Revolving Doors

February 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

For the past year I feel like I’ve been running in circles, around and around, pushing on the glass to try to find a way out, but when a doorway appears, I hesitate to jump through it. I continue to push forward but I don’t really get anywhere.

As you know, I’ve been applying for jobs for over a year with no luck. “Discouraging” doesn’t quite cover how it feels to keep applying for jobs and being passed over, particularly when they’re jobs I’m totally qualified for. I don’t get it. So I decided going back to graduate school made the most sense because I could get the education requirements I need for the jobs I would like plus work experience while I’m in school. I picked the program I wanted to do and applied to it.

That should be simple but it’s not. I applied in mid-December by their first deadline (the final deadline was mid-January) and I’ve yet to hear anything. I have to assume that means I’ve been rejected or perhaps wait-listed. Admittedly, “it ain’t over til it’s over” so I shouldn’t write myself off from that program until I get the official word of acceptance or rejection from the school, but the more I think about it, do I even want to go? I’d be spending another 2-3 years being pitifully poor, living off student loans such that I’d graduate with about $60,000+ of debt. With the heavy courseload and required field work, there’s very little time to have a job and they recommend you don’t work any more than 8-10 hours per week. I don’t know how anyone lives on that and the students I spoke with all were taking out loans to cover living expenses which I absolutely don’t want to do.

So that’s a problem. Money is always a major concern for me so being poorer and in deeper debt than I already am sounds like a seriously bad idea.

But what’s the alternative?

Jason and I have been discussing our options and we both agree that staying in Birmingham is our best plan B. We don’t want to have to move again plus right now we couldn’t afford it anyway, so it makes sense to stay where we are. He’s a shoo-in/shoe-in (? where does that phrase even come from?) for UAB which is nationally ranked for their Public Health program (#16 in the nation), so that will work out great for him. But for me? What do I do? Obviously my main goal right now is still getting a legit, full-time, well-paying job (well-paying for me right now means like $12/hr, nothing crazy, ya’ll) so that I can get my current debt under control, support Jason, stop stressing so much about money every second, and think about doing the MPA program at UAB part-time (all classes are offered in the evening to accommodate working people) or an online MPA program. I could pay out of pocket for the classes so I wouldn’t be taking out any more student loans and I could hopefully afford to make significant payments on the loans I have.

I’m already on track to have all of my credit card debt paid off by November next year (I’m paying about $400/mo to my credit card companies right now) and I’d love to be able to afford to pay those off quicker and then tackle my student loans. If I get a job making at least $30,000/yr (which I think is very reasonable) then I can afford to pay at least $600/mo towards my student loans, allowing me to pay them off in 5 years (though really I could pay them off sooner because once my credit card debt is paid off I can devote that $400/mo to my loans totaling $1,000/mo, in which case I can pay them off in about half the time). Being debt free… I have no idea how light and wonderful that must feel!

What do I want to do with my life? Honestly, I don’t even know. Help people in some meaningful way but the “how” is pretty open depending on where the universe takes me and what opportunities come my way. Really right now I just want a decent paying job that I can stand doing for the next three years. Financial security. That’s all I want. Education, career, having a car with heat and a/c and a radio, these things are all secondary right now.

I’m tired of merely surviving; I want to be financially sound. From there, I can move onto bigger, more meaningful things. Here’s hoping.

A More Personal Update

January 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

There’s a certain paranoia that comes with being mentally ill, particularly when you’re like me and have been ill for most of your life. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately which has tired both my mind and body. When I was so depressed, I spent so much of my free time (what little I had of it) in bed, zoning out, napping, or disappearing into Netflix Land. I felt physically tired almost all the time.

Now, when I’m on three anti-depressants, I feel paranoid, thinking that the exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately is my body rejecting the medication or perhaps my depression is growing stronger than the meds. It makes you think “Oh god, am I *not* actually better? Am I supposed to feel better than this? What do normal people feel like if not this?”, questions that flooded my mind when I first began to see that I was depressed. How does a sick person distinguish between the exhaustion of healthy people under stress and the exhaustion that plagues the unmedicated depressed? I’ve been given permission by my shrink to double my dose of Wellbutrin, but I’m incredibly hesitant to change anything about my meds for fear that it’ll have a strong negative reaction that I don’t want to experience and simply don’t have time to deal with.

