April 21, 2008

I’m Still Kickin’….and Fixin’ Myself (and No One Else)

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:21 pm by LG

I have just survived the worst case of strep throat known to the human race. I have no support for this statement, but I believe in it whole heartedly. I hadn’t had it since I was a much littler Little Girl, and – wow – apparently it’s a lot worse as an adult. I woke up Tuesday with a somewhat sore throat, but I just chalked it up to allergies and popped a bunch of vitamin C throughout the day. The aches started to come that night, but I just went to bed early and willed myself to stay healthy. By 2:00 am, however, I was in tears. If someone had told me that, during my sleep, members of Nuestra Familia had broken in, used me as a punching bag, and forced me to put razor blades (that had been marinated in an acidic-salt blend and set on fire) down my throat, I would have believed them. Seriously. I drove myself to the doctor, got that beautiful, beautiful wonder-drug they call penicillin (which costs, like, 90 cents), and nursed myself back to health thanks to friends who dropped by smoothies and ice cream (thank you, thank you). I even tried to take a picture of the back of my throat to submit to Microbes: The good, The bad and The ugly, but it didn’t work.

I’m fully recovered and now just trying to dig my way out of the pile of work that I missed. Turns out, justice doesn’t stop for strep throat (or, as I’ve learned, hangovers, laziness, mental breakdowns, or love affairs).

I didn’t get to see JB (my “analyst”) last week because of my throat, so I used the time off to think about my last post and her reaction to it (I shared it at our last meeting). I’ve hesitated to write about it because (1) it sounds a little pop psych-ish and (2) it has to do with my parents, more so my dad. I guess in some way it also relates to my “inner child”… as much as I’m trying to grow up, Little Girl’s little girl is still there.

I’m sure it’s easy for adults to “blame” their neurosis on their upbringing; after all, we get so much of who we are from those adult people who raise us. But let me make clear right now: I don’t blame my parents for any (well, most) of my, um, abnormalities. Although my parents were in no way perfect, I can honestly say that I could not be more proud to be their daughter and I love them with everything I have.

With that said, I have learned that some of my present behavior can be explained and better understood if I take a *gentle* peek back into my past. And though I’m learning not to dwell on the past, looking back is, quite frankly, necessary for me at times because I’m the kind of person that HAS to understand and be able to explain WHY I do or feel the way I do. I can’t just shrug my shoulders and be “okay” with the fact that this is just me and this is just how I am. I wish I could (I think this journey would be a hell of a lot smoother) but I can’t; I’ve always been an answer-seeker, even when there are none to be found. Until I understand why I am the way I am, I can’t change my behavior at all. So, I search.

Knowing this, JB helps me along the way. I basically say, “JB, listen to what I did; I’m crazy.” She says, “Ok, let’s figure out why.” We do. And by the end I think, “Oh wow, ok, I understand why I’ve done this for 30 years.” And then I pay her a hundred dollars. But it’s totally worth it because the next time I do fill-in-the-blank-crazy-thing, I can remind myself, “silly Little Girl, remember why you did that before; that was simply a defense mechanism (or whatever we learned); you don’t need to do that anymore.” And then I don’t.

So, when I told her about my theory from my last post — that, as messed up as it is, I have purposely “picked” guys who were not living at their potential, so that I can help them reach their potential (and thereby feel special and not have to reach my own) — she told me that she thinks it has to do a lot more with my need to “feel special” than my fear of achieving my own greatness…though she admits that’s a nasty by-product.

You see, when I was a very, very little girl this awful tragedy happen to my family, within my dad’s side of the family. It’s one of those events that’s so unthinkable, that after it, you wonder how the sun can keep rising and setting each day. I wasn’t even two years old, but I still (then and over the next several years) felt the deep emotional effects on my family, and mainly, my dad. But because I was so young, my brain (what would it be, my frontal lobe?) and my heart couldn’t really understand such pain. All I knew is that I wanted my dad to be happy, but for some reason he wasn’t. Of course he put on a happy face for me and did all the normal dad things that a kid could ask for, but there are some emotions that you just can’t mask and perhaps grief is one of them.

So JB and I talked about the idea that maybe my choice in men is due to this need to make right what I couldn’t make right in my childhood; that maybe I want to find someone who “needs help” so that I can feel special and needed and essential to happiness in a way that I could not have possibly been to my dad when he was going through this awful time.

