Monday, July 29, 2013

In my Mind...

Not much time for blogging today so I'm sharing the lyrics to one of my latest favorite songs. It's become my feel good song. It makes me feel like it's okay to be me. Normally I listen to it about 20 times in a row. That makes it feel like it's okay to be me for longer.

In My Mind
by Amanda Palmer

In my mind
In a future five years from now
I'm one hundred and twenty pounds
And I never get hung over
Because I will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I'm in
And I will be someone I admire
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I am not exactly the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
In the faraway here and now
I've become in control somehow
And I never lose my wallet
Because I will be the picture of of discipline
Never fucking up anything
And I'll be a good defensive driver
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I'll never be the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
When I'm old I am beautiful
Planting tulips and vegetables
Which I will mindfully watch over
Not like me now
I'm so busy with everything
That I don't look at anything
But I'm sure I'll look when I am older
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could be that person now
But that's not what I want
But that's what I wanted
And I'd be giving up somehow
How strange to see
That I don't wanna be the person that I want to be

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren't really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I'll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven't finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I'm living in the moment
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could win this, win this fight
But maybe it isn't all that funny
That I've been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it's funny
If I wanna live before I die
And maybe it's funniest of all
To think I'll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be

Fuck yes
I am exactly the person that I want to be

Hope, who hopes I don't actually die before I truly know this. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

What I did at Summer Camp.

One my goals in taking my Facebook hiatus was to find more time, and to use some of that time for more writing. Again, I'm not sure what it will amount to if anything and right now they're just little snippets of a whole picture.

This past week was Jack's Tennis Camp, which went a lot better than expected, and I'm proud to say he completed the week and can now hit a Tennis ball. Sort of. The beginning of the week, however, was tough and I give his father all the credit for pulling him through this one. He was patient, understanding, and stayed the whole three hours at a camp that was drop off and pick up. The Instructors also deserve some credit for recognizing his need for one on one instruction and some alone time practice. Once he knew what he was supposed to do and was allowed to do it, on his own, his comfort level increased dramatically and he was able to join the group and actually enjoy himself. It's amazing what a little understanding and adjustment can do.

The whole experience and the words that my son was saying at the beginning of the week sent me back thirty something years to my own experience with Camp, so I decided to write about it and share it here. It's been an experience that stuck with me and writing it out was not only therapeutic but also eye opening. Enjoy! Or not...

Summer Camp

One summer, back when I was seven, my then foster mother came up with the bright idea to send me to camp. It was the YMCA Day Camp and it was only for a week. At least I think it was only for a week. In any case, that was the length of time I went. I’m sure she must have been thinking something like, “Well, now I have a child. It’s summer time. What do you do with a child in the summer? I know! You send her to camp!”

Camp. A supposedly fun filled, noisy place where I could run and swim and play sports and be competitive and learn skills and socialize.  A perfectly logical choice for any normal little girl, I suppose. Only I wasn’t any normal little girl. People said I was shy, but it was more than that. I could barely run, and certainly not fast.  I could not swim. I didn’t and hadn’t ever in my life played a sport. I wasn’t the least bit competitive. I had no desire to learn these skills, and I lacked the ability and the voice to socialize with people I didn’t know. Surely someone else in my life must have known all of this besides me. I can almost hear them now. "It will help to bring her out of her shell..." This was a phrase I had heard often, and it made me wonder if they thought I was a turtle, or perhaps a clam. In my mind I saw the image of a large seashell strapped to my back so it looked as if I had wings. I liked the image and didn’t see any reason why they would want me to come out of that shell.

The truth was, I was perfectly happy in my “shell”. It was where I felt most comfortable and safe. There was no need to try to pry me out of it. The truth is, even today, at the age of forty-one it is still where I feel the most at ease. No amount of prying was ever going to turn me into anyone else. My shell is my home. Perhaps I am a turtle after all.

