Partners in Crime and Romance: Or, Me and My Dork

Surprisingly, I’ve ended up in a relationship. Even more surprisingly, we’re planning on making it permanent, once I’m back in the states (I’m currently studying abroad). He’s my best friend, and I can’t wait.

I met him while working at a scout camp. I was nineteen and he was seventeen. I thought he was cool, but so not my type, because he was younger, a redhead, my height, always happy, and he talked A LOT. I was pretty sure I wanted a tall, dark, and brooding type, after all.

Two years later, we meet again, back at the same camp. He’s my buddy, so I run right up to him, shouting his name, and give him a big hug. As you do. Honestly, I think the change might have started with that hug. But I was too dim to realize it, when I was a girl barely past her teens who’d come out the other side of a domestic violence case, a manipulative Friend With Benefits, and working at a call center. And we were just friends, as I kept telling myself every time we worked together. I kept my head down, and did my work.

What really made me realize I was falling for him was the dumbest thing ever. I overheard him and a couple other people talking about the best way to get to know a girl. And then they changed the subject once they realized I was there. My suspicious mind went into overdrive, wondering if this meant one of these dear boys had caught a case of feelings for me. The naturally following question was, “If they did, which one would you prefer?” One was only barely eighteen, another was too much of a doormat, and then there was the redheaded good who talked too much. 

My brain had a horrible “Oh no” moment. I did not want to fall for another guy. It only ended badly. I was a mess, and nobody wanted to deal with that. Besides, two years age difference. Even if he was hilarious, cute, immensely likeable, and he had good taste in music. I was determined not to go through that again. 

As the very smart girl I was, I tried to ignore it. I thought about it as little as possible, keeping my distance from him, refusing to mention his name even in my mind. I was sure I could make this awful little crush go away with sheer willpower. Because I was smart like that.

Maybe a week later, a group of us went out stargazing. Somehow in the dark, he and I ended up lying right next to each other. His arm was touching mine, and my nerves were going crazy. Maybe it’s ridiculous and cliche, but I completely forgot about my plan to make it go away.

However, I was still determined not to act on it. Because he was a nice guy, really friendly to everyone, and there was nothing else in it. We hung out, took long hikes, and listened to music together. One of our friends told us we should date. I looked at the ground and didn’t say anything. While on a hike, we were sitting right next to each other. He tried to point something out to me, I couldn’t see it, and he leaned in closer to show me. I wanted so badly to just kiss him, but I didn’t. I wasn’t going to make an idiot of myself. We stayed up late listening to music, and took a walk in the full moonlight out to a hill overlooking the camp, talking about everything and nothing, eventually cuddling up together for warmth. Just for warmth. Nothing else in that. Completely platonic (I am dense). In fact, I didn’t have any clue that we were thinking anywhere along the same lines until he kissed my forehead, and told me he was dumb because he’d never kissed a girl. And, grinning like an idiot, I smoothly offered to rectify that.

First kiss on a moonlit night in the mountains, complete with a fantastic view. I’d say that was a pretty good way to do it.

It wasn’t a real thing, though. Over the course of the summer, we kissed a few more times, went on a couple dates, had one amazing makeout session, and that was it. I was craving more, with my depression hitting me so hard. I was addicted to him. He was a crutch. We lived on opposite sides of the state. It wasn’t right. And when he started acting distant, I decided that I wasn’t going to beg. It wasn’t so much heartbreak as it was a slow dissolve, but that didn’t mean it hurt any less.

I moved on. Went on a few other dates, got diagnosed, started both antidepressants and therapy. I was still crazy about him, and really didn’t want anyone else, but he obviously wasn’t interested, and I needed to be better. For me, not for him. I started dealing with my depression and the self-esteem issues I have in relationships. I started college. I applied to my school’s study abroad program. I was still hurt that things ended the way they did, and I really wanted to ask him why, and what was wrong with me, but I knew better.

