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on the need to belong

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perhaps it is some sort of left-over, psychic residue from being adopted, but i struggle to feel like i belong anywhere.  i mean, in the greater, universal, scheme of things– i obviously feel like i belong in my immediate family…but that’s really about it.

growing up, i always had theatre. it was my loving, accepting family of misfits. as i age, i find it more and more difficult to discover that niche.

while searching for an image for this entry, i came across a quote that really resonated with me: “because true belong only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance,”{ brene brown }. normally, i think of myself as being full of self-acceptance…so why do i yearn to “belong to something greater”???

at work, there’s a large group of my peers that all attend the same place of worship. { that was weird in and of itself to me, getting re-use to people talking openly about their spirituality. never happened in california, THAT’s for sure! } i attended once, just to check it out, and because a good friend of mine happens to be the minister.  to put it succinctly- NOT MY STYLE. which is fine. but, it kinda hurts/aches/ makes-me-feel-left-out that they all attend there. and all find it spiritually satisfying.  i said to my friend & co-worker N today something tongue-in-cheek about not being one of the “cool kids” that attends there, and she said she maybe goes about once a month. and weirdly, i feel left out.

so, i’m left feeling a deep sense of non-belonging. even as an adult, it hurts.

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“guest post”: depression

it’s no secret that many of us battle day-in-day-out with various forms and degrees of depression. i have been thinking a lot, recently, of my own on going battle with the disease that lies { as i prefer to call it }. instead of giving you all the long, drawn out history, i’m going to attempt to condense it all into brief tidbits, and then allow the “guest posts” { aka other bloggers/webcomics  i will gladly give full credit to } to speak their truths in a more enjoyable way.

my mother claims i always battled the “dark and morose” feelings and was an emotional rollercoaster even at the tender age of 4. in my own recollection, the onslaught of the disease that lies began my senior year of high school, and manifested itself as crazy, brutal, epic panic attacks of doom! { registered trademark } that sent me home on a semi-regular basis. i was overwhelmed with the thought of dying–and not in the suicidal way– no no, i was CONVINCED that i was about to die, any second. driving home from school, i would chant mantras of “please let me live until my parents come home so i can tell them i love them” or “please don’t let me die, because then my car will careen out of control and take innocent people with me”….it was horrible, and followed me through several states and into my early college career. the anxiety difused, but never fully went away { every once in a blue moon, i still get an epic attack }, instead turning into a constant monologue of self-deprecation and doubt.

this general “depression” was made worse by a year of non-voluntary, semi-confinement { also known as teaching english in a foreign country } wear my nearest native-english speaking neighbour was a 20 minute drive away, i didn’t have a car for the first 4 months, and said person was a misogynist chode. matters were made worse by the committee of elderly “gentlemen” who were my direct supervisors and made me feel like shit about myself for not being the MALE TEACHER they had requested. so enduring a year of this, on top of recovering from major anxiety, and plagued with all sorts of other demons, has left me more broken than i would be…which is unfortunate in that, besides the suckitude of making me feel isolated and unworthy and alone, that year abroad was actually quite an amazing experience. had i been placed somewhere more central, or with less old-fashioned, misogynist bosses, i’d be way better adapted.

SIGH. which brings me to the “guest” part of this post….because all these amazing people are going through similar feelings that i deal with at least on a weekly basis.

the admirable wil wheaton from his blog/mini-empire wilwheaton.net : an excerpt:   I haven’t ever felt suicidal, but I do have Depression and Anxiety. I suffered for no good reason for decades, until I couldn’t reconcile my awesome life with feeling terrible all the time. Talking therapy wasn’t ever enough for me, and I was very resistant to medication, because I believed (and continue to believe) that we are an over-medicated culture.

another incredible person the bloggess { aka jenny larson } updates often on her struggles, so i’m including not one, but TWO links…this one is about depression greeting cards and brings awareness to national mental health awareness week.  this one is more introspective, and really brings home the message that **depression lies**—When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t.  We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.

finally, for those of you who are more visual, i give you “adventures in depression” by the fabulous webcomic artist/site hyberbole and a halfthis is just part one of her journey, which is concluded in her most recent post “depression: part two”, where she so aptly describes what suffering from the disease that lies is really like: At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

with that, i leave you with this panel from hyperbole and a halfDEPRESSIONTWO8.2

envy & blessings & regret

it’s phenomenal how often in my life these three things { envy, blessings, regret }become inexplicably intertwined. the “negative” states of being force me to remind myself of what blessings i have, but reminding myself of said blessings makes it painfully clear the things i am lacking. and i’m not even necessarily referring to tangible objects. here is what i’ve been reflecting on recently….

