I am so tired of trying to seek the approval of people who clearly do not like me. I cannot mold and twist myself into being what they want. I am me, take it or leave it. I happen to think I’m a pretty good person, despite what anxiety tries to tell me about myself. I’ve done some craptacular (I want this to be a word forever) things in my past but that’s exactly what it is, my past. I’ve learned from it, I’ve grown up. It took a lot of soul searching, a lot of self-acceptance and also, self awareness. I also happen to think I’m someone that does bring a lot to the table, and anyone who can’t see that well – that’s their loss.
There are sundry reasons why people aren’t a fan of mine, whether it was something I did ten years ago (regrets, I’ve had a few) or something recent (hello, political preferences). It’s counterproductive to me to sit here and list all of the reasons, I refuse to pick myself apart even more so than I already have. I have people that judge me solely on the fact that I love jeans and t-shirts and sports, and that I’m not glammed up to the max daily. That just is not me, man. I want to be comfortable in my own skin, and I would only be putting up a front otherwise. And that is a direct reflection of the person doing the judging, not one of me.
I have struggled for years to find my place. I know that I have a place with certain individuals (excluding my husband, parents and brothers). My best friends, even my husband’s friends are people that I am comfortable around, I can be myself and my anxiety is hushed. But then there’s other people that I truly feel like I have to claw and grasp at everything to get their approval. Why? Why do I want the approval from people who don’t even deserve me in their life to begin with? Is it because I have this deep rooted fear of rejection due to my childhood? Is it because of the bullies I had to deal with in school? I can’t continue to make sense of it, and I won’t.
I know who I am. Who I am is not who I was, who I used to be. And I genuinely like myself. I don’t like anxiety’s version of me, where I doubt everything and truly loathe myself to the point where I believe everyone feels the same. I enjoy things that most people don’t and I’m not ashamed of it. I am not everyone’s cup of tea, and that is truly okay. You don’t have to like me, but like Jackie Robinson has said – all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.
(Title and graphic courtesy of Wait For It on the Hamilton Soundtrack…obviously)
Bachelor Nation, I can’t quit you and I don’t want to. It all started when I was on maternity leave, I got swept up in watching On Demand episodes of Andi Dorfman’s season. I finally caught up to the current week, and it’s been a wrap since. I’ll admit that I didn’t get very far into Bachelor in Paradise 1, but I picked up when they said Chris Soules was going to be the next Bachelor. It’s my guilty pleasure, I will watch this to Kingdom Come. I also listen to a podcast centered around the franchise – The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise, and The Bachelorette. My husband makes fun of me but secretly, he enjoys watching it. Just don’t tell him I said that.
Now that I’ve gotten that brief history out of the way, I’m going to discuss the past two episodes of Bachelor in Paradise – the guiltiest pleasure of them all. We’re well into everything here in Paradise – relationships have been formed, friendships have been made (and sabotaged), and there have been a plethora of tears. We start Monday night’s episode right where we left off the week before. Carly’s still confused about her feelings for Evan, Lace and Grant’s bond continues to form, Vinny and Izzy look pretty dang strong, Josh and Amanda can’t stop making out, Ashley I. can’t stop crying over Jared. Listen, I feel for her because I’ve been there but I was also 15. I go back and forth on Ashley and Caila. After this week, I’m with Caila.
I’ll cut to the chase and catch up to last night – Vinny, man. I cannot comprehend how that relationship with south but I guess he summed it up. Brett walked in and Izzy caught the vapors. What pissed me off about this was that Vinny now looks like a filler for time while Izzy waited for someone else to come in. Whether or not Brett was on her list is beyond me, but Vinny deserves a hell of a lot better (while we’re on him, I’m fricken ecstatic we got to see more of Vinny because we truly saw nothing during JoJo’s season). Vinny lets Izzy know he’s leaving, honestly showing he’s a better person than most because I wouldn’t have extended that courtesy.
Jade and Tanner show up, probably my favorite Bachelor couple ever – and interview all of the couples to see which one deserves the date card. Much to Ashley’s chagrin, they select Jared and Caila to go on the date. And we see that these two are physically into each other and for the first time, I’m finally like YES JARED, YOU MET YOUR MATCH! With Ashley still around, there’s no way she’s going to allow for Jared to ever be happy – so she continues to show zero maturity and proceeds to talk about Caila and trash her to Jared (you never, ever do that). Jared should have been honest with what was said to him, he basically sugarcoated what was told to him. The look on his face when Caila said she was going to go talk to Ashley said it all to me – he’s trying to protect his friend, not the girl he’s into. At this point, Caila should be the priority, not the option.
Carly and Evan get a one on one, which I saw coming from a mile away when they didn’t get the card from #Janner. I may have sent a flurry of shitty tweets to Kirk last season after what he did to Carly, but I have a feeling that Evan won’t be the recipient of my meaningless vitriol this season. They’re very compatible, and I think it’s refreshing to see Carly be so honest about what she feels. She’s showing that she is indeed only human, her feelings can’t be figured out in a matter of minutes but she needs to just be real with herself. We see that on this date, and I don’t think Carly should be crucified for not feeling this weeks ago with Evan when she friend zoned him. Sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind and just stop running from what scares you, and Carly does that.
