Do you know what a complete stranger could learn about me in a matter of minutes?
They could learn my name, where I live, that I hate vegetables, what my favourite movies are, how long I was in my last relationship, the size of my feet, what colour lipstick I wear and even what I’ve been feeling lately. In all honesty they could learn more about me than anyone who I would physically invite over for drinks would ever know. Note: this is not a rant about the horrors of social media and the intrusion of our privacy. Screw it, I really don’t care.
But as I started thinking about how much I put out there about myself, the more I started thinking that, good or bad… I actually like putting that much personal information out there. Without knocking on someone’s door at 3am telling them that I am contemplating my existence, I can write it, post it, reread it. Call me naïve but I don’t have concerns about my identity being stolen or being stalked. Perhaps that would change if it happened (knock on wood) but I digress…
I enjoy being a warts and all type of person. It’s a huge step for me on a journey of self acceptance (ohm). It allows me to be brave, it allows me to analyze my faults, to open myself to criticism. I’m by no means perfect and the internet and social media could be the ideal place to pretend that I am. Air brush my photo, write statuses and tweets about how everyday I am extremely happy, manufacture fake achievements, pretend to have more friends than I do, just… be perfect. But see…. not only do I not actually want to be perfect in reality, I don’t want to pretend to be perfect either. If you are at all privy to my musings, blogs, social media, emails, whatever… you will see raw emotion, you will see hurt, you will see mistakes, arrogance, low self esteem, naiveté and self doubt. Every day. Of course I don’t want to inspire mass suicides so this will also be mixed in with joy. But when I feel it. I feel like, if you want to know me, then KNOW me. If you don’t, well delete me and while I obsess over why I was deleted, forget me.
So as I thought about how I revel in the big picture I paint for myself on the world wide web and in the minds of those around me, I randomly thought, what about my dad?
Ok let me explain that more. I was thinking about what it would be like for someone who shared nothing?
My dad is older, in his seventies now and he does not understand social media nor does he want to. He is intensely suspicious of it like a lot of his generation. So there will be no status updates from him anytime soon. But beyond that. I’m his daughter, and I know barely anything about him. I’ve seen him cry twice and we never talked about it. I don’t really know what he likes, what he hates, what he wants out of life. I don’t know what scares him, what gives him joy, what makes him reflect. Sure I could tell you what he watches on TV, maybe what his favourite meal is. But if you asked me to paint a picture of my dad, my canvas would be more like a puzzle than anything else. Missing many pieces.
Realistically, he is in the twilight of his life. My sons are going to ask about him when he’s gone. And there is no person, no reference and certainly no website that could tell them what they are going to undoubtedly want to know. I realize that there exists an older, more stoic and reserved mindset. But what does that leave us in the end?
So you could argue about the pros and cons of living a public and very open existence. You could talk to me about privacy and decency and ego. Talk to me about how this phenomena has shaped our culture. Say, back in my day, yada yada yada….
But when I die, my children can look back and know who I really was, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But I lean towards the former when I think, what does anyone really know about my father?
You know when you realize how important something is to you right? When you lose it.
You may think you know, you may believe that you understand and respect the importance of a thing but it’s my belief that it’s a failing of human culture to take things for granted until you no longer have that luxury.
I lost my best friend. In fact a lot of spectacularly shitty things have occurred since I wrote anything last. For fear of a negative diatribe that would be splattered all over social media I just restrained myself from venting. I mean hey, a few bitter status updates may have slipped out as I’m only human. But now I write because I lost my best friend.
So like I was saying, I could have gone on for hours before this happened about how I realized how important he was, how special I knew he was, but until today when he was 100% completely gone I had no clue that he possessed such a large piece of my heart. And that I would be so lost without him.
I’ve been through bad relationships, I’ve been through violence, I’ve been through hard work, poverty, and I’m raising kids which is it’s own special kind of hell and heaven mixed together. But I always had a best friend. That person I call at 2am. The person that can look at me and know that something is bothering me. The only one person in the world that can reach into my worst hysterical emotional panic attack and drag me back into my safe happy place. For god’s sake the man built my happy place.
Why did it end? It doesn’t really matter. Not my fault, not his fault. It just had to end and there was nothing I could do to change it.
I once went to a counselor after a very traumatizing break up. He drew a diagram of healthy relationship and unhealthy relationships. He drew two circles and in the first diagram he drew them side by side. He said, “Imagine the circles are you and your partner. This is a relationship where both people are so independent that they don’t need anything from one another, they exist as solitary creatures within a committed union. It requires very little communication, and this is unhealthy.” He drew another two circles this time they intersected but almost so completely that they appeared to be one circle. ” This is a relationship were it is so dependant that you can not ascertain where one person ends and the other begins. There is almost no independence and tell me Shauna, what do you get if someone leaves this relationship?” He erased one circle. What remained was the other circle looking like a sliver of a moon. “One person is almost always left as a shell of who they used to be. They aren’t whole any longer and functionality is near impossible. They depended on their partner too much, to the point where they can’t function without them.”
