Decisions

I’ve had a messed up shoulder/neck for at least 15 years.  My pediatrician told me it was because I carried a backpack and if I stopped carrying one, the pain would go away.  So, I’ve dealt with it for half my life because it didn’t ever get unmanageable, and spending money on something that wasn’t killing me seemed like a very poor decision.

A couple months ago, it’s gotten worse, so since I have pretty good insurance, and I’m trying to “better myself” so that I can move to New Zealand to live with my fiance, I thought, hey, why not try and sort my shoulder out.  I’ve had 7 sessions of physical therapy over the last few weeks, and it hasn’t gotten any better.  And I’m pissed.  Not at the doctor who referred me, not at the physical therapist.  At myself (what a shock) for making another bad decision.

I’m obsessed with not making bad decisions.  I’ve made so many in my life, that I feel like I have to make up for it all.  I married a felon.  Soon after separating from him, I moved to California to live with a guy who lost interest in me because I was no longer with my husband, and refused to be a slut for him (sorry mom, tmi).  I’ve avoided potential job opportunities because I was too lazy or depressed to want them badly enough.

And now, as dramatic as it sounds, I’ve spent a good chunk of money to try and fix my shoulder and it hasn’t helped at all.  And it’s gotten in my head.  I’m completely frozen, afraid to make a move in any direction, because I made the wrong decision.  I need to sort out a surgery for my dog, and don’t know the best way to go about it, I have a huge international move pending, and feel like I’m going nowhere, and decisions need to be made.  I feel like if I make the wrong decision, everything will be fucked.

And I guess I’m just trying to get this out because it’s frustrating.  I’m tired of feeling like my entire 30 years of life is just a series of bad decisions, and it’s really upsetting that it makes me feel like giving up because why try when the decisions I make are never the right ones.  I want to WANT to keep trying, to keep fighting, because that’s what I do.  I keep trucking along, in the hope of living my life in an intelligent, thought out way that will lead me to happiness.  I haven’t lost hope yet, but there are moments I DO feel hopeless, and it pisses me off.

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My dad apologized….? (Stream of consciousness)

30 minutes ago, my dad sent me a text apologizing for the damage he’s done to me.  In a roundabout way, anyway.  I’m angry that he will never own up to the things he’s done to scar me, that it’s an apology, but not really an apology.  My first reaction is that he’s playing mind games, that he wants something from me, that he’s trying to get a reaction, or wants attention.  I want to be able to forgive him, and I wish I could say “yes dad I accept your apology”, but I’m too angry, too hurt.

I wish I could say, “I understand where you are coming from, but this is why I feel the way I do, and you hurt me this and this and this way.”  And be able to have a back and forth with him, and get to the root of it and come out the other side, both of us owning up to our part, and have closure.

But it will never happen that way.  I have to learn how to forgive him without him truly owning up to what he’s done.

My mom says this is probably going to be the best I ever get from him.  But right now, it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  And I’m fucking pissed that it came out of nowhere with no rhyme or reason.  That it had to be on his terms, that I had no say in it.  I’ve never had a say in anything that has to do with him, and I’m sick of it, and I feel guilty that I’m angry about getting an apology rather than grateful.

Security

note: the past couple days I’ve actually started using this blog more for therapy purposes, and just getting stuff out of my head, rather than presenting semi-decently written posts.  It’s definitely therapeutic, but a complete mess.

Having a freak out night tonight.  Landlord’s coming to fix the toilet on Monday, and because of that I’m obviously going to be evicted and end up on the street and never be able to talk to my boyfriend or mom again.  The ‘boy that escalated quickly’ meme is basically the life story of anyone who suffers from anxiety, right?

Anyway, just had a quick thought slash realization that I need to process.  The last year and a half, most of my anxiety has revolved around things that cut off my line of communication, especially with my boyfriend.  Power goes out because of lightning a few times a couple of years ago, and now thunder & lightning are enough to send me shaking uncontrollably until my body can no longer shake.  Shit internet goes out or acts up, and I’m sobbing under the blankets.  I’ve also had the normal reactions to situations that throw me for a loop: fear of my truck breaking down or failing safety inspection, misplacing my wallet, driving more than 5 miles away from my house.  You know, the typical stuff.

I thought that a lot of it had to do with either losing my fiance, or because my life fell apart after D went back to jail, fear of my life falling apart again.

I think it’s partially those, but I think there is a thread that winds through it all, dating back to my childhood (what a surprise):

Security.

There was a lot of time as a child that I didn’t feel secure.  I was always a chunky kid, very shy, pretty much socially inept.  The one thing I was good at, getting good grades, was never quite good enough for my dad.  I told him that I wanted to be a doctor one day, and he dissuaded me from it because I would have to go to an expensive school, and also he didn’t think I could handle the “gore” of it.  I was a pretty good kid.  Never really got in trouble at school, wasn’t a troublemaker with the few friends I had.  And despite that, when I was maybe 14 he told me if I ever came home drunk or pregnant he’d kick me out of the house.  I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 19.

