Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Worries

To say I'm worried about Thanksgiving is kinda like saying Dallas has traffic:  There's a lot more than you really know until you get stuck in it.
I'm not worried about my mother.  We've managed to sort a way to be civil and even enjoy each other's company to an extent.
I'm not worried about my father.  Things are amicable and familial between us.
I'm worried about my middle sister.  There is a deep, pulsating rage directed at her for even existing, let alone having the audacity to be at a family meal and have the desire to talk with me.  I realize that much of this is directed at the traits she has that I dislike (read: see in myself.)  I realize that some of it is directed at her audacity at trying for something "normal" when we were young and rocking the boat.  Some of it is directed at some of the grudges we bear from long ago.  I think there may even be some sibling rivalry for her getting some of the attention I wanted and never asked for by having ADHD needs.  I try to view her as a human being.  I try to view her as another damaged person just trying to make it.  Neither seems to work.  I counsel myself to be patient and "let go and let god." (I think that one infuriates me even more.)
I think it has to do with seeing my "scapegoat," my symbol of everything wrong in the damn family, as a human, not just a bag of faults. I think I offloaded a lot of blame and shame from myself and my parents to her.  To let go of that scapegoat is scary, because that means letting go of old grudges, old blames, old shames, old worried and just being.
I'm not sure.  I know it needs to be done. It's still a really scary rope to let go of and hope there's an airbag at the bottom.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sobs for a Broken Past and Better Tomorrow

I just had one of those knock down, drag out sob fests.  The kind where you don't know why you're crying, or even what the straw that broke the camel's back was, but you're sobbing like the world could never be fixed.  The kind where you can tell it's been building for a while, you break down because you've been too strong for too damn long, and after the storm clears, the world is back on it's axis.
I talked to God/ The 'Verse/ myself for quite a while sitting in that tub.  Out loud like a madwoman, but it helped more to get it out than to letit circle around chasing it's tail in my head.
I talked about money worries.
I talked about grief for the childhood I deserved but never got.
I thought, not talked, about a mother that was rarely "there" enough.
I talked about needing to be good, needing to be perfect, so Mom and Dad wouldn't need their respective escapes.
I talked about how I couldn't remember half my childhood without wondering whether it was the truth or a lie to cover it up.
I talked about flat out not being able to remember much of it, and how maybe that was because of the lies to cover it up.
I talked about being ashamed/ scared to bring friends home. Dad cracked open a beer as soon as he got home and changed.  What if it was a bad emotion night?  What would they think of me for having a drunkard of a father?  Mom's moods moved as quickly as Texas  weather, and were rarely positive enough for her to interact with us. What if it was a bad night? What if they thought less of me for having a depressed nutjob for a mother?
I talked about worrying about fucking up the kids I teach because of my past.
I talked mostly about the lies though, the spoken and unspoken ones. The ones within the nuclear unit, the ones we told the world, the ones we showed the world.  There were enough of them, between the ones I told/ showed other and the ones I told myself, that I have trouble trusting my own memories.  There were some that I've had to keep that I'd really prefer not to, but I keep them anyways, out of the interest of familial peace. There were others we acted.  My first acts as a thespian were at a young age: "Don't tell Dad," "Don't tell Mom," 'we're going over to Gramma and Grampa's, everyone act normal!'
I repeated the serenity prayer, meditating on every word as it exited my mouth.  I found my calm.  I found my peace.

More Step 4

I've been really struggling with this step.  Partially because I'm trying to get a new career off the ground at the same time, but mostly because I'm trying to work around the idea that this is something you Don't Do.  You don't talk about yourself, good or bad, but especially good.
My sponsor recommended I try to view the good things as gifts or lessons from others, to get around that mental block.  It's still difficult.
I was in the classroom today (watching a lesson and getting introduced) and the higher ups kept going on and on about how smart and talented I was and how lucky they were I was there and all these positive things.  I tried to just let it wash over me and accept them.  I mostly succeeded. It was difficult to not interject with self deprecation, but I did it.  I even managed to do it, somewhat, in my head.  That's a rather large leap forward for me, to be able to accept a compliment without self deprecation either aloud or in my head.
I got joy out of helping the students, even the "difficult" class.  It's that joy in work I've been hunting for.  The day flew by.  I smiled most of the day, which is another rarity.
Today I discovered I had more patience than I thought I had.  I discovered that maybe I am as smart as everybody keeps telling me. I was reminded that I have a talent for helping people.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Not All Bad

