So the ongoing theme in my life, forever, is that no matter what I do, and how good I try to be, it's never enough for anyone, and there's some weird social anxiety/potentially aspergersy barrier between me and every person around me, where I'm never communicating effectively that I'm a Decent Human Being, and everyone thinks I'm a douchebag, and I think I'm a douchebag as well, so. What're ya gonna do.
And it's so natural for me to always modify myself, and my behavior, and my expectations to lessen the blunt force of everything that happens to me. I'd like to pretend it's out of resilience, but it's really just me being a doormat. It doesn't make anything feel better, it just allows me to curl up with all my feelings and never admit to anyone how things actually are.
So Christmas has been a touchy subject the past few weeks. To be honest, it's been touchy since August. I spend all summer panicking leading up to the Birthday Phone Call to my nephews, and then once I get that out of the way I can start worrying about Christmas. Should I go to Christmas? Can I even afford to go to Christmas? If I don't go, will the whole family judge me? If I don't go, will I drink myself to death because spending Christmas alone is so goddamn depressing? Why am I even complaining because I hate Christmas anyway and think it's stupid? Was I ever known to be one of tremendous Christmas cheer? Doesn't my family think I'm a grumpy asshole anyway? I've never been an amazing daughter and it's just as well that I don't come. Last Christmas I spent with my parents was when Alex died and I was so checked out and depressed all day and they must think I'm the most ungrateful brat.
For general backstory: I got in a fight with my brother's wife two years ago, she didn't think my apology was sincere, so she excommunicated me from the family, and now I don't get to hang out with them at holidays LOL GREAT. Pretty painful. Excruciatingly so.
My roommates put up lights and a tree. I came with them to get the tree, just to feel like I was being social. Even when I lived at home my parents always had a fake tree. I don't have any memories of Christmas tree shopping. So I kind of fluttered around the sides while they looked through all the trees, and I had no idea what they were looking for or how to help. I was going to chip in for it but they never asked me to, and I've spent the past two weeks feeling panicky, like I should've. At the same time, I'm not the one who wanted a tree. Maybe it's not my problem. Maybe it isn't fair to ask me to pay for it, because I haven't spent any time in the living room since they put the tree up, because looking at it cuts me deep in my soul. I don't turn it on when they aren't home. I haven't turned on the Christmas lights outside, either.
They're going away for the week. I don't imagine I'll be putting any of the lights on. I don't see why. I don't really want to look at them.
Maybe four or five years ago I "came out" to my mom about how I didn't want to celebrate Christmas anymore. Not to say that I wouldn't participate, but I told her I didn't believe in commercialism bullshit and that I would rather contribute wine and food and crafts, stuff like that, and I wasn't going to be Christmas shopping anymore. I think it's an unneeded financial burden that always stressed me out every year, plus, when I really started dissecting it, I couldn't come up with a single Christmas time value that I felt like I wanted to celebrate. My parents are atheists and just go along with it, regardless, so I didn't think my mom would be so offended. Except, of course, that she's offended by everything. I had said I'd get presents for the kids but I wasn't going to go broke trying to buy her random bullshit that she didn't want, just for the sake of going with the crowd.
She cried and said "But it's for the children!" and I went "...okay, but I'm not a child." I mean, I TOLD her I'd still get things for the kids, I'm not sure where the disconnect is except that my mom makes everything into a crisis.
And that's what's so. Disarming. About all of this. Part of me wants the "go see your family in a completely non-denominational way because it feels good and you haven't seen any of them since you moved" and I'm also still so deeply wounded by the fact that most of the family hates me and doesn't want me there? And at the end of the day, it's so confusing to feel this hurt and left out when my family have never really been such prizes to begin with. I could beat myself up all day about not being more grateful, and I could sit here and call myself a brat for complaining despite the GOOD things that my parents have done for me. But at the end of the day, my family has always been toxic as fuck, and I'm only mourning it because it's familiar, and I don't know what to do without them.
My roommates kept asking me if I was going to go home for Christmas. I don't know how many times I had to tell them no. They like to oversimplify the situation and go "Oh just go, you should." Cool, thanks. I mean, sure. But I wasn't going to spend $700 on a plane ticket, anyway. And, while I'm feeling sorry for myself, I'll also obsess over the fact that no one even invited me.
So apparently my mom mailed me presents, and they arrived yesterday. The mailman left them on the back porch, so none of us saw the package until this morning. So it sat in the rain all day and night. My roommate texted me "You might want to get up and have Christmas come early because the gifts are soaked." Which. I appreciate the gesture, but A) I was not awake, and I leave myself enough time in the morning to get ready and leave, so seeing this when I woke up didn't help me at all. B) I'm glad she's still acting like there's any Christmas cheer to be had at all lmao.
But they had opened the package and laid the presents all around the kitchen to dry, but I didn't have time to deal with it before I left for work. So I'll have to do it when I get home. But I thought this was the perfect allegory of my holiday season. Love it.
