I’m not sure why I never finished this draft. It was a long time ago. It seems finished to me.
I went to Disneyland on Wednesday. My mom was really into Disney as a kid and I haven’t been there since the Christmas right after she went to prison.
It was weird being there. It was like a strange disillusionment being back there. Not only was I an adolescent at my last visit, but I was also probably in a state of shock. Before we got there, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you anything about the park, its layout, anything. The minute we started walking though, it was like muscle memory. Except that I realized how much smaller everything was, how much closer together all the different “lands” are. I also thought, how can anyone come here more than once a year?
No offense to any of you season pass holders. I know how much people love disney. Some part of me wishes I did. But another part of me sees all the consumerism and the hyperreality of everything and in all honesty, I kept thinking to myself “thank god I’m not a disney person”. I will never be a diehard for anything but nature and even then, I live in the city so how “diehard” can I be?
But all the smells and the sounds. They reminded me so strongly of the person I could have been. I don’t wish I was that person or anything and I doubt it’s just me, but there are definitely times where I allow my mind to wander to the possibilities. I let it roam to places of “could haves” and “should haves” and I guess that’s okay and healthy. I don’t feel anything about it one way or another but being there at Disney reminded me of that for the first time in a very long time while simultaneously reminding me to be extremely grateful for who I am and where I’ve been.
I can’t tell if I crave the feeling of being right or being liked. I can’t tell if my need to argue stems from a desire to correct wrongs and communicate my feelings or if it’s all so that I can go on feeling like no one hates me. If indeed I fall below the latter, does that make me fearful? Afraid to let others be angry? Or is it fuel for distance? This is sometimes a question of pride and sometimes a question of anger but in this case I am seriously torn.
I’ve been examining my relationships with others lately and what I’ve found is a bunch of needy people. I am no longer going to let myself be a mother to so many needy children. They all want my approval and attention so constantly that it interferes directly with my own needs.
But now I wonder, where do I draw the line? How do I undo a set precedent? How do I relearn how to communicate when I’ve so long prided myself on being a compassionate communicator? I have always been a go getter, the driver of my life. Now that I’ve taken a step back I can see how I have let myself be taken advantage of over and over again. My friends and family say I’ve “been short” but in reality, I’ve been irritated. I’m noticing how many times a day I am not allowed to choose when I engage with the world. This morning I was woken up by my cousin. Later, I was stopped mid-project to look at an Instagram video. Immediately after, shown another video by my sister.
When confronted about my behavior changes, I am unsure if my reaction was in defense of the moment in question (the Instagram video) or in defense of my newly discovered persona. I can’t tell which torch I carry. Am I just being mean and therefore building walls instead of bridges? Have I begun swirling downward into a firestorm? Or is this how people feel when they prioritize?
I went to one of my favorite philosophers and let fate decide where my eyes fell:
ccvii Be Moderate.
One has to consider the chance of a mischance. The impulses of the passions causes prudence to slip, and there is the risk of ruin. A moment of wrath or of pleasure carries you on farther than many hours of calm, and often a short diversion may put a whole life to shame. The cunning of others uses such moments of temptation to search the recesses of the mind: they use such thumbscrews as are wont to test the best caution. Moderation serves as a counterplot, especially in sudden emergencies. Much thought is needed to prevent a passion taking the bit in the teeth, and he is doubly wise who is wise on horseback. He who knows the danger may with care pursue his journey. Light as a word may appear to him who throws it out, it may import much to him that hears it and ponders on it.
I don’t know anymore how I feel when I’m “normal” so for the moment I’m going to take my vitamins and embrace the project I finished today (it’s about a year overdue) and go buy a swimsuit so I can learn how to surf in the morning. There are just so many damned baby steps I’m not sure if I’m moving forward or sideways.
And as I think back now, I wonder if it’s not so much a fear of angering others or being disliked but I think I’m so damned sentimental that I’m afraid one day when we’re old and looking back at our lives, the memories will be tainted with arguments and disconnects. Is that my fear of abandonment and loss coming into play? Is that the forever question?
