True to Self

Disappointment

Being true to who we are, being who we are, may be difficult if we are concerned that our true selves will disappoint another person.  In the past, I spent quite a bit of time weaving tales so that those around me wouldn’t see who I truly was, and be disappointed.

We know what is expected of us from a young age, or at least a certain amount of us do.  We know the basics, the “norms” of our family and culture.  We, to a degree, know what our parents expect from us, even perhaps those things they won’t readily admit to expecting.  Behaviors and events and reactions paint a picture, and often it is all too clear just what that parent expects.

And as our world moves away from our nuclear unit, perhaps even our culture, we begin to see what “society” expects, what relationships expect, what our boss, our roommate, our out-of-town boyfriends expect.

I learned early into my venture, that what I wanted was simply not possible.  The life I wanted to lead, not possible, living with out-of-control bipolar disorder.  And I did a lot of crazy things, made a lot of bad decisions, but always told a lie that did not coincide with who I was at the core to spare the disappointment of people I loved.

Not, that is to say, that they didn’t see right through me.  Here we are over ten years later, and sometimes, when I start to get sick, I start telling those lies again, or I stay silent.  And often, when I am just in a space of feeling bad, which can last for days or can be intermittent throughout the day like a dying lightbulb, I am likely to gloss it over and not talk about what is bothering me.  “I’m fine!”

I tell fewer lies about the real truth of myself now, than I ever have.  I think I’m becoming more comfortable with me, but I think also, that I am beginning to learn that I can’t compromise who I am for the comfort of someone I care about.  I may disappoint, I may hurt, but I am me.

Sometimes it’s Okay to Give Up

 

 

Through some harsh life battles, I can count many a day where I was ready to give up.  Throw in the towel.  Just be done.  Depression is horrific and the voices running through your mind actually ENCOURAGE you to give up.  That’s right, not only do you feel like shit, your “inner you” is trying to make you give up the fight.

I honestly don’t know how I’ve made it through all of those times.  Probably my great support system, medications, therapy, and a lot of just white-knuckling it.  There’s a blog I read, in which the author keeps finding herself on the verge of giving up, giving in to depression and anxiety and fear.  I get that, totally do.  I especially can see how having no one on your side would make you feel that way even more.

Because sometimes, the only reason I don’t give up, is because I worry what would happen to Kizzie.  Sure, DSB would take care of her, but her momma would be GONE.  Giving up, following through and really doing it — that’s permanent.  There’s no coming back from that kind of giving up.  And I’ve lived years skirting that edge.  The things that kept me from stepping over the line were invariably my parents and my pup.  And now there’s DSB to think about, too.

The quote above really speaks to me.  Something about trusting your own madness is very right, and it’s something I’ve only come to embrace within the last year or so.  If we don’t trust in ourselves, we find any way possible to keep the truth from coming out.  About our (actual and literal)  madness, about our shady intentions, about hidden secrets.

Something I have given up, for good, is lying.  Being dishonest in any way.  I am now and forever more completely transparent.  Before DSB, lying was like breathing to me.  I did it without thinking, without reason, just because.  It usually didn’t even register to me that I had lied.  It was just something I did.  I spun a tale to make myself look better, mostly.  Or to make myself look a certain way, at least.  I didn’t trust enough to show my true colors.  I wasn’t true to my real madness, if you will.

About a year ago, DSB sat me down and we had “the real talk.”  More of a “come-to-Jesus” talk, as my mom would put it.  He told me that he knew I was lying about a lot of things, and about how he didn’t trust me anymore.  He told me that he couldn’t be with a person he didn’t trust, but he wanted to be with me.  I had to change my lying ways so that he would stay.  It was the biggest motivator of all time.  I didn’t want to lose him, and I knew that all of the lies I told were destroying me.

What I didn’t realize was the extent to which the lies and deceit were destroying me.  I was constantly on guard, worried about who was going to find out what, worrying about what would happen when they did find out, because they always did.  I have always been a poor liar — ever since I was a little girl.

I am reflecting upon this now, because for the past several nights, out of nowhere, I have found myself checking my gut for signs of anything amiss.  It used to be, I had so much to worry about.  And now I don’t.  Everything’s out there for the world to see.  I am not suffering any consequences, because, in general, I am doing nothing wrong.  This is a new world to me, and even though this has been going on for over a year, it feels like I’m just now noticing.

