In the Center I Lie in Fear

I know I talked about shame in an earlier post. How hoarding is a shame my parents hid from the world and how they instilled that same shame into me. They made me fear what the outside world would think. Because really, when you’re living in the center of a hoard, you lie in fear of what will happen if people find out your secret. What will they think? Will they look at your differently? Will you be even more of a freak?

And let me tell you, I felt like such a freak.

It didn’t matter how many friends I had or how many extracurricular activities I participated in. I was always the freak, always weird and never fit in.

Because my parents were so lax at fixing things when they broke, I was forced to hand wash all my clothes up until I was about 21. The real kicker? They wouldn’t let me go to the laundromat. How freakin’ crazy is that? They said laundromats were dangerous. I guess they’d rather I smelled bad like they did than actually get out of the house and realize people didn’t live like they did. They were probably afraid I’d call them on it. 

I mean, they were right. That’s where I am now. But when I lived under that roof, I was held back and stunted, made to fear the world and distrust everyone. Everyone else was wrong. How dare they all live like they do? We are living like normal people. The rest of the world is nuts.

A common conversation in my household went something like this:

Me: “I disagree with something you said. It doesn’t make sense.”

Mom: “What? Why would you say that? That’s not like you at all. Act like yourself.”

Me: “I am acting like myself.”

Mom: “No you’re not. You’re acting like those kids at school. Stop it.”

By “acting like myself,” my mom invariably meant “acting like her.” If I didn’t act exactly like her or believe the same things she believed, I was being influenced by my peers too much or pretending to be something I wasn’t.

She couldn’t bear the thought of me being anything other than the same as her.

I couldn’t bear the thought of being anything like her.

As Matt and I picked up my mom from the hospital the other day, she kept commenting on how grown up I was. How I handled everything so well, from getting her prescriptions to talking to the discharge nurses. I’d hope I’m grown up. I’m almost 29. And part of my brain wanted to speak up, interject:

No thanks to you.

Which is horrible to think, but the thought danced along the surface of my mind anyway, begging to be spoken aloud. There’s always a snide remark just waiting to be uttered. It makes me feel cruel for thinking such things.

I don’t say them.

I probably should.

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I Never Thought to Ask

I got the idea for this blog post a few weeks ago but after recently watching Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, “The Art of Asking,” I was reminded that I need to set these thoughts down now before I lose them. So many thoughts parade through my mind on a daily basis, if I don’t carve out a moment or two for them, they’ll be gone.

1392558_japanese_gardenI’ve come to a realization in the past few months: sometimes all you have to do is ask.

When I was pregnant, and even before, I felt alone. It was Matt and I against the world. I was so used to not getting support from my family that I assumed no one else would support us, either. Now, I’m not talking financially here. My parents have always helped me out if I needed money. They’re good with “things.” But in terms of emotional support, it’s lacking these days. I digress.

I assumed that no one cared about my pregnancy. That sounds so ridiculous now. I rejected help. I felt like we had to do it alone because I assumed that’s what we’d have to do. That when it came down to it, we’d have to do everything ourselves.

Little did I know that by having that attitude, I was making that my reality. I was making my worst fears come true by being so closed to the world. By saying “no.”

Then something funny happened. I had a baby. And I started to say, “yes.”

If someone offered help, I accepted. I still struggled with the concept of being on our own and alone but slowly, people started coming into our lives. My mother-in-law helped out, offered to watch the baby, leant an ear when I needed to vent and offered support. Slowly, my mindset changed.

Then, just last month, I put out a request on Facebook for a babysitter. Lo and behold, a family friend came to the rescue.

All this time, I thought we were alone. Our little family, floating on an island by ourselves, ostracized and removed. I thought it was because other people didn’t care. That they couldn’t be bothered.

Now I realize I didn’t ask. If I needed help, all I had to do was ask.

I’m humbled. Help was there all along. Wow.