I am an introvert, of that I am absolutely certain.
Solitude is absolutely necessary for my survival. I need physical separation from all living humans beings just to keep my sanity. that is what an introvert is.
The thing is while I have always been an introvert, I haven’t always been shy. I didn’t always suffer from the desire to be invisible. That part of my personality was acquired.
All my life I’ve been a nerd. In elementary school I spent my recesses acting out my favorite books instead of playing or sporting.
I read all the time, staying up way past my bedtime to read books not on many other 4th graders reading lists. Tom Sawyer, Great Expectations, Gone with the Wind. By 8th grade I’d read most of my Complete Works of Shakespeare and had just discovered JRR Tolkien and Jane Austen. By my senior year I’d already read most of Dickens, Tolstoy, Hugo and Dumas. If it was a classic, I’d probably read it.
I loved school too. For all the reasons most other kids hated it. I loved to learn new things. I couldn’t wait to have to memorize Hamlets soliloquy like my older brother did for a high school assignment.
But I hated PE, and recess and talking to people.
Because it was hard and I was weird.
I was the pock marked girl with glasses too insecure to look anyone in the eye. The one who shook from fear and embarrassment when called on by the teacher. Who would not walk into class after the bell rang because people would look.
I wanted to be invisible.
I have been questioning what it is I’m doing here on a blog for the last couple of days.
What started as an outlet for my (usually) ever changing moods due to my rapid cycling bipolar disorder has become a mishmash of me talking about my life, my pain and my writing.
Am I allowed to have a blog that doesn’t have a one track mind?
I just read a blog post by Alex Press (I’d reblog it but I’m not sure the proper etiquette and lack the know how at the moment) so I’ll just put the link here.
It was written by a woman who is sick, like me, with migraines and and brain damage and heart issues (oh my), like me. She also writes despite these things, like me.
She’s an inspiration and I love following her blog.
So thinking about what it is I’m here to do, what it is I’m hear to say, it came to me again.
I’m here to explain myself, to myself and to others who might be interested in understanding or learning about what it’s like to live in my shoes.
I’m here to give my life structure and form, instead of living everyday without some sort of record of the life I’m living.
To put myself, my life, my mind, and my atheist stand in for a soul into words. To sum up my life. So I can give it further value than it currently has.
Explaining is not complaining.
Sometimes when the pain is too much, when the act of writing about myself seems too presumptuous and narcissistic, I wonder to myself, am I just here to complain about this life that I have?
Today, I think not. I am still explaining to the world who I am. I can write about my pain without it being a whimper.
And if on occasion, a whimper is all I have, I accept that as a part of who I am.
I feel my creativity flow like a sponge caught in the ebb and flow of the ocean tide.
One day I am awash with ideas and visions bubbling inside me like ocean foam lapping on the beach. When I’ve reached my capacity, I overflow and can no longer contain the torrent of my imagination and I focus my efforts to create something new and beautiful. I am swept away by the tug of the words, and every creative drop is purged from me.
I am left stranded and empty on the dry sand of the beach, scorched to a husk by the beating sun, wordless and visionless. Unable to think or create, I am empty and in need of the flood of inspiration that moves me to write and the desperation to have my voice heard. I suck in every bit of stimulation, absorbing every spark of ingenuity I can find to fuel the creativity that will come once again with the tide.
And suddenly it’s there again, the wave of brilliance and exuberance that compels me to disgorge my thoughts, my voice, and my art into the world.
I worked full time with rarely a vacation or a day off for 10 years and 2 months. I started my senior year of high school and stopped when I was laid off from my job in 2009.
I started at a restaurant and rose through the ranks to become a manager by the time I was 19. That turned into regional training manager by the time I was 20. I was good at management. I learned quickly, delegated well and had an innate knack for efficiency and creating systems.
Because I progressed so fast (and to be frank, made such good money) and had never really been expected to go to college, I didn’t. I just kept working, thinking because I was doing well for myself now, there was no reason I wouldn’t continue doing well for the rest of my life.
I switched companies and turned that restaurant management job into other management jobs, such as office, loan, and business management. I was very successful and worked hard. If I wanted a job, I tended to get it.
I was Assistant Operation Manager at a very large food manufacturer when I was 27 in 2009. I had just had my first daughter and had been back from maternity leave (the longest I hadn’t worked since the summer before my senior year of high school) for two months. My husband and I had just gotten married the Sunday before when on Tuesday, my boss informed me that I was laid off.
Due to the recent economic crash and the beginning of the recession, company wide lay offs were happening. They had discovered while I was on maternity leave that a cheaper employee could do some of my job while the operations manager would absorb the rest. They also decided that a my job paid too much for someone without a college degree.
That last problem would haunt me for the next several years. After I was laid off, I immediately began to look for a new job. I’d never been out of work before. I brushed up my resume and submitted it all sorts of places. But most every job I applied for, they wanted a college degree. And most of the other applicants had one. I didn’t.
In one year, I had 2 interviews. The first one, I didn’t hear back from afterward. But 9 months after being laid off, I accepted a very part time job as an assistant Bed and Breakfast Manager. It mostly consisted of a few hours a week helping the husband and wife run the B&B and then covering for them on the random weekend off and for their big summer vacation. It was a good job and I was thankful for it but that was the best I could do after almost an entire year of endlessly applying for jobs. That’s just what it was like here in the late aughts. Hardly any jobs for anybody.
I had started to notice after my daughter was born that I wasn’t quite the same as before. My quick mind wasn’t quite as quick and I was so tired.
