I don’t think I’ll ever be happy and I don’t think I’ll ever stop starting a post with that announcement. When I sit down to write and don’t come with a topic in mind, that’s where my mind goes. For whatever reason, in whatever environment I am in, I am not happy. It’s been years, so I don’t think I ever will be truly happy. Comfortable. I’d settle for comfortable.
I don’t think I’ve ever been completely comfortable in any place I’ve lived. I know it’s a delusion to think or hope that I ever will be. The world isn’t black and white. But… more? I want more? I want better? And I know I can achieve that. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I know it’s out there. It always is.
So when can I stop? When will it be enough? And when I get there, how will I know?
This sounds like an epic intro for a deeply poetic reflective piece. But it is not. It’s just going to be me complaining about my housing experiences. So, I (mostly) lived with my parents all my life until I left for university at almost 19. Life at home was great as a kid and stifling as a teenager. For the usual reasons and some unusual reasons. For a few months I lived with family or friends (about three or four different families) and I just wanted to go back home. I didn’t care that I’d be alone at home and I was ten years old. I wanted that.
When I did get to live at home by myself, I liked it. I still got super excited to tell my mom all about my day when she got home late at night, but I did well by myself during the solitary evenings. Sadly, that’s probably been one of my favorite housing situations. Top three for sure.
Other than that, it’s just been me living with my brother and parents. It was suffocating as a teen, but most of it didn’t have to be that way. I could have fought back, rebelled, changed my life for the better. But I didn’t. I didn’t go out. I didn’t invite over my two or three friends I had during these years. It was a stifling lonely-in-a-crowd feeling.
Now, I wrote that amazing intro in the summer of 2019. It’s now a couple weeks from spring in 2020. I didn’t finish writing it because I think I didn’t want to deal with such a heavy question at the time. I had pretty much finished my first stint into education after a bachelor’s degree and an internship. I was ready to slow down. Or so I thought. Now I’m starting to realize that I can’t. For me, it’s either stop or go. There’s no in between. I used to think, and I still did when I wrote the prior section, that it was equally my fault and my parents’ fault that I didn’t enjoy my teenage years living under their roof. Maybe it’s the fact that my mother’s friend just condemned me to God’s wrath for being a rude and disrespectful daughter to my mother, but I don’t believe my unhappy teenage years are equally my and my parents’ faults. I do think there’s more I could have done. I could have rebelled and done what I wanted to, like I said above, but how was I supposed to know that the good outweighed the bad?
The reason I lived with different families when I was younger was because my brother got sick. He was in the hospital for several months. And I was…. not a priority. Despite it all, I do believe my parents did the best they could and I understand why they tried to shelter me from what was happening with my brother. Had they not sheltered me from that, I don’t know if I’d be a better person, a more neurotic one or what, but it doesn’t matter. That path of my life was chosen for me by my parents and it’s the life experience I have now. It shaped who I am by augmenting who I was at the time.
Back then I was your typical good kid. I don’t remember much. But I remember I liked school. I remember I talked to every single student in my 30ish student classes. My mom says I liked to dance. Now I just know I like to sing especially when I’m stressed and in pain. Wowww, I somehow managed not to cry at my friend’s wedding. But now I’m crying. It was the sentence about my mom saying I liked to dance that got me. It hits harder, I think, because I’m writing this on the way back from Mariah and Richard’s wedding. It was beautiful and the most fun I’ve ever had at a party. Like I said, I was a sheltered child. Parties have never been my scene.
But yesterday, I let all of that go. I love my two friends that got married and in combination with everything I’ve lived (or more like, haven’t lived) it made for a once in a lifetime night. The crowd was mostly older folks, mainly Mariah and Richard’s family, but alongside a couple of university friends (Sherry and Dellewood) we were the life of the party. That’s never happened before. Since, Sherry and I were helping Mariah get ready for her wedding, we were made up and dressed by like 8am. On a coffee run, a random woman just starred at me a second and then gushed that I was beautiful. Another first. At the reception Sherry and I went out to get something from the car a couple of times and both times people unbelievably asked if we were already leaving. People not wanting ME to leave a party?! Unheard of.
