Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm Back

It has been roughly 5 months since my last post. You see, as honest as I like to think I am, there were things I was dealing with that I wasn't comfortable writing about. And now, since the start of my journey to personal growth, I am finally ready to write about it. I'm not going to go into great detail as I am a fairly private person, but I've missed Blogspot big time and it's time I give my one reader some news on me.
Tonight, I write from my table that sits in my dining my two bedroom apartment. That's right, I've moved out, on my own. This was not by choice as I lost my home to foreclosure and am now filing for divorce. Now don't look that the screen like that. No condolences here. This is a very good thing. Before I delve any deeper I want to get one thing straight. While I do blame the ex for certain events, he is by no means the villain in this story as I have allowed things to go on for far too long. Part of my personal growth is accepting my own personal responsibility for my own life.
Now there's a thought..."my own life"...this means it belongs to no one else and I am therefore the only responsible party. See where I'm going with this? I realized that my lack of happiness had everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else. Sure, many things had to change, including whom I chose to share my life (or lack thereof) with. I cannot change certain parts of my life and I'm finally coming to terms with that. I cannot change the darker parts of my childhood, I cannot change the loss of my brother, I cannot change the age that I married or the fact that I married at all, I cannot change autism in my life, but, and this (like mine) is a great but...but, I can change how I handle all of it, I can let go of old grudges, I can better manage my life with autism as opposed to just dealing with it. I can change me. And that's exactly what I've been doing over the last few months, long before I started and subsequently stopped writing here.
I have been taking care of myself since I was about 16 years old. I won't go into details, but as of 16 I worked my tush off to feed and clothe myself, to maintain and insure my vehicle, and to save. Survival became my only goal. What happened from then to not too long ago was this, I realized I spent so much time surviving my life that I forgot to live it. I forgot to smile at other things besides my children. My children have been the only happiness in my life, the only emotions I expressed were inspired by them or given to them. But I held none for myself in my own life. I had been unhappy for so long that I forgot what happiness feels like. I'm still below happiness, however I'm finally on the right track toward it. I'm not sure what it looks like but for the first time in a very long time, I've got my eyes peeled. I had spent so much time being perfect that I became a robot. Again, the only sincere smiles and pure love I've felt were for the little monsters I gave life to. It took me a while to accept that I have every right to seek out happiness as a person and a woman instead of only in the one area of my life that I got right which would be as a mother.
Moving out was the scariest thing I'd ever done. I can manage little lives that depend on me, I can manage a household on unemployment (well, not the mortgage, but everything else was paid), I could deal with a difficult spouse, I could handle every single curve ball the universe has thrown at me from death and taxes to preteens and autism, but I could not deal with just me. I don't know why exactly, but for some reason I allowed myself to disappear. Not existing meant not feeling and not feeling meant little to no pain. I was numb.
Then, something happened. Have you ever had an appendage fall asleep? Or have you gotten hurt very badly, like a broken bone? Said appendage becomes numb right? After it's numb for a long time, the numbness takes on a weird pain, a new pain you weren't expecting. Either the pins and needles that follows only numbness or an ache that again only follows numbness. That's what happened to me! I was numb for so long that I started to feel pain. But it was something I never knew before, I couldn't name it then, but now I know exactly what that numbing pain was. It was despair. I was burning out. Burn out is usually used to describe a work related stress. Burn out is usually one level below suicidal or even homicidal. Well, I wasn't going to kill myself or anyone else, so I decided I had to change. And foreclosure was the catalyst that got me moving in the right direction.
I'm not going to go into the details of the foreclosure or moving either, but I will say this, it was the hardest thing I had to go through in 16 years. I said no pity, so stop, I don't do pity. That pain was exactly what I needed, that fear of breaking out on my own was what I had to face. And face it I did! I was kicking ass and taking names! I was terrified in the most wonderful way. I was in pain, yes, but I was no longer burning out and I was no longer numb. Okay, enough on that, let's fast forward shall we?
I've been living in my apartment with my little monsters for a couple of months now. The feuding has stopped with the ex a long time ago as he mentally checked out at least two years ago if not longer, I didn't really pay attention as I was too busy being busy. He has finally accepted it's over and has started moving on with his life. And that's exactly what I've been doing as well. I'm still not fully settled in my place yet. You know I'm a procrastinator. It's hard to get motivated when I'm finally breathing.
I have always prided myself as a good mother, oh but I'm a happier mother and therefore have happier children. I've started drawing again which is a huge deal for me. I stopped shortly after my brother died as it was sort of our thing. We'd sit together and draw for hours. My talent is very underdeveloped and stunted and that's fine by me. I'm so happy to be drawing again that when I'm not inspired, I'll draw those naughty stick figures I've mentioned before. I have also been writing more. Obviously not here >.<
After all these years I'm finally writing poetry again. Oh how I've missed my rhymes.
Another major change is my health. See, I have an autoimmune disorder that causes my joints to swell and ache. For the last few months I've not taken any medicine and have not had any flare ups. Stress was killing me. My body was manifesting what I was not dealing with emotionally. This has all changed for the better. Some people don't understand what a wonderful thing it is for me to be able to wear shoes. I was confined to sneakers for years because my joints couldn't handle heeled shoes. Not anymore! I've been sporting some killer boots lately! Diamonds are a girl's best friend? Ha! I don't think so! It's shoes. And I am finally able to wear mine again.
As for my social life...well, I didn't really have one. And now? Oh, now, I have to make sure I don't double book ;p  It feels SO good to get out and allow myself to shine with people I care about. Whether it's loafing around the apartment with my girlfriends or taking the kids to the pool with family, I'm finally coming out of my shell.
I'll admit it's still scary. I am scared all the time. I still come off as unapproachable as these things take time. But I'm definitely facing the fears that stir in me daily. I've always kept myself locked away, the real me I mean. I hide myself a lot. Mostly because I know I'm a bit odd and I say the most random sh*t. But also because I push people away and figure I'll save myself the trouble and just not allow anyone in. This is one of those things I was talking about changing. I don't want to be this way anymore. I don't want to push people away (especially the ones I want here for me) and hope they push back harder. I want to be able to let people into my little world and venture out into the real one. It's not enough to want to do these things. I'm actually doing them. And it's exhilarating!
So, here I am, sitting at my table, listening to Vivaldi, my minions asleep, having my stogie and being me. I've missed me. I've missed feeling. I've missed so much. I refuse to miss any more of my own life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sister From Another Mister

