I'm Just Some Chick

Alive

It’s been about three months since the day I walked out.

Allow me to demonstrate, in photographs, the change in my demeanor between what I was like three months ago, and what I’m like, now.

A garden variety selfie. Yet, says more than one would know at first glance.

March 2014, about a week before leaving.

Versus:

Making stamps!

Today.

Can you see it? My smile, that is. It’s not forced. It’s not a carefully staged selfie where I took several in order to finally capture one where I was sort of smiling convincingly. I’m actually doing something (in this case, creating a rubber stamp). I feel like I look a lot younger, and just… happier.

The cool thing is, most of my pictures are coming out like this right now. There’s a light in those eyes that had been shut off for so, so long. A joy for life that I have not felt in… well, a very very long time.

Fun fact: Did you know that, once upon a time, I was a gigging musician? I mostly played drums and bass. Had a few bands. Sat in with a few others. I wouldn’t say I was awesome, but for a self-taught teenager, I did alright for myself. Music was my passion in life, hands down. My life revolved around consuming and creating music, and sharing it with my dearest friends and family.

Not so fun fact: I completely walked away from it when I was 16. All the years I spent just plucking on my bass, or drumming along to records, instead of doing my homework, were for nothing, so it seemed. The thing that was the lynchpin of how I identified myself became nothing more than “just a phase”. And, honestly, I’ve been kind of lost ever since.

But, fear not, dear readers! For I have started jamming again. I suck, my fingers hurt, and I’ve forgotten all my slick tricks. My kid gets embarrassed when I sing and I struggle just doing bass walks. But, for fuck’s sake, I’m playing music again. Consuming music again. Sharing music again.

Things continue to be very surreal. I ended up moving back in with my mom, which was somewhat unexpected, but it’s turned out to actually be very, very good, and very healing, for both my mom and I. We’ve done a lot of good talking and healing of old wounds. I’ve been better about cleaning around the house, she set up some stuff she wanted to see done at certain times and I’ve followed it pretty easily. Simple stuff, but significant for me. She does her part, I do mine, the house is tidy, and I feel actually a lot less anxious. She helps me with Riko quite a bit, which is so nice. Occasionally she’ll get up with him and let me catch a few extra hours of sleep, or she’ll hang with him so I can nap, and she’s cool if I go out after he goes to sleep. Having that extra support person to kind of tag team with has made a huge difference in my sanity level.

Bob and I are actually doing okay, considering the fact that we’re splitting up. We hang a bit whenever we’re exchanging Riko, and it’s about as friendly as one could hope for, given the circumstances. He seems pretty lonely over in that house by himself, so sometimes I feel like he’s clinging onto me for dear life whenever we’re talking. But for the most part, it’s okay. It hasn’t been without issues and bumps, but he seems to be accepting that we’re not getting back together. He’s also aware I’m dating someone else, and is surprisingly not freaking out about it, so I give him a lot of credit for that.

As far as dating… well, I’m still actually dating the guy I mentioned in the last post. We are actually quite partial to one another. The fact that we’re the same age, plus we’ve lived here our whole lives, more or less, and we’re only just now finding each other, kind of blows my mind. Especially given all the near-misses we’ve had, of which there are too many to list here. But, I’m glad we found each other now. The timing is only barely right, as it is, at this point. He’s definitely been a huge factor in me taking up music again, since he’s a professional organist and an incredibly talented keyboardist in general. He likes to jam with me to The Who, even though I totally suck still. We also make each other laugh a lot, and go on silly adventures to random places. When I’m with him, I finally feel a sense of how young I really am. I also feel like I can absolutely be myself around him, which is unbelievably nice.

In any event, I am happy to report that I’m doing well. I feel like I’m present in my own body and mind, again. I feel my sense of humor really coming back. I feel my artistic drive returning. I feel my urge to do better and be better returning. Dare I say, I feel alive!

Dizzy

This month is officially insane. I remember going through a period of extreme highs and lows around the time of my parents’ divorce, so I suppose I am not terribly surprised it is happening to me this time around as well, but it seems like each week has some kind of new “thing” to deal with.

I lost my main contract gig, which was depressing. The events surrounding that were weird, and it was my call, but that didn’t make it fun or easy to do.

