Mental Health · Self

I Wanted Stories and Lost Myself

I wanted stories. I have wanted stories for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, it was birthday parties and play dates. I wanted to talk like the others did about things they did on weekends with one another. In high school, it seemed to be drinking or walking around the mall harassing boys and girls. Nope, not me. This was foreign territory. The only stories I ever had were those that took place at the hospital or those that involved me reading, watching TV or spending time with my devoted and loving family. These are good things and I understand them now for what they are, but back then they meant little. It was your friends and your peers that mattered.

All the way through high school I never did anything story-worthy. If you didn’t have experiences, you didn’t have stories. And if you didn’t have experiences you had no identity especially in high school and college. You only understand one another, as an adolescent and 20-something, through these stories. You decided who to spend time and what path to take based on these stories. I didn’t fit in at any level of the strata. I was a nerd. I was a jock (for at least one season.) I was not really anything in high school because I fought against the tide of time. Bonds and cliques were made years and years before I arrived. In addition, I had three strikes against me, 1) I looked different. 2) I was in and out of school for procedures, dental appointments and surgeries. 3) I was passionate about different things, valued different things, too. When, at 13, you almost die from inadequate administration of both anesthetic and pain medication, make your peace with the world as you almost slip away, you can’t really relate to others in your peer group. It’s hard to really be into following fashion trends. You just don’t care. You ARE content with just siting at home after school watching re-runs of the Cosby show on FOX with your younger brother. I will forever be grateful for his years of companionship after school till I graduated from high school.

So the point of this waxing philosophical is this…I fucked up and here’s how. I thought it was a great plan, or so I told myself that. There is nothing like self-justification to rationalize a really bad idea. I waited till I had everything. I waited till after high school, college and graduate school. I waited, but did not know I was waiting while I was waiting. Then I went for it! I was going to make some goddamn stories and they were going to be way better than yours, and yours, and yours. They were going to be epics. People would be pulling their hair and gnashing their teeth as I told them with pride. People from my past would ask, “You…did THAT?” And I would enthusiastically say, “Yes, I did.” You thought you were badass, well I was going to be the true Badass Mother Fucker (BAMF) to end all BAMFs. Or, so I thought.

In the beginning it was fun. Even in the middle it was fun. Then it just got stupid, really stupid. I ended up asking myself in the morning, “I…did THAT?” That was not how this was supposed to go. Other people were supposed to be surprised and put up their hand for a Hi-Five. What happened? What happened to the stories? They were not supposed to be horror stories. Pandora’s Box was kicked open and I needed to do something about it. I tried to fight the flood of craziness coming from the Box. I tried to close the box part of the way, but that didn’t work. The force was too much. I tackled the two main problems one at a time over the course of a couple of years. I beat the first one. I am still working on one of them, one I will have to work on for the rest of my life.

In the process, I realized the stories I wanted did not align with my values system. I did not feel good about my actions after I did the things I did. What was to be a seeking of experiences to share with others, became a self-destructive compulsion to make myself feel bad. My outside actions needed to match the craziness inside. My mind betrayed me, again. The holy trinity triangle of emotions, thoughts and behavior was horribly mangled and twisted. I have always had trouble with my mental state, warped by early and continued trauma at the hospital and at the hands of others. I wanted acceptance from others, but the first thing I needed to do was accept myself. Something I have never been able to do. I figured if I had the friends, the stories, and all the trappings of modern life, then the validation would magically come. Nope, in this chess game, I had to make the first move. I had to accept myself.

Today, I am working on accepting myself. Accepting that I do not need stories to get more friends, or to have friends. I can do mundane, but fun things with people, like get tea at 8PM in a Harvard Square cafe and it can be just great. It does not have to be an explosively intense, crazy, great time. Today, I am working on loving me and talking to other people that just might maybe perhaps love me. I hate putting myself out there. It is very scary. I feel like if you choose to talk to me, I owe you the world, because I am that thankful for your willingness to talk to me. I hate making requests of people because I do not want to burden them. I want instead to give everyone what they want. That never really works out well, because I lose myself in the shuffle. Then I get pissed off. And trust me, no one wants that.

All this stuff sounds simple, but for me it is very hard, confusing and draining. Sometimes I feel like no one really understands that at all. I am so freaking tired at the end of the week. I not only go to work, help with a non-profit, play tennis, work out, keep my condo going, but I also am trying to be the best I can at all this other emotional, mental stuff. Everyday I fight to straighten out the triangle of emotions, behavior and thoughts, so it looks a bit more equilateral. It is a fight and one that will continue until I take my last breath. I know it will become easier, because it does every day. I can feel it. As for today’s stories, I have some to tell. They are good stories, not horrific, risky ones. They are right-sized and just enough for me. It is Saturday night in March and I am sitting home, writing and watching NCAA men’s college basketball before Selection Sunday. Later, I will read, meditate and go to bed. Yup, sounds like me. Sounds perfect…for me.

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