Someone like me

Once I was asked, “Why don’t you spend time with people like you?”

To my surprise, there were two answers.  I thought compromise was part of every relationship and no relationship could be smooth-sailing. And secondly, I honestly didn’t believe there were people like me.  I didn’t feel as though I connected with more than a handful (read less than or equal to 5) of people in my life.  Every other relationship has been strained with substantial, almost daily chafing difference.
A similar question of why I was spending my time with people I didn’t even like, was a result of similar reasoning.  I had been trying to accommodate myself to fit school friends, college boyfriends, and later, all sorts of random people.  My mother once asked me why I was trying to get back together with a boyfriend I didn’t even like.  It was a pretty revelatory statement that opened my eyes to the truth: I didn’t want to be rejected, even by someone I otherwise wouldn’t want in my life.

I spent so much time trying to be someone else for others.  While complaining of others’ failings and my attempts to live with these people, I was asked, “Why don’t you just live according to your own standards?”

Again, the answer surprised me. I didn’t think my standards mattered as much as those of the people I was trying to change myself to be accepted by.  I didn’t agree with their standards, so I always felt tension in the relationships. But I didn’t leave, armed in the knowledge I was being true to myself. Instead, I sunk to ‘their level’. I lived my life according to the principles and behavior that I myself disagreed with.  And why, oh god, why? Because I didn’t think there were people with my values and that I had to compromise to have any friends and not be lonely.  I was desperately lonely. I found interpersonal connection hard to create.  I didn’t find people who I felt like I could be myself around.

So now, self-aware of these insights, in a romantic relationship I want to be true to myself and find someone like me. With the same professed values, interests, humor, and lifestyle.  As a friend once said, “After you marry, the relationship will stay the same or might get worse. But it never gets better.”  But combined with a ticking clock, loneliness, and less than stellar self-esteem, I find myself in my same old habit of trying to wriggle into a fit with someone. 

Anecdotally, I often try clothing or shoes once very quickly and decide it fits. I purchase it, cut the tags and then wear it for an entire day, at which by the end of said day I am very uncomfortable or in pain. The item doesn’t fit right.

I find the same in relationships.  I get so excited initially at what I see as a great fit with a glamourous new man (and rarely, a woman).  Then, within weeks, I realize this person is very different from me. I have just jumped in the deep end of infatuation and desperation and now I am drowning, trying to figure out how the relationship can be managed to fit.

Clearly I need to be more patient, discerning, and selective. It would help if I could catch a break and finally meet someone that’s really similar to me.  That’d be lovely.

“I like that you don’t/can’t.”

It’s bothering me that I am thinking about how to explain this to you.  So I am just going to fucking write it.  I want to smoke. I want to be like everyone else. And that’s never come easy to me. So saying you like that I can’t makes me feel like you like that I have struggles that feel insurmountable, that I usually feel like I am a failure, and that I will never ever be like a normal person.  I have always felt strange, apart, and abnormal/defective.  I have never fit in outside a psychiatric setting and that happened when I was thirty years old.  Until then I was never similar to anyone I had ever met.  I was completely alone. I’m socially inept and physically clumsy, estranged from my body because it feels like a foreign entity.  I am only smart. Actually brilliant and I was incredibly precocious. But decades of stress, anxiety, and depression actually deteriorate the brain, causing premature cognitive decline. I can’t remember. I can’t recall the word I want to say or spell it. It’s difficult to focus or concentrate.  I am not creative anymore.  So I have and am losing the only thing positive I possessed in life. You started drinking at 13, but at 13 I decided life was more misery than joy. That nothing in the future of my life is worth staying alive to experience it.  It’s my most steadfast belief, my truth.  So, you don’t understand how frustrated I feel about not being able to connect, find meaning, accomplish goals, and feel happy. I can’t change my reality or alter my truth.  That is my only reliable experience in three decades.  I don’t like that.  So I worry about failing at a physically activity as mundane as breathing in smoke. I find it difficult to accomplish and therefore am humiliated that I can’t do something almost everyone else can.

Love stories with additive love

The typical love story is boy meets girl, they get married, buy a dog or cat, have kids, then grow old.

Now same sex couples can openly be together and have children. Possibly not what barren heterosexual Christian couples embracing reproductive technological advances had in mind.

