I envy folks who have big groups of friends from college with whom they’re still very close. I have a lot of folks that I’m cool with, but only a small number of all the folks I’ve met and befriended during those formative years still hold a spot in my contacts currently. I’m an odd duck. I want to form long-lasting bonds with folks and have friendships that span decades, but when it comes to breaking down walls and revealing my true self to others…something happens.
I’m a friendship transient and I am terribly vexed at not being able to turn it off to actually forge friendships that mean something. Some have managed to slip through and stick around despite my weird ways, but relationships with others litter my past like carnage of days gone by. This makes me sound like a horrible person, but it’s not as if I just summarily dismiss folks from my life after some undetermined period of time.
I wasn’t always like this. Before*, I sought to maintain contact with folks by any means necessary. I wanted them to know they could call me and I’d be there no matter the time nor place. I’d overextend myself to accommodate others to ensure that they knew that if no one else was, I’d be the friend who had their back no matter what. Then I was burned by two folks who I considered to be my closest friends for seemingly no reason. We’ve since reconciled (well I have with one, the other I have no idea where she is), but the whole experience left me a bit wary.
I’m not one to trust easily, so I don’t like to reveal too much personal information that I would consider to be potentially damning or able to be used against me at a later date. This leads to superficiality reigning supremely in all relationships that I try to form no matter how much I want the opposite.
Lately I’ve been sitting around thinking about how to overcome this. I don’t want to keep fading or for friendships to keep drifting out to sea. I want to be able to have friends last for more than an extended season. A lot of it has to do with dispelling my belief that people often have ulterior motives for befriending me and/or just tolerate my presence.
* Before refers to a time that’s like pre-2001.
I’ve been living very deeply in the recesses of my own head since…April, I guess. That marked the six monthaversary of my unemployment and I was nowhere near where I thought I would be at that point in time. I’d thought that by then I’d be shuffling through grad school acceptances on my way to begin my Master’s work in Library Science. Then my life was forever changed on January 19, 2013 and from then everything has been in sort of a tailspin. That was the day I found out about my aunt and everything that was formerly important took a bit of a back burner as I struggled to maintain and be a pillar of strength for my cousins who were losing their mother.
Lately though, I’ve fallen down on the job and left a bulk of the responsibility to my sistercousins, my allies in this struggle. I’ve just become worn out and tired and frustrated and disappointed and generally unhappy. When I feel myself drifting to a place where I can only see negativity, my initial instinct is to pull back immediately. I don’t wish to infect the minds of others with this overwhelming cloak of grief and despair, so I remove myself. From the lives of everyone with whom I’m close. In this case, however, my desire to protect was seen as abandonment.
These kids. The ones I’d told that I would always be there. The ones who I told to call me if anything was needed and I’d do my best to provide. The ones I promised over the bedside of their rapidly declining mother that I would always make a priority. They’ve only seen the smiley, happy, determined, courageous side of me. Not the one of mercurial moods that can shift on a dime. Not the one who slips into sadness so great and engulfing that she is barely able to rise from bed, let alone be concerned with others.
I was talking to someone the other day who, noticed my pulling away, and called me on it. She said she understood that it is my way, but made me realize that it was because she and I have a bond that is a bit different than mine with others. She’s seen the other side and is not judgmental, but respectful. She explained to the eldest of the kids and he later called me to apologize. And I felt terrible. I felt terrible because he had nothing to apologize for. He was merely confused by my actions betraying what he knew to be normal.
Truth is, I’ve been so busy helping others to cope that I never truly took the time to mourn the loss of my aunt. It was more like losing a sibling than an older authority figure. We’d been in the trenches together. Our relationship was symbiotic and for that to be taken in such an immediate manner. For me not to have had a proper chance to prepare myself and say goodbye in a meaningful way? It eats away at me every day.