I also signed up on OkCupid, with…interesting results. Most promising at the moment is a lady who messaged me to make with the snark. She’s funny as fuck and I can’t wait to get to know her better. We’re both basically straight, so it’s more friendship than anything else, but I am so definitely not opposed to expanding my friend circle. She’s a couple of years younger than me, too, which is actually super cool. I also met up with a guy, who is very interesting. Still kind of unsure how that’s going to shake out; we definitely like each other, but there’s definitely parts of one another that we each have fairly strong reservations about, already, so that’s not a great sign. I’m kind of just enjoying it for what it is right now anyways, though. Bonus, though, he’s only 6 weeks older than me, making him the first guy “my age” that I’ve ever dated.

But yeah, between those two, I feel like I’m being reunited with my peer group for the first time in over a decade. They’re also both from Austin, so that’s even more cool and it gives us all a lot in common. It’s like hanging out with old friends I’ve never met before. I am very happy to be getting out and meeting new people.

I did move into my friends Harold and Chouli’s place a few weeks ago, and that seems to be going pretty well. I’m enjoying getting to hang out with the two of them more often, because they’re kind of my best friends ever. We give each other a lot of space, but we also take time to chat and hang and drink beers, which is super fun. Riko seems to be settling in here pretty well, too, and enjoys giving Uncle Harold and Aunt Chouli lots of hugs.

Things between Bob and I are okay. Our talk went pretty well, and we’re friendly now. It feels weird, but it’s getting easier. I think he still hopes I’m going to come home, but the longer I’m out, the less I even can sort of consider that as an option. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss him; after my last date with OkCupid guy, I found myself missing him a lot. Missing the way he held me, missing the way he smelled, missing watching him sleep, missing feeling tiny against his 6’5″ body, missing his long, lanky arms, missing his shouty rants, missing the way he giggled like a Japanese school girl. Learning about someone else’s body and mannerisms just made me long for what was no longer mine. It doesn’t mean I’m interested in going back, but I have been with him for 8 years. To think I won’t have that anymore is…weird. It’s not awful, because there’s a lot of bad stuff I don’t have to deal with anymore, either. But I loved Bob. I am not in love with Bob, but I still love Bob. I will probably always love Bob. Bob is the father of my son, nobody will ever take his place. But we just don’t work that way, anymore. The feeling of truly walking away is the strangest, most liberating, most terrifying thing I’ve ever done.

I talked with him about this earlier, as I had taken him home from the airport tonight. I informed him that I was dating now, and he was understandably upset, even though I’d been clear I’d be doing that all along. He begged me to come home, and we cried in each others arms for a long time. He still has the tiniest grip on me; a pincer grasp on a thread of my heart. I can’t bring myself to snip that one last string, it seems. But I know I must, before he starts to pull and pull and pull, until he has unwound me like a ball of yarn. Bob has a piece of my past that no one else will have. Hearing that he is a better man for having been with me is a fucking hard thing to walk away from. But then hearing that he was going to move back to California and wage a custody battle also did not feel so great, and did not exactly make me inclined to stay. He said almost all the right things – almost.

The last month has been more exciting, more depressing, more draining than any month I’ve experienced to date. I need a vacation from my life – and I thought meeting new people would provide such an escape. But, that’s proving to be equally sticky as fuck. I guess I have no choice but to surrender to the hot chewing gum mess that is my life right now.

I’m going to claim my hard earned four hours of sleep on a bean bag now, thankyouverymuch.

I knew that, during the time I went to visit him in California during our second month of dating, when he said our song was “Closing Time” that it would never work out.

Eight years later, and I don’t think anyone could say I gave up prematurely.

I’ve been staying with my mom for the last week; today I move in with some friends for the next few months while I figure out my next steps. I’m underemployed, I have a ton of debt, and I have a kid, but I have this weird feeling that it’s all going to work out one way or the other. I’m giving myself another week or so to kind of get my head on straight about what’s happening, but after that, I’m going to be getting serious about my business offering creative solutions geared toward freelancer and small business development.