I know, this is all too serious for a show like Bachelor in Paradise but as a sociology major, this is such a social experiment and I’m here for it. Before I end, I’m going to touch up on Lace’s reaction to Grant last night – we’ve all been Lace. We’ve all felt undeserving of love and happiness, and Lace truly expressed that last night without saying as much. Again, she’s put in a social situation where she’s forced to confront her feelings day after day where in the real world, she can choose to just not deal with it and cope accordingly. I know there’s a lot I missed, but I’m not trying to be long winded (too late?). So next week, we see a lot of arguing and Josh trying to be the Alpha Male yet again. Will it be the most dramatic episode of Paradise yet?
So this month, there’s been an influx of adorable, shiny-happy-omg-ican’t-even pictures of couples plastered all over Facebook. The Love Your Spouse challenge, where for seven days you post a picture of your spouse to promote love and marriage. You tag someone to participate and it becomes a modern day chain letter (remember those?). Now, make no mistake about it, I think love and marriage is awesome and wonderful and should be celebrated. I’m going to like the heck out of these posts on Facebook because I love seeing my friends have a love that they so rightly deserve. But I do feel as though while it’s great to post pictures of smiling individuals – I think it sets this false mentality of marriage. Marriage isn’t always happy, and it’s not always perfect. Since the requirement of Facebook, or so it seems, is to make your life look as flawless as humanly possible so you can be the envy of everyone ever…that’s what you’re going to see.
I was inspired by this post when yesterday, I began doing my own challenge – Love Your Spouse: The Realness. I don’t post the details of my marriage on Facebook. I believe that any argument or disagreement that I have with my husband should be kept between us. Yes, I’ll vent to a friend – but I’ve taken to venting to my therapist so I don’t get a biased opinion. If I’m upset about something, I truly try to keep it off all forms of social media because once you open up those doors, there’s no closing them. But I refuse to pretend like marriage is rainbows and sunshine constantly, because it’s not.
My husband and I have been through hell, fire and brimstone together. We’ve battled a lot of crap together, and I know we’ll go through so much more. I’m a realist. We have our moments when the sap is overflowing. I adore my husband. I believe that my husband hung the moon (he’s tall enough anyway). I stare at him like a creep and can’t get over how truly handsome he is. But he’s not perfect, and I’m not either. I always think he’s going to leave me because he’s sick and tired of dealing with a wife who suffers from both generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder. But that’s my anxiety and depression telling me that I don’t deserve him. Logical brain tells me that I know that I do. He changed my life, he saved me.
So I started to post the reality of day to day life with my husband. Yesterday, it was the headache of handling our finances. Today, it was his dirty socks on the floor. I don’t know what it’ll be the rest of the week, but the reality is…marriage is hard, hard work. You’re constantly learning things about one another, trying to rewire yourself to compromise, and attempting to figure it all out while not having it all figured out. I read something earlier this week about why I can’t tell my husband ‘please help me do this’ because it knocks his worth in this partnership down a few pegs. When I need something done, I don’t use the words ‘can you help me…’ This is a partnership, he is my equal. I hold him to the expectation to do his share of things in the house, and he honestly and truly does.
So the sock issue? It’s not saying he’s a horrible husband or that I can’t stand him. It’s the reality of marriage. Some people think it’s the 50s where the wife has to do everything while the husband kicks up his feet and watches television. That doesn’t fly in my house. I handle the finances, I plan our budget and spending. My grandmother always taught me that credit cards are not free money and to only use them in emergencies. She also taught me how to always have a nest egg because you just never know. And if you truly don’t need it, don’t buy it. Money never burns a hole in my pocket, and I’ve taken to this financial thing quite well. I don’t ask my husband to put together the new fire pit or the new kitchen cart. I’m handy with a hammer and screwdriver, I can do it myself. I don’t ask him to fix the toilet, I can fix it just fine. Gender roles in our house aren’t a thing. They’ll never be a thing. He and I have an understanding about that.
I don’t want to lie to anyone and say, “Hey look at how great our life is! We have no worries!” We do have a great life together, that’s not a lie. But it’s not pristine and it’s not flawless. I make him crazy, he makes me crazy. Yet I love him and genuinely like him. I dig my husband, folks. Even if he leaves the remnants of his beard in the sink, even if he forgets to pick up his dirty socks. I think if this is the bulk of our problems, then we’re doing alright at this marriage thing. We disagree about a lot of things but that’s okay, if you agreed with everything your spouse says then you’re either a robot or lying. So when I do this challenge, I’m doing it to show that while we’ve got great pictures together of us enjoying each other’s presence, there’s still dirty socks on the floor and finances to keep track of. And I’m sure there’ll be band-aid wrappers left on the nightstand and dishes left in the sink when the dishwasher is RIGHT THERE. It’s a neverending cycle but I wouldn’t trade my husband in for anything and I certainly would not trade our imperfect yet happy and good life, either.
