Struggle and meaning

“The joy I discovered in the families of children who were different ran against widespread social expectations, so I felt I needed an abundance of interview subjects to reflect multiple views of various conditions and to support an irrefutable thesis: that profound meaning comes in the struggle to find it.”

http://andrewsolomon.com/articles/my-stories-become-someone-elses-adapting-a-book-to-film/

What I found to read when I felt there was no hope in the future and for my family: the idea that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful or that struggle is an ugly flaw. Hope for children of hard lives to still live meaningful, enjoyable lives.

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Blinding Hatred, Suicide and Death Wishes

I have hated particular people so much I have wished they were dead. I have hated all people in general so much that I wished humankind was wiped out. Ironically, I will most likely just barely miss that apocalypse.

All this hate is probably because my mom would scream at me that I deserved to go to Hell.

I don’t believe in Hell beyond the very real pain of unhappy living and others’ experience of unhappiness in an afterlife I would not witness seems too remote for wish fulfillment purposes.

Instead, hoping their agency and ability to interfere in my life ends completely is much more rational in the regard that it really is about actual benefits, like control.

So, I hate my son’s paternal grandmother and want her story to be over and retold by someone as unsympathetic to her as I am because she certainly is unsympathetic, self-sabotaging, and possibly delusional in her perspective of me (except for the fact I am blogging about wishing her dead so clearly I can’t be an angel, except perhaps of death–eh, that’s not a funny joke).

I’ve wished my mother dead periodically because of her relentless, unrestrained judgment about my life that put me on the defensive from birth and caused low self-esteem and depression my entire life. Children who aren’t accepted struggle to feel loved. And I have suicidal ideation, self-harm, and interpersonal drama for what is now two-thirds of my life. I honestly can’t remember what not wanting to cease to live feels like. So, thanks for never telling me you believed in me or even good job and always pointing out my flaws or even just what you percieved as flaws in me, laughing at or ignoring my pain, and letting me feel completely isolated and desperate to feel connection. Who needs enemies when family seems like practically the same thing.

I’ve wanted horrible people who didn’t care about me to die despite the fact that I could have decided that I deserved better and cut them out of my life for MY benefit and just let the seething hatred go by reclaiming my autonomy and allow only positive into my life.

I probably believe I deserve to experience life as Hell for having opinions or standards others’ don’t so I can try to earn my way to affection and connection because clearly I never escaped my psychological issues from my childhood. I try to get people who treat me in painful ways to stop rather than protect myself by ending the relationship because self-awareness came later.

The ability to severe ties with people who become toxic to you is limited by the perception of lacking agency, worth, and opportunities. And it makes sense to think that way if that is simply carrying over from my childhood where I depended on my parents and the best I could hope for was to try to convince them to love me. A child who doesn’t believe in herself nor rejects disrespect or hostility directed at her doesn’t suddenly change her beliefs at 18 because now she’s an adult.

So instead, after repeatedly being beaten or just worn down, I would hate someone enough to wish they would die.

And particularly now, I hate some horribly selfish man who for 4 years has gone from subtly abusing me to full out verbal and psychological assault. My life, without fear of reprisals and future interactions, would be better. If he was out of my life and I didn’t have to see him again, I would have a significant source of stress out of my life.

Sure, I would still have stress and maybe stress related to his absence but I wouldn’t need to employ defensive strategies to protect myself from an abuser. I could start to work to feel safe and secure in myself.

I wouldn’t have more opportunities to make mistakes by letting him manipulate or coerce me into letting him control me and dictate the conditions of my life. He wouldn’t have more opportunities to remind me that I should hate myself for letting him hurt me or because he hates me. Instead, I could work on reminding myself I am okay enough to try to live. Without the constant reminder that a person deeply embedded in my life doesn’t accept or love me and the constant criticisms to change aren’t my own.

It’s hard to love yourself when you let people who don’t become too close to you.

Presently, I really hate him every time I remember all the pain he’s caused me with no remorse, all the wrongs he never set out to right, and all the chances I gave him since the first time we met which should have been the last if I was braver, smarter, and healthier.

I don’t think I would have seen him a second time if I had healthy self-esteem. Or definitely not after the third meeting. Disrespect is really internalized if you let someone do that to you from the beginning and a person willing to do that to a stranger is never going to be respectful.

So, 4 years later I hate him as much as I hate myself and it’s absolutely certain my life is better without him in it as anyone else I know has told me. But because I am suicidal, when this man told me he had suicidal thoughts 4 years ago, I had so much empathy and therefore sympathy for him.