Bob and I are supposed to get together on Sunday after Riko stays the night there on Saturday, I guess to talk about what happened and what our next steps are. I saw him for the first time since I left on Friday just last night, so we could have dinner with Riko. I’d taken my wedding ring off as soon as I left, but deeply considered putting it back on during dinner, so as not to draw attention to the fact of what was happening. It felt so wrong to wear it though, that I took it off again before Bob came to the car. Turns out, I didn’t need to worry – he wasn’t wearing his, either.

Dinner was fine; we joked with each other and Riko was making us both laugh by running away and taking his pants off, then trying to “run” back to us with his pants around his ankles. But it was also so very different. I had to fight that instinctive urge to put my arms around him, or tell him I loved him. It was weird consciously standing several feet apart from the man I’ve been so entwined with for so long. But it would have felt similarly weird to say or do any of those things, too. Of all the times I’ve tried to leave before, this felt different; it felt like the only option.

I came back to my mom’s and put Riko to bed after dinner, then went out in the back yard and sobbed for a few minutes. I seem to need about 5 minutes every day or two to just cry. But after that, I’m largely okay. I also ended up chain smoking a bunch of my mom’s cigarettes while laying in the hammock, which made me really sick. Ew. Not trying that stunt again. Horrible chain smoking aside, though, it was really nice laying in the big wide hammock as it swayed gently back and forth, like a pair of comforting arms enveloping me and rocking me. The moon and stars were out, but there was a stray rain cloud that sprinkled rain. It felt oddly appropriate. The day I left, there was this epic hail storm that lasted about five minutes, but it was weird, because the sun was also shining at the same time.

It’s hard to hold still for now, but until Bob and I are able to talk on Sunday, I don’t know what else to do. His mom keeps trying to call me, and I keep not answering, because I’m not telling her a damn thing before I have the chance to talk to Bob about what’s going on. I’ll reach out to her after that point, because I do want her to be a part of Riko’s life, but my business with my soon-to-be-ex husband is between us, and not anyone else.

On the whole, though, I feel pretty good. I no longer feel like a rat in a cage, where the door is open and I’m too afraid to step out. I’m out. I’m definitely out. It’s scary, but at the same time, I feel more self assured and confident in myself and my abilities than I’ve felt in years. I look at myself in the mirror, and I don’t have hatred and contempt for the person looking back at me. I love myself now, because, for the first time in many years, if not in my whole life, I’m finally taking care of myself, and doing what is right for me.

Wish me luck on Sunday.

Group Therapy

I had the weirdest thing happen to me today.

Today was my monthly writer’s group meeting, and it was my turn to host. I threw it at a friend’s restaurant downtown, where we imbibed mimosas and “migas benedict” while reading previously written pieces and doing live writing assignments. The main monthly assignment that I had posted was to describe Bilbo the Clown and how he died. My story was a bit of a “twist at the end” where Bilbo turned out to be an old, washed up Justin Bieber, who got hit by a bus.

Then, it was time to do the live writing assignment. I picked one at random out of the book The 3am Epiphany. It was “describe a caricaturized, fun house version of yourself. You have to use your name.” That’s paraphrasing it heavily. As the two guys wrote away in their books, my friend Eliza and I found ourselves struggling not to go into deep dark territory about our own body issues.

For picking a random topic, this was a hell of a one to pick, considering for the last week I have been confronting my body issues in a way that I have avoided for the better part of a decade. It started in the early hours of last Sunday morning, during the wind-down of my birthday party, after a friend made a very flippant joke at the expense of my appearance. After several minutes of trying to shove my feelings down and make them go away, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I ended up having to excuse myself, citing that it was late and I was tired, when in fact I went inside and cried like a small child for the better part of an hour. The level of reaction I had to what should have been a stupid comment that I rolled my eyes at was extremely surprising to me. I think it was to him as well, as he did send an apology email, which was nice, and I ended up opening up about my issues and why what he said affected me so much in my reply. The level of feelings that came out in my words also surprised me. It became apparent there’s been a lot rolling around in my mind that I haven’t been able to let out for years. Although he didn’t really directly respond to anything I said, he did express a general positivity toward my response, and the whole thing has started me down this path of self examination beyond just my usual “you’re fat and ugly and nobody likes you”.

