Monday, February 23, 2015

Stigma

I don't watch award shows. With the exception of the Tony awards I rarely even know when they are on. So this morning when I work up and saw everything about The Academy Awards I was surprised to see quite a bit of talk about suicide.

I've made it no secret on this blog that I am a suicide attempt survivor, I've studied Psychology, I've worked in mental health, and I'm a mental health advocate in many ways.  I had figured at first all the talk was as a result of Robin Williams death, but I was stunned to find out that much of the discussion was as a result of the Best Documentary winner "Crisis Hotline:Veterans Press 1" and the acceptance speech of Best Adapted Screenplay winner Graham Moore, for the film The Imitation Game. Both acceptance speeches talked about suicide and how it's time to break the silence. Graham Moore bravely even spoke about his own suicide attempt, "I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I'm standing here," he said. "I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it's your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along."  To my amazement, everything I have seen and read about these speeches and winners has been positive.  I say to my amazement because I know firsthand that there is still a very big stigma associated with mental health, and especially suicide.

I don't keep it a secret to friends and family I struggle with my own mental health, and have attempted suicide in the past.  I also don't really bring it up in day to day conversation either.  So even though I know people know, and I know that they know, we don't mention it.  I was having a discussion with a friend I'd only known a short time a few months back, he didn't know about my attempts so he was wondering why I was so passionate about my job and why I did it.  I was working for a non-profit organization that went to high schools and taught business skills to help students build a business to combat the root cause of suicide in their own school community. It really was unique program because it wasn't just a let's talk about our feelings type of program, but a lets go out and address it type of program that I was able to see was having a bigger positive affect on students. In any case this friend asked me about this job.  Our discussion went something like this.

Him, "I just don't understand why anyone would want to kill themselves."
Me, "You do know I've attempted suicide...a few times actually." 
Long awkward silence.
Him, "How?"
Me, "How did I try to die? Like what did I do?"
Him, "Yeah."

It was at that point I realized why the questions had really began. I shared with him anyways the different methods I'd used to try and kill myself, and a little bit about why I'd tried. But I knew there was something else, someone in his past had either attempted, or died by suicide.

Normally when you share that you're an attempt survivor there are two responses from people. The sympathy, "I'm so sorry you felt that way/" and the why, "but why did you feel that way?"  There's really nothing to say to the sympathetic response, and it can often be difficult to respond to the why because even you yourself may not fully understand why you did. That's why I always told the kids I worked with when they shared their attempt stories with me "thank you". Thank you for trusting me with this highly personal experience, thank you for feeling comfortable enough to share this with me, thank you for being brave and sharing, and thank you for still being here right now because I'm so grateful to have met you. When the first response from someone is about the how it happened, normally there is a personal connection, normally there's still a stigma about suicide with them.

This friend later shared with me that he did in fact have a close connection to another suicide attempt survivor, and that after having had her in his life he swore he would never again be involved with someone who struggled with suicidal ideations at any time in their life. It broke my heart to hear that, because what he failed to realize in making that statement was that not only was he not willing to be involved with me and rejecting me, but he was someone who believed that this was a weakness in a person, that they could help having those feelings in some way.  This friend and I have since parted ways, partially as a result of this.

It was great that at the Oscars last night suicide and mental health were talked about, but there is still a long ways to go before the stigma is erased. People who struggle with mental health are not weak, they are no different than someone who breaks their arm. They are sick and hurting.

I've be an advocate for mental health and suicide awareness for some time now, and I've been blessed that this is the first first-hand experience I've had with a negative stigma. It was a wake up call to me, and I now understand why so many never share their own hurting. For this one person, there have been so many others that have embraced me and my story, so I'm not going to stop sharing as a result of this.  I do want to say though that I hope one day I can share even more openly than I do now, and no one would look down on me as a result. That's what I'm hoping for, that's what I'm trying to do for future generations, and that's why I continue to talk about it, whether or not I lose friends as a result or not.

