Thursday, June 24, 2010

All In

It is human nature, I think, to learn from our past mistakes. Not always, granted, and sometimes it takes making the same mistake several times in a row before some of us get it through our fat heads not to do that again...but on the whole I think we are programmed to pick up pretty quickly on what feels good and what hurts, what to do, what not to do, and the consequences of our actions.

So, I consider myself to be a pretty quick learner. Actually, I'd say its one of my greatest strengths. I have very few real world skills to be honest. I'm not an expert on anything and for the most part, don't even know how to do that many things well. But if someone teaches me, I can learn. My one caveat to this is with relationships. I think perhaps I kind of suck at relationships. I've come to this realization over the past few months and while enlightening, I'm still very torn about how I feel about it.

I feel most people who come out of a failed relationship (especially relationships that fail in epic proportions like my past one) are probably a bit hesitant to jump into a new one. And rightly so, I'd say. There's that whole "I've been burned once, I don't want to let it happen again," thing to think about, plus let's just be honest--breaking up SUCKS. It's emotionally and mentally draining and unless you're a complete sociopath with no feelings at all, it takes time to heal from that. I should know. I've been dealing with this recently actually, and I've heard from everyone I know that I need to take things slow, I need to "guard my heart," "look out for myself," and "take care of me and not worry about anyone else right now."

All very wise advice. Aaaaaand I completely suck at following it.

As much as I'd like to be able to meet and date people casually, without developing any real feelings for them, I realize I cannot do it. I've tried, and I just can't. And truthfully, I don't see the point. I've decided that the only way to love people is to love them completely. If you're not willing to dive in head first, to take a chance, to risk getting hurt again (and again and again and again), then there's no point in doing it at all. I think love is crazy and messy and you know what? I may get hurt a hundred times before this whole thing is said and done (and by whole thing I mean my life), but that's ok. I'd rather look back and know that when it came to other people, I gave them everything I had to give. I didn't hold anything back and I loved them as completely as I knew how. And if I get burned, so help me, I'll laugh at myself for being an idiot. But at least I'll never miss out on something fabulous because I was too afraid to try.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just In Case You Were Wondering...

It is HOT here now. Like really, really, hot. Like...gates-of-Hell-you-sweat-just-thinking-about-it hot.

And it's not even officially summer yet...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Very Great Man

Let me tell you about my Granddad, because he was a very great man.

I remember when I was little and we'd go to visit my grandparents in the summer, Granddad always made sure to have his hammock tied up and ready for us before we got there, because he knew my sister and I would want to go out and swing in it. I remember him coming home from work--how dignified he always looked. He was a tall man and always wore such nice, expensive suits...I used to think he had to have one of the most important jobs and be one of the most important men in the whole world. I remember joking with him on Thanksgiving every year about how early he was going to get up to start working on the turkey (I always said I'd get up at 4:30 with him but lets be honest here--I never actually got my lazy self out of bed anywhere close to that early on a holiday). I remember how he'd go out in the back yard in the evenings after work to check on his rose garden, and how he not only taught me to grow and care for roses, but would come up to my house every spring to help me plant new ones.

My Granddad loved sports. He coached my mom's teams when she was growing up, then he coached in the church leagues after that. He and my Nanny came to so many of my basketball games and softball tournaments over the years that most of my teammates came to refer to them as "Nanny and Granddad" as well, and he's the reason I'm so much taller than everyone else in my immediate family.

At his funeral over the weekend, people told me over and over again how brilliant he was, but also how kind. They said he was truly a man of great intergrity, and the fact that there were over 400 people at his visitation says to me that he was as well loved and respected as anyone I know. People told me how proud he was of me, of all his grandkids, and how much he loved us. They talked about what a good man he was, all of the kind things he'd done for people over the years, and about how much they are going to miss him.

If you were to ask me what exactly my Granddad meant to me, I would tell you that I inherited his height, his weak stomach (we are/were both complete wimps when it comes to blood) and his absolute loathing of little green peas. I credit him with my time spent as an Upward basketball coach, my expensive taste in shoes, and my love of roses and cheesecake. But more than any of those things, my Granddad was a classy, classy guy and I am so proud to have known someone as good and as kind as him. I think I've learned a great deal about how to live life by watching my Granddad over the years...more than I probably even realize. Granddad loved my Nanny more than anything else in the whole world except for Jesus, and he made the best fried chicken I've ever eaten. He was a gentle giant who was worth paying close attention to when he had something to say. He was practical to a fault, always half an hour early for everything, and downright hilarious once you got to know him. He played golf, dabbled in the stock market, and would send me e-mail at 2:30 in the morning when he was undergoing chemo treatments, joking that the steriods they gave him ("Barry Bond shot" as he liked to call it) kept him from sleeping for two days.

I am going to miss my Granddad a lot. I can't even imagine what it will be like on Thanksgiving and Christmas when he's not there. I'm going to miss his late night e-mails, his dry sense of humor and his fried chicken. But I know that he is finally at peace; he will never be in pain or have to suffer again and for that I am very thankful. I like to think too that even as I type this, he is up in Heaven, tending to God's rose garden.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Does This Make Me Crazy?

