OK. I have to share with you how my mind was blown by visiting Kel. As is my wont, it’s going to take some time, so sit back and relax. Yes, grab your favorite beverage as I don’t want you to get dehydrated.
First, I have to give you some background on my family–specifically, my brother’s family. At his house, I am not allowed to say gosh (derivative of God), darn (damn), shoot (shit), or anything that resembles any swear word in the slightest. When my niece was young, I once was having a conversation with my brother in which I said something was stupid in response to something he said. My SIL overheard us and got that ‘I just ate a lemon’ look on her face. She said in a snippy voice, “We don’t use the word stupid in this house.”
I didn’t say anything, but I thought many nasty thoughts. Stupid is a perfectly good word, and it wasn’t as if I was calling a person stupid–though I don’t think that should be a problem, either, as there are many stupid people in the world. I love words, so it bothers me when someone bans one for no good reason. Dare I say it’s stupid? I do!
In addition, my brother is worried that I am a bad influence on my niece because she looks up to me so much. I cannot talk about being bi, about not being a Christian, about premarital sex (not that I would, anyway), about my vaguely pagan beliefs, or anything else, really. I have pretty much stopped going over there because I am not really wanted. Plus, my SIL can suck the joy out of a room without saying a word. I dealt with that with my father while I was growing up; I do not want to do the same now.
Because of my experience with my family, I was wary stepping into another person’s family. Kel kept telling me to be myself, but I couldn’t quite believe that I should take her at her word.
Until I met her clan. They are nontraditional in many ways. Both daughters were homeschooled, for instance, and Kel swears in front of her kids. In addition, they swear at home, but not in the classroom or other inappropriate places. They joke about many topics that would be considered taboo in my family. They are loose and comfortable with each other, even when they are fighting.
I stepped into a house filled with love, laughter, life, and joy. I could tell that they loved each other and truly enjoyed being around the family.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying they are the Waltons, god forbid. They fought with each other and got on each other’s nerves from time to time. Kel (and I) threatened to kill one or the other kid on a daily basis. Sometimes, we would tell the kids to get lost so we could talk. I chose a favorite kid sometimes, and it would differ depending on who was annoying me at the moment. Kel yelled at her kids, and they got snarky with her.
However, underneath all of it was a healthy dose of love. Her kids never have to doubt for a moment that she loves them and would do anything for them–that forgives a multitude of sins.
A quick backtrack: I have written often about the lost fifteen years, years in which I was steeped in depression. Part of the problem was that I knew I didn’t want a traditional life, but deep down, I still thought I had to have one. I wanted to be a good girl, despite my outward appearance of rebelling. I thought that if I couldn’t do a traditional life, I couldn’t do life at all. Now, mind you, this isn’t something I consciously thought. It was just how I was raised, and I had embraced it to my heart.
I have defined myself for most of my life by what I am not and what I don’t like far more than by what I am and what I like. I knew early on that I did not want to have a corporate job, get married, or have kids. Back to my mind getting blown by Kel’s family.
They are unlike any other family I know. They are not traditional at all. And, I fit right in. I didn’t have to tailor my personality or my mouth (much). Sure, there are still some age-appropriate things I didn’t talk about (like my sex life, duh!), but that is just common sense.
Why is that mind-blowing? Because I never fathomed a family like hers could exist. Oh, I’m not saying this right. I realize that there are nontraditional families, intellectually, but I haven’t ever been immersed in one. I was immediately at ease with Kel’s family, and believe me, that doesn’t happen often.
The thing is, as my therapist pointed out today, my mind has been getting blown in many different ways in the past few years. One other major mind-blowing occurrence was the first party of Choolie’s to which I went. I was so nervous, and again, I fit right in. Not only did I meet fun, talented, witty, artistic people with whom I enjoyed talking, I realized they enjoyed meeting me.
I have also realized that despite my earlier belief that I didn’t want to be in relationship, I do. That blows my mind, too. My longest relationship lasted four years, and it was long-distance the whole time. I have never cohabitated with someone, and I have rarely lived in the same state as the person I’m dating. I convinced myself that I didn’t want to be in a relationship when the real truth was that I was afraid that I was so inherently unlovable, no one would ever want to be with me in the long-term. Now, while I’m still not certain I can find someone with whom I can make a long-term relationship work, I can at least be honest with myself and acknowledge that I long to try.
Wow. That’s fucking scary to think, let alone type in my blog.
Another mind-blowing event: Knowing that people actually read my blog on a fairly regular basis. People actually find something worthwhile in my blathering. That surprises the hell out of me. A year and a third later, it still startles me when I get an email from a stranger telling me how much an entry of mine meant to him/her.
Now, for the hard part. The mourning. After I returned from Kel’s place, I felt blue. Part of it was the normal after-the-trip letdown, but a bigger part was because I was grieving. Even though I’ve been having my mind blown in various ways over the last year, year and a half, the trip to Kel’s was the one to really blow away the dust from my eyes. I never fathomed a family like hers. Now, having experienced it, I realized that living a nontraditional life is possible.
Looking back on the lost fifteen years, I realize that many of the things I did in order to make myself feel safe were not necessary. I kept making my world smaller and smaller in order not to feel so afraid. Yes, there were some outside obstacles preventing me from having the life I wanted, but to my dismay, most of the obstacles were placed in my path by me.
Two years ago, I never would have gone to Choolie’s party. Two years ago, I never would have went to meet Kel. Hell, as I told Kel, two years ago, I never would have been on FB, and I certainly wasn’t blogging. As I expand my life bit by excruciating bit, I realize how much I have truly passed over in my lost fifteen years. Because I had bought the lie that I had to have a traditional life or a spectacular life (ironically, I was supposed to have both simultaneously), I ended up having no life at all.
I grieve for those lost years. I grieve for the part of me that was so damaged, it was necessary for me to lose those years in order to survive. I grieve that I have wasted so much of my life and have nothing to show for it.
I have to grieve and mourn in order for me to be able to forgive myself for the lost years, let them go, and move on. I struggle with not berating myself for being so stupid and weak and fearful during that time. If only, if only, if only. Well, I can’t change the past, no matter how much I wish I could. Therefore, I grieve, and I mourn. It’s time to say goodbye to my past.