Friday, January 30, 2015

You're Beautiful



Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Well that’s what we’re taught at least.  We’re all beautiful in our own ways. If we really believed this though, we wouldn’t feel the need to have surgeries to fix things about ourselves we don’t like.  We wouldn’t buy beauty magazines showing us the most recent trends in fashion, or telling us how to lose those last five pounds. And we really wouldn’t feel the need to put others appearances down, to make us feel better in some small way.

When I was in middle school I have two distinct memories of being teased about my appearance.  The first involved some boys putting small pieces of paper in my hair with words like “Fatty”, “Wide Load”, and “Big Girl” written on them.  Even in middle school I was larger than most kids, already wearing adult women’s plus sizes.  Until I began this journey several years ago this is the age when I last remember my weight and being on a scale.  I was at a friend’s sleepover birthday party, and being girls of even 11 or so we cared about things like how much we weighed. So we got on the scale and talked about how much we were overweight and wished we were like the other girls.  I didn’t want to get on the scale, so I quickly jumped on and off.  The scale read 260, but one of the girls thought it read 160 to which I was told that wasn’t that bad. I knew how much I really weighed though.  So the names the boys called me on those papers sent me home in tears that day.

The other memory I have of being teased in middle school was going to the girls bathroom in 6th grade and having an 8th grader block the door as I tried to leave saying, “You’re a boy, why are you in here?” I had a short bowl haircut at the time, not the best choice for me at that age, but with hair as thick as mine was, and as curly as it was at the time it was the best my mom could think to have done with it.  This girl finally let me leave, but I didn’t get my hair cut again from that day till I graduated high school.  And sadly that isn’t an exaggeration.

When I left grade school and began college, I gained a bit more self-confidence about my image, and began to really believe how beautiful I was.  I still had a tough time when it came to buying clothes, and seeing me as feminine, but I was learning, and coming into my own.  So for about ten years I began to no longer care what others thought, I really was beautiful in my own way.  My weight didn’t matter, my hair didn’t matter, and the fact that I never wore makeup didn’t matter.  I was finally comfortable with who I was.  When I began this journey I was slipping in my feelings about myself, which is why I began to take care of myself better than I had been, and have been for the past 4 years or so.

2015 has gotten off to a rough start for me though, and it’s becoming hard to again say, “Screw what others think, I’m my own beautiful person.”  My hair has been the topic of conversation again since I’ve kept it short for many years now.  I’ve moved past the bowl haircut, but it is a shorter pixie style.  Over the holiday’s I had my hair cut again, family and friends expressed that they thought I should let it grow out. I prefer it short though, and since it’s my head I decided to cut it.

Recently a male friend told me though he didn’t like my hair, “it makes you look like a dyke and it confuses men.” This pissed me off, and not just because of the derogatory name he used.  Honestly, get over it. A haircut doesn’t define your sexuality, if you personally prefer women with long hair; spend time with women with long hair. I’m keeping mine how it is.  But then at a restaurant my mother and I stopped at as we moved me back to Kentucky (story for another day), a woman in the restroom washing her hands next to me looked at me for a bit before deciding to wash her hands and mumbling under her breath “I guess THAT is a girl.”  Really, the boobs didn’t give it away for you lady?

I feel like recently because I choose not to conform to more traditional ideas of beauty I’m not only being told I’m not beautiful, but also my sexuality is coming into question too.  And by the way, it is perfectly okay that at 32 I’m not married, and that doesn’t make me gay!!

Ideas of beauty change over time, people change over time, trends change, and we don’t have to follow them.  We don’t have to change over time if we don’t want to.  Most of us do, but for those of us who choose not to it can be hard when we are so far out of the ideas.  Apparently that’s where I fall right now.  I’m not going to change my hair, style, physical appearance, or anything else about myself just because a few people don’t like who I am.  Just remember, no matter how tough someone looks, their armor can only take so many hits before it breaks and your words and actions take a greater toll on that person.

