The Literary Jersey Girl

Not all Jersey Girls are about hair, nails, and "WTF"

Category: Blog (page 1 of 2)

Some random thoughts, I think…

I don’t promote my blog in any way. I don’t have any advertising, I don’t have business cards with my URL, and I don’t think I talk about it much. Some of my Facebook and Instagram followers have found my website, but I don’t think I have any “organic” followers.

Tonight I gave out my URL to several potential new followers during a group meeting. Funny how it came about. We were discussing things we were proud of ourselves for, and things we’ve promised ourselves. I mentioned that I’ve promised myself to keep up with my writing, my website, and my blog.

Ears and eyes perked up around the room, and I was asked for the URL. I felt my face get hot, and it took most of my willpower not to pull my shirt collar up over my face (which has become my go-to move when I can’t literally “hide”). There was no hiding. There was no way to deflect. These folks genuinely were interested and curious. So, I gave out this site’s address, and wondered just how many people would actually look up the website. A couple people asked what my blog was about, and instead of delving into the details of how and why I started it, I said that it was based on some of my life experiences and things I struggle with.

As I drove home, I realized that the bulk of my writing could be considered negative, or based on negative experiences. If I am trying to grow into a better person, how am I serving my growth and healing by wallowing in the negative experiences of the past? At this point, wouldn’t it serve me better to write about some of the more positive things in my life?

And that’s what this post is about. This is written tonight, 9:30 pm on 11/12/19. This will be published immediately, with little to no editing (spelling and grammar only). Taking a cue from this evening’s meeting, I have an awful lot to be grateful for.

I don’t see them often enough, and they don’t live close enough, but I have a circle of good, true, close friends. I call them my tribe. A core group of folks who are decent people, who I can turn to for advice or a laugh or a chat when needed. Over the past year I ferreted out a couple of bad friends, but it made me appreciate the good ones even more. Some of them are friends from childhood and high school. Some are friends I got to know as an adult. No matter, I am fortunate to have these people in my life.

I have a great job. I don’t make a lot of money, but I can pay my bills. More importantly, I have a true passion for my work and I believe in what I do. I love my job, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to return to school and enter a career I love. Like most lines of work there are negative aspects, but I get to meet and interact with a variety of people. Some of them I even have the privilege of helping.

I look back over some of the things I’ve been through, and DAMN I am a tough chick!! I am resourceful and strong, and no matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve managed to land on my feet. That’s something I’ve tried to keep in the front of my mind over the roller coaster this past year. I am stronger than I think I am, and I’ve handled just about everything the best way I could at the time. Is my life perfect? Depends on how you define perfection, I suppose. I have just enough to work for to keep things challenging, and enough good things to keep me fairly happy most of the time. I’ve created a life on my own that I can be proud of. I make plenty of mistakes-who doesn’t-and I try my best to learn what I can from them.

I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, decent health, a car to drive, and the use of all five senses. I have books to read, a decent education, and the beach is just a short walk away. I have people who love and care about me, and people to love and care FOR.

Despite the best (??) efforts of bad, negative, and/or toxic people, I am here today. I am alive. I didn’t just survive my past, I surTHRIVED and I continue to do so.

(originally published 9/5/19)

Reading “Life Inside My Mind” edited by Jessica Burkhart. An anthology of 31 writers who share their personal struggles with various mental health issues. And smack in the middle is an essay by Melissa Marr entitled ‘How to Deal With Me…and My PTSD’
Melissa describes her struggles with going into crowds…with being touched by strangers…needing to sit with her back to a wall….nightmares and night terrors…exaggerated startle reflex upon hearing loud noises or raised voices….
And I’m right there with her. Or I was for many years. Way too many years. Melissa talks about the ways she has gotten better; but how she regresses when life gets stressful.

