Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hi, Anxiety

It seems people are speaking more openly about mental health these days, and I am, of course, a devoted proponent of that, but sometimes I don't fully connect with everyone's talking. I know. It's because I am a unique individual with a life that is all my own, full of riDICulous baggage that is all my own.

I've said before, via this forum, that I have been diagnosed with moderate major depressive disorder...which I think is hiLARious (I'm experimenting with using caps lock as a grammatical tool to help you read my work as it sounds in my head, let me know what you think). However, it has recently, yes...only very recently, come to my attention that I may be just another ol' anxiety disorder sufferer. I had a doctor once tell me that he thought I was borderline personality disorder. YEAH. ME?

The truth is, everyone has anxiety about anything and everything. Life is anxiety. The difference with me is, and don't misunderstand me, I AM THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

How do I know? Well, my dad told me, and my mom told me, and they didn't tell that to anyone else...especially not each other (loveyouguys!). Then my teachers told me, and other people told me, and one day I realized: everyone is paying attention to me all the time and everyone will be mad at me if I fail.

I feel like that's normal for everyone...right?

And then I failed. And I failed again, and again, and again, and again, until suddenly everyone in the entire world hated me, and I lived like that, for a long time.

There are things I like to do a certain way, the exact same way all the time. It gives me a sense of calm, ok? I wouldn't call myself OCD, but my anxiety levels do require a bit of coping. I like having a schedule that's fairly similar from day to day. I like making plans to have fun, rather than flying by the seat of my pants, and I need a good balance of alone AND social time.

Sound familiar? Yeah. I basically just described a grown up. 

And there it is friends, the plight of every human: we grow up sometimes, and it's usually, forgive me, a mind fuck. 

One day you realize that everything you've been told has been...kind of...basically....a little bit...bullshit. Some people catch on really quick, and settle into being an adult a little bit more easily. I was not such an easy case. 

I was weird in high school. I was weird in junior high school. I was weird in every school, but at some point I got a glimpse of what life could be like if I were "normal," and for some reason, I wanted it...so bad. 

I wanted it all. I wanted marriage, family, church, babies, puppies, back yard, SUV (yep). The only thing I didn't want was a job I hated and a republican in the white house. That's pretty much all from my real brain that I held onto. 

I can tell you now, as someone that craved the "good life," for a good chunk of her own life, I am so happy that I failed at that. In fact, I might even go so far as to call that the biggest failure of my life. I failed at escaping my true nature. I failed to break the bonds of being the sole inhabitant of my own incredible planet. 

When I'm not on my planet, I'm traveling through space and time with this guy. 

You can't escape who you are (and with The Doctor's help, you realize you don't want to). You can't escape what you want in life. You can't make it something else. The only real way to move forward is to move forward...

...and seek out the truth.

My truth is that I'm afraid people hate me most of the time, but I've recently learned that I am not the center of the universe, so that truth is changing. Why? Because I'm free now.

Do I still fail? OH YES. I just failed in a big way recently. And it sucks. But I have friends, and arms, and legs, and eyes, and a nose, and the ability to taste and enjoy the flavor of ice cream. I also have wine. So, if anyone wants to come over...and watch Doctor Who. The new season just started.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Family You Choose

I chose the title for this blog a week ago, and I had almost forgotten my inspiration for it until just now. I finished eating yogurt covered pretzels, sipping my morning coffee of leftover Stumptown coffee beans that had to be removed from the espresso grinder by hand and either thrown away or stuffed in a pastry bag and transported to my home, whilst watching John Oliver, and I began my daily perusal of the facebooks to read yet another post from a good friend of mine that sparked a delightfully (actually) intelligent debate which, in turn, reminded me of the reason I would like to write about "The Family You Choose." Long sentence? It's legit. Try reading some Cormac McCarthy.

I've had a strange relationship with the idea of "family" for most of my life. I suspect we all do. There are societal norms, 2.5 children and such, and there is...everything else.

My mom is the youngest of seven. Holidays and vacations spent in the exotic small towns of Oklahoma were bustling, frenzied, and fascinating. There were so many siblings with children with their own children, and cats and dogs, and food and football, and that remarkable Nevills sarcasm. I could write books about the people I met, that claimed me and I them. My family.

My dad, on the other hand, is one of two. There is a certain level of intimacy, I gather, from growing up in a family of four, an almost perfect nuclear family. There is also a certain level of honesty that ferments from mutual strife. I remember meeting my dad's sister once, vaguely, as a child of about five, and a second time, years later, as a confused as hell teenager. I walked into my grandmother's room at the nursing home, and my aunt stood up to shake my hand, say this, "remember me? If you do, it's probably not good because the last time I saw you I hated kids," and give me the warmest smile I can remember.

Then there's...us. The three amigos. My mom and my dad and me against the world. And for twenty-four years, that's how it seemed it would always be. Until my parents divorced, and I, basically, fled the country.

I don't think I had started to grasp the vastness of the cosmos until my parents got divorced and I felt, for the first time, that I was completely alone in the universe, that my leash to the space shuttle had broken and I was Sandra Bullock-ing through space (Damn, she fine in that movie, though). The remarkable thing that I take from that whole...moment...was the simultaneously deafening yet beautiful utter silence.

Imagine being reborn, except this time, you're old enough to remember every terrifying second, from realizing that this liquid room you live in isn't big enough any more, to being SLOWLY forced through your mother's vagina, head first, to all the damn SHOTS you have to get...again. You have to shit your pants a lot, too.

At the age of twenty-four, I began the painful process of relearning the whole damn universe.

The most remarkable part of growing up is meeting your new family members. If you go looking for love, you will find it. I was lucky enough to meet some incredible people that fell in love with me and took me in. These are the people that occupy the space of my heart because I know that I occupy the space of theirs.

When I feel alone, misunderstood, lost, insane, broken, and bloody, I think about my family. The family I chose. I think about how much they must love me, to keep coming back after experiencing my waves of depression and anger. I think about how brave they are to be jumping off of cliffs every day to live the lives they've always dreamed. I think about how proud of me they'll be even if I fail at everything.

The people in my life, that I love, are so smart. They are inspiring. They are beautiful. And they love me. So I've got no excuse not to do the same.

The best part of it all, is that I still have my family from my childhood. It looks different and feels different. It is different, but that doesn't mean it isn't better. The honesty that comes from mutual strife, that ferments, becomes a relief. It becomes a resting place, where we can be ourselves, where we can be safe.

BOOM. Whole post about my dog who is incredible. GOTCHA!!!!

P.S. Not really.