Just to give you an idea of how physical beauty trends have changed over time, I saw this video and really liked it.  Trends change drastically, so be who you are because YOU like that person, not because others do or don’t. <3


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The God Question

I grew up going to church.  Although my mother became a minister a few years back, she has been a church musician, and choir director since she was a teen.  Both my parents worked for the national offices of our denomination.  And my mother is now the minister of a small church, while my father is a church business administrator at another church not far away.

To say religion and faith are a big part of my life is an understatement.  The funny thing is that for many years now I have called myself spiritual, but not religious.  I believe in a God, but I haven't found a religion that depicts God in the way I feel.  You see personally, I'm beginning to wonder if the closer you get to religion, the further you get from God.

Around 1999 I began to question my faith.  I was 16, and like many teenagers I was trying to find out who I was, and where I belonged in this world.  My parents were loving and accepting of my faith exploration. A bit more than they had been about my fashion exploration several years earlier when I dyed my hair with Kool-Aid and wore all black. (Story for another day, lol.)  But the fact was that my parents allowed me to ask questions, buy books about faiths they knew little about, and even when they didn't like the one I chose, they accepted my weekly change of faith.  That same year though my entire life was turned upside down when just before Christmas, my mother became very sick.

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare blood clotting disorder causing small clots to form in blood vessels throughout the body.  My mother was diagnosed with TTP the day before Winter Break my Junior year of high school, on December 18, 1999.  At the time the fatality rate for TTP was around 80%, and because of how rare it was few doctors knew how to treat it, or diagnosis it.  By pure dumb luck though, my mother happened to go to a local hospital that was one of only a few in the US at the time that was familiar with the disorder and equipped to treat it.  Within hours of getting to the hospital, she was being treated using plasma exchange.  This didn't guarantee recovery, but it definitely was a good thing.

My mother went through treatments of plasma exchange daily, as well as going on chemotherapy, steroids, and basically any treatment they thought might get her body to stop clotting, and return to normal. Daily blood test results gave the entire family anxiety. Were her numbers any better, showing that the disorder wasn't winning? Or were the numbers dropping, making everyone nervous she may never leave the hospital?  Christmas was spent opening gifts at my sister's house, with my mom on the phone from her hospital room because her blood numbers weren't good enough to get a day away from the sterile four walls of the hospital.  New Years Eve, ringing in the new millennium, was spent in much the same way.  For over a month my mom fought for her life, and I spent every day trying to make sense of what was happening.

The night my father took my mom to the hospital, I saw a woman I had never seen before.  My mom was pale...REALLY pale.  She was in and out of consciousness, vomiting, and when she spoke she didn't make much sense.  Her body was shutting down, and she was literally dying in front of me.  Our parents are superheros, they're always there for us, and even when they get sick, they still take care of you. As a kid, your parents are invincible, and nothing can stop them.  You never expect to see your parent so vulnerable, and when you do it's horrifying as a child.  That night I prayed.  I didn't care if it was a Christian God, or a Jewish God, or a Muslim God, or a "Higher Power".  The name and label didn't matter.  At that moment I needed the comfort of knowing that I wasn't alone, it was alright to be scared, and at a time when I felt entirely helpless, it gave me a purpose.

The days I spent at the hospital after school were often spent in the hospital chapel.  A small room with stained glass doors, six pews, and a cross hanging on the wall at the front of the room.  Although a message outside the room stated the chapel was non-denominational, a hospital with a Christian denomination in it's name was going to be a little bias.  I spent many days sitting in that chapel, not necessarily praying, but just trying to find God in everything that was happening.

Although many of the days I spent visiting my mother meld together in my memory, two days stand out, my birthday and the day after.  I had been picked up after school by my father and we had gone straight to the hospital.  They had been speaking with my mother about removing her spleen in a last ditch, hail Marry attempt to get her blood numbers to even out and hopefully send her into remission.  A surgery that can be seen as routine, had high risks for my mother in her condition.  Because of the blood clotting issues the disorder caused, and the high levels of blood thinners she'd been on for a month, it was very possible she could bleed out and die in surgery.  This also wasn't a sure thing, and if it didn't work she would most likely be in the hospital for the rest of her life, dependent on plasma exchange to keep her from clotting and dying.