In the midst of my own life stress right now…some of my night terrors have returned. Panic attacks have reared their ugly heads again the last couple weeks (it took me an episode or two to realize what was happening and why I was shaking and crying uncontrollably when I was safe at home-ugh). Touch hasn’t been too much of an issue, thank god. People don’t always react kindly when they touch your arm harmlessly and you flinch and jump. Probably because they don’t understand. One recent day I was highly upset when someone I know well came to see me. They went to hug me and I flinched ever so slightly. I was hoping they didn’t notice…but they did, because they asked if a hug was OK. I felt embarrassed; this is someone who can hug me without asking. This of course set off a whole new set of worries: what if they can’t understand or accept that this may happen from time to time? What if I can’t find a way to overcome everything? What if…what if…what if…

I almost cried in solidarity here at work as I read Melissa’s words. Her reactions and her triggers are so fucking familiar. My god, I really am not alone. I’m not the only one fighting this, struggling along some days, or feeling like I’m wading through mud as I recently told a medical professional.
I’m beginning to accept that I may have had-and still have-PTSD, or the remnants of it. And I wonder if that means anything different for me. No, I have not been formally diagnosed; but medical and mental health professionals have told me in casual settings that it’s very likely. I’m not really willing to be formally diagnosed and have that label in my medical files. I don’t know if a formal diagnosis matters at this point.
What matters to me is that a fellow writer has the same struggles. And has spoken about it. Just like me.
I am not alone.
💜 I am not alone 💜
And neither are you, fellow survivors.

(originally published 10/7/19)

It’s time to get down and dirty again with another peek inside the mind that belongs to everyone’s favorite blogger (that’s me, in case you didn’t know.)
I’ve ripped open my heart, showed you some of the dark recesses of my brain, and shined a light on my not-so-awesome past life. So what’s left? What else can possibly lurk behind this screen and keyboard, as I sit here typing on a mild sunny day?
Fear.
Yes, FEAR.
Some of my loyal followers have called me brave, courageous, even fearless. It’s time to drop the mask. I am not fearless. Not at all.
As the nights get longer and the weather cools, I am more afraid. Of the dark? No, not really. Not technically. Not in the way you might be thinking. It’s the darkness and chill of winter that scares me, not so much the dark itself. Actually, it’s what happens during the dark cold days of winter that frightens me more than winter itself.
As the days shorten and the temperature drops, I feel a change within. No, I am not turning into a werewolf or a vampire, so put your silver bullets and crucifixes away, please. The easiest way to explain, I guess, is a change in my mindset. I’m not sure if it’s a change in body chemistry or hormones, or attitude. I’m not sure if it’s a seasonal disorder. And i don’t know if it’s a combo of the cold and dark coupled with… well, feeling like an outsider during the time of the year most closely associated with spending time with loved ones.
If you’ve delved into my website, you know I am mostly estranged from my family of origin, by my choice. It’s a choice I still wrestle with, usually as the winter holidays rear their heads. It’s difficult to explain this to people I don’t already know. Those who know me, know not to ask. I can usually deflect questions by turning them around and asking the asker about THEIR holiday plans. If that fails, I can usually cry poorhouse and say that traveling to my family of origin is too expensive (it kind of is anymore). Barring that (because there’s always some too-chipper asshole telling me about 99 dollar flights and shit…trust me I have better things to do with 99 bucks…) I can vaguely mention that time off is too difficult to come by (it is, really).
Even though it’s my choice, I think its the combo of all of this that drags me down after Halloween passes. I don’t think people understand just how fucking emotionally tiring it is to be on the defensive all the time; all while trying to slog through the cold and the dark and the yuck that winter is to me.
And what scares me the most as winter approaches (I’m not the only one hearing Ned Stark and Jon Snow in my head intoning, “WINTER IS COMING!” am I??) is how my mind begins to work. The thoughts that creep up on me and all but take over sometimes. It is an almost-constant battle between me and myself, if that makes any sense. The me that has hope, is optimistic, and tries to see the good in things and people. And Dark Me…the one who fucking hates life, who feels worthless and unlovable, lonely and afraid. The one who wants to, sometimes, quite literally, curl up in bed and die.
Last winter was not a good one emotionally or mentally. And at this moment, today, right now…I am afraid of this coming winter.

