Going out on a Limb

Rarely do I have what I would be to consider “good” or “exciting” news in my life, rarer still that I would feel compelled to share such news with my mother.  However, on Monday, I had just such an experience; I received some thrilling somewhat life-altering information regarding an opportunity I was being offered.  Normally, I have kept such news to myself, if I even recognized it, but I certainly would never share with anybody.  But, in an effort to grow emotionally, I wanted to take a step out on that proverbial limb.

Unknown flower-6

Unknown flower-6 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often times, I have felt twinges of jealousy when I have met women who have wonderful mother-daughter relationships where they share everything, support each other, and are sometimes best friends.  I do not mean jealousy in that way where I would wish to deny them their feelings, but where I would like to have more of that in my life.  No matter how old I get, I never stop striving for at least a taste of that same bond.

Monday was one of my better days in a long time as I shared the joy of my news with other family members, friends, and my significant other.  I had a few people who were particularly supportive of me, sharing in my happiness and pride.  There are a handful of people who have been particularly encouraging to me; they were especially positive and continually reassuring even as I had a few moments of panic as I worried whether or not I was actually good enough to accept this challenge.

As I went throughout my day and weighed this new opportunity, not only for what I would gain immediately by the experience, but also for my future and what it would mean as it pertains to reaching my lifelong goals.  Monday was a roller coaster of emotions and I was supported by some wonderful people who offered me accolades each time I questioned my abilities and thought I should take a step back.

My biggest supporter has always been my significant other (a term I hate, as I find it very clinical, but he is not yet a husband, not quite a fiancée, and I feel rather old to say “boyfriend”, so… significant other it is), without his support and encouragement, I would never have had the confidence to seek out this prospect to fulfill my dreams to begin with.  I have also been lucky enough to have found a small group of friends who have been very caring, inspiring, and helpful.  They have become a surrogate family to me at a time when I have sincerely been in need of one.

So, on Monday, I was feeling the high of receiving great news and wanting to share it with those that love me and wish me to succeed, those that are proud of me and want to share in my joy.  This was one of those times that I wanted to share with my mother and was hoping that we could share one of those mother-daughter bonding moments that I have heard so much about.

I called her and was excited as I started to talk to her, staying positive and thinking about what I had to say, certain that she was going to be happy for me and that she would want only the best for me.  Her response seemed encouraging at first as she said, “That is really great news,” then, as usual, the other shoe drops, “but you should have done this a long time ago.  Can you imagine how much further along in life you would have been?  How much more independent?”

“Okay, Mom,” I said, “well, I have to go for now.”

I talked about it later with my sister, and she summed it up quite nicely, “That is just Mom.  She gives, then she immediately takes away.”

Choosing What Was Behind Door Number One

Colorful Door

Colorful Door (Photo credit: brentdanley)

When I was 19 I got married for the first time to a 9th grade high school drop-out, pot smoker who’s biggest aspirations in life was to become a rock star.  By the time we were 26 years old, he left me on New Year’s Eve after a seemingly innocuous argument over a ceiling fan we had just received as a Christmas gift.  As he packed his things into a cardboard box and I stood in the doorway to the bedroom door of our trailer home and watched, he summed up our life together saying, “I don’t want to be a dad and a husband anymore.  You have been holding me back from becoming a rock star.”

Of course, one paragraph cannot sum up ten years of a life with somebody; it started out when we were 16 years old, when I was a junior in high school and he was working at McDonald’s, already living on his own with some friends in an apartment.  We had the typical relationship of a rebel teen and a straight A student.  My parents hated him and thought I could do better, but it mattered very little to me, he was my way out of the hell that was my home.  He cheated on me, I cheated on him, but we were drawn to each other in a dysfunctional way.

When we got married, it was on a whim, no big plan with a fancy wedding… I was hundreds of miles away at my sister’s house and had just come back into town.  He asked me on a Friday, we made the arrangements on a Saturday and were married on Monday.  My mother was not even certain if she was going to be able to attend.  The day of the ceremony, my father offered him $2000 if he would just walk away; to this day, I am not certain why he didn’t.