So I’m just riding it out. Living in paranoia, but afraid to make a change. Perhaps all is well. Healthy people get stressed too.

There’s another side effect of the recent stress I’ve been under that is likely more worrying. I’ve been aching to cut myself. My wrist physically aches right now and my brain says that cutting it is the only way to alleviate that. Believe me when I say I am in no way suicidal. I’ve got a life now. I’ve got a wonderful family, I’m in the best relationship of my life, my dogs are young and healthy, my future is open to all opportunities, I’m learning to cook with high success rates, and I’ve got plans for marriage and children. Not suicidal. In any way. But the urge to cut has been growing steadily as my stress levels are maxing out.

Something definitely has to give. I can’t keep working 7 days a week. I can’t keep working 50+ hours per week, at least not at the restaurant where I’m bored out of my mind 90% of the time. When we’re busy, I’m totally fine, but when there’s nothing to do or we’re waiting for people to leave so we can close shop and go home, I find my impatience bubbling like a volcano. I don’t get paid enough to waste my time like that. $9 an hour? I can’t even buy a movie ticket or a meal unless it’s fast food. I’m hoping since I applied to grad school by the earliest deadline that I’ll hear back soon. They said late-January to March, so cross your fingers for late January just so I can know if I’m staying here or leaving sooner than later.

I’m struggling a bit with Jason too. Don’t get me wrong — I’m unbelievably happy with him and love him dearly. But I’m having a hard time dealing with some things lately. He’s applying to grad school too and has some serious self-loathing about his past and even his potential. It drives me CRAZY because he’s an incredibly capable, intelligent, charismatic man who can do whatever he sets his mind to, but in his own perception of himself, he only sees a failure, a Lost Boy. He’s taking a depression test next week for his new shrink, so we might be a true depressive household. In my unprofessional opinion, I don’t think he’s chemically depressed. He has a solid appetite, great energy level, doesn’t have mood swings, etc. None of the signs that were so prevalent in my youth and early adulthood. But I do think he needs counseling to work through some very deep-seated issues of inadequacy that likely stem from his family start (teenage mother, tried multiple times to abort him, depressed for a long time after he was born, non-existent father, etc.) and his turbulent adolescence. High school and college were particularly trying times for him and he made a lot of bad choices, which he still beats himself up for with no mercy. Well, he beats himself up for some of them, not all but what’s done is done so I should let that go. Anyway, he sees his academic failures and shortcomings as something wrong with him, with his intelligence and capabilities. I’m really struggling with pulling him out of that, focusing on who he is and not what his grades are. But he’s convinced he can’t put together a good application for grad school because of his grades, his expulsion from school, his past mistakes.

I’m doing my best to help him with his application, I’ve even recruited my dad to help him with editing his personal statement. I’m working with him on the front end, trying to get him to relax enough to talk fluidly and comfortably about who he is and what he wants to do. Maybe I should get him drunk? I’m not sure. I had him write stream of consciousness responses to a few questions yesterday which I think was moderately productive, though most of his writing was filled with negativity and evidence that he’s convinced he is and will be a failure. It’s heartbreaking to me and something I’m not prepared to deal with. I don’t have those skills to coax him out of that negative realm, probably because I’ve lived there myself for so long.

It’s a learning process, I suppose. I’ve got to make a better effort not to get frustrated and yell at him when he dips into these depressive modes. I need to keep him focused on the task at hand, the personal statement, something tangible and doable and deadlined. I’m such and INTJ sometimes…

An Overdue Update

January 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Okay, so it’s been awhile! A long while. Lots of things to process, that’s for sure.

2015 has been a year of serious highs and lows so far. So much so that I’m hoping it’s getting out all the “excitement” in the beginning and the rest of the year will be smooth sailing… That’s silly thinking but a girl can dream.

