I think about you all the time
But I don’t need the same
It’s lonely where you are
Come back down
And I won’t tell ’em your name
– Goo Goo Dolls
I grew up in household where we didn’t discuss feelings. We didn’t say “I love you” or “I miss you.” We didn’t hug. The only time someone cried in our home is when something hurt, and it hurt badly – or if that someone was Mace.
Mace is a crier.
She can cry at the drop of a hat. Momma can too. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. And they aren’t afraid to shed a tear or two over, well, anything really. Momma cries at movies, and YouTube videos, and Pinterest memes, and poorly written blogs, and puppy pictures, and songs, and me telling her a story about something that happened to a friend of mine. Mace cries when you hurt her feelings, when she is mad, when she gets hurt, when she feels left out, when she’s scared, and during thunderstorms.
I rarely cry.
For the longest time I only cried when I got really angry.
I can probably count on one hand how many times my mother has seen me cry over the last several years. It’s bizarre because I’ve probably cried more in front of my brother than I have Momma.
I’m not sure why that is. I’m not sure why I shield my emotions more from Momma than I do Bubba, or Tay, or Kristen. Maybe it’s because I feel silly for getting upset over certain things in front of her. Maybe it’s because I know that if I get upset, she will too. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always been treated like: “Oh, she’s got this. She’s the kid we don’t have to worry about.”
Because I do. And they don’t.
I’ve always had this tough-girl exterior. As a toddler, I would shout out, “I do my.seff!” In kindergarten, I got in trouble for making a third grade boy cry. I chased him around the playground whilst giving him the middle finger. I have never been one to take any shit. I have always kept a matter-of-fact outlook on life. Albeit, a bit dramatic at times, I am levelheaded and very logical.
My mother is too. She’s a bit more diplomatic than I am though. She’s also a bit more reserved and more refined than me. She doesn’t say, “fuck” as much either.
Basically, she’s a saint.
When I decided to stop speaking to my father, Momma did not pry. She did not encourage me. She did not jump on my bandwagon. She did not open the floodgates – spewing hatred toward her ex-husband. She just listened when, and if, I decided to talk.
When I left Tyler, Momma did not pry. She did not encourage me. She did not jump on my bandwagon. She did not open the floodgates – spewing hatred toward her daughter’s ex-boyfriend. She just listened when, and if, I decided to talk.
But she didn’t ask me how I felt either.
Because I was “fine.”
She’s not the only one close to me who forgets to ask how I feel or how I am doing. Momma is not the only person who forgets to call just to check in on me – my mind, my heart, my soul, my spirit. A lot of people forget to say, “Are you okay?”
I posted an article to my Facebook wall a few months ago.
“The Toxic Relationship Between An Empath And A Narcissist” seemed like an interesting read. And personally, since I’m into pouring salt on open wounds, I figured, “What the hell.” Not to mention, the default graphic was pretty fucking shocking.
After it was all said and done, I can’t say I read anything new in the article. It wasn’t groundbreaking or earth shattering. I wasn’t moved. However, it did do an okay job of illustrating the dynamics between both personality types when engaged in a one-on-one relationship.
I am an empath.
For some of you, that will come as a huge shock.
Understandable. I don’t exactly give off a “cuddly CareBear” kind of vibe. And I’m not. Well, not in a traditional sense, anyway.
I don’t think to send people cards filled with photos for every occasion, like Tay does. I don’t think to send tins of yummy cookies to my friends for no reason, like Kaley does. I don’t think to make loved ones huge vats of pasta when they’re sick, like Katie does. I don’t think to write out a sweet thank you note for every little thing, like Kristen does.
I can never remember to call my Nana before 8:00 p.m. Pacific time. I always forget that it’s the twenty-first goddamn century and we can actually FaceTime our loved ones whenever we want. I’m too lazy to mail things myself. And I hate texting.
I am quick to anger and slow to calm down. When I get mad, I refuse to say, “I love you.” I fight dirty. I am harsh with my words. I call people names – not because I truly mean them but because it’s how I was brought up.
That doesn’t make it right.
Just because my brother doesn’t get his feelings hurt when I call him a dumbass doesn’t make it okay.