Fast forward three years, and out of the blue, he starts messaging me on Facebook, talking about the new Avenged Sevenfold album, and how I needed to listen to it. We started talking again, and I was quickly getting right back where I started. Especially when we got started in a battle of classic rock puns. Plus, I was planning on moving closer to him already (again, not for him), so I figured the timing was getting better. And then he told me he was going back to camp. I’d been ready to trade up camp, finally, for a higher paying job, especially as I was getting ready to leave the country. But, I realized, this could be my last chance to figure out why. And maybe–just maybe–I could work it out, this time. Because I didn’t want anyone else.

I was moving out of my apartment that summer, so, the first weekend, I headed down the mountain to start on that. Then I got a text from home, saying to let him know if I needed help (turned out he was in the same city, staying at his friend’s for the weekend). After much second-guessing and agonizing over it with my roommate, I invited him out to dinner and ice cream with us. Throughout the evening, I couldn’t stop laughing, and he and I talked all night long, before falling asleep cuddled up on my couch. 

This was quickly becoming like the summer three years ago, but I realized I could live with that. Now, I was more mature, had years of therapy behind me, and I would be living near him after I got back from studying abroad. I could work with that.

The next weekend, I was going to a play my sister was in, and I invited him to come. Somewhere during the play, we ended up holding hands, and continued afterward, when we went to Denny’s with the cast, some of whom were friends of mine. Awkward questions about how long we’d been together abounded. Especially with my dad introducing James as my “not-boyfriend.” 

As I was finally driving him home, very early in the morning, still holding hands, we talked a lot more. And then, after three years of waiting, he asked me to be his girlfriend. (And as it turns out, the reason he’d stopped talking to me so long ago was because, for various reasons, he thought he wasn’t good enough for me. That was something I never would have guessed.)

This redheaded goof who talks too much, is two years younger than me, and is my height is everything important that I’ve ever wanted in a guy. He’s honest with me, goes to concerts and on random adventures with me, and he makes me smile so much my face hurts, and then he laughs at me for it. Being around him always makes the world a little brighter. He takes my abrasive sense of humor in stride, and is always there to support me when things go to hell. And, we’ve been apart for months, and our relationship is still strong. I’m crazily in love with him, though I’ll never admit it to most people.

I’m leaving Europe in less than a week. Maybe I should be sad to be leaving that dream behind, but it means getting back to my redheaded dork, and on to more adventures. The first on my list is an engagement, as neither of us wants to let the other get away again.

I was pretty sure I was never going to find a guy I could stand long enough to want to marry. Even if I did, I was pretty sure he’d lose interest as soon as he saw what a hellish place my mind is. But he’s always there to assure me that he’s not going anywhere, and that I’m stuck with him as long as I want to be.

To those of you out there who are sure nobody could ever want you, I know that life is hard. Everyone tells you nobody can love you if you don’t love yourself, or conversely that only love can save you from yourself. Don’t listen to either of them. Try to love yourself, definitely. Seek the help you need, and do your best to become a you that you’re happy with. Don’t see your significant other as your knight in shining armor, but as the reliable sidekick who always has your back. Because this is your story, and you’re the hero. You have the power to save yourself.

Thank you for your time, friends. I wish you all the best.

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We Call ‘Em Toxic People

Well, friends, I’ve talked a lot in the past about my older sister. Once upon a time, she was arrested for domestic violence against me. She got better. With therapy and medication, we both did, and we’ve had a much healthier relationship.

I’m sure you can sense the “but” coming.

And indeed it did. Because she’s been giving me the silent treatment for over a month, after I said something offensive (and I’m still not sure what). I’ve tried to apologize and explain further and further, but not only is it beating my head against a brick wall, I’ve realized that everything hasn’t been all sunshine and roses since we “got over” everything. No, I’ve spent this entire time still walking on eggshells to try and keep her happy. Even though our relationship, according to myself, has been so very great.

Take last Christmas, for example. She was trying to tie a mattress down in a truck bed, in the middle of an evening snowstorm, in a hoodie. She pulled me out of a vet appointment to help out. I offered her the snowboarding jacket I had in my trunk, but she wouldn’t take it, even though she was obviously cold, and got very snappy when I asked if she was sure. Snappier than she’s been with me since The Incident (aka the day she was arrested). And I was supposed to stay at her apartment that night!