As a person with deep-rooted abandonment issues, that overly dependent style was almost always the way my relationships look near the end. Even my friendships.
This is a healthy relationship. Where independence is maintained yet a balance of dependence is also rooted in the union.
Ok so you all know where this is leading right? I’m single with two kids and the only person in the entire world I had left is gone. You know the only option for me now right? I have to make friends with someone I really don’t like very much. Someone who is over emotional, clingy, blunt, insecure, a bad decision maker, desperate, a loner…. just an overall mess of a human being…..
Yep, that bitch.
How the hell am I supposed to make friends with someone I’ve lived with for 28 years and still can’t stand to be alone with?? Her only redeeming quality is she is the mother of my children…
It feels much later than it is. It feels late when my eyes start burning. That means I’m overtired.
So I had something on my mind today. I started thinking about it when my husband and I were fighting.
Why is life so hard? And is it hard for everyone?
I can’t pretend to know anyone’s struggles in life, so I’ll just say it’s hard for me. My best friend always tells me that “it doesn’t have to be hard.” “Sometimes you just wake up, go to work, eat and sleep.” ” Make life easier.” Honestly, I could quote him all day because he has given me more pep talks and advice than one person should be given in a lifetime. But I never really understand those things…. how exactly do I do this? Maybe one more quote from him…. “Do something different.”
Ok so tomorrow I want to finally go to a Buddhist Zendo because I really need some focus in my life. And because it’s different. And because it might really help me with my struggles. But “we” decided it is too early. And a fight ensued…. and that’s when I began thinking,
He doesn’t want to fight. I don’t want to fight. Why are we fighting?
I want to get out and do more things, why don’t I? I want to make more money, why don’t I figure out a way to? I want to be healthier, why don’t I eat better, exercise more and take all the medicine I’m supposed to? I want less stress in my life, why don’t I figure out relaxation techniques that work for me?
Why don’t I make my life easier?
I have no fucking clue.
Could it be that sometimes we don’t place enough value on ourselves? Perhaps I don’t think I’m worth the extra effort. Because I know that if I’m at work, I’ll kill myself so that the business does well. At home I’ll bend over backwards so that my kids are happy. The things I don’t work for are things I don’t feel are important. Maybe I’m not important in my own life.
How the hell does that even happen? And are there other people out there that have the same issue?
So… alright. Psycho analysis complete. Now what? Then I begin thinking about something else. I really feel like it’s true.
Love helps everything and everyone. I’m going to put more love out there than I ever have. Help more people. Give away kindness. Teeter on exhaustion until happiness fills the people around me. Strangers even. How does this help me you ask?
Well, I don’t know that it will. I do know if you put out positivity, you often receive it in return. I know that the mood of people around you, alter yours. And I know that sometimes when you stop thinking about your problems, the answer will come.
And if all else fails, at least I put a little love out into the world.
Technically if we’re going by my account of things, we never stopped being friends. If you go by his version it may be different I’m not sure. In the course of our, what? Four-five year friendship we have fallen apart from each other a few times. Once because he loved me too much, once because I loved him too much and a few times because we didn’t like the people the other surrounded himself or herself with.
But. We always came back to our friendship. It was very deep and in my opinion it couldn’t be broken. The problem now is that I’m very on edge about it, fearing we may drift in opposite directions again. I’m nervous to invest even with my previous investment still sitting in no man’s land.
This led me to thinking though. If you experience the same thing from a relationship (friendship or otherwise) over and over again…. do you guard yourself without realizing it? Do you hold back in fear of the same bad patterns repeating themselves once again? Can you trust?
I figure most of the time you try, but to some extent subconsciously, you can’t help but to guard yourself.
Caring for and loving people is a tricky business. Especially with friends. There are just so many other people influencing every moment you relate. Different opinions. Different experiences. It’s a wonder you can find anyone in this world you can single out and call them your true friend.
Myself, I’ve been hurt by friends and others more times than I could count. Frankly, if I had guarded myself more I would have saved myself a lot of heartache. But it also wouldn’t have been authentic. You can accuse me of many things, heck go ahead call me crazy if you’d like but you can’t say I’m not real. And if you’re my friend and I love you, no matter what you and I have been through or how many tears and sleepless nights you may have caused me….. I don’t change how I feel. That subconscious guarded wall may or may not be there but that isn’t something I can control, hopefully it doesn’t change things too severely.
So leap of faith again. I’m going to sleep now, hopefully in the morning I haven’t lost any friends or gained any enemies. I put love out there in the hope that it’s mostly what I’ll get back.
So what happens when something you’re fiercely loyal to and vow to honor for all time…. completely changes from what it once was? Are you still going to be loyal? Should you pretend nothing has changed?
I’ve lived in the same city since I was born. I’ve moved here and there but I’ve always ended up back home. I love my home.
Side note that I’m a very one track person with a loyalty complex. Meaning…. I shop at one grocery store because that’s where my dad shopped, I keep the same cable company even though it’s more expensive because they have always treated me well, I eat the same brands of foods as I remember from my childhood… I don’t usually change these things…..
