Our first set of birthdays together

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This may not seem remotely climactic for anyone else, but this year, I will celebrate my mom’s birthday with her, on the day, not on a weekend before or after. Another firm commitment added to the list of family birthdays. It’s surreal.

I have one cardinal rule – mostly because I’m constantly flaking on social engagements – that I do not miss a birthday or holiday. After my cousin died about three years ago, I reevaluated my familial obligations and friendships and I realized how easy it is to say no. It was at that point I realized how many friends I’d undervalued and family parties I’d missed out on.

Things are different for me now. I don’t miss a birthday or a holiday and even if I feel like I’m drowning in work, I feel better afterwards. I take pictures. I engage and live in the moment. So while I have this burning desire to flee, instead I stay. It’s a weird bout of conflicting emotions for a few days leading up to whatever is going on. Now that I intend to move (pending grad school applications), I’m especially glad for my rules. I have memories to take with me now.

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So this year marks the first set of birthdays in thirteen years that we get to celebrate together. I think I’ve been compartmentalizing my feelings more than I knew because as time goes on, I can feel the steel of my unwavering walls beginning to weaken. I find myself overwhelmed by emotions at unexpected moments.

I want to kick and shake my mom awake most days. But then I see her smiling face and I shake my head in resignation because I realize how much I love her and missed her and it’s really great to have a face to connect to a voice, a name, a moniker. When her “mommy” caller ID shows up, I cringe less now. I’m starting to feel a warmth in my belly even if I’m sighing as I answer. I’m not sure when this change started to happen but I can tell it’s recent. It’s nice and terrifying at the same time.

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She got into a car accident recently, her airbag deployed and she’s got bruises on her arms and legs. She’s so tiny, barely 5 feet tall. I didn’t fully understand how emotional I’d be until I saw her little body standing by the front door to my house and I broke down. I don’t want her to be taken from me again. Even if I don’t feel like seeing her or being around her sometimes because she’s so manic, I mean she puts even my most anxious days to shame. I still can’t imagine my life without her.

I’m angry because of all the time we lost; the time that was cheated from me. But I don’t wish it any different. The concept of a world where she didn’t go to prison feels so shallow and bleak. Those kinds of thoughts instill immediate guilt and I wish I didn’t feel that way but seeing her now, she’s like a child. That place really beat a lot of memories and crazy out of (and into) her. I’m glad I get to be here with her this year.

It’s funny because we went to 7eleven together today and the same cashier who’ve I’ve known for several years saw her for the first time. I introduced her as my mom and at first he didn’t see it and then we both smiled big and shy and our eyes crinkled in the same places and his face lit up as he laughed “you could be sisters” and we both looked down and blushed and said “no no” and then we all sort of awkwardly laughed but it was a golden moment for me and I feel like I need to write it down so it burns in my mind and I don’t forget the gratitude I feel for her being home, safe and sound.

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Let go my ego

I read this article recently that really stuck with me over the course of the last few days. It said something along the lines of “I really thought we’d had a connection because we talked everyday but then I began to realize that we didn’t because we never got into the deeper subjects that mattered”. I’ve looked at a lot of my relationships lately with that thought in mind lately.

I just got off the phone with my mom and I’ve gotta say, we don’t have that problem. I sometimes feel like I talk too much about my own stuff and because she’s my mom, she’s always willing to listen. I think I will constantly be reminding myself to listen more, talk less. But at the same time, we talk about everything. From trivial to tumultuous, we go there. I appreciate that about our friendship now.

I don’t know what it is about my college but for some reason, I’ve noticed more and more lately that a lot of people don’t engage in anything. Like the taste of blase is so tempting, they’re unwilling to try something new. My mom just said “I never noticed until I got here, how many people in life really just like to skate by, waiting for other people to do their work for them”. She went on to say that in her groups where this is happening, she finds out the real life lesson is usually something entirely unrelated to the group material. Once, it was about a bully in the room and learning how to (metaphorically) disarm her. I find that to be the case for myself more often than not.

I’m taking an art education class this semester and the first two weeks for me were SO frustrating. I feel like I’m sitting in a room of kindergarteners. I mean, I have had years of study in art (before this college, it was at my community college). In total, I’ve studied art — and I mean really studied art — for almost 6 years. I found out during a small group exercise last week that one of the girls in my group had only taken one other art class before and that the words coming out of my mouth sounded like an entirely different language. The thing is, I needed to hear that. I think my lesson this semester is in temperance and humility. Fine, I’ll take it. I have already decided I will make office hours with my teacher to explain to her why I’ll be a lot quieter in the weeks ahead. I hope she’ll agree with me when I level with her. I don’t want to intimidate or come across as a know it all. But I can see it in her eyes when she looks pointedly at me, she’s desperate for engagement and she doesn’t care 9 times out of 10 when I’m monopolizing the discussion. 