But shouldn’t children be regarded as a blessing?  Even to unwed mothers, even to homosexual couples, even to couples that divorce.  A person’s personal feeling on a particular child may be complicated or negative, but shouldn’t society as a whole embrace the children of their future continuation?
As Andrew Solomon wrote, “I do not accept competitive models of love, only additive ones. I espouse reproductive libertarianism, because when everyone has the broadest choice, love itself expands. The affection my family have found in one another is not a better love, but it is another love, and just as species diversity is crucial to sustain the planet, this diversity strengthens the ecosphere of kindness.”

Personally as a single mom, I am looking for additive love. Someone that loves me and first baby, and will want to have more children. Someone whose parents and family will love all my children.  That siblings of different blood to all be loved equally.  To be a whole family, even if one child has a different father.  To have an abundance of love, instead of restricting it to mere biology.

I have struggled to keep my baby’s father involved. I know his family wanted only the baby, not me. Definitely not me with another love relationship and definitely not half-blood siblings.

This makes me sad.  Will my son have to go on solo trips to see his father and the rest of their family?  If I get married and have more children, will we go as well and have a separate vacation from my son?  That makes me sad, thinking about separating siblings because of the complicated and proprietary feelings of adults.

I still work very hard to keep my son connected with the other half of his family.  It’d be easier and less painful to cut off contact.  But the idea of my son having more family to love him is important to me.

It’d be wonderful to have all three families together to celebrate life’s special moments.  Right now, it’s hard to imagine.  Because it’s difficult to imagine people genuinely being happy for others, generous, unselfish, and optimistic.  The idea of people believing in an infinite additive love instead of our traditional redactive model.

Just here at home, alone

I get pretty jealous of lovers, friends, and even relatives when I hear about their plans and activites.  They go to dinners, parties, out on the town, day trips, and vacations.  It seems like I am always home alone.

I was lucky to have 3 friends overseas that spent actual time in the same physical space as me.  They had other friends and went to lots of dinners and parties, but they still made time for me.  Friendless and unlikeable me, the woman always sad and complaining.

The first party I was invited to was after I was 30.  Before that, I didn’t have any social interactions except with nerds, geeks, future-librarians and expats. 

Being socially awkward, I have always struggled with small talk, superficial conversation, mean-spirited remarks, and the natural flow of conversation.  If I recount an event, I always have witty or insightful replies observations and replies. But I only thought them rather than saying them.  Sometimes the perfect response comes to me later, after ruminating on the event.  That of course is perfectly useless.

That social ineptitude doesn’t actually get better in closer relationships that have grown over time.  It’s really that I can communicate only with a minority of accommodating human beings.

Additionally, I have a problem being present in the moment.  Life is on the other side of a glass window. I see life. I study life.  I do not experience life.  I overanalyze everything as it’s happening, trying to draw lessons from the past while anticipating other people’s reactions.  So mostly, I am completely lost in the worry and confusion in my head all the time.  It’s a wonder I have noticed the sky is blue, right?

Actually in aloneness, I can notice my physical surroundings.  But that is because I am a simple observer.  There is still the indirectness of all experience of reality being perceived through our limited senses.  But at least complicated human interaction isn’t in my way.

My conclusion is that my inability to act in coordination with the people and immediate environment in front of me makes it impossible to relish the fun times I believe other people to be having.  If even I had the same social opportunities other people seem to enjoy so easily, I can’t connect with truly being a part of it. I feel self-conscious and out of place, barely managing my unabated anxiety. There’s simply a component in me lacking.  And I am very jealous of normal people who have it.

“I really like you,” he said.

He really likes me. That’s what he said.

He said I was beautiful.

He said I was smart and interesting.

He said he wanted to get to know me better.

He said he wanted to see me again.

And I told him I wanted to live in Asia.  And he told me he didn’t want to live in Asia.

So, that’s it.

Great listener, sweet, accommodating, chivalrous, interesting and passionate guy that I don’t want to see anymore.  He was also tall.

But I have dreams to ride the subways and bullet trains, eat food from stalls and food carts, visit the beach, sing karaoke, walk the little alley ways, shop at the street fairs, visit the temples, drink fancy teas and lattes in the eclectic coffee shops, and feel the strangeness of a world apart from ordinary.

It’s like out a movie: drying clothes on the balcony or roof on a line, walking everywhere on paved roads and sidewalks, quietness on the mountainside, clean and clear taste of green tea, the furniture and design of the homes, seeing a rural house of wood in the old design, and a crane on the river.

I miss my adventure.  I miss the excitement of the first six months in an utterly foreign environment that has the same blue sky.

So, do I want to give up the one goal I could accomplish?  Do I let my dream die to not be alone?