Playing the Odds, or Where There’s a Will There’s a Way (11/27/18)

(Originally published 11/28/18)

Karma is not always a bitch. Sometimes Karma comes swashbuckling in like a pirate, charms your fears into oblivion, then plunders and pillages at will. Once Karma is done, the Jolly Roger is hoisted and Karma slips away quietly, cruelly, with nary a word or look back.

I contemplated this while sitting across the table from my dear friend T, listening as she talked, tears rolling down her face. 
“What is WRONG with me??” she cried, relaying a recent heartbreak. My own heart ached for her pain. I sat and listened, and handed her tissues from time to time as she told her tale of a summer romance gone sour once fall arrived. 
“I don’t know what came over me,” T said. “I trusted him. I believed all the things he said. I let him behind THE WALL.”

Oh…THE WALL. The wall T put up to shield her heart from further hurt. To keep her from being too vulnerable. This guy had gotten behind THE WALL? Damn… 
I didn’t have the heart to tell T that she jumped into something new too soon. My girl was just out of a relationship with an unaffectionate man who largely ignored her when Mr. Summer Love (SL for short) came along. Maybe SL was a bad guy, maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know him. But the time was wrong for T. She was raw and a little fragile. So of course when SL swooped in with hugs and kisses and intelligent conversation and attention, T was smitten. It certainly didn’t hurt that SL was charming; as well as tall, dark, and handsome, with a killer smile. Like the intelligent gal T is, she told me she held back her feelings. She put them behind THE WALL and kept her cool. And SL pursued her, hard. He complimented her. He called her. Sent texts. Remembered things she mentioned in passing. He did all of the things an attentive boyfriend would do. He even referred to her as ‘significant other,’ called her pet names, and said they were ‘in a relationship.’
“It was thrilling,” she gushed despite her tears. “I never had this happen before. I was sure he was sincere. I could ‘feel’ it, you know? I could see it in his eyes,” I believed her. Or at least I believed that SHE believed that. I’m a skeptic; had it been me, I doubt I’d have fallen for it. But that’s me, and maybe I’m weird. Or impervious to charming, handsome men. Whatever.

T finally opened up to him and confessed that she too was feeling the things he said he was feeling. “He even said he knew the ‘odds’ were against it working. He asked me to promise to remain friends with him no matter what. And so I promised,” T sighed. She decided to play the odds. Maybe any one of us would have if we had been caught off-guard by that smile and the cool logic applied when discussing ‘the odds.’ It was too good to be true.
Then, in the fall, after months of daily calls, sending texts throughout the day, and SL asking to see her every weekend, he abruptly vanished. Stopped calling. Stopped responding to messages. No explanation, nothing. She initially worried about him, because he was going through some personal challenges. But when he didn’t even respond to her request for the return of her belongings, she went from worry to anger and hurt. SL’s final text was a half-ass ‘apology,’ two simple words: “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for WHAT?!” T wailed to me. “What did I do? What did I say? What did I NOT do or say?” I sat helplessly because I had no answer for her. I didn’t know him. T had friends who did though, and all of them told her what a great guy SL was. Genuine, willing to help anyone, decent, the ubiquitous ‘nice,’ and even awesome were some of the adjectives she said were used to describe him by mutual friends.
“If this nice, awesome guy treats me like a worthless piece of shit whore, then it must be me,” T whispered. “It must be me. I must be a worthless piece of shit whore.” T’s shoulders slumped resignedly, tears streaming from her eyes. I told her that she was no such thing, and at the same time, I imagined I would think the same of myself in her shoes. Ghosting is what the kids call it; I call it a clear sign of disrespect and cowardice. Actions speak louder than words, and these actions erased any kind words SL had ever said to her. It made me angry to see my friend in pain. I didn’t understand how an adult, which is what SL supposedly was, could behave this way. Their mutual friends had no explanation and no real comfort for T, firm in their stance that SL was “an awesome guy,” and that T should ‘keep an open mind’ about the whole thing. 
“And I still don’t have my belongings back,” T continued. “And it’s not so much the stuff, it’s the principle. I have half a mind to show up on SL’s doorstep some random evening and demand he return my things immediately.” My logical mind knew she had a legal right to her belongings, my emotional mind understood her need for closure, but my practical mind saw this would play out with T as a nutjob and SL as the nice guy in the middle of a life crisis while some crazy bitch on his doorstep is hysterically crying about ‘her stuff.’ I took T’s hand and looked her in the eyes. 
“I don’t think you’re going to get closure,” I said gently. “I don’t think you’ll be getting your things back, either. And as to the friendship…well who knows. Only time will tell.” I knew T didn’t want to hear this, but she needed to. I think T will have to find closure within herself, which I told her. I also reminded her this was a Classic Rebound…and now it was over. The Rebound was out of the way and finished. I saw T’s face light up a little as she realized this. Perhaps this is the closure she needed.
“Don’t worry,” T said “I’m not planning on showing up at his house. He’d probably call the cops, considering his experience with his psycho ex.”
“He has a psycho ex?” my eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You may have dodged a bullet, T. He needs to get his shit together after dealing with a psycho. SL probably did you a HUGE favor by ghosting you,” I nodded sagely.

