If you've ever done solid counseling you'll know what I mean when I say I've been dealing with a roller-coaster of thoughts and feelings, digging into the meat of the beast and trying to figure out out how to start tackling all of my layers. By no means is that easy and the weirdest little bits will lead to self-discovery and a pathway of thinking that's been causing issues for you and the people in your life as a result. I am very intuitive about a lot of things, and my counselor appreciates that, it helps us both figure out the bugs and me to put things into words so that he gets them - but, well, I really really suck at accepting myself, its my biggest weakness.
Why? Well, I was always the girl who stood out anyway, but I also tackled a lot of loss and upheaval in my life, much of it in big drowning stretches and, rather than ever learning it wasn't me, I took on the blame. It must be something with me, it must be that I was selfish in some way, if I did this thing differently, if I was just this much more of this other thing, If I was less of whatever it was that must make me different and unworthy. I got to where I was dumping a good two thirds of my being into every single relationship in my life, familial, friend, acquaintance, lover they all got huge swaths of me without me ever really expecting anything in return. I wondered why it was that I was always needing, I was always searching for some ephemeral thing, why I had this sense that I was failing everything. If I was only ever enough, if I was enough I could do so much.
Except I was never enough, no matter what effort I put in, no matter how nice I was even when I was hurting, I was always that weird girl, the unworthy one. I did get better, I did shift and change and grow, but those core things remained, still marked my thinking, the way I coped. And the loss just kept happening, I even nearly faced losing my own life twice when I had kids and lost a baby only a few years after tackling untreated post-partum and losing my mother in law far too early. I was running on fumes and trying to be better without trying to actually fix the core structure problems with my thinking, fixing the things in my life that left me feeling less than whole. I still thought I was doing the right thing, I still thought I was doing ok. I didn't get that I was still that same teenage girl with all of the baggage and fear of being left behind, I didn't see I threw my needs under the bus when it came to fulfilling the needs of the people in my life, that I was last in my own consideration.
Then I started to really think about the things I was talking about in counseling, the little lines between this thing and another, the fact that after a while he made learning to take that I was accepted for who I was for granted the first major goal, and I really started to understand where I stood. How far I had to go.
I opened some stored away writing and correspondence from those high school days today after Roo got into it and scattered some of it around. Looking at it gave me pause. I discovered old pieces I didn't remember writing and I found that old self to be not all that different, her fears much the same as my own. I didn't get any better these lat many years, not really. What I got better at was surviving and avoiding, at not addressing things and changing them for the better. I've been hobbling along on a broken leg hoping it'd get better if I left it alone and just kept walking.
I've spent a lot of today looking at that old stuff and trying to think exactly what it is I need to do to make whatever time I get meaningful for me as much as it is for everyone else in my life. How it is I have failed to ask for my needs to be fulfilled so that I am nourishing myself before everyone else instead of after.This piece in particular grabbed my attention, as much because I had forgotten I'd written as because it spoke to the things that still eat me up about how I connect to others. It was written in my sophomore year, long before I ever met any of the people I am close with now and when the one friend I had then, a girl named April, left. I am still always waiting for you all to leave, to find me inferior and faulty, never enough.
The One Left Behind
It was an ordinary ring, a bit tarnished, the strange green colored stone broken, cracked, marked by time, but an ordinary ring just the same. As she looked at it she wondered what it had been through, where it had come from, and looked it over. There were no initials, no sign of its previous owner, no scent of her baby powder and perfume.
"Here, take this, She'd said, and put it on her pinky.
It had been several months since she had seen her glowing face, looked into her sad childlike eyes mumbling about one thing or another, a long time. Passing down the hallways at school, avoiding one person or another, he would think about her and feel depressed again. She wasn't exactly all that happy when she had been here, if she'd ever been happy, but it was a deeper pain this time.
None of the faces in the hallway bore any concern for her, not even when she was jumbled among them in the classroom. She was a piece of the wall or maybe the floor would be closer. Most of the time it didn't matter, the more they ignored her the less ridicule she faced, right? But sometimes she wanted to sit down and talk to somebody, release the burden of thoughts repeatedly puzzled over, just to know someone was a little closer to her understanding. She had other friends, well, something close to friends anyway.
Somewhere miles away she lived in a town where she could see her twin again and be happy. Without me, the girl thought.
She'd called her friend's previous foster mother and asked about her one sad and windy night while she'd waited for her family to come back from shopping. "she's ok in her new home." Without me, she thought and half choked on tars as she hung up.
It was odd, the ring, it wasn't a mood ring, no possible way to could be, but it seemed to darken when she was feeling especially down or lighten when she had a fair day. As she looked at it for a moment she wondered about the strange occurrence, but gave it up a second later. There were stranger things. She turned on her headset and walked off down the lane to wait for her bus.
"She'll be staying with me in the summer. I'll tell her to call." the ex-foster mother had said.
"Maybe," the girl whispered to herself, thinking about the conversation. "Or maybe I'm as forgotten by her as I am by them."
The ring represented the friendship, was supposed to anyway. Old marks chipped into th metal band were like reminders of the hardest parts this friendship had been through. Maybe I should ditch this, she thought taking it off. No, better to keep it just in case.
She put an envelope in the mail, a letter to her cousin, her only real conversation now. Chill out, she wrote, when you were thirteen you weren't this down. Show people you aren't just you, but a child of God. She'd say that, had said that, maybe she should try the church or just the bible, she'd given her one. No, I don't have the patience. I don't have the trust. I don't have the faith.
She looked at the ring. "I wonder what you're doing." She whispered and took it off to wash off the sweat marks and grime. "Do you miss me? Do you remember me?"
She sat down one night and tried to write an essay about what the world needed to fix its problems. It looked okay, so she put in her notebook. Glancing at the ring she fell asleep. "I miss you," She whispered.
A week later she put down the essay, disgusted and unsure of its value. She picked up her novel and read. She'll give it to someone to read over, maybe its just the mood she's in.
When she gets the letter about it back she reads, puzzled, and her heart sinks. She signs the library sign out sheet and finished the letter in the library.
Sighing she looks at the sign she's posted. Labyrinth Society of Storytellers meets this Friday. She doubts anyone will show up but it's a chance. When she gives the computer teacher the sheet of notebook paper talking about her band (their band) the teacher takes it and says she'll put it in the newsletter, the girl nods and twists her ring for luck.
No one showed for the Labyrinth Society nad no one's called ot join the band. She turns on her headeset and turns the volume full blast. Trent Reznor screaming "Happiness in Slavery" over her thoughts, she falls asleep five minutes later, clinging to the hope her friend will call this summer. Her sister plays in the makeup she never uses.
In the library she walks through the aisles looking for a book she hasn't read. There's too many drams, she would love those. She looks at the ring when sh reaches up to get a book, missing her friend again, her only friend.
In time she forgets her friend a little and moves on, talking to her cousin by letter, reading, and writing to forget a little of the numbness. In computer class her partner approaches her about her band, asking if it's still going. "Yeah," she says. The other girl becomes one of the singers and she works on song lyrics while her partner looks for musicians.
After a week or so their eagerness dies. So far there is no one and the band may never be. And so the girl takes the ring and starts to wash and polish it as she used to, clinging to a friendship which is no longer there. The ring has new chips she didn't notice before, and she descends into her old melancholy mood like an old familiar coat.