Last year my mom left a bunch of gifts. I think she felt really guilty that they were leaving me by myself. In fact, I know she felt guilty, cause she cried about it later when we talked about it after they came home. And I remember pacing the house all day, wailing, crying so hard that I kept having to lay down to take naps, and I kept drinking so that it would stop, and every time I looked at the gifts I just couldn't even touch them. And. I don't want to open these ones either. I might ask my roommates to open them for me. I just feel like it's such a visceral ritual, the paper and all that shit, and I just don't even want to look at it. And I hate myself for feeling that way, I feel so guilty because my mom tried to do something nice for me and I can't even accept it.
And I keep thinking about them all on Christmas. And the part of me that has social anxiety always takes the "no one would notice if I was not here" attitude, and I want to think that. I'm not sure if they notice. But I keep thinking about my brother, and how rude and insensitive he was about my social anxiety, and I keep thinking about how he made it like I was a horrible person for not calling, instead of understanding that it's hard for me, and I keep thinking: When he thinks about me on Christmas, does he think I'm partying, and being a hedonist, and celebrating with reckless abandon because I'm a wild and terrible beast? Or can he comprehend that I'll be under my blankets, crying, in the dark, hurting all over because no one likes me, and because I miss my family so much that I want to die?
I know I fuck up sometimes, but I'm not a terrible person, and I don't understand why they all treat me like I am.
It's amazing how Family Stuff can just blindside me sometimes. I should be used to it by now, especially because it's the family I was born with, and they've always been here. Somehow I still haven't gotten to the bottom of all the secrets and stories and sometimes you learn something that's so validating that you want to cry for hours.
Today I Learned: There was a period of years before my parents got together that my father was so crippled by his social anxiety that he spoke to no one.
My aunt told me this tonight over Mediterranean food. She's not my blood-aunt. She was married to my dad's brother for most of my childhood. They've been divorced for fifteen years, but I still have a relationship with her. I refuse to give her up. She's this bubbly, wonderful, tiny little Jewish lady, super New Yorker, and so sharp and empathetic and willing to be honest, and the way she kept pushing food on me like a nice Jewish mom made me feel more loved than I've felt in a long time.
But she and my cousin are in LA for a few days, so we made a night to get dinner. My cousin is schizophrenic, and my aunt is one of the only people in my family who understands the scope of my social anxiety, and the only one of the "adults" that I feel safe talking to about it. But I haven't seen her in a few years, and inevitably she asked how my brother was doing, and I had to tell her how he doesn't talk to me because he finds my anxiety disorder inconvenient, and how I haven't spoken to him or his family in years. And we got into a conversation about family patterns, and how many of them we've fallen into without even realizing it. I brought up how, last year, I learned that my grandfather could've had a career as entertainer, and written his own ticket, but was always too insecure to quit his dayjob (AKA: me with photography). Tonight I learn that my dad had years where his anxiety was completely unmanageable (AKA: me in general). And we talked about how ridiculous it is that my family is so Irish, so unwilling to share things with each other, so unable to talk about mental illness. How, even though this is something that in many ways makes my father my spiritual twin, we've never been able to openly discuss it.
So I come home on one hand feeling so relieved, that it's not just me, it's not my fault, that it came from somewhere. Also feeling so gutted that it took me this long to find out, feeling so hurt for him, wishing I called him more because we speak so rarely.
It's hard to know all this. I feel like it isn't my fault, but I also feel like it's entwined into my veins. It makes me feel like I'll never untangle myself.
Of course, I've desensitized myself almost to a point of functioning when it comes to the family subject, and I've been hardcore throwing myself into vampires so that I don't have to die from alcohol poisoning during the month of December (but let's not congratulate me too early, because I still have to make it through Christmas week all alone), and so somehow my drive home was marked by how bad I wanted to talk to Will about all this. Because as unfair as he could be, and however manipulative and petty he is, and no matter how strongly I know that cutting him off was the right thing to do, I can't help wanting him to talk me through this. Because he always would. He always knew what to say and he's one of the only people I've ever met who really got me. And it sucks to lose that.
I could hold onto this story for a more poetic telling one day, but I'll record it for history: A few weeks ago, when I finally told him I wasn't going to do it anymore, and I asked him to mail my Anne Rice books back to me, he threw it in my face that I care more about my stupid books than I do about him, which was already such a childish and unfair insult, but when I got them back in the mail he'd stuffed the package with all the artwork I'd made for him, torn to shreds. And it still hurts when I think about it, it hasn't quiet healed yet. And the artwork wasn't important, it wasn't the point. But that he felt like he had to rip pieces of me apart, and that he had to mail them to me so that I would see them, instead of just throwing them in the garbage.