This brings me back to Karma. My hurting friend believed that she had done something, somewhere, some time, to warrant such treatment. To deserve this Karma, so to speak. And her description of Mr. Summer Love, the way he swaggered in, buccaneer-like and handsome, charming her defenses down to nothing and scaling THE WALL-sounded less like the bitch Karma is often described as, and more like a pirate (play along with me here, I’m envisioning a modern-day Errol Flynn, charming and masculine…) This man pirated my friend’s happiness and stole her peace, albeit briefly. But was this an act of Karma? Or was this something else? I suppose it depends on whether you believe in Karma, or whether you think SL is a bad person, or you think T is gullible. 
As for me, I believe it was a case of poor timing, mixed together with two lonely, hurting people. Could T have resisted the charms of SL, maybe not jumped into seeing him every weekend, maybe held on to her reserve a little longer? Could SL have been more up front and not dragged Friendship and Promises (caps intentional, because T keeps promises, and true friendship is dear to her) into the whole thing??
Perhaps. But that’s not what happened. 
If nothing else, SL has become the personification of Karma for T, if Karma were a pirate. Cap’n Karma, if you will. And, T got her rebound out of the way.

Mind you, I only know T’s side of the story. Neither she nor I know SL’s/Cap’n Karma’s side. Heck, I don’t even know Cap’n Karma (has a better ring than SL, don’t you think??), so I can’t begin to guess what he might say. An ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ perhaps? Which, by the way, is NOT an explanation or reason in itself. It’s a lazy-ass way of getting OUT of an explanation.
Who knows, maybe Cap’n Karma will contact T and explain. In which case I might be able to publish a second part to this tale. But for now… 
I see my friend’s pain, and I’m providing her with the outlet she doesn’t have, that is all. I’m also providing my followers with some food for thought regarding Karma, and how you sometimes need to take a step back and see a painful situation from a new perspective.

5/11/19

Feeling pensive tonight. Brooding, in fact. I thought about eating or drinking my feelings, but I’m getting a little old for that nonsense. At the same time, a glass of wine and some cheap Chinese takeout do lend a sort of authenticity to my current mood.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, I’ve written more than once about pain. Not so much physical pain, but mental and emotional pain. Not that I consider my writing to be overly depressed; yet pain is a topic that comes up over and over in my ruminations. Why? We’ve all endured emotional anguish. Some of us have found our way through, some have not.

Feelings were not permitted in my home growing up. You were shamed, punished, or taunted if you showed hurt, sadness, any softness or vulnerability. The only acceptable negative emotion was anger.

