At the Bottom of Everything

It’s an act of love; coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs out—a regular life, boring love. – Jim Parsons

After nearly five years together, my boyfriend and I are beginning to watch relationships of very close friends wither down. I never imagined that at twenty years old, I would know people who were getting divorces or breaking up and having disputes over lease agreements or property.

In all honesty, it could happen to any of us. I was never shown what a successful relationship was, and I often make decisions based off irrational fears that I may be doing it wrong. With that being said, seeing years of work fall apart for other people has prompted me to ask myself what breaks it down? What are our limits? Do I have one?

About two years into my relationship I  was getting ready to leave for college, and I remember my worst fear (like many other 17 year old girls) was a long distance relationship. Now, distances are the least of my worries. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the difficulties of long distance relationships, and I’m not disputing that they can put strains on people. However, in my case, I don’t feel like it is really cause for concern. I don’t worry about him cheating (not in the slightest), I can handle being on my own if I need to be, and while I would hate having to miss him, it would always be nice having someone to miss.

At this point, you may be thinking that I probably don’t give a rats ass about my boyfriend, but you’re wrong. A close friend of mine went into the Army shortly after he started dating a girl from home. He went to boot camp, and with months of distance they decided that they would get married. Shortly after his tour in Afghanistan, his service time for the Army was up, and they moved back home for their first months of normal, married civilian life. Barely 6 months into the normal, boring life that is marriage, they are getting a divorce.

I’m not hating on the wonderful mess that is normal, boring love as Jim Parsons put it. I’m also not disputing that the issue lies in the fact that they married very early into the relationship. My point is actually that normal, boring love is hard. The distance may be difficult and it may put a wedge between you, but generally, the distance can’t be blamed on anyone, and a lot of times, it brings you closer. I know I sound like an old lady spouting old adages about absence and love, but hear me out.

I have spent the Summer working 8-5 Monday through Friday, wishing for the days when all I had to do was study for a test. The worst part of my day is kissing my boyfriend goodbye on the mornings that we don’t carpool to the train station. When I get home, I fix dinner and do laundry and watch Netflix documentaries about wildlife populations. Sometimes I’m so tired, I end up falling asleep at 8, and waking up the next morning at 6.

Finding the time to acknowledge my love during all of this gets difficult. Of course it is still there, but the immensity of that emotion from the early days fades, not just with us, but with everyone. I love my boring love. I love the days when it is not so boring; but I think that the key to making it work is not to expect a homecoming at the end of everyday. You can’t always have scripted airport hugs or long, deep conversations. Sometimes there will be nothing to talk about, and you have to accept the silence without trying to force something to be what it isn’t.

At the end of the day, you are partners. In crime, in love, in business, in emotions. Too many people have an ideal of relationships that they hold on a pedestal to look to for guidance. It’s all fake. One of my pet peeves is when people say, “marriage is hard.” Marriage isn’t hard. Being in a committed relationship is hard. Being around someone day in and day out and not starting to hate them is hard. Budgeting finances together, cleaning out junk, arguing about who did the dishes last, and who took the dog out, and who left the top off the toothpaste — these things are hard.  When you begin to view love as anything but a partnership, you’re doomed.

I have had moments of fear and doubt because I was exhausted from arguing day in and day out. I get tired of having the same arguments that always end in the same way. But at the end of the day, I spend the most private parts of my life with someone who shares my values, my ambitions, my hopes. We may not agree on how to get to those things, but we share the same fundamental drive. When I have doubts and when I get fed up, I realize that the person I just slammed the door on is my best friend, and there is very little that is worth losing that over.

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Fantastic Safe Havens and Where to Lose Them

“I sabotaged you and me,” Leonard said. “I see that now. I’m able to think a little more clearly now. Part of growing up in the kind of family I  come from, a family of alcoholics, is that you begin to normalize disease and dysfunctionality. Disease and dysfunctionality are normal for me. What’s not normal is feeling…” He broke off. “Remember that day you said you loved me? Remember that? See, you could do that because you’re basically a sane person, who grew up in a loving, sane family. You could take a risk like that. But in my family we didn’t go around saying we loved each other. We went around screaming at each other. So what do I do, when you say you love me? I go and undermine it. I go and reject it by throwing Roland Barthes in your face. And so you left,” he continued. “You walked out. And you were right to do that.”