When I was a kid my parents shared me. When I was eleven I returned to New York and was enrolled in Catholic school. My first day I was nervous that no one would talk to me; so nervous in fact I took my Game Boy with me, for I was certain I would have no friends on the first day. During recess I played my Game Boy and a girl came up to me and asked to play with it, to which I replied, "Sure, for 25 cents a game" and thus began our friendship. Not only did I make a lifelong friend on my first day at a new school, I also made $1.50! We were inseparable. We went to school, my house, school, and my house...okay, so we weren't actually allowed to go anywhere, but we went nowhere together.

 By our 8th grade we were old enough to hang out a bit, so we decided to head to Fordham Road to buy some knock off golf caps and have a slice. On our way back home I decided to be blind and she was my guide. There was no reason for this, we just were that goofy. We laughed all the time. Sometimes we'd be laughing so long that we were laughing at laughing and we'd start laughing harder because we forgot why we started laughing to begin with. We simply clicked. So you can imagine my joy when her boyfriend called to inform me that they were coming to visit me. I haven't seen this woman in 10 years. I was ecstatic.

Last week when she arrived it was like we'd never been apart. Immediately we're laughing, and I swear there wasn't anything really that funny. I think we were just delirious being around each other. It was wonderful having my childhood friend visit and meet my children (whom she fell in love with, duh!). We went to the zoo where she impressed me by climbing a wall, and that's also where we saw two turtles making it and cracked up because we could hear the shells colliding with each thrust. (My kids got a lesson in life that day). Later that day we went to the Aquarium (her treat to me and the children) where her boyfriend proceeded to give us a tour which was really him reading the signs to us. Yep, that cracked us up too. The following day we hunted all over the tri-county area in search of an inexpensive gaming console in nearby pawn shops for her boyfriend. That was followed by Korean BBQ and a bar/lounge that wasn't popular yet, and we were just arriving at last call. The day hadn't gone as planned, yet somehow we were still cracking up and having a blast. 

