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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My First Purge

This was written almost two months ago.  I have cleaned up some of the language, grammar, and punctuation but for the most part it stands intact and in raw form.

June 29, 2010

2500+

This is my first attempt to compose 2500+ words a day.  I'm not even sure what 2500 words looks like at this point but I guess I'll find out (sooner, rather than later, hopefully).  But, wait, that sounds like I'm treating this like a chore.  In reality, if I am a writer (like I hope to be), I should treat the 2500+ words a day that I put together and arrange as an artist would treat his masterpiece.  Every stain, color, and blip on the canvas is a joy to place and has its meaning and purpose.  So, not only should 2500+ be something I look forward to but I should also treat it as a necessary component of me being a writer, an artist with words.  So, this should be a pleasant experience, right?

I can't look at it as an exercise or a 'task' in carrying out my 'job'.  Besides, tasks are menial and jobs are limiting.  This 2500+ should be a pleasant ritual that I treat as sacred and a purposeful element to my growth as a writer.

For days I've debated how to actually compose this, what seems an enormous, amalgam of words.  Should I try to do it on the laptop?  Should I do it the 'old-fashioned' way and use a pen and paper and actually write in a notebook (the purple one with the nicely perforated edges in case I want to dismember the notebook)?

I also deliberated over what time of day should this be done.  Should I do it in the morning after I've had breakfast and before 'The View' (yes, I still have my priorities)? Or, should I do it when I seem to be composing junk in my brain?  As it turns out, that time is usually 11:30 p.m. when I've just shut off the television or dozed off and am trying to clear my head for a long, peaceful sleep.  This seems the most inconvenient time but, let me tell you, I compose a lot of good shit in my brain.  The problem, thus far, is it's still in my brain!  I always want to write it down but then I hem and I haw and I talk myself out of it.  Most times the next morning when I revisit what my 'brilliant' thoughts were the night before I am most embarrassed at my honesty and mostly, corniness.  Sometimes it is too angry and raw and emotes things that should be kept to myself.  But, I realize, this is inevitably the problem!

I've got all this stuff on my brain and it is messing up my ability to function properly.  It has been sitting dormant for years but like a volcano it is ready to erupt at any moment.  And, yes, there are days when I experience spillage of the brain.  It comes out hot, mean, and aggressive.  There is a lot of pent-up anger in there.  Raw emotion and garbage that has been packed away like a sardine for years.  And let me tell you, the shit is getting ready to smell.  I mean really stink up the place.  In reality, it already has.  I've stuffed all the emotional crap deep in the file cabinets of my brain and it is time to purge them files, baby.

The purpose of consuming food is to give the body energy.  But, not only have I lost sight of that, I've used food to bury the pain of my past.  Yes, people, I am a morbidly obese, middle-aged woman with many pounds of baggage, really garbage, stuffed in her brain.  I'm ready to explode and splatter this stuff all over the pavement.  And, if that happens, the clean-up will last for days, even weeks, like the recent Icelandic volcanic eruption that disrupted airline transportation throughout Europe.  Full-functioning will literally stop if I don't release these toxins.  There is so much shit to tell.  So much emotion to confront.  So many opinions to display (without criticisim, well, okay, there will be criticism but I should be at the point where I don't care).  The need is so big that the repercussions should be the least of my worries!  This is where I start chipping away all the mildew, moss, and muck that have accumulated over the years to reveal my true identity, my authentic self.

So much new age, self-discovery crap is being talked about (especially on Oprah) and it seems women my age are eating this shit up.  Yes, me too, I confess.  But I think there is something of value to it.

As women we get so caught up in our roles in society that as we grow and mature and put on the many different hats that we do in life (daughter, wife, mother, co-worker, friend, neighbor, volunteer, niece, grand-daughter, cousin, lover, patient, etc.) we lose sight of the person we started out as.  The little girl, sitting in her bedroom, dreaming of what her future will be.  What will fulfill her?  What makes her excited, energized, and ready to take on the world?  What gives her the confidence to be herself and declare publicly what she wants to be when she grows up?!  Sadly, most of us have lost that innocence and feeling that we can conquer the world and do our 'thing' that gives us joy (with no public criticism).  We get sucked into performing these roles up to societies' standards and we lose our authentic self!

I can still visualize myself as a little girl.  Sitting on the floor in my bedroom.  With the radio on as a background inspiration and sketchpad resting on my bent knees, I dreamed of the day that I could be an artist.  Free to express myself in any medium whether it be water color, pencil, crayon, chalk, paint, or pastels and to depict my version, my vision, of what inspired me.  (Okay, I just cheated and checked my word count and I'm at:  989; not bad for a first-timer).

But, that can't really be what your authentic self is, at least for me.  It has to have some visual element but I'm sure there is much more involved into what makes you you or in my case, me me.  In order to get all of the pieces of the puzzle, which I visualize as strewn about in the files of my brain, I have to look through each file and analyze and digest the contents.  These puzzle pieces of me are the morals of my experiences.  For instance, how I digested what happened to me and the resulting end piece which, as you and I both know, is excrement, i.e. shit.  I guess what I'm trying to do, in the words of my favorite college roommate is to, 'own my shit'! What I'll try to do is examine my experiences, from my perspective, and figure out what I learned, how I grew, and how that defined me as a person.  I'm not sure if it's possible to be objective since it is my memory, my experience, and my interpretation of what happened.  Most people would like to see or hear both sides of the story so that they could make their own judgment (ooh, I hate that word) or a better word might be assessment?  Nah, I hate that one too.  Well, you get the picture.