My problem is that I fear I will never be challenged intellectually at my current school. I’ve been here a year and so far, I’ve had two classes that I found remotely interesting. It’s really unfortunate and it is pretty soul crushing for something who finds knowledge to be akin to a fountain of ecstasy. When I was at community college, my brain was constantly exploding with new concepts and essays and wow, I never realized I was so spoiled. I fear I will never feel that way again for as long as I’m here.

My vent is this: HOW DID YOU GET SO FAR IN LIFE WITHOUT A BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF ECONOMICS, POLITICS, CULTURE, ETC?! Were we not required to take the same general education classes?! HOW have you NOT absorbed ANYTHING!? I just don’t understand how it’s even possible. My mind does not compute. No wonder facebook has destroyed our minds. These “peers” of mine just regurgitate and all I want to do is fall asleep listening to it. WAKE UP PEOPLE USE YOUR DAMN BRAIN.

Complacency and apathy are my biggest enemies. Ironically, when I use the word enemy, I don’t even feel angry about it. I almost wanted to say “disinterests” or “turn offs”, like my mind couldn’t even muster up the right emotions to feel.

I just don’t understand it and in many ways, I wish I knew how to blend in more. Flowers for Algernon sits heavily in my heart. I wish I understood how to conform and stop caring like everybody else. Is it so wrong to want to actually learn something? I understand that I will forever be looking at my classes from the lens of theoretical “life lessons” to take home at the end of the semester but really… I just want to learn something academic for a change. I want to be challenged. I wish I’d gone to a different school. I want something better.

First day back

I gotta write this down because I think I’m going to explode. In my last relationship, I was forced to keep my mouth shut the entire time about how I felt because my partner was so damn delicate. So you’d think my natural reaction now would be to speak my mind whenever I feel the need arise. That is not the case apparently.

I am being shut out. I can feel the warm comfort and promises made being pulled away. I know what’s going on and I’m trying to my damndest to keep myself sane and quiet but I am also chomping at the bit.

I want to say “Tell me what’s going on”

I want to say “I can tell what you’re doing”

I want to say “You’re scaring me”

I want to say “Why are you doing this”

I want to say “Please stop”

I want to say “Why are you being weird”

I want to say “I know you’re avoiding me and using distancing behavior”

 

But mostly I want to say, “Please don’t go”

Delicacy keeping me down

I haven’t had much to say lately. I’ve had a long semester.

It’s winter break now and the holidays are my least favorite time of the year. I hate the buzz of them and all the traditions I’m expected to adhere to. Because I didn’t grow up in one house but several houses, I’ve been adopted by more and more families as the years go by which roughly translates to an insane amount of gatherings and expectations. You probably thought you hated just seeing your own extended family? Buying gifts for only one set of strangers?

Try half a dozen different groups of people. Ever since my grandma passed and my family moved into her house, that part of the family has sort of floated between different locations. One year we’re on one part of town, the next, a two hour drive. It’s all very complicated. This year I went to four full thanksgiving meals. Not drive bys, but full sit-down dinners. It lasted several days. This Christmas will just be three gatherings and a couple drive bys to drop off gifts. As I’ve gotten older, more people reach out because they’re also getting older and subsequently more sentimental. One year, I’d really like to do a friendsgiving. I doubt that’ll ever happen.

This year, I discovered that my significant other is weak. I knew he was when we started dating, but this… this is different. I hate delicate partners. I may become anxious quite a bit, debate running for the hills now and again, but I never let fear control me (the only exception being heights, which I plan to work on via rockclimbing). This year, I saw the most unattractive quality expressed in my significant other and I felt a crack form in between us. I can’t unsee it, I can’t unlearn it, and I definitely can’t dismiss it.

I’m still stuck. He’s a wonderful person and I enjoy his company and for now, he’s sort of the right person for me. Being a full time student means I don’t have much free time so the fact that he’s a hermit is ideal for my needs. But I know that it’s reaching an ending point and after tonight…seeing that… I don’t know if my mind will let me “let it go” and I wish this wasn’t the case really. I like this relationship. It’s fun and light and comfortable. Expectations are low, moods are usually high and I blow off steam in productive, mindless ways as opposed to the more reckless ones the other half of me prefers. It’s a safe place. I cannot believe that I’m trying to convince myself of the need to compartmentalize and cut the guy some slack just so I can maintain this relationship for as long as possible. I know there’s still something here and to end it now would be the wrong decision. But I’m also concerned because I don’t know how long I can really hold out now that I know how deep his weakness runs. Physically, he’s really strong. Like really strong. But emotionally? Not in the slightest. I just don’t know what the answer is here.