Noticing how nice it feels to just have a conversation and not make things up that I will have to account for later.  Noticing how much more trust and faith DSB has in me, in the words I say, in the actions I show.  There is no more worry, and there is no more fear.

Sometimes it’s ok to give up.  It’s ok to give up lying, drinking, cheating, negative things.  It’s even good.  It’s never okay to give up on yourself, and I am so very thankful to know DSB always always ALWAYS has my back.  And I am the reason he is still here and my quitting the lying is the only way we made things better.  Things are better for everyone, now.  Everyone was affected by my lying, and my relationships are now very uncomplicated.  For that, I am truly grateful.

 

Wherein I Come Clean About Smoking

I quit smoking toward the end of December this past year.  For the most part, I did pretty well, considering.  I had a few slip-ups, but nothing major.  I struggled, fought, and pretty soon it became easier, if not just plain easy some days.

I reveled in the non-smoking life.  I could breathe, I wasn’t coughing all the time, my hair smelled good.  I could smell a cigarette at 50 yards and, at times, I could have sworn I was allergic to cigarette smoke.  The secondhand smoke just affected me that much.

Toward the end of January, things started getting difficult.  DSB’s health was to take a turn for the worse, and that stress-free life I so enjoyed was over.  I had become complacent about my quit, too.  Not changing my patch when I should, not popping a lozenge when my brain told me I wanted a cigarette, not blogging about the struggle.  I lost track of the fight within me to stay quit, and I got lost somewhere.

It started out with just stealing a cigarette here and there.  Within the last two weeks, I’ve been buying a pack here and there, smoking a couple, a dozen, the whole pack here and there.  Cigarettes are an addictive bitch, and I’m not talking about the nicotine.  For the past two days, at home with an immobile DSB (health problems out the ying-yang, oh yeah!), waiting on him hand and foot, doing nothing but trying to run this house all by myself, I’ve smoked regularly.

And my body is pissed.  And I am pissed.  I’m coughing and hacking and I reek of cigarette smoke.  I started to think about how great I felt in December and most of the way through January.  How good it felt to be quit, how nice the air was moving in and out of my lungs, how my wind was better, how I had more energy.

They are absolutely fucking right when they tell you that quitting smoking now will greatly reduce serious risks to your health.  And you feel amazing.  I think the Surgeon General should put that on the pack, too:  If you quit, you will feel amazing.  Part of it is that you’re not smoking and part of it is that you tackled a huge beast and you are WINNING.

I’ve been lying in bed reading The Orange Buffalo by Grayson Queenwhich so far has been amazing, and he is writing about (in this particular section) about drinking and disillusionment and the quest for perfection, and Grayson Queen helped me (about 15 minutes ago) to have my own personal epiphany.

I do NOT want to smoke.  I do not want to be a smoker.  I want to quit and have healthy lungs and live to see my nephew grow up and get married and have kids of his own.  I don’t want to sneak around with cigarettes and lighters and be a smelly, smoky mess.

The other part of this personal epiphany, is that, yes, life has become quite stressful and that I, however, do not have to feed it.  I can deal with it, I can manage.  Without cigarettes.  And without a bipolar meltdown.

My personal epiphany:  I am happier without cigarettes.  I feel empowered when I don’t smoke.  I like the non-smoking Rosa better than the chain-smoking Rosa.  And I definitely like the not-sneaking-around Rosa better than the sneaking-around one.

I have come to far to start telling lies again.  I have come too far to give up this quit.  I’ll be restarting that fight, effective 23 minutes ago.  I will wake up in the morning, and I will not smoke, no matter what.  I have patches and lozenges and I will use my tools.

 

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

When I was growing up, I lied a lot.  I lied a lot and I concocted and then told elaborate stories about myself, my family, my neighbors, the world.  I started at such a young age, that I’m not quite sure where it came from.

My mom tells a story about me being in kindergarten, and a policeman coming to my class to stay away from strangers and that kind of thing.  Apparently, I told the police officer mid-way through the presentation that when I was bad, my parents locked me in a closet and wouldn’t let me out, and that they didn’t feed me or let me use the restroom while I was locked in said closet.

Apparently my mom, who was present, and kindergarten teacher were so accustomed to my wild stories that they just shook their heads at the officer and he basically ignored my tall tales the remainder of the presentation.  Because, ya know, my parents gave me “bad drugs” and who knows what else.