This week hasn’t been the best. The original first line of this post was something much more…Irvine-esque, but I changed it at the last minute. It was just something I needed to get out because it’s been rattling around in my brain for the past few weeks. Anyway, so the theme for my life lately has been the word in the subject up there. it’s just been one big ol circle jerk of disappointment. some have lead to (what i assume) is the dissolution of relationships (&i’m all fucked up behind that, tbh) and others have lead to feelings of complete failure.
i’ve fallen down on the job in a major way and i hardly recognize who i am right now. a week or so back i was talking with some friends about how unemployment allows me a lot of time to sit and think about who i am and what i want in life. all this thinking, however? has lead me to be even more paranoid, neurotic and all around fubar. Blah blah blah, blee blee blee. I’m just gonna end this here because it’s going nowhere but down.
Stream of consciousness ramble.
it’s much easier for me to talk to virtual strangers about things than it is to talk to those with whom I am allegedly closest. it’s weird because i often lament (to myself) about the superficiality of some of my relationships, but have made no concerted efforts to change ‘em. some people aren’t entirely comfortable with discussing things of a sensitive nature, so i just let it go. for me, i just don’t like being too vulnerable with many people.
it’s weird though because I overshare so much in some aspects that makes me seem way more transparent than I actually am. so most of those whom I consider friends will think that they know all of my deepest, darkest secrets when in actuality they only know what is slightly beyond the surface. I have a gigantic fear of my feelings being invalidated, ridiculed or somehow used against me in a different moment so I hold back.
I was on the phone with the Biffles Friday night discussing helping her with her rapidly growing home business, when talk turned to (as it inevitably does) her kids & family. She was telling me about how good her kids can be for her esteem when she’s down and feeling bedraggled. The story was hilarious and she wraps up with “well you’ll know this feeling when you start popping out little ones!” I responded with my patented “there’s no room in the uterus inn for children to be swagging and surfing through”. She tried convincing me otherwise for a good 15 minutes thereafter and it devolved into eventually hanging up with a kinda heavy thought in my head.
You see sometimes my uterus aches for a child to bear, but in the same moment I know the life I live isn’t the best to bring a kid into nor do I want to give up my freedoms. I always say that I am too selfish to be a mother. And while I do firmly believe this to be true, I also think that a bigger part of me is afraid to fuck up being a parent. I love my mom, but she has never really been a beacon of motherhood to look up too. Don’t get me wrong, she loves her kids and does everything in her power to help us physically, financially, etc. but she is an emotional midget and in ways that has hurt our relationship more than anything. I see more of her in me than I like & I’m so scared that I’d just fuck it all up. So I think I’m just gonna stay in my lane as the cool auntie/cousin. Over here dusting…and singing in the background!
In the same vein, I’ve kinda sorta lately been wanting to get back into the dating game. But it’s hard, I’m scared (¬ physically ready for all aspects of a relationship). And gun shy. And wary. And cynical. But the need for…nay the craving for someone to share life with that is not familial or platonic is overwhelming lately. I wish I could turn this shit off. It’s annoying and almost lead me to do a very stupid thing when a blast from the past dropped into my (newly reactivated) Facebook inbox. Plus, I don’t want to date while unemployed.
This is getting heavy so I’m gonna go dance to Beyoncé in the mirror right now and end this here.
I had the idea to write this post last night, but this morning when I sat down at my lovely machine to begin writing… Let’s just say I feel some kinda way about it now, but I’m going to push those feelings aside because getting this out is more important than worrying about whatever the hell people may think about it. Moving along…
Last week…wait, it was the week before last, my friends and I attended back to back shows of Sara Bareilles in Chicago and Milwaukee. After Milwaukee show, we decided to be on some fangirl type math and hang out post show, hoping to meet her. After waiting for a while in the unseasonable cold, we had a chance to meet and take a picture with Sara. Pretty cool experience as she is one of those artists who often sings my life in her lyrics. I digress though. Upon greeting, she said to me “Hello, Lovely.” I laughed and we had the briefest chat about how awesome she was to stick around in the cold and sign for over 30 folks + take pix. Later as I reflected upon the meeting, I had to giggle at her calling me lovely and my easy acceptance.
