And I Know Things Now, Many Valuable Things That I Hadn’t Known Before

Little Red Riding Hood, in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods is the sweet innocent girl who gets who world turned upside down by the Big Bad Wolf, and after coming through the other side of that experience sings a song explaining how she’s smarter now than she was before she encountered the wolf.  And as 2014 comes to a close, and 2015 is waiting in the wings to make its entrance, I’m looking back on the journey I took this year, on the breadcrumbs I discovered, on the ones that still elude me, and I think to myself, I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn’t know before.  So, let’s count them down shall we?

10) Real Estate is not something that is fun.  Especially if you are the seller.  I’ve never felt so violated as I did during the experience of selling my family home.  The bank of the buyer literally has you bent over and will rape you as they see fit, for as long as they see fit, and as the seller you can’t do anything about it.  It was such a horrendous experience, I don’t know that I’ll ever buy a piece of real estate again.

9) As strong as I knew I was, I’m actually a hell of a lot stronger than that, as this year kicked me around a lot and I managed to get up every single time.  I used to blame my mother for the hard things in my life, and she’s been gone a year and a half now, so none of this is her fault.  The house sell was her fault.  The dealing with probate without any financial help because her selfish ass didn’t bother to have life insurance.  But between cleaning out that house, packing and moving and unpacking twice, starting two new jobs, and starting my life over, and doing it all by myself is no small feat.  And I did it.  And I’m still standing.

8) Meeting new people is a wonderful thing, and sometimes those people bring level of clarity to a demon you’ve had your whole life and help you start to heal in a way you never expected.

7) Choices need to be made slower and more thoughtfully.  I have been so used to living my life in a reactionary way, because I could never truly plan for things.  I made that mistake with the last two apartments I’ve rented.  Next time, I will not rush, I will be proactive and plan to make sure I end up somewhere I actually want to live.

6) Seattle is definitely not the place I’m meant to be.  It is not home.  I know this mostly because I thought there was a community waiting for me here that I didn’t have in the Tri-Cities.  Not true.  I was very wrong about that.  The abundance of people who gave me shit the entire time I was home caring for my mother about ‘when are you coming back?’ and ‘i miss you so much, move back!’ have made very little effort towards hanging out with me.  So, if I’m going to be mostly alone, I might as well be somewhere I actually want to live…and it’s not here.

5) Finally working for a huge company making a huge salary and feeling like I have a career now feels really good.

4) No matter where go, your demons and issues will follow you until you deal with them.  I actively avoided therapy…might need to change that in 2015.

3) Even finding Sheldon the best home in the world doesn’t erase all the pain I feel from letting him go.  I hate not having him here with me.  Doing the right thing is rarely easy, and this was the right decision, and it almost killed me.

2) Holidays, like birthdays and Christmas, are really lame when you’r an orphan with no family.  These times of year are meant to have presents and people celebrating with you, and that didn’t happen at all this year.  So, the lesson I learned is that I will no longer celebrate them.  Instead, there will just be another day in October, and a day in December that I don’t have to work.  And in 2015, I will make sure to take myself on a fabulous spa day in October, and on an international vacation the last week of December.  No reason to wallow in my solitude.  Instead, I’ll just find a way to make them fun and less sad for this party of 1.

1) I didn’t focus on my goals I set out for myself in 2014, not by a long shot.  I will reevaluate for 2015 and focus on the things I really want to change and not dwell on the things I didn’t do last year.

2014 didn’t bring the happiness I had hoped it would.  I think that is because I was placing my happiness on external things/people/places/etc.  I will not make that mistake in 2015.

I learned a lot in 2014, and will apply it to 2015.  And hopefully, I’ll find that elusive last breadcrumb this next year.

Ciao for now,

M

Epiphany!

Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t play games.  Not at all.  I can’t play sports, I can’t play board games, I can’t play card games, and I sure as hell can’t play video games.  And this isn’t for the reason you might think.  It’s not because I’m not coordinated, because I’m very coordinated.  It’s not because I don’t know how to win, because I do.  It’s not because I suck at these things, because I don’t.  I do, however, have a chemical imbalance when it comes to games that manifests itself in the most competitive energy ever, and it’s zero fun for any who encounter it.