Immediately after that, I moved in with D, and Lord knows there was absolutely no security in the 6 years I lived with him.  He was dating good Mormon girls, and coming home and sleeping with me, all the while lying to his PO about it.  He had trouble the entire time he was on parole.  He never recommitted, but walked the line, tippy-toed over it when he felt like he could get away with it.  I married him instead of going to school, so didn’t have any hope of getting a decent job, especially during the recession.  I lived in fear every single day of the six years I lived with him.  If I wasn’t worried about a cop knocking on my door, I was worried about what I would do if (when) he got caught.  He romanticized his high school sweetheart, and played the what if game a lot when it came to her.  I was a depressed mess, and in his head she was a perfect model of what a wife was meant to be, and so I didn’t even really have the security that he loved me.

After I left him, I spent a few months at home with my mom, then decided to move to California for a rebound that lasted 2 years too long.  He had a temper, degraded me, and since I lived in a house his mother owned, and also worked for her, if we broke up, I would be stuck in the middle of a huge city with nowhere to go.

I’m finally at a good place.  I’m working a full-time job that I’m really good at.  I got employee of the year last year.  People there actually like me, not because I’m someone’s wife or sister or girlfriend, but because I’m Mel, because I have something to offer.  I pay all of my bills on time, or mostly on time.  I have food in the refrigerator.  I have a vehicle that may be old, but is dependable and has low mileage.  Insurance.  I can afford weekly therapy, and medication to help with my anxiety.  A fiance that loves me for who I am, who treats me with respect, who allows me to be me and to mold myself into the person I want to become, but who has never once made me feel like the person I wake up as, is less than anything he wants to be with.  Prospects for an amazing future, a life in New Zealand.  And most of all, I feel alive.  I feel like my life is finally worth waking up to.

And it’s fucking terrifying.  Because it’s all been gone in a flash before.  And the security I’ve spent 2 years working my ass off for, sometimes doesn’t feel that secure at all.  I don’t know how to just be in the moment, to let it all be, and stop planning for the worst.  I was blindsided before, and the fear of that happening again puts me into overdrive, trying to plan for the worst case scenarios, and back up plans, and backup plans to those backup plans.  It’s so frustrating that something like the fact that I’m not a Stepford Wife with a perfectly spotless, well decorated house, can push me over the edge into worrying about eviction and homelessness.  It’s unlikely, but “what would I do if it happens.”

I feel like such a crazy person, that I let my fear of losing the first real security I have, make me feel insecure.

Just A Name

I still have D’s last name.  At the time, it was easier to keep it.  I already had changed my social security card, IDs, and there wasn’t really a maiden name to go back to.  The one I had from my father didn’t have any meaning, it was only used legally, and the one from my dad was tainted and I didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  So why not just keep the one I had.  It was easier, I told myself.  I also think in a way, I did it to make him happy.  I hated getting letters from him that were full of disappointment and hurt, and this tiny thing made him happy, so I would be lying if I said that didn’t play a part in it.

In purging myself of all things D the past couple months, I’ve lost my identity a bit, one I didn’t realize I was still carrying around with me.  2 months ago, I didn’t really care that I still had his last name.  “It’s just a name.” I told myself.  But as I’ve worked through a lot of the emotional tangled mess of our relationship, I’ve started to feel it’s a black cloud hanging over me.  Especially now that I have an amazing man I will marry at some point in the hopefully near future.  On top of that, I want to get back into photography, start a picture a day blog or something, just to get some practice in before I move to New Zealand, but I don’t want to start anything with my last name, because eventually it won’t be anymore.  I want to shed this name from me, be done with it once and for all.

I talked about this last Friday with my therapist, and he told me to write something on my name and what it means.  I’m going to get very real here, and probably go into some stuff that I haven’t shared before, out of fear, out of shame.  It’s a bit terrifying talking about the details, however minuscule, surrounding the reasons I left D.  I’ll probably go into them in more detail at some point in the future, but that’s more than I’m equipped to handle today.

This is what my name means to me:

  • I am a person who married a felon on parole.
  • I am a person who was not good enough for a felon to keep a clean parole and not go back to jail.
  • I am not an individual, I am D’s ex-wife.
  • I don’t fit in with family.  I don’t share a name with my siblings or my mom, and my father is dead.  The only people I do share a name with are nearly 500 miles away, and to them I’m known as her.
  • A daily fear that people won’t believe I’m truly over him, since I still have his name.
  • Constant worry that people will find out that I was married to a felon, what his crime was, and that I chose to live a life where I was terrified that every knock on the door was the police or his parole officer coming to take him away from me.
  • That I won’t change my name until I’m married again, and it’s a reminder every day of a bad choice I made a decade ago.  My fiance says it doesn’t bother him, but any time anyone says my last name, I feel like my ex is getting thrown into my current relationship.
  • Knowing he’s sitting 500 miles away, smug about the fact that I still have HIS name and he still has a part of me.
  • Feeling like my life is on hold, that I can’t truly progress with anything until I rid myself of this blackness that literally leaves a trail everywhere I go.