Feelings for me get pretty tricky. I used to feel them so much and so often, I had to turn them off for a long time. Eventually that would erupt into some kind of giant crying scene complete with me writing poems for hours and smudging around the ink with my tears, feeling very sorry for myself wondering how the world could have wronged me so. But then again that was fourteen for most I believe. Then all those angry years took all the tears and turned themselves into screams and broken glass from all the bottles I smashed in my alley when I couldn’t figure out what to do with all those feelings.
It’s taken some time but I don’t really do any of those things anymore. I know part of the mess was hormones but it was also that my mom and I were learning how to grow up together. She went through a lot of passive aggressive attitudes and dirty maneuvers before she became someone I wanted to talk to. She told me I was a druggy (because I’d smoked weed and drank alcohol at a friend’s house in high school). She told me I was neglecting her because I didn’t come to visit more than twice a year – even though it’s a four and half hour drive (one way) and I was only fifteen. She called me repeatedly throughout the day to talk to me even if my friends were around and I couldn’t hang up because of the guilt I felt if I didn’t stay on the phone – not to mention the manipulation I’d be unwittingly forced to endure for days (even weeks) on end.
And then I she wrote me her last horrible, seven page “intervention” letter for my 18th birthday and I didn’t talk to her for a year. She stopped. We’ve both grown up since then.
It took me a long time to visit her after I started talking to her again. I’ve been back once or twice since my 21st birthday.
But it doesn’t fail to amaze me each time she makes me feel better when I don’t even know I’m down. Since I’ve never had a conventional mother-daughter relationship, I’ve never had one to compare myself to. I’ve seen things from a window I’ve always looked in on but never experienced. And I still don’t really know what it is that I’m a part of. It’s like a horribly unhealthy relationship that finally blossomed. I feel like our bond is kindred to tales of those old, aging sisters that live off in some secluded house on the top of a hill somewhere who spend their days making jam and painting.
Whenever there’s a separation from someone who’s supposed to be an instrumental part of your life and they come back, there’s this awkwardness. What do we do now? How do we act? Where do I put my hands? Is it okay to laugh at this? Am I holding on too long? Can we sit in comfortable silence? What now? And even at visiting, there’s still a little bit of that. But over the phone and via letter, it’s completely washed away. Ironically enough, I feel closer to her when I only hear her voice than when I hold her hand. Because in person, she’s still a stranger to me — but her voice, I know it by heart.
She tells me I’m a good person, that she wants me to dream big, that I’m smart, tough, strong, loved, needed, beautiful. She tells me things I’ve never known I needed to hear. My dad has always said those things (albeit sparingly, he stresses the intelligence thing, that I’m the spitting image of him and therefore beautiful, all in good humor of course) but for whatever reason, hearing it from her makes it feel a little realer. And I feel bad that I didn’t know I was unsatisfied with my dad’s validation but to be honest, a mother’s love is different. Plus, considering she’s somewhat of a hardened OG nowadays it’s even more of a ego boost than it might’ve been before.
She told me today that she makes 15 cents an hour. That she’s happy she got a new job and took the pay cut even though she was making significantly more before (enough to support herself). She said being able to work at night and see the moon and be surrounded by quiet is worth more than money. She said it was the first time she’d been outside at night in nearly ten years. That made me cherish the moonlight a little bit more.
I’m not sure if I’m an alcoholic but I’ve always been a part of AA. The thing is, alcoholism runs very strongly in my family. Actually, it’s more that addictive personalities do. My uncle was a gambler and a womanizer and just plain reckless at times, his brother too. My aunt was -for a period- addicted to crack and cocaine and she although doesn’t really do that so much anymore, she definitely maintains a steady beer buzz to this day. My grandma died of liver failure due to her alcohol habits. The doctor told her to stop and she never really did. Coupled with clinical depression, most of my family’s strongest addictive personality types have had some heavy issues, my mother included.
So definitely, yes, I worry about it. I find myself wanting to drink when I want to forget about some things, and so I don’t. I find myself wanting to drink when I have a stressful day, and so I don’t. I worry when I go out with my friends for the third time in four days and we’re drinking and laughing and not really caring if the tab runs itself through the roof or if my hangover really sucks the next day even when I have important things to do.