The first day of camp stands out more vividly than the rest. It started with a car ride to The Thunderbird Motel, which was where the bus would pick me up. I’m not sure if the word nervous can fully describe what I was feeling. I was nervous, that’s for sure, but it was more than that. My thoughts were racing, although they never dared to become actual words. And my thoughts were also pervasive. What will the bus look like? My school bus is yellow, but I rode a bus once that wasn’t yellow. When will it get here? Who will be on it? Kids on the yellow bus are mean, but there weren’t any kids on the other bus. Where will I sit? If it’s not a yellow bus I’ll have sit next to a strange man. How long will it take? I got sick on the other bus. If it’s not a yellow bus I’ll get sick on this bus. What if we get lost? What if I can’t find my way back?  Where do I go when we get there? Who will help me? What will they make me do? Will I be able to do it? I won’t be able to do it. They will be mad that I can’t swim. What will we play? When will we play? Where will I put my bag? When will I get there?  What if I can’t talk? They will get mad if I can’t talk. Will it be in the woods? How will I know what time it is? How will I know when to leave? How will I know the right bus?  And on and on it went. This, all before I even started my journey. I had no idea what to expect, and I needed to know what to expect. I also needed to know what was coming next and in the precise order it would come. I only had my past experience to rely on and believed if something happened once, it would happen, again and again and again. Life experience has since taught me that this isn’t necessarily true, however, I still can’t force my brain to believe it.

The bus ride ended up being the least of my worries, simply because I didn’t have to say anything to anyone. It was noisy, as all the other kids yelled rather than talked, but I managed to stare out the window and tune most of it out. The bus ride to and from would end up being the best part of the whole experience.

Once we arrived at the camp all of my racing thoughts and questions returned, along with my inability to speak above a whisper. “Speak up, Hope” was another commonly heard phrase, especially in School, in front a group, or with people I didn’t know.  I would try and try, but if I could get the words out at all, it was never above a whisper, and it hurt to try. It physically hurt. It’s only recently that I learned that there was an actual name for this. Selective Mutism. Eventually, this was something I grew out of. But even now my voice is the first thing to go when I’m extremely nervous. It’s as if I have a volume button the instantly turns down the moment I’m around unfamiliar people or places.

The Camp Counselors were lined up as we exited the bus, and although the process by which they determined which child belonged to which counselor is all a blur now, somehow, I ended up being assigned to one. To this day, I’m not completely certain I was ever even with the right group to begin with, as I was always the kid “left over”. The one without the partner, or the fifth wheel in a party of four. I was the quiet, blond haired, blue eyed, day dreamy little girl that completely went unnoticed.

Day one, for me, was a mess. It was complete and utter chaos and confusion, as we bounced from one noisy activity to the next. I was somewhat relieved when our first stop was to the locker room and I learned where to put my bag. I made a mental note of what building it was in and specifically what locker I had. I only had to count from the first locker to the left of the door. One, two ,three, four, five. Five. I had the fifth locker. If I knew nothing else, I knew where my bag was and how to get it.

The rest, however, when I remember it, resembles a dream. The kind of dream where nothing really makes sense and you’re always late, or running behind, and you’re trying your best to figure things out, but still have no idea what is going on. All of the other kids in my group seemed to have some kind of mental telepathy or super powers. They all knew what the others were doing without anyone ever having to speak the words. They all knew the rules to the games and how to hit the ball and in which direction to run. I knew none of this, and if anyone was explaining it, I certainly couldn’t make it out above the voices of chattering children. I remember trying to ask the counselor questions.  I remember standing by her side and waiting for her to notice that I was there. Most times she didn’t notice, and the times she did, she couldn’t hear me and would get annoyed. At least it seemed to me like she was getting annoyed. It seemed to me like I was doing everything wrong.

Lunch time that first day, was probably the longest half hour of my life. For reasons I will never comprehend, my foster mother, had completely missed the fact that she was supposed to pack me a lunch. A mistake that she would never make again, as I reminded her of it continuously for months after. While all the other children and counselors sat and ate their brown bagged lunches at the picnic tables scattered among the trees, I sat, alone. Eventually one of the adults noticed I had no lunch and gave me an orange. An orange that I couldn’t peel, as I had no finger nails. I did the best I could, but by this time lunch was almost over and I threw most of the orange in the trash.

