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.

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11:35 am 1/1

There is hope in me

I feel the spiderwebs

Finally breaking

I’ve been so asleep

Waking only in my dreams

And now I am not

I do still feel it

There is still hesitation

I like that, it’s right

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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Welcome back, it’s been a while

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Abandonment issues are really weird. You know, it’s been around twelve years now (I think, but math has never been my strong suit) and I still feel the ghost of them. Sometimes, it colors my interactions with friends, tells me to build boundaries and shelter myself from lifelong friendships. Sometimes, it takes a really long time to even become aware of their effects before I find the strength in myself to start making changes. That’s the biggest reason why I find myself attracted to art. That’s the one time where I am most comfortable being completely vulnerable about my perspective on the world. Mostly because my history informs my present, my work ends up being something about my mother. Hurrah.

When it comes to romantic relationships, I don’t know why I still find myself surprised when they show up like a hated ex who likes to ruin all the newfound good stuff I’ve started to build up.

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It was a normal day, nothing different from any other. Except that I’ve sort of become comfortable hearing from my boyfriend either via text, snapchat, etc, on a daily basis. Even if that’s just an “I’m just saying hi xx” and that’s it for the day. Maybe it’s just a silly picture of him doing something in his room. But regardless, that happens everyday now. Call me spoiled, but I think I expect that. And then he didn’t contact me at all and I started thinking to myself, ‘he’s leaving me now’ and I couldn’t shake this feeling like he was seeing other people and I wasn’t good enough anymore and throughout my whole paranoid breakdown, I knew that’s just what it was: a silly reflection of my deep seated abandonment issues. It had absolutely nothing to do with him and yet it totally paralyzed me for a few hours, maybe even a day. It doesn’t help that my exes have been totally fucked up people (another reflection of my mommy issues). I just thank god that I don’t have to deal with both mommy and daddy issues. That would make for a really torrid milkshake of psychological bullshit.

So there I am today, in the shower with him and he’s soaping my back and I started crying. He never knew I was crying and I didn’t turn around just to show him I was crying but just the simple act of touching me sweetly, broke me. I drove home and cried again because my heart was just a total mess. He’s actually perfect for me at this point in my life and I will not do what I usually do: lose interest to avoid being hurt and abandoned. Because that’s what I always do at around a year of dating someone. I find out I either rushed into a terrible relationship or slowly retreat into myself so that I don’t have to deal.

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I’m just going to keep myself aware of my own bullshit as much as possible and hope for the best. He’s definitely got his own list of skeletons he’s working through and it’s kind of incredible because we’re both bringing out better versions of one another and I think that’s really healthy and great. Everyday, I feel like the luckiest girl alive. When I leave him, I feel starved for his presence even after like nine month of dating which is a feeling I hope never leaves. I’ve done it right this time (with his help one hundred percent). I haven’t jumped into bed with a stranger. I haven’t chosen to ignore some major personality flaw. We’ve done all the steps, the ones that make a really strong foundation for a good relationship and I’m ridiculously proud of that.

And yet, here come the stupid abandonment issues to haunt me. They make me hesitate when I feel like reaching out, they make me overthink things I know shouldn’t be weird. The minute I’ve been single for a while, I seem to be more aware of myself and my actions and I really feel like I’m doing everything right. The longer I’m with someone, the easier the doubt steals in. The only thing that makes sense right now is graduating, being a good sister in my sorority, and taking advantage of every damn resource I’m paying for in college. All good things, I know. Thank god for writing, right?

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2:51 am 8/30

Fast friendships confuse me

How does it work?

Does it mean more or less?

Is value even a question to those involved?

Is it simply because I haven’t met that kind of friend yet?

Home.

It’s taken me a year but I think I’m finally understanding why I stayed in my sorority. Like most things, the benefits of a decision don’t usually reveal themselves until the end. Since I’m at the halfway point – I go alum in Spring- I’ve been weirdly sentimental lately. All this talk at recruitment practice has reminded me of the way I felt before I joined. It reminded me of all the reasons I was seeking strong female bonds.

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People will say that it’s all fake and that we’re paying for friendships. On some level, there’s truth to that. But I guess it’s kind of like being in college and then paying to go to an all girl’s school at the same time. There are events, sports, uniforms, rules, bitchy people, drama. But there’s also a deep understanding that everyone is there for the same reason: to be a part of something. Even if that something doesn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things, embracing the present is no less valuable than working towards something bigger.

