The Thought Hoard and Letting Go

I wish I could let go.

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That’s the mantra of my life. I wish I could let go of all the little things. The things that:

  • Occupy my mind
  • Hold me back
  • Prevent me from living in the moment
  • Distract me from joy
  • Fill me with sadness
  • Fill me with anger
  • Fill me with fill-in-the-blank emotion
  • Make me resentful

 

I wish I could let go.

I’m not a hoarder of things. I don’t stack tissue boxes up in piles. I don’t accumulate and store. I don’t hide away in a mess of junk.

But I am a hoarder of thoughts. Mostly negative ones. They eat at me, gnaw at happiness, until I can’t ever fully enjoy what I’m doing or where I’m at. I get mad at myself for being this way, but maybe it’s my way of coping. Maybe I take comfort in the negative self-talk. It’s the way I’ve been my whole life. It’s routine. In a childhood without structure, without order, maybe these thoughts are at least my old reliable. The one thing I could always count on. Thoughts like these:

  • You’re ugly
  • You’re stupid
  • Don’t say anything, lest you prove yourself to be stupid
  • Don’t attract attention because someone might say something mean to you
  • Why do you even try? You won’t ever be good enough.
  • Everybody hates you
  • Did I mention you’re not good enough?

For a long time, I thought these ideas originated in my own brain. That I conjured them up due to insecurity after being made fun of one too many times at school. Fueled by feeling the compulsion to lie about trivial things because that’s the behavior I saw modeled at home. “Sorry, you can’t come over. My parents are remodeling the house,” and “Of course, I take showers, not baths because our shower totally isn’t broken,” And “Of course I like the things you like even though I’d never heard of it before.” I was/am insecure because of school teasing, yes, but more so because of things my mother said.

The negative self-talk thoughts I mistakenly assumed started in my mind actually began as things that left my mother’s lips:

  • I wanted to get contacts in the sixth-grade because I felt like the glasses I wore were causing breakouts around my nose. After getting contacts, my mom said, “I thought you said getting contacts was going to make your skin better?” She laughed, because that was oh-so-obviously not the case.
  • I wanted to tell her something about my day, life, whatever and she was too busy to listen. Had to watch the same rerun of the same show for the ten thousandth time first because she hadn’t seen/heard every last little bit of the other times. She hadn’t watched it “right.”
  • I did everything wrong. Nothing I did could ever manage to measure up to her impossibly high standards. Seriously, if a coaster in the living room was an inch too far from where she wanted it, I’d screwed everything up and pretty much ruined her damned day.
  • When Matt and I started dating, I told her that he was my boyfriend. She smirked at me and said, “Does he know that?”

That last one really hurt. So I sold it as a short-short story to One-Forty Fiction. At least there may be profit to my pain. Ha-ha.

So yeah, things my mother said stick with me. They’ve bored into my brain and I can’t shake them no matter how hard I try. I’ve collected them, sorted them, and catalogued them. The hurt and pain and ugly words make up the hoard inside my mind.

Going for a Walk

I went for a walk. The sun was shining, birds singing. The air, crisp. A lovely day to get outside.

And it’s a simple task. You put some shoes on, glance at yourself in the mirror to make sure you look half decent, then out the door you go. You spend some time in the sunshine walking then go back home. Easy.

But I have a baby so there are some added steps. It goes something like this. Make sure she’s fed, changed, dressed, wait was that fart, poop? Should I check her diaper again? Yes. I check her diaper again. Clean! Dodged a bullet there. But of course, it takes five minutes to wrestle her pants back on. “Mommy, don’t you know I have more important things to do than get dressed?”

Should I take her in the stroller? Or, hey, maybe we can try the Moby today. Haven’t done that in a while. Should be fun. I spend several minutes tying the damn wrap around my body, trying to prevent my shirt from bunching up underneath it in the process. Okay. it’s tied on. Time to put the baby in. Wait. I have to pee. Okay. Now I’ll put her in the wrap.

Lots of fiddling ensues. I try to put her in facing me, but she just keeps squirming and wanting to face outward. Little thing wants to see the world! So I oblige her. In she goes, facing out. She’s happy. Good.

Shit. I forgot to put my boots back on. Now I must attempt the acrobatic feat of bending with a 16 pound baby hanging off the front of me. Fun! But I manage. The boots are on, people. The boots are on! But hmm, if I’m going out, I better stop by the market because we’re almost out of toilet paper and that would be a bad thing to run out of. So I’ll go to the market. Yay! A walk with a purpose! But wait, that means I need to take my purse. And I’ll need to carry a bag home from the store. I can’t carry anything while she’s in the wrap. Yes, it’s hands-free but she wiggles so much, I like to have a hand on her at all times. Okay, so it looks like I’m bringing the stroller anyway.

