It is strange how negative words can stay with us for a lifetime and hurt long after they are spoken. Today, I was reminded of a conversation I had way back in middle school. My friends and I were having a conversation about birth order statistics and how the oldest is often the smartest and most responsible in the family – which apparently was the case in all their families.
I mentioned how that hadn’t really happened in my family as I was the youngest and yet I was the one in the gifted program, the one who got straight A’s, and the one who was least likely to break the rules. My sister was very smart in her own ways, but not overly academic or intellectual.
One of my friends (or more likely a frenemy) replied, “Well, maybe your sister is the pretty one then.”
Before I could digest this insult or respond, one of my other friends chimed in assuring the group that my sister was no looker either, which made everyone laugh. I didn’t let on that I felt anything, but inside I was crushed. I felt ugly and I also felt bad that my friends had insulted and made fun of my sister.
To this day, remembering this conversation makes me feel ugly, plain, and rejected. I wish my friends had been more careful with their words.
Today my husband and I went to go see one of his students dance in a special recital:
Seeing all the cute little kids dressed up in their costumes and dancing made me really miss having kids around. I used to be almost constantly surrounded by kids between foster parenting, volunteering with the kids at our old church, and working in the school system as a teacher’s assistant/aide. My favorite age of kids to work with were always the younger ones, 3-4 years old to around 6 or 7, although I bonded well with kids of almost any age.
At this point, I don’t know if my physical/mental health will ever consistently improve to the point that I can do those things again, but I miss them. I am thankful for the experiences and memories though.
While I was painting this acrylic picture last night, trying to capture the burgeoning depression I could feel weighing on me, the REM song Shiny Happy People came on the satellite channel I was listening to. I felt that song perfectly captured how I was feeling, as I always felt it was a rather tongue-in-cheek, mockery of a song. I decided to name the artwork after the song, so here is my version of Shiny Happy People:
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This ACEO oil pastel drawing pretty much sums up how I’m feeling. Still struggling with the depression spirits today:
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I hated you
the first time we met.
You had replaced my old love
before I had the chance
to even say goodbye.
You dared to appear
right as he vanished –
and for that
you had to take the blame.
I’ve been feeling rather sad and isolated the last few days. I think a lot of it comes from the stress of dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain. Anyone who has chronic illness is probably familiar with spoon theory, an illustrative way to describe why you have to choose carefully how to use your energy to do things when you have very limited physical ability.
In other words, sometimes you have to choose whether you would like to go out and socialize for a short period of time, spend that energy getting some much-needed housework done, work on a hobby or personal interest, or even simply take a shower…because you just don’t have the energy and the physical ability to do them all within the same day like a healthy person could.
Most of the time I end up choosing to spend my “energy” and limited abilities to either spend time with my husband, work on my art/writing/blogging, or take care of personal hygiene or light housework. Prioritizing these things leaves no extra energy or time to socialize on a wider scale or do much outside of the house, other than maybe occasionally going out for dinner or doing a little necessary shopping. Even the thought of going to a movie is often too exhausting to contemplate.
All of this makes me sad, especially when I remember how I used to enjoy so many other things I can’t do any longer. I used to love hiking, playing tennis, roller skating, bowling, dancing, working, swimming, being a foster parent, and going out to various activities with people I know or share interests with. I’ve pretty much lost all of that for good. And that is depressing.
Here is the photo prompt and my entry for this week’s Twittering Tales writing challenge hosted by Kat Myrman:
Olivia sat on the edge of her daughter’s unmade bed. She ran her fingers over the ridges and bulges of the white blankets. She leaned down to sniff the fluffy pillow at the head of the bed, then laid her head down on it heavily.
She’s really gone. The pain hit hard and fast.
(Note: The photo prompt this week really reminded me of the novel I am currently reading, “The Night Olivia Fell”, by Christina McDonald. So, I stole the character name for the writing exercise.)
I have to be careful how I word this post as there is a slight (but unlikely) chance the person I am talking about might read it. However, it has been weighing heavily on my mind so I wanted to talk about it.
There was a person in my personal life I was really close to for several years. I cared about them deeply and loved them like family. They were much younger than myself, so I tried to set a good example for them and be a sort of big sister to them. We spent much of our time together, partly out of necessity at the time and partly because I genuinely enjoyed their company.
Now they are all grown up and I am still in loose contact with them and seeing how they have turned out has kind of broken my heart. They have embraced some radical ideologies that are rude, ignorant, and sometimes bordering on mean or even cruel. I know I only had a real influence on them for a few years, but it still makes me feel like somehow I failed them that they have turned from such a thoughtful, sensitive, caring young person to a cold, bitter, angry, and sometimes hateful adult.
I still love them and know that goodness I knew inside of them must be there somewhere. I know they have had a rough life and many hurtful experiences, just as I had growing up. I wonder if I am being too hard on them. I know sometimes the other side goes way too far with political correctness, perhaps it is just a reactionary thing? Maybe they are just being young and foolish, like we all once were? I don’t know, but it still hurts my heart.
I’m a paper doll
with third degree burns.
Dress me up,
make me pretty,
and please, simply ignore
all the raw, peeling flesh
falling onto the floor.
(Poetry by Maranda Russell, marandarussell.com)