Let’s start with the good:

Jason and I got an apartment together! It’s a cool space with a lofted bedroom and a wall of windows (though they just look out onto a little valley and other apartment buildings’ back decks) plus 1.5 bathrooms which is great for two of us and a two floor apartment. The move went okay, not super smooth but not terrible either. Jason has been really kind to let me unpack the apartment and put things where I want to put them which has made me incredibly happy (since I’m a slight control freak sometimes). It’s been a week since we’ve officially moved in and the place is 98% unpacked, which is a huge relief to someone like me who nests. I tried to hang art today but it’s been difficult since I’m tired of looking at all the same art I’ve had on my walls for years. Time for new art, my own and from others, but the budget really doesn’t allow for that right now. Living together has been fantastic and a huge stress relief for me since before I was constantly going between our apartments with the girls and my clothes for work, sleep, going out… It was incredibly stressful especially since Jason never gave me a copy of his key so we were constantly leaving the key for each other and occasionally there were times when keys were forgotten. We’ve had no problems with sharing space in the new place and are very respectful of each other, which is an amazing feeling (particularly compared to alec’s constant tv-watching and video game playing). And he’s still incredibly affectionate and attentive despite us living together.

Basically I’m living in domestic bliss.

Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of the year (don’t get me wrong, it’s a HUGE highlight, but a lot of things have been speedbumps to truly being happy right now). 2015 has been really rough. Financially, we’re both really struggling after the holidays where we spent more money and took more time off from work in addition to the cost of the move. I sprained my right foot right before (literally hours before) we left for a trip to UNC Chapel Hill, driving of course. We were visiting the campus and the foot was a big pain in the ass though I still made all my appointments and we got to see a lot of campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. I couldn’t help Jason with the driving though which was rough. But we used Couchsurfing.com to find a place to stay for free, so that’s a plus. The trip was great — freezing cold but we fell in love with Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and the school. I guess we should move the trip to being a good thing in 2015!

But days after I got to take my boot off my right foot, I sprained my left ankle. It’s likely that the ankle was strained from being put under so much pressure while my foot was sprained and then with work (where I’m on my feet for 10 hours) and the move (lots of stairs and carrying heavy things), it ended up spraining. So that was a pain because of course I couldn’t take off work or slow down the move, so I just had to slap an ACE bandage on that puppy and keep going.

Literally a day after we moved into the new apartment, Jason’s car broke down. That’s been a pretty big issue not only because it’s going to be $800-1,000 to fix the car but he still has to get around town to and from his old apartment (which still has some stuff in it) and the new apartment as well as to and from work, school, appointments, etc. He refuses to drive my car because 1. he claims it’s a death trap and 2. he’s too big for it (it’s a tiny 2-door hatchback) so he’s spent a LOT of time literally walking around Birmingham which wastes a lot of his time that he could be using for more productive things (did I mention that he’s taking FIVE classes this semester in addition to working 30+ hours per week?!). There are other things related to the car breaking down like getting keys and getting things out of the truck that have caused extra stress and frustration.

Winter has officially hit Birmingham (well… for a couple of days anyway) and my car has no heat or defroster so sometimes I have to drive around with my head out of the window because I simply can’t see well enough through the windshield to drive. I’m basically just crossing my fingers every day that I have to drive like that, hoping to god I won’t wreck and either die or kill someone. It’s a hell of a gamble some days…

Jason is also having serious though occasional pains in his lower abdomen which is probably just stress but has me super worried and in Super Nagging Girlfriend mode. So now he has to go to the doctor on top of all this other crap and stress.

As for my life, I’m working 6-7 days/50+ hours per week and it’s killing my soul not only because I’m bored SO MUCH and the tasks are so repetitive but it’s just so much of my time spent for not a lot of money. Plus I have my own bills piling up like crazy that I haven’t been able to pay because of the holidays and then the move. And my stupid student loan people are saying that I have to start paying $400/mo in February! Craziness. Absurdity. Just one more thing I have to make a phone call about.