In the back of my mind, I always knew I would never grow old with him.  I am a person who dreams a great deal; every morning I wake up and can recall very vividly what I have dreamt about the previous night, and I daydream and fantasize… he was never there in my future, not even the next day.  So, when we broke up less than a year after our wedding, I was not surprised.

However, as is typical of these types of relationships, we got back together for the last time; but this time, I got pregnant immediately. That solidified the relationship a little more, made it a little more real, required us to grow up a bit, but it was no more loving or caring than it had ever been.  And, six months after our daughter was born, I was pregnant a second time.

We went through the motions of marriage for several years.  Or rather, I should say, we were parents, no real marriage.  I loved my children, hugged them, told them I loved them, did arts and crafts, took them places, did everything I thought I technically should to show them that I loved them.  But somehow I knew it was fleeting, that we did not have a family.

And, I was right, that New Year’s Eve when he packed his box and left all three of us.  I learned a few days after he left that he had a 17 year old girlfriend that was pregnant.

Was it then that I started to have no affect?

Or was the fact that I had no affect the reason for him cheating?

Nominated for the “One Lovely Blog Award”

One Lovely Blog AwardI’ve been nominated for the One Lovely Blog award by Streejit Poole at Of Mind or Matter at ofmindormatter.com.  Streejit writes beautiful poetry and has a book that is available for purchase through Amazon.com as well.  His bio reads as follows “Philosopher, poet, musician, cook, Sreejit Poole’s writing reflects his quest for meaning in an ever changing world. Living in the ashrams of revered saint Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), for the past 20 years, he has learned the power of service to humanity at the feet of one of the world’s great humanitarians. In his most recent work, Of Mind Or Matter, Sreejit takes us on the journey of humility through the knowledge that we all have a purpose greater than ourselves.”  Please check out his site.

I am thankful for him for nominating me for this award.

The rules for this award are:

1.  Thank and link back to the person that nominated you… thanks again to the very interesting and inspiring Sreejit Poole at Of Mind or Matter, http://ofmindormatter.com/

2   Post the award picture in your post.
(I found the picture by doing a simple search on the Internet)

3.  Tell 7 things about yourself.

1 -I have always had an interest in writing, but have not been very secure about it… starting this blog (as well as two others) is my very first attempt at sharing what I do.  I am finally finding a voice, and a cathartic one at that.

2- For years I have suffered from severe bipolar-manic depression and have struggled between extreme highs and severe lows.  I have pushed so many people away because of these maladies that there is almost nobody left in my life.

3- The love of my life is my significant other, and he has been there through thick and thin with me.  While I have not always been confident that he would be there, I am trying to gain the confidence that he loves me for who I am and that I deserve him.

4- I enjoy traveling, and have moved more times than I care to count.  As a child, I lived in Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Montana, then continued the moving as an adult and have lived in California, Oregon, Washington, and Texas as well.  I have been to several other countries as well… My preference is to travel for fun and would like to quit being such a traveler out of need.

5- I have two children, both of whom I love dearly, but who do not speak to me at the moment.  Unfortunately, the mistakes of the past are haunting me, as the relationships I suffered with my parents are repeating themselves in a different way… I hope to work through those in the future.

6- I have dreams that I am scared to share.

7- I live an alternative lifestyle that I love and that I am just now appreciating more than ever.  I write about it in my other blogs.

http://musingsofasubmissive.wordpress.com/

http://dearslaveleorah.wordpress.com/

4.  Nominate 15 other bloggers and notify them of the nomination.

Awesome blogs…. please go check them out!!!

http://hikingphoto.com    – Patrick Latter – Photography

http://home.comcast.net/~george.ellington/Toros.html

Ladyornot.com

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

http://igamemom.com/

http://fabulouslyawkwardgirl.wordpress.com/

http://onethousandsingledays.com/

http://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/

http://a-pastiche.com/

http://chrismartinwrites.com/

http://imdbwords.wordpress.com/

http://njpsychdoc.wordpress.com/

http://hershatteredreflections.wordpress.com/

http://mysisterskidney.wordpress.com/

http://alejandraarroyo.wordpress.com/

Life with Father

Life with Father (film)

Life with Father (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past July 1 was the eighth anniversary of my father’s shooting.  Normally, it comes and goes without any fanfare from me, and this year was mostly no different, except for the fact that I happened to be staying at my sister’s house so we had the chance to discuss it and commemorate it together.

