One of the funniest things I have ever read is a claim that I was insensitive. I remember thinking with a small smile that I managed to pull off something I had wanted to achieve my entire life; convince someone I didn’t care what happened to them. That I could walk away from them with my nose up in the air and proclaim that I wouldn’t miss them.
For the record, that act is Emmy worthy.
When I was a little girl my parents didn’t just fight. They screamed and fought. Every week there were jokes about my Dad leaving “Do you want a new Mommy Lori?” asked right in front of my mother. Fucked up shit and mind games that kids should never hear. Ever. And being the smart cookie I was I caught every sarcastic nuance. I tried and tried to pretend I didn’t understand the head games, the tones, the passive aggressive behavior. Other parents didn’t act that way. Not that I saw anyhow.
I began to exhibit anxiety coping behaviors that no one seemed to care much about. I chewed my nails to the quick frequently making them bleed painfully. No one cared, except to say that now I was a fat ugly kid with bad hair, and ugly nails. When I had no finger nails to annihilate I would gouge at my toe nails until they bled. Somehow, in some way… the pain brought clarity to me. Instead of floating in a sky of anxiety feeling like I was dead, I reminded myself that I was alive. That I existed.
My sexual awakening was latent. I was your average minimally promiscuous (I hate disease and I am fearful of them) college/university student. I got attached to certain men (and a couple women) in my twenties. It would be fairly easy for the average player to earn my love and affection… you just had to make me believe that you saw me, my secret writing talent and creative side. After all I kept that hidden and so if you made me feel acknowledged, loved and perhaps even unique… I was likely to fall hard for you.
I am a master of infatuation. Like most creatives I now understand at the age of 42. Lover of food, wine, experience, travel… and select people. I found a husband who shares these qualities with me. In Kevin I find warmth, passion and understanding. To my husband, I am this beautiful, creative thing that will write some movies or a book series some day. Unique. He struck that rare chord in my heart which is why I’ve walked through hell to get to him here in Texas.
I wish the immigration process only on my worst enemies. And perhaps not even them. It is an emotionally draining, administrative tangle of hoops and jumps and money. Rest assured we truly love each other… we would have quit otherwise. The process is meant to separate the real couples from the infatuates.
The sensitive me is having a hard time adjusting to Texas (there I said it). The culture is not unpleasant but very different. How can I be honest about how dramatically different it is without seeming ungrateful to be here with my partner? I’d be dead without Kevin… believe me, the separation was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
But I am sensitive. For all my strength and resilience I am a sensitive person. What people think? Matters. What people say? Matters deeply to me (particularly if they get me wrong). I have this mask and this shield around me that is meant to filter people who would take advantage of my openness or generosity. That shield frequently gets interpreted as the real me. It’s not. I’m the cowardly apprehensive thing evaluating you through the iron mask, looking for a hint that you too, are sensitive. Safe to be around. Non-injurious.
And if I am not sure about you, all you will ever see is that mask. So I get the comments like “snotty” or “entitled” or “frigid” or “bitch” (I take that as a compliment) because I don’t trust you enough to show you my gooey insides. I mean I want to connect, have these warm deep relationships and friendships but God… how the hell do I know that you aren’t going to go ape shit the second I have something or do something you want to do? Or talk about me behind my back? Or make assumptions about my financial success (modest as it is). I doubled my income since 2013… and frustratingly I find the more successful my business or income becomes, the more I alienate people. I don’t get that… but it hurts because I have busted my backside to get here. No one gave it to me and I ask for no laurels but to be hated for it, or begrudged for it… hurts.
I have a day job because I think I need to be around more people daily, face to face. I think I kind of cocooned after what happened with my Mother and Step-Father and a bunch of other stuff. The years 2010-2012 were devastating to me emotionally, followed by legal woes in 2013 and 2014 with my Mother, fighting tooth and nail to get my name off their mortgage, pay for a lawyer, deal single handedly with immigration and save/plan for a wedding. I think about how rough 2013 to May of 2014 was and I want to throw up. I’m still not sure how I did it except that I recall tapping into my anger for my mother.
“I hope you end up single, alone, broke and in some dirty apartment eating french fries” she said. I understand without my credit backing them, that they ended up in a rather small, shitty apartment with no elevator. Problematic for two people with knee replacements? Karma is a bitch (apparently so am I).
I didn’t have a good day at the day job today. Frankly, I wanted to walk out the door and back to working from the quiet of my own home. Benefits and extra spending cash be damned. Return to my hermit writer status. I enjoy the quiet and dogs nudging my toes and miss it frankly.
It occurred to me that I am stressed trying to find my place here in Texas. That I am more formal and in most cases, far more educated than 90% of the people around me. I also make more than most people around here (not that I think it makes me better… I think it makes me easy to ostracize). I miss Toronto and the metropolitan sophistication of it. The Canadianisms. Swiss Chalet sauce. Real pints.
Because I am sensitive I am wearing this blinking sign:
“Hi I don’t think I belong here!”
Which makes it easy for people to think that I consider myself better than them (I don’t).
How I would love 2-3 ladies my age who have traveled, owned businesses and who have a creative side. Just to go out and have a few glasses of wine and calibrate my girl side. Just to feel normal. To have someone hold my hand through so many of these nuances like… no buying beer before 12 noon, and the whole evangelical mega church thing (don’t get it … don’t like it sorry…). Someone who wants to go eat some fabulous curry instead of a taco (seriously one more fucking taco and I am going to go ape shit).
After having a pretty bad week in general, my husband hugs me. Listens to me as I try to explain how fucked up he’d be living in downtown Toronto right now. The sacrifices that come with being the spouse that moves to a new country. The culture shock. The loneliness and isolation of being the new kid. To my credit only he gets to hear all this anxiety. I don’t dump it on my friends and family anymore. People like to hear about positive things. I try to share only those things not for relationship management, but because my struggle to adapt shouldn’t darken anyone’s day.
There is a second side to me that is hiding. The bold, arrogant, fearless and undaunted side of me that cheers at adventure like this. I can’t get her to venture out of my chest and help me get acclimated. She is drunk somewhere in my rib cage eating curry comfortably and unwilling to budge.
And I am thinking that forgiveness and learning to see people with understanding and empathy would be a great way to coax her out again. Being open to the idea that if I am not myself during times of extreme stress or emotional pain (as has been in the past) then truly others must be the same way. Ergo, some of the people who have hurt me most could and should be forgiven, to allow for the possibility of seeing their humanity and my own?
Forgive me. Ice cream makes me existential.
I hate hating and mistrusting people. I hate being the new kid. I strongly dislike Mexican food (now).
I’m just going to sit quietly and contemplate what forgiving people outright would free inside me. Then I’ll consider what it might heal in them also, and in liberating them how I might see the beauty in them again (and in others) instead of this horrible apprehension I feel anticipating every new person to be a potential threat.
That’s not who I am. And I am realizing that spiritual hobble is part of the problem.
Can you give someone (and yourself) the gift of forgiveness without opening your life back up to mayhem or injury from them? Can you just say “I understand you were hurting. I don’t agree with how you treated me but I believe you weren’t yourself at the time. I wish good things for you and for your happiness in life. I forgive you, now both of us can be free.”
And my list for that? It’s rather long. I understand now at 42 that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself (so much for altruism). But the first step is the hardest part I think… accepting that people are human and imperfect. And remembering that so too, am I. I am living burdened by painful experiences I haven’t let go of, and need to.
The meaning of life is 42. I have 20 more days to figure it out before I turn 42 on May 1st.
PS: Some of this might actually be a midlife crisis. I will attempt to confirm. Stay tuned…