You see I’ve had this issue for nearly 30 years of my life. I’ve never felt physically attractive. Which, I’ve never…before now ever expressed to anyone outside of the people who live in my head. I didn’t grow up in a household where beauty was praised nor touted, so I went the great majority of the early part of my life not even thinking about whether or not I was “cute”.
Of course this all went by the wayside in 7th grade year when the boys who I used to just play football with in the park started looking completely different to me. Of course my budding attraction was often met with tepid reception. After a while I got used to being the ugly* friend. I was never the one that guys fawned over. I was often used to run interference for my girlfriends who wanted to hang out with a dude who happened to be hanging with a friend. Each and every time there was a look that passed over the guy’s face. Sometimes fleeting, other times lingering. It plainly said “I gotta be stuck with her? Ugh!”
Ever after eventually finding and meeting guys in whom mutual interest was shown, I never felt attractive. I never felt…worthy. Which lead to me doing some pretty slutty things because I thought it was what I needed to do to make him stay. Pathetic, I know. My story is probably very commonplace, but I’ve never felt comfortable really talking to anyone about it. Without going into too much detail, this lack of esteem lead to me being in a terrible relationship in my late teens that was based off of a dude’s recognition of my lack coupled with my stupidity. I stayed with someone who wasn’t shit for way too long because he said I’d never get anyone better and history was on his side.
You know how folks make those offhand comments in regards to their physical appearance that basically dare anyone to tell them they aren’t the shit? I’ve never successfully been able to do that. Statements like “I’m too cute for xyz” have never passed between these lips. As the years have passed, I grew squirmy whenever anyone commented on my physical appearance. I thought they would say things in order to make me feel good, but not really mean it. I’ve never been able to take a genuine, positive compliment about my physical presence seriously.
A few days ago when the idea for this post came into my brain, I had a mini-breakthrough. If you follow me on Twitter or know me IRL, you’re aware of my recent struggles with weight. I am currently at the heaviest I’ve ever been and am really uncomfortable with how it feels. However, it is at this point–when I should feel the least physically attractive that I have begun to embrace my beauty. And don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not out here killing ‘em Halle Berry style. Hell, I’m still not even the cutest of all my friends. BUT. I am attractive. My smile is amazing. My shape, minus these extra *mumble* pounds, is dope. My skin is blemish free and smooth. My hair is glorious.
Had you asked me to pick out one thing I like about myself physically as little as one year ago, I could not have named one thing. I could (and still can on some days) name you between 17-23 things that I do not like, but was hard pressed to find one. That little list up there in my previous paragraph shows that I have come a long way. And I am hoping that as the days go by, I’ll be able to add more and more things to it.
*Beauty is subjective I know, but after being rebuffed by one dude too many you begin to think perhaps it isn’t *that* subjective after all.
Did I ever tell you guys about the time I got Catfished? Picture it, 2001: young JNic is fresh off a high school breakup and first semester of college homesickness breakdown. I wish I could lie and say I worked my way through it healthily, but that is far from the truth. 2001 was a TERRIBLE year for me. Lots of bad happened (some I caused; some I didn’t) and I think I was seriously depressed. Not wanting to admit anything was wrong, I turned to the place where alllll people go to escape the real world–the interwebz LOL.
Back then, as you should well know, people were still wary of the net. You didn’t make friends, arrange meet-ups and all of the stuff that is commonplace now. You checked your email, maybe hopped into a chat room every now and again, then logged your ass out. It was the era of 56K and nobody had time for clogging up the phone lines coz you’re on the Internet.
