Life is hard

This post is going to be a lot more personal than most others, with no emphasis on any specific taxi stories.  I want to give you a heads up so you know what you’ll be getting into.

I guess it started a few weeks ago.  An old roommate came into town on a mini-adventure.  His girlfriend of 8 years had broken up with him.  He’d spent a month in bed, a month drinking heavily, and then he decided to take a long road trip.  His first stop was Madison to see old friends (of which I was one), then he would be going to one of the Dakotas, and his last stop was a camping trip in the Rockies.

We drank a lot.  The night before he left Madison we were nursing the last symptoms of a hangover.  I had been thinking for several weeks that I should cut back, but events kept popping up for celebration and togetherness.  Shows, birthdays, cook-outs, etc.

Chad is the type of person who is distant enough that when I talk with him I feel like I can share anything.  This might seem backwards, but my very close friends see me on a daily basis.  I assume they know what I’m dealing with and telling them my problems feels more like complaining than deep analysis.  Talking with Chad, I fill in all the details and examine all the parts.  There’s no judging and a whole lot of listening.  I guess I also felt a little inspired by his dramatic choice to take a long road trip to invigorate and re-inspire himself.  With Chad as my witness, I promised myself that I would quit drinking and bumming cigarettes for the month of July.  The following day was the first, so it felt convenient.  Also, I’m not an “actual” smoker, I only beg them from my friends once I have alcohol in my hand.  The worst kind of drinking friend.

I started feeling different within days.  I never considered myself a heavy drinker.  I would go out once a week or once every two weeks for 4-5 drinks and beyond that I would have 1 beer per night about 4 nights per week.  My fingers and toes stopped swelling within 3 days, something I thought the heat was responsible for.  Going on runs, I could breathe easier and felt less fatigue within a week.  There was no more delay in “comebacks” when in conversation with friends and passengers.  This got me in a little trouble since I also have no filter.  I relied on my delay of comprehension to prevent me from being a dick- where it would be too late for a comeback to be funny, it went unsaid.

The things that were now coming out of my mouth were caustic.  I’ll give you an example.  Someone said, “Yea, I don’t like tipping a five dollar bill, I like to hand over five ones instead because then the recipient will be more excited about THAT MUCH money!”  I replied immediately with, “Yea, I bet you shave your genitals, too, to fool someone into thinking you’re actually bigger than you are.   …  What?  It’s the same logic.”  That was week 1.

Week two I was feeling more clarity of thought and motivation.  My body felt peppier.  I was eating healthy, running, playing softball, and doing yoga.  I also felt bored out of my gourd.  I didn’t mind going out to the bar with friends, though.  I would tease that I was longing for a gin and tonic (which I was), but I kept to ginger beers and other n/a drinks offered at the establishments.  One bar even had horchata, which I love, but apparently I’ve been mispronouncing my whole life.  I didn’t think that H was silent!

I’ve been on a series of first dates.  I feel internally obligated to go on them because how ELSE am I going to meet someone I might like?  Match percentages calculated through OKCupid say I should like these guys, so why not?  Over the past couple months I’ve been on maybe 5, and they’ve all been pretty dull.  People with dull jobs, maybe mixed with meeting-new-person jitters makes for stagnant conversation, I guess.  I’m personally not looking for a deep and meaningful love-at-first-sight relationship when I go on these dates, I’m looking for some fun conversation and a little chemistry, which makes the resulting dull date feel like more of a disappointment.  It feels like I’m in my cab, obligated to entertain the drunk man who demands an “exciting story” from the cab driver who “must have seen it all.”  I don’t miss drinking while I’m on these dates, I miss drinking when they’re over and I want to de-stress from them.  I want to erase them.  They make me feel like I’m also dull, since I’m so mathematically compatible with a dull person in the first place.

My grandmother emails, which is pretty cool since she’s 84.  This past Sunday I was waiting for my next first date to come out of his place so I could give him a ride to the brunch place we’d be eating at.  While waiting, I check my emails, and one is from my grandma.  We’ve been volleying emails for a couple weeks, so I don’t see it as unusual.  In it, she mentions that it’s the anniversary of my mother’s death.  For some reason I always remember the funeral date better than the actual death date of people close to me.  Maybe it’s seeing the date in print with the ceremony and tradition that accompany it.  I knew that it was that time of year, but being reminded of the actual date made me feel heavy.  I don’t like observing these anniversaries, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.  I celebrate my mother and remember her on a regular basis in happier ways.  She bought me a ring with a butterfly cut into it while she was visiting me in Madison once.  She lived in California, where she raised me and my brother.  I wear the ring every day.  It was part of the impetus for quitting drinking for a month.  The ring was too tight.  I figured it’d help me lose a bit of weight and the ring would fit better if I cut back.

The date was dull, a little disappointing.  I went straight to work afterwards.  I remember being hyper-sensitive to dickishness during my shift, but can’t recall specifics.  I received an email from the guy on the blind date wondering if I wanted to do dinner the following night.  I felt bad that I didn’t, but I wasn’t going to compromise myself and feel obligated to go out when I felt crappy and wanted (and probably needed) to stay in.