As a child, the competitive streak served me well as a gymnast.  My ridiculous intensity allowed me to push myself a lot hard than any coach could push.  It also helped in school.  My complete obsession with being first in my class had me making As without having to be pushed by my teachers or my mother.  And as I got older, the goal of college, and going to the best school possible kept me focused and unphased by the normal things that distract teenagers.  This intensity, however, became zero fun whenever a ‘friendly’ game of anything came into play.  I don’t do ‘friendly’ competition.  No idea how to do it.  I don’t only want to win, because the win is the goal of course, but what feeds the competitive beast inside me is the annihilating you on the way to my win.  I want to destroy my opponent at all cost.  I want you crying, bleeding on the ground before I claim my victory.  Had I been a boy, this would have served me well in sports, I think, but being a girl, it was less than attractive.  A trait often pointed out by my mother as she tried to cure me of this competitive affliction.

One of my first memories is playing red light/green light with friends around the age of 5 or 6 and being so intense, and so intent on destroying them on the way to my win, and having my mother jerk me into the house and sitting me in a corner because, if I couldn’t play nice, then I wouldn’t play.  I wasn’t phased by this.  It got worse as I quit gymnastics and tried to play school sports.  My softball team, comprised of tween girls, mostly interested in how cute they looked in their uniforms as opposed to actually winning a game. Their lack of giving 100%, as I was, made me insane.  God forbid I struck out at the plate during softball, I’d come back, throw my bat, throw my helmet, and immediately incur the wrath of my mother. She didn’t understand this wasn’t something I could control.  I didn’t understand my peers, and how they could care less whether we destroyed our opponents or not.  And it drove me insane!  I quit playing because I couldn’t take their pacifying nature.

This fixation during games continued through high school and in to my first year of college.  And when my sorority played a ‘flag’ football game against another house during a charity game, I hit a tri-delt so hard, I knocked her out.  My intensity had actually hurt someone, and it woke me up, and in that moment I vowed to not play games any longer, since I couldn’t control my intensity and my rage.

Over the years after that, friends would often try to get me to play games.  Mostly board or card games, or invite me for game nights, and I’d go, and not want to play, and that makes other people very uncomfortable.  They don’t believe me when I tell them that my playing is disastrous.  One friend in particular pushed and pushed, and i finally decided to play scrabble, and when he got a huge scoring word, I may or may not have flipped the board up and at him, Teresa Guidice style!

As an adult, this plagues me.  I want to be able to play games with people, I want to be able to  play games with friends.  I want to just enjoy a friendly game of anything for once in my life, but I am incapable, and it’s so frustrating to not understand why I’m the way I am.  I’ve talked to a shrink about this, and after careful examination, it was deemed that this is just my wiring, and the healthiest choice I can make is to not play.  So that’s what I’ve done.  But that explanation never really helped me or satiated me.

The other night, I spent the evening with my best friend and a new friend who was waxing philosophically about some advice his step-dad had given him when he was young, and said that sometimes in life you play games for the joy of the game (a concept I don’t even remotely understand) and that sometimes you play games like you’re in prison.  Because in prison, you play to survive.  And the minute those words left his mouth, it felt as if he was describing me, and I turned to my best friend and said, “And I’ve always been in prison.”  And we had a silent moment and that epiphany hit me.

And I’ve always been in prison!

My beautiful pictureMy home town, if you’ve read my earlier blog posts, you know never felt like home to me.  I’ve said my whole life that I hate that place.  I ran from it at 18 as fast as I could to get to college.  But never did I register that I was in prison in that town.  The childhood I had was full of people at my house all the time, watching my every move.  These same friends, so connected to my mother, that I couldn’t make a move without one of them ratting me out.  She was my warden.  I was rapunzel in the tower.  I was always in prison.  I was never comfortable at home.  I hated coming home to that house.  I hated the neighborhood, I hated everything, and I see that, it was a type of prison for me.

It wasn’t a malicious thing, but it was a thing, and my survival instincts to survive that incarceration was to be the best I could possibly be so that somehow, one of my talents could get me out of there!  And when I went off to college, I really wasn’t free.  I was still on probation, having to check in with the warden daily.  And when the warden got sick, I was yanked back into the tower for another six year sentence.