They had wanted to do the surgery on January 20th, but my mother refused because that was my birthday.  She had lost her father at 17 to cancer, and hated that I was going through a similar pain at the same age.  So reluctantly the doctors agreed to move the surgery to the 21st as long as her blood numbers seemed to be in a safe range.  My birthday was bittersweet, with surgery happening the next day.  When my sister got off work and arrived at the hospital that night I opened gifts, even one my sister had shopped to find from my mother.  Comedy and Tragedy mask earrings, I still have to this day.  That night as we readied to leave, I hugged my mom, kissed her and told her I would see her the next day.  I didn't sleep well, and when my alarm went off for school, rather than getting ready to go take English tests, learn about the invasion of Pearl Harbor, or the square root of 93, I got ready to say goodbye to my mother.  Because it very well could have been the last time I saw her.

That morning before they took her into surgery my mom hugged me, still unsure if she wanted to go through with the surgery.  All night I had been praying, and my prayer had been selfish, but at 17 years old there was a lot I still needed my mom for.  So I prayed that my mom would be all right, that she would survive the surgery, and things would go back to normal.  That morning was emotional, and as I hugged my mom she asked me if I thought she should go through with it.  I knew I couldn't answer that, so I answered in the only way I could through my tears.  "I just want my mom back."  The same prayer I'd been saying all night.

She did go through with surgery, her blood numbers returned to normal and remained that way, and 42 days after she had entered the hospital as a practically lifeless individual, she came home.  Ten years later, she got to stop going back for blood tests, and they considered her in remission.

During this time a lot happened, I had to grow up rather quickly. I realized my parents are not the superheroes we all think they are.  And my faith faltered.  You would think the fact that my mother survived such a grim outlook, would mean that my faith would be stronger than ever.  The fact was that I had a difficult time understanding why God would have my family go through such a difficult time.  Since then I've found myself asking that question a lot.  When a good friend who was only in his twenties died from cancer.  When my grandmother passed away unexpectedly and quickly.  When a friend lost her child.

There have been so many times I've found myself asking "What kind of God allows this pain to happen?!"  I don't have an answer, and I still falter in my faith and ask "why" often.  I never expect to get an answer, and I'm all right with that.  For me, quite often, simply asking the question brings me peace.

Someone once explained to me their belief when I shared my faith question with them.  They said that God has granted us free will, but with free will comes pain and hurt that we can't always prevent or control.  It doesn't mean God wanted us to have that pain and hurt, but by giving us our free will that meant those things couldn't always be avoided.  The important thing to remember was that when we hurt, and we are sad, so is God.  At the same time, when we are happy, and we celebrate so is God.  If we ask God how such pain could happen, we also can't forget to ask God how such happiness happened.  And we need to remember to thank God for both, because we were given both with our free will.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I May Not Know How To Flirt...

I'm a horrible flirt...and no I don't mean that in a good way. I'm seriously bad at flirting.  I have this awful habit of only knowing a guy likes me if he tells me point blank.  And on the flip side of that, most of the guys I've liked only knew I liked them after I told them so.  Their response has consistently been, "I had no idea".  Somewhere along the way I missed the "How To Flirt" portion of my teenage years.  Now as an adult attempting to put herself out there more, I feel like a total idiot, and totally stupid when I flirt.

I've been having several discussions about my love life recently with people.  At *cough*thirty-one*cough* with no suitors and none in my recent past, I've been asked if everything is all right...A LOT! My simple answer has been that bringing someone into my insane life at this point would be unfair to this individual. I need to get other things in my life in order before I go giving my baggage to another person.  But to be honest, this isn't an entirely truthful answer.  Yes I don't think it would be fair to be in a relationship with someone while I'm still struggling with finding out who I am.  After a lot of psychological analysis though (yeah I know I shouldn't psycho analyze myself!), I don't flirt with men, because I have a bit of anxiety around men.

