Monday 6 April 2015

Who Am I?!

In the process of dealing with everything that's going on with Mum at the moment, I've found myself having intensely emotional moments which are taking me back to being a teenager since that was the last time I found life so hard to cope with.

With each therapy session I take a summary of what's happened over the past month which helps me to mentally process everything, but also gives my therapist an idea of where my head is at and so she knows the focus point of the session.

A lot of stuff has come up this past month in particular. I'm having weird dreams about random things and people, mostly from high school which isn't unusual given my emotional state, but it's left me questioning a lot of things which I thought I knew about myself and my life but find myself reevaluating.

I was watching Monsters University with mum earlier today, even though I wasn't a huge fan of the first two movies, but I wanted something light and entertaining to watch and mum preferred that over The Lego Movie.

I almost immediately related to Mike Wazowski. He was tiny, had one eye and often got left behind. Everyone underestimated him, told him and made him feel like he didn't belong, but he used that to get ahead and go further than anyone ever had. Even the Dean of MU told him she was surprised which was something that had never happened to her before.

In a strange way she kind of reminded me of my Health teacher back in high school. I wasn't sure what her problem was, but I sensed she was projecting her own insecurities onto me and made me feel like they were somehow my problem instead of hers.

She herself wasn't that much taller than me, yet nearly every chance she got she made a deal of me being short. No one else seemed to care about my small stature or that I was overweight, if they did I either repressed the memory or they did it behind my back. She did though.

Whenever she'd make jokes, or what she considered to be jokes, I just laughed along awkwardly with her but never found it funny. I wasn't hurt by it, I was annoyed.

A few years after I graduated I was asked to come back and present an award that I'd won during my time at school. I sat in the front row with some of the staff including the school counselor who I'd come to know quite well and considered a friend. The Health teacher sat on my other side and at one point asked me if I was around the same height as the Kindy teacher who wasn't that much taller than her students.

At the end of the evening when my parents were ready to go home, I decided enough was enough and wanted to get to the bottom of it. I approached the teacher and asked her if I'd done something to offend her because of all the jokes she'd made over the years about my height. She made some excuse and told me a brief story which was completely unrelated to my query. I got the sense that it was all she was going to say and said my farewells before leaving with my parents.

As I watched the movie I started to question a lot of things. What was my inspiration for doing the things I did? What was my ultimate goal? Did I really try to fit in or was I proud to stand out from the crowd?

Before the movie started I flicked between a few different channels and settled on an entertainment news show which I always loved watching as a teen. Halfway through there was an ad for some kind of hair care product and it reminded me of the girls in my class back in high school.

Truthfully I had tried desperately hard to fit in but it just didn't feel right. I never felt good enough to sit with or hang around the other girls and I got the sense that they didn't particularly like hanging around with me either. So I didn't.

I was Lilo from Lilo and Stitch. I felt alone because my family wasn't the same as everyone else's. It's like that vibe you get when someone is your kind of people and when you need to find another crowd because the current one just isn't working for you.

I remember school excursions at the start of high school and the class running off in pairs to explore while I just hung behind buddyless and wanting to go back to the sanctuary of my room.

One time I actually did break down in tears after I lost the rest of my class and started freaking out. Luckily the teacher who had always looked kindly on me came back to find me and bring me to the rest of the class whilst telling them off for running ahead in the first place.

I told another former teacher who I'd always been close to the other day when we caught up that it was exhausting trying to play with the other girls in the class when they had chosen their groups and although when a teacher came past they'd let another person join in, but otherwise it just wasn't my crowd. I had the option of falling in with them and what they liked, or staying by myself and liking the things that I liked. I chose the latter.

My best friend found it easier than I did to relate to the other girls, probably because she had more in common with them. At first glance they all had relatively happy family lives, I'm pretty sure each of them had at least one sister and a good or close enough relationship with their mother, they didn't get up every single day struggling to find meaning in their lives because they felt so low about themselves. If they did, they hid it incredibly well. I didn't have enough energy to even do that.

For me, I had a mentally ill mother who refused to acknowledge that there was a problem, my dad was between jobs for most of my life so we relied on Centrelink and my grandparents to pay for education and even basic things when a credit card had been maxed out.

I felt like a scholarship kid at a fancy private school, if you hold the 'fancy'.

I remember one of the girls talking about buying something one weekend which had cost $40 but said it like it was nothing. For me, $40 was a luxury.

When other kids were buying phones and any other expensive items, I was given a share phone with my brother when I was 15 which was a Nokia brick phone while I saw other kids playing with camera phones and whatever else. I wished I could afford something like that but my budget never exceeded $20 and the phone I used barely hit that mark.

Every time I tried to fit in it just ended up backfiring for me. I couldn't do normal because my sense of normal wasn't like anyone else's and it was too hard to pretend otherwise.

I still feel hurt by a lot of stuff that was said and done to me back in high school. Sometimes it got so bad that I did feel like giving up, especially when I went home after a particularly bad day at school and felt worse because of what I had to deal with there. Other times I wanted to get even and prove them all wrong, like a close friend of mine told me when we caught up a few months ago. He himself had been through a pretty tough time at school but he kept telling himself that he needed to keep going because there were so many people to prove wrong. I knew exactly what he meant.

When I was talking to the former teacher and telling her about my struggles in high school when we compared notes on dealing with religious people, I told her that when you have a big and open mind around close and small minded people, it's hard. They make you feel like there's something wrong with you for thinking or behaving the way you do just because they don't see things the same way.
I always felt stifled in that environment. Hearing people talk about things that I didn't see as important or passing judgement and criticism on something they knew next to nothing about, and that type of behavior was both rewarded and encouraged.

My incredibly sensitive nature, ability to see outside the square that everyone else seemed to live in, distrust of a lot of religious people given how they'd treated me growing up and inability to take jokes that I didn't think were particularly funny because they were at the expense of another person, they made life just that little bit harder for me, but on the plus side, they taught me incredibly valuable lessons from an early age, most of which I probably wouldn't have been able to learn any other way.

For me, the most precious and valuable gift someone can give you is their trust. It's hard to earn for some people and as I experienced a lot of, those who don't value it or you for that matter, just throw it away.

I've always seen it as a bond of sorts. When someone trusts you, they let you in on something amazing and incredibly special. They give you a part of them that they don't let anyone else see. They leave themselves vulnerable and it's up to the receiver not to ruin it for either person. Once trust is broken, it's incredibly hard to get back. I've never considered myself the kind of person to break that for any reason which I believe is the secret to having some truly amazing friendships and relationships.

As things come up I'm still trying to process them, but for now I have some idea of who I am. I'll figure out where I'm going as I go, and will know what I want to do once I get there. Life's an adventure if you let it be one!

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