A few days ago I began reading The Marriage Plot, a Jeffrey Eugenides novel that exemplifies my feelings about my current life and bits of my past. Overall, it’s one of the best books that I have read in years, simply because of its honesty and its relevance. After finishing the first section, I decided to take a drive down my favorite street, and on a whim I turned on the radio. After about the fifth song it became really clear that the universe was encouraging my odd, yet frequent chain of philosophical thinking.

Since then, I have been thinking about how I want to write this post. Right now, sitting in front of the TV with pizza and a fuzzy blanket, I think I have finally mustered the nerve to give it a shot. I’ll admit though, I’m currently procrastinating by thinking about how awkwardly attractive Jesse Eisenberg is, so obviously I’m a little resistant.

I guess I’ll start with a pet peeve of mine. Growing up with divorced parents is pretty common these days. Growing up with alcoholic parents is even kind of common these days. But as if these things weren’t hard enough for a kid, other parents, they make things worse. You see, I have experienced first hand the exile that comes with these things; the judgement, it’s the worst. You have friends whose parents automatically write you off as bad news. A 16 year old with a drugs and a record, they scream bad news. A 13 year old whose mom sleeps around? Not so much. That can’t be helped, but somehow, the child always gets dubbed guilty by association. I know I did. I understood the problem even then, but I still didn’t understand why that made me a bad person, a bad influence.

I moved to a lot of different schools, never staying in one place and often not being happy with where I was living or who I was living with. I didn’t have trouble making friends, I just had trouble making ones that I felt mattered. And when the time came that I had finally felt like I had a place, I was met with the above problem. I made a good friend, but I was well aware and informed that the parents weren’t fans of me or my mother’s habits. Looking back, I know that no one is who they are at 13 years old, or even 15 for that matter, and I often think, how dare they? My relationship with these friends fell apart slowly (around the age of 15), and at a vital point in my life I was left dealing with a pretty shitty parental situation, and no guidance, adult or otherwise. I went down a dark hole that involved what I thought was “meaningful” promiscuous sex (someone should tell 15 year olds that there is no such thing), and many nights looking for someone to want me.

One day in the Summer of 2009, my dad and step mom dropped me off at my mom’s as per the usual schedule. I hated it there, and I hated how they made me feel. But I also hated that when I got home, my mom’s house was empty, and I had no one there say “hey happy to see you.” What was worse: being smothered by over protective parents or being abandoned by the ones who could care less? My instinctive reaction to this was to call every friend I talked to regularly (or even close to that) until I found one that would talk for a while so I wouldn’t feel too lonely. I would pace the road in front of my house, sitting under my favorite tree when the asphalt was too hot. On this specific occasion, I called a casual guy friend (we’ll call him Levi cause I like that name) who happened to invite me to a bon fire right down the road. I called my mom to dutifully ask permission, and what do you know, she said sure. That night I met his mom, his family friends, and his girlfriend that I had been hearing about during our conversations. They had just started dating, and I didn’t think too much about the fact that he had kept me up to date on things. During that night though, I started to understand that what I considered a casual friend was infinitely more than that. He was telling her about how close we were, and how he was excited she could meet me. I was bragged on and praised for things that I didn’t consider to be that big of a deal. It was then that I realized that I had made another one of those friendships that mattered.

That night, Levi’s mom took me home, and just in the few minutes that it took to drive me back, I realized how incredibly cool she was to be around. She didn’t bullshit you, and something just told you that she cared. She cared about what I had to say, and who I was, and she didn’t waste time asking who my parents were or what they did for a living or if they went to college. Somehow, I ended up deciding that I would spend the next day with them going to Yard Sales and the like. It felt good to feel like I had plans with someone. That same night I went home to an empty house, and I woke up to one.

