I Matter, Part Deux

GOV006Ok.  In the last post, I detailed how I realized I mattered in relation to the abortion issue.  Go read it.  I’ll wait.

Now, I am going to expand on it a bit as I cross over into my personal life.  As is my way, I’m going to tell you a long, meandering story about my life which on the face seems irrevelant and, dare I say, somewhat boring.  However, I will eventually come to the point of the story I am relaying (even if I take some detours along the way), and you will realize, “Shit, she could have said it in one-third of the time!”  So, considered yourself forewarned.  Grab yourself a drink, snuggle down in your chair, and read on.

I grew up thinking that I had no right to live.  I thought I was here by accident, and that I was on borrowed time.  In addition, I firmly believed that I had a huge debt (by being born) that I had to pay off in order to earn the right to live.  It was impossible, of course, because for every good deed I did, I did a bad one that was twice as impactful in the negative direction as the good one was in the positive.  It goes without saying that I totally weighted my evil deeds (such as hurting someone’s feelings) so they were far heavier than my good deeds ever could be.

Part of this stemmed from growing up in an Asian family.  Expectations were high, and they could never be met.  I was expected to get straight “A”s in school because I was smart.  I took dance lessons (tap, ballet, and jazz) as well as played the cello, softball, tennis, volleyball, and ping-pong.  I had to attend summer school for the gifted in the summer.  I took the writing class twice, the theatre class twice, and Latin once.

In college, I graduated magna cum laude, and my mom said to me, “If you hadn’t messed up your first semester, you could have graduated summa.”  I confronted her about that years later, and she didn’t remember saying that to me.  She said if she did, she was trying to make me feel better.  Funny thing is, I felt fine about graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa until she said that.

After college, they made a conscious effort to dial back the high expectations, but it was too late.  I had absorbed them as my own, and I could never live up to them.

Quick interjection.  Carl Jung says that we all have to examine our shadow side in order to fully realize our humanity.  Oh, that’s not how he put it exactly, but it’s close enough.  For most people, that means admitting the negative traits they have.  Not me.  I can list those with ease:

I’m lazy, self-indulgent, verbose and garrulous, hot-tempered, intolerant of intolerance, cold at times, fat, weak-willed, tending towards melancholy, bitchy, sarcastic, bitter, negative, and that’s just on a good day!    Throw in moody, temperamental, paranoid, opinionted, contrary, stubborn, and rageful, and well, that’s still on a good day.

On the other hand, I resist with all my might looking at my positive traits.  For me, that’s my shadow side.  It started as a way to protect the vulnerable part of me, but it soon became like my religion.  Which, in a way, is apt since so much of religion is about shame and blame–at least that’s how I interpreted back when I was a Christian.  Anyway, I know that I am funny, witty, a good listener (when I STFU), a decent writer and performer, and I care about the underdog.  Oh, and that I’m very smart and capable of examining issues from many sides.

Further than that, though, I could not go.  I could not see what value I had.  I would ponder endlessly the meaning of life (in the broader sense) and what role I had to play (in the microcasm sense).  I couldn’t fathom why I was living, and every time someone of worth died, I felt guilty.  Why couldn’t it be me?  I didn’t matter, so I thought–I might as well be dead.

Make no mistake about it–I spent much of the last fifteen years not caring if I lived or died.  More to the point, I didn’t want to live.  It was hard, painful, and I couldn’t see any benefit from struggling to get through each day.  There were many times when I wished I had the courage to end it, but I was never that strong.  I lived because of my depression making me inert and because as a pessimist, I thought the other side would only be worse than this world.  Still, I walked around like a ghost, trying my damnedest not to leave any marks on the world.  I felt like I continually had to apologize for living.

Ok.  Now.  We are to the crux of the matter.  See, I told you it was going to take some time to get there.  Now, here we are.

Ever since the election, I have had this passion bubbling inside of me.  I got scared, so I tamped it down and went back into the holding position.  However, the last month or so, the burbling is commencing once again, and it refuses to be tamed.  With the assassination of Dr. Tiller, it’s bubbling over.  I had no idea why his death hit me so hard, but I realized it’s because it coincided with this growing realization that I matter.