So I told her to calm down, and I left. I finished taking care of my cats, and I drove back to her place, fully expecting to be locked out. But no, she wasn’t home yet. Second thought was that she went to her boyfriend’s place for the night so that she could ignore me. And because I’d pushed her so hard to take the stupid jacket (I shouldn’t have offered a second time), our relationship was strained, and it was all my fault. In short, I spent the evening flashing back to all the emotions of the times before The Incident, when I didn’t know what I could expect from her. Long story short(er), that night was the first cutting incident I’d had in years. And it turned out to be over nothing, as she came back a couple hours later, having stopped at DI, and wondering why I was sitting in the dark with my stuff half-packed. She had no idea, and treated me as kindly as normal for the rest of my visit.

As a precursor to this current incident, she got annoyed with me for thinking there was some deeper meaning behind a message she sent me, telling me I was invalidating her feelings. That’s when I lost it. After taking the time to calm down properly (I know better than to try to talk to her in the heat of the moment), I told her to remember that she was the one who abused me, and I can’t control my, for lack of a better word, triggers. She had been passive aggressive in the past, and my brain was still used to that. I told her it was invalidating to have your own former abuser tell you what to feel.

And thus, I have been shunned. Even on Thanksgiving, my parents were over at her place. My mother called and put me on speakerphone so everyone could say happy Thanksgiving. Everyone except my sister, who went into the other room so she didn’t have to talk to me.

Now, I realize, she hasn’t grown up nearly as much as I thought she had. She’s not the mature adult I can rely on. She’s not anyone I can rely on. She harped on me for suspecting something else going on, and then she proves me right. She’s being passive aggressive, and I can’t trust her. That hurts like hell, because I love my sister dearly. But maybe this time I’ll learn my lesson. I don’t need her. I have a fantastic support network: three amazing best friends, and the greatest boyfriend a girl could ask for. It’s time to truly detox my life (not that she’ll give me a choice, anyway), and stop being her doormat. We obviously can’t be close, if she’s going to be childish like this. And I’m better off without her.

My advice to anyone else out there who wants to forgive their abusers, or already has: yes, forgive them, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to them, and what they’re doing to you. Be wary. It takes a hell of a long time to regain trust, and for good reason. Don’t take their shit. You’re better than that, and you don’t need them, if they’re going to treat you badly.

The Problems with Homeschooling

It’s no secret that I was homeschooled until middle school. My boyfriend was homeschooled, as well, and his mother is still a huge advocate of it. But I know this is going to be a point of tension between me and her. I wouldn’t trade my years of public school for the world, no matter how many times I referred to my peers as idiots.

As a child, I begged my mom to let me go to elementary school. I would daydream about it every single day. But no, like so many others, my mother was sure that public education was evil, and we could get a better education at home. In some ways, she was right. By the time I started seventh grade, I was at a high school reading level. My dance classes had kept me in good shape (which I’ve retained to this day, twelve years later). While my reading and physical activity soared, my math and social skills suffered. So, as an awkward twelve-year-old on my first day of seventh grade (halfway through the year), I was dropped into a math class, and handed a worksheet. And I had no idea how to divide. I spent most of that first class figuring it out by way of logic. I was lucky enough to be adopted by a bunch of extroverts, but without them, I would have been lost, because I had no idea how to interact with peers.

Thanks to my disadvantage, I failed my way through high school math, and didn’t graduate until two years later than the rest of my class, through an adult education program. In college, I’ve taken remedial math classes, which is finally putting me on an equal mathematical footing with everyone else. I’m doing rather well, and working toward getting my degree.

Homeschool is idealized, with all the good things it can offer families (especially conservative families) these days. It keeps the little ones safe from the evils of the world, whether these evils be a school shooting or that child who has two dads. It doesn’t focus on grades and tests, but mastery of a subject, allows families to grow closer, and can easily be personalized according to the child’s needs. There are also plenty of groups your children can be involved in, so they’re still learning how to socialize—and with different age groups!

The first problem is that children need to learn how to socialize with their peers. If they don’t learn it as a kid, they’re going to struggle with it for the rest of their lives. They deserve to have the option to go to school with the kids who live near them, to know who their friends mean when they talk about that one annoying guy at school, or a certain teacher.

Second, all these homeschooled group activities seem to be pretty optional. A child’s social development should not be optional. It’s the primary reason for public schooling to exist, in the first place.