Swimming came after lunch, which I thought was out of order because everyone always said to wait to go in the water after eating.  Because I didn’t actually know how to swim I was in the beginner group and I needed a partner. Most of the kids paired off immediately and the two girls I asked to be my partner decided to partner up themselves. The councilor ended up being my partner, which was fine with me because I figured she wouldn’t let me drown. I had fallen off a raft in an above ground pool at age five and was convinced that I had drowned once already. I wasn’t in a hurry to let that happen again.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with running races and mouthing the words to songs I didn’t know. The highlight of my day was heading back to the locker room, as I knew exactly where my bag was. One, two, three, four, five. The fifth locker. I was changed and ready before anyone else, wanting nothing more than to find my bus, where I could sit and stare out the window for the whole ride home. I remember I was in bed by 6pm that first night, out of complete exhaustion and overload. And I remember my foster mother commenting on how “All that fresh air must have tuckered her out.”  I had told her that I didn’t like it, and I remember thinking, why doesn’t she believe me?

The rest of the week, was much of the same, except that I had a lunch and could get out of having to talk by shoving food into my mouth. By the second to the last day a new girl, Linda, arrived, which gave me a partner finally, as all the others had pretty much stuck together. For some reason, she insisted on calling me Diana, and I let her. Linda and I were partners in swimming, the egg race and the three legged race. She was a bit bossy, but it made it easier to figure out what I was supposed to do. Linda and I didn’t sit together at lunch.

On the last day, as we were changing in the locker room, a pudgy little mean girl told me she hoped she would never see me again. I was completely shocked and was sure she was talking to someone else. I looked around me, but it became apparent that she was indeed talking to me. I’m not sure if it was because I knew it was the end of the last day, but somehow, I found my voice and told her “I was glad I never had to see her again.”  I wasn’t mean about it. In fact, I didn’t really even mean it as I had no idea who this girl was. Did she know me? Was she in my group? Did I know who was in my group? No. The truth was, I didn’t. I always knew where my group was because I had studied my counselors face and the length of her brown hair. I could recognize her and Linda. No one else. After spending an entire week with these kids I didn’t know any of them. I didn’t know what they looked like and I knew no ones name, except for the bossy little girl, that called me Diana.

Hope, who probably isn't really a turtle. 

Also, google drive can bite me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back to Reality.

Last week I got to escape for a mini vacation with the BF. It's amazing what a little sand, sea, and ocean air can do to calm the nerves. Aside from the 100 degree heat plus humidity, which gave me some serious cankles on the second to last day, it was a nice break from reality. If only I could have taken the sand, sea and ocean air home with me...

My first day back was filled with some mysterious stomach ailment, a panic attack, and physical exhaustion which had me asleep by 2pm. Switching gears is not only difficult for me, but also time consuming, as the only way it seems to work out well is if I take the slow and steady approach. Being home seems to have brought on this bizarre feeling of impending doom. It doesn't make sense and I can't often rationalize it with thoughts or words. All I can do is feel it. And when I do, it feels like shit.

I had my umpteenth (only because I can't remember what number this is) visit with The Head Doctor this afternoon, and I do feel slightly better, which is good because maybe that means I'm getting my money's worth. We touched on a lot of things so far, which makes it difficult sometimes to remember them all. Today the gist was more on why I feel this impending "doom" and why I feel this crazy need to leave, run away, start over etc...every three years or so.  Three years does seem to be my limit. I think Doll Making is the only job I've ever done that has lasted longer than that. Most everything though, work, relationships, place of residence, all have a three year shelf life. Even if they've actually lasted longer, three years is when it all starts that downward slide. It's like a three year itch, and I think part of my recent unsettled, anxiety ridden, and irritated state may have something to do with the fact that for the first time in my life, I'm not scratching that itch. I'm not impulsively quitting my job and jumping into something unpredictable. I'm also not ending a relationship, selling all my belongings and moving to another state. I'm just sitting here, doing this. You know what it feels like when you have an actual itch? Have you ever tried NOT scratching it? It'll just about drive you up a wall. Right now, I'm about half way up.