I hold onto things for a long, long time. Do I ever just let bygones be bygones? I’m not sure if I have. Forgiveness is a difficult concept for me. Most often because I have never granted forgiveness to an individual who hasn’t had to come back to me at a later time and ask for it again. I throw things too. At least, I did for a long time. Maybe I don’t anymore? I’ve not thrown anything in a while. So, one would have to assume that the catalyst for my quick arm has since disappeared from the picture, right? I am notorious for “cutting people out.” Out of a picture, out of the group – out of my life. I carry on as if I’m not remorseful but it eats at me frequently.
I don’t want to slowly scratch your name off of a list. I don’t want to send you one of my infamous parting notes. I don’t want to stop inviting you, stop following you, stop friending you, stop loving you. But sometimes, you give me no other choice.
I ride it out until the two of us are teetering on the edge of a cliff. I could throw myself over – saving you, and maybe even us, in the process. Or I could just push you and save myself…
It’s at the edge of this cliff, when I realize, I have chosen you for far too long. It’s feeling the rocks crumbling below my feet, when I realize, I have carried you most of the way. It’s hearing the waves crash against the shore, when I realize… I’ve already let you go.
I have let you go.
I have catapulted you off into oblivion.
It sounds heartless, callus, cold. Because it is. It is swift and clean like a steal blade on a rose bush in bloom. I don’t look back. I don’t consider that a mistake could have been made. I walk away with my head held high. Long blonde hair flowing behind me in the wind. The sun warming my face. My legs – the same legs that carried us for so very long – take me away in slow, careful strides. And then, with my shoulders pushed back and my head held high – I laugh.
I laugh because you actually thought you would always be around. That you would forever have a seat at my table. That I would never tire of you. That there wasn’t a limit – an expiration date – to your bullshit. That you would be a permanent fixture in my life.
I’m not that kind of woman.
I’m not the kind of woman who lays down willingly and giggles as you trample over her. I’m not the kind of woman who turns a blind-eye. I’m not the kind of woman who bites her tongue when she finds an inconsistency in your story. I’m not the kind of woman who will go down without a fight.
I am strong. I am resilient. I am powerful. I am cunning and intelligent. I am your worst enemy.
But she didn’t just happen to me – this woman.
This woman who bites back her tears and swallows down any hurt feelings. This woman who tosses people out with last night’s empty beer bottles. This woman who runs from commitment, keeps good people at arm’s length, and refuses to trust a soul. This woman who seems steely on the outside, cold on the inside, difficult to love, and easy to leave.
I was a different kind of woman before I was her. I was a different kind of woman before life, and people, and circumstances, and relationships, and lies, and deceit, and darkness further hardened me. I was a different kind of woman before I started cutting people out. I was a different kind of woman before I knew what I know now.
Actually, I am a different kind of woman.
Most of me is totally, completely, and utterly – sensitive.
But most people never take the time to get to know that side of me – they don’t ask, they don’t check in. Most people don’t even make an effort to try and coax her out from behind her wall of strength. They accept my humor, my smile, my short responses because, “Oh, she’s got this. She’s the kid we don’t have to worry about.”
And I do. They don’t.
Meanwhile, every moment, of every day, I am thinking about other people. I am constantly worrying and wondering. When a friend calls to tell me news, I am genuinely happy, or sad, or mad, or concerned. I am whatever anyone needs me to be whenever they need me to be there. Your triumph is my triumph, your heartache, my heartache.
There is absolutely nothing I would not do for someone I love.
I would move mountains, walk millions of miles, give up all my possessions – anything – for each one of you. I will get on a plane at a moment’s notice when you’re sick in the hospital. I’ll go to midnight showings of lame Twilight movies and watch the god forsaken Bachelor finale with you, despite the fact I know you’ll sleep through the whole wretched thing. I’ll eat Outback for you, again. I would drive all the way across the country with you. I’ll turn a blind eye when you adopt a fucking cat while living in my goddamn house. I will love you.
I will love you so much, so hard, so big; you should never have to doubt the space you occupy in my soul.