Usually when I notice little things, I overlook them that’s fine. A little snobby? A little insensitive? Whatever. Useless to waste brain power thinking about. This though? This boils down to a fundamental personality difference and those are much harder to overlook. I fear whenever I look at him now, I will have this stupid image of the weakness burned in my mind. The antithesis of rose colored glasses. Our anniversary is next week. I’m not sure what to do.

The even shittier part is that in my mind, I’ve got the timeline in my head all worked out for an “appropriate ending”. Like I can’t end things on our anniversary, that’s just fucking awful. But I can’t do it right before school either. Maybe I can wait it out until summer. I’m really not sure. I have never before dealt with a man so delicate. He has done nothing to wrong me and I can’t hurt him. This fucking sucks.

Early release

I’m trying to look at things a little objectively right now. My boyfriend has been reading into stoicism and sending me bits of advice via “remember…situations are neutral. It’s all about your reaction that determines whether they are positive or negative.” I don’t really know if that’s stoicism or not but I’m going to take a page from his book right now.

What are my fears about my mom’s release? Well it probably breaks down into a few categories. I think I’ll focus on the ones that are closest to the present.

One big fear is that my sister and I will butt heads. She’s very controlling and I’m nervous my mom may flock to that sort of authority. I don’t think she needs people controlling her life once she gets out. But I’m also most afraid that she will be forced to pick sides. Seeing as my sister are constantly in competition with each other (as dictated by her, not me), I don’t actually care if she picks her side just to save face. I do care if she picks sides with her because she doesn’t want to make her own choices and she’s afraid to see how she actually feels about things she wants to do. I can see how it would happen. She’d come to me “hey bugg, I’m thinking about…” and we’d launch into a conversation and she’d come to a conclusion and then she’d talk to my sister about it and my sister would go “well obviously that’s the wrong choice. Do this.” and because she’s so fragile right now, she’d just follow blindly.

I don’t know if that’s a rational fear or not but it’s in my head.

I think the other part is how to introduce her to people. How do I explain her absence. Do we lie? Do we only lie to certain people? I’ve always had my “PC” version of the truth, will we need to implement it? How do I introduce her to the people in my life who already know the truth?

My other fear is that I won’t want to pursue the same things anymore. I’ll be dealing with actual real life stuff. I’m a fixer. I’m a conflict resolver. I’m a person who jumps 200% into helping people and when I’m doing that, I forget to care about the stuff I like to do. I’m afraid a piece of myself may disappear when it shouldn’t. But I’m also prepared for the pieces that aren’t relevant anymore to evolve. So I think that falls under the umbrella of the “unknown” which is fine. I can’t focus on those without more information.

My other fear is that she’ll be really inappropriate in social situations. She doesn’t have a filter for some things and I’m not sure how being institutionalized has affected her tendency towards aggression. She was never really a physically aggressive person, always a psychological one. Will she regress? Or has she already evolved?

What activities will bring her peace? What activities won’t?

I know I can’t carry her burden for her but I want to help her transition the right way and I’m totally freaked out that I will give her the wrong advice one day and she’ll be thrown into a situation where she can’t handle it.

I’m afraid of the rescue phone calls. I’m afraid of the midnight ones where she can’t sleep. I just want to get her a cat.

RIP creative heart

I recently had the most complete draining of my creative energy, my spirit. It was an unfortunate result of my sorority and the demands they place on their members. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that these requirements often make a lot of people more responsible, involved in their respective communities, and overall allow for growth. In my case, I am drained. I’m a senior and my work is suffering. 

I awoke today with a bitterness in my heart.

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It’s my fault because I didn’t read the announcement properly or something but I had it in my heart that I would be able to go alum early and it seems that is no longer the case. Which fucking sucks because I hadn’t realized how much of my mind had been set on the freedom I would soon experience. There is no way that I can continue being involved in this organization and still be able to create without this sort of negativity over my shoulder.

I feel it whenever I listen to anyone talk about their work or when I feel the pressure of deadlines. I need out. I’m suffocating and I need the fuck out.

It’s funny because when I got the email about going alum, the president’s phrasing was such that “I had not served my full four years” which I thought sounded like a contract for enlisted soldiers or a prison sentence. Either way, I’m definitely a prisoner in a voluntary placement.

I can’t drop because I’ve invested way too much time and I need the resume items I’ve accrued. I need the stupid accolades and the embroidery on my sash when I graduate. I don’t have anything else on my grad school application. I’m out of options. Send help please. 

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