I think there’s some truth to this…at least it’s something to consider next time I fall for someone who could be described (as I believe my dad correctly has done) as “a sorry wounded stray who happens to clean up well.” Then I can say, “It’s ok little LG. I know that seeing someone in need hurt you a long time ago and you desperatley wanted to make things right. But you couldn’t and your dad didn’t love you any less because of it. You don’t need to make up for it now.”

And, again, this “hardship” that I bear (in quotes because it was nothing compared to what my dad went through) has nothing to do with the way my parents raised me: it was simply the unfortunate intersection of a horrific event and my young mind and fragile heart that couldn’t understand.

So now I’m living with the idea that I don’t have to find someone to “fix” and I don’t have to “fix” anyone already in my life. (Mr. B, I can feel your sigh of relief). I’ve learned that this need to be validated by a man — to have him tell me, “no matter what, LG, you make everything ok and with you (and only with you) I can be happy and conquer the world” — isn’t my need at all. It’s Little LG’s need and though I love her she doesn’t get to call the shots anymore. I’m a grown ass woman.


April 7, 2008

Don’t Waste Your Time (Or Mine) If….

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:53 pm by LG

I’m finishing up Eat, Pray, Love tonight. (BRD, I know I’m a terribly slow reader; I’m sorry – I’ll call you this week to discuss?) I’ve noticed that part of me cringes when I tell people that I’m reading this book: maybe because it seems so cliche (divorcee reading about another divorcee’s journey to self-acceptance, blah blah), or because I pride myself on not being a chick-lit reader, and admittedly, this book is chick-licious. But, I like it (except for the fact that I think the “happy ending” is going to involve a relationship with a man…sigh….) Anyhow, I’m not reviewing the book here, but wanted to reflect upon one passage I read last night – it probably resonated with me more than anything else in the story so far:

I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and then I have hung on to the relationship for a long time waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.

Yea, that’s totally me. In my past, have ALWAYS been with men who had captivating personalities (for different reasons) and I truly, though naively, thought they could rule the world…if they just had a little help from me. And that’s when it hit me last night (as I was laying in bed praying that the stray cats weren’t feeling frisky): Maybe I haven’t been a victim of optimism (though I’m sure that’s part of it), so much as I’ve been a victim of laziness and fear. To be sure, I fall in love with the goodness of people and I have a way of finding it in everyone. And I believe in people and their ability to change. But, the darker side of this coin is my role in the “rah-rah” relationship. I think on some really messed up level, I purposely “picked” guys who were not living at their potential. I would come into their lives, sprinkle my Little Girl glitter everywhere, and ta-dah, they would achieve greatness. (this was the goal, anyway) And I would get to pat myself on the back AND (this is the worst part) not have to achieve my own greatness in the meantime. I could occupy my time with cheering my man on through life, and not actually do it for myself. Why? Well, I can only think of laziness and fear right now, but there might be more. I hope this doesn’t come across as arrogant, but I actually think I am capable of great things….but that takes a lot of work (hence, laziness) and what if I fail (hence, fear). So it’s been easier for me to find a man who I could help reach his potential and not have to worry about doing it myself. And by helping him, I could get off believing that that was my life’s purpose…not these other great things that I could do on my own.

Yikes. That’s a really ugly part of me, but I guess I need to see it and own it before I can change it. I need to stop believing in things that aren’t really there and start believing in things that are.

This brings me to my “Don’t Waste Your Time (or Mine) If” List. In an effort to evolve intellectually and emotionally, I’ve decided to be responsible for my own life, and I hope that my Man (whoever he may be) will be responsible for his. Elizabeth Gilbert (eat, pray, love author) concluded that when the patriarchic system involving a father chosing his daughter’s mate was rightfully dismantaled, it wasn’t necessarily replaced by another form of protection. There is no one to ask the challenging questions that family may have asked potential suiters in another age.

So I’m taking responsibility for me and I’ve decided to really think about what I want in my Man/Relationship in the future. And in doing so, I hope to not fall in love with someone’s potential, but to be realistic about who he is right now. I too easily looked over things that were important to me in the past (beleiving that “with a little help from me” he would mature, develop a work ethic, become more worldly, whatever). No longer.

This list list is the absolute bare minimum. And although somewhat tongue in cheek, overall, I’m pretty serious.

Don’t Waste Your Time (or Mine) If….