I’d finally, organically, found my way back to what first made me happy. Something that I have no memory of whatsoever and something I’d lost during the years I myself was lost, and though my parents didn’t abandon me, I felt alone in the world. Somehow, I found joy in dancing again.
Now that I’ve had my typical long winded tangent, I’ll get back on topic. I’m writing because someone my mom cares about and someone who cares about my mom gave me a biblical fuck you about me getting frustrated about the directions to her ranch in the sticks (where I was to pick up my mom on my way back from the wedding) and showing how frustrated I was by the way that I talked to my mom. Yes, I could have had more patient. Yes, I could have handled that better. But I don’t think my behavior was worthy of her reaction. Maybe that’s how rotten I am. I don’t see it anymore. Who knows, but God or whoever (if anyone) is the designated judgement giver?
I took a chance. My relationship with my mother has never been the best. When I was a child it was mostly because there was a language barrier. She required my brother and I to speak Spanish in the home. I had thoughts and feelings beyond what I was able to express in Spanish without getting constantly corrected. When opening my mouth meant a buzzer sounding to indicate that I’d said something wrong, it made me not want to speak at all. So I did that. I spoke to friends and teachers and whomever in school, but at home I only spoke if absolutely necessary. My vocabulary in Spanish never went beyond casual conversation about what we were having for dinner and I certainly didn’t talk about my day or how I felt. I didn’t have the words. I could have pushed through, but I didn’t and I understand why.
So, I didn’t grow up talking to my mom. By the time my brother got sick, I moved house a couple of times until I was allowed to live home alone, I was desperate to talk to someone, anyone. My mom. She was the one who would visit me every week or so. I didn’t see my dad or brother for months at a time. But, she was rightfully exhausted. Maybe there’s more to it (certainly knowing the people you’re closest to, like my brother, could be ripped out of your life had a lot to do with it) but by my brother’s next big hospitalization a year or two later, I lost my love for life. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. In school, home, English, and certainly not Spanish.
I still kept up with school and was nice to others. I went through the motions, kept my role of responsible child who stays out of trouble and (ever since my brother got sick) out of the way as to not take away from the attention and care required for him. I made myself self reliant and beyond that, helpful to others. I saw my role in life as the supporting role to some higher cause. My family, my friends, my grades, everything came first before myself. And that’s who I was by the time I was a teenager. No one and everyone for everyone else. Whatever they needed, and most of the time never who I needed for myself. I learned self reliance for others. You know how messed up that sounds right about now?
How was I supposed to make my own choices and trust myself when I was liquid. I wasn’t a solid person. Not even in the sense of having to find myself, but in that I’d learned not to be anyone. I didn’t see myself as my own person. All I knew was how to mold myself to others’ needs. I understand that I couldn’t have done more than I did. Because by the end of my high school days I did hang out with my one friend in high school in the afternoons. Even when that was new territory. It doesn’t sound like rebelling, but it was all I could do with who I was.
Every place I’ve been in has shaped me. The people I’ve lived with, the streets I’ve walked. For better or worse, I’ve changed and am the confusing mess I will never cease to seek to understand. I’ve had life paths chosen for me, I’ve chosen some, and I’ve let life take me where it will other times. Maybe it’s a last straw kind of thing, but having holy punishment wished upon me for the relationship I now have with my mom made something click within me. I can finally say my mom is my friend. It took time. It took work. It took being out of the house and gaining perspective, but I can now say we are close and I care about her as a person instead of an authority figure.
So, now’s the time. To fly again. To work on myself instead of everyone else again. I felt it was selfish when I returned from my internship. To leave my family again. That I’d been gone long enough and owed it to them to go back home and take care of my brother and parents. Again, I chose others before myself. I understand why and I’m okay with it. In fact, I’m glad I went through all of these months at home. It’s when I solidified my relationship with my mother and when I became a licensed dietitian, effectively finishing my first stint into my education/career path.
Now, the moment feels right to begin a new path. One where the winds of change will shape me into who I want to be despite everyone else. I’m not sure how else to end this, but to assure you it’s time and to look forward to whatever my next step is.
Note: Picture from Pexel’s Free Photo Library