Somehow, dunno what lead me there besides my stanship, I ended up in the Janet Jackson official site’s forums. This was the first time is truly started forming friendships with the people in the computer (lol). Though we all initially came there for one common interest, I wound up finding people with whom I held LOTS in common. I’d spend hours (mostly early AM when I shoulda been asleep) posting & chatting with my crew on JJ.com.
One day when I was online I got a PM (personal message) from a username I didn’t readily recognize. I thought it was one of the homies incognito (that happened from time to time), but it wasn’t. The message was innocuous enough and this mystery person and I began a dialogue. This lasted a few days and then I got an AIM from the same username a few days later. I continued chatting with the user who I’ll call B going forward…because his name is Brian LOL.
So B and I talk about everything from A/S/L to the shit I was going through. He tells me about things he’s going through, life in NYC and all sorts of personal info. After a while the obligatory pic exchange happened and you could blow me over w/ a feather when I saw his pic. He was capital C, Cute! I’d had no inkling of romantic feelings toward him, but after my disastrous K breakup, it was nice to have a cute guy that was interested I hearing what I had to say. Superficial, party of one? Your table is ready!
So B & I talked constantly. Whether we were on the forums acting silly or on AIM, we touched base once a day at the least. To say I’d grown fond of him was an understatement. So fast forward to the summer of 2003 when my aunt decided she wanted to go to NYC for her birthday. I’d been DYING to go to New York, so when I found out my mom was going too, I invited myself along. Jazzed, I immediately let B know I’d be in his city and open to meet up. He was hesitant, so I rescinded the offer. Feelings were a little hurt, but I did understand the trepidation. After all I was some random stranger from the Internet. Who knows if I woulda went cray cray and tried to harm him, right? LOL same could be said of him.
So I talked it over with my girl Ally and she was convinced that something in the milk wasn’t clean. She knew the trajectory of our entire friendship thus far and was hella confused as to why he wasn’t chomping at the bit to meet up. I’d adopted a “whatever” attitude about the situation and continued my building excitement for my first trip to The City!
Well imagine my surprise when upon landing and turning on my StarTac flip phone, I had a message waiting from B. He’d had an apparent change of heart and wanted to meet up. My trip was short and jam packed with activities with my mom and aunt, so I didn’t factor in any time for him. Talked it over with my ma and she was hesitant about the entire situation. My aunt, however, was surprisingly cool with it and encouraged me to skip doing one of those bus tours with them the next day and set up a date w/ B. She brought my mom around to the idea, on the condition that they meet him before we take off, so I called him to see if he was available the next day. He was and we planned lunch & a walking tour of Manhattan. I was equal parts anxious and excited.
So the next day comes and we’re set to meet in the lobby. At this point the mental picture that I have of him is from the photos we’d exchanged previously. So when I’m downstairs and he is allegedly there too, I’m hella confused. I see no one who looks like who (at this point) I know to be B. All of a sudden I hear a familiar voice call my name so I turn around and…the face attached to the voice is NOT the one in my mind’s eye.
He expected my surprise and it was evident in our greeting. Leaving my mom and aunt we embarked on our day together. It was awkward as neither of us really discussed the elephant in the room. Conversation, which flowed so freely before, was stilted and weak. I wound up back at the hotel sooner than anticipated. My mother and aunt were still out enjoying the sites, but upon their return, pressed me for details of my day. I was brief, for two reasons: I was annoyed and also confused.
Call it naivety, but it never occurred to me that people would present themselves as something that they were not. I figured that because I was honest, so were others. WRONG! When I returned home, I continued correspondence with B until one day I was fed up and finally brought up the deception. He admitted he’d used his brother’s pic because he was insecure about his looks and wanted to present the best picture possible.
I was taken aback and a bit hurt that he’d think I’d be superficial enough to not be his friend because of his looks. Soon enough I got over the deception and we remained friends for quite a while after that, until some other shit started going wrong, but that’s another story for another day. Let’s just say I sure wish Nev and fine ass Max woulda been around back then to help me out LOL
I let April 3rd pass quietly because I didn’t want
to bask in my mediocrity to wallow in self-pity to reflect on the fact that I have been unemployed for exactly six months on that day. Many things in my life are SO different and so much has happened in those six months that some days I feel like it’s been longer.