I guess my experiences are not necessarily for you to judge or label or categorize.  After all they are MY experiences and I keep them filed in my own damn filing cabinet using my own damn system, thank you very much.  What will you get out of this purging of my files?  Not sure at this point.  Maybe a better understanding of yourself.  Or maybe we shared a similar experience and my coping is different or the same as yours?  Maybe it will open your eyes to your authentic self?

Anyhow, the point of this is selfishly, yes, for me to re-realize and get in touch with my true identity.  The one that I was born with but that got bombarded and clouded and lost with the every day shit of life. (1353)
 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One Down, One to Go

When we arrived home yesterday after dropping our eldest son at college, my husband retorted, "one down, one to go".  I have to say that I was quite offended by this remark.  I did not feel the relief that this comment connotes.  When I got home yesterday with one less child in tow, I felt empty.

Eighteen years ago when I found out I was pregnant I knew that my life's path had taken an immediate change in a different direction.  The world no longer revolved around me and my career ambitions.  My world now revolved around the baby I nurtured and gave birth to.  His health and his happiness were in the forefront of my mind and it remains today.  Even though your child turns eighteen and is off (on their own?) to college, as a parent, you are still responsible and will forever put your child's needs first!

A few days before my son left for college we sat at the dining room table and were giving him pep talks and words of encouragement.  We reminded him that while he should explore his interests and have fun and meet new people he should keep in mind that he is ultimately paying for his education.  Whatever he puts into it is what he will get out of it.  If he veers off the path and gets distracted or falls behind or fails out of school, he will immediately owe money and have to repay his loans.  Without a college education it will be difficult for him to find a decent job to live and pay off the loans.  I believe we scared him enough that he knows what his financial commitment is at this point.

At the same time, I made it clear that he will always have his bedroom in our home.  We are not converting it to an office or gameroom or any other such nonsense.  I anticipate that when he does graduate, four years from now, he will live at home.  I am not one of those parents that will cut ties with my kid just because they are eighteen and should be on their own.  My children will always be welcome in my home.

A home and family is a support system.  There is no age limitation or discrimination based on life choices.  We will be here for our sons for the rest of our lives.

I realize that at some point I have to loosen the leash and let them find their way and I plan to do this.  I know from my own experience that this is a critical step to allow your child to become who they were meant to be.

When I applied to colleges I chose schools that were somewhat far from home.  I did not choose the typical UCONN that over half my high school fell back on.  I felt I needed to be far enough away from home so that I couldn't just run home if things got tough.

I applied to nine schools and got accepted to eight.  I had quite a choice.  I visited six of the eight.  I chose a small, private college in Florida because it was where I felt the most comfortable.  It was a small community within a city.  It had aesthetic surroundings and small classes.  The dorm rooms were bigger comparatively speaking.  Bottom line, it just felt right.  Yeah, I could of went to a big name school but when I visited them, I just felt like a number; a fly on the wall.  I knew I would have been swallowed up and miserable.

When we took our son on the college visit road trip this last spring I told him that the most important thing is that you feel comfortable in the environment.  He chose his school based on the diverse student population, distance from home, reputation for a decent music program, proximity of buildings and small community-within-a-community  feel.  He knows and is friends with his roommate and has about five other friends from his high school who will be attending his college as well.

He has a lot going for him and is starting out ahead of the game, in my opinion.  When I went to school, I did not know my roommate and had difficulty from the start.  After the first semester I was ready to transfer to a different school.  Luckily, I had met someone who, I believe to this day, 'saved' me.  She became my roommate for the 2nd semester of my freshman year and my entire sophomore year.  I still see her as the sister I never had.  Thankfully, we are still in touch to this day even though we haven't 'seen' each other in over 23 years!

I found that the most growth and knowledge I got from my college experience was with the people I met and associated with.  I met people from different countries, cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds.  They enriched my overall experience and challenged me.  They shaped the person I am today.  I value all of the late-night conversations and first-time experiences that I shared with my college buddies.

I hope my son is lucky enough to get as much out of his education as I did mine!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oh, Brother

This past weekend turned out to be a disaster for my brother.  For me, it was the impetus for me to finally get my butt in gear and create this blog.  Keep in mind, this blog is really just for me as a tool to help me sort out my thoughts and feelings.  A type of cheap therapy, if you will.  I'm not trying to impress anyone or explain how my life is filled with lollipops and rainbows.  I don't even think I really want help or words of advice for how to 'change'.  I am who I am and this is how I will be.  By acknowledging my truth I hope to accept it and move on with my life.  I have been stagnant since childhood.  There is a lot to admit and mull-over so my ability to 'change' overnight is a long shot.  It may never happen, in fact.  But, something within me is sick and tired of repressing this anger and I've just got to get it out.