Third, homeschooling has this way of allowing parents to be lax. It’s a huge responsibility that many fall short of. It all depends on the parents, whether children will learn or not: you can’t expect the kids to teach themselves. You have to be teacher and tutor, which means you have to actually know your shit. A good homeschooling parents should never tell their six-year-old kid to go look at a workbook when the kid can’t figure out how to subtract. You have to construct a schedule and stick to it. You have to include all the basic subjects, not just the ones you like.

Fourth, teachers are trained for this. They know what they’re doing. I’d argue that you shouldn’t even attempt homeschooling without a degree in education, combined with a psychology background. And regular check-ins with the DCFS. From the start, they’re not just teaching your child about how to read and count, they’re also teaching them memory and social skills.

Fifth, public school provides a more rounded worldview for a child, so they can better see what’s normal or what’s not, and so they can make their own decisions, rather than continually parroting the opinions of their parents. They learn what’s standard behavior from teachers and peers, instead of being confined to what’s standard within the family.

Sixth, schools are a model for the workplace. A child who’s homeschooled may not have the same access to things such as “career days,” or have the same set schedule, every day, where they have to be somewhere or risk penalties.

Seventh, and most important, the privacy of a homeschool environment can be a breeding ground for child abuse. Not all homeschool parents are abusers, and not all public school children avoid being abused. But it’s creating a secretive environment where a kid could be getting beaten up every day, and nobody would know. School provides a safe place for kids to be away from their parents, and gives parents time away from their kids, so at the end of the day, they can enjoy being together a little more.

I’m far from an expert in any of this, but I’ve had to struggle to make up for my mother’s disastrous attempts at homeschooling. I’ve been encouraging my boyfriend to get a GED, and trying to help his little sister, who reached out to me asking how I managed to get into college. I know firsthand what a mess homeschooling can be if it isn’t done right.

Hark! An Update!

Hiya, anyone who still reads my blog. After falling off the face of the earth again, I have many updates.

First, I am currently in Greece, studying abroad. Talk about awesome. I’m slowly learning bits of the language, and developing a great appreciation for the food (never before have I liked yogurt or feta cheese).

Second, I am in a committed relationship, and we’re planning to get engaged once I get back (and this guy is none other than he whom I’ve written about before). I never really got over him, and we just so happened to meet up at camp again this summer. This time, we were both a lot more mature, mentally stable, and ready to handle a relationship. He still makes me happy, and makes me feel a lot less crazy, even on the craziest days.

Third, depression is a thing, as always. Which really sucks, when you’re an introvert in a foreign country, and still have to go to school. But I’m dealing with it a lot better.

Fourth, my cat, Moe, is back home in the care of my sister. She’s not doing well. She’s really sick, and being kept at the vet for observation. This has been going on since Thursday.

Fifth, my sister is mad at me and pulling the silent treatment. I thought we’d moved past such childishness, but I guess I was wrong. But at least she’s still taking care of Moe.

Sixth, I really am a lot mentally healthier. Though depression is still a thing, it usually doesn’t rule me, and I have, at the very least, an amazing boyfriend whom I can tell absolutely anything to help bring me back to happy.

Excuse me now, while I go back to pretending to do my homework while, in reality, I’ll probably be drafting more posts.

Peace, friends!

Moving Forward

Hi! I know, it’s been forever since I posted anything. Might as well have fallen off the face of the earth! But nope, I’m still alive and kicking. I’ve started school (as a Creative Writing major), so that’s keeping me busy, and therapy is going well, if I can just get to my appointments on time.

So, life goes on. Depression sucks, but I think things are getting better, if I can just keep myself going.

Peace, friends!

Tantrums and Time Out—For Adults!

So, the last few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. Between trying to get off my butt and finally get into school, going on vacation, and trying to keep my head above the waters of debt, I’ve been pretty busy. (Also, I’ve been up to my neck obsessed with a certain anime, but we won’t talk about that. We prefer to forget that.)

Then came the inevitable meeting with my counselor. Most shoved under the magnifying glass this week was my temper. See, I’ve caused a few problems with my roommates. I can be quite nasty. Even when I’m not trying to be, it just spills over. They’re scared of me, at those times.