Social anxiety is a condition I have heard a lot lately.  Let's just say my insurance company believes in five quick visits you can be cured! (Don't get me started on the US health care system and mental illness...a rant for another day.)  In any case, it's something I've discovered I've struggled with my entire life.  This is no ones fault, but the fact is that I suffered several traumas when I was growing up that involved men.  Everything from doctors that physically pinned me down to put drops in my eyes (I have panic attacks going to the Optometrist to this day!), to neighbor boys who abused me, and more recently men who have just vanished from my life rather than confronting me about difficult topics of discussion.  Whether I like it or not, my brain resorts to being six years old again around men.  I think I'm an intelligent person, I think I'm mature, and I hate when I feel looked down on, or stupid. Men make me feel this way, intentional or not.  So there's a serious lack of ability to flirt with them, or even hold conversations with them sometimes.

I have to admit that I've come a long way.  There was a time when I would literally not be able to talk to a guy, even friends husbands, who should have been non-threatening in every way.  When I worked for Radio Disney though I was forced into a situation where I had to be comfortable around the men I worked with...so I learned to put on a face at events for the sake of the kids we were around.  At Disney I was a character, NSpired, and she was the more outgoing, fun, and carefree version of myself.  When we were riding to an event in the van, or at holiday parties, I was quiet, introvert, anxious, Liza.  Certain guys pushed me though, they challenged the introvert and I began to come out of my shell, and get more comfortable around men in general.  As a matter of fact one of those men I still consider a close friend to this day.  But I still have a hard time flirting, something about "playfully being silly" just doesn't work for me.  Feeling stupid, acting stupid, and being silly, just makes me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable...and I hate that.  And maybe my inability to flirt is why past relationships have fallen apart.

So I'm single, and my lack of flirting probably means it's going to take a very particular guy to be persistent enough for me to even know he's interested.  Social anxiety aside though, I'm not sure I'm ever going to be the flirty girl.  I have a hard time being playful...playing in general. And maybe that's my bigger problem, I don't play, and never really have.  Maybe it's time to learn.  As an adult, do you still play?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

There are Up's and Down's in the Journey

I know it's been May since I last wrote a post, but to be honest things have been rather difficult again.  Although a gigantic weight has been lifted off of my shoulders that has been there for almost three years now, I am still struggling with other aspects of my life.

One big dark cloud that has been hanging over my head has been employment.  In case you didn't know the position I took in March didn't pan out for various reasons, meaning I'm back to working my two independent businesses, Wildtree and Handmade Heart.  Although I'm becoming more active with these businesses by doing things such as selling at Farmers' Markets, I don't believe these businesses will ever be my sole sources of income.  This means I need a bill paying job as well, and the search has been less than promising unfortunately.  Over qualified, under qualified, not bilingual, problems with background checks, location of the job in relation to me, and over saturation of the job market have all been stumbling blocks.  This means that I've had to place an expiration date on my Colorado life.  Come January, when my lease expires, if I am not able to support myself, I will need to move back to Kentucky and live with my parents again.  It's still not a guarantee that I'll find employment in Kentucky, or that I'll be able to live on a smaller income there.  It'll just mean that I won't have the concern of how to pay rent, or utilities every month hanging over my head.

Running, and healthy eating have also fallen a bit by the wayside.  Running has fallen out because I just haven't been motivated, and because of a recent scare with a woman being assaulted on the path I normally take.  My healthy eating has fallen by the wayside primarily because I've gotten a bit lazy in my eating habits.  Making a box of Mac and Cheese is faster than making curried chicken salad with creamed spinach and carrot juice.  I'm the first to admit that I really do enjoy eating healthy, I just don't enjoy doing the work to eat healthy.  I also need to stop telling myself that just because it's Organic, Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese it's not as bad for me. I recently noticed this lazy tendency in my eating, and I'm slowly trying to correct myself but stress doesn't help healthy eating.