Your mother does your laundry.
You hate learning.
You drive a Hummer.
Your relationship philosophy is “the more drama, the better.”
You have a significant other. (I wish this could go without saying, but sadly, it cannot).
You use the phrase “women’s work.”
Your main goal is sleeping with me.
You regularly dine at all-you-can-eat buffets.
Your favorite book is actually a magazine.
You hold your fork like a shovel.
You play video games more than 2 hours a day.
You use any of the following phrases to describe your full-time employment (and yes, full-time employment actually does go without saying): “dabble in real estate,” “online poker,” or “adult entertainment.”
You consider farting and/or burping a competitive sport, a hobby, or a skill.
You don’t vote.
You would fit into my clothes. (i know that’s incredibly shallow, but i really can’t date a guy with a smaller thighs than mine…)
You wear multiple necklaces and are excessively tan (really, both of those are unattractive, and both together are simply unacceptable…unless you are Mr. T).
You have cats. (After hearing first hand how cats are conceived, I’m convinced they are the devil’s spawn. I MAY be willing to give a little on this one, but only if your cat does not have reproductive organs, your home does not smell like cat, and you don’t refer to yourself as “daddy” when talking to the cat).

With those out of the way, I’m now concentrating on a more substantive list. I was going to call it my “Don’t Waste ANY MORE of Your Time (or Mine) If” list, but I think I’m going to be more positive and go with my “Relationship Wishlist” list. Coming soon….

Oh, and GO TIGERS!! Dad, I’m wearing your Memphis State PhysEd shirt for good luck – it’s certainly seen better days, but it’s the most comfortable tee in the world!

April 1, 2008

Grown-up Stray Cat Sex

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:03 am by LG

I spoke too soon in my last post. The stray cats in my neighborhood are NOT pleasant creatures.

I should have known something was up when I came home last night and a few of them were slinking around on my porch, eying each other hungrily. This isn’t necessarily abnormal: the woman who lived in my place before me worked for the humane society and fed every living creature within a mile radius and they all still come around from time to time just to see if she’s back.

Now, I’ve always been an animal lover. I used to trip the mousetraps my parents set up and to this day I still carry bugs and spiders outside instead of squashing them (unless it’s one of those super scary things with a million legs; I just can’t handle those). Even though I’ve never been a cat person (I grew up with dogs), I say hello to these strays when I see them in my yard, and I even set a blanket out on my porch, under a chair, during the winter because I couldn’t bare it if I walked out and they were frozen dead in the middle of the sidewalk. I think someone else has taken to feeding them because the regulars are still hanging around and they are fat and sassy as ever.

But last night was like the beginning of a scary movie anyway because my power went out. I thought maybe I blew a fuse because I had just squeezed one more plug into an already jammed-packed power strip, so I took a candle down my steep, grimy basement stairs (forcing myself to keep humming zippidy-doo-da), stood in front of the fuse box and tried not to be too pissed off that I didn’t have a man to help me. Instead, I tried to just be one for a minute: I flipped the switches back and forth, grunted a few times, blurted out some profanities and wished for the best (after all, that’s how things get fixed right?). But no, I was in the dark all night. I called my neighbor who confirmed that his had been off too, but that it was restored a few minutes later. Well, they must just be working on mine still, I thought, so I just went to bed.

Halfway through the night, however, I woke up to the most god-awful, blood-curdling screams I have ever heard in my life. I was so afraid to get out of bed, particularly because my power was still off, and it took me a minute to realize what was going on. The cats were having Grown-up Stray Cat Sex on my porch. One of my friends, seeing the stray cats in my ‘hood and knowing my inexperience with them, warned me that this may happen. But there was nothing I could have done to prepare myself for this. I’m telling you, I am still shaken up from the screams. I thought children were dying.

I think that I am a very opened minded person, and what creatures do in their sex life is no business of mine, but seriously, there is no way these animals can be enjoying themselves. I had this internal debate in my mind: “I need to go help her, I want to look outside….but would that be rude?” Just when I couldn’t take it anymore and I planned to get up, knock on my own door to announce my intrusion, and go outside to chase them away, something happened and hateful hissing ensued. Maybe this had been a secret affair and his girlfriend (or her boyfriend) crept around the corner and saw what was going on; maybe they are old lovers but he somehow implied that she’s put on some weight and naturally she got pissed. Whatever it was, a serious fight broke out and they ran off.

I stayed in bed trembling, tears welling up in my eyes, scared to death. It sounds silly now, but that state of half-sleep, coupled with total darkness, can be pretty scary when you are alone listening to horrendous cries and a subsequent brawl. I swore I would walk outside today to a porch covered in blood and other cat fluids, smelling like death and Grown-up Stray Cat Sex, which in my mind smell exactly the same.

Surprisingly, all looked normal when I left this morning (in the dark…power is still out). I’m now just praying it was a one-night-stand never to be repeated again. I don’t think I can take it.