We also touched on that feeling of not belonging. Ironically, I didn't have that or the feeling of doom, while away. In a place that was mostly foreign to me, I felt calm and safe. Mostly. It wasn't until I got home that I felt as if I had woken up in a place I didn't belong. It was like one of those dreams where you suddenly realize you were supposed to go to work and you never did. Your heart sinks into your stomach, and the adrenaline starts to flow, causing your heart to beat out of your chest. Only it's not a dream, and I really have no idea where I'm supposed to be, only that I feel like it isn't here, and here isn't safe.

Somehow, these things are tied together. It could be because I'm so stuck on the pattern of things that I can feel deep in my bones that this... this, is NOT MY pattern. This is not how I do things. It could be that staying put, rather than stopping, running and reinventing, is throwing my whole being off kilter. Or it could be something entirely different. Either way, it's pretty obvious that if I'm not going to keep repeating that pattern, that I have to do something else. I'm not sure what yet though.

My homework is to pay attention to those times that I do feel at ease and like I'm right where I'm supposed to be. And also to pay attention to those times that I feel most uneasy and most like I don't belong. Seems simple enough, although for me it probably won't be. Patterns are easy. Linking and connecting is not. I don't always have the easiest time identifying my emotions or showing them appropriately, never mind trying to actually connect them to a real life event. Homework is hard, and as a dear friend said just recently, so is living.

Hope, who is still moving forward but at a snails pace...slow and steady.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Writing Project

In a addition to my time spent in Bloggerville, I've also started writing bits and pieces elsewhere in hopes that it will amount to something. Someday. Maybe. I thought instead of an actual post,  I would share a piece of that here today. goes...

"Did you get hit often? Witness a lot of violence?" , the doctor asked. It wasn't exactly a question per se. Not the way he asked it. It was more like a confirmation.

I was used to this kind of assumption, yet still, I found it slightly annoying when people looked at me with sympathetic eyes and spoke in an understanding tone, when they rarely understood anything at all. 

"No." I answered. "My mother never laid a hand on me." This was true. Never. Not even once. There were fights, of course, and some of them violent. There was a lot of anger when my mother was drinking, but none of it was ever aimed at me.

"Really?" he asked, almost disbelieving. "What kind of violence did you witness and who was the anger aimed at?"

"Boyfriends mostly." I replied, although really I should have just said Men, as none were boys, and none were friends, and none ever stuck around long enough to be. "There was a lot of yelling. Once one of her boyfriends took all of our clothes out of the bedroom, threw them in the bathtub, and then lit them on fire."

He let out a laugh. "He did!? Why did he do that?" Shit. He's laughing. How the hell do I know why he did that, I think, and why is that funny? I decide, once again, that I will never understand people. 

"I don't know." I answer. And our time is up. Thank god. It wasn't my idea to dive back into the past today. I had assumed after my brief but factual outline we would be done, but for some reason he wants to keep going back. 

He's looking, I suppose, because that's his job. Again, I suspect he's looking for something that isn't there. If he wants the truth he doesn't have to look that way. I can simply give it to him in words. These words. Yes, my mother was an Alcoholic. No, she never once hit me. Yes, she neglected me and exposed me to situations and people I should have never been exposed to. My adoptive mother hit me and called me a bitch. My alcoholic mother called me the most beautiful girl in the world. Who was right and who was wrong? It's doesn't matter, because that's not the point.

The truth, if he wants it, is that she drank to cope. She quit school at the age of sixteen because she was incredibly shy and unable to relate. When she was sober, she was quiet, reserved, lost, and hardly ever smiled. She suffered from seizures as a child. She trusted no one and spent most of her time alone. She didn't like loud noises or commotion or things that stunk. She never came to the amusement park. She never got her drivers licence. She had horrible nightmares. 