I did apply to a potentially promising job at an arts non-profit in Birmingham that I’ve volunteered extensively with, which I hope will lead to a permanent (salaried!!) position. The downside and why I think I might not get the job is that I applied to graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill (for a dual Master’s degree in Public Administration and Social Work) so if I get accepted (I honestly have no idea what my odds are) then I’ll be moving to NC in August. But if I don’t get accepted I could be stuck in Birmingham indefinitely, in which case it would be amazing to work for the non-profit I love and respect and could do so much for. My interview is at the end of next week. Cross your fingers and I’ll keep you posted. That job (or any 9-5 that pays more than $10-12/hr) would seriously improve my and Jason’s lives. We need the money. Badly.

So 2015 is filled with ups and downs. I’m hoping we’re getting our downs out early so the rest of the year can all be happy, exciting things like getting into grad school (for both of us preferably, otherwise if just he could get in, that would be amazing), getting “real” jobs, getting engaged, etc. Happy things. Exciting things. Things we hoped for when 2015 was right around the corner.

Surely, good times gonna come. In the meantime, I’m just thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, family, and apartment!

Decisions/Cause and Effect

November 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

My lease is up in mid-January, I think, and the closer I draw to that date, the more stressed I feel. Decisions need to be made, big, potentially life-changing decisions. Trying to plan the move to coordinate with both my life and Jason’s has been a surprising source of tension for me, leading me to suffer from a seemingly permanent tension headache that spreads from my eyebrows back over my head and down my neck to my shoulders. I haven’t had an appetite all week as well, leading me to eat only once a day as an afterthought, usually around 6pm or later. My dreams have been confusing and uncomfortable at the least, addressing lingering concerns or fears in my subconscious, only some of which are related to Jason.

These persistent thoughts and stressors were what I thought enough until my mother threw an emotional wrench into the mix, asking me to reconsider the move to stay in Birmingham instead. My family is here and surprisingly, they actually enjoy seeing me. It always surprises me that they enjoy my company when my perception of myself is that I constantly bitch and moan about one irrelevant thing or the other, never seeming happy in my current state or satisfied with any part of my little life. Mom made some solid points about why I should stay beyond the family affection and proximity, not limited to nurturing the tender roots I’ve been laying in this city, giving them time to actually blossom into something rather than abandoning them.

I don’t know why I insist on moving so often, why I can’t get through a year without planning to move on to something new, something else, something different. Is it fear of success, like I’m sabotaging myself? Or is it just a restlessness that I’ve been plagued with since adolescence? I’ve never felt like I’m in the right place doing the right thing, if such things even exist. I’ve always been focused just a step ahead, looking down the road to see what’s next rather than living in the now and focusing on this moment. It’s a curse, really, because I’ve spent so much time planning for a future that never really comes that I’ve missed out on most of my life experiences. People seem to have so many special memories of their lives, even their short lives when they’re still children, but I have very few memories of anything in my past and most of my memories are bad ones that I’d much prefer to forget.

I get bored, too though. So quickly I get tired of the same places, the same people, the same inane conversations. Birmingham in particular wears me down because it is so small and the people have such a narrow view of life and the world around them. So many young folks complain about living here and say that they’re going to leave, going to move to X place and do X things but they never do. Years later they’re still in the same place complaining about the same city to the same people with no realistic intention of ever bettering their situation. That’s not a rut I’m interested in falling into.

The thrill of a new place is intoxicating. I look up restaurants, cool neighborhoods, different galleries and festivals. I love discovering new textures of urban environments, new types of people, new styles of cities. So much to see, eat, and do. New cities hold so much hope for me, hope that I’ll finally be happy or satisfied with my life. Hope that I’ll finally be in the right place doing the right thing and feel some sort of peace.

In the past, I’ve rather boorishly moved at my own will with no regard to other people’s feelings. I didn’t think I mattered to other people, honestly, and I didn’t think my absence would be noticed. In fact, I always wanted to just disappear without telling anyone, without announcing my move date and new location, but the human being in me reminded me that it’s polite to tell your friends and family where and when you’re leaving their presence. But their desires for me to stay or pain from losing me never really reached me in my inner thoughts and feelings.