Basically, I’ve been realizing how bad my self esteem has really gotten, and that perhaps it isn’t the lost cause I keep telling myself it is. That perhaps turning to others for validation, namely through somewhat faceless “likes” grabs on Facebook, does not actually substitute what I really desperately crave – a loving relationship – with myself (or, y’know, real meaningful human interaction in general). So, yeah, it was shitty that he said what he said, and it sucked that it hurt so much, but my reaction and subsequent feelings were not necessarily about him or his comment, it was about me and how I relate to myself and others.

Anyways, so, now I was at my writer’s group, and here I had to write about my appearance. Not just “she looked nice”, but accentuating the obvious. Writing felt very awkward and I had to stop myself from going down a very dark and mean spirited road, as did my friend Eliza, in her own writing. The 10 minute timer felt like AN HOUR. Three or four times we asked our friend Joe if he was sure his timer hadn’t broken, and he was like “It’s been 30 seconds, and I’m not done!” I ended up scrawling out whatever came to my mind, and it was not something I’d want to publish in a magazine. But I’ll share the more amusing parts of it here, because why the fuck not:

Alex was an eight foot tall sasquatch. She had arms resembling large bratwursts that extended for eons. With eyes like wide, burning mud pits, Alex often stared ahead of people, rather than at them, as her deep Texan drawling voice rambled on at light speed. She loved to scream about TITTIES.

Alex was also a ninja who used her long, tree-like legs to deliver round house kicks to the faces of her enemies.

Her secret ninja name was “Titty Brisket”.

I decided to read first. Unexpectedly, I began to laugh. Not just any laugh, but that kind of laughing where you’re crying and gasping for air, but with giggles. Sort of like reading the end result of a Mad Lib where you substituted all adjectives with “Moist” and all nouns with “Vagina”. Tears were rolling down my face, and it took me a lot longer than it should have to get through the piece, because I was CRACKING THE FUCK UP. I’m sure the other people at the restaurant were thinking I had lost my fucking mind.

In that moment, it was so obvious. How I see myself is so fucking funny, because it’s utterly ridiculous. It was probably the single most unexpectedly cathartic event of my recent history. It wasn’t even like what I wrote was all that crazy, but sharing it elicited this super unexpected reaction out of me, much like the comment my friend made last weekend. But instead of him insulting me with a joke, I was insulting myself with a joke, and this time, it was fucking hilarious.

Everyone else’s pieces were really awesome too, because they ended up revealing deep parts of themselves as well. As Eliza put it, “This somewhat unexpectedly feels like group therapy!”

Indeed, Eliza, you are right.

Today, Riko and I are learning about the history of EDM (Electronic Dance Music), thanks to finding this video:

It’s lead us to look at a lot of videos online of early synthesizers, and eventually theremins. It was then I remembered, hey, I have a theremin, and I even recently found the power cable to it that had been lost for years. The theremin belonged to my friend Annie, who lived in this house before us, and left it behind when she moved out, so it’s technically on “permanent loan”. I dug out my amp and hooked it all up. It took a while to figure out how to turn up the volume on the theremin itself, since the way it reads your hand directions are a little different than other ones I’ve used before. You would think I would use the theremin every chance I get, but indeed, this is the first time I’ve gotten around to using it in the two years I’ve lived here.

In any event, the results of our theremin experiment were pretty cute:

Riko dons a fancy hat and rocks out on the theremin for the first time.

Riko dons a fancy hat and rocks out on the theremin for the first time.

We also took the chance to learn about cable safety and how to properly plug/unplug our instruments. He actually did a pretty good job listening to me when I told him that if he wants to unplug and plug in the audio cable, he has to turn off his instrument and the amp first.

I got all excited teaching him about music and equipment safety. It totally brought out my inner audio nerd! He seems to love music and show great interest in my different instruments. I love that he’s finally at an age where I can begin to imprint my musical knowledge onto him. We’ve been playing keyboard together since he was old enough to bang on the keys, but now I can actually start teaching him different tricks and concepts to where he can do more than just bash away. The theremin is great, because it both requires no skill and extreme skill to play, and it doesn’t require the physical hazing process of getting callouses, like guitar or bass. I suspect he will adore the drums, too, but I haven’t owned a kit in 10 years.

