Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Shame Spiral: Please Don't Judge

How do you know when a relationship isn't working?

Apparently it isn't when your boyfriend packs everything you have at his place into a suitcase and two laundry baskets and throws it out of his house into the rain.

I guess its not when you've cried so hard the night before Valentine's day that you burst multiple blood vessels in your eyes.

But when you, granted, in a fit of blacked out drunkenness, get into an argument about God knows what stupid bullshit, and it leads to you swallow 15 little white pills of Ambien....with the sick, twisted theory that maybe if you try to kill yourself he'll be nice to you for a little while....you get clued in.

And once you regain consciousness roughly 36 hours later and you realize what your little stunt put your friends and said boyfriend through (not to mention being incredibly lucky you did not, in fact, die) - the shame sets in. The utter shame, self loathing, personal disappointment that you, a beautiful, successful, 31 year old woman could do something so pathetic and so fucking stupid - is almost more that you can take. Let alone the fact that the man who was taking you ring shopping the week before is seriously reconsidering some major factors in his potential choice of future wife. Namely: sanity and stability.

And you are reconsidering...everything.

Neck deep in the shame spiral, trying not to mentally ass-rape myself, knowing that because I made a bad choice, doesn't mean I am a bad person, doesn't mean (necessarily) that i've undone everything healthy I gained in therapy (although Dr. B did get a call and I have an appointment on Friday), it doesn't mean I'm a mentally ill nutcase incapable of having a long term, meaningful relationship. Does it?

And the scary thing is that I know that none of these are the questions I should be asking. That I SHOULD be asking "why did I do it in the first place"? And the answer is...because...the thought of living without him is....not an appealing one.

That sentence is filled with all sorts of wrong. I know this. The only thing is that the idea of living in a war zone doesn't exactly leave me with warm and fuzzy, furry bunny feelings either.

The truth is that I want to stay. I want us to work. I want to be a sane, calm, normal girl that he can love. Not this crazy, codependent, clingy, pathetic shell of a woman I used to be. Frankly, I'd like to see that girl in the mirror again. I don't know when she disappeared. What's even scarier is that I don't know what to do to get her back.

post signature

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Conversations with My Father (Part Deux)

I think sometimes I over think things when it comes to my life - the romantic aspects of it. Clearly, finding yourself rolling head first down a hill in the rain with your best friend, doesn't exactly paint a picture of the "well examined life". Then again, judging on your viewpoint, perhaps it does. But I digress.

I blame it on my parents. They have given me such high standards both in the example they themselves set and the way they raised me to never to settle, to strive for excellence and whatever you do....don't marry the wrong person. As such, I put such weight into these issues that many times i find myself staggering beneath it. It’s a hard realization to know that there's no book I can read, no test I can take, no instruction manual to follow step by step in order to arrive at a good and happy life.  

My heart has been hurt so much over the years that I have learned to instinctively distrust it, working hard training my brain the dominant & more trustworthy of the two organs. But, in the end, I don't believe there's any perfect answer. No silver bullet. No cheat sheet. I'll just have to take the best information I have and use it to make the best decisions possible. And when I still feel that information lacking, I ask my father for his advice.

My latest query was to ask if it "bothers him that he and my mother don't share a lot of the same interests" (stoic history PhD marries bubbly elementary school teacher) and whether or not he's found that an obstacle to be overcome in their marriage. 

Ever the thoughtful professor, he penned a reply which I have included below. Frankly, I believe the sentiments are universal and everyone loves a bit of fatherly wisdom. 