Now my mother has reached into my chest and pulled on my stiff, cold heartstrings, reminding me that for some strange reason people love me and want me around. Perhaps only in the significantly medicated, post-suicidal episodes and rock bottom have I finally emerged from the selfish fog I’ve been living in and realized that what I do genuinely affects the wonderful, miraculous people who love me. No man is an island and no woman exists in a vacuum. What I do affects people and I have to be conscientious of that, particularly if what I’m doing causes them pain or heartbreak, so I can at the very least attempt to make amends or ameliorate that harm. No doubt my mother speaks for other members of the family and perhaps close family friends who would strongly prefer that I remain where I am, a mere hour or less away, rather than move 8 hours away to another state.

So I’m split, between the man I love and the life I want in a new city, and the family who adores me and the life for which I’ve already built a foundation. That’s a tough ass call if you ask me. In my heart of hearts, I feel like a wretched asshole for hurting my mother and loved ones by leaving, but I feel that getting out of Birmingham is necessary right now for my sanity. Newness, change, discovery. It’s time for another move and following the man I love seems like the right path, albeit a terrifying and risky one. A lot could go wrong, absolutely. I’m no fool; I realize nothing in life is guaranteed and things can fall apart in an instant. But I can’t let an amazing thing slip through my fingers or get tossed in the trash because I wasn’t strong enough to take that leap. I may hurt my family but in the end I won’t lose them. Jason is by no means on the same level of security.

At this moment I’m undecided what’s the best decision for myself. Jason, my family, my bosses, hell even my dogs, are all interfering with the clarity of my thoughts, reminding me that I don’t operate in a bubble so every decision I make will have a definite cause and effect. I must be mindful and thoughtful of those both obvious and subtle.

As always with big decisions, I’ll know what the right thing to do is in the morning. I’ll sleep on it, my subconscious will weigh out the options, their pros and cons, and when I wake up, my decision will be made. But until then, I fret.

How Failure Haunts You

October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

In my mind at least, I see myself bouncing back pretty quickly from failure. I pride myself on being resourceful and persistent, spending a mere 12-24 hours to grieve rejection or disappointment before getting up the next day with my fire renewed and my engine chug chug chugging onwards to my determined goal. Historically in my short little life, I’ve met plenty of failure but I bounce back almost immediately, always scrounging and scampering and scraping things together until they form a decent new plan.

This year has been really rough. All the “You’ll find something…,” “Just be patient!”, “Something good is on its way.” and “This just means the right job hasn’t come up yet!” sayings in the world couldn’t secure me any kind of Big Girl employment. Hell, I couldn’t even get restaurants to call me back; it was just dumb luck I guess that I got hired at the restaurant where I work now. But a restaurant job? Come on, I can’t even put that on my resume.

I’m basically the new boss of the floor now. I’m the only person who works every shift we’re open and I’m one of the only two people who are trained on the register, so I’m basically In Charge. I delegate tasks to the new people and the people we have coming in to pick up random shifts as we struggle to keep a full staff. I’m in charge of to-go orders, bread puddings, alcohol servings, whipped cream, and other food prep assignments that in the past went to Sarah, who recently left to have a baby after working there for years. Considering I just started, what, a month or so ago? This feels like a big step. Good thing I’m ready, willing, and damned able to take it. I delegate better than the other ladies who were heading the floor, so that’s a plus, although I am somewhat particular in the way I want things done (stay as organized and efficient as possible, please!) which is taking longer for people to catch on to.

Anyway, totally not the point. The point is that I can’t allow myself to feel any kind of optimism about my employment status during this shift to Tampa. I feel panicky and in a constant state of anxiety, noting all the jobs I’ve applied for in Florida and how not a single one has called me back. Jason, bless his heart, has been saying the same things my family told me over the 8 months of my unemployment, and I finally had to tell him just to stop saying anything positive because I have 8 months of proof that all that is bullshit. There are no guarantees of a good job in my future. There aren’t even guarantees of shitty jobs that would make me figuratively want to blow my brains out like being a receptionist or (worse?) an executive assistant. I tried like hell to get a job in Birmingham where I grew up and have a plethora of connections and networks, yet I couldn’t get anyone to hire me. How the FUCK am I supposed to get anyone in Tampa (what, 400 miles away? I don’t even know) to hire me?!?!

