, I was paranoid that something stupid would happen if it sat in the mailbox in front of my house for a full 24 hours, and I was not having that. First, I popped the grandparents’ certificate request, then the parents’ certificate request, and when I came to my bisnonno’s birth certificate request, I gave the envelope a kiss before I sent it on its long journey.

I did learn something, though…something important about stamps.

The commune where my bisnonno was born requested a self addressed, stamped envelope. Not being all that seasoned of an international mailer, I figured I’d just need the equivalent postage cost of American stamps.

I was wrong.

American stamps are worthless outside of the American post. I’d basically done the equivalent of flush three stamps down the toilet.

Deeerp.

Like a champ, I’d researched this after I’d sealed the envelope. So, I carefully opened the envelope, took out the self addressed, stamped envelope, and made a new one without stamps. I happened to find two 10 euro notes in my safe, and chose to send one of those in lieu of useless American stamps. I stuffed both the euro note and the new self addressed envelope into the commune’s envelope and taped it closed.

I have four more missions at this point:

1. Get my mother to notarize the three birth certificate requests and
2. send them. Then,
3. get the court order for my grandfather’s birth certificate and
4. send away to get that one, as well.

I did call my good friend’s lawyer mother; she answered and told me that she was driving and couldn’t talk, but she’d call me when she got home. This was Thursday. I still have not received a call back.

And I still haven’t received anything from USCIS.

Stay tuned.

Quiet Because You Care?

I was lying in bed this morning after I had woken up, just having a few quiet moments to myself. These quiet moments bring about thoughts, and these thoughts are typically painful memories that I haven’t quite reconciled with my emotions, and I wind up pining over missed opportunities to speak up or regret having played a part in the situation at all.

The particular memory which came to mind this morning was a phone conversation with a friend from college that happened about 5 years ago.

I was looking through my phone, and realized that I hadn’t spoken to this friend since I had graduated college, and I wanted to reach out and see how she was doing. After I had asked her about her life, we spoke about mine; I updated her on the status of my relationship, and she asked if I was still with the boy I had been dating when I graduated, and I told her I wasn’t.

A quick aside: The boy in question was an abusive person who suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which went beautifully with my now former codependency issues, and our relationship was a 2 year long tornado of dysfunction.

This friend then went on to say some rather harsh and insulting things about the way that I had behaved while I was participating in the relationship.
“You were obsessed with him,” she said.
I was speechless…at first.
“What do you mean, I was obsessed with him? I wasn’t obsessed with him.”
“All you did was talk about him and your issues with him, and how you just wanted it to work when you should’ve just walked away.”
No shit… I thought to myself, rolling my eyes.
I went on to tell her that it was an unhealthy relationship (the most unhealthy relationship I had ever had with anybody), and what she perceived as ‘obsession’ was constant fear of the relationship falling apart.
Yes, the relationship should have fallen apart; I wish it would have FAR earlier than it actually had. But what this girl had failed to understand was that my anxiety about the relationship had very little to do with the boy or the relationship, itself: It was about my self-esteem, which was completely wrapped up in the outcome of the relationship. In my mind, if the relationship failed, it meant my failure as a worthy human being.

When you see it this way, it makes it a pretty damn valid situation on which to fixate, but only if you choose not to view it as what it is…which, I did.
Why would I make a choice like that, though?
Did I enjoy the idea of being miserable forever?
Was it fun for me?

No. It was because I just didn’t know.
I didn’t know my behavior was due to codependency.
I didn’t know that my self-esteem was wrapped up in my relationship.
I didn’t know that there was the option of looking at my behavior for what it actually was.

I honestly can’t blame this girl for being critical of my behavior; I can’t blame her for being honest. I’m not angry with her for that.
That being said, though, I am a bit perturbed.
Why?

We had grown apart as friends…it happens. She was living in a different state, and had a career and a life, and I understand that. It was painfully obvious as we were speaking that she didn’t feel the need to step tactfully around her words because we had already grown apart and we were living about 5 hours away from each other, so we probably weren’t going to completely rekindle our relationship or run into each other at the gas station. I, again,  can’t blame her, because it was an accurate appraisal of the situation. The way she probably saw our interaction was a situation in which she had nothing to lose, so she felt it was fine to openly share what she felt about my behavior in the most direct way (even a bit negatively, in the form of vague insult).

But, where was this direct-speech when I was actually involved in the situation? Why would you tell me when I was recovering from the situation, when you no longer actually care about me?
I could have really used somebody to say:
Fuck being polite! I’m sorry if this hurts you, but you need to know the truth! You’re being a MORON! Can’t you see that you’re hurting yourself? You know he’s an asshole, you say it all of the time! You’re constantly miserable…have you ever even really sat down and asked yourself WHY you’re still with him?

I was upset because she didn’t care to say these things when they were actually relevant…because not once did she say these things to me when I actually needed to hear them.

I can’t say with any authority that her words would’ve changed my life and I would’ve seen the light and broken up with that boy; I have no freaking clue what would’ve happened if she had confronted me about it. I take responsibility for my own actions, so I’m not blaming her for my involvement in the relationship.
But, since she chose to say these things to me in the way she did, and when she did, I remember her as ‘the girl I wish I wouldn’t have called that day’ as opposed to remembering her as ‘the friend who cared enough to open her mouth.’ Her view on the matter became the equivalent of kicking an already broken leg.