I spoke once that pain comes in many varieties. I was speaking of your own pain, caused by something you did directly, or that happened to you directly. What about the pain you feel on behalf of another? That empathic, empty, helpless pain as you watch someone you care about hurt. There’s not a thing you can do to help or assuage their feelings. It’s the helpless part that bothers me the most. Especially if it’s a pain you know, because it is something you went through yourself. The helpless feeling comes because we can’t truly feel another’s feelings. Emotional pain should be scaled, like physical pain. My cat died in my arms; that was like an eight for me. For someone else, it might be a six. Because we can’t gauge or truly experience someone else’s pain, we don’t know what might make them feel better. Or at least I don’t. As good as I am with words (and let’s face it, I *can* turn a phrase…), this is where I am often truly speechless. I don’t know what to say, how to say it, should I hug them, should I leave them alone…what?!?! What is the right thing, the best thing, the most comforting thing I can do? I usually find myself saying I’m sorry they are hurting, and then telling them to call me if they need anything. But that seems so weak. What I want to say is something like, “It pains me to see you hurting. I want to make you feel better but I don’t know how, or if you would want me to.” Something along those lines- like, tell me what you need from me so I can be there. Or if you want to be left alone, tell me and I’ll fuck off for a little while. I want to be a good friend when people I care about are hurting, but I don’t know how. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. And I wonder if my weak offers of condolences and assistance do more harm than good.

I like analogies, and when I come up with a good one, I like to share it. A favorite is that relationships are like a two-person rowboat. I may have a new favorite now, and that is the idea that watching someone you love endure pain that you yourself have experienced is akin to watching them walk on a bed of hot coals. You can’t walk on the coals for them and take on that pain…yet you’ve been there and you know how fucking hot those coals are. And as you see the pain in your loved one’s eyes, and see them wince, you wince along with them because you were walking on those same coals not long ago. However, you’re helpless. You can’t walk on the coals for them. All you can do is walk along beside them on the cooler ground, encouraging them and holding their hand.

MY imposter syndrome takes steriods…

I’m not good enough. That pervasive, not-specific-to-any-event feeling of inadequacy appears, for me, at the most inopportune times. Does this happen to anyone else? Sometimes for me, it hides behind a case of imposter syndrome. But I’m more plainspoken and this was more than imposter syndrome. This time it was a force that spun me to the past and said, authoritatively, “Look! You aren’t GOOD enough!! You aren’t ENOUGH! Not good enough THEN (provides proof via flashbacks, spins me to the present) and NOT enough NOW! Fool,” it scoffed.

The voice is right in a visceral, tangible way. The voice is also wrong, but the problem is the wrongness is not as apparent as the rightness. I have proof of the rightness. I don’t have proof of the wrongness. I feel like I ‘have to’ say that the voice is wrong because that’s what you’re SUPPOSED to say when someone (or some voice) talks smack. But sometimes…I don’t really feel that way. I agree with that voice because I am a realist. And what I see is the tangible proof of rightness, and lack of proof of wrongness. And I don’t know how to let that go.

The tangible proof of the voice’s right-ness hurts; an actual physical pain right near where my heart is anatomically located.

This is a really hard thing to write about. I’ve never talked about it with anyone. I can’t. I’m afraid it will sound too much like I am fishing for compliments or assurance or something. I’m not. At least I don’t think I am. I want organic admiration; not because someone thinks I want to hear it, or need it, or to make me feel better.

I just want a damn hug. No words. Maybe someone who understands how this feels and can tell me that. There really is some assurance in simple physical contact.

Sometimes I wonder if I would feel better if I found out whether I was, in fact, “good enough” or “enough” or maybe, just maybe, “too much.” How do you even ask such a question, or begin that conversation? There is no way that I can come up with that feels comfortable for me. It’s an exquisite agony, this ‘need-to-know-wait-don’t-tell-me’ feeling.

I will never have an answer. Never know for sure. Therefore this ugly feeling will return. And I will once again drown in this whirlpool of not-good-enough-ness….

12/28/17

When I can’t think of a title, I always use the date. Always have. Probably goes back to those notebooks; I dated every entry.

I have stuff on my mind. I’m sure writing would help ease the burden…but I hesitate. I’m mindful of the public forum here. I have a hard time really talking to anyone, too. So it’s all inside, and I think it’s behind how shitty I’ve felt recently.

I’m not even sure how to start…which is obvious from the procrastinative meandering I’m doing. Is procrastinative even a word??