In the past, I would have been very confident if not cocky. I would have said “Of course I’ll find something! When have I ever not?” because in the past, the longest I’d been unemployed was a month. Maybe two. But now I’ve felt that burn of constant rejection, that building pressure of desperation as the money runs out, that crushing feeling when you realize you, along with so many other Americans, can’t afford to take care of yourself because no one will hire you.

That’s wimpy, though, isn’t it. “Oh, you were unemployed for 8 months in your home town after getting a Master’s degree. Oh, boohoo. So you’re just going to stay in Birmingham and work at the restaurant forever?” Of course not. That’s not who I am. I always keep trying, no matter how many times I get knocked down (13 PhD rejection letters can confirm that). I have to keep trying to make it to Tampa without having to move blind again and hope that I can 1. convince my parents to cosign yet another apartment lease with me so I can have someplace to live without a job after the Bham gamble was a disaster and 2. actually get a job with a decent, livable wage, preferably not a restaurant job though I suppose you have to start somewhere. I’ve certainly learned that a restaurant job is better than being completely unemployed. Plus being unemployed makes me crazy from boredom and cabin fever. There are challenges ahead and my failures constantly haunt me, preventing me from feeling any kind of optimism or opening my heart to any kind of positive words offered to me by my beloved and my family.

The excitement of being in a new city is certainly building though. God, I love being in new places. Finding special little nooks and crannies, new dive bars and breweries, new brunch places and burger joints, new parks and things to do outdoors. Hell, I even appreciate the sunset in different cities and their different landscapes, both urban and country. A new place with a new vibe, new people, new things to explore! I’m beyond thrilled. I’ve loved living in Birmingham and have enjoyed the comfort that comes with being in your hometown, always knowing what places are open when and where to go to get that perfect thing to satisfy whatever you’re craving. You can drive anywhere with very little thought as you run perpetually on autopilot.

But in a new place, you have to pay attention and every time you get lost, you have another adventure, seeing new areas of the city and neighborhoods and finding your favorite streets, your favorite houses, your favorite trees. I haven’t spent much time in Florida beyond the panhandle and it’s one of the few southeastern states that I haven’t lived in (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, check check check). I refuse to ever live in Mississippi and I pretend that Arkansas doesn’t exist (because ew). South Carolina is on my list of places to live, albeit likely only for a short while, specifically Charleston, but that can wait along with New Orleans in Louisiana. Florida is uncharted territory for me and I plan to thoroughly explore and enjoy all that it has to offer.

With so many rivers and lakes, I intend to fish on the weekends and eat my haul throughout the week. For the most part, I would be fishing bass and I don’t know how healthy or nutritious it is, but at least I’ll feel better eating something I’ve caught myself. I will be forced to confront my mortal dread of alligators, which many people laugh at for some reason despite the fact that they are damn near perfect predators.

Ah. Slow down, kid. You’re doing it again. Don’t I always have these grand plans whenever I move someplace new? And then I never do them. I spend my freetime in bed watching netflix or staring at the ceiling.

Oh right. THAT’S BECAUSE I WAS DEPRESSED! This will be my first move since I’ve started medication and am on the path to healthiness and happiness so I think I actually will do much of what I hope to do while I’m there like kayak on the bay, lay out on the beach, go deep sea fishing (not often though, cause that’s intense), and fish on the river on the regular. To be fair, I’ve done a hell of a lot in Birmingham from hiking to kayaking to going to festivals to volunteering my ass off. I think Tampa will be a lot of fun, especially since I’ll have the most wonderful man to force to do things with me. We’re still dancing around the living together conversation, or perhaps just I am and he’s totally fine moving down there separately. Either way, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, either when one of us gets a job offer or when I move down there in January when my lease is up. Whatever comes first…

In the meantime, how to fight off the Failure Ghosts? How to trust the people who love me and believe them when they say positive things regarding my employment potential? How do I have faith in them when history has so clearly contradicted everything they promised me? I don’t know. But even if I don’t believe all their positive sayings and irritating optimism, I know that I will continue to press on as I always have, keep fighting for what I want, keep struggling towards the life I wish I had.