Of course, I’d never hurt them. I would never come after them with a pair of scissors, for instance. No, I learned long ago not to physically take my anger out on others. I just get shouty and throw things and storm off. That’s good control, right?

Ha.

Controlling my temper is a problem. I’m the first one to admit it. If I were in Pixar’s Inside Out, my primary emotion would be anger. Whenever I’m sad or afraid or feeling some other negative emotion, anger, like a knight in shining hatred, takes the helm. It’s been my defense mechanism for so long that I don’t know how to deal without it. What do you do? Let it out, no matter how safe you think your outlet might be, and you scare people. Turn it inwards, and you’ll only end up hurting yourself. It’s an unending dilemma.

Along with that comes the problem of fear. Using fear against others is one of my greatest weapons, only encouraged by five years working at a haunted house. It’s an addictive thing. Because, when people are scared of you, when you see their eyes widen and they back away, you no longer feel afraid. You are the one with the power, and suddenly every insult they’ve ever thrown at you, every time they’ve laughed, doesn’t matter anymore. There’s only the power, and who has it.

This, and more, I discussed with my counselor. Who brought up a few interesting points.

First, I need to think about what I want out of relationships with those I’m closest to. Do I want them to fear me? Do I want to lord that power over them? Well, if so, I’ll just be repeating the abusive cycle. This is why so many abuse victims turn into abusers, themselves. They can’t let go of those coping mechanisms that don’t apply outside of where they were abused. For instance, my mother backed off when I got angry. That’s how I was taught to make her stop. But now, living about two hundred miles away from her with my three roommates, I don’t need to respond that way anymore. Trying to unlearn the message you inhaled from childhood isn’t easy.

Second, my counselor explained the concept of time out. When children do something, good parents send them into time out. Why, he asked me. I answered, because the parents need a break. And then I realized—the purpose of this was to give the parents a chance to diffuse their own tempers. To keep them from doing something they’d regret.

So, that’s my other new project. To take time out, and think about my goals. How I want my relationships with the people in question, like my roommates, to go. I can choose to make them fear me—to make them back off. I can also choose to chill, open up, and explain the problem to them, and attempt to make things better via communication.

Well, it’s a daunting task. Actually talking to people about feelings in the past has ended in bad news for me. But my roommates are not my parents. They are not my sister, even though she’s gotten so much better. They’re good people, and I need to give them a chance.

Horrific Thoughts

My current by-myself-project is a horror story, so I’ve been doing a bit of reading up, trying to get some ideas to take it above mere lameness. But how?

I have this obsession with fear, in case you weren’t aware. The simple horror of our everyday lives. What’s hiding under the bed. Always best when combined.

But finding the right combination? Now that’s the tricky part. Ghosts? Haunted houses? Demons? Witches? Abusive monsters?

Today, I stumbled across this lovely post. It really got me thinking. What’s scary to me? Something that won’t make the average person shudder—just me. What does the great Mac fear?

Hm. Well, let’s see. I hate being taken advantage of, for one. (Anyone here not scared of that? Wow. Nobody. What a surprise!) That extends into so many things. I hate being tricked. Lied to. Manipulated.

I hate being helpless. Not being able to do anything. Especially when someone I care about is in trouble. Like when I had to sit and wait and find out whether my friend who might have killed himself was alive or not (he wasn’t). When I had to sit back and let the vet put my cat to sleep. Or when my sister was arrested again, mistreated by the cops, and I was stuck at work.

I’m scared of going back to what I was before. Being forced to go back to my parents’ house. Back under their control. It’s more than a lack of independence, though. It’s a prison of junk. Impassable walls of insanity. Trapped in an endless maze with no exit. Trapped in that life, where I had no idea how to help myself.

Of course, I am also quite insecure, and scared of not being loved. But also scared of it, because I’ve still got the insane maze of my own mind to navigate. Letting someone in? That’s terrifying.

Well, I suppose we also can’t forget finances. I’m so scared of going broke. But that can go back to having to rely on my parents again, back home, and so forth.

And this lovely session of the Rantings, Ramblings, Ravings, and Musings has given me ideas. I hope I can make them work!