Someone who I thought very promising on the dating site a few weeks prior had decided to text me.  It was out of the blue, and completely welcome.  It was a nice distraction from a day that was turning sour.  It was a kind and fun exchange, if a little confusing.

At this point, I could feel my emotions as something raw.  I felt delicate, sensitive, and gun shy.  I had memories popping up from my childhood that normally wouldn’t make me feel intensely, but did this day.  I’ve never buried my memories or emotions, so these weren’t earth-shattering revelations, they were just hitting me harder this week than normal, and I wonder if it’s a mixture of being receptive to everything (stress, emotions, empathy) for weeks without a shut-off switch in alcohol, my mother’s death, and not having a close friend available for hugs on a regular basis.

Monday I had lunch with my ex, who I’m still on very friendly terms with.  I shared some of this with him, and he offered a little comfort.  I felt more raw.

My brother and I had a fight through text.  I feel like he’s refusing my life experiences with our father.  I’ve been lashing out (in my eyes, mildly) on a public forum with offhand comments about our father.  My brother doesn’t want to talk to me anymore unless I give up my rage and hate and forgive our father.  Not that dad ever admitted he’s done anything wrong or said he was sorry.  I tried having an adult relationship with him a few years back, but conversations always revolved around how I wasn’t remembering everything the way it REALLY was, how I SHOULD do x, y, and z, and they would end with him needing comfort for something or other.  He told me once that his new Mexican wife wasn’t much of a looker, but she took care of him.  He said the Mexican part, not me.

It brought back how I had a boyfriend when I was young.  A roller coaster relationship over two years long.  I didn’t know how to be a good partner and it caused a lot of problems, but we loved each other intensely.  Dad hated him.  HATED.  To the point that when my boyfriend died I got nothing from my father.  No comfort or even acknowledgement.  Just, “What ever happened to your other boyfriend, the first one, the nice one?  You know, the white one?”  I remember him also saying something along the lines of, “for the best.”  This is not the only reason my father and I don’t talk.  My relationship with him has never been healthy, this is just an example situation and I don’t feel like delving further into it.

So yes, it rankles that I know my father doesn’t treat his new wife with the respect she probably deserves.  It rankles that I never received the comfort and support I should have.  What hurts the most is that I know my brother is a good man who is probably hurting very deeply about something that has nothing to do with me, but he feels that my distrust and anger directed at our father are enough of an additional stressor to him that he needs to cut me out.  He’s probably so stressed out he doesn’t realize he’s reverting to the bad habits of emotional blackmail from our childhood.  This is KILLING me with my new emotional clarity, but with my age I’ve acquired a bigger reserve of patience.  I’m hoping things will settle and regrow.  We have time.

Monday night was hard.  Tuesday night was trying in a different way.  I’m on the Board of Directors with my company and we had a three-and-a-half hour board meeting to discuss our budget.  It was a constructive meeting, just long.  My brain hurt.  I wanted a beer-beer afterwards, but had ginger beer instead.  And a juicy philly cheesesteak with greasy garlic-chili fries.

Wednesday was a break from the drama.  I wished my ex a happy birthday, we got together to split our CSA, and I went to his place to love on his (formerly our) cats.  It felt like I had been buoyed up to gasp some air after struggling in murky water.  I miss the boys, but my current roommate is allergic to cats so I settle for visits.  Plus, I think my ex gets more from their companionship than I would.

Thursday brought a dramatic meeting at work.  I’m also Vice President and one of the obligations that comes along with that is serving on a Human Resources Council.  This deals with harassment and discrimination complaints and it’s the one and only thing that I hate about my job.  REALLY hate.  It’s a whole lot of drama disguised with formality and bureaucracy.  We have to swim through sensitive situations and feelings and try to come up with something fair and legal without hurting our members or our company.  It’s HARD.  This meeting alone in this week would have been stressful, but piled on top of everything else I felt like I was going to break.

Three nights alone to regroup, think, and contain myself.  I couldn’t do it again on Thursday.  I messaged the boy that had messaged me Sunday to see if he wanted to have pizza and watch a movie, but I must have spooked him.  I wanted to escape into something light and fun, I wanted to stop thinking about all these ridiculous problems that collided all at once, but he wasn’t ready to meet for his own reasons and said he probably wouldn’t be anytime soon.

My heart felt like it was being squeezed.  Every new thing was poking it.  Mostly bad things, but even the good ones made me feel tender and sore.

I picked up a driving shift.  It feels luxurious that I have a job I can pick up at any time of the day to lose myself in.  My passengers were gentle with me, the business was on the slow-but-steady side, and I enjoyed just driving.  An old friend was a surprise passenger towards the end of my shift and we talked a little bit.  He had a similarly shitty week earlier in the Summer and empathized.  It was good to see a friendly smile from someone I know cares and who I care for.  It was good to lose myself for a little bit in the work.  It was good to remember part of why I love this city.

I spent the remainder of the shift listening alternately to The Shins and the Garden State soundtrack, with a little Morphine thrown in.  Life is hard, but I have patience, friends, and a job I love.  It’s nice that I can see and feel these things clearly again.

About yellowandblackmail

I pick people up and take them where they want to go.
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