Future Talk

September 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s always a dangerous thing to ask me what I’m thinking about. People do it so often, including those who are near and dear to me and thus should know better. I don’t know how other people answer that question because the few times I’ve pulled myself out of my own thoughts to bother asking someone they responded with “Nothing.” in a truthful way.

Jason asks me a lot, and sometimes I tell him the truth and other times I deflect.
Last night I tried to deflect.

“What are you thinking about?”
“Really? You’re asking me that?”
“Yeah.”
“Life.”
-_- “What specifically about life?”

And so began an unresolvable, slightly tense conversation about our future. We’re moving to Tampa, that’s the one thing we both know for sure. We don’t know when, since the timing of the move will be based solely on when we get job offers, or if all else fails, when grad school starts (for him, the summer. for me, the fall). It’s too early in the relationship still to discuss in any kind of seriousness living together and he’s been just as ambivalent in the things he’s said as I have. We’re both dancing around the subject until the time comes when we need to make a decision or feel like we’re actually in a place to make a decision/discuss options.

We talked about the Peace Corps too. I’m not going to try to go with him; that just doesn’t work with my lifestyle. I take pet ownership as seriously as having children and I don’t want to leave my dogs for 27 months, a decent percentage of their sadly short lives. Given how I do grad school though, I think I’ll hardly notice he’s gone. I’m always so busy, trying to pad my resume as much as possible, use every opportunity to get an internship, get a relevant part-time job, hold leadership positions on campus, etc. Maybe it’ll be better for both of us if we’re apart during that time. He really wants to do Peace Corps, and I can’t help but be a crazy insanely busy person when I’m in school. We’ve both flip flopped a lot about whether we could do long distance for that long, only being able to see each other for a week or so every six months. I found a couple of programs that would let me choose where I go, so in theory I could spend a summer or two semesters abroad where ever he is, but I guess that’s a long shot. And of course there’s always the chance that Peace Corps won’t take him in which case he’s going to try for Doctors Without Borders which is a 6 month term and he’ll plan to do back to back terms. I want him to do whatever he needs to do to be happy, I just wish there was a way we could do it and stay together.

I need to tell him that I love him, but knowing Jason, it would need to be a moment rather than a “oh by the way, I thought you should know…” It’s been on the tip of my tongue for the last few days. I feel too like I should wait until he says it first, just to make sure I’m not alone in this. What good would it do to tell him, though? I just want him to know and I feel like I’m lying by not telling him when I know it clear as day (and have since like our third date). But maybe it would be better, given our shaky and unknown future, to keep quiet so as not to further complicate the decisions and emotions he’s already grappling with.

It’s so weird to have this problem. In the past I’ve been the one leaving and saying either “You can’t come with me.” or “I’m going and you can come, and if you don’t come, we’re over.” Things are much more complex now, filled so many more gray, shadowy areas. Is love enough to keep us together? Can love span the ocean and two years? Seems like a tall order for two people who haven’t yet had a really strong, healthy relationship. But it just takes one, right? I don’t know what’s going to happen with us but I hope we end up happy in the end, particularly if we end up happy together.

I really hope I don’t bail out if things get difficult, more complicated, as a result of our decision to pursue grad school in Florida. I need to grow up and commit. When the going gets tough, the tough get going right?

Words

September 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I went to my first college football game (roll tide!) with my dad, a close family friend, and a prof from UA. it was a fun day and I had a great time. I’ve always been something of a daddy’s girl I think, so I love getting to hanging out with my old man.

I don’t think dad realizes how much his opinion of me matters. After spending all afternoon and evening with him, the one thing that’s overshadowing my memory of that event is dad calling me “weak” on the ride home because I didn’t want to drive him all the way home, suggesting instead that he just spend the night at my place and arrange to get home tomorrow when everyone isn’t tired from a day at the stadium. “What you’re telling me is that you’re weak?” After all that I do, after how much I bust my ass to try to take care of myself, to do good things, to have big plans, to work and work and work to make something of my life, he thinks I’m weak because I don’t want to drive another 1.5 hrs after a long day when there’s really no rush or reason for him to be home that night.