Reading this, you might think I had some of the worst parents on the face of the planet.  It wasn't all bad.
My parents encouraged us to follow our dreams, but be practical about it.  Aim for the stars, but make sure you have a fall back plan, just in case.We were all heavily encouraged into STEM fields, but weren't denied dreams to write, paint, or whatever called our hearts.
I have distinct happy memories with each parent and both together.  Six Flags with Mom, Norma's Cafe during Saturday errand with Dad, the occasional evening watching movies as a family.
We were well provided for, in terms of physical needs.  Money was tight, but everyone got enough to eat.  Yes, we ate a lot of ramen, ground meat, and cereal, but Mom and Dad made sure we got fruits and veggies and the occasional treat.
Mom and Dad did what they could to support our dreams as kids.  Realistically, we all knew my sister wouldn't get a pony and that none of us would get a car as a sweet 16 gift.  I did get plenty of meteorology and water books, my middle sister got art supplies, my youngest sister got plenty of Hot Wheels.  Little things that didn't cost a lot but meant "I believe in you."
They were there for our achievements. One or both came to every award show or graduation, and they proudly displayed ribbons, trophies, and team photos on a cork board and shelf.
They did what they could to broaden our horizons. We went on family road trips. Mom took us kids storm chasing when I wanted to be a storm chaser (from a relatively safe distance, we never saw any dangerous action). We were in every free or inexpensive program we showed the least interest in. When I was in UIL academic, my father got up before the ass-crack of dawn to drop me off on Saturdays for meets.
We were raised to be kind, courteous, polite, and well- mannered, no matter what our state of mind. While their methods left scars, they worked to instill those values.
We were raised with an open mind, a sense of humor, and the ability to see past a person's exterior. Those values have saved my ass many a time.
The scars I have also instilled drive, humility, and a fierce sense of independence.  That independence from a young age instilled in me a confidence in my ability to do anything.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What Shall Today Bring?

I've noticed I'm rapidly coming to the point that caused me to abandon ship all the times before.  I'm starting to feel again.  I'm starting to not immediately put my emotions in  lockbox the instant I notice them.  This is a scary place.  All the negative Don'ts are coming out again when I feel them.
"Ladies don't get mad."
"Angry?  Do you want a reason to be angry?"
You're not dying, so you shouldn't be sad."
"What the hell are you so damn happy over?"
"Wipe that shit eating grin off your face or I will."
And so on.
One of the Al- Anon books suggests overriding negative self talk with positive slogans. Another suggestion is taking all of those negative self talks, writing them down, and putting them away physically.
Actually allowing myself to feel things is scary.  I hafta not only feel them, but figure out what is socially acceptable to show.  I obviously can't punch a wall every time I'm angry or break into tears every time I'm sad. Sometimes, the emotion itself is a scary one that I generally try to avoid, because it's a Bad Feeling.  It's one a regular person shouldn't admit to having. I realize most humans experience most, if not all, of these negative emotions.  I'm just afraid of pushing people away with the Bad emotions.
This is not a place I want to be.  This is not a path I want to take.  I need to take it.  I've turned away from this path, at this point, several times before. Dealing with who I actually am and what I actually feel isn't pleasant.
What is this emotion?  I recognize the heart squeezy feeling.  I recognize the anxiety.  I think this is dread. I acknowledge the dread.  Dread is brought on by fear. I recognize the fear and acknowledge it by name: fear of abandonment. I hold the dread and the fear as the tiny little rat babies they are in my hands. I recognize the worry over what comes next.
I can do this. I can be honest with myself and feel the true emotion.  I might even be able to name them. This next step is a giant leap into unknown territory.  Then again, Neil Armstrong only put one foot at a time on the moon as he uttered "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."  If one movement at a time put humans on the moon, one movement at a time will edge me towards sanity.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Serenity Prayer