Ok, this one's going to be controversial I think, so consider that your fair warning. And if I offend you, I apologize. It's not intentional. I'm just shooting from the hip here so there's a better-than-50% chance I'll say at least a few socially inappropriate things. Onward!

I think it would be fair to say that I grew up in a household of tough lovin'...especially when it came to our health (emotional and physical). What I mean is, Mom and Dad didn't put up with a lot of whining or complaining. I was allowed to miss exactly one day of school my entire growing up years, and it was only because I was so sick I literally couldn't stand upright. My parents were under the impression that if you can walk and you're not dying, you're well enough to go to school. Not a whole lot of middle ground with them. When I broke my arm during the country basketball tournament in 4th grade, mom told me to get back out there and "walk it off." To keep playing until my arm just didn't hurt anymore.

It wasn't that they were hard-hearted or didn't care, because of course they did, its just that you darn well better be on your death bed or about to bleed out before you complain about being in pain. I say all this with a bit of sarcasm but the truth is, by and large I think Mom and Dad were right on track. Of course they cared about our well-being--they just didn't want to coddle us and turn my sister and I into complete wimps. They didn't want us to whine, or to fall apart at every little hurt or inconvenience. Basically, they wanted us to be tough. And by and large, I'm very thankful this was the case. I think that on the whole this was a really good thing.

I will say however, that growing up in an environemnt of tough love made me more than a little jaded with regard to how I feel about other people's health and well-being. This was the case with physical health for sure, but I think it became the case even more so with mental and emotional health.

I don't know why exactly. I've pondered on this for awhile now and can't really come up with an exact reason. Certainly I didn't grow up around any mental health issues. No one in my family ever experienced anything like that, so I don't know why I came to associate mental and emotional issues with weakness. (Told you it'd get controversial). But I I think I did. I dont know if I ever really admitted it to myself consciously, but deep down I've always harbored a distinct lack of respect for people who were dealing with any type of mental or emotional issue at all. Lack of respect and maybe pity. In my mind, these people just weren't mentally tough enough to handle life. I thought they were weak, and were just making things up essentially. It's horrible I know, but there you have it. That's really how I think I felt at times.

Ironically enough, within the past year I've found myself visiting not one, not two, but three separate counselor/psychologists--of my own free will no less. I should warn you that this is not easy to admit or to talk about, but in the name of keeping it real and being honest, I'm going to put it all out there for you. Back in the Fall when we first started having problems, Zack and I went together to see a marriage counselor. I don't regret trying but I can say with all sincerity that it was a complete waste of time and money for us. I honestly had no idea what to expect (as we've established I've avoided these type things at all costs up to this point in life) and I was not impressed. I'm sure it works for some people, I know there are success stories out there, but for us personally, it was one gigantic, epic, FAIL.

The second counselor I only visited once, in a last-ditch effort to get a second opinion of sorts.

The third head-doctor though...this is the hard one to talk about. The third one I'm seeing now. And by now I mean I've been going to counseling for the past couple of weeks. This is something I thought (swore) I'd never need or do, because you know, I'm soooo mentally tough and all. But the truth is, I needed to talk to someone and no matter how mentally tough we think we are, sometimes life throws you a curveball that you just don't know how to handle. Getting divorced was a curveball for me. I've come to realize in the past few weeks to a month or so that I am bitterly, bitterly angry. Way deep down, buried inside so deep I didnt even realize it for the first few months...there's a firey ball of anger and resentment so hard and hot I can barely stand it sometimes. I am not an angry person. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I think I'm blissfully unaware a lot of the time and wil break my neck to reconcile whenever there's a disagreement. That's why this angry was so scary. I didn't know where it was coming from and I didn't know how to control it.

Lately I've found myself acting out in unusual and uncharacteristic ways and I think I've determined that its this anger that I've neglected to address, manifesting itself in other areas of my life. There have been times when I've just broken down and started crying for no good reason at all. I've gotten really, really unjustifiable mad at very silly and trivial things, and taken my emotions out on people who were for the most part, innocent bystanders. I've found that I'm having trouble focusing on anything--instead I sit down to work on something and my mind begins to wander back over the past year or so and before I know it, two hours have gone by and I've accomplished nothing. Stuff like that. I don't sleep very well a lot of the time now, and I feel so restless I can't stand it sometimes. And underlying it all there's this anger, this aggression, that is so strong sometimes I'm afraid if I don't get up and walk away that I'm going to physically hit something.

I don't think that's good. And I know its definitely not how I want to live.

So...having reached my wits end, I decided to go talk to a professional. I finally admitted that maybe I needed someone to teach me how to constructively deal with all of the emotions I've bottled up because frankly, trying to do it myself wasn't working. I sucked at it tremendously if you want to know the truth. And really, at this point, what have I got to lose? My reputation has been shredded, I've acted in ways and done things I swore to myself I'd never do...might as well round out the list with "seeking psychiatric advice." "Who knows?" I told myself, "Maybe being crazy will be fun!"

So there you have it friends. My confession of the day is that I'm not nearly as mentally tough as I thought I was. Sigh.