The truth is that the real problem lies so far beneath the stereotypical "Alcoholic Parent" that everyone keeps missing it. The truth, is in the pattern.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Weird Mind and Breaking up with Facebook

First off, if you'd like to read this entire post in a British accent, I won't stop you. I plan on writing it that way. I'm going to be jumping all around here, so I apologize but also urge you keep up.

Alright, a quick update regarding Youth Group. My boy persevered and conquered. I am very proud of him. It helped that most of the kids were younger. He didn't feel as intimidated and was able to relax and enjoy himself. So, yay!

I've mentioned in a previous post that I have Synesthesia, which is:  a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Thank you, Wikipedia.  Well, yesterday as we were driving my son says this : "I don't know why but in my brain, my favor color blue is seven. Reece's is six though. And eight is a pineapple and comes right after blue."  And there it is. He's mentioned a few things like this before but this was the first time he explained it with more detail. I, myself, have several different types, and never even realised until a few years back that this was not entirely normal. Hearing the "You're weird." comments from my own Mother wasn't that unusual, so I thought that it was only her that didn't experience this. She was weird. (Secretly, I still sometimes think that.)  I, personally,  love the fact that my child shares his "brain" with me, and weird or not, I love that I can understand it. Most of it anyway.

In other news, I woke up this morning to a rather annoying little whench (actually I don't think she was little at all) leaving nasty comments on the doll photos on my business Facebook page. It was really the first time (other than the one show I did) where someone, out and out, just said "yuck" in regards to my work. It's not the greatest feeling in the world, that's for sure, but I think I handled it well and in a professional (snarky) manner, resisting my urge to tell her to suck it.

While the incident itself was rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things, it got me thinking. Christ, not the thinking again. Sorry, it's how my mind works. While I'm not obsessing over it, I can't help but wonder why?  Yes, the everlasting, all encompassing Whys. I always need to know why. Why would someone take the energy and time  out of their day just to be nasty and hurtful?  She obviously wasn't there because she was enjoying herself. So why?  What is it that she accomplished or obtained by purposely leaving negative comments?  I can't figure it out, but I'm still thinking about it. I repeat, NOT obsessing. My personal thinking process may be a bit obsessive, I'll give you that. But it's simply how it all works. I need to make sense of things in my world to make sense of my world. If I can't it becomes very difficult to live in. I don't always find the answers, however, I don't think I ever stop looking for them.

And speaking of making sense of my world and difficulties, I think I mentioned previously that reducing stress and stressful situations was a top of my list. Step one on that list, I've decided, is to limit my access to Social Networking (aka Facebook). Social Networking is actually not even close to being the correct term anymore, as far as I'm concerned. There isn't much "networking" that goes on my personal page. In fact it's become more of a pain in the ass. More like, social avoidance, where people will read your messages and yet take forever to respond, if they respond at all. Where people don't respond to invites, or hide that fact that they are online so you can't see them. It's also a virtual meat market, as well as being a forum for people to spew their ignorance or hate, such as Miss Pissing Pants from this morning. My decision has absolutely nothing to do with her, however, it just happened to occur when I was already getting fed up. Honestly, there was a time when it was fun. When there was "interaction" and it kept me from getting bored while working at home alone. Now, however, I find I'm always "checking facebook."  For what?  Really. What the hell am I checking for? Nine times out of Ten, I log on to "check" and end up getting annoyed or worked up. It's not what you'd call a peaceful or relaxing forum. While I do enjoy the sharing part, and the virtual log the page creates, I think about all that wasted time, and how I could be doing other things that I actually enjoy. So, again, step one is to take a break from the old FB. I'm sure I will go back at some point, but for now, I need to limit the constant feed of negativity I see each time I am there. I tend to absord it, and given who I am, that's not a good thing. I have to keep my Business page and I will also keep my Blog page. Both of those I actually do enjoy and don't require having "friends" or the irrational "need" to keep "checking." I know I had a life before becoming a slave to scrolling the feed, and while I love the Internet and blogging (and will probably never give that up), I'm going to try to remember what life was like before I knew what everyone was doing all day every day. That kind of information overload isn't at all conducive to trying to simplify.