He’s also just started to sing along with songs. Usually he’ll sing along with the last word of a verse, which is a lot clearer to sing along with than the rest of the words. Sometimes he gets the right pitch, even.

Teaching him about music allows me to get a little glimmer of the excitement and passion I used to have for playing over 10 years ago. Long ago, I was a musician. I played 4 instruments fluently, and another 4 I could tinker with. I could teach myself just about anything by ear. My first gig was when I was 11, through a “Rock & Roll Camp” my parents sent me to. That lead to me making friends with one of the teachers, and becoming fill in drummer for his band of old crusty musicians called The Nortons who had a weekly gig over at The Hole In The Wall. Their regular drummer hated me, because at 12, I was better than him, and he’d been playing for over 40 years. My last band, The Precious, started to get attention, before we succumbed to being four 16 year old girls and fell apart. When that happened, I began to realize I wasn’t doing music so much because it was my passion, but because it was my way of getting people to like me. I did it because I thought it made me cool. Don’t get me wrong, I loved doing it, too, but I began to fell like it was for the wrong reasons. So I decided I’d take six months off from gigging and playing, and I’d return to it when I felt like I could say I’m doing it because it’s truly an expression of myself.

Needless to say… I never went back.

I guess I just grew resentful that people around me were beginning to lose sight of where The Musician ended and The Person began. Not to mention, I was having a lot of trouble making that distinction, myself. Even at 16, I’d been exposed enough to the hard partying scene of Rock & Roll to know that I was going down a tricky, slippery road of substance abuse and financial insecurity if I decided to continue.

Around the time I was supposed to go back to playing, I got in with the Burner crowd, and made a lot of new friends. People who appreciated my artistic talents beyond just music, who enjoyed me as an all-around creative person, not just a drummer or a bassist or a whatever. It felt really good. My connections felt a lot more genuine than the ones I’d made standing at the bar bumming cigarettes off of people who reeked of “cool”. My art began to really reflect who I was, instead of just rocking out on some covers. I could sound good doing those covers, but they were never really mine.

The last time I played drums with a band, back in 2004.

The last time I played drums with a band, back in 2004.

Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t still love music, or that I don’t want to ever play again. I still tinker. I still sometimes even have dreams of really picking it up again. Getting to expose Riko to my love of music and the different instruments I have is a great way for me to honor my past, while looking towards the future.

But, of course, really, it’s about being available to explore anything he’s interested in. Though I may wax poetically about this part of my history, I don’t push it on him. Today, for instance, though we did have our little Toddler EDM Party, we also explored the back yard, watered the plants with his new favorite watering can, and watched videos of chicks hatching from eggs.

In any event, I must be off. I have to clean my house and smoke some beef ribs on the grill, in anticipation of Bob’s gaming group coming over. I’m excited about the beef ribs, I’ve never smoked those before…

Here, have a picture of my cat with a feeding tube, and his airhead brother in the background.

Here, have a somewhat non sequitur picture of my cat, Tuxedo Mask, with a feeding tube, and his airhead brother Zap in the background, because the internet loves their goddamn cats.

Leading up to my recent posting hiatus, I was beginning to really get to know WordPress, in preparation for launching a new blog I’d like to monetize with some ads or some such. Promote my writing and design skills, and hope that it leads to more money making (and self-enriching) opportunities down the road. I was kind of stuck and intimidated, though. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get much further on my own. Still, I felt pretty good about where things were headed.

Then, I got a call from an old friend, who is still in my community of friends, but I haven’t personally kept in touch with for some time. He’s asking if I can come talk to him about doing some WordPress work for him, but is really vague on the details. I say, sure, and we meet a few days later. Turns out, he’s struck out on his own doing marketing and website development after working for ad agencies over the last couple of decades, and it’s going quite well for him. So well, in fact, that he needs someone to help him with the lower level stuff, so he can go on to fry bigger fish. He wants someone junior, but who has a relative understanding of WordPress & Photoshop, so he can train them up to follow best practices. He asks me how much I’d like to do this for him part time, from home. I quoted him a rate that was a bit lower than what I was getting at my last job, but higher than other jobs I’m seeing out there; he asked what I made at my last job, and offered me that to start, saying that it will likely increase as I get enough experience to bill my hours to his clients directly.