I am so worn out from this job hunt. I took exactly three weeks in the beginning to decompress, but since have been on the hunt. Depending on my mood, the search can either be frenetic or begrudgingly, but it’s ongoing. I find positions in which I believed I’d excel mightily and then receive one rejection after the other. For a girl who usually gets what she wants (in professional matters, let’s not even get into my shit show of a personal life), this is the most frustratingly abnormal time of my life!
I have been toying with the idea of trying to move away to see if the job market is a bit better is some place that is not Chicago. I’m a bit gun shy about making a permanent move with no job prospect because I’ve done so before with disastrous results.
Something’s gotta give though. I don’t know what more it is that I need to be doing in order to see the results I desire. Everyone keeps telling me that God has something great in store for me and all that, but I wish He would let me in on the gig. I’m over vacillating between being increasingly frustrated and feeling unqualified for any job.
i like to be aware of my shortcomings and work to correct (or in some cases perfect) them. one of my greatest struggles though, is my patience. to say that i have a lack is being generous. i have the worst time waiting for things to happen naturally or as they should. it’s like that damned jg wentworth commercial, ” I WANT MY [insert whatever i want here] AND I WANT IT NOWWWWW!”
when it comes to dealing with children, however, your patience is tested time and time again. what you want and how you want it is hardly ever a factor. your life alters in such a way that you are never quite prepared for. even more so when the child in question is not yours, but one for which you feel immense responsibility because you are one of few who will help mold this child’s worldview from now on.
it’s intense. it’s overbearing. it’s maddening and it’s frightening. you want to scream, yell, cry, and give up, but you can’t. you won’t allow it. you can’t allow it because if you slack off, the damage will be irreparable. but you also have to remember that this child is accustomed to doing things in a manner that you personally find backwards and ill-fitting. and to say as much is to insult the person who has done the bearing, but is no longer here to continue the raising.
it’s difficult because there is so much you want to say, but don’t know how to say. so you stuff it in, letting it seep out in private moments in a deluge of tears and screams of frustration. which in turn leads to resentment. and anger. and tempers flaring. but never at the child. because he is faultless. a product of an environment of which he has no tools to change.
I fight with insomnia every now and again. I mostly lose the battle and so here we are tonight. The house is dark, with only the illumination of my cell as I type this post. Instead of sleep, I’m tap tapping, refreshing and tap tapping some more. I feel like my days are usurped by everyone else’s needs and I keep shoving mine down. There’s always something else for someone that is more pressing.
My life had been in a whirlwind in the past few months and…I’m kinda ready for it to just fucking settle already. I’m growing increasingly frustrated with having to be a conduit or catalyst or empath. For once I’d like to be able to just…be. Take some time out to just…breathe.
I woke up this morning, fresh from a dream, grabbed my phone and started dialing. I got nearly 8 digits in before I remembered. The number that I was dialing is no longer in service and I broke down. Sobs wracking my body (&tears streaming as I write this), I remembered the very thing that I have been trying to forget.
It’s weird. I don’t quite now how to exist in a world where she doesn’t. And if I’m feeling this gaping lack, I can only imagine what her children must feel. And I cry harder. A keening, throaty moan escaping as I question God for what must be the 237th time since she’s passed. Why her? Why now?
And sometimes, fleetingly I wish it were me. Yes the loss would be equally great but it is JUST me. The ripple effect is smaller. That’s foolish to even contemplate because that’s clearly not the plan for this life, but I wonder when it will be revealed?
I’m too consumed with the right here right now. I need clear cut signs and I need them rapidly. I do not have time for waiting on a plan to be revealed to me after a series of unfortunate events.