As a result of my stress, I've had anxiety attacks. For those of you who have never had a true anxiety attack allow me to explain.  It's not just an overwhelming fear, it's not crying, or feelings helpless.  It's literally your body locking up in fear.  Your heart beating so fast you can hear the blood rushing in your ears, shaking so much the floor is vibrating, nausea, numbness causing you to literally fall to the floor, muscles tightening so much you can't move them for hours after the attack, and shortness of breath so bad it feels like someone is smothering you with a pillow. There are other symptoms for anxiety attacks, but these are the ones I know from experience.  These are the ones that give me paralyzing fear.

I haven't had an anxiety attack since I got home from a trip back to Kentucky to see my friends and family.  Before I went back to see them though I was having them pretty regularly...almost weekly.  Out of nowhere every emotion hits you, and then you panic, and then the attack begins.  For me tears were the first sign, then I couldn't breathe.  Living alone, having a panic attack, and not being able to breathe only make the attack that much scarier.  Of course your first thought is "I'm dying!" when you have an attack, so being alone you begin to think "I'm going to die alone, and no one is going to know I died till the neighbors call the cops because my rotting body is stinking up the apartment!"

I never said you're rational during these attacks.

Because of these attacks I have sought medical help, and my focus has been on my emotional health and well being.  The good news, I have confirmation I'm not crazy!!!! ;-)   The bad news, until I gain more control over my emotions and deal with things I need to deal with, having another attack is a real possibility.  I've been told I need to reteach my body how to relax, massage, meditation, yoga, hiking, movies, etc.  I also have to reteach myself that even though some of these things may cost money, my health is worth the time and money to do them.  Again that's hard since money is one of the primary triggers for a panic attack for me.

The point of this post was to give you an update, to remind us all that we're not perfect and always have to keep working at what we want, it's okay to admit that you need help, and sometimes we need to "spoil" ourselves for our own health.  I'll try not to be so much of a stranger, but forgive me if I take some me time from the blog-o-sphere to take care of myself. :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's A Lonely Island

I know it’s been some time since I’ve posted a blog, but believe it or not I’m rather active online.  When I say active I should probably clarify, I’m active on social media.  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are checked as often as 10 times a day.  I’ve discovered that this has become quite the problem for me, it’s a massive distraction, which is one of the reasons I’ve been considering leaving them for some time.

We live in a world where phone calls, and letters, and even emails are obsolete.  Facebook messages and tweets are how we keep up with each other’s lives.  This has advantages and disadvantages.  For instance, I live in Colorado, and my family lives in Kentucky.  I’m able to post photographs and news stories I find interesting on Facebook, and they are able to then connect and see what I’m doing.  I have friends who literally live all over the world, and regardless of time zones we are able to keep up with the others life, and communicate.  I also run a business strictly online, and if it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t have a lot of the customers I’ve gained in the past year.  So there are some definite positives to social media and being connected.

There are also the disadvantages of this type of communication as well though.  Recently the disadvantages have outweighed the advantages for me.  When your life isn’t following the “normal” path that is socially acceptable it can be difficult to see how others’ lives are so different than yours.  I would say that 97% of my friends and family have at least one of these things going for them, they’re either married/in a serious relationship, have jobs they enjoy, and/or have kids.  I’d like to point out; I have none of those things going for me right now.  Some of the reasons for that are my choices, but some reasons are beyond my control.  I’m not going to get into those reasons, and why I can’t change them right now, but know that I can’t simply “fix” them.  I’m okay with being single right now, I’m okay with not having children right now, and I’m even okay with working jobs I don’t necessarily enjoy just to pay the bills till I can find a job I do enjoy.  My life is moving in a different way than other people’s lives are, and as I’ve said in the past, I’m okay with that.

Sometimes though it’s difficult to see the posts all over social media about someone having another baby, or how happy they are with their spouse who is wonderful, or how fulfilling their job is.  Sometimes seeing those things, and knowing that you want them and don’t have them yet, is painful to see.  That’s the place I’m at right now.  I love my friends and family, and I love that they’re happy, but I also hate how seeing them happy makes me feel jealous, and unhappy in my own life.

