crystalina: (Default)
( Dec. 2nd, 2009 10:13 pm)
I still remember the day I realized, truly realized, that life had no restart button. For a smart kid, I was surprisingly good at detaching myself from reality.

I sat, in my father's cigarette-smoke-filled recliner, talking on that off-white, corded phone to Gabe. He was my soon-to-be boyfriend, or my ex-boyfriend, or whatever the fuck we were for that year. We were discussing his ex-girlfriend and her past, a rare moment in which he was not speaking derisively of her. He told me of her father and the sexual abuse she'd endured, and despite the fact that my entire life was littered with abuse, that I grew up in the eighties and nineties with after-school specials and VERY SPECIAL EPISODES teaching my peers and I to tell a trusted adult if we were harmed, this information shocked me. The living room almost seemed to spin in the dusk, and the rock, the one that had somehow bounced around inside of me for years as the constant barrage of food and music protected me from accepting its presence, finally hit the pit of my stomach and shook me. From a young age, I'd fought against various injustices on the playground and at home, desperately wanting to heal the wounds of my life, the lives of other children, and of the world. Yet until that night at the age of sixteen, I had never allowed it all to truly connect.

Looking back, I suppose that conversation is what triggered the crumbling of the wall I'd put up in order to survive the reality of my own life, a wall that I keep thinking is completely down but seems to magically edify itself again on a regular basis, if at a shorter stature.
crystalina: (Default)
( Nov. 26th, 2009 11:10 am)
For the past two nights, I've had dreams involving gatherings, mostly of family. While each dream had a distinct streak of loveliness in it, life was not perfect, and this made them even more poignant. In these dreams, my parents were still disconnected from reality, struggling with mental, emotional, and physical ailments. However, they seemed to have been brushed over with a coat of kindness, which suprised my dream-self but led to interactions that were far less painful than usual.

Clearly, these dreams relate to my anxieties and hopes surrounding the winter holidays, beginning with today's Thanksgiving. In the shower this morning, I contemplated this, wondering if I could help bring this about. I recognize that, after decades of behavior ranging from dysfunctional to abusive, I have reached many of my limits with patience. My childhood was spent trying to appease their mood swings, to avoid swinging hands and objects, and to comfort them in their struggles. Quite frankly, I'm emotionally exhausted. Beyond that, I want my experiences validated, not apologized for, not ignored, not excused: validated. My parents refuse or are unable to deal with the level of honesty that I've come to realize is necessary for anything resembling a healthy relationship. Yet, I keep holding out for that, all while becoming more and more aware of my parents' mortality and my own potential for deep levels of regret and guilt.

As usual, I'm torn between my sense of duty, love, and hope for my fucked-up family and my need for emotional health. I'm an idealist, seeing people too often for their potential rather than for their reality. Perhaps it's time to stop clinging to that idealism with my family, to see them for whom they are - helpful and harmful, and to interact with them with an air of slightly more detached realism.

This day in celebration of imperialism, broken promises, and abusive superiority is as good a day as any to begin.
crystalina: (Default)
( Nov. 23rd, 2009 08:43 pm)
This morning (yeah, 11:58 is still morning), I was ripped from my dreams by a phone call from a former student needing help with the final essay of his first university class, which he had procrastinated on. My current ringtone is a lovely Julia Nunes tune, so I didn't actually catch the call before my phone clicked over to voicemail, but still, I was awake, my beautiful dreamworld fading all around me into a wistful memory of love and authentic human connection.

As I lay in bed replaying the dream and trying to recover what I lost by being flung into reality, I realized the dream was a metaphor for my life. The majority of my life is spent anticipating what others need and fulfilling those needs as best I can, no matter what happiness of my own I give up in the process, including sleep or attention to my hobbies. While I recognize that this is largely motivated by my dysfunctional childhood, which helped me develop into a pseudo-savior, I'm hesitant to totally give up this aspect of my personality because I value what we call "altruism," and I long to be adored (more childhood hang-ups).

Still, the disparity between my dreamworld and my nihilistic reality has lingered, and I'm struck with a desire to make changes in my life that could lead to a happier reality. Somehow, I need to learn how to embrace that which makes me happy and how to stop relying on my own persistent martyrdom to earn something resembling love.
crystalina: (Default)
( Jul. 20th, 2009 10:40 pm)
More on our road trip, later.

