Monday, August 11, 2014

Exposing Myself

Exposing myself. I’m an expert at it, right? Whoa, an ex-stripper saying she was going to expose herself –that must be something big!

--Yes, I did say that. And I know what I said. That’s part of what this is.

There are different levels of exposure. To many people I have no shame or filter. I will openly talk about sex (and liking it), getting my period (praying for menopause), shaving my legs (fucking hate it), and many other things that people don’t feel should be discussed in public. I am loud, obnoxious, and in-your-face with my opinions. What people don’t realize is how intensely private I really am. What people see is what I choose to let them see. It’s easy for me to talk openly about certain things because, to me, they aren’t what really matter. By being loud about certain things and putting the focus on them, I am able to keep hidden what I consider personal or private. It’s all – all of it – smoke and mirrors. Razzle-dazzle. “How can they see with sequins in their eyes?” Like using humor as a defense mechanism, being “open” about uncomfortable or taboo subjects is also another way to keep the focus off of other things. Sleight of hand. Like who I really am and how I really feel, and what is really important to me – which may not be the same as what is important to you.

Not anymore. Or at least not right now. There is a twofold reason for this. First, this is for me; I write because I have to. Whatever I’m feeling, I cannot begin to process it until I write it down. Putting it “out there” is my way of sort of signing a contract with the Universe, which is why when I put something out for display I try to make sure that it is positive. I do not want to encourage the collective negativity. The second reason – and this has to do with what I’m going through right now – is actually now for you. Judgment is a funny thing. I have lived most of my life under it, and have always felt it. A few years ago I was finally able to let it go. What other people thought of me didn’t matter. The only time someone’s judgment of me mattered was when it directly affected the people that I love. When people were judged because of their connection to me, or when my children got treated a different way because they were mine. What you thought of me never mattered, which actually made it fun for me to be a little outrageous. I played with it and then consciously began to set it up that way. It actually allowed me a lot of freedom; if I did something completely ridiculous it would not be questioned, it would just be accepted as “Susie being Susie.” And then the oddest thing happened; people began reading what I was writing and saying these wonderful things. The word “inspiring” was mentioned a few times. And I realized that I was uncomfortable with that. While I do love having my stuff read, I still write it for me. I don’t know; maybe I worry about expectations. I think about all the politicians that gain favor initially only to be shot down when someone comes forth with private information. I feel bad for them when that happens. Right away they rush to denial (“I did not inhale!”).

--No, I am not a fan of politicians, or politics for that matter. But everyone, everyone, has something worthwhile about them, some positive purpose, some reason to be loved.

To those of you that have said those wonderful things about me; I have trouble accepting them because I feel like a fraud.  I do not have my shit together. I’m not even close, especially not now. If I seem to know anything, or have any special insight on something, it’s only because of my personal experience with it; and I would not necessarily call that a good thing all the time. There are many things that I don’t know about. I have never owned a home, finances are beyond me, and I only just recently learned what the basic difference was between Japanese and Chinese food. I don’t have any experiences with the death of a parent or child. I only know what I’ve been through. And not all of it is worthwhile.

I do realize the connection between judgment and expectations. In some way expectations are a form of judgment. We have expectations other people based on how we perceive them – how we judge them to be. And I know I said I don’t care if you judge me but that I worry about expectations, which doesn’t necessarily make sense. Again, this is part of the changes that I’m going through now.

I’m very aware of the parts of myself that I’ve kept hidden. I know that I am a lot softer than I pretend to be. Only the people close to me know who I really am; as far as I was concerned, they were the only ones who needed to.

The last three years have been amazing for me (keep in mind that the word amazing can have more than one connotation-- one can be amazed at something magical and wondrous and equally amazed at stupidity). I have learned more, experienced more, even suffered more in that one encapsulation of time than I have in all the preceding years. When I sit and think about everything that happened my head still spins. In less than two years’ time I have made two very extreme career changes, I came within an inch of losing everything just last summer, and have lost three people who were very close and very dear to me. I’ve been forced to rely on the people around me more than I’ve ever wanted to.

Having to swallow your pride is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you realize just how much there is to eat.

Right now, I have a job that I call the “first step of the dream.” For the first time in my life I am being paid to write. I can’t tell you how much I smile every time I think of that. I am able to work from home, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. And I’m making enough money to support myself – I have not been able to say that for a long time. Every week is still very tight, because I am digging myself out of a very large hole. But it’s all good and I’m not complaining because I did not think I would have the opportunity to do both – live and pay backwards. Technically speaking, the problems that I have are good problems to have. I am making progress.

And on the flipside I am still struggling with my happiness about my new job because of the events that led up to me getting it. I have the job that was once occupied by one of my dear friends that is no longer here. As much as I love this job, I would let it-- and everything wonderful it has allowed me to do--go in a heartbeat if it meant getting that person back. Another special friend of mine said that it was like “he bequeathed it (the job) to me.” That does make it sound a little special, however I am thrown for a loop every time someone asks me how I got it.