However, when he told me the same words 2 months ago, I felt annoyed at first, then sad and worried for him, but finally just dumb and angry. I felt annoyed because this is the man that told me that he didn’t care if I live or die, that he doesn’t want to know if I feel suicidal because he doesn’t want to help, it’s just unpleasant to hear about, and that he values other people more than me, especially to help him. Then he calls me saying he is suicidal in the middle of the night, despite the late hour from the PST and EST time difference and despite having self-reported more helpful friends to call, and despite his apathy regarding my existence entirely. But I am supposed to tell him I want him to keep living. I’m supposed to tell someone that doesn’t care about me that his life is so important to me despite it being fairly obvious to everyone else that he causes immense pain in my life with no remorse and increasing more likely purposefully. After all, it must feel good to be in control of another human and then insult and degrade a person or demand praise from them entirely at one’s own whim.

Thankfully I was asleep and his calls weren’t coming through because I didn’t have the opportunity to blurt out, “But I hate you and your selfish, hypocritical ways.” Later though, imagining how much pain he might be experiencing because of how painful suicidal thoughts are for me, I really felt sorry for him and wanted to try to help.

But then after a few days of misplaced empathy and when he’s behavior returned to normal, I remembered why I hate him. And remembered that I have seen him suicidal at the most convenient times to manipulate a situation with me, his family, and apparently again just then with me.

But I always thought, I don’t want to say, “Go ahead, kill yourself” because it’s truly awful to hear from anyone, much less from someone you hope will somehow help AND what if he really is suicidal?

I mean, deep down I know he’s just acting because he doesn’t understand how hard it is to kill yourself and he hasn’t considered methodology, and his reasoning for not killing himself is only his parents but logically he is the biggest cause of stress, pain and disappointment in their lives. Of course they would never want him to end his life, but imagining their tearful reactions to hearing the news compared to the past decade of disappointment and monetary losses they’ve already suffered by him and most likely will continue to suffer because honestly, he says shit like, “I don’t care about my dad’s feelings,” “My parents will pay for it,” and he bullies his mother and reduces her to tears. So, again, there’s questionable math involved if he’s solely basing his continued life on the impact it has on his parents.

All that questionable data regarding his reported experience with suicidal ideation combined with hindsight of 4 years of manipulative abuse makes suicide seem like the ultimate threat to use against his parents and a sure-fire way to use my own experience and empathy to control me.

But, I still hesitate to say, “You should kill yourself.” After all, isn’t there some possibility he does actually feel suicidal at times?

I have in the past, during moments of crazy, exasperated frustration when dealing with him, blurted out I really do wish he was dead. And maybe if he was suicidal there’d be no semantic distinction between my wish and should. However, as of yet, clearly he hasn’t taken it as such and lives on and continues to attempt to torment me.

And I continue to suffer blinding, destructive hatred and struggle to free myself from him, other people, and my internalized wounds that create it.

After all, even I know wishing other people dead is coming from a place of dysfunction or lack of wellness. Including a lack of sleep. Sleep is super important. It’s harder to love life and people in a sleep-deprived headache and pessimism.

Trust

Broken. Maybe it’s a lie here and another lie there. Catching two different stories about the same event. And slowly, no matter how many excuses I make or how much I want to believe and trust someone, it’s gone. There is nothing left. Every story needs confirmation, but is the evidence provided even definite proof? Could it be faked? Digitally altered? Showing something that only appears to be what I am looking for? How much of the story is a lie? All or just part or just the tiniest but most crucial detail? It’s maddening to have to test everything because there’s been enough demonstration that anything can be lied about. There are no boundaries that aren’t crossed by deceit.

Really, the only sane choice is to cut ties with this person. Make sure there’s no access, leverage, anything left that I would not let everyone else see. Nothing with which to attack or blackmail me. Because if the lying is so obvious and brazen, could there be anything this person wouldn’t do?

The web of lies only can grow, entangling me further into betrayal, danger, and most of all hurt. When trust is gone, affection will follow.

How I Yearn to Be Distracted

I made a resolution to write daily and shop less.

So far, shopping less and not buying unnecessary things has been easier. Christmas was just 17 days ago.  So I have more than enough everything and can’t afford to splurge on luxuries right now anyway.  I still browse slickdeals.com, which is a bad sign.  Buying stuff that was a good deal was a big part of 2017’s too much shopping.  And it’s amazing how much a toddler step stool seems like a need if you have nothing else to buy.

But, certainly I do feel a shift away from shopping.  It’s focusing on writing from my often painful interior world that is hardest.  I’d much rather: SHOP, eat, read articles, watch TV, play videogames… really anything else.  After a bad break up 4 years ago, I was miserable and needed to fix my life. So instead of that, I read the entire Harry Potter series almost obsessively.  My therapist viewed it as self care. I viewed it as distraction and avoidance.