Traveling has been fun, but I love being home. Being gone made me appreciate it.


How have you all been this past week?
This morning, my first of a month off from work, I awoke around nine and decided to move to the living room and continue reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, rather than to go back to sleep until noon. After reading a couple of chapters, I was inspired to write and opened up my laptop for the first time in a few days with that very intention.

But of course, I was behind on replying to folks on Facebook and checking updates on journals and sxephil's YouTube channel and soon enough, I was hungry and feeling something akin to hungover and in no mood to write anything of substance. For a person who is naturally empathic and known for being OMG-SO-NICE, social networking can be a curse. And I feel so very mired in my life and the lives of the hundreds of others who fall into my wide net of people-who-matter-to-me-on-some-level that I can't seem to view any of it objectively, like I'm constantly bailing myself out of a sinking rowboat.


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This is unrelated, but I found it on Kate Harding's Shapely Prose and needed to share because I find it so appalling: Ask Men's advice on how to "subtly" tell one's girlfriend/wife she's getting fat. WOW.
I learned to ride a bicycle when I was about eight years old because my father couldn't be bothered to put the training wheels back on after a publicly humiliating and abusive attempt by my parents to teach me to ride.

For weeks after the failed "lesson," my bike sat in the garage, first out of stubborn anger at the situation on the part of my parents and later because, despite living with us, my father was almost never around, spending his evenings with friends, drinking beer and working on race cars. My mother probably could have put them back on, but she never did, likely not wanting to usurp my father's position as the "man of the house" or tear herself away from her own afternoon/evening responsibilities (to housework, severe mood swings, and mudslides).

One day, my friend wanted to ride bikes, again. Tired of turning her down (and really frustrated that she was nearly a year younger than I was and could ride a ten-speed), I grabbed my bike from the garage, hopped on, and taught myself to ride rather quickly. Of course, I was proud of myself and told my parents, hoping to erase the stigma brought on by our abusive first attempt. Naturally, they were not impressed, and to this day, my mother will bring up that embarrassing day as a joke at my expense, generally to point out how "crazy" and neurotic I was.

Even so, I did it. I conquered my fear of riding a bike and opened my own door to years of enjoyment and empowerment as a result.

Today, on Father's Day (another in a line of greeting-card-driven holidays that I despise), I'm embracing this story as a metaphor for my entire relationship with my father, remembering that I may be scarred and saddened by his actions, but I'm also strong and self-reliant.
Each time I come to a break from school, I realize that I've lived a life that is far too stress-filled over the past several months and vow not to subject myself to such a lifestyle again as it inevitably leads to a painfully frustrating flare.

And still, here I am, in my five-day break between regular school and summer school, feeling worthless as I sleep or simply lie around in pain when I have lots of work to do (while Josh scrubs our shower and shampoos the carpets in the pre-summer-cleaning-frenzy). Of course, I should focus on gratitude. After all, I have a husband who takes it upon himself to work on deep-cleaning out home, holding no resentment toward my inability to help. Also, I have friends who invite me to do relaxing things, so I'm not stranded and completely lonely (like Brooke, who had me over for a spa day and Liz and Josh, who had us over for a cook-out and Rock Band night). Plus, I have the sort of job that includes frequent, built-in time off, a luxury many people I know don't have.

I have made at least one positive change in my life: I'm now wearing some serious sunblock on all exposed skin, every day. Yeah, I should have done this from the first moment I realized my lupus affected my skin as well as my joints, but I didn't. Hopefully the rashes on my chest and arms will go away after a couple of weeks of this practice.

Flares always lead to interesting television watching on my part, especially when I'm too fatigued to read or write. During my time at Brooke's, we ended up sucked into this show on MTV that takes vapid to an entirely new level: Paris Hilton's My New BFF. Wow. Paris Hilton has taken junior high school, playground politics to an entirely new level. People have to go through embarrassing challenges in order to prove their friendship worthiness, while Ms. Hilton makes rather arbitrary decisions about to whom she will say, "TTYN [Talk to You Never]." The show is both sickening and fascinating on a psychological level.