Today, I've been thinking a lot about the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
I had issue with this prayer coming into Al- Anon, and in a lot of ways, not in the least that whole "God" business.
Who the hell was this "God?"  What the hell was this so-called "Serenity?"  Why should I "accept" anything?  How the hell do I know what I can and can't change?  God sure as hell couldn't help me with any of that.
I bristled with animosity at prayer, especially scripted prayer.  Prayer did nothing.  I was proof that prayer was nothing but wasted breath. 
Even with a hesitant acceptance of God, prayer was still something I Didn't Do.  Why should I talk to this omniscient, omniphilitic being?  Shouldn't he know what I want and need?  Bah.  Prayer was a waste of breath.
Then someone mentioned prayer as a form of meditation and release. A light bulb went off.  Prayer wasn't for God.  It wasn't for show.  It was for me!  It is a way for me to coalesce my jumbled thoughts.  It is a way to figure out what I really think I want or need.  It is a way for me to admit I "need a lil help here." In the case of the Serenity Prayer, it's a reminder that I can't change everything and that's ok, and I can get a lil help in whether or not I can change it.
Serenity was another elusive thing.  The dictionary definition really did nothing to help me piece it together.  Neither did the thesaurus links.  How could I be calm in accepting something I not only didn't like, but had no power over.  I was supposed to LIKE having no control over something?!  My mind kept going back to "calm and peace."  You can be calm in situations you abhor, even if you fake it.  Maybe accepting didn't mean "like" in this case.    Maybe it just meant accepting it as existing, not accepting it as something you like.  Maybe it meant I'm supposed to use a calm mind to acknowledge that what I don't like does exist, but doesn't hafta anger me.  I can do that.  I may not hafta like it, but I can calmly acknowledge it exists and I can't do a damn thing to make it not exist. I still may not be happy about it, but I'm not spinning my wheels trying to fight reality.
"Courage?"  If it needs to be done, fixed, or changed, that's not courage.  That's doing what needs to be done.  It may be hard sometimes, but it still needs to be done.
"Wisdom to know the difference."  I struggled on this one for a while. Did they mean wisdom or knowledge or both?  I found my lightbulb moment.  Wisdom meant just that: the quality a wise one has.  It meant the ability to sit calm and still, or dig for the answer, heck, even pray for the answer.  It meant the ability to remain calm and unperturbed until you figure out what your part is.  It meant knowing when to "Let Go, and Let God," and when to fight against heaven and earth because it's your battle.  Sometimes, I'll try and do God's part too, just 'cause I still can't fully trust the fucker, and inevitably, something will smack me down with a "that's not yours!"But imperfect is ok.  I'm still learning.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Emotions, Part 3

Today's been a hard day.  I've been up and down, up and down, with very little forward momentum. I've been feeling stuck, like I'm spinning my wheels, because I'm not sure where to go.  I tried to do some digging on where to go, only to be told to wait at every instance.
Patience is not my strong suit.  I don't wait easily or well. I do it because I must, but "wait" is a bitch of an answer.
In a way, I feel depressed.  Not the usual version of fear and old sad creeping over me.  This one is an honest fear of the future.  I don't recall a time I've ever feared the future.  Feared the present, hated the idea of the future, and ran at all costs to stop an undesirable future, but straight through the gut fear.
I have a lot riding on this test.  I pretty much only get one shot to get it right.  I should do fine with some review, but I fear fucking it up.  I fear losing the chance at an awesome job by not being good enough.  I feel like this is my right path, but I'm not sure of the next right step.  I don't want to fuck this up.  Paralysis by analysis.  At least with the FE, I has seen it recently enough that I felt good about it.  Same goes for the APs and CLEPs.  I haven't touched some of this stuff in over a decade, nearly 15 year.  This test means I need to face my past with biology, that most loathed subject.  It means facing some facts I've held long true about myself and breaking them down.
I need to face that I do well with facts, even rote memorized facts.  I do it well everywhere else.
8th grade biology are the only classes I've failed a marking period for in straight science.  I almost failed that same marking period in history and math (I need to remember what made 8th grade an emotional struggle.)  I failed the basic structures course. Twice.  I despise structures as well.  I hate the things that prove I'm not perfect or that carry reminders of that.
There are memories attached to those early failures.  I would have preferred yelling to the disappointed looks. I would have preferred a beating to the blame and shame I heaped upon myself, far more than m parents gave me.  My parents never saw my college grades.  I never showed them off.  They weren't what I wanted to show them.  Again, I heaped shame upon myself.  I called myself every name in the book. I told myself that I must be stupid for not getting it. I told myself I wasn't worthy of certain things I enjoyed and grounded myself away from them.  You know what the grades were that caused so much havoc?  A 69 and a 68 out of 100.  So fucking close.  I still would have chastised myself for a 70, but nowhere near as badly. That at least was passing.  I shredded my psyche for every C and obliterated myself for a failing grade.  They meant I wasn't perfect, and that couldn't happen.
So I rationalized.  Internalized.  Obviously I wasn't good at biology.  Why wasn't I good at biology?  All the rote memorization without explanation of why things worked the way they did.
A while back, I picked up a genetics text and a biochem text.  I was determined to get to the heart  of why biology worked and fix that preconception by giving myself the whys.  I never got very far. I kept running up against that preconceived "I'm bad at biology" and giving myself excuses not to do it.
So, my next trick is breaking down that wall I created. (Remembering what fucked up my 8th grade year wouldn't be a bad thing either.)