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My sorority has taught me what I stand for, who I am. Most of the time, I feel like I only discover these things when I’m being pulled against my core beliefs. I’ve learned that I am kinder than I thought. I only saw this when people weren’t kind to me. I have learned that I am trustworthy and a pretty damn good secret-keeper. I saw this when people talked shit, or revealed things about themselves. I didn’t reciprocate. I learned that I am capable of being overwhelmed by other peoples’ emotions. I learned this when I became consumed by negativity because of the chatter of complaints around me. I learned that I have more courage than most people. I’ve only ever witnessed this in terms of male relationships and once I saw this in a group setting, I realized I do speak up for what I believe in. I learned that I won’t speak up when it’s something petty and will be sorted by someone else. I learned that I naturally delegate tasks through subtle suggestion, not coercion. I learned that I do not naturally give trust easily. I knew this before, but even after a year of being surrounded by these women, I am only just beginning to feel like I can let go of some of my defenses.

Let-Go

I needed to write this so that one day when I look back and think, ‘damn that was a waste of time’ or ‘thank god it’s over’, I will also remember all the good stuff that came out of it. I am no longer afraid of women. I am no longer afraid to paint. I am worthy of meaningful relationships and I am worthy because I have witnessed those who I deem unfit, receive the gift of friendship even when they shouldn’t. I am no better and no worse.

The human condition dictates that humans crave comfort and love. The fear of being alone is so strong, we work to find peace so that we don’t have to feel that way. I know these are random thoughts, but I can feel time slipping by so quickly and I’m a senior this year and totally terrified of graduation so I can say without a doubt, I made the right choice. I picked the right house. I found my home.

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There are some changes on the horizon

It’s been a while. Then again, that cycle of summer processing seems to be upon me. In my defense, I’ve also been trying to put off processing through a few recent developments. Prop 57 has impacted my mother’s sentence, as well as a few programs she’s involved herself in over the last decade. It looks like she’s out on early release. Nine months from now actually, give or take. I thought we had another couple years.

I don’t really know how to feel about it yet. I’m not as freaked out as I thought I would be but that’s also because it feels like I’m sitting in the road watching a truck come straight for me. Obviously, that’s mildly dramatic. That truck could be a figment of my imagination.

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I think the most profound aspect of this news that has me boggled is how this will affect my art. For most of my life, my writing, art, and other coping mechanisms were populated with prison themes: time, loss, abandonment. I never had to dip my pen in different ink.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sick of dealing with prison themes. I never wanted to let her life choices define my own but I also couldn’t deny myself the experience of them. What a weird, tangled web I found myself in.

The good news is she’s more freaked out than I am. I’m trying my best not to have sympathy for her but I can’t help it. It’s going to be really weird for her. When she went in, dial-up was common place and people still used AOL.

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The transition process is going to be shocking to her system. She claims to be all hardened and whatnot (and I’m sure she is), but I know there are going to be a LOT of midnight phone calls where she’s crying and frustrated because something in her house keeps making a noise or she can’t figure out how to listen to a voicemail or something. I expect this.

I will also not be her metaphorical crying shoulder. I will be a helpful daughter on my own terms, with lots and lots of boundaries. I might finally be able to start throwing away some of her mail.

My sister just told me she’s been throwing her letters away. I’ve kept every single one, including envelopes, for this whole damned sentence. I sort of just want to burn them but I feel like there’s a really good art project in store for them. Hopefully with a different theme.

Does this mean that I can give myself permission to stop fixing all the broken pieces? I’ve long known I’m awesome and been grateful for the challenges she’s thrown my way but I’m still a product of my circumstances. I’m actually sort of concerned for my own children. They won’t have nearly the amount of depth I do, which both worries and delights me.

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She’s going to make it to my college graduation.

It’ll be the first graduation she’s ever made it to (besides elementary school which doesn’t really count). I’m actually really happy about it.

God, I hate writing about this stuff. It’s all so damned heavy and while necessary, I can feel myself sounding like a broken record. I’m just ready for it to be over. Maybe I’ll actually go back into my darkroom again. Maybe I’ll shoot some film again.

I swear, if she tries to bake me cookies and do my fucking laundry though I’m going to lose it.

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2:28am

Obligations
Affiliations
Incarceration
Connotation
Bureaucracy and blurred red lines
Sharpness of indecency
I hate this need to fight authority
My stupid desire to break the rules
Has more power over me than I do
This strange contradiction
Fuels my conviction
And I’m faced over and over
The whisper of memories fade
Replaced by rage
I’m not angry

My neck keeps shaking
My Russian teachers always made me cry

I hated bending and twirling
As long as they were there
I knew only good and bad
No compromise

I’m so very clearly there
Pick and choose the parts that make sense
My family says it’s easier to digest
I’m not craving
The Buddha says
But his golden body glows
I’ll swipe green across canvas
And spend hours on circles and spirals and waves
Tiny little pencil marks
One thing out of place
Daylight balance, warm tone, cool
Wipe clean the rules

In a field where the human condition
Is the one and only true theme,
Why did I stick myself in a place
Where identity is destroyed
And smiles quickly employed
And evil ovals stare at me
Across the plastic tables
“Not excused, sorry but that doesn’t count, you’ll still have to pay”
Okay.