“It’s just a name” I tell myself.  But that’s not enough anymore.

Wasted Time

I’m PMS’ing, therefore very emotional and anxiety is at a out a 9.  I’m noticing a pattern, which I think I’ve talked about before, that my anxiety peaks while I’m PMS’ing, then I’m fine for the other 3 weeks of the month.  Well, not fine, but it’s more easily managed, and much less frequent.  On top of that, there’s a thunderstorm at the moment, and thunder/lightning has become one of my top 5 stressors.

I’ve been trying to write when I am having a moment that is too much to handle.  Write, or work out.  And I just need to get something out, which means this isn’t writing, more like random stream of consciousness.

I have lived out of boxes since I left my ex husband approximately 5.5 years ago, and I’ve been working on going through them and paring down what I have, since I plan to move to New Zealand, hopefully by next June.  I found a package of cards that I’ve kept since I moved in with D (ex husband), and was going through them.  There were some from our wedding, which went directly into the “needs to be burned” box, but there were also some from my mom, my grandma and my biological father.  One was a Christmas card from my mom and dad (technically my stepdad, but he raised me, and I have a long history of dads, so I use “dad” when talking about him, “father, when talking about my biological father, and “stepdad” when talking about the man my mother is married to now, and is the best one I’ve had yet).  This Christmas card, I’m assuming, is the last one that was sent before they got a divorce.  I put it in the “keep” pile.  I don’t know why.  It wasn’t from him, technically, my mom is the one who wrote in it.  And he hasn’t sent me a card since, not even for our wedding, which he didn’t attend.  Anyway, this is a subject I could go on and on about, but will save for another day.

I thought I only had one card from my grandma.  She died about 3 weeks before my wedding in 2006.  It’s been nearly a decade, and it’s only recently gotten to where I don’t think about her almost every day.  She helped raise me before my mom got married to my dad.  I was her favorite, which I hate saying, but it’s the truth.  I was the only child before my mom and dad got married, and they proceeded to have 4 more kids, and by the fourth one my dad didn’t really have need for me anymore.  My grandma saw the way she treated me, and while she let my mom make her own decision to stay married to him, she was a safe place for me.  She was very opinionated, but held her tongue most of the time, but when I got ganged up on by my siblings and dad, she’d speak up.  My dad didn’t like this, but she was one of the only people who ever defended me.  I was unpopular at school, didn’t really have a lot of friends, especially ones who would defend me, and at home, my mom couldn’t defend me, due to a complicated set of unspoken rules that I’ll probably touch on another day.  She was the only person who saw me as someone worth defending, that I mattered.  After I turned 18, I was going through a very hard time, and I drifted from my family, even her.  When I moved 6 hours away to live with my boyfriend, who I married and divorced, I stopped talking to almost everybody, mostly because I completely immersed myself in D.  She came to visit once, and she was going to come to my wedding.  We got engaged in February, and she was healthy and planned to come to our wedding in July.  She fell down some stairs in March or April, got very sick and learned she had blood cancer, and was dead by the first week of June.

I met my biological father when I was 16.  The last time I’d seen him was when I was 3 or 4.  I drove an hour to the town he lived in, and sat in a diner with him for a couple hours, having very awkward conversation but discussing our lives.  That would be the last time I saw him.  We didn’t talk for a few years, mostly due to the same complicated rules set forth by my dad, and I got back in touch with him after I moved in with D.  We talked probably 4 times a year, exchanged letters a few times a year as well.  Both of us were bad at small talk, and very awkward, so they were short conversations and letters.  He sent I think $100 for our wedding.  He was very sick with Crohn’s and emphysema, and in October of 2008, 6 months before my world was blown apart, he died as well.

My grandma’s death hit me hard.  It took me about 6 or 7 years to really grieve it and get over it, partially because she meant so much to me, and partially because she was put on the back burner since I was so immersed in my unhealthy marriage.  On top of that, I was severely depressed, and then when I separated from B, it was all too much to handle, and I ran away from my emotions for a few years.  My father’s death didn’t really hit me as hard.  I knew he was sick, so was kind of relieved for him that he wasn’t suffering anymore, and probably, as sick as this makes me, happy that it was one less person for me to keep in touch with.  Depression made communication exhausting.

