movement and light

Today has been rough to say the least. It’s been one of those roller coaster days that leaves me feeling jostled. I’ve been through a broad range of emotions and pretty much every level of frustration. I’ve also smiled and laughed. Hugged one person goodbye. And eaten ham. What a day.

So, here I am on WordPress. For those of you redirecting here from Blogger (and probably redirecting from LiveJournal before that): Sorry for all the confusion; I just can’t sit still very long. There are several WP features I’m finding I like, especially the fact that someone made a template with the precise imagery for my blog name, so why not give it a shot?

Patrick finished moving out today. I was glad to have a chance to say goodbye to him and give him a hug. The four of us ate dinner together like a family (you know, the two college-age kids and their lesbian parents?) before he headed over to the island to let out his dog, Layla, and get settled in at his new place. I bet he’s getting eager to start physical therapy school in September – I hope it goes well for him.

Today is one of those days I wish I weren’t 11+ hours from Michigan. I had a long conversation with Carla last night and was able to wish her a happy birthday after midnight, but then I received another call from her today with some pretty bad news. It’s been just about the worst possible day for her, and no one deserves that kind of stress and sadness on her birthday. I hope things get straightened out. Tomorrow is Mandy’s birthday, so I wish I could be there for that too. If someone could just invent teleportation, like, now-ish…

One good thing: I get to move into Patrick’s room now. I get to sleep on the squishiest of squishy beds, luxuriate in the pillow-topiest of pillow-tops and swim around on soft, high-thread-count sheets and feather pillows. I really wish you all could experience the difference between the old bed and the new: it’s astounding.

Today, I called out to God for the first time in a long time. I went out behind the office where I used to eat lunch on the grass before August hit, and I cried. I wept and spoke to God for maybe a half-hour. It was long, rambling and not particularly coherent. But I trust that He heard and understood, that He got more than just what I managed to spew out into the air. I have always been very erratic in my faith, and I have vacillated for many years, but I have never stopped believing that God exists. I need to get back to doing something about that now.

This is where it gets a little deep and murky, even for me. Bear with me and read on, if you feel like trudging.

I am a liar. I am fake and dishonest and disingenuous. In so many ways, I am not these things, but in the most meaningful ways, I am. I don’t know whether it’s intentional or just a matter of my lack of self-definition. Who am I? Kevin accused me of being a social chameleon, jumping around from group to group and person to person, all the while “pretending” to fit in with each one. But the connotations of that accusation are malicious: He is saying that I am a user, manipulating people by making them think we are alike, then somehow slighting them (like I’m sure he thinks I did him). When in actuality, the implication should be that I am lost. That I don’t know exactly who I am, but that I find good in many different types of people. I don’t jump around anchoring my evil roots and strangling new growth. I am looking for myself and what parts of the world define me.

But I look too much at others for that definition. I depend too much on their judgment and their acceptance. I bend my values and talk around the truth so that they don’t immediately write me off. But in the end, being someone else so that people will like you means they don’t like you – they like the false version of you, the image you’ve created to be your stunt double in social situations. I’m sick of letting the director of my life (presumably myself) yell, “Cut!,” and bring in a lookalike to finish the scene. The problem is, where do I draw the line if I don’t know who I am? I think of myself as a person of faith, but what if I’m being just as dishonest by popping up within the church crowd as I am by attending a rave on a Friday night? What if I belong in neither place? How do I know what is “me” and what is this sense of me I want others to have?

There are moments when the real me comes through. When I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe. When I’m talking to my best friends on the phone and we’re sharing stories about our day. When I’m drawing a picture on a card for a loved one. When I’m cuddling with a dog. When I’m calling out to the Lord with tears on my cheeks. When I’m talking to myself in the car. Those are real times. So why is it so hard to carry those things with me on my daily journey in life? Why do I feel the need to look away shyly and try to avoid being seen, rather than just standing my ground, feeling strong enough to continue being just the way I am?

Tod told me once that my adamant refusal to be made a big deal over results in an even bigger deal being made. People keep offering me things over and over if I say, “No thank you, I’m fine,” the first time. If I say I don’t need more leg room in the back, they insist on finding the lever to move the seat forward. If I say it’s fine that tomatoes came on my taco, they encourage me (more than once) to send it back because I didn’t order it that way. These are unimportant things! In these situations, I feel like the one at fault is the person who keeps persisting, not me, the one who brushes off whatever petty inconvenience has occurred. I don’t think my insistence on being invisible is totally a reflection of my own low self-esteem and my belief that I am unimportant to others. That is only part of it. Mostly, it’s that I know what it’s like to be inconvenienced, and I have no desire to inconvenience others that way. I want the people around me to be happy. And because there’s no way for me to know whether a person is happy because she can accommodate my long legs behind her seat or happy because she doesn’t have to touch the lever at all, I assume the latter and go with it. So maybe taking up as little space as possible, speaking softly, stepping out of the way of oncoming traffic and avoiding as much unnecessary conflict as possible are part of who I am too.