I come out of the meeting wondering what the hell just happened. It seemed too good to be true. The exact job I’ve been wanting, falls into my lap, and I don’t even have to really compete for it? Does this shit really even happen? Then again, that’s how most of my long term jobs have gone. Just when I think I’m doomed to never being employed again, someone goes “Oh, here ya go, have a job”, and *boof*, I’m working again.

It’s been a little over a week since I started working on things for him. The work is great, I really enjoy what I’m doing, but it’s a lot more difficult to simultaneously manage working and caring for Riko than I bargained for. Working comes at the sacrifice of spending more language-enriching time with the boy. Learning to manage my schedule has been tough. The absolute last thing I want to do is fuck up this golden goose egg of an opportunity, and here I am, sending a whole lot of emails or skypes more or less saying “sorry, I wasn’t able to get this on the exact deadline, Riko decided we had to build a blanket fort or else he would throw pear sauce at me, I’m just now getting going but I promise it will be done real soon! ….how do I do this, again?”

Still, he says he’s been impressed with my work and it seems our biggest problem is me being able to handle the volume of work he wants to throw my way. He’s totally respectful of the fact that I have Riko at home with me, and the reason he’s at home is to work with him on his speech development, not to just stick him with the iPad while I plink away on the computer. He understands if I have to stop for emergency blanket forts.

Things have been a bit of a blur this past week as he scurries to get this one website live – ironically, for a company who I applied to be executive assistant for back in September, who told me “the position has been filled”, but lo and behold, it is still open on their brand spanking new job board (or maybe they hired someone and s/he left already….). After learning a bit about the company, I realize now it probably wouldn’t have been a good fit for me, ultimately, so that’s good, I guess. And now I have the power to break their website (not that I would!!!!), and that kind of makes me feel good, because I am a sick bastard.

Needless to say, all of this has left me with next to no time to write or develop my own web projects. It has, however, left me with a much deeper knowledge of WP, meaning this site will probably get a nice, well-deserved makeover soon. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the review blog… I’m wondering if I might not transfer that domain to this blog (if it’s possible), and kind of rework this blog into something a little more publicly consumable. I’m already going through and changing most of the names in my entries to nicknames, so no real identities are infringed upon. After that, who knows.

It’s also been stressful trying to start a new job when my life is somehow overly chaotic without one to begin with. This week alone, I’ve gone to the doctor twice for two unrelated things (marking my 8th motherfucking time in the last six goddamn weeks), the cat managed to pull out his feeding tube (good news, he’s all better, and he managed to save me $50), I’ve had some kind of low grade ick all week long, and there was a favorable resolution to a court case we were a part of (I’ve gone back and taken out the details).

Basically, my life is this nonstop hectic roller coaster right now, and I’m not sure if I need to just hold on tighter to get through to the end, or beg for it to stop so I can breathe. There are important parts of the roller coaster I must deal with and accept in order to get ahead in life (namely, my two new jobs as junior WordPress developer and stay at home mom/speech therapist), but there’s other shit I’m entirely too fucking done with, like the rather disgusting aftermath of getting my toe run over by a shopping cart, or going to the doctor at least once a week, or dealing with my cat who is seriously an asshole, or having weird miscommunications with my husband that leave me feeling confused.

It’s funny, three months ago, my life had ground to a standstill. Nothing was happening, and hadn’t happened for months. Now that I’m feeling more like myself again, it’s like the flood gates have burst open, and I can barely handle it. I’m hanging on, and I think I’m even enjoying it in some odd way.

I just, you know, come on, maybe let’s ease into this a little bit, Life? Can’t we, you know, go out for coffee or something before we get quite so…I don’t know…serious?

Then again, considering the number of months I spent most of my day in bed wondering when my life would simply blip out of existence, perhaps Life has put things on hold for me long enough. Welcome back, I guess?

Mommy Vs. Me

This week has been pretty incredible, for this mama. Riko has begun to potty train, and has exceeded my expectations as far as his progress. His talking continues to blossom, and he is now learning to express his wants and needs and thoughts through words, as opposed to just mimicking me, or grunting/crying to get what he wants. He counts out items up to number 10; we’re now working on counting to 20. Basically, the little guy is catching up at break neck speeds since I’ve taken him out of daycare. I’m incredibly proud of him, and I love hanging out with him so much.