With all these changes happening around me I am beginning to realize that I am a lot softer than I thought. My heart is open and I feel vulnerable… exposed...and that bothers me. Why? There’s a lot tied up in all of this. First of all, I like being a hard-ass. And finding out that I’m not is more than unsettling. I am beginning to feel almost like I don’t know who I am anymore. And I find that I’m actually angry at myself for feeling so vulnerable. I know where that comes from, which only makes me angrier.

I’ve discussed my father a few times here before. We’ve had quite the relationship, to say the least. I call him a male chauvinist regularly; he doesn’t like it. But I grew up being taught that being soft was wrong, that being emotional was wrong, that being dependent was wrong – and I was taught that all of those traits were female. I remember when it was time to start considering driving lessons for me (and my two sisters that are close in age), he began his own form of driving lessons for us, beginning with learning about the inside of a car before we were allowed to get behind the wheel because, “MY daughters will NOT be ‘women drivers’!” I’m sorry, Dad, but I come by my opinions honestly. And I love you.

I’m changing; I can feel it. And it’s not just my age, it’s the new experiences I’ve been having and new possibilities that I’m seeing. I never denied that I built up walls to protect myself; I just didn’t realize I had so many. Then one person got through without my even realizing it, or that there had even been a wall there. And then I became vulnerable, and unsure, and I began to question who I was all over again. When I realized how vulnerable I felt I could hear my father’s words and his derision coming at me all over again-- the problem is that they are not coming from him now, they are coming from me. Do you know how galling that is to see that in myself? All those battles he and I have had, how many times I have felt the need to defend myself to him, to feel for all these years that I eventually won that battle, that right to be myself only to realize that I’m fighting it all over again, but now with myself? To realize that in some respects he got the son he wanted? That I cannot tolerate myself for being “female”? I can’t count how many times I have stood up in some way, shape or form for women – and all the while I wasn’t truly allowing myself to be one? How arrogant is that of me? To allow that it was okay for others and not myself?

So, here’s the dirt. The low-down. The ugly truth. The real exposure—not my body, not my opinions, but me. The following of the idea behind Tears For Fears’ “Break it Down Again” and the understanding that right now there’s “no more building up; it is time to dissolve” and start over:

I fell in love. If you could only hear the derision I hear when I say that. I must have thought I was above it, at least to this extent. I never went out looking for a relationship and didn’t want one—or didn’t feel one was necessary to be happy. Because I was happy. And he came looking for me. All of it started with him. And I let him in. I invited him into my life, let him meet my kids—I crossed many lines for him, and he didn’t do the same for me in spite of what he said he wanted. And for whatever reason, he decided he didn’t love me enough to make me a priority, or just didn’t love me anymore—no matter, the end result is the same. And now I am a pathetic, useless and depressed female. Imagine that. I’d be much prouder of myself if I let something that was actually serious get me down, like the real issues going on in the world, or concern over the health of my family.

Because I was already happy, I wasn’t looking for anything else. But he changed that. He showed me possibilities I hadn’t considered. Which of course, I am now angry about. Ignorance is truly bliss. You can’t miss what you didn’t see. I am also angry at myself for ignoring the signs—I did see them—of the abrupt lack of attention, the “no time” for me, and then no communication. While I feel legitimately pissed off at his cowardice—that is what it was: avoidance is cowardice (and yes, my knowledge does come from personal experience), He made me feel lonely--and I never got lonely. I am more angry that I let any of this happen; that I’m allowing it to get to me—that I’ve been hurt to a depth I hadn’t thought possible. Right now I feel like my heart is being sucked out of my chest. Over a guy. I really wish I were gay. My best girl friends would never have done this to me; they would have been honest.

Contrary to what some of you may be thinking, this has nothing to do with getting him back. He stopped reading anything I wrote months ago, anyway. And he’s already received more than enough of my attention and my own precious (at least to me) time. What I am telling you is that there is nothing inspiring here. This is a train wreck you should have no problem looking away from. Because my “problem” isn’t based on anything solid. Because I’m having a serious battle with my own ego. I cannot stand myself right now—and I used to be my own favorite company. Because my silly pain is self-inflicted. If any of you find this inspiring, I am truly sorry.

There is a positive side, though, I’m sure of it. It is too deeply ingrained in me that there is ALWAYS a plus side, even if at the moment my head is shoved up my ass too far to see it. But I will find my rose-colored glasses and put on my ‘fucking cheerleader’ outfit…later. Right now I’m going to hide. And grieve. And dissolve. And get past my self-loathing. And heal. And learn. And rebuild.

But I will not rebuild defensive walls. I will embrace the side of me I didn’t know I hated (I guess there were too many others taking center stage) and we will learn to get along…or at least, co-exist peacefully, even if it kills me.

If this is me reaping what I've sown, so be it. And shame on me if I don't learn from it.

So, to the Universe, I’m going to say thank you (no matter what I am feeling right now) for the hidden lesson in this (I will find it) and I will work on my acceptance… and maybe even patience (please consider this a signed contract).

And to the rest of you:

I inhaled.