days, weeks, months, years

clockcalendarAt the top of the stats page for my blog, it says “Days, Weeks, Months, Years”.  What an arbitrary way in which to measure time! To me right now attempting to determine what can be done in a day, a week, a month, a year, is both confusing and confounding.  When I look at how my last day, week, month, year have happened, I am amazed at how much and how little things have changed.

In the last 24 hours (day), I FINALLY had a job interview. This is very good for the ego, as I have been without gainful employment for 2 months now. That said, today I worked with my cousin to clarify my thoughts and feelings about my career and made some empowering decisions.  A day can be a lifetime sometimes.

In the last sennight (ah, how I love archaic terms), I have been brought to tears by the sadness and the joy on the screen during a television show I have become addicted to, I have read complete trash for the first time in months and I have hibernated due to our bitter, bitter cold. I have watched the new puppy become more mature and able to control his potty habits and I have found that yes, I can spend very little money and still feed my family quite well. I have been disgusted by politics and while on a walk down memory lane, I have cried again for a friend who died years ago. I have started to crawl out of the darkest part of my current depression and am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

In the past month, I have discovered that the job I thought was a sure thing was in fact non-existent.  I have, once again, realized how easily I can make a bad decision and also realized that yes, this too will pass.  I have had to pull out the deepest reserves of optimism I possess and I have fought hard to battle the darkness that is never as far away as I would like it.  I have started a list of things I want to accomplish in the next few months and I have discovered just how little material things mean to me these days.  This, candidly, has been very freeing.

And in the last year, my life has turned around 180 degrees.  From suburban homeowner to urban renter, from being overworked to not working at all, from hating every day to wondering what each day will bring, I am so different now than I was a year ago. And yet . . .

And yet I am still myself inside, and am getting closer to the truth of who my authentic self really is. Stripped of the extraneous “stuff”, I find I am good with being simpler, being slower, being less and being *about* less.  I have learned the hard way what really matters, and it is nothing you can find on a piece of paper anywhere, it is nothing that you can see, touch, hear or taste. You can only feel it in your heart and in your soul, and it is impossible for it to be taken from you.

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”   Stephen King, Different Seasons

ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

 

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There is a saying, erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That was me for years and years and years.  Now I’m finally starting to change.  It has been a few weeks since I posted, and I am seeing myself making some small changes, yet in many ways I continue to do the same things again and again.

I have become stronger, mentally.  I no longer have so many fears, especially as surround my parents.  While I have neither seen nor heard from my abusive stepfather since the wedding that kicked all of this off and forced me out of the shell I had safely occupied for years, I have since resumed cautious, cordial email exchanges with my mother. We even spoke briefly on the phone the other night.  I was actually supposed to see her today, but a change in my schedule made that impossible.  I know she is disappointed, and I am as well.  I just celebrated a birthday, and it is the first time I have celebrated without a visit with her.

I have remembered a deeper, darker side to my abuse, one I never thought was there but one my therapist believed all along would surface.  It is unspeakable, and it shakes me to the core, but it explains a lot about my behavior during high school and college.  I am getting to know myself and my deep, dark corners much better.  I’m trying to embrace it all, my inner beauty and the ugly places, every bit of me.

I have begun to stand up for myself more often.  This does not always mean that those around me are comfortable with that.  When for years someone you’ve known has apologized for every little mishap, her fault or not, has reacted with unending sympathy and patience and never questioned or opposed hurtful speech or attitudes and suddenly this new person does just that, it is unsettling for those around her.  It can be like your old, faithful dog, no matter how many times you spoke harshly to her, she wagged her tail and came for a pat, but today she barked and bared her teeth.

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I used to apologize for EVERYTHING, anytime someone was unhappy, discontent, bored, you name it.  Truly, it was rarely if ever something I had done, or even something I had any control over, but I somehow felt guilty for the displeasure or unhappiness of others.  Husband has a bad day at work?  “I’m sorry.”  Daughter can’t find something?  “I’m sorry.”  Brother in law slept poorly?  “I’m sorry.”  My life was an endless litany of “I’m sorry”.  I was a pleaser, trying to keep the peace for everyone, because in my youth, if someone was displeased, I might get hurt.  When tissue damage is involved, your desire to keep everyone around you happy and content is ingrained in your psyche, entwined into your soul, so deeply.  You feel as though “I’m sorry” is tattooed over your heart or on your forehead.  

No more.  I am now only sorry for the things I actually cause.  If I neglected to do something I had committed to doing, yes, I am and can be legitimately sorry.  My apologies are only for things I have done or things I have failed to do.  My apologies are never for me and who I am.  I refuse to be sorry for who I am any more.  I was a victim, and that was not my fault.  Nothing I did could justify what happened to me.  This is a huge leap for survivors of abuse.  Many times, as it did with me, this realization takes decades to come to fruition.  It can take forever for the survivor to really believe this in his or her heart; for so long we were told it was our fault and we caused it.  Not just no, but HELL NO!

This is not always a comfortable thing, I do not wear this new “it’s-not-my-fault” face easily yet.  In many ways it is like learning a new makeup technique.  I’ve viewed the video on You Tube a gazillion times, and I’ve put the makeup on this way for a little while, but the technique is not yet natural.  And that’s okay.  Change is never easy, even when for the better.