As my sister and I are 10 years apart, we did not necessarily “grow up” together, but we did go through our father’s death together.  So, instead of reminiscing about life and childhood, we talked about what we did in the days following the homicide, the epic, the incredulous, the depressing, and even the ludicrous. Our memories of that time were bittersweet, we laughed a bit, no tears, as we just aren’t that way with each other, but we had our memories of that day, then we moved on from there and went about our business.

Since then, I have had occasion to think about my relationship with my father, especially as it relates to my exploration as “the flat girl”.

It has never been a secret that my father became very abusive when he was inebriated.  However, he was completely different when he was sober.  He was intelligent, well-read, and could hold in-depth conversations about a number of topics.  Yet, there was still something missing, at least with me, in his interpersonal relationships.  I never felt particularly close to him.

When he was sober and not being abusive, I could talk to him for hours about so many things, we seemed to have so much in common, but he could have been a college professor for as close as I felt to him during those times.  Then all of that would be washed away with one drunken abusive night.

I always felt that his relationship with my two sisters and my brother were different than the relationship that he had with me, but, for all I know, they felt the same as well.  They seemed to have an easy banter, lower expectations of each other; I wanted something more from him, and he from me.  I wanted perfection, a father that I had seen on the little bit of television that I had seen, like Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie or Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch.  He wanted me to be a straight A student who didn’t smoke, break curfew, cut school, or break the rules.  He (mostly) got what he wanted from me, I did not.

Growing up, I do not recall ever being told I was loved or being hugged by either one of my parents, something that is probably not a surprise in an alcoholic abusive household.  I certainly did not know any better.  But, it was at my high school graduation that I was hit with something that was so powerful that it affected my life forever.  My father walked up to me, shook my hand and said, “I expect to see you again in four more years.” I took this to mean he was indicating that I should be graduating in four years again from the university.

That was it… nothing more.  I was hurt at the time, as when my older sister had graduated three years earlier my parents had a huge party, invited relatives, and made a huge deal.  My graduation was much more low key, no fanfare really, just a level of expectation of what I was to accomplish, and that I was expected to accomplish again in four years.

Looking back, that was me and my dad.  He expected more from me than he did from my siblings, but with no touchy feely subterfuge that other relationships may have.  He wanted great things for me, but did not necessarily have the ability to show me in a way that was demonstrative in a loving, caring way. So, was this way I learned my flat affect?  Possibly.  Possibly.

On my Relationship with my Mother

The Carol Burnett Show

The Carol Burnett Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While exploring my past and how my personality developed over the years, I would be remiss if I were to ignore my relationship with my mother and how it affected my adult relationships.  As a child you never think about whether or not you are hugged, kissed or told that you are loved, because, truthfully, you don’t know what you don’t know.

I would never have known that in other houses when children went to bed there were bedtime stories being read nightly as children were being snuggled under their covers, kisses on their forehead, and whispered “I love you” as little ones were being tucked in for the night.  I didn’t know that children freely hugged and kissed back, saying “I love you, mommy” or “I love you, daddy” as they sat on their parents laps watching The Carol Burnett Show or some other family friendly show of the time.

I did, however, know how to dial 911 or the operator, depending on where we lived.  I knew how to keep my mouth shut during the tensest of family fights… until I became a teenager and couldn’t hold back.  I learned that no matter how well I did in school that it would not be noticed, but it was better to fly under the radar than to be noticed.

My favorite “baby doll” was Mother Goose, so not even really a baby at all.  I also had an imaginary friend, he was a giant purple monster named Delbert.  I truly loved him, he lived in a mine. He ate billboards on occasion, and when my family moved from Arizona to Wyoming, he chose to stay in Arizona where his mine was located.  I was heartbroken.  I couldn’t make him come with me.  I was five.

Throughout all of my years (at least the ones I can remember, besides infancy), as a child, teenager, and adult… my relationship with my mother has not changed.  It has been cold, standoffish, and one of almost mutual dislike.  At times, I have looked for her approval, of course that was years ago, I no longer seek her acceptance or approval.  While my mother had different relationships with my sisters and brother, I do not recall being told “I love you” or being hugged or touched (except being hit) once as a child.