My friendship with Levi only deepened from there. His mom set things straight with me, and never hesitated to give me a piece of her mind. She wasn’t like my mom simply because she asked about things, and she knew her kids. She knew me. That’s something I had never experienced. I never knew that kind of kindness from someone that I felt should consider me a stranger. I stayed over and I spent time with the family. I felt comfortable in ways that I never did with either of my parents. I could actually sleep, and looking back, it seemed like that was all I ever did there. There was no screaming or slamming doors, there weren’t any worries. So I just slept, and I felt safe.

That Winter, my mother’s drinking got worse, but thankfully my relationship with my dad got better. It wasn’t perfect, but it was as good as I could hope for. One night things got really bad, more physical than ever before. I was alone, and scared, and I ran bare foot to the local park in the middle of February just to get away from it. I sat for a long while waiting for my dad to come and get me. The very next day, covered in bruises, the first thing I did was call Levi, and head to the only place I felt at home. I remember the look on everyone’s face when I got in the car. The hand prints on my neck and arms, the bruises on my cheek. No one asked any questions. They just took me in. I slept for hours that day. Looking back, I wished I hadn’t. I wished I would have savored that moment, that feeling of complete safety.

Not long after this, Levi and I had a falling out, and I was only consoled by my new boyfriend (still my current boyfriend actually) during that time that I was absent a friend. Things were never the same. We tried working things out several times, and there were days that I would come over and we would be pretty close, but it was never the same for him again.

Here I am at 19 years old (nearly 20 actually), and every time I panic, or feel vulnerable; every time I’m having a family strife, or I’m lost in a decision, I think about him. I think about how badly I wish I could curl up on that couch one more time, and just sleep. Sleep safely. As a girl, I know the rules. I know that losing him would have been inevitable. He would have found a girlfriend who disapproved or felt we were too close, and we would have been forced to part ways. That’s the price of befriending boys. Everything is doomed from the start.

The truth is, that did happen, and as I write I’m trying to find the right words to convey my emotions about it. We have resolved to not speak to each other for the betterment of his relationship, and I suppose in lesser ways, my own. There are days when I am angry at him for abandoning me which are always the worst (I come up with spiteful things I should say). There are days when I am sad because I feel like no one could understand the way he would, but I’m left blocked out. There are days when I am happy knowing that he is living out there, content and doing well. More often then not it’s a mix of all of the above, but I don’t think I can ever cease to feel someway about him. Sometimes I just wish that his girlfriend understood the full magnitude of what I went through, (not that it would make a difference), and what he helped me through. I wish she knew who I was now, and that a large part of that is due to him, even in the years that he hasn’t been around.

Most of the time I pretend like he’s someone who passed on or died (morbid right?). I often have a moment that I wish I could share or that he could see, and I’ll send unsolicited messages just to make me feel a bit connected; they’re like my own versions of voice mails to a lost friend.

My current boyfriend is my rock. He has put up with the worst when it comes to my life and the implications of being a part of it. But he will never know me as that vulnerable little girl because I have never let myself be that way with him. Since we have been together, I have built myself in to someone that won’t ever feel helpless again. I am responsible, and head strong, and I don’t make rash decisions anymore. But sometimes, when things get to be too much, I want to be that girl who can curl up next to my best friend, and just be the weak one. How is it that the safest I ever felt was during a time when I felt I was at my weakest point?

Normally, I would have wrote a post like this in the form of a letter (that is the easiest emotional release for me), but I wanted it to be in a format that people could understand. Do a ping back to your own story if you have one, or comment with you’re thoughts.

“After a few minutes, she started to feel a bit better. She dried her eyes. From now on, she wouldn’t have to see Mitchell ever again, if she didn’t want. Or Leonard, either. Though at this moment she felt abused, abandoned, and ashamed of herself, Madeleine knew that she was still young, that she had her whole life ahead of her – a life in which, if she persevered, she might do something special – and that part of persevering means getting past moments just like this one, when people made you feel small, unlovable, and took away your confidence”

Shameless Lives: High Achievers in Families That Achieve Little

I’m a big fan of the Showtime series Shameless. The show is currently on its fourth season, and unexpectedly, it has taken a pretty dark turn in comparison to past seasons.