My friends' presence woke something in me. I'm not sure what exactly, because it's been dormant for so long, but it came back to life and I realized how much I missed it. I missed really laughing and being myself. I missed having a totally equal friendship where all of my considerations are reciprocated. For example; Ten years ago, it was her who came to visit me; Then, About 6 years ago, she had a connecting flight, she called and said she'd be getting off the plane to spend some time with me; Then of course, this time, she not only came to visit, she included my children in her plans, wanting to know them. We truly just enjoy the company of one another. Seeing my friend not only reminded me of when we were kids, it also reminded me of the friendship that I'll always have for my entire life. And that's something I look forward to.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spanish 101

Since I have been looking for work, to no avail, I have realized that there is a big job market for bilingual employees. At first I was overjoyed at this since I am after all Latina. Then I realized that my Spanish, while impressive to my American friends, is not good enough to be worth any money. Sure, I can order food at Don Pedro's, my favorite Mexican place ("por favor, dame un torta sin pincante con mucho aguacate y un soda pina para tomar") and I can keep up with a novela, the Spanish equivalent of an American soap opera. But to help customers with needs would be a challenge. When I worked at a bank and later a credit union, I was able to help "lo gente" with no problem because I'm fine with numbers and money. I think I can speak money in no less than 8 languages. That, and food and bathroom. But I think if someone came in needing help to solve a problem, I'd get lost between "Hola" and "Tu intiendes?". 

I have many family members and friends that are fluent that I've reached out to for tutelage, but their lives are as busy an my own. I can't expect them to drop everything to teach me my own language. So, I've decided to teach myself Spanish. I have been using it more and more on a daily basis, lord knows I watch enough novelas, and I recently rediscovered a dusty CD-Rom of beginner Spanish. This is what I've learned so far:
1) I can speak and understand more than I thought
2) novelas are every bit as annoying as American soaps
and lastly,
3) I'm not a beginner, I can introduce my amigo Juan to my amiga Josefina and offer them cafe or chocolate  

I have considered taking a class at my local technical school. Unlike a private tutor, I won't have to pay anything upfront. I'm still weighing out the pro's and con's. I know that being bilingual won't automatically land me a job, but it will definitely make my resume more impressive. Besides, it's high time I learned my own damn language. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Been A While

So, I haven't been on for a while. I have been working my butt off. It was a seasonal job, and now that the season is over I am once again looking for employment. One thing I learned about myself during that time is that I am much stronger than I thought. Working doesn't take a lot of strength. Keeping it all together during such a difficult time, now that takes strength. I always knew that I loved working, I guess I forgot just how much. It felt so good to be able to pay bills and get some gifts for my kids' birthdays and Christmas. It felt good providing Christmas dinner. Hell, it felt good putting gas in the car. I am addicted once again. That Latino work ethic has once again kicked in after being dormant for so long.

It has been so long since I have worked (at a paying job) that it took a while to get comfortable. I can see how women that have stayed home to raise their families can find it intimidating and even down right scary when trying to rejoin the work force. I was uneasy for a while, but it did help to have a friend working there. I think God had us reconnect as a way to help me to ease back into working. The funny thing is that as difficult as things are right now, I feel like I'm moving in the right direction. It's like, my husband getting laid off was the catalyst that got me going. I was all like "I need change, I want to work, wah wah wah" and God said "Alright already, since you're not going to do anything but whine, here's something to get you going". Did God answer my prayers by making me have to find a job? I don't know, all I do know is that the further away from my comfort zone I go, the more things fall into place. And now, my comfort zone is the last place I want to be, it's no longer that comfortable.

I have new resumes printed up, and I am ready to once again go hunting. Only this time there's a fire under my feet. My husband has decided to finally start looking for work. He was shocked when I said I too was looking. And not just looking, but applying. I said that I am going to find a sitter that can adequately take care of my son and figure out my own way. He needn't worry about anything. Because he usually doesn't, there's no reason for him to pretend to start now. I don't blame him. You see, just as he made me comfortable staying home and being a kept woman, I made him comfortable not having to make any decisions, nor has he had to take any action beyond bringing home the bacon. I have already left my comfort zone, and proved that I'm happy doing so. I honestly don't think he's that strong, that or he's very content in his zone. Either way, I don't care. All I do know and care about is the fact that I'm still going. I don't think I want to tempt God into setting loose another catalyst, nor do I need him to, I am becoming my own.