Normally, my typical pattern of speech includes many swears, cuss words, and offensive language.  It's not that I'm uneducated or don't know what a thesaurus is, believe me.  I use these words for emphasis; they represent my wrath and anger and the depth of my emotion.  It is my fallback position.  In the interest of this blog and in an effort to not overtly offend, I will cut down on the 'shits' and 'fucks' and replace with more mild versions.  You'll still get the point, however.

The following was written after I spent an hour talking to my dear Aunt who calmed me down over the phone.  She has been a witness to and a victim of my mood swings and while she may not like who I become during these episodes she understands me, and still loves me, in the end.

A Screw Loose
Yes, I have a screw loose.  Not sure where it is or what it looks like but something is definitely amiss within.  My brother drives over 12 hours to see me and my family and I just couldn't let the little things go and trickle off my shoulder.  We did have a few good moments and I choose to cherish them.  But, I'm afraid, for him, the negative will outweigh the positive.
For a 48-year-old man he is emotionally stunted and in denial.  His refusal to face his ghosts and shortcomings will be the downfall of him.  I worry for his emotional stability.  One day he will snap.  Just like I did tonight, but it will be much worse.  Because, after all, I have an enormous amount of experience in 'snapping'.
Potential causes are many.  The first that come to mind is my adrenal tumor.  This tumor affects:  blood pressure, weight, hormone levels (specifically aldosterone), and moods.  Another possible theory is a genetic or hereditary connection.  My paternal grandmother was diagnosed with, I believe, schizoprenia.  Now, I'm not saying that this is what I have but it is certainly possible that I have bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.  There are times when a situation will set me off and the adrenaline kicks in and I become another person.  Stuff starts spewing out of my mouth and I say hurtful things to the ones I love.  It is definitely not intentional.  Unfortunately, everyone I love has been the target of my wrath missile.
The regret I feel after the missile is launched is so powerful I get consumed with self-hatred.  How much longer will the people I love put up with this b.s.?
I fear that my brother will not understand my situation or have empathy for me.
He has not seen me in five years.  In reality, the last time we spent more than two days together there was a similar blow out.  Not just he and I but with him and other members of the family.
I think I harbor a lot of resentment for him.  I hate how he treated my mother growing up.  He pretty much emulated my father's actions.  Overall, it disgusted me. (end of diary entry)

It pissed me off when on day two he blurted out, "It's all about you, isn't it?  You are so selfish."...

Me? Selfish? Okay, maybe, but REALLY?  How can a mother of two sons be considered selfish when she put her career on hold to raise them.  Every extra dollar went (and still does) go to their needs and wants.  This is coming from a man who is married with no kids and really has no one to worry about except himself.  This comment festered in my brain; I tried to bite my lip but the hurt kept seething through my veins. 

A couple of more snide remarks and I was done.  I was a raging inferno.  The demon overtook my body and all hell broke loose.  His reaction reminded me of my father.  When I said that, he just couldn't handle the comparison.  But, damn, I was not lying.  He really did remind me of my father and it was scary as hell.

The next day, actually, yesterday, I spent most of the morning researching:  schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder.  I have come the the conclusion that my mental ailment is somewhere on the diagnostic spectrum near borderline personality disorder.  I have to say it to own it and I am willing to put it out there.  Some may be shocked that I am willing to share this revelation. 

One line that keeps going through my mind is from the movie "A Few Good Men" when Jack Nicholson's character says something like, 'You want the truth?  You can't handle the truth!' We'll see who can.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Inability to Make Decisions

I am by nature an expressive-analytical creature.  While there are enormous benefits to wearing such a label like:  being creative, detail-oriented, and accurate, there are definite hindrances.

One prime example is the creation of this blog.  While most people would look at the varied options for templates, colors, and fonts and make a quick decision instinctively, I am dissecting the impact of each variable.  My ability to over-think the small stuff makes a supposedly fun task, painstaking.  It is frustrating that I can't just go with the flow.  I have to second-guess everything and by doing that my whole life, I haven't quite accomplished everything that I want.  My indecision has created many roadblocks to my success.

So, perhaps my goal in creating this blog is to get to the meat of me.  To figure out how and why I tick the way I do.  To acknowledge the truth of my experience.  To reveal the depth of my pain (and there's plenty of that).  But mostly to purge a lot of these poisonous thoughts and habits so that I can begin a new phase in my life where it is a new and fresh approach to living.

Yes, it is really all about me.  And if you are not interested then that is your prerogative.  But, personally, I find that I can learn a lot about myself by reading about other people's lives and their opinions and experiences.  Most of the time, other people's blogs assure me that I am not alone and that even with our differences it is our similarities that keep us human and empathetic.

You are certainly entitled to share your thoughts, opinions, and even give advice.  But, just a warning that I may not agree or even try to change my behavior based on your suggestion.  But, rest assured, it will be contemplated in some form or another.

Bottom line is that I've got to figure out myself.  I choose to do it through writing.  At this point it is the cheapest form of therapy and I need it desperately.  This is the first big decision I've made for myself, by myself, in a long time and it is done.