I really am glad that my life has not followed the traditional road, but sometimes I wonder if the traditional road would have been easier.  Easier to explain to extended family why I don’t have a boyfriend (and let’s clear one thing up, just because I’m single and happy doesn’t make me gay!).  Easier to wake up and go to work when it’s something you want to be doing, not something you have to do to barely get by.  Easier to not feel like the creepy lady smiling at the baby at the store, when you have your own child you can smile at instead.

Yeah, yeah, all things come to those who wait…and things happen in their own time for every person…and when it’s meant to be it will be.  Save me the platitudes, because honestly it’s all right for me to feel this way!  There is nothing that says I can’t feel jealous sometimes, or unhappy sometimes, or even angry sometimes over the fact that those things aren’t part of my life.  It’s only a problem when you feel like you can’t talk to someone about it and so it weighs on you, becoming toxic.

I admit that because of all of these things, I’ve become distant to many people in my life.  I don’t stay in contact, and separate myself both physically and emotionally.  In essence I have put myself out on an island with those I felt like I could talk to, and relate too, because they were in the same situation as me.  Eventually though I ended up on that island alone.  I hate that, and I want to fix it, but I fear that I’ve burned too many bridges in the process and can’t repair some of the relationships I let go of.  I’m also afraid that I don’t know how to change.


I’m not deleting my social media because this would only separate me further.  Maybe it’s time that I stop checking it 10 times a day though.  Maybe it’s time we all stop comparing our lives to other people’s, and saying if it doesn’t match up then it’s wrong.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Miss. Independent

I've always been an independent person.  Even when I was young, I remember telling my parents I wanted to do things by myself, and on my own.  I think independence is a good thing, especially in a day and age where you often have to be.  I mean I began my own business when I couldn't find work in grad school, I became an independent sales rep for a food company when I was having trouble finding work here in Denver.  I'm finding ways to make ends meet, I'm attempting to pull myself up, and I'm doing these things on my own for the most part.

Can a person be too independent though?  This is a thought I've had for a while now as more and more people have been telling me I've become distant.  I've thought this as I realize I don't get invited out by people anymore.  And I've thought this a lot as I look back at my previous romantic relationships.  Sure I can provide for myself, I can take care of myself, I can do what I have to do...but it's sure nice to share the load.  Have I become too independent for my own good?

For so long I haven't had a choice, I've had to do things for myself.  Being away from my family, and many of my friends meant that when I got sick I had to make my own tea.  When my car's battery died, I had to either find someone willing to give me a jump, or call AAA myself.  When the trash needed taken out when it was snowing, I had to take it out.  I've only had myself to rely on for a long time.  When people ask to do these things for me, I find it weird, because I've had to do it myself. And often when they don't do it the same way I would have it's hard for me to see.  So letting go of some things that I've been doing for so long, can be difficult.

I was recently told that one of the reasons a past relationship fell apart, was because as we both dealt with a difficult situation I turned into myself for comfort, when they tried to comfort and share their pain with me.  Now this was not the only one reason that this relationship fell apart, trust me there were other reasons too.  It made me think though, how many people have I unintentionally hurt, and turned away, who were trying to help me, and I was being my independent self not seeing their offer.

Don't get me wrong, the idea of not having all the weight on my shoulders is a nice idea, but very difficult for me to grasp.  It would be nice to have someone to take care of me, friend, family, significant other, etc., but the concept is foreign to me so when people try, I guess I inadvertently push them away.  Does this make me too independent?  Am I too set in my ways?  Can I change?

My paternal grandmother was a rather independent woman.  She divorced her husband in a time when divorce wasn't acceptable, and she never remarried.  She supported herself, and my father in a career that was male dominated. But growing up I noticed things like her lack of social relationships, her strict ways things had to be done, and her her general "Curmudgeon-ness" as my family referred to it as.  I swore that I never wanted to be like her in those ways, I wanted to not only enjoy life, but enjoy the people I spent it with, and be flexible.  Part of me now fears that I'm becoming exactly like her.

I know people can change, and I'm hoping I can change.  I just don't even know where to begin this time.  I guess when you have a fear of being so far on one end of the spectrum and being totally reliant on others, you may take things too far and become too independent instead.