BLESSINGS

i’m not one to usually divulge such information, but since it will put it painfully into perspective, our family { self, spousal unit, 2 kitties } officially made under $8,000 for the fiscal year of 2012. that’s not a typo. under $8,000! with unofficial income { aka cash } that puts us up to maybe $10k at best. and yet, we never went hungry. we always made rent. we paid our utilities. we were able to move. we were able to insure our car and keep gas in it. because of supportive family and even strangers we have been able to keep going. what a blessing indeed! and yet, there are still huge unresolved financial burdens { old medical bills, student loans, the constant use of our one credit card when times get tight } that i mire in worry & doubt about how much longer can this continue? i have tried to take steps to become more financially stable { my job is at best 25-30 hours a week and is under $12/hr….but with awesome benefits } but the harsh reality of the economy, and my marketability have so far gotten me no where. which leads to…

REGRET

i regret all the little “life altering” decisions that, if i could go back in time and change them, would put us in a better life situation. i find myself regretting what i studied in college, or even that i WENT to college, and sometimes even that i decided to pursue my master’s degree…which seems to have made me LESS marketable instead of more.  i regret that i didn’t take more advantage of opportunities that were before me during my academic years: i should have studied abroad more, done more internships, submitted works for publication or consideration at conferences.  i know i can’t change any of things, which can hurt so deeply and { for me at least } makes it difficult to move forward with my life.  i get overwhelmed by the people around me, whether they are total strangers or people i have known for decades who seem on the surface to be struggling less than i am; than we are. which leads to…

ENVY

the inner beast. the peculiar thing is, as previously mentioned, i don’t feel/think i’m envious of tangible, physical STUFF. as a clear example, i will reference someone i recently reconnected with through the magic of social media. { i will try to keep it as anonymous as humanly possible } i can not remember a time i was not jealous/envious of…let’s call her uma. i met her in college, and she radiates warmth, vivacity, joy and is impossible not to like. i wanted to BE her { not in the creepy SWF way }. she had a childhood i could only dream of–uma’s parents were missionaries { which, in and of itself, i’m not envious of. i had a hard enough time with my own father who had ALMOST become an ordained minister. } which meant she grew up in far-away exotic countries, was well-traveled, and truly “worldly”. she was, and still is gorgeous- in part because of those qualities she naturally radiates- but also because she doesn’t try to be gorgeous. part of my collegiate envy was professional–i was a theatre major, and was certain at the time, that acting was what i was going to pursue. uma was not a theatre major, but was involved with theatre, and we regularly would get called back for the same roles….and they would go to uma. it was heart-breaking– particularly *because* of the fact that she did not want to professionally pursue acting, and i did. how was i supposed to gain experience, and hone my skills and get better if i was never given the opportunity? and uma was? sigh…fast-forward to the present day and reconnecting. she is still gorgeous and radiates this odd inner joy/peace/vivacity/beauty that i’m both drawn to and am envious of. she lives abroad…which i am envious of. not only that it’s not HERE, but that’s she has lived in so many places that i want to visit & experience for myself. and cannot { at least now } afford to. she has 2 beautiful children, and while i am not envious of the having kids { i really don’t think i ever want any }, i am envious of the capability to afford children. the more i find myself filling with envy over other people’s lives, i realize because it HURTS SO BAD that my life is lacking those things.

i’m not really sure where i am going with all of this. it is so difficult to make heads or tails of it all.

letters to friends lost/ letters to friends retained: part one

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do you ever stop and think WHY are we still friends? i don’t mean to come off sounding like an ass, but i guess i’m more trying to get to the existential truth of how do we really define friendship. there are few people in this world that i consider counting among my true friends, and you most definitely are one of them.  and yet…when was the last time we talked?{not emailed/messaged/ what-have you, but actually talked?} or even saw each other? {i think over 2 years ago  this past summer???}.

i acknowledge, in part, that distance plays a LARGE part of this {2,025 miles according to google maps} so it’s not like i can just pop on over for tea. or like we can set up movie night or girl’s night or whatever. the last time we were close enough to do any of that was high school. crazy right??

i also acknowledge that time plays {perhaps} an even greater part in all this.and not just the obvious living in different time zones. but also the fact that i know time is precious for you– even more so than it is for me. the demands of your occupation {of which i’m still so incredibly proud of you for accomplishing!}, and having a beautiful family of your own, i don’t even know how you find time for yourself!

more than anything, i blame myself for not trying harder. in recent years, i’ve even let standard holiday cards slip by. {did i even send Hanukkah or rosh hashanah e-cards this past year???} i have yet to send you this book i bought ages ago, the intent being you could read it to/with your girls, especially since both there names are attached to it: the author’s name, and one of the characters.  i don’t think i have ever called you, unless we are in the same state, which happens so infrequently. i’ve never even asked if we can set up a time to skype.

despite all of this, i still consider us close. i still refer to you as one of my best friends. does this mean that i am failing as a friend, or does it speak to some greater truth, that i know deep-down, no matter what, WHEN i reach out to you, WHEN we have time, it will not matter how long it’s been since the last time we spoke/saw each other. that somehow, our friendship –though thousands of miles apart, with many time gaps in between–has survived going to different colleges, living in different states and countries, pursuing different careers…? i guess it must.

i want to believe this letter is just a first step. that i will try harder to be a better friend.

forgive me for not trying harder before.