Forty-five minutes later I’m heading out the door. Wait, she ate two hours ago, she’ll probably get hungry while we’re out. Should I get a bottle? Yes. Maybe. Do I really want to whip my boob out while walking down the street? I don’t think I could manage that anyway. Not that coordinated. Eh, I’ll risk it.

I give myself a glance in the mirror. This is what I see:

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Then it’s out the door we go. The stroller lists to the right. September pulls her arm out of the wrap, trying to twist toward me. So I steer the stroller with one hand and hold onto her tummy with the other. We’re managing though. Good god, we’re managing!

We get to the market, buy toilet paper and a few other items then leave. All is good. Of course, that’s when the wind kicks up. Every step is taken straight into the wind. The resistance keeps blowing off her hat. At one point, I chase the damn thing at least twenty feet like I’m in a Buster Keaton bit. The wind is just too much. I put her in the stroller, but of course, this makes her cry. She’s hungry. Ugh. Should have fed her before I left the house.

Too late now. Almost home. We walk and walk and finally we get there. I feed her and she’s happy again. Wearing her in the Moby like that was uncomfortable so I research it online to find out you’re not supposed to wear babies facing out in carriers. It causes hip damage and it puts too much pressure on their spines. Mom fail.

I don’t get around to unloading the things I bought at the market until seven at night, after Matt got home and after dinner. But it all gets done eventually.

Still, sometimes I miss the simplicity of just putting on shoes, checking the mirror, grabbing my keys, and dashing out the door. I really took that for granted.

But September and I go on walks. And she loves them. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

So, I Have a Brother…

1350860_hand-in-handI grew up thinking I was an only child. You and me and the baby makes three. What a perfect little family. My mom and dad met, got married, thought they couldn’t have children, then thirteen years later, they had me. What a perfect little miracle. You know, I remember my mom saying that over and over again: “We tried for thirteen years then finally had Brenda. She’s our little miracle.”

Of course, none of that was true. Because my family tells lies with the ease others tell the truth.

Turns out, my dad was married before and had a kid. Apparently, his parents made him pay child support because they wanted to be a part of their grandson’s life. And he may very well have left his first wife for my mother.

That would all be bad enough, right? But that’s where my story begins. My mom, wanting the perfect family, decided to hide the fact that I had a brother and that my dad had been married before. And my dad went along with it. Why? I couldn’t tell you. But it’s obvious he doesn’t think for himself. I thought it was something that developed over time as he got older, but apparently, the passivity is a trait he’d honed to perfection years ago.

My dad told me about my brother a few years ago finally, out of guilt. I was 22. Yes, the truth (or some semblance of it) came out when I was 22 years old. Ridiculous, right? And as more details surface about the circumstances of his divorce, things start to click into place. Of course, my parents would lie to me. Of course they would. Because their relationship was born out of lies and if my mom was to hang onto the narrative that we were the perfect little family, she’d have to cover up the fact that she was the other woman. My dad would have to cover up the fact that he’d made some seriously bad choices. The burden of information would tarnish my image of them.

After 29 years, brother and sister meet.
After 29 years, brother and sister meet.

What’s funny, is if they’d just told me about my brother in the first place, I probably wouldn’t have dug for more information. But the notion of being lied to is toxic and eats at you until you have to say something, do something. Finding out the truth is imperative.

All of this rests heavy in my head but the real reason I’m writing this post is positive. I met my brother for the very first time last weekend. He’s 45. I’m almost 29. He’s known about me my whole life and I’ve known about him for about 6 years. That dynamic is weird enough. But seeing him face to face solidified a lot of things I’d been trying to avoid: my parents aren’t who I thought they were; they’ve lied to me since I could understand words; my upbringing was even stranger than I give it credit for.

The good news? My brother is pretty cool and damn if he doesn’t look exactly like our dad. That’s a weird thing to say. “Our” dad. Small things like that drawn attention of the strange situation we’ve been put into every time I open my mouth. His wife, my sister-in-law, is super nice and apparently, I have two nieces on that side. After reconnecting with my cousin recently, it’s nice to have even more blood-related family. After enduring a childhood where I was kept away from everyone I was related to because my parents were afraid I’d learn the truth, it feels good to be making these connections.

Don’t get me wrong. My in-laws have been wonderful. They’ve been there for me for the past almost 11 years, giving me the support I needed, being there for me, and giving me family experiences I missed out on as a kid. Still. It’s nice to know my blood line isn’t entirely tainted with the crazy.

During our late lunch, I felt oddly at ease. I’m a pretty high strung person but I think the fact we had so much to talk about and we had some shared knowledge drew the attention away from “OMG this is weird” and put it on “Can you believe this situation we’ve been put in?”

The truth of the matter is what’s happened to Todd and I wasn’t fair. We were denied the chance to be in each other’s lives from the outset. Nothing can get back that lost time but at least now we can connect and have some sort of relationship.

Because that’s what we deserve.