And ironically, I didn't even throw the scraps away. I'm not sure why. It felt too brutal. But, this is normal. This is something I do. I surround myself by things that hurt me, because I obsess over my own pain. And I want to look at them and picture his hands tearing them to bits, and try to imagine how his face looked while it happened, and how it felt that he taped up the package and wrote my name on it and mailed it to me. He's the only man who's ever loved me and it came to that.
I'll put a time limit on it, like if I don't actually see my vision through I'll get rid of the package, but I think I might make more artwork with it. Like tape them back together, leave them rumbled in a shadowbox. Something. Something I can hang on the wall to remind myself who he really is. Maybe it'll finally teach me to stop forgiving him.
(on a happier note, the lulz of the day is: That awkward moment where you make a set of new blogs so that you can sideblog vampires and talk shit about your family anonymously, and all your new vampires friends are reblogging the vampire meme you posted on your IRL account. WHOOPS. THEY DON'T KNOW IT'S ME.)
This is my third time starting this entry, because my thoughts are so convoluted and tangled and I can't make sense of any of it.
The short version is this: I don't know how to be compassionate without being a doormat.
I was ready to make a quick sketch of My History With Damaged People, but it was turning into somewhat of a novella, and if we're telling the truth I could probably publish an entire book on the subject. Everyone could get their own chapter. The Liar, The Whore, The Maniac, The Suicidal Boyfriend. It's as if I have a tractor-beam in my heart that draws these people to me.
A lot of it has to do with my upbringing. I grew up in a small town and went to a small school. Pre-Hot Topic boom all the weirdos were basically winging it; there wasn't a cookie-cutter approach to being a weird kid the way there came to be in the post-Avril world. I myself looked like I had just crawled out from under Les Innocents, lots of pieced-together thrifted black articles, and the occasional pathetic nu-metal tshirt. There wasn't a standard uniform. Even today, as an adult, it's easy to spot a metalhead and give the nod, but at that time it was just. The few of us who were weird. And along with being "weird" came the fact that we were all fucking crazy.
So, without getting into it like I'd originally planned, I'll just keep it as: All of my best friends as an adolescent ultimately wound up being toxic and abusive and broke so many little pieces from me that I'm still trying to find.
Then, as an adult, we can gloss over the experience of being ex-communicated from my family because they didn't appreciate the burden of my social anxiety, and couldn't muster up the empathy to meet me halfway on issues like The Phone, in which I don't call as often as I should because I am paralyzed with fear, and they chalk it up to me not caring about them and generally being a Terrible Person. Now it's me that's the damaged one.
And my point in all of this is that it's carved a very narrow path in which to live. My family disowning me has been, to date, the most painful experience in my life, and one that I haven't fully learned to cope with yet. So, feeling this rejection so keenly, all the time, makes me strive to be patient and empathetic and compassionate. It makes me look back on the old imperfect friendships with shame, because, although they were toxic and unhealthy, I try to make myself believe that I could've salvaged them somehow, I could've helped these people, and if I'd been more patient to the fact that they were mentally ill instead of writing it off as them being assholes, it would've been different, and maybe I'd sleep better at night.
I'm setting the stage here to discuss the recent events involving The Suicidal Boyfriend. Who's now the ex-boyfriend. And the reason that I've started the entry up multiple times now is because when I get to this part I wilt. It's bothering me, and I keep thinking I want to talk about it, and write it down so that I can organize my thoughts, but. When it's actually time, when it's in front of my face, I think it just still hurts too much.
Everything involving him always opens up a floodgate. There's a thread going back the whole time I've known him, just past seven years now, and if I get upset about one thing I always wind up getting drawn into the next thing and the next thing. And in the end I'm always emotionally maimed, and past the end, I wind up blaming myself. Because I haven't learned how to stick up for myself, because cutting him out of my life always conflicted with my need to be compassionate and empathetic, and I so desperately tried to undo the mistakes I'd made with the other fucking lunatics who've come through my life.
It's so hard to talk about because whenever I bring up the bad things about him, I feel so deeply ashamed that I put up with it for so long. There's another side to the coin, of course, and I have to keep telling myself that. Things weren't always bad. He's sick but he's not a bad person. I'm strong enough to bear the brunt of his illness if that's what it takes to get him through. I love him and that's something I'm willing to do for him. But when I talk about the bad things. They just seem so overpowering. And my friends would judge me, and give me irrelevant advice, and after a while I knew I couldn't keep coming to them about it, over and over like a broken record. I kept so much of it to myself and it makes me feel so suffocated.
So it's a lot to talk about. I don't have a coherent way to get it out yet. But it's here, it's in me. I need to chip away it a little at a time until I can come up with something cohesive to say.
It's okay with me that damaged people are drawn to me. I think it's something I'm even proud of. It fits with my goal of being compassionate and patient and saintly, and all this experience has probably made me a good listener and a good friend. But I've seen how it can be. I know it can get abusive. I know there are lines to draw when it's not worth it, when it isn't reciprocated in some way. And as much as I wish I could be a saint for everyone in my life, sometimes I just don't have the energy anymore.