I just wish that I could be more transparent. I’ve spent my entire young life being guarded, so much so that I’ve trained myself to lie without a second thought. I don’t even have to take a moment to mull over what to say next, how to make myself sound good. I just spit it out: “I don’t like chick flicks either,” “Sports can be cool sometimes – I like college football,” “I’m really into science fiction.” Now, in reality, none of those things are 100% false, but they are not as true as I’m making them sound. But so often I am not tested on these responses – not asked about my favorite sci-fi author, for example – that the person on the other end of the conversation is none the wiser. How incredibly sad!

I feel the need to come clean here. I wish there were a survey that I could fill out that would reveal the truth about me in words and short phrases…

Do you really love animals? I do. But I think I come off as caring more than I actually do. As with human children, I’m not sure I would be successful at raising a pet. I am selfish and lazy quite a bit of the time. I would never starve and animal or neglect it, but would I really be able to handle making it the focus of my daily life? It makes me think I don’t really love animals if I can’t imagine myself being a good pet owner. But I will become any dog’s “aunt,” and I will find any excuse I can to interact with animals on a daily basis. If I had a live-in significant other someday, I bet a pet would be a great addition to the mix. I just don’t know if I’m responsible enough on my own.

How do you really feel about drugs and alcohol? I despise them. I fear them. They are part of that dark section of society that I don’t really understand or want to take part in. I will drink on occasion, but I think it’s generally a bad idea unless everyone wants to get drunk and roll around in the grass or something. But I don’t want to smoke pot again. And I don’t want to watch anyone shoot up, snort anything, drop anything in their eyes or on their tongues, inhale anything or smoke anything. It makes me nervous to think about my loved ones being in situations like these. I don’t like to think about significant others being in smoky parties and watching the gyrating bodies of lithe coeds through a haze of liquor and marijuana. It makes me uncomfortable and scared. I don’t care if that means I’m still 11 years old and in need of a “big girl” pill – that’s just the way it’s going to be.

Have you ever cheated on a boyfriend? Yes. I have cheated in my thoughts and my actions. While dating Jason in college, I sought out men on the Internet who better met my needs and didn’t shut me out. At the time, I felt justified. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve just called it quits before venturing down that road. Maybe I never would’ve ended up in Pennsylvania. Maybe I would’ve wised up before taking any drastic action. I almost made some big mistakes during that period of my life, a period that I will never get back, no matter how strongly I regret it. Beyond Jason, I have done a lot of mental cheating. I have lusted physically after people who I wasn’t dating; I have started seeking other options before a breakup was even discussed. I have made passes at men (all of whom single, mind you – one line never crossed) and been overtly flirtatious with the potential for being skanky. I am not proud of any of it. I wish I could take it all back. But because I can’t, admitting it is the best I can do. And changing my ways.

Have you ever tried to kill yourself? Sort of. I like to say that I’ve attempted suicide twice, but those were desperate moments so full of tears and adolescent heartache that I don’t think I could’ve succeeded in my efforts. I have felt like killing myself at least three dozen times in my life. I have made a list of ways in which I could do it. I have shown that list to one person in the hopes that he would somehow take pity on me and fall in love with me. I was desperate on many levels at that point in my life. My goal is to never be there again. But would I ever kill myself? There’s still a chance. I think there always will be a chance. The depression I have runs very deep within me. And it never fully lifts. I hope I can continue winning the race against it, but I never know what tomorrow will bring.

What are you most afraid of? My mother’s death. Even in the times when I am most hateful to her, and most impatient, she is still the most important person in my life. No infatuation or steady boyfriend will change that. I know I don’t treat her like she’s a major part of my life force, but she really is. We are so much alike and so close that I cannot imagine my life without her. I know it will happen eventually, but I can’t face the thought of that day. The tears spring to my eyes immediately. I cannot fathom the sadness that I will experience, the loss and the despair. I am more afraid of losing her than of being alone the rest of my life. But, shamefully, I will admit that a small part of me will be relieved afterward. Just because I’ve put so much emphasis on this event. Because I’m so afraid of it and so worried about it that I can drive myself crazy thinking about it. Much of my youth was spent fearing my mother had died – when she was late getting home from the office, when she didn’t call to tell me when she’d be home, when she didn’t call to say she’d gotten back from East Lansing after a Sunday visit in college – and even though I think about it less now, I fear it just the same.

…to be continued…

I am too tired for any more honesty tonight. This has been a good start though. More tomorrow, or sometime soon.

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