I don’t get a lot of praise from my dad. I’m not needy or anything like that, I certainly don’t need to be praised constantly, but I feel like I’m constantly being critiqued and never recognized by him. In a lot of ways, we’re very similar which definitely leads to some clashes, but I wish like hell that wasn’t the case and I could have a harmonious, positive relationship with him instead like I have with my mother. She always tells me she’s proud of me, even when I’m unemployed and asking them for money. She’s always so careful about being critical of me, choosing to emphasize the positive rather than constantly point out the negative. I don’t have a lifetime of memories of her critiquing me like I do my father.

I’m always surprised and somewhat bewildered when people tell me that I’m “strong” because dad has made me feel weak and small and simple-minded. I don’t know why his voice overrides all the others that tell me positive things, but I’ve always been weird like that with men. Alec told me I have “humble looks” and that I’m “no Angelina Jolie.” Mark told me I had “thick legs” (though he meant it as a compliment) and has a long list of complaints about my personality. I’ve done pretty well about purposefully trying to let go of the negative things Jason said when we broke up because we’re supposed to be starting fresh and moving forward but I can still remember the sting of his words if not the exact things he said.

Maybe I’m just very lucky to have women in my life who are positive and try to support me and my decisions no matter what. The women in my life are so full of love and wisdom, two things they never hold back from me or fail to offer me on any occasion. I feel like I’ve spent my life trying to get dad’s attention, trying to get him to talk to me instead of napping or being absorbed in some piece of technology. Trying like hell to get some kind of approval from him. I remember when I was in high school, dad told me I’d never be a straight A student. When I got straight A’s in college and grad school, his response was “Of course you did. I wouldn’t expect anything less.” When I’m not the best, I just don’t have it in me to be, but when I am the best, I still don’t get approval, I get “Meets Expectations” instead.

Knowing dad, his response to any of this will be “you’re remembering it wrong,” like somehow his memory is infallible and mine is incorrect because it doesn’t align with his. He knows that’s total bullshit, of course, because all memory is a fluid, messy, subjective, and sometimes ever-changing organism. Whether or not something actually happened one way or the other, the significant takeaway is the emotional response to that event, which is something that cannot be right or wrong. You can’t and should not dismiss someone’s emotional response to a memory just because the details of that memory don’t align with yours. That’s like saying “You’re remembering it differently from me so your emotional response is invalid and irrelevant.” He has a long history of doing this with me, so I should probably just let it go instead of letting it continue to upset me.

And people wonder why I’m fucked up. Words matter. Their delivery matters. And unfortunately for me, I constantly seek approval from the men in my life while the women supply it freely and often. Is that just part of a patriarchal society? Am I just a product of the sexism that permeates Western culture? Or is it something specific to me, specific to my personality, upbringing, lived experience, emotional needs? I hate growing up like this has pushed me to the point where when a man says something positive to me, I’m skeptical of it or disregard it as an empty compliment.

I hate that depression is added into this as well, because it only complicates things further. If I talk about my actions, thoughts, emotions, etc. and point to depression as the cause of how warped or messed up they are in reference to “normal” or “appropriate,” they say I’m using it as a crutch. But any time I say that I’m good or healthy, they remind me that I’m still heavily medicated and that my mind is still severely warped by a lifetime of depression. Anytime I get really sad or upset, they point at it and say “See?? You’re not healthy!” instead of realizing that even healthy people have bad days and emotional reactions. Is that a result of Western embedded sexism as well? You can’t trust women to know themselves? You can’t trust women to speak truthfully about how their feeling? You can’t trust women to analyze their emotional reactions and categorize it according to the event or mental illness as they see fit? Or is it not about women at all and much more about the male ego? “I’m right and everyone else is wrong. I see things clearest. I know you better than you know yourself. I know what you’re feeling and why. I know what you’re capable of and what you’re not. I have a penis so I’m all-powerful and all-knowing.” Is that really what the male ego is like?

Sounds like someone needs a solid kick in the balls.

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