Or am I willing to be alone now to not give up on my dream?

I used to want to be with someone no matter how I had to change. I believed in compromise and adjustments.  But I was alone anyway.  Romantic relationships didn’t last.  The person I truly am was not loved.  I wasn’t even considered seriously.

But now, I want to hold onto myself.  I want to value my feelings, hopes, successes, failures, beliefs, and self-respect.  Joan Didion wrote, “However long we post- pone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously un-comfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.”

And so, in the end, we are all alone in ourselves.  I have to sleep by myself at night.

“I don’t want to screw it up”

What is it about the words, “I don’t want to screw it up”?

To the fatalist, it’s nonsensical. Nothing can stop nor change what will come to pass.

But in a very human way, conscious, earnest, self-doubting, it’s at the heart of any strongly yearned for but precipitous result. A result not entirely one’s own to influence.

I see in it my younger self: dramatic, wishful, solicitous, and reliant.  As though my sheer determination should make an endeavor not mine alone to succeed in my own design.  There’s a certain youthful self-centeredness in the belief that the responsibility success or failure of the venture rests solely one’s self.  Sheer ego as though all that mattered was I.

Now older, it’s a phrase that slightly stings. Something the young child I was had said so many frivolous times.  

But now, I can’t help but to think that I can only show up as I am where I am.  The result is never mine alone to truly determine.  The emotion behind yearning to “not screw it up” has faded. It’s a relinquishment to the outside world, to other wills, forces, powers, goals.
I still think about “how” I screwed it up.  Unforgiving hindsight at where the past might have diverged towards a different present if I had acted elsewise.  And again, to a fatalist, a nonsense.  But in calmer, more rational moments that emotional yearning fades as well.  Perhaps there were mistakes, flaws, failings but never was my responsibility isolated in an empty space.

There’s freedom in acceptance.

Are These Essential Human Relationships?

Today, I was surprised to hear talk that held out to its logical conclusion as presented meant poor people should not procreate. Should not is different from have not, but even in America there has been cases of women undergoing forced sterilizations. The systematic control of reproduction is called eugenics.

So they say poor people shouldn’t have the experience of having children. In some countries, people are so poor they can’t afford marriage: the ceremonies, legal registration, bridal price or family gifts, much less separate housing and again, the children.

Are these essential relationships? Humans are made to connect. Perhaps we don’t need to be mothers or father or spouses or partners.  But nevertheless we need connection.  For my part, it grieves me to tears to think of poverty keeping families from forming.  It’s perhaps not essential but often the most meaningful aspect of living.  It’s certain there is a biological imperative to procreate.

Understanding that so much of our life is the circumstances we were born into and luck or chance, is it right that “the least of these” are absolutely judged or possibly prevented from having the love that forming a family creates?

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Should I regret my choices? Is it even okay?

I question my choices a lot. What to do now? About what I did in the past. I feel heaviness, failure.  Other people post happy photos. Other people tell happy stories. I complain. I cry.

I sometimes regret becoming a mother. I know I am a bad mother or at least not as good as I’d like to be.  No one compliments mothers, or at least no one compliments me. 

I loathe my body.  I gained 40 pounds plus 20 pounds of baby while pregnant. I am still obese 16 months later. I weigh 190 pounds. I got stretch marks in the last few weeks. I felt ruined-irreplaceable damaged. I look at my body now and I cry.  I cover up and single moms of a small child don’t have many opportunities or reasons to undress.

So, I have regrets. I say, why couldn’t I have made different choices in 2014 or 2015? Because everyone loves their child, right?  But is loving someone that will never be truly grateful actually enough. So, I am a horrible mother.
I miss talking to adults.  I wish I could go on dates, or even just visit friends. But I had to move 2040 miles away from my pre-pregnancy life.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have given my son away in adoption.  After all, I am a failure and a terrible mother. And also I’m lonely in this isolated life.  I start to miss a guy that only dated me when I was thinner, when I weighed less-60 pounds less.  A guy that stopped loving me in 2013.  Before I made the poor choices that led me to being an awful single mother.

The worst part is I thought I wanted to be a mom. But in rare moments of silence and quiet, I question that belief.  I wonder if I was right? I wonder if other mothers regret their transformed (destroyed) bodies. I wonder if other mothers regret their child because of difficulty accepting their new lifestyle.  I wonder if my family will always only consist of two until I am completely alone again. Do I even have a right to regret?  

Should I regret my choices? Is it even okay?