But then I also remind myself that I just turned twenty-one not even six months ago and that most of these experiences are new and I can’t hide behind my anxiety for the rest of my life. I have to learn when I can and cannot have a glass of wine, or if that third drink is going to get me hammered, that water between is a marvelous idea. That I can’t mistake caution for cowardice.
When I was little, I spent most nights of my childhood at AA meetings, eating my happy meals and doing my homework, trying my hardest to stay awake as the adults passed around laminated pages and a big binder filled with codes and steps. I knew what it meant when someone got a gold chip and I played with my mom’s whenever she let me hold her keys.
I knew what all the extra birthday cakes meant.
I was never old enough to sit in and listen to their stories. My mom told me to go play with the other kids -if there were any but thank god for my sister because she would play with me anytime I asked, even if she was half asleep. I’ve been back to a few meetings ever since to listen and there’s still the same lemon cakes and coffee dispensers and the people are still telling their truths and even though I feel out of place, I can’t help but feel like it’s still a part of me.
And it only really occurred to me the other day as I was driving and thanking my higher power for making me so wise that I realized how much courage I’ve adopted and how peaceful that makes me feel and how grateful I am for every step I’ve ever had to take to get by, one day at a time.
I went through a long period of bitterness when I turned sixteen. It was probably around the same time I began to realize that it would be another ten years before I got to go get ice cream or go shopping or eat a meal with my mother. I think that’s about the time I stopped doing drugs and getting into trouble. There were phases after that where I still did a little e and went to raves or got too drunk at a party; I tried shrooms and dropped acid in the desert, dancing in the light of campfires.
But I stopped needing to feed that empty feeling in my stomach, that part of me that felt like it could never be made whole. That piece that made me angry all the time and made me want to cry or fight or pretty much anything to get the space filled. I know people talk about the emptiness, I know it’s there.
And then a couple years ago, I got over it. I really got over it in the past year or so but I don’t think I blame myself for taking that long. I used to feel guilty when I processed my emotions and I still do sometimes but it gets easier as I grow older, laying down new foundations, brick by brick.
There have been a lot of shitty guys and friends and even family that have helped pave my existence. Those lessons are very important to me. But even now, I worry that I’ve gotten so obsessed with trying to find good people in the world that I’ve almost chosen to ignore the questionable qualities that crop up just to support my theory. It’s like I’ve collected evidence to support it and I’ve unwittingly botched the results.
Because I can’t figure out why I keep getting involved with the same kinds of people that leave me with the same conclusions in the end. My friends aren’t very compassionate people. They enjoy conflict and harsh words said behind closed doors. They come to me when they need things, never to share. There’s an exclusivity amongst our group that many people outside of it recognize and address. I detest selfish, needy, exclusive people. That’s why I was so grateful to move from Hollywood to Santa Monica, people weren’t as vapid and skin deep.
Am I so wrong to believe that there might be people out there without a constant hidden agenda? Am I so naïve?
I’ve been seeing someone for around two months and I really do enjoy his company. We’ve moved slowly and for that I am grateful. Because today, I see this clearer picture of what the future would look like if we actually dated. And in my gut I know it wouldn’t work out. We are fundamentally different people. I like work, he likes play. I like quiet, he likes to go out. I like sleep, he could care less. And although I can agree that opposites attract, I know that he’d get bored at some point. My gut usually doesn’t lie to me when it finally kicks back hard enough for me to feel it.
To be fair, the last four guys I spent time to get to know were not worthy of my affections. The first attacked my sister and used me for all I was worth and the later three all left me for girls they had been seeing longer than me. So my track record kind of sucks.
And this guy is great, he’s sweet and smart and funny and I genuinely like him but I know he wouldn’t be happy in the end. I can see him wishing I was somebody different, someone who had more friends and enjoyed being out all the time but really I couldn’t think of a better end to an evening than a good book or a favorite tv series marathon. I may be a free spirit but I’m not the wild kind that he craves. And the crazy part is, I fear we’re both stupid enough to see this through, as I watch all the walls I’ve built be burned down and ravaged by tears and disagreements, simple miscommunications that escalate into pointless fighting. And I see resentment and bitterness and hurt words and maybe this is fear talking but I really think it’s just simple common sense.
