I am who I am

Life is a network of influences. To the degree I am a sensitive person. To the degree I am an intuitive person, I point to my history. Life makes us who we are. It makes alcoholics hard to predict. It makes their children more aware. They need to learn to read moods to survive.

It is different for me. Everything in my life was to some degree chaotic. I estimate living in 9 places before the sixth grade. Sometimes living with my mother, sometimes my sister or Hilda. I don’t recall ever feeling like a child. But, I only have my own experience. I don’t know how other children feel. Or feel now as adults.

I can’t count how many people shaped who I am. Kids in school, teachers and relatives. Many of them were positive. Some were not positive. Kids at school called me names. And it wasn’t fun. But I think it gave me an openness and acceptance of others.

There was once a game in P.E. The two popular boys were the captains. One by one they picked their teams. I was the last one. Each team said they in fact didn’t want me. I just walked away. I’m not sure why they would be so mean.

I know I wanted acceptance from others. To be one of the cool kids. This is why I painted my nails with a marker. Later I did embarrassing things for attention. Kids can be mean, without being mean people. This acceptance is what should come from family.

In the sixth grade for a short period I was popular. Well, maybe unusual is a better word. I achieved a lot of attention and it felt good. Overtime it felt empty. Because it was empty. None of them really knew or cared about me. Over time I relied on myself.

I learned to rely on myself. Because I didn’t have anyone else. This meant I couldn’t depend on someone to help me adapt. I had to learn to accept changes. My intuition comes from these lessons. I learned to listen, be quiet and watch. Life has taught me to wait before action. It is often easier and smarter.

I also spent a lot of time alone. Alone walking and thinking about life. One time I decided to see how far I could walk up the river. I walked for what felt like hours. When I found a cool canyon I stopped. Coming back it got dark. I got scared. How would I find where I lived in the dark. We went to the river often. But not at night. I did make it home safe. I took my sister to the canyon soon after.

The property was 13 acres. Most of it was familiar to me. I had walked around it enough to know each piece well. I could find peace in my own head by walking in nature. Being out with the birds and trees and rocks. Just thinking.

Spending time alone is self-perpetuating in some ways. You get used to your own thoughts. And if you don’t share them people around you don’t understand. When you share a little, it feels easier to stay quiet. You know you understand yourself. And the people close to you are not as close anymore.

I interacted with adults a great deal as a child. More so than children. I didn’t try to be an adult. But I watched them and listened. And when I talked to them, it wasn’t as a child. Many relationships may have fine tuned my boundaries. But, the relationships I had were weak. I was the only person I was close to as a child.

All the relationships in my life felt the same. And maybe this is because the people around me were not constant.

People learn to want things in relationships. But as a child I think I didn’t expect much. Maybe this allowed me to be more aware of my world. By not expecting things from people I could see them in a different way. As I grew up I developed more of an emotional need. But I don’t recall one as a child.

Looking back as an adult, I can see how I kept problems to myself. When I had a health issue, I didn’t discuss it. For whatever reason, talking to an adult didn’t seem like the natural choice. I didn’t talk about my feelings. Even as I got older.

For years I didn’t understand missing people. They came and went. But missing is not accepting what is. They are not there. Then they are there. Missing is wanting what isn’t there to be there. I don’t think I ever wanted someone to be there who wasn’t. Again not looking at what isn’t there, helps see what is there.

I am a soft person. And the softness makes people comfortable. I don’t judge. Maybe I just always felt connected to people. I didn’t have the strong bond with a few people. And became more aware of weaker bonds. And the bonds of others too.

But acceptance of people is also a way of not being alone. You can’t afford to reject someone. Because you fear having no one. At times it felt like I lost people going through life. Maybe I felt like I lost my mother. Did I blame myself? She was there, but she wasn’t a mother.

When I got older I lost my sister. She was there but we drifted apart. And sometimes I feel like I even lost myself. Being friends with someone means supporting them. You encourage them and help them be who their best selves. In high school I focused on getting along. I just wanted to survive. I didn’t know how to support and encourage myself and my goals. So, I gave them up.

I’ve been a little lost ever since. If you have ever walked a trail in the dark. You know staying in the trail can be tricky. But if you take it slow, the trail will take you along. Once you lose the trail, you’re chances are slim. You can feel what is and isn’t the trail while on the trail. But without a reference you can’t feel the difference.

Losing people can  also be self-perpetuating. Relationships change as a part of growth. If you feel like a change is a loss, you may push away. Just a little push. But, one little push for one reason or another is often followed by another. Until, they are gone. Looking back this is what happened with my sister. Again there was a guilt I took on around the loss.

But you can’t go home again. And looking back I can see how home is what we both needed. We both coped. I took one path and she took another. My therapist pointed out she filled her life with people. I let them all go. All or nothing.

I always hated the question. Have you ever thought of killing yourself. For a long time I thought everyone had. I know I thought about it a lot. At times I am sure I wanted death. But something kept me alive. Keeps me alive.

When I drank the cleaner as a young child. I didn’t care about life. When I got lost it scared me. But at the same time I didn’t care. When I tried to overdose on sleep pills. Did I do it knowing it wouldn’t work because they were natural. Or did I do it hoping it would work anyway. And my life wasn’t particularly rough at the time.

We need people to get us out of our head. Sylvia Plath asked, is there no way out of the mind. The way out is relationships. And I still don’t know how.

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