With no control on that environment, with feeling like my life wasn’t my own, the one thing I could control was whether I was the best at what I pursued or not.  I was always in prison.  My new friend’s words hit me like a freight train, and the honesty of it overwhelmed me.  I’ve been having dreams that my mother is not dead, and that I have to go back to the tower, and I’ve been sleeping horribly.  After this epiphany, I went home, cried an unbelievably cleansing cry and slept peacefully the whole night through and woke up lighter emotionally than I’ve ever been in my life.  It might sound overdramatic, but with those words, this person, practically a stranger to me, changed my life.  Thank you, Zak, I’ll be forever grateful!

I woke up in the morning to this horoscope:

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And even the universe was letting me know that the right words had hit my existence, and that I should trust them and move forward!

Tears are falling as I type this, but not tears of sadness.  They are tears of freedom!  I am no longer in that tower.  Rapunzel has been let out, and has not been stepped on by the giant, and now, she now controls her own life and her own destiny.  She has no obligations except to herself!

So maybe, now, just maybe, I can release my choke hold on my need to dominate in a  competitive situation, and can just play for the joy of the game…..perhaps, indeed.

Ciao for now,

M

Perception is a funny thing….

It’s no secret, I’m judgmental.  I’m the most judgmental about the performing arts.  I have extremely high standards, expect talent to be at a certain level, and am very vocal about when I dislike something.  I’m also very vocal when I like something.  And the thing I like most about local theatre is going to see my former students perform and show the world how unbelievably talented they are.

I’ve been a lot of things in my life.  Mostly, I’ve been a daughter.  Sometimes I’ve been an actor.  Recently, I’m trying to be a writer.  But for the last 15 years, I have also been a mentor and teacher to a number of young actors.  And I have to say, it’s been the least fulfilling experience of my life.  The ones I’ve continued to mentor, even after they leave my instruction, always reach back out to me for support, because when I believe in someone, when I believe in their ability, if they come to me for support, I give them all that I have, because I know what it’s like to not have that kind of support for creative dreams.  I would never be the kind of person to hinder a young person’s dream, or try to put out the fire of their passion.  I go to the shows. I send flowers.  I write letters of encouragement.  I wake up in the middle of the night to take phone calls and respond to panicked text messages before one of their big auditions.  I pick them up when they’re down, and cheer for them when they soar and praise them to anyone who will listen because I’m so proud of them.  So, why, when I give all of this, do they always end up so fucking ungrateful?

The ones I’ve put the most effort into have, with only one exception, (thank you for being you, my sweet boy), broken my heart in one way or another.  Sometimes it comes in the form of silence, where they outgrow me like Christopher Robbin and Winnie the Pooh, but without the graciousness or consideration to say goodbye.  They simply disappear.   Sometimes they treat me poorly, using me when they need me and giving nothing in return.  And sometimes you find out how they really see you by them slapping you in the face with hurtful words in front of complete strangers.  And as quickly as I want to point the finger at them and say that ‘kids are dumb’, in my constant search for my happy life, I realize that maybe, the problem isn’t them.  The problem is me.

Something about me makes these kids think they can treat me this way.  And if I’m honest, it’s not just kids.  It’s most people in my life.  They take from me all the time, and give nothing in return.  And I’m so willing to give.  However, I’m mouthy and sassy, so I’m dubbed a bitch and a tough chick, so maybe the perception is that I can take it.  Maybe the perception is that they can say whatever they want to me, because I am what, devoid of feelings?  That because life has dealt me shit hand after shit hand, and so because I walk through the world strong, clearly nothing can hurt me.  But I do hurt.  I do bleed. And when someone who I care about and have supported for years informs a stranger that i’m his friend who is a bitch who hates everything after I just spent the last 2 hours sitting through his show that I went to even though I’ve worked 62 hours this week, am exhausted, and would much rather have just gone home after work.  To be told to my face that that is the way he sees me hurt.  A lot.