Over the last few months, I feel like I’ve finally been the parent my boy deserves. Not that I’m perfect, by any stretch. But I’ve learned how to stop letting the opinions of others interfere with my own instincts about how I should parent. Basically, I’m finally standing up for him, I’m finally being the advocate he deserves. In doing that, I’m learning how to embrace what my true thoughts and feelings about things are, and allowing myself to act upon them. I’m learning to leave behind my past attitude of “oh, well, I really don’t want to upset anybody, so I’ll just smile and nod and not really look too hard at the situation in front of me”. It could be pure coincidence that he’s started to blossom linguistically and cognitively since then, or it could be a direct result, I’m not really sure. Either way, I feel it’s getting some good results.

In the past, I’ve had this nasty tendency to latch on to someone else, and base my world outlook on theirs. It helps me in some ways, but I’m seeing that at this point, I need to stand on my own two feet. Now, I have someone who is basing their world outlook on mine- and I have to be able to give him a good example of right and wrong, when to fight and when to walk away, how to take care of himself and express himself in a healthy way, and be an overall decent human being. To do that, I have to command enough respect for myself to where I believe what I say, because kids have an amazing way of cutting through bullshit, especially once they hit the teenage years. There’s nothing worse than a hypocrite, to a teenager. I think one reasons teens have so much friction with their parents, is because they begin to see them as human beings, not as gods, and realize that a lot of their stances are hypocritical “do as I say and not as I do” bullshit. I plan on being as honest about life as is age-appropriate with him, and hopefully I can avoid at least some of the fallout.

But as I talk about how I’m pulling myself out of my hole for his sake, I think, what about me? Don’t I deserve to have my own thoughts and feelings and opinions because that is my right as a human, not just because I want to set a good example for my son? The answer, obviously, is yes. Not that I’m impervious to other points of perspective, but I need to learn how to have my own voice, not just for Riko, but for me as well. As much as I want him to succeed in life, I want to succeed in my own life. I want to stop writing myself off as a lost cause. I’m beginning to realize that I’m not irrevocably broken, that I can get over this depression and weird spot in life that I find myself in.

Finding my voice and embracing my thoughts, feelings, and opinions again does present its own set of issues. There are certain situations in my life that I am upset to find myself a part of. Things that I can’t just walk away from without serious repercussions. They are consequences of decisions I made as a mere teenager, and eight years later, I find myself in much deeper than I was then. I’m trying to insulate myself from it as much as possible, while still continuing to make progress, but we’ll see how far I can go with that situation continuing to be a factor in my life. I’m not really sure what to do, at this point. I know that’s vague. I wish I could say more. Some day I probably will. But for now, I have to kind of leave it there. It does at least give me an indication of why I chose to stay broken so much of last year, though. I would give my left arm if it meant fixing that situation without having to walk away from it. I see the answer staring me in the face, but man, I don’t want it to be true.

That said, though, things are starting to go a lot better for me. Sure, I’m still tight on cash, but I’m setting up a budget so I can hopefully get the credit card debt paid off this year. I bought a domain name for my new review blog, which I’m hoping to get live in the next month or so (I find it slightly ironic that I have such trouble standing behind my own thoughts or opinions on things, and here I am starting a blog that is based on my opinions on things :-P). My therapy sessions continue to go really well. I’m also going through a phase of reevaluating the relationships in my life, and snipping away the ones that are nothing but an energy drain. It’s been hard, but I’m finding I’m a lot happier for it.

I have to be somewhat careful not to let myself latch on to simply Being Mommy, and figure out a balance between Being Mommy and Being Leelo. Being Faceless, Boring, and Broken is simply not an option anymore. But I’m still trying to figure out what Being Leelo entails at this point in my life. Rediscovering my passions has been an interesting journey. I’m starting to wander outside of my cage a little more, and the sunshine feels good on my worn meaty form. Honestly, though, it no longer feels like it’s balancing two opposing sides anymore, so much as incorporating two unique elements of who I am into one complete self. That feels pretty nice.

I remain cautiously optimistic.