That’s not God’s plan apparently. He’ll leak tidbits, but never fully uncover the course he’s plotted for me. I’m too impatient for all of that though, so it gets frustrating. And I cry. And complain. And moan.
All to no end, really. I need to just be still. Listen for the whispers. But I’m too busy shouting to pay attention.
A lot has changed since I last posted. Here’s a bulleted list:
- I’m back in Chicago and living with my mom (shoot me in the face)
- I’m a part-time mom of 2.5 (LOL, the .5 shall be explained a little further down)
- I’m not pursuing a library science degree
And a lot is still the same. Here’s that bulleted list:
- I’m unemployed…still
- I’m applying to grad school (yes again, but for a different program at a different school)
- I’m fecking awesome, but…you knew that, right?
Mmkay, so here’s the sitch. Back in January around the time of the Inauguration I was in Maryland visiting my friend M. Logging into The Faysebuk, I saw my cousin T post a status update saying “pray for us”. Immediately my spidey senses began to tingle because a) T is rarely on FB and 2) she never posts anything super personal. So I scrolly scrolly down a bit and I see my uncle E post that his family is seeking prayers because his lil big sis (my auntie P) has been admitted to the ICU. I call my cousin D immediately and she doesn’t answer. I call my mom and she gives me the details of the situation. It was really bad.
Feeling impotent from 800+ miles away, I immediately headed to Kayak looking for a one way ticket home. Granted there wasn’t much I COULD do while home, but it would give me much more comfort to be within touching distance of my family while we were going through this crisis. So I’m looking for flights home, making teary phone calls to friends both home and in MD, and my cousin D calls me. She has been with my auntie P since the first admittance to the hospital so she gives me ALL of the details. I ask her how soon I need to come home and she tells me I should be on the next thing smoking.
Let me pause for a second to tell you about my cousin D. She isn’t a very emotional person. She’s usually the one with the most level head who employs logic before letting her emotions overrule. When I was talking to her and she told me about the night she spend in the hospital with my aunt I had to double check who I was talking to. Her voice was constricted and raw, trembling and heaving at points. I had NEVER heard her sound like this. EVER. So immediately, I was seized by fear and preparing myself for the worst.
I reached Chicago at close to eleven pm on Saturday, January 19. Huge shout out to the homie T for picking me up from the airport and driving me straight to the hospital. I reached my fam in the ICU and was taken in to see my aunt. I spent more time prepping to enter the room than I spent in the actual room with her. I couldn’t face her this way. That person lying in that bed was not my aunt. It was her physical form, but I could feel that the life was seeping from her.
We spent the next four days in that hospital, holding vigils…hoping for a hail mary pass to bring her back to us. I have never prayed so hard for something in my entire life. You see, my aunt was only 42. She was a mother of three (aged 24 [the .5],17,8) and a grandmother of one. She was a thorn in my side and my biggest advocate. She was the life of the party who we always wanted to be seated next to at family events because she always had some shit to talk. She kept a smile on my face with her silly comments, irrepressible humor and annoying phone calls. I’m sure if you know me outside of this internet shit, you’ve heard me complain about my aunt calling me to borrow some cash. But damnit if I wouldn’t give anything to hear her calling my phone just one more time.
With the death of my aunt, I have started to shoulder some of the responsibilities of helping raise her kids. She was their entire world and losing her will have lasting impacts. So between myself, her oldest son and the rest of our family, we’re raising a 17 year old girl and 8 year old boy. For me, it requires a great deal of patience. They are so used to doing things in the manner in which their mother did, but there are some adjustments that had to be made. It’s gonna be a long road, but I’m making sure that I do my best to be there for them in every way I can be.
It’s hard because I can’t do everything I want to do, but I’m trying my best. There is no way I can connect with them on the level of losing a parent (and for the oldest and youngest BOTH parents), but I am promising to dedicate my time, effort and energy to let them know that I am here. And I am not going anywhere.