Doubling Down on MEH!

I got new glasses today for the first time in nearly ten years.  As a result, I can see things more clearly than ever before.  It took a little getting used to because my old glasses have lenses that are oval-shaped with a light wire rim on the top halves.  This pair has rectangle lenses with a heavier black wire rim on the top halves.  I said this on FB, but they make me look like a naughty librarian, especially with my hair pulled up in a bun.

Anyway, I am blabbing on about my new glasses because they are a metaphor for how I view my life.  I have been stuck in the same mindset for at least fifteen years, if not more.  No matter how much I changed or chafed at how stagnant my life was, I stubbornly clung to the beliefs, fears, and issues that had plagued me throughout my life.  It didn’t matter that many of them were outmoded, tired, or just plain not applicable any longer.  I held on to them with the fierceness of one afraid to change.  As the view got dimmer and dimmer, I just started squinting more and more to make the world appear approximately the same.

In the past six months or so (actually, since the election, more or less), the old shit hasn’t been working.  No matter how much I tried to hunker down and refuse to change, it just wasn’t happening any more.  So, begrudgingly, I started to change.

To my wonder, I actually shed some of my old beliefs and fears (though, not nearly enough of them).  As I have recounted, I was able to see that there were people who wanted to be friends with me and who were interested in what I had to say.

Then, I hit this week with all this shit raining down on my head, and my instinct was, as always, to pull in my head and retreat into my shell.  I hate conflict and discord, so to have a week that was full of little but did a number on me.  Every time I tried to stop the negativity from affecting me, a little more would seep its way in.  Yesterday’s entry was the result of the cumulative effect of the week smacking me in the face.  I fell quickly back into the pit of despair, and I didn’t see how I could get out of the quagmire.

If only, I thought, I could be conventional.  If only, said I to myself, I could be the person I am not.  Then, said I, then I would be happy.

I am mocking myself now, but I was really in that mindframe for much of the past week.  If only I could be who I wasn’t.  If only I weren’t such a fucking freak.  If only if only if only.

When I posted the previous entry, I was pretty much marinating in the shit.  The responses I got were astonishing to me for a variety of reasons, and they warmed my heart.  I got love, support, humor, and appreciation from the commenters on my blog (and over at FB, too), and in so many creative ways.   I was blown away at the staunch defense y’all gave me.   So, for the bolstering of my tattered morale, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

In addition to all that love, I got two emails from friends giving me the tough love.  The first one was through FB from a friend I had from grade school through high school.  She’s Korean American and now living in Australia.  She kindly, but firmly read me the riot act about staying in a situation that only reinforces my isolation and alienation.  She encouraged me to follow my strengths instead of dwelling on my weaknesses.   She talked about how moving away from MN and eventually out of the country really helped her find herself.

I thought about what she said, and it really hit home.  No matter how much I complain about being a freak or strange or weird or whatever, my actual dissatisfaction isn’t with me being different–it’s with me not being enough of myself.  My  record depression stemmed from me trying to stifle the real me for so many years.  You see, no matter how much I decried being conventional, I was still close enough to be convinced if I just tried harder, damn it, I could attain the impossible dream of fitting into the mainstream.  I know, it sounds stupid, but I spent many years convinced that if I could just do that, I would be happy.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t want the trappings of a conventional life.  I wanted in.  I am ashamed to admit it because part of my self-image is of the rebellious one.  My mom once said to me in exasperation, “You don’t have to oppose something simply because it’s mainstream!”  What I realized, though, is that I really didn’t want a conventional life, and that scared the fuck out of me.

While I was thinking about all this, I got an email from Kel, basically saying the same thing with saltier language.  I believe the phrase, “Blowing smoke up your ass” was bandied about, but she made the same point the aforementioned friend had made–no matter how much my friends love and support me, I am the only one who can live my life to the fullest.  I have to believe that I have the strength to be the woman I am meant to be–not the one I think I should be.  In other words, it’s time to shit or get off the fucking pot.

I have to decide if I am going to retreat back into my shell and live out the rest of my years in numb oblivion or if I’m going to throw caution to the wind and embrace the messy, egotistical, neurotic, loving, funny, wicked, sensual, creative, lazy, sensitive, empathic, nutty, passionate, fierce woman that I am.  I have found that doing the latter brings more pain, sure, but it also brings infinitely more joy.

Being conventional is not an option for me.  I have to close that door firmly and walk away from it with no regrets.  For most of my life, I have loathed to shut any doors because I always wondered about what I was missing.  For the first time, I see that closing one door allows me to finally open others.  So, in salute to my title, I am finally doubling down on me.