Things are strange at home. And I don’t know if it’s just me. My partner and I don’t have any mutual friends anymore, so there’s no one else to see any of this stuff. That’s another weird thing, maybe, but that’s probably another piece of writing.

My partner comes home a different person after he spends a couple hours with his work friends. Like with a completely different personality. And I suspect he’s doing more than drinking with them. He has a history of dabbling with, well, substances. Medicines. Stuff that is stronger than booze or weed. He comes home completely wasted, and mean.

It’s not just that. He’s not really even a partner. I mean, I don’t feel that way. I didn’t always feel this way though. Things used to be different.

We had our problems; everyone does. My turning point was the summer of 2012. It’s kind of a long story. The husband of a couple we were friends with thought it was ok to grope me and proposition me. I told my partner how uncomfortable it made me, and he blew me off. I was afraid of this guy. I mean, one night I actually slapped him, and my partner called me out for it.

One day the husband cornered me at their house, asserting his right to “feel those double Ds mashed up against me,’ and my partner happened to see it. We ended up leaving the party, to a chorus of name calling. My partner said nothing. Not a word. My partner then expected me to return to the house for another party a few weeks later.  After I explained how it all made me feel-again. How afraid of this guy I was. My partner couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. I tried playing sick, but my partner more or less forced me to go back there. I told  the wife what had been going on and how it made me feel. I actually downplayed the things he did and said to me. She stuck up for her husband, which ended our friendship. No one stuck up for me.

Now, five years later, now that all of this assault and harassment shit is coming out, NOW my partner apologizes to me. That apology felt hollow though…like an afterthought.

My partner continues to maintain a friendship with this couple. Betrayed doesn’t cover how I feel. I feel violated all over again. I never gave this man permission to touch me-I hit him, pushed him, said NO every single way I knew how, and he still felt that my body was his property. Other women, I later learned, suffered worse; like the friend he climbed into bed with, naked, when she was too drunk to realize what was going on.

Part and parcel of a life partnership is to have your partner’s back. To defend and protect them if needed. He doesn’t have my back. He destroyed my trust that summer. And I really think that opened my eyes, and maybe even changed my attitude. It had to have. I put up a wall to protect myself. And now I sit in my little fortress, inside a gilded cage of sorts. I’m Rapunzel.

I’m also very alone. And sometimes, like today, it is really REALLY hard. A partner is supposed to share the burden, at least that’s what I thought. Or help row the boat.

I’m rowing the damn boat alone and my fucking arms are tired.

Feeling a bit like Carrie Bradshaw…

It occurred to me I seldom think about my preferences. Say what now?? Doesn’t make sense…of COURSE everyone thinks about their preferences.
Not so. Not me, anyway. Allow me to illustrate…
Consider a multiple choice question. Especially for a subjective test. You read the question, then review the choices. At least one is glaringly wrong. Two or more are mostly wrong. Then there’s usually at least two that are more right…maybe not the exact choice you’d make…but they’re the only choices left. So you pick one.
My life is exactly like this. Is everyone else’s, too?
A recent encounter boiled down to three options: don’t do it at all, choose what’s presented, or provide a suitable alternative. Not doing it was glaringly wrong. That left me with two other options…honestly neither was my preference. So I picked the one that was least wrong. Is that what life is? Living with what’s the least wrong? Is life really a giant multiple choice quiz??

On being mostly estranged from your family during the holidays

I find some irony in the fact I almost religiously kept a journal from about age 13 until I was about 21 or 22. Nothing fancy, a series of spiral-bound notebooks. I would write down dreams I had, things that went on during the day, my thoughts, any feelings I had…anything was fodder for my writing. I wrote so much that I developed a knot or a callus on the top knuckle of my right middle finger (I’m a righty). I don’t write by hand much anymore, but that knuckle still has a small knot.