Thank you, dad.

post signature

Hi Sweets.  I've been a bit bothered by your question the other day, inasmuch as I do not think I answered it very well.  So I will try, briefly, to expand a little.
We like to think that we should have long-range plans for our lives, and while we are encouraged to do so and need to do so, the reality is mostly aspirational.  The reason for this is simple: we change as we grow older.  And as we change, our likes and dislikes change, goals change, financial circumstances change and so those plans must change as well. 
The future is a mystery with respect to many things, but especially with this abstraction called 'happiness'.  Most people in this world have never experienced it, I am convinced, and have made their lives commensurately miserable in the pursuit of it.  For 'it' itself is myriad in its forms and seems as fleeting as gossamer.  Yet it doesn't so much 'flee' as 'evolve' as we grow older.  The happiness of youthful passion inexorably gives way to the warmth of familiarity and sentimental attachment.  The happiness of watching a child grow, will give way in time to the stark reality of anxious nights, emotional conflict and a life-long uncertainly over the fate of that child.  The initial paternal giddiness gives way to celebration, dread, satisfaction and second-guessing, as life gives and takes its rewards and its tolls. But that's the whole point of living isn't it? 
You asked me whether I wished Mom knew more history, and the answer is: of course I do.  But I knew that history was not her strong suit when I married her.  Instead, I looked to her character, her maternal instinct, her loving nature, her eternal innocence about many things.  Where is the guarantee that a history degree would have come with all those?  Does that mean that, perhaps, I am not as happy as I could be?  Probably.  But then who is, outside the silly movies which have distorted our perspective on such things?  The familial detritus which litters the twenty-first century social landscape provides ample evidence that most people never find their ideal.  And while that may rule out attainment of the will-o-the-wisp we call 'happiness', it hardly makes impossible the more achievable, stable and nurturing objective: contentment.  And if, in the end, I can say that I am content with the way I've lived my life; that will be compensation enough. 
I hope this helps.  Didn't mean to go on.  And I certainly don't mean to tell you what to do, or what decisions you should make.  I said my piece enough as I was raising you.  It's up to you now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's Like I'm Losing My Mind

I'm driving myself crazy.

I want to be skinny. Pass me that cookie. I love him. I love him not. I want to be married. I want to be single. I'm going to be alone forever. Leave me the fuck alone.

But  isn't that what people do? Make choices, choose this instead of that? A downtown studio for suburban single family? Trading autonomous whirlwinds of one's twenties for security in one's thirties? Metro cards for car keys? Friday night cocktail flirtations for Sunday morning coffee?

The bottom line, Eli is great. He CAN be great. But our entire relationship, I feel like he's dragging me along while I play catch up learning how to communicate, how to incorporate someone into my life, how to strike a balance, how to not hate existence when I'm out in suburban Maryland and wanting so desperately to disolve into the anonymous, bustling sidewalks of Dupont. How do I not feel like something is missing?

And then ten minutes after I wrote this, he called and I couldn't wait to be back by his side.Thus resetting the spin cycle of my indecision.

So THIS is how it feels to be losing your mind.

post signature

Friday, February 17, 2012

True Love: A Letter

I have things to say, I have people/men/A man to bitch about, but I'm taking the high road (until next week anyway). 

I'm ending Valentine's week, 2012, sharing a letter I've had memorized since childhood (the product of having an historian for a father coupled with a love of Ken Burns soundtracks should suffice for an explanation as to why).  And so I share this letter with you, my Dear Reader, because I've always found its undoubtedly poetic prose and hauntingly romantic sentiment have the ability to help me transcend my own petty existence.  I hope whatever discomforts the week brought for you, it may do the same. 

It is a letter of love and farewell, written in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War, by Sullivan Ballou, a 32 year old lawyer serving in the Union Army. A week after he wrote this letter, he was killed in the Battle of Bull Run. The letter was delivered, posthumously, to his widow, Sarah, who was then 24. 

She never remarried. 

post signature

July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah,

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more. Our movements may be of a few days’ duration and full of pleasure – and it may be of some conflict and death to me. "Not my will, but thine, O God be done." If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my Country, I am ready.

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and burns unresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar – that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortunes of this world to shield you and your children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the Spirit-land and hover near you, while you buffet the storm, with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights, advised to your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours, always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys – they will grow up as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the deep memories of childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their character, and feel that God will bless you in your holy work.