Now, Mr. Trollie menz would say, “No you don’t, bitch.  Shut the fuck up because you don’t have the right to your opinion.”  In the past, I used to be hurt by the trolls and try to think of a way to find common ground or engage them or appease them.  See, in my house, only my father was allowed to get angry.  When he did, the rest of us had to tiptoe around him and try not to upset him even further as he sat in his chair and refused to say a word.  So, I learned at an early age that the feelings and moods of someone else always took precedence over mine.  In addition, we women are trained to be nice and to be sensitive to the feelings of others.  Which is fine to a certain extent.  I think the world would be a better place in general if we all thought about other people as well as ourselves.

However, the time has come for me to stop bending over backwards to accommodate others at the expense of myself.  This is what I realized.  I owe it to the other members of society to respect their freedom of speech in public (but not to murder.  That is not part of the deal).  I owe it to them to treat them civilly and to follow the law and such.   We all owe this to each other.  What I don’t owe them, though, is anything past that.  If someone wants to call me names and tell me to STFU, I don’t have to take that in, and I don’t have to dwell on it.  I certainly don’t have to listen when someone tells me what I can and/or cannot say.  Unless it’s the cops telling me to not stalk Alan Rickman, and they present me with a restraining order.  I would have to listen in that instance.

I don’t have to be defensive about my positions, and I don’t have to give a damn if someone else thinks I’m wrong.  I don’t have to justify my beliefs, though, obviously, I enjoy discussing them, and I don’t have to post anything on my blog that I don’t want to post.

I get to say, I matter.  I am important.  This is what I want to do with my life (in no particular order):

  1. Find a full-time job.
  2. Concentrate on my fiction.  As much as I like blogging, it doesn’t nourish me the way my fiction writing does.
  3. Get into politics.  Come on.  You had to know this one was coming.
  4. Get back into theatre.  It’s in my blood.  I miss it tremendously.

Here are side issues that are important, but not quite as important.  Again, in no particular order:

  1. Lose fifty pounds.
  2. Get laid.
  3. Date.

And no, two and three are not necessarily the same thing.

I wanted to write them down so I can look back and see how I’m doing on my goals.

You know, I wrote earlier about what I owe other members of society.  Let me now add what I owe myself.  I owe myself the opportunity to really live.  I am done apologizing for taking up space.  I am through thinking I have to earn the right to live.  Fuck that shit.  I am here, and I’m ready to make my mark on the world.

7 Responses to I Matter, Part Deux

  1. A really smart person once told me that being born…going through the trauma of birth, coming out and drawing that first breath, was paying that debt you spoke of, enabling you to come in with a clean slate.
    Now I could pick that apart a few ways, but then it was what I needed to hear to get me through and I pretty much choose to accept it.
    Happy Friday.

  2. Brit, thanks, babe. With friends like you, how can I go wrong?

    whabs, glad to hear that got you through a tough time. Meh. Doesn’t do much for me, but fortunately, I don’t need to deal with the issue of life-debt quite as intensely now as I have in the past.

  3. Now you’re talkin’! I’m so glad you have had your epiphany of sorts! I identify with you more than you know …

    Your Asian culture is very similar to my German one, even if you wouldn’t think so….. Put it this way…. my very popular and respected father’s name is Hermann….. in our crowd when I was growing up his friends called me Hermina or Little Hermann… I was the first born and expected to follow his success …. I’m afraid I was quite the disappointment in that regard.

    I really enjoy your blog, and am glad I can count you as one of my friends! Hugs and kisses!

  4. TiredMom, I think there are some universal themes that weave their way throughout many cultures–overachievement is one of them. I also know that my name is German and Scandinavian as well as Taiwanese, so more common threads. You were called Little Herman or Hermina? No pressure there at all.

    I am glad that the ‘flats existed, otherwise, how else would I have met a wonderful person like you?