Friends, when you get married and have children – or even just fur babies – I’ll love them all the same. They will become my family. I will treat your kids like my own. I will love your puppies as abundantly as I do my baby Sonny and Styxy-pix. Spending time with you and seeing you happy, makes my heart explode.
Family, I hope you know there is no time I cherish more than the time we have together. If being so close, inappropriate, and uninhibited is wrong then I don’t wanna be right! You make me proud. I light up when I talk about each of you. I beam with pride, and love, and thankfulness.
None of you will need for anything as long as I am alive and able.
Every night, before I drift off to sleep, I pray. I have prayed the very same prayer for as long as I can remember. It is short and sweet, “God please keep my family, my friends, and all my loved ones healthy, happy, and safe. Amen.”
You’re probably wondering why “my family, my friends, and all my loved ones” – seems kinda redundant, huh?
When I was younger I used to name everyone. My OCD would kick in and I’d get carried away. Family animals started to get involved – it was a circus. But if I didn’t list everyone, my anxiety told me he would be the one guy God might miss during His daily serving of health, happiness, and safety… I couldn’t have that shit on me! So, one thing lead to another and here we are: “and all my loved ones” for the win (… here’s to hopin’).
The last few months have been an interesting ride for me.
A select few of my very, very close loved ones haven’t had their fair share of “health, happiness, and safety.”
I tried to laugh about it the other day, “I finally get my shit straight and everything around me starts falling apart!”
Life has been difficult. Faith has been tested. Worry has filled many hearts.
And here I sit, 2,200 miles away.
My stomach twists and writhes in knots. I try to keep a safe distance – one somewhere between casually checking in and smothering. But often times, these loved ones – their trials, their hurt, their fears – consume my thoughts. Frustration spills out of my eyes and onto my cheeks. “And I thought I loved them before,” I say to myself.
Before heart failure. Before dementia. Before TTTS and TAPS. Before bed rest, physical therapy, and no-sodium diets.
I thought I loved these people before I knew their health, their happiness, their safety was truly at risk…
As of late, my heart breaks every single day for my very best friend. A pregnancy that was going so smoothly in the beginning, has tumbled into something incredibly scary and very uncertain. I hate that her heart is so heavy and burdened with worry during such an exciting time. I pray constantly for her, for Bradley, and for my two unborn nephews. I pray for a healthy Momma and two extra healthy baby boys. For Bradley, I pray for triple strength, because I know he has to feel utterly helpless and terrified.
I asked Tay the other day if she thought it was weird that I have her “weeks” marked down on my calendar at work. She laughed and said, “No, not at all.”
“Good,” I thought, “because I count down the days.”
I count down the days until the next week, the next month, the next milestone can be marked off. I anticipate each check-up. In my spare time, I look up boy names and research facts about twins. When I’m at the mall, I stop by the Disney store and consider shipping them every single stuffed animal, sword, and cape I can grab. In Target, I think, “We have to start their Disney movie collection! And books! They need all the books!”
I knew I would love her children but I never could have anticipated how much…
I never could have anticipated how much my very best friend’s pregnancy would affect me.
I’m a mess. When she told me – I cried (she didn’t). When I excitedly blurted it out to other people (before I was supposed to) – I cried. When I see their little sonogram pictures – I cry. When I think of anything happening to any one of them (Tay or the boys) – I cry. When she tells me, “There were two heartbeats!” – I cry. When I relay the message to Momma, or Auntie Crystal, or work friends, or the man in the fucking moon – I cry.
Love isn’t always good.
Sometimes, it is hard. Heartbreaking, in fact. Sometimes, it rips your insides out – gutting you, leaving your lifeless body gasping for air. Sometimes, it is buckets of tears, and pages of prayers, and keeping your distance. Sometimes, it is an unquenchable desire to see, to touch, to hug a familiar being. And other times, it’s painfully counting down days on calendars…
We received a good report today. Both babies are healthy, growing, and thriving. Tay is still on bed rest and her doctors have determined hospitalization unnecessary at the moment. They go back for another ultrasound on Friday.
Saturday marks 24 weeks.
Twenty-four weeks is good but 28 is better.
Thirty-six is best.
November 26 cannot come fast enough.