Do I stay and ride it out, or do I leave before all of these things come into fruition? Because I know they will.
So I’ve been working on taking things slowly with this new guy. Which is pretty much completely new to me and to be honest I feel like a giddy middle schooler who’s dealing with her first crush. We’ve been hanging out for about a month and a half now and last night was the first kiss showdown.
I can’t even believe how fast my heart was beating just because he was holding me on the couch. Normally, I’m the one who isn’t nervous and the guy is the one with the hammering chest. I can always tell because I roll my eyes when I feel it pounding and now It was strangely my turn.
It didn’t feel awkward and I didn’t want to push it because I thought he would do it when he felt like he should and I’m not in a rush because I’m enjoying this exploration regardless of the outcome. I asked him if he’d get weird after this and he kind of laughed it off and we’re still talking regularly and I’ve never had a guy act this genuine. He’s already told his friends about me and I’m even tagged in a photo on his instagram. He’s met my friends which made me oddly nervous and they all really like him too.
And today this guy in the gynecologist’s office asked me for my number which I thought was really odd and all I could say was that was that I was already getting kind of serious with someone and didn’t really think I’d end up out on a date with him. Which is really remarkable to me considering I haven’t done more than get a little frisky with this new guy.
I might’ve been flattered or even kind of inclined to go on this random date (forgetting the strangeness of the circumstances) but really I’m beginning to see all the little steps I used to miss out on unfolding and even if I just get a taste of a real relationship with someone, that’s more important to me than some random guy’s validation. That was really cool for me and I’m thinking about making a mix tape and giving it to him which would be kind of a big deal.
Dealing with my sexuality has always been a struggle for me. My dad has never been a helpful source for that kind of thing and I just never really felt comfortable with anyone else to talk to them about it when I was younger. So it took a long time for me to come to terms with myself.
When I was younger, I found myself afraid to touch people. But I’m learning that physical contact is a very important aspect of any kind of relationship. Yeah, just people in general. I’m not overly touchy and I don’t really warm up to people right away who are very touchy but I like spending time around them because it helps me get over my own weird stuff. Affection is not a bad thing.
When it comes to sexuality and communicating my desires and concerns and all that jazz, I really knew nothing. I watched porn and learned how to masturbate from movies and really I only ever got off from reading online erotica. I played the sims because those relationships made sense; there were only so many interactions available when you first got to know someone. You couldn’t have two characters have sex if they just met.
But real life is not a video game and there really aren’t many rules to stop you from trying things out.
Without sounding in any way narcissistic, I’ve been modeling for a couple people in my classes lately. Nude modeling. Which is really frickin scary at first and considering I don’t really understand my body, totally new. Sex is rarely so confrontational. I don’t really stand in front of my partners and say hey, put my hands somewhere so I look good photographed. It feels kind of like dancing. It’s all about confidence and eye contact and no eye contact, relaxation and purpose. Removing the awkwardness. And I am so very awkward in front of a camera. You can ask anyone, I was not born to model.
But today I took my top off and got into a shower with another girl, who went fully nude, and tried to act natural. For me, there is nothing natural about that scenario. But after a while, it was. Once my body stopped twitching and the photographer got the water to a normal temperature, I was fine. I felt as close to clothed as I ever have.
I know I’m not the only one without a mom around, there are tons of people who get on just fine without them. But the really astonishing part for me is seeing a woman naked. I’ve seen plenty of guys but that’s not the same because I never got to compare my body with someone else, to understand that hairy toes and feet aren’t uncommon or that nipples naturally get all soft and don’t stay permanently rock-hard. That sometimes one boob is different from another and body acne isn’t a cause for alarm. In the end, it’s just skin and hair and we really do all have it too.
It was a profound experience to see another woman and it not be a sexual encounter. Because she was worried about her body in the same ways I’d always resented mine and she thought I was beautiful when I thought she was beautiful and it really just kind of changed my entire point of view on nudity.
From a girl who used to flinch away when a guy friend changed his shirt, or a girl friend walked around in just a bra, that was mind blowing. The water was dirty and gross and tepid by the time we finished and when we left I felt no different from the person I was when we started.