The irony comes in when I sit down at the keyboard now to write. Sometimes nothing comes. Was I simply overflowing with more thoughts when I was younger? I doubt that. Maybe I made writing more of a priority. I can remember so many nights in college-after classes and partying and probably a shower, I’d still sit up and write about something that happened that day or night. Maybe that is the 1990s equivalent of drunken Facebooking. Except, THAT writing wasn’t public. Probably a good thing…

It’s almost Christmas. I can take it or leave it. I am mostly estranged from my family of origin, so any ‘traditions’ are long gone.  My partner’s family has made so many (in my opinion) unreasonable demands of us, both financial and otherwise, that any remaining warm thoughts I had about this season were pretty much kicked in the nuts.  I started working on a piece of writing about all of this, but I have not been back to it in a couple weeks. It’s a weird situation, and hard to explain. I deal with my family of origin if and when I want to.  They have caused me so much pain since my youth that I keep them at arm’s length now. Truthfully, I don’t trust them either. Not my parents, not my sibling-none of them.

What can one objectively say about their family, anyway? Everything you say is heavily colored by your own experience with them, and there is no objectivity there. I had an interesting conversation with an old friend recently that reinforced what I always thought about my mother.  She is a cold woman. A cold person. I don’t think she wanted to have children, but felt like she had to or was ‘supposed’ to. I think by the time I was 10 or 12, she was over the whole ‘motherhood’ thing. Anyway, my old friend mentioned to her own mother that she and I met for dinner. Her mother naturally asked about my parents, and my friend responded that I was estranged from them by my choice. My friend’s mother then told her daughter-my friend-that she always felt my mother was cold. That my mother had never taken any real interest in her own children, nor her children’s friends. She felt badly for my situation, but that she could understand how I felt. My friend showed me the text exchange between she and her mother, and I was, among other things, relieved.

This is exactly how I felt about my mother. EXACTLY. And I gained another bit of relief about my decision. Because it is not always easy. There is still a part of me that wants their approval or something. I have to remind myself that it isn’t going to happen. I am 46 and I do not need their approval.

Still…

I see friends and aquaintances talking about family parties and such, and I do feel a little wistful. And strange…I can’t put a finger on this strange feeling. Maybe because I don’t understand the experience of looking forward to seeing family-or I don’t remember it. There was a time when I looked forward to seeing cousins and aunts and uncles…but no more. It is all too awkward anymore, for me anyway.

Although I feel like I am on the outside looking in, I do not need or want sympathy. I generally do not talk about this part of my life, and usually deflect questions about what I’m doing for the holidays. My experience is that people think they should offer condolences. They shouldn’t. I’m not sorry. I’m doing what I need to stay emotionally healthy.

My partner is also not close to his family of origin. Instead of spending the holidays with me, he works. I have the type of job that is closed for holidays. He works, he says, so that people with families can be with their families.

Um…dude, *I* am your family. What about me?

And there’s the kick in the nuts…I spend the holidays alone. My partner works, and I stay home. Sometimes it’s ok, and sometimes it sucks major ass. There isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. The few times I went to a friend’s; I got flack because my partner didn’t get a holiday meal. Dude…really. Take a day off then and stop making me feel guilty.

I chose feeling lonely over feeling guilty…and now I wonder how the other choice would feel…

 

This is how it is

I’ve neglected my writing, and that might be part of the problem.

I’ve tried to work on odds and ends, but nothing is coming together. Pieces that started strong and felt right to me fizzled out. I’ve got a collection of half-written thoughts that I can’t fully flesh out.

I feel that parts of me are scattered, too…not coming together. Namely my heart. At times I feel I’m torn in two. At times I feel like my insides are a yawing abyss; that I will be empty forever. I’m empty inside and I ache.

I wonder how much of my soul I lose each day I’m determined to sleep in the bed I made. Because goddammit I’m afraid to do anything different. I hate my fear, but i know it keeps me safe. I’m safe here. I may not be loved,  but I am safe.

I love someone who doesn’t love me back, and I don’t know how to stop. God I don’t know how many times I’ve wished for a pill or a shot to erase the feelings and the memory of the feelings…and the memories of him. He permeated every part of me.

I wrote him a letter and told him how I felt. That he was the benchmark for any relationship I considered after I met him. And everything in him spoke to everything in me. I told him what an incredible person I thought he was.

I still have that letter.

I can’t give it to him.

He loves someone else.

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