Maybe it could be argued that Harry Potter is a very satisfying, fulfilling fiction to read.  I do love those books, even the Order of the Phoenix.

But I definitely see a pattern in my life of picking easy, mundane tasks over big, multi-step projects.  Daily effort towards a goal despite setbacks that come as part of life could be named grit.  I have no grit.

I’d rather do a simple task I don’t think is important than work on developing a meaningful career.  Or learn a language. Or make art.  Or learn and practice a new skill.  I have an ukelele I never plan on learning how to play.  I’d rather do a one-off like mail a friend a package, bake cookies, research something I will never do, go on an errand, than embark on a journey that depends on showing up each day.

Maybe I am afraid of not feeling like doing the work over and over.  Or not making noticable progress even if I do try again and again.  Maybe I won’t make a decision or commit to anything.  Maybe I have a failure mindset and anxiety about failing makes trying impossible.  Maybe I really don’t want to be successful, ambitious, or happy.  Whatever it is, I have no grit.

And I would much rather shop for some item I could live without than write about not being disciplined enough to write everyday.

Fucked up dating and life

In terms of dating outside of one’s culture, I think people who really fit in well or have pride in their culture would have a hard time but even then, every family is unique.  Even dating here, a lot of guys drink with their families and my parents never drank hardly at all.  Then I joined a religious cult in college that disparaged drinking.  I still have a hard time with families that drink together.

My mom’s friends are all unmarried.  And one mentioned at NYE that because of her parents, she never thought she could make marriage work.  My mom later said that she thought if her friend had met the right someone, she would have married and I pointed out that if she met a great guy and her response was to run the other way that she’d not marry.  And it got me to thinking why I am single still.  My mom’s encouraging me to be silent and shy sat badly with my generation, when women were expected (correctly) to respond.  And I spent time in groups that I didn’t find belonging in.  All my closest friends while I was an Evangelical had a hard time getting married.  They were too smart, opinionated, and weren’t especially beautiful and took the Bible verses about not putting a lot of effort/money in your looks seriously.  Basically, we weren’t prizes within that culture of women are pretty, happy little helpmates.  One girl got married at 37 because she went to a different church in Ohio (the river is a big division geographically still). The other is talking to some guy and I don’t know about one.  One girl got married before 30 and I don’t know much about their relationship except her husband is quiet.

My old therapist said that anger is a symptom of frustration.  And I find that my family dealt with challenges and conflict by seeing themselves as victims.  So, to this day, I still have trouble realizing that if someone hurts me, I can let go of that pain by knowing I can limit my contact with that painful person in the future.  Or better yet, try to talk openly with them about how I felt in the situation and state I will not be allowing it to continue.  One of my mom’s friends made a comment about my parenting and I realized a) I should not open up and share with them about Jake, b) that I could simply state that it hurt my feelings and ask not to hear more from her, c) avoid her if she says nothing or says she’ll say whatever she likes.  C would be hard because me crying all night over a comment her friend made doesn’t matter to my mom.  My mom has let relatives hit me, let anyone insult me, and values her friends more than me.  So, I would have to hide in my room or go outside with Jake somewhere every other Saturday night to avoid her.  But, at my age, with my medical history, I totally would get upset enough to do that because 30 years of thinking and feeling like a victim, getting dumped on by the world with no recourse has just left me easily frustrated aka angry.

All that being said, I think being healthy emotionally, mentally and communication-wise is super important, no matter what culture or family you have.

My feelings being my responsibility is the hardest part of being healthy in relationships for me because childhood.  I repressed my feelings for decades and figuring out who to trust, how to share, and how to not bully others is hard.

I was a mess when I moved to California.  I met a lot of healthy people and I received wisdom from them but I didn’t become close friends with most of them.  Your roommates and Grace were my healthiest, closest friends and I met them all through Maggie who I think has put appropriate distance enough to me to remain civil with me, which is nice, because if she had demanded her friends not allow me over, I’d have no friends.  But I think healthy people can only visit unhealthy/sick people.  Too much time/too close of a relationship destroys their zen.  Healthy people pointed out things I didn’t know, didn’t want to face, couldn’t understand, or never experienced, but changing took time and required my own effort.  I don’t think anyone who was invested in me getting “better” was satisfied.  Now, I want more reciprocal relationships.  People who talk about how I need to change throw up red signs.  People I feel need to change, I need to give distance and from that distance practice acceptance.

Stfu, peanut gallery

Wtf? The woman that said she doesn’t like crying babies to my 2-year old child’s face AND repeatedly joked about giving him whiskey to knock him out said I might want to try music before drugging him with a small dose of melatonin (prescribed). The childless old hag should stfu.