A slap never feels good, right.  It stings.  It leaves a temporary mark.  And it makes your eyes water.  I’m no different.  When those words were said, knowing that, when he talks about me to another person I’m referred to as the bitch who hates everything, stung.  It hurt.  My eyes watered.  I got livid.  Now, had I been my mother, I would have lit this particular person up like a Christmas tree, and left him weeping.  But as I’ve been trying so damn hard to do, I’m trying not to become my mother.  I chose to just walk away.  And I chose to walk away completely.

Because the crumb I’ve found tonight is that perception may be a funny thing, but it’s a real reflection of how people see you.  And if people feel that way about me, then I don’t have time for those people in my life.  I need to be surrounded by love and support and by people who really see me.  I need to stop giving myself, even small pieces of myself to people who don’t appreciate it.  I need to be seen as the person who always supports them and is always there for them, because that is what I do.  I promised myself no more unbalanced relationships and friendships, and I have realized that has to apply to my former students as well.  They only know how to take.  Well, I’m done giving.  My teaching days are over.  I need to be more than the person who is perceived as the bitch who hates everything.  And the people who perceive me as that don’t get to be in my life.

I need to have better standards for myself, and demand respect from everyone.  So, the well of unlimited, unconditional support has dried up and a gate has been put up and welded shut.  You can only tap into it from the inside.  And I”m the only one allowed in here.

Breadcrumb acquired.

Ciao for now,

M

Feels Like Home…But Not To Me

home-iconBreadcrumbs have popped up here and there since I started this journey, yet they are too few and far between for me to feel like I’m really getting anywhere new.  I feel so horribly lost, still, somewhere between the path my daughterly duty had me stuck on for years, and the one I’m supposed to be on.  And in the search, something occurred to me tonight.  The final breadcrumb I find that will be sitting in the middle of my path will be called one thing:  Home.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I absolutely hated the house I grew up in.  I hated it as a child, ran from it as an 18 year old, and only went back to take care of my mom.  And after her passing, having the chore of cleaning it out and getting it ready for sale was one of the worst experiences of my life.  And doing it completely alone just reinforced how much I absolutely hate that piece of real estate.  It holds no sentimental value to me.  It meant nothing to me to sell it.  I moved, and never looked back.

How strange to spend most of your life in one place and somehow not feel like you belong there.  And yet, that’s how I’ve always felt about this house.

And then this holiday season began and it hit me completely out of left field that this will be the first Christmas in my entire life that I won’t be in that house.  It’s not my first Christmas alone, that was last year.  But it wasn’t so much of a big deal, because there was something ‘normal’ in being in that place on Christmas day.  Cooking Christmas dinner in that kitchen.  Watching TV in that living room.  Hating it, yet comfortable in it.  However, this year, I can’t go there.  And it’s not like I want to go there.  I have no desire to go there.  But the finality of it brought up a ton of emotions this past week.  I blame the yoga (see previous post here for explanation).  Any way, as the tears stop falling, and the sobbing subsides, the end of my journey revealed itself to me.

I will finally be ok when I find my home.

I have no idea where that is.  It’s not the Tri-Cities.  It’s not Seattle, although Seattle will do for now.  It might be Venice, as I felt more at home there than anywhere else I’ve ever been in my life.  Cannon Beach holds a close second.  But neither of them gave me that sense of belonging to a place.

I want to find my place so badly.  I want to have that place that, when I walk inside, I feel peace.  My home.  My sanctuary.  The place that, no matter how hard it gets out there in the world, I can go home, close the door, light some candles and breathe.  And up to now, every place I’ve lived in has been rented, so never felt like mine.

Does that mean it’s time to buy?  Perhaps.  But I won’t until I am sure I want to set roots down.  All this haze still surrounds me, but I do see the light through it…I am ready for a home.  Not an apartment, not a rented condo, not a rental house…a home.  My home.  In my place.

No idea where that is.  No idea when it will happen.  But I trust that when I find it is when this journey, this journey of finding my way the life I’m supposed to have will be over and I can start the next one, whatever it may be.

Can’t wait to find that last breadcrumb.  Hoping it arrives sooner rather than later, cuz God knows I’m not getting any younger.

Ciao for now,

M