The letters and cards I just went through, have really upset me.  Not because they aren’t here anymore.  Well maybe just a little, but more so because I wasted so much time.  I feel so much guilt that I didn’t try harder, didn’t keep in touch more often.  I hadn’t talked to my father in a few months before he died, he was in the hospital, and I didn’t even know.  And my grandma gave me something that few other people did, unconditional love, and I pissed away so much time completely buried in a piece of shit relationship that tore me apart in the end anyway.  I never had a doubt in my mind that she loved me.  And I know my father loved me in the best way he could.

And I’m so terrified that they both died being uncertain of my love for them.

Small Moments

It happens in small moments, in the shower, on the drive home from work, 5 minutes before falling asleep, and the 10 minutes before the last alarm that I absolutely have to stop ignoring or else I’ll be late for work.

In those moments, it completely overtakes me, the self pity and depression and doubt, and I silently scream “it’s not fair”, lamenting over the fact that for 30 years of my life I never felt like I was loved, and that even now, I don’t fit in, that at any moment it can completely fall apart, and the people who have let me into their circles for the first time in my life will silently close ranks again, leaving me watching from the sidelines.  I’m used to the sidelines.

Then as fast as it comes, it’s over.  Eventually I have to go back to work, talk to my family or skype with my boyfriend, and I’ve been such a heavy burden for my entire life that I’m sick of weighing everyone down.  Like a wife who’s found out her husband’s been cheating on her, who has mastered the art of the brave face, I turn up the corner’s of my mouth, turn my voice to the tune of “happy”, and pretend that the emptiness I feel in my chest is nothing more than a flutter.

Belonging

Music is such an important part of my life.  I’ve not always been the best at expressing my emotions in a coherent manner (I’m still not if I’m honest), so music has been a way for me to express how I’m feeling, to get a point across that I’m unable to do myself.  A song can take me back to a specific place, a person, a smell, or a time in my life where I listened to it on repeat for weeks on end because it was a part of my soul for a short period of time.

My ex-husband and I had a lot of songs that we were obsessed with, but there were 2 that we considered “our” songs.  One is the song I walked down the aisle to, and the other is one that we came across after we were married but that we felt just “fit”.

The song we had for our wedding was a song called “You” by Evanescence.  (Luckily my music taste has changed quite a bit in the last 9 years.) The other song is “You Belong To Me”, specifically the Jason Wade version.  I haven’t listened to either of these songs in at least 4 years, but I was going through some boxes of stuff I’ve been avoiding since I separated from my ex, and found some letters he’d written to me that mentioned some of “our” songs, so I gave them a listen a couple days ago.

There’s a lyric near the end of “You” that says “Now that you love me, I love myself.  I never thought I would say that.”  And “You Belong to Me” is very self-explanatory.  I still think it is a beautiful song (especially this version, because I’m a sucker for an acoustic guitar), but carries a whole new meaning looking back at my relationship.  Listening to them on this side of divorce definitely gives me, or reinforces, the new perspective I’ve gained in the last couple months.

I lived my life for my ex-husband.  I thought that, until I met him, I was worth nothing.  He gave me purpose, he gave me someone to take care of, to love unconditionally, and if I just gave him time, he’d love me unconditionally as well.  My self worth was caught up in how he felt about me.  When he was upset with me, I was a piece of shit, and during the good times, when he was happy, I thought I felt like my life was complete, and we were meant to be together.  I wanted to do anything to be with him, to make him happy, to keep him on the right track in life, and at the time, I thought that’s what I wanted in return.  I wanted to belong to someone.  And when he heard this song and shared it with me, I was so happy that he thought of me like that, that he wanted me so badly, that he demanded I remember that I was his no matter what.

But looking back, something always felt off.  I chalked the feeling up to my extreme depression, and the fact that we couldn’t get pregnant, and dozens of other reasons that were just excuses for the fact that I knew deep down I didn’t belong with him, and I definitely didn’t belong to him.

Listening to these songs, I think I was a bit shocked at how warped my idea of a healthy relationship was.  I truly believed there was no way I could love myself, and his love was the only thing that made me a whole person.  He was my entire world, and he was suffocating me.

Reading through the letters and reflecting on the time we shared together, I won’t say I regret it necessarily.  I’m sorry I wasted so much time on him, but I did learn a lot.  Or, am still in the process of learning.  I’ve learned that I will never let anyone else become my world.  I love my fiance, and I can’t wait to share my life with him, and while he is a big part of my life, and makes me happier than I once ever thought I could be, I don’t feel like I can only love myself because he loves me. I’ve learned that unconditional love doesn’t apply to someone who is slowly sucking the life out of you.

And I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, is that I will never belong to someone else.  I’m not yet where I want to be in life, and I still have a lot of changes I want to make.  But only I can make those changes, only I can truly make myself happy, and the only person I will ever belong to again, is me.