Tonight, I put my son to bed while my mom’s friends were over. They generally come over twice a month and so they already know he cries very hard at bedtime.  But still, after all this time, he cries loudly every night at bedtime.

So, as they discuss my son after he is in his room, still crying, I mentioned thd doctor recommended trying melatonin.  To which one lady responded that I should try music before drugging my child.  As though I haven’t played him lullabies.  As though I haven’t been with him through two years of bedtimes.  As though she hasn’t quipped about giving my son whiskey to get him drunk and sleepy.  It might be a joke but she gave a puppy a wine cooler before so clearly not that removed from possibility.

The problem is I didn’t immediately respond with a “You are one to talk.”

Instead, I had been vulnerable and felt unrealistically attacked.  I’m a single mom with a support team of none.  My biggest encourager is the tyke with the sleeping problems.  That means I hear more “you should” than “good job”. I hear “why didn’t you” after the fact, instead of “why don’t you try”.  I try my best.  I don’t drug my child.  Melatonin is naturally part of sleep biochemistry.  But this old maid is a bitter bully with opinions I unfortunately needed to take time to unpack as ridiculous.  Seriously, she’s an obese woman who fiercely decries the importance of diet and exercise. So if nutrition and activity don’t matter, then medicine should be negligible too, right?  

Plus, use some common sense.  If you hear a kid crying from two floors away, maybe he isn’t going to be listening to that music if it’s playing while he’s in his crib.

If SHE really wants to help, quit ruining his bedtime by staying over late into the night.  That way he isn’t upset he has to leave the party.  Actually that won’t help, he would rather be with me than a bunch of old hags so he’d gladly stay with me even to sleep than with her.

Agency

The difference between being a victim of your life or the hero of it is agency.

The difference between being a victim or the hero of your life is agency.

Agency determines whether you are a victim of your life or the hero.

The difference between being a victim of life or the hero of your own life is agency.

To go from victim to hero, one must grasp agency.

Love, Real, Let Go

Trying to convince someone to you without putting your best foot forward is tough. Trying to convince someone to love you when you don’t like them is disastrous. Trying to convince someone to love you when you don’t love yourself is impossible.
I try to think of a good match as a checklist. Does this person do this, this, and this? Being vegan is good, although I haven’t been able commit to a vegan diet myself. But you know, I would like to, someday. There’s probably a reason people talk about living your life authentically or living your best life before meeting the person of your dreams. Also people say don’t date someone’s potential for similar reasons.  I might never become a vegan.
But let’s move on. So this person has hit enough on the checklist to be interesting: used to be vegan, traveled, highly educated, wanted to live abroad, and liberal.  Good so far. And let’s talk some more and talk more often. But here’s something that is a big clash. Oh, that was a big no. Doesn’t believe in monogamy in marriage?  Likes pets more than people and finds it hard to connect?
Why not let go?  Honestly, I am too desperate alone to let go first. Maybe there is some chance… one of us will change? I don’t want to be that one. I don’t want to have superficial conversations or be silly. I don’t want to sit in the same room just on our phones or computers instead of being together in more than just proximity? I don’t want to spend Fridays alone because friends come first. But if I won’t change, do I really expect the other person to change? To love me unconditionally while I want them to lose all the undesirable parts.  Or maybe we can compromise. I can try to live with this and expect slack on this. But I have never had this arrangement last for long. Who breaks first? I can’t remember so that’s a good indicator it was me.
But people say you have to let go of what isn’t working to make room in your life for what will. Compromising won’t work long-term without deep commitment to the belief that this particular compromise is the best compromise to be had or there is too much to lose.  But I never feel that assured. I imagine it could be better. I imagine someone more similar to me that doesn’t set off warning bells by telling me things I don’t want to which become accustomed.  I imagine someone that is like a best friend, instead of a boxing partner. Or I think, wouldn’t it be great if I smiled just thinking about this person instead of indifferent?  Or I think, wouldn’t it be great if this person wanted to talk to me or see me first, instead of me feeling like I alone want to connect?  I think, wouldn’t it be great to be with someone else?
But I hang on, waiting for this person to decide. I ruin it. By being my awful self too raw and honest too soon.  Or by becoming distant or cold. Or by demanding so much and so often.  Maybe it could have worked. Maybe it could have never worked. It definitely did not work.
Because love isn’t love until you love yourself by living authentically and letting go of those that don’t bring joy and goodness (more than grief) into your life.

Unwelcome Visitor

My brother came back for his first visit since moving to S. Korea 4 years ago.  He’s been so rude, disrepectful to me and even tried to intimidate me 😟(I forgot or assumed people can grow up).  Then I remember he is a male that really wanted to live in Korea and thoroughly enjoys it there so being an asshole is totally his destiny.