Month: December 2015
Someone told me,
“You make it all look so easy.”
Let me explain how ‘easy’ it is. For most of my life I have had self-esteem issues. I never felt pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, hell enough of anything. I had plenty of friends and played sports but I was never the star athlete or the girl all of the boys fawned over. I was in theatre and never was the lead until college. While I was able to do these things and well, I still struggled with my reflection in the mirror. Not just the physical me but all of me.
In college, I was a social butterfly. I made friends easily. The guys wanted me there. Oh not me, per se, but you know how important those belt notches are so I was wanted. I ended up in an unhealthy relationship that I couldn’t find my way out of no matter what I did. Even the relationships around that relationship that were healthy, I felt I didn’t deserve. Sabotage was the name of that game. I was more deserving of the lies and the emotional abuse. Between that and being raped (not by the same person), I still graduated because that is what I do. I succeed. Not because it was inherently in me but because I felt if I didnt, the secret would be out that I wasn’t as great as I put on.
This may be why acting was my thing. Putting on a front was something that I had mastered from a young age, so becoming a great actress was easy. Getting lost in someone else’s life and being able to escape myself was just what I needed.
At 23, I became pregnant and was immediately told I would be doing this on my own. I compartmentalized all those feelings of hurt, rejection and embarrassment and put my best face forward. No one could know I was torn up on the inside. I had my son while surrounded by my best friend and my mother while my support system full of friends and family waited in the waiting room.
Now, a new mother at age 24, I definitely had no time to pull those struggles out and deal with them. Jaxon was born in June and I started my first teaching job that August. My dreams of film and acting school in New York would have to wait. I needed stability, a salary and insurance. I am almost certain that that I was deeply depressed the first 4 months of being a mother. I was taking care of my son, but that overwhelming feeling of love that most mothers have immediately, I didn’t have. That’s a painful truth that I couldn’t admit out loud until now. But by then I had become a pro at faking “amazing!”
Fast forward to 2012. By this time I had been laid off from my first teaching job and hired at the school I teach at now and had been there a year already. My son’s father had come (back) and gone (again). During the time he was ‘back’ he told me,
“The reason I’m not around is not because you had Jaxon. It’s because [it was] YOU [that] had Jaxon.”
Yeah. Yep. My already fragile self had been officially broken. And I knew it. So I put myself back together with bandaids and tried to push forward. I guess this is how I ended up in a relationship I wasn’t ready for. It was doomed from the beginning. I wasn’t as available as I tried tried to make myself out to be. So, when that was ending after a year, my bandages were peeling and wounds were seeping.
Then, one day on facebook a family friend posted that they were accepting new patients. He is a counselor. I had toyed with the idea before but now I had no excuse. So, I messaged him and in September of 2013 I began going to counseling. And it was hard. A month after starting counseling my relationship officially ended. I was going through the trenches. All of those things I had pushed to the side came running out. I was crying in between class periods. I was at my lowest. I called my mother in tears midday and she dropped what she was doing and she was on her way.
These crying spells lasted a while. Then I began to see the clouds parting and the sun trying to peep through maybe 5 or so months later. My counselor had me refocus on my goals and the things that made me happy. He pointed out my lack of vulnerability and how that was taking a toll on me and my relationships, romantic and otherwise. By the following fall, I was performing on stage my poetry. Something I had only done once or twice in college.
I was learning to love myself, something that I didn’t know how to do. I was learning to live for myself. This improved my relationships with my family and friends. It improved my mothering abilities. I have improved.
In 2015, I have raised money for my own stage production, actually put it on successfully and spit poetry more than I ever have. I had applied and got accepted into grad school and finished my first semester with a 4.0. I have led my theatre students to back-to-back championships. I have started my next script and am currently working on another project. I have opened myself up to the possibility of love and it didn’t work out but I’m still progressing. I almost almost went backwards and realized I have come too far.
I say all this to say it wasn’t easy. It isn’t easy. I had to put in the work. I may have presented to the world a person that was confident and put together. But I was broken for a long time and I am still putting the pieces back together. Counseling is such a good thing. It is a necessary thing to me. My leg wasn’t broken. My body wasn’t ill. My spirit was broken. Mentally and emotionally I was unhealthy. Just like any other doctor I would go to for aches and pains, I had to go to counseling to heal my aches and pains.
I deserve to be happy. And as hard as it is sometimes the only thing that has been easy was choosing to be happy.
And everyday, EVERYDAY, I choose me.