Today is the hardest day of the year for me. Well, one of the hardest. I should be out buying a card for my brother, a sentimental one about my brother being my best friend. I should be out finding the perfect birthday gift for him. I should be anticipating leaving work to have dinner with him or to possibly have him over for a birthday dinner. Or making plans to do so over the weekend.
But that’s not happening.
Instead, I continue to grieve. I cry at random, I can’t look at his picture without bursting into tears. Even now as I write this, I have tears filling my eyes. This doesn’t get easier. Every year I need him more and more, and every year, I miss him more and more. I normally don’t go out into the world today and make an attempt to be a functioning citizen. I decided not to take the day off, I had to brave it somehow. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying. I looked at my son this morning as I got him ready for school and feel that maybe this is how Andy has been given back to me in some way, shape or form. He’s pretty much a carbon copy, to the point where sometimes I find myself short of breath because he looks just like him.
But then I feel my heart just breaking more and more.
Andrew deserves to know his Uncle Andy. Andrew deserves to have that relationship with him in the way he has with my brother, Kenny. We can sit here all day and wax poetic, say that maybe my birth mother would still be alive if Andy didn’t die. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone to live with my aunt & my uncle to be out of harm’s way of two alcoholics that couldn’t stay sober for a day. I don’t think of things like that because no matter what way you try to spin it on me, it’s not fair that Andy never got to grow up, that he never got a full life. It’s not fair that I never had my big brother. It’s not fair that I have to keep living days without him and have this hurt and pain inside. Nothing is fair. Life isn’t fair, I used to be told.
But I can’t accept that where Andy is concerned.
I sometimes imagine what life would be like if he were still alive. How tall would he be? What would his voice be like? What would he have done with his life? What would our memories be like? I’m sure having me for a little sister was a pain in the butt, but I do remember how Andy never minded that I would be around him so much. I was his sister, he was my protector. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that he is one of two people who passed away that loved me unconditionally. Which reminds me, I’ll get to my Grandma on September 25th.
I keep his memory alive. I talk about him to Andrew whenever I can. I laugh when Andrew thinks that a picture of Andy is him (it’s uncanny). You can tell me that he’s watching over me, that he’s still my protector. You can tell me that he’s proud of me, of what I’ve worked so hard to become. That I defied the odds and completed school, didn’t become an alcoholic or drug addict to cope with the troubles of my life, that I have worked very hard to get where I am today. And mentally, I’m still working on it. Him not being here is a huge piece of the puzzle that’s missing for me. It’s part of what has made me come so undone.
Some people get a chance to go through their lives with their brother (or sister) alive for most of it. You’re very fortunate if you are one of those people. Me, I never got that chance. I never got to be an adult with him, calling him up to bullshit. I never got to introduce him to my boyfriend, who a few years later became my husband. I never got to tell him that I was expecting and that he’d be an uncle. I never got to snap photos as he held his nephew for the first time. Some people got to do things like this, and I beg you not to compare your situation to mine, it doesn’t help me feel any better. I can’t control the resentment I feel otherwise. We all know what it’s like to grieve, but come sit next to me if you’ve been grieving your sibling since you were five years old.
But then I question it…I question why it was him and not me. Why was he taken away? Why was I the one to survive?
This was long and wordy, but I’ve stored this up inside me all day. I never want to write a letter to Andy because sometimes I feel weird writing to somebody who has deceased and clearly cannot read this. I miss him, and I can’t say it enough. I just want one more day. One more. One more day to just sit with him and exist. And I promise I’d give him back to the great beyond. It wouldn’t be easy, but I would do it because all I’ve wanted for the past 30 years is one more day.
Happy Birthday, Andy. Goonies never say die.
(title lyric from Hamilton, and my favorite song off the soundtrack)
I don’t mind being vocal about some of the things my therapist and I talk about. I pick and I choose what I share with people and what I don’t. I’m sure a lot of people judge me because I sought help. But Judgy McJudgersons, when you’ve lived the life that I have, experienced all of the loss and death that I have, and some rather traumatizing experiences that still haunt me to this day, maybe you’ll understand. But this entry isn’t about you. Nothing I do is about you, so keep judging me and keep on with the ‘my life is so #blessed’ mentality while I do my best to get better.
Back to the subject, because I’m really cranky and I don’t like being looked down upon like I am a leper because I made a decision that has benefited not just myself, but my husband and son.
I told him that I have been withdrawn lately. I have pushed myself to be among humans when I don’t really need to be. Going to work, not a problem. Anything outside of that, I instantly want to go hide under my covers and never come out. I try to find reasons why I can’t go somewhere. I also have become so withdrawn where I don’t want to engage in conversation. And people do take this personal.
It’s not personal. I’m just having a rough go and I have to work through it.
If I don’t talk, if I don’t engage, if I don’t sound the least bit interested, it’s because this is a rough patch. This is also a very rough month for me. Andy’s birthday is coming up and I have to pretend to be a functioning member of society that day. But I promise you, it’s not you. It’s me.