One day, something happened to prompt a friend of mine to ask if we ever end up questioning everything we ever thought about ourselves, in that we think we’re kind and gentle when in reality people see us as cold and selfish.
You know, this is something I butt up against more often than I would like. I like to think I’m an okay person, doing my best to treat people with kindness and respect, to protect others from hurt feelings, to treat others as I would like to be treated. In general, it works out well, or seems to. But then there’s yet another friend who slowly stops returning my calls, the person who doesn’t want to hang out anymore, the friendship that just fades to black.
And I’m left wondering, what the hell. What did I do, what could I have done differently, what did I say. Am I really this kind and gentle person or am I this jerk who does nothing but take take take? Half of me says of course I’m not a jerk. But half of me wonders if I really did all I could.
I guess what I’m saying is I’m a lot more fragile than I look. A lot of people see me, see what I have been through, see what I go through with being a military wife, and they assume that I’m solid as a rock. In some ways, it’s true. I’m not going to be emailing my husband the day after he leaves for a six-month deployment with a laundry list of what all has gone wrong already. I can soldier on and muddle through. Besides, what is he going to do when he’s several thousand miles away?
Not much he can do.
But the same things that made me strong have also made me weak. I’ve never really felt secure in the most basic of relationships. I always felt as thought I would be loved IF. What came after that “if” depended on the day, the person, the phase of the moon. But it was always there. And my foibles were always pointed out to me in great detail. There was no escaping it. It was just this litany of what I had done wrong, what I had said, what I had acted like.
There was one summer where we’d gone away on vacation, and we were all having such a great time. At least, I thought we were. There was the normal gentle bickering over playing games and who was winning, but I thought everything was hunky-dory — until the explosion rocked my world, until I was informed that I had been acting horribly the whole week, and that I should be ashamed of my awful behavior.
Time and again, something like this has happened. And it’s made me so terribly confused. I don’t know what to believe or think about even how other people perceive me when this sort of thing happens more often than I like to remember.
I do know that I should be past a lot of this. I am, after all, in my 30s now, and the mother of two children. But it’s because of them that I want to be secure in myself, to show them how to feel good about oneself in a world that seems intent on tearing one down. I just wish I knew the magic answer.
Fortunately I do have a lot of great friends who are supportive of me, who let me vent about the craziest things, who listen when things get absurd, and who assure me that I am loved and lovable. And I’ve got my best friend, who’s stuck by me for the last eighteen years of my life. That’s saying something, isn’t it? Through eighteen years and more states than I can count between the both of us, we’ve stayed close. And in four more months, we’ll actually be living in the same city.
I can’t hardly believe it. It’s been so long.
So I’m guessing the evidence points towards “good person.” That’s what I’m going with, anyhow. I just have to learn to hold my head high and not let things, situations, people, get me down.
And now for the most random thought of the day: As I mentioned above, my best friend and I have many, many states between us due to our both being military brats and now military spouses. The one gift we can never get one another, or get for our own selves, is one that pins us down to a certain location. Can you imagine? I’ve never had bookplates a day in my life — and that is so something I’d want to have. But what’s the point, when the address on the bookplate won’t be valid in a year or two? I’ve always wanted a stamp for my return address. It’s not worth the money, knowing we’re moving soon. I’ll just make do with the free return address labels from the SPCA. A pretty plaque for the front of my house with my street and house number on it? No real point. What if it’s not to the liking of the next people who own or rent our house? We could take it with us, but why? I just found a sketch journal online that looked really neat (as if I can draw — haha), and the frontispiece features the author’s basic information, including address.
I think I’m getting kind of tired of always leaving that sort of thing blank, of never being able to pinpoint myself down to a particular location. Maybe the nomadic lifestyle is getting me down, finally.
Maybe I finally want to start putting down roots that won’t need to be disrupted for years and years.