The show follows the Gallagher family, a dysfunctional group of people trying to make it in Chicago. The family is headed by their sister Fiona who manages to take care of 5 kids and teenagers while ensuring that her alcoholic con artist father doesn’t burn their home to the ground or sell it for booze.

As I come from a pretty disfunctional family (and I mean more disfunctional than is generally legally allowed), I was naturally drawn to the show. Actually, another family member recommended it to me after a long discussion about our mothers (not a hard connection if you knew them). I always related to the show because I saw myself as Fiona; the caregiver, making sure everyone survives, making sure everyone stays together. But this season is portraying Fiona in a new light. She is finally in a place where she can provide substantially for the family, and she screws it up without reason. The writers for the show have deepened her character, and they are showing that everyone has shades of their parents. As the most put together and responsible person in my family, I have seen myself lose a bit of control and spiral into the very things that I despise about my mother. That is why I appreciate the writer’s for having the balls to be honest (even though it breaks my heart.)

However, this isn’t a review about the show. Its a testimonial of sorts. Along with Fiona, there is the freshly 18 year old Lip. First of his family to graduate high school, (without much difficulty I might add; he’s a genius) Lip is struggling trying to make it in college. That world is entirely different than everything he left behind in his poverty stricken neighborhood. In his absence, his family has fallen apart. His brother is scouting out a liver for their dad, his 13 year old sister is dating a 22 year old (gross), his other brother ran away, and lastly, Fiona was arrested because Liam, the baby of the family, found her cocaine. Damn, right?

All in all, things are shit for the Gallagher family right now. Lip is just now finding his element in the world that he really felt he didn’t belong (i.e. college). But he has to choose?

I haven’t been faced with this choice in this magnitude, but every time I go home to my family, I feel more and more like an outsider. Every time we argue, I hear “She’s just trying to psychoanalyze us because she goes to college.” My family loves to brag about me and my accomplishments, but they often find themselves relaying false praises to their friends because, truthfully, they have know idea what is going on in my world. My education has become the butt of every joke, a punch line just to make me feel out casted.

My father, the only sane one (divorced family, lots of half siblings), calls this jealousy. He encourages everything I do, but still, when we are together, things feel different. We don’t communicate the same anymore either.

What does this? Surely it isn’t the limited education I am paying thousands for. How could a class on Moby Dick render me incapable of communicating with people that I share blood with? From my experience, it seems that people who get out, people who move on out of the cycle of low achievment, they are just a screwed as the ones who stay. My children will prosper from my accomplishments, but for now, I am forced to choose between two worlds. Which will I protect, and what will getting out of this life cost? How can we begin to communicate if we don’t speak the same language? I may seem like I’m being melodramatic, but if you have ever experienced this, you know.

It was through all of this thinking and watching and crying over the magnificence that is Shameless that I realized, I’m not Fiona. I’m Lip. I’m straddling both worlds: the one I want to be in and the one that made me who I am. In a few years, I’ll graduate and move out of state. My mom won’t have any company, and I will worry constantly about her bad habits, but I’ll let it happen. Does this make me selfish? Accomplishing my goals means letting go of them; letting them make irrational, irresponsible decisions. Is that selfish?

I plan to go home this weekend, and I’m sure I’ll have to play taxi driver from the local bar, and nurse when someone gets too rowdy with our dogs. But then I’ll go to bed, and study, and wish that I could tell them the truth about school and work and my latest paper. But I can’t, and that’s just a part of the shameless life that I’ve been brought up in. I want out, but what will I be willing to lose?

Preface;

I have never embarked on the blog journey before. Aside from the Tumblr that I have kept since I was 14, I have kept my social media responsibilities thin. As such, I thought it would be important to preface what exactly I’m doing here.

In all honesty, I have know idea what you can expect here. I’m not very profound, nor am I intriguing or witty. I hope to become small bits of these things. But really, I just want something to document my opinions so I can quit giving them so freely to people who would rather not have me speak.

That was a bit melodramatic, but you get the idea.
Here we go.