I attributed these things to being a new mom and not having a job to stimulate and motivate me.
After my employers vacation came and went, and after having some inspiring talks with my female boss, I decided to go back to school. And due to the short time frame, the availability of government grants and a previously subdued life long passion for doing amateur hair and makeup, I decided to go to cosmetology school.
In order to afford school and rent, I used the grant, some student loans and almost all of my husbands inheritance from his grandmother. This didn’t seem risky at the time because I was ambitious, motivated, and had decided on a field with unlimited potential. I was going to do big things. And I’d be able to pay him back.
Hind sight being what it is, that’s a risk we shouldn’t have taken. I didn’t know what the future was to hold.
I’d begun going to the doctor to figure out what wasn’t quite right with me but I was doing okay. I was working my ass off in school and was understandably worn out from it.
I was the top student in the school. Perfect grades, perfect attendance. I participated in every extra curricular. I was in school for only 4 months when I participated and won a competition against the best (and most senior) students in the school. I won trips to a Long Beach hair expo (where I met several hair stylists in the big leagues and was personally invited to apply at a prodigious hair salon in NYC) and a trip to a Chicago hair training course. After my 5th month in school I was chosen by the head of the school to do her very picky mother in laws hair. In my 6th month I was picked as one of two students to assist doing hair and makeup at the Sundance Film Festival. I was not your run of the mill beauty school student. I was already going places. And of course, I expected things to keep going my way. What could go wrong.
With 2 months to go, 2 job offers already under my belt (1 at the school owners salon, the other to teach at the school myself after graduation), and a trip to NYC for job interviews planned for after graduation, I had a breakdown. I couldn’t get out of bed due to pain and lightheadedness, I’d pulled out all of my eyelashes and was picking holes in my skin, I was having blinding headaches, and was completely miserable. I had to take a break from school. I didn’t go back for 6 weeks. I spent most of that time collecting diagnoses and possible diagnoses from a lot of different doctors. Some of those labels I still have. Fibromyalgia, Narcolepsy, Chronic Migraines. Some luckily didn’t come to fruition. Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and a few other autoimmune disorders. I started treatment and went back to school.
But nothing was the same. I made mistakes I never made before. My grades dropped. My attendance was spotty. The head of the schools mother in law was transferred to someone else. I had a hard time standing up for my appointments and the head of the school started letting me take breaks when I needed to. She had lupus and because we had history and she liked me, she helped me finish up my schooling so I could graduate. Concessions were made for me and I was lucky. I graduated in December of 2011.
I haven’t worked since. I had to decline the job offers because I just kept getting worse. Not long after I applied for federal disability because I needed to support my family somehow. It was an 18 month long process that thankfully ended with approval almost 4 years ago.
To be frank, that was the easy part (and it wasn’t easy at all). The harder part was not working. And being okay with not working. Luckily I loved being a parent and my daughter was a fun toddler so I spent most of my days focused on her. And then my son was born and I got to do the same with him. They were wonderful distractions. It was almost as if it wasn’t that I “couldn’t” work but that I was staying at home with my children instead. Almost.
My daughter is 8 now. My son turns 4 in 3 months. We’re done with the night time feedings, the several naps a day. They don’t take up all of my time like they use to.
I’ve been not dealing with that for a while now. The last 6 months have been some of the worst I’ve had in a decade. I have been writing this blog as an outlet for my mental health. But I’ve also been writing a screenplay. That in itself is it’s own story. And during that time there’s been a hint of something floating around in my head.
Writing this screenplay isn’t just something to do.
It’s the only thing I can do.
I have nothing to offer anymore. I can’t stand or sit. I can’t perform motor functions proficiently. I can’t concentrate consistently or reliably.
Everyone once in a while, I can write. And that’s the only thing I can do anymore to support my family other than being sick.
So for me writing isn’t a hobby. It’s not even a prospective career. It’s a desperation. It’s all I have left of the once motivated, ambitious, successful over achiever I used to be.
It’s me grasping for any semblance of mattering, or participating in a life outside of my home and my family (who I love unconditionally).
There was one line he wrote. It hit too close to home.
“Housewife with medical problems. Self obsessed with you not pulling your own weight.”
He was correct. He was a dick but he was correct.
I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it other than what I’m doing. I’m living my life every day just like I was before. Only now, I’m taking the words out of my head and putting them somewhere else in the hopes that someday they may help me change my life.
Does that make me pathetic? I don’t think so. He can be accurate with out being right. I can be those things without them being an insult. I’m doing the best I can and still trying to make my life better. I think those things are virtuous struggles. And I’m not going to be shamed by them.
I am still bothered by the incident I posted about yesterday.
One of the biggest reasons I avoid confrontation is because it haunts me for so long. There’s that phrase thin skinned. I am the epitome of thin skinned but not in the way it’s usually meant. I can take criticism and insults and have been through a surprising amount of shit in my life and I can handle it all.
The reason I don’t handle confrontation and the backdraft of confrontation is because I’m too nice. Not on purpose. I’m just built this way.
I’m quick to get over my anger. I’m quick to forgive others. I can’t hold grudges. (except for extreme and rare circumstances) .
So what I’m left with after a confrontation like I had the other day is forgiveness and understanding for the other person. And shame, frustration, embarrassment and derision for myself.
I could have done better. I could have avoided the argument. I didn’t have to escalate or react and having done so was childish and immature. The other persons behavior is justifiable based on any number of excuses that my empathetic nature can come up with. My behavior, because I have a front row view and absolute knowledge of my thoughts and actions, is inexcusable.
I can forgive everyone but myself.