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, you need to risk rocking the boat or even losing someone if you see them being self-destructive. It’s just an unavoidable fact of life, no matter how unpleasant it may be. It may not further your reputation, it may cause conflict, but if you honestly love that person in any capacity, it’s the right thing to do. People may be insulted, they may not listen to you, they may even walk away from you…but at least you cared enough to say it.

The Trouble with Tulips

I’d say that most people I know maintain their friendships the way a gardener maintains pansies or roses:

If a pansy should begin to wilt, stick it in the sun and throw some water on it, and it will perk right back up.
Roses, though…they’re different. They need constant attention, lots of sunlight, pruning, et cetra, but if the gardener is consistently paying mind, the payoff is fantastic.

Lately, my friendships, seem to be the most comparable to the gardener and the tulip:

The gardener plants a bulb, spring comes around, and the plant grows extremely fast. The petals look strong and vibrant, and the colors are bright and happy.
However…
Just when the gardener has gotten used to seeing these beautiful flowers everyday, the petals fall off and they’re left with nothing but the green stems. No matter what the gardener does, that tulip has a shelf-life of a couple of days and there’s no way to extend it. They pop up very quickly, and just as quickly, they disappear.

What a bitch.

My ‘tulip’ friendships began around the time I was 26 or so.
I never really had much trouble making friends in the past, but as I got older, it got increasingly difficult for me to find new friendships with staying power. The friends we make in college move away, people have babies, priorities change, and then we’re left in this late-20s rut. Gone are the days of striking up a conversation with the person smoking outside of a building at school between classes or lab partners. Co-workers are sometimes far too different to form a real relationship with outside of the workplace. So, how does one make friends with people in this semi-isolated state?

I was able to find that ‘rare gem,’ that wonderful stranger I found by happenstance a few times, and form a friendship with them over the last four years. About 90% of the relationships have died, and one is currently dying on the table, seemingly unresponsive to any attempt at resuscitation by my hand, or mouth, in this case.

When this first started happening, it really hurt me. To be blunt, it sucks to think of how nonchalant people are when it comes to dropping another person out of their lives. I’ve always seen every person I’ve ever known as a one-of-a-kind original…something that simply cannot be replaced. It’s always been a damn near inconceivable notion for me to just drop a relationship, as I believe there are ways of working our issues out. And there will be issues, as almost no two individuals will never have a misunderstanding or fight of some kind during their relationship. Nevertheless, people will loosen their grips on those with whom they have even the smallest of conflict.
The other issue I have are people who I get along very well with, who are too busy to include me in their lives. This usually happens with people who have children, and I have yet to find a way to break through this barrier.
Either way, I felt like the others were to blame.

After some reflection, I was able to break out of blaming and ‘victim mode,’ and tried to think critically about my role in these tulip friendships. Could I honestly be completely innocent? Could it really be that everybody else in the world is a perpetrator, just waiting to hurt me?
Cue panic:
It IS me! It MUST be! If it were just one or two people who this happened with, then maybe I just found a few bad eggs, but it just keeps on happening! What if this is it? What if I never make any friends ever again? Is this my life? Oh my God…I’m a completely dysfunctional person! I’m too stand-offish! My standards are WAY too high! Nobody will ever care about me the way I care about them!
I’M FUCKED.

Once I calmed down, I thought about the last few friendships that the petals had fallen off of, one of them being a girl who lived a few minutes away from me.
Before she had a job, we spent lots of time together, but after she found full-time employment, every time I asked her if she wanted to get together (like on my birthday), she’d be busy, but she’d call me every two weeks or so at around 9:00 pm, on a weeknight, drunk, telling me to come over. She’d somehow make time for other people, was constantly throwing parties for her other friends…hell, I even helped her make Jell-o shots for a party to which I wasn’t invited, but I couldn’t manage to plan anything with her. She would do these things, then proceed to call me her best friend. I just couldn’t take the mind-fuck of it all, and I had to walk away from it. But, I tried, oh lord, did I try to make it work with this woman because I cared so much about her. Even now, I’m worried about whether or not she’s eating right or drinking too much or if her marriage is alright.
I had a choice to make: Hurt myself and endure, or hurt myself and stop more pain from happening?
I chose the latter.

Pain like that makes you want to go outside and dig up every single fucking tulip bulb in your yard. I swear, sometimes, I just want to hide, to run away, to stop trying anymore: To be frank, there are times I actually do.
Why even bother anymore? What’s the point? Everything turns to shit, nothing lasts, and people don’t genuinely care about each other. All they care about are people who can provide them with money or sex, and no matter how much of yourself you give to them, you will always be second fiddle to them. A throw away…do you want to be a throw away? No; you’d rather be alone.

So, what does it all mean to somebody like me?
What IS the point?

The point is that these people have taught me so many valuable lessons. Sometimes, they were to blame for the deterioration of the relationship, and sometimes, I was. Sometimes, the petals just fell off, naturally. Either way, there were always lessons for me.

Even though I was hurt by my friend, we had some really good and meaningful conversations and provided each other with the intimacy of a close friendship (for at least part of the relationship, anyway). She was there for me for a particularly trying time in my life, and if she hadn’t been, it would’ve been even harder. Most of all, though, she taught me that I do have the strength to walk away from a relationship when it’s hurting more than enriching me, and that is something I didn’t know I was capable of before.

I still want roses, though.
Hell, I’ll even take pansies. I think they’re both a lot prettier than tulips (and smell better, too).
However, the tulip isn’t all bad. The sight of the tulip signals the ending of the cold, lonely winter, and inspires the hope of warmer weather to come…the kind of weather in which roses thrive.