Fast forward to third grade, where I told some real whammies and convinced my teacher that she couldn’t come to my piano recital because my piano teacher had died.  Well, she hadn’t, and I specifically remember being made to apologize and explain such to my teacher.  That was the first time I remember having to recant, and while I’d like to say there weren’t anymore instances, and that I learned my lesson, there would be many more stories that I would have to recant during my lifetime.

The elaborate lie-making didn’t end in elementary school.  It continued through middle school, where I made up stories about homework and forged my name on all of the disciplinary notes that were “sent home” from my German Languages teacher.  It didn’t stop there, either, although you would think having your bedroom’s contents stripped down to bed, dresser, and school-books would have inspired some sort of change.  It didn’t.

In high school, I told stories to get out of basketball practices, and when I started dating, I lied constantly about where I was, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with.  You would think that with all this practice lying, that I would have become skilled at it.  Not the case.  My parents knew every time I told even the tiniest lie and I was grounded on countless occasions.

And then I was sent off to college, to a town just an hour away, and continued with my lying ways.  I lied about taking my meds, about drinking, about staying out late, missing class, not doing homework, getting my first “C.”  Somehow the truth always came out, though.  And the results were often not very pretty.

Midway through college, I was lying about my location, for the most part.  I had a boyfriend in my hometown and I would drive back nearly every weekend to stay with him.  And when  I stay with him, I mean sleep over at his place and tell my parents I was still back at school.  They didn’t buy much of that, either.

After college, the lying became harder to do.  I was in an abusive relationship and I barely talked to my parents.  I didn’t know how to get out, how to get help, what to do.  Looking back, I could have easily moved home, but at the time I felt like that would mean I had truly failed at the game of life.

About nine months after getting out of school and into this nasty relationship, my life came to a halt.  I had moved out of the abusive boyfriend’s house and into an apartment.  I talked to my family frequently, but lied about my drinking and, in my eyes, was hiding some of the most confusing rapid cycling ever.

When I hit bottom, my parents told me I was moving back home and needed to start over.  I accepted it.  I was without even a shred of sanity and I couldn’t take anymore.  By moving me back to town, my parents likely saved my life.  I couldn’t have gone on the way I was much longer.  I was finally honest about my symptoms, and about what life had dealt me.

And for a period of time, I was more honest in everyday life.  I was upfront about what I was doing and where I was.  I was living life in survival mode, and I listened most of all to what my parents told me to do.  I’m glad I did, because I would not be here today without them and their support.

After a transition period, I moved out on my own and jumped into a relationship.  I found myself lying about this person, because I knew he wouldn’t match up to what my parents thought I deserved.  And that became the pattern for the next ten years.  I lied about where and how I spent my money, and I lied about whatever boyfriend I had at the time.  And of course, I lied to those boyfriends.

When I met DSB, one of the first thing he ever told me was that he didn’t tolerate lying.  And I was in a severe manic episode when we first got together, and I lost track of all the hundreds of tiny little lies that I told.  A few months into our relationship, he sat me down and we talked about my lying and how it affected us.  He couldn’t trust me, didn’t trust me.  It felt horrible to hear him say that.  DSB prides himself on being a man of his word, and here I was, lying away to him.

I made a concerted effort in the months after that not to lie.  We came up with a system, because sometimes a lie would slip out before I even realized, like it was a bad habit.  If I lied, I had to say something immediately.  And so I started doing that, and the lies became fewer and farther in between.  I was learning, at 30, 31 years old, how NOT to lie.  It amazes me, thinking back.

Now here I am, two years later, and I can proudly say that I feel I am an honest person.  I feel like you can trust what is coming out of my mouth, I’ve stopped making up stories, and I keep my word.  If I tell you I’m going to do something, then you had better believe I’m going to do my best to make it happen.  And I will.  And I do.  DSB has helped me to be a better person by yanking the lies right out of my head.  I hardly ever tell an “accidental” lie now, and I never put thought into crafting a tale about something.

It’s a lot easier to just be honest the first time around.  Then you don’t have to keep track of what lie you told to who, when.  The other thing about keeping your word and not lying, is that you come to expect it in other people, and you tend to say something when everything isn’t on the up-and-up.  I wish it hadn’t taken 30 years to learn not to lie, but I am grateful I have people in my life who have taught me that lesson.