Certainly, the fact that I was not nurtured had an effect on the fact that I grew up to be known as somebody who has no affect.

How Did I Become the Flat Girl?

English: "Biggest Little City in the Worl...

English: “Biggest Little City in the World” arch on Virginia Street in Downtown Reno, Nevada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my quest for peace in my life, I have started to consider what could have happened in my life to make me so flat in my relationships with people.  Working backwards, the most significant event that has happened that changed my personality in a very profound way was the death of my father in July of 2004.

Actually, “death” may be too tame of a word, it was not as if he quietly passed from a lengthy illness, he did not die of old age, and it was not as if he even died in a violent car crash that somehow took our family by surprise.  No, he died at the hand of my mother in what would be one of only 9 murders in Reno in 2004.

When I look back on the day that I found out about the day of the homicide, I remember it as if it was yesterday.  I was at work when my younger sister called to tell me.  I called my then husband to ask him to come pick me up, but then I continued working, as I was in the middle of an important journal entry and could not stop.  The co-workers around my cubicle had heard me on the phone and came to offer me comfort, but I did not allow myself to be comforted, I just continued working.  When it was time to leave, I knocked on the conference room door where my boss was in a meeting with the plant manager and some corporate officers, poked my head in, he responded gruffly, as I had interrupted… I stated, “My mother just shot my father and I have to go.”  Then I left for the day.

Over the next several days, I was with my family as necessary, but worked when I needed to as well, never breaking down once.

The next several months were hectic, my brother, sisters and I, along with our families all spent our evenings and weekends remodeling our parents’ home so we could raise money for bail to get our mother out of jail and to put on a proper defense.  Additionally, I had just started back to school, so was attending every Saturday.

The following spring (April 2005) the murder trial began, and things were more hectic.  I worked full time, took nine credits at school, and attended the trial 40 hours a week (working at night to complete my work and projects).  Meanwhile, my marriage was falling to pieces and my children thought I was a horrible mother, but that is another story altogether.  Still, I handled everything with professionalism, never breaking down, and managing to earn A’s in school.

When the trial was over, the sentencing complete, and my marriage in chaos, I felt more mature, more weathered, more grown up.  However, I do not think I felt all that different that I ever had before in my interpersonal relationships.  So, in my quest to determine where my affect for being flat with people began – if I am ever able to delineate that exact moment – I do not think it was that event.

Although, that was a crucial period in my life, defining other traits I still hold onto.

The First Time I Noticed I Had No Affect…

Spc. Jlynn Johnson (right), U.S. Army Health C...

Spc. Jlynn Johnson (right), U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza physical therapy clinic technician, demonstrates an exercise geared to strengthening leg muscles to patient Spc. Tim Lucero. The new Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine center is located in the fitness center on U.S. Army garrison Vicenza, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been pondering the thought of being flat and of having no affect, of being emotionless when dealing with people.  It made me reflect on when I first noticed that I did not get close to people, that I did not let them in.

Approximately four years ago, I was going through a very difficult time with my health, I had been through several surgeries and I was going through some very intensive physical therapy.  I was required to go twice a week for six months, it was my understanding that I went to therapy for a longer duration than most of the patients at the facility. I saw many other patients come and go and many of them appeared to develop a close rapport with their therapist.

When I was about halfway through my therapy, my therapist was going to go out on maternity leave.  It was around Christmas time and the office was full of holiday cheer with many of the patients and therapists exchanging holiday greetings and wishing my therapist well as she spent her last few days in the office.

On my last visit with her, I noticed that some of her patients (even those she had only seen for a matter of weeks) hugged her warmly and wished her and her baby well, some even bringing her cards.

As my appointment ended, she introduced me to my new therapist and gave me an appointment card and we said goodbye.

While I was driving home, I wondered why my exchange with her had been so different than those she had with other patients.  It did not particularly bother me or hurt me, I simply noticed the difference.

That evening, when my significant other came home, I told him about my day and opined that my therapist and I had not exchanged holiday pleasantries or any other goodbyes.  “Well,” he stated, “it was because you treat everybody you deal with as if it is a business relationship.  You are polite, straight forward, and unemotional.”

That was the first time it occurred to me that I had no affect.