Tell my two Mothers I call God's blessing upon them. O! Sarah. I wait for you there; come to me and lead thither my children.


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Good, The Bad, the Fucked up & the Frustrated

The Good
Putting clean sheets on my bed and realizing I didn’t go over my weight watcher points yesterday.

The Bad
The feeling that I’ve lost myself and can’t get it back with the person I’m supposed to love. Did he suck it out of me? Did I give myself away willingly? Was it a combination f the two? All I know is that I can’t be myself, I don’t feel loved and I don’t feel whole enough to stand on my own right now. Which leaves me a bit…nowhere.

The Fucked Up
Walking out abruptly on my friends at a restaurant because I didn’t want Eli* to know I was out with friends eating and drinking. I am not going to pretend that this wasn’t fucked up on a great many levels.

The Frustrating
I am currently my own worst enemy. I don’t want to lay down, I don’t want to stand up, I don’t want to talk about my feelings, I don’t want to FEEL my feelings, I don’t want to work, I don’t want to take care of myself, I don’t want to do the things I KNOW will make me feel better. I’m not acting like myself. I’m not treating myself or those around me with respect. I want to feel loved in my relationship, but I don’t feel safety, acceptance or support – so how can I open myself to love? But how can I bear I start all over? I just want to curl up in my mother’s arms and cry. I want my dad to tell me what to do. I want someone to give me some answers. Because frankly, at this moment I have nothing but doubt and dread. 

post signature

*My boyfriend of 9 months

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dear Phantom, A Letter

Dear Phantom,

I was 10 years old when I first heard it, the auction echoing in an empty opera house interrupted by the dissenting melodies of dueling organs. The comedic theatrics of an operatic ingénue yielding to a story of mystery, intrigue, delicious evil, forbidden desires and tragic loss, all set to the tunes and lyrics of geniuses Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

It was my first CD, in fact a double CD box set which I begged my father to purchase after hearing a rendition of Music of the Night sung by José Carreras. Of course its inclusion of a complete libretto felt to me like the prize inside of a cereal box. As an all too imaginative tween living on a Midwestern dirt road adrift on a sea of yellow cornfields, the world of Broadway, Sarah Brightman and Manhattan seemed as distant and fantastical as that of a Disney princess.

And while I did, in fact, memorize the libretto, cajole my voice teacher into coaching an ill-fated alto to eke out the aria,  “Think of Me”, and spent my nights dreaming of a mysteriously masked tenor whisking me away to subterranean dungeons filled with red velvet lounges and the echoes of Music of the Night, (the origin of my love of bad boys the world over, perhaps? I prefer not to speculate), nothing could quite have prepared me for the spectacle when, at last, at the age of 19, I saw it on stage.

The at-once illuminated chandelier sweeping above my head, the rolling fog engulfing the Orchestra pit during Phantom of the Opera, the fact that, while handsome, I still found the character of Raul as simpering and insufferable on stage as his disembodied audio counterpart; the spectacle of the Masquerade, the tears rolling down my cheeks as as Christine bids farewell to her Angel of Music.  All are memories I’ll cherish forever.

This same enthusiasm translated to the 2004 cinematic version, which I unapologetically love. Many mistakenly assume my slight obsession with Gerard Butler came from his digitally enhanced abs in the horrifically historically inaccurate 300. Oh contraire, it is a direct result of his portrayal of Phantom with emphasis on his the No Return sequence that I still maintain is the sexiest piece of film making ever projected upon a screen.

And so it is with an enthusiastic smile, a heart full of sentimentality and the goose bumps that never cease to appear during the opening sequence of dueling organs and reawakened chandeliers – that I wish a happy 24th birthday to the Phantom of the Opera. May you be delighting theatergoers and 10 year old farm girls for generations to come.


post signature