So my home. I love what I remember and what I’ve experienced. Beautiful nature pairing with a exuberant city life. Easy to drive highways. Gorgeous get-aways. A great respect for history all over the city. Activities all your friends and families have done at some point in their lives. Friendly people everywhere. People move away as they inevitably do, and I scoff at them as disloyal fools. Why move from your home? The greatest place on earth!
There have been changes, sure. The 711 changed into a rug store, the Save-On Foods got renovated and all the video stores closed. I don’t like it but I expect it.
But in the last five years, the city that I love has had an extreme makeover and I don’t know what I’m looking at anymore. We hosted the Olympics a few years back so there was a major increase in construction. But now construction is ten times worse then that even. Every bridge, every highway, every major road. It’s not like we are a small town experiencing a population boom, we’re the third largest city in the country and still we expand like this with no more room and too many people.
Tolls added to everything. Traffic is hideous in every direction, even going ten minutes away in my “quiet” area. Neighborhood institutions are disappearing at an alarming rate. You can hardly say. “I remember when…” anymore. And the people! They are becoming jaded and rude and… hardened. Everyone is a snob about something. The rich, the artsy, the working man, the media….
I don’t see my home anymore. The streets I used to walk are no longer lined with little store brimming with personality but these impersonal condos. We have too many people and nowhere to put them. We’ve closed all of our mental health institutions and the downtown core is teeming with ill people causing more crime, sexual disease, drug use….
I’m racked with guilt that after 27 years of swearing my allegiance to this city, I want to leave. And I’m completely sad that my kids will never know the beautiful home I wanted to give them. Not that I could afford it here, did I mention we have the most expensive real estate in the entire country?
Does it make me disloyal? Or is perhaps this city the one that broke the bond between a girl and her home?
It occurs to me as I search for change, that I am myself a great creature of change within one single day. My life may not make a drastic change, my habits and opinions and personality may stay the same. My life may not exhibit the changes I wish to see but in a moment of reflection, I realize change within myself is constant.
Pure contentment with a slow drifting off to sleep if only for an hour before the children awoke.
Resigned to the fact that they would not go back to sleep.
Pride in myself for being supermom, breakfast, multiple diaper changes, hot wheels races and the bathtub cleaned all before 8am.
Quiet insanity with my son going through a phase where he can call my name 18 thousand times in one minute. “Mama, mama, mama….”
Feeling completely overwhelmed at the first day free of depression in quite awhile.
Anger at my husband for taking his anger out on me. Anger at myself for allowing this to deconstruct my entire planned day.
Sadness and desperation when this momentarily drove me back to the dark room.
Frustration when my husband could not control his anger and our fight ballooned to packing his bags, name calling and angry cleaning.
Recovery with a cooling down period.
Shame when I accepted an unwanted loan for rent I can’t pay from my best friend. And then relief.
Determination when my mother showed up and we started cleaning my house.
Happiness playing more hot wheels and watching Disney Junior with my one son and seeing my other son laugh for maybe the fifth time so far.
Hilarity ensues when my mother speaks, as a dog ate her dentures and she has her alternate pair on. Complete with buck teeth and crooked teeth that are brilliant white.
Fear and anger when I read that the U.S wants to go to Syria. Fear for my children and anger that this could happen in 2013.
Absolute joy when my two year old and I go for our daily walk way past his bedtime and he becomes obsessed with the mangiest cat I have ever seen.
Reflection and deep thought reading a book about the parallels between neuroscience and Buddhism.
Hope when I talk to my husband about maybe attending a Buddhist temple in September to help us both focus and improve our minds.
Relaxation watching T.V. eating more chocolate than I probably should.
Lust and intense sexuality in bed when postpartum doesn’t affect my naturally high sex drive and my husband and I have amazing sex that leaves me feeling thoughtful, content and warm and fuzzy.
Love when my son can’t sleep and he walks with his doggy and blanket to sleep in the big bed.
And now…. it’s now.
All in a day. So my conclusion is, if I am capable of changing my mood and mind so much in the span of less than 24 hours, I must be capable of changing my life the way I desire.
I posted on Facebook that I needed something to change but I wasn’t sure what. Responses from family and friends echoed the same sentiment. Don’t wait for it, make the change. Be the change. Sounds great and I’m sure I would tell someone that exact same advice.
But what the HELL does that mean?
I’m not happy in life and I want things to be different…. so yeah I’ll make a change right now! But what? And how? And when? I have no clue what to do. So telling me I need to make a change, alright I agree with you. But can you tell me exactly how I might do that?
Is it a change of attitude or understanding that makes the difference? How do I do that? Should I have an epiphany? What exactly brings that on? Where exactly do I find happiness? Oh. Within me? Oh great! Wait…. but it’s there and yet I’m still not happy. Could someone please help me work on my own personal step by step guide to this?
Step One: Do this.
Step Two: Now do this.
Yeah I know, life isn’t that easy and I need to figure it out for myself. But it’s so frustrating being as old as I am and still not knowing what to do. I thought I’d be a well adjusted 16 year old with her life together and now I’m 27, have two kids, a turbulent relationship and I still want my life to change so we can all be happy.