I had spent the last several nights working on a new, second post for this blog. I had it worked out in my head, most of it anyway. Yet each time I sat down and started to take what was in my head and put it to the keyboard, somehow it all just got jumbled. Jumbled might, in fact, be an understatement. As I was nearing scraping yet another idea, I posted some random something to my FB page about being annoyed by someone I would really just prefer to have lose my email address, and within seconds my cell phone beeped with a text message from one of my oldest friends, a musician, who reads my posts via his wife’s FB account and who tends to comment straight to my cell, email or home phone. This time it was a link to this YouTube Video:
Yep..damn straight I cried. We’re both, he and I, serious music junkies. He as a musician who owns and runs his own studio. I’m just as much a rabid music freak as he is, I’m just one who gave up on playing instruments far too easily. I’m also someone who goes into all of any serious operations, or medical procedures with my IPod in tow. My last MRI, when the tech asked which CD he could play into the headphones and started listing choices, I just shook my head and handed him my own mix. So, since this friend of mine knows how I get…that probably had something to do with my weepiness. We were tight a very, very, very long time ago. I remember sitting in his basement, on the floor just entranced by his talent and skill. It wasn’t a crush or anything like that. Instead we were the best of friends.
We lost touch and we lost that tightness when I changed who I was for all the wrong reasons. He saw it happen, and he called me on it. Flat out, in my face no holds barred called me on it. And I told him just where to go and what to do with is opinion when he got there. I remember that phone call saying he had blown through his savings account and flown from L.A. to Cleveland to try to “talk some fucking sense” into me. I told him to go to hell. I told him to mind his own business. I told him I never wanted to see him or talk to him ever again. As he got up, put his leather jacket on…the one I had bought him many years before…as he put it on started to walk out of the restaurant, he stopped, turned around, and as he wiped tears from his eyes, all he said to me was, “you don’t mean that Kris…(my nickname in high school)…you don’t mean that, and when you realize you don’t, I’ll still be around.”
Of course he was right. He knew it, I knew it. There was just no way I was going to face up to it. Not then, and not for a long, long time. He was right about everything. I was making a mistake. I was turning my back on everything I was, everything I held important, my friends, the people who knew me best, everything. I didn’t care though. It would be years….years…before we re-connected. By then I was a single mom with a daughter who was struggling with inner demons no human should ever have to deal with, let alone a child. And I was struggling with coming to terms with how my life choices had impacted she and I both. I was questioning everything. EVERYTHING. I was bitter, angry and I hated the entire world. More than anything, I had given up on the idea I would ever be happy, as well as the idea that I even gave a crap if I was happy or not.
I can’t tell you why, or what brought me to track him down. To apologize, to see what had become of his life, to see if he meant what he said that day that and would still be there, all of those things, none of them, I’m not sure. When I tried to apologize, when I tried to tell him he was right…he laughed. He laughed. He laughed and said to me, “ya know, your still as stupid as you ever were. I’m your friend. You don’t have to ever apologize to me. Am I pissed at you? Damn right I am. But not because of anything more than I’ve missed my friend and I wish you wouldn’t have waited so long to call me.” He laughed. Then he went on to just listen. Just listen as I cried into the phone until we both had to plug our cell phones in so we wouldn’t be cut off. I just cried. We didn’t hardly say a word. I think the only time he even paused was when his son started to cry from his crib and he didn’t want the baby to wake up his wife. His wife whom I’ve since also become good friends with. Our first conversation, she called me. About a week after that sobbing phone call. She called me and said how much she wanted to thank me for finally calling. How for as long as she had known him he had always worried, had always wondered. She told me how at their wedding, in his back pocket he had a picture of he and I about a week before I left for college, and how that same photo was on their bookshelf right next to the photo of he and his little sister at her wedding. She told me how I better never disappear on him, on them, again. Yep, I cried.
About now you’re wondering what happened. What did I do that had led to a good friend to throw down and say…”what the…??”
I let myself fall into a belief that I deserved to do nothing more than to settle. I allowed myself to think my worth was tied to…tied to who I was tied to. I held onto that belief, I fell into it not because of any kind of societal imprinting or anything like that. I won’t pass the buck quite that easily. I fell into it, I held tightly to it because it felt safe. In some ways, even when things entered into the darkest and worst of places, I could justify everything; and I did justify anything by not just telling myself I didn’t deserve any better, but also that I was even lucky to have what I did. After all I wasn’t alone was I?
I thought all of this, I believed it, I internalized that whatever happened was something I deserved. I deserved to give myself up to a bad relationship with a significant “other”…to friends who were anything but, and to just people who were just there not because they mattered. What I didn’t do was give myself to myself. Which is what I have finally done.
I didn’t finish my postgrad work, I didn’t spend countless hours studying and doing secondary research, I didn’t get out of that horrific relationship; I don’t get up each day and try to accomplish at least one thing, regardless of how much my body hurts, regardless of just how bad I might feel…I don’t do that for anyone other than me. Because I do it for myself now instead of anyone else I am creating a better environment for my daughter, for my family and friends who I love, and for those who will come into my life in the future.
Would I have fallen into that place I did had I not grown up spending hours, days, weeks, months in doctor offices, hospitals, or perceiving that I was consistently a few steps behind everyone else? I’m not sure, honestly. I’m not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. There’s so much in our lives, from the time two cells come together until we wave goodbye to this corporeal existence that shapes who we are that there’s no real way to answer that question. It certainly contributed, but I’m just not comfortable to say my self-esteem issues, my past somewhat not brilliant life choices can solely rest at the feet of my arthritis. We are, after all, beings with free will.
And before any of my professional colleagues start bombarding me with emails, or blowing up my phone with texts with, “yes but…”, we’ll save that debate for our next middle of the night Skype session. (Joka meidän täytyy lakata tekemästä niin että voisin saada täyden yöunen. )
Point is, I walked away from who I am, I walked away from what I hold true, because I had this belief that because of who I was…who I am…arthritis, tattoos, purple highlights, bookwormish, video game nerd, all that made me wrong somehow. All together I was not good enough to deserve better than hiding in the lie of being someone else. In order to make others around me more comfortable. Others who were never going to be happy with who I was, real or pretend.
Where does this leave me now. Well, it leaves me with me. It leaves me with not hating the things about me I spent so long despising and trying to push away. Instead, it leaves me with appreciating that it’s not my job to make anyone more comfortable. Not in regard to my arthritis, not in regard to anything about who I am or what I believe.
This…all this…is me…and…
“This is the last smile
That I’ll fake for the sake of being with you
(Everything falls apart
Even the people who never frown
Eventually break down)
The sacrifice of hiding in a lie
(Everything has to end
You’ll soon find we’re out of time left
To watch it all unwind)
The sacrifice is never knowing
Why I never walked away
Why I played myself this way”
—- “Pushing Me Away” – Linkin Park from the album : “Hybrid Theory”