Hope, who is already looking forward to the extra minutes in my day.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Humidity and I probably should have taken an Ativan...

As usual, I should be working right now, but with the humidity (impossible to dry paint) and the shaky hands (impossible to fucking paint), here I am. Which is good, I guess, because this is where I belong. Or this belongs to me, I'm not really sure which.

As predicted, the mini vacation was stressful. For me. There were parts that were fun, but the underlying "tone" kept reminding me that I'm a square peg, trying desperately to fit into a round hole. In short, I just don't fit. It sucks, and it sucks to keep being reminded of where my place is, and how no matter how hard I try or how much of my own comfort I sacrifice, I just can't seem to get pass that huge glass wall that separates me from, shall we say, the "normal" people. Yeah. That's what we'll say, because when you break it all down, that's what it is.

This morning was the first day of the Summer Youth Program at the lake. It's only three days a week for three hours each day. I knew Jack wouldn't be thrilled about it, but the price was right, it gets him off the video games and interacting, and it gives me a little free time to do...whatever, work, buy food, this. I had to "make a deal" with  him to even attempt the first the week. Forever the negotiator, he decided for a mini figure of The Flash, he would be willing to give it a shot.

We pulled up at about 5 minutes to 9, not sure they would even be having it due to the weather, but luckily (or not) it was still on. I talked briefly with the "Director" who is well, basically a teenager, and then the other Mom's and kids started to show up. I stood there watching my son pick at his nails knowing exactly how he felt, and all the unknowns that were running through his head. I knew he wanted to back out, but because he "made the deal" he would stay and keep his word, no matter how much he wanted to run back into the car. Seeing this hurts me on so many levels. I had to keep reminding myself that he needs this push and he is able to adjust. As we stood there, I purposely attempted to make eye contact with other Moms. I say attempted, because although I looked, they never did. I asked a question about pick up if it started raining, and the young teenage girl was the only one who heard/answered me. The standing there while the other Mom's chatted away last for maybe 10 minutes, although it felt like 10 hours, and not once did any of them glance my way. Not once.

As I got in my car to go, I was immediately tossed back 20 plus years and flooded with thoughts about wanting nothing more than to leave this town. I didn't allow it to last too long, because god knows, I don't need the extra push. But honestly this particular scenario isn't unusual. This is the way it is. Especially here. I have lived other places where it was easier and people have been more open an accepting. I liked living there better obviously. But this is where I am now, and this is the way it always plays out. I can make myself crazy trying to figure out why. Is it me? Am I just unapproachable? I'm too quiet. I'm not forward enough. I'm ugly. So ugly in fact they can't look at me. Or maybe I really am invisible. The thoughts go around and around and always end up in the same place. There is something wrong with me.

I think, intellectually, I know the why's better now, but it still doesn't do anything to stop the initial railroading of internal questions and feelings. I have to remind my myself that it doesn't matter. It's not like I want to stand there and chat mindlessly with these women. A simple hello or introduction would be nice, but aside from me throwing myself in their faces, that's just not going to happen.

On Sat, we were invited to a BBQ. I chose to bow out, due to the fact that the entire week had been overwhelming and the thought of standing in a humid 90 something degrees with people I didn't know, where this same incident would play out over and over again, was too much. I'm sure this came off as me being selfish or anti-social. On one hand, I hate that, and feel the need to explain. On the other, I've tried to explain and receive no understanding, so fuck it.

I did, however, make several attempts to connect with people and extended invites over the past week. None were accepted. In fact, some never even responded. Once again, square peg, round hole. There is no fixing it. If it were another time, another place, I would be moving on. I would be initiating my own change. Wrong or right, I would just do it, in order to feel something good.

Right now, I do feel like I'm on the verge of something. Hopefully not a breakdown. Because that would fucking suck. I'm hoping it's more like, finding my own way. Eliminating undue stress is on top of my priority list. This means saying no. This means pissing people off and dealing with more misunderstandings and eye rolls. I wish it didn't, because that in itself is also stressful. (You see how the cycle goes?)

Hope, who feels incredibly homesick, but still can't find her way home.