To all you lovely people who commented and helped me through my funk (and I’m almost all the way out), this video is for you.  It’s Joe Cocker singing, With a Little Help from My Friends.

P.S.  I may not blog over the next few days because I still have so much work to do on my mother’s magnum opus.  I just wanted to make sure you all know how very thankful I am to have you in my life.

14 Responses to Doubling Down on MEH!

  1. I am so happy to read this, Minna. I hope you don’t mind, but when The Ten Year Old spoke yesterday of problems with her self-esteem, I showed her your blog entry to point out that it’s a problem many people, and even many adults, share, but that the opinions of those who love you matter a hell of a lot more than the opinions of those who don’t. Please keep that in mind yourself, okay?

  2. Choolie, the librarian, she is tres naughty and ready to come out to play.

    Gregory, I am glad that you showed it to The Ten Year Old if it helps her in any way. I’m flattered, in fact. Like I said, if I’d had a blog like this to read when I was a kid, I probably wouldn’t feel so alienated now.

    P.S. With my mad editor skillz, I fixed your comment.

  3. The naughty librarian saves the day! Yay!

    But even the naughty librarian can’t keep you from having setbacks (even big ones like last week). The path isn’t always straight and there will be times when you lose ground. The important thing is to recognize what’s happening and learn how to correct it. You’ve also got decades of bad conditioning to fight against and when you have setbacks that conditioning will kick in and you’ll try to sabotage yourself. So you’ll have to learn to be patient with yourself and not see the setbacks as the end of the world. Luckily, Stepford-Minna is no match for True-Path-Mad-Ninja-Skillz-Naughty-Librarian-Minna!

    PS: I misread “tattered morale” as “tattooed morale” at first and thought “how great that even your morale has tats!”

  4. Naughty Librarian pics…hmm. Now that’s a photo shoot that’s forming in my photographer’s brain. I’ll be pondering that all day!

    I’m honored that my words meant enough to you that you took them to heart, Minna, because that’s where they came from. I’ve been in the place where everything I knew, everything I aspired to be, was all taken away. I was faced with being someone that I didn’t recognize, and that I didn’t want to accept.

    So I had to make a choice. I had to decide to show the world who I really am and love myself even if the world doesn’t. Like you, I don’t “fit in” in so many ways, but more and more, I’m seeing it as a good thing.

    So yeah, I won’t blow smoke up your ass, but given the chance, I will absolutely photograph you in a mini skirt and button down shirt, glasses perched on the end of your nose, hair up in a loose knot…in black and white, leaning back on a desk…damn, I have to quit thinking in photographs. =)

  5. Way to go, girl!
    You claim! You be it!
    What more can I say,
    than I’m rooting for you all the way.

    I love this. I love the embracing of the whole you!

    Like Alex said, there will be set backs. Don’t get me started on muscle memory and having to unlearn old ways of singing to learn new ones but you’ve been patient this far and determined and you keep moving forward.

  6. whabs, snee would be drunk and as horny as a bunny, if I know snee.

    fake hubby, STEPFORD-MINNA CAN FUCK OFF! I thought screaming it might be more appropriate.

    Alex, oh, believe me. I know allll about setbacks. It’s one reason I am always a bit wary of feeling good because I know how easily I can slid down into the abyss again. You are right that accepting the setbacks as part of the whole journey is one way to temper them. I agree that Ninja-CrazySexyCool-Librarian Minna can kick the ass of Stepford-Minna any day.

    By the way, I am so stealing the tattooed morale bit. I really like it.

    Kel, when I fly out to the East Coast, you will definitely get the chance to photograph me, so imagine away.

    Since I’ve known you, you have steadily offered me a mixture of support and cold water thrown in my face. You balance the two deftly, blending them into a potent potion that can really clear the fog from my brain. Thank you for being a fellow freak in this crazy thing we call life.

    Crystal, thank you for your steadfast support that you have offered to me from day one of you commenting on my blog. I truly appreciate your kindness and your generosity. By the way, did you read my apology to you on the ‘Do You Believe in Love?’ thread? I was out of line to jump on you like that.

  7. You’re most welcome. You’ve done the same for me as well. I am all about the unwavering support, but sometimes it’s the role of a true friend to say, “Um. Dude. Seriously?” =)

    Librarians, Joe Cocker’s hat, and maybe some good bourbon.

    Yummy.

  8. Kel, you got it, babe. “Really? No, I mean, really?” said in just the right tone is the best admonishment ever.

    Don’t forget Alan Rickman. I must have the Alan Rickman.