She is like that now but wasn’t before. . .

They say never look back, but sometimes memories from the past are resurfaced with just a phrase. It was something mentioned in passing that felt like the digging up of mistakes from the past. We all know our past has cultivated the present self but we try to negate it, as if we currently don’t need the old memories to keep us in check. When I think about the person I was, I remember having felt that it wasn’t right, that I needed to change just to be a better person for people. Yet, no forcing or stipulation could have made me change unless I wanted to, and I desperately did. However hindsight, there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I just handled my emotions, or my lack of understanding for them, in a different way than most.

There is no better phrase to compare the panic and instant blockade that occurred in me any time my feelings surfaced than, “a frog in my throat.” Whoever came up with that was both genius and profoundly hurting. I can’t remember the exact moment that made me emotionally inept growing up but I imagine it was in those times when binging my own emotions was the safest option that impacted me the most.

So last night I was getting to know a friend of a friend whilst standing in a line at Howl O Scream and I made a comment that led to him asking me, “so you must be very empathetic?” I proceeded to agree while disagreeing with uncertainty because again in that moment I began to doubt myself and think of how I can be more empathetic than I already am. . .but I digress. My childhood friend was there and that’s when she says, “She is like that now but wasn’t before.” This led to a two minute conversation on how I used to emotionally shut people out. The conversation was brief and not ill intended, we continued talking about other things and went on with the night unscathed.

However, this brought me back to who I tried to become and how I am not much different from that girl now. My brain was on emotional over drive and I couldn’t sleep anymore last night because I remembered how much I disliked myself then.

The only true exception, is my son. From the day he was born, he gave me that feeling of home I always needed. There is no insecurity or frog with him. He knows the good bad and ugly of me. Maybe it’s because some deep rooted part of me is sure I’ll never lose him. I don’t worry about him finding some terrible something about me that he can run away from. I raised him to accept people for who they are and in teaching him that. . .he accepts me for me but not everyone gets my full spectrum like he does.

I don’t even know why I’m making my defenses so clear and exposing myself but for some reason I have to let it out. For many years and to this day, I use humor as my weapon and shield. Truthfully I love to make people laugh, there isn’t anything more rewarding than being the reason someone smiles. However the old me, made jokes at everyone’s expense and buried emotions like a time capsule. I used to walk around stoic and didn’t show an ounce of emotion for people, unless it was anger. Some people called this tough, I say emotionally crippled. My feelings were there but my eyes said more than my lips ever could. If I cared about someone, no matter the level of emotion, they never knew. I hated this but verbally articulating my emotions has never been my strong suit. There were days when I would pep talk myself and convince myself, “this will be the day they know, I am speaking up today about how I feel.” Then when I found myself sitting face to face with them suddenly that frog would consume my throat again and the emotions and feelings flooding my mind were stuck at a damn in my throat. I went through this cycle time after time, and although I shouldn’t say so, it still happens sometimes now. I hated myself for it then and I still dwell on it. It feels like being defeated, like you’re a coward and you can’t make any sense of it because the monster keeping you stagnant in fear is you.

For me anger has always been the only emotion I have no difficulty expressing. In the drop of a dime I would say things so hurtful to people and walk away just to make sure they knew I didn’t care, yet I did. Unbeknownst to them, I was hurting. I was called cold, I was reminded day in and day out that I had no heart, and the word bitch became a common way to define me. You’d think this was from people who disliked me, but those comments came from friends that laughed at my jokes and shared school lunches with me. They didn’t know better, they had no idea I mentally beat myself up about it every day. They thought they were at some disadvantage for being sensitive to other people’s feelings and for being able to express themselves. I however realized very early on that it was I that was defunct, not them. Hearing myself called so many names hurt deeply, but I came up with generic responses and ways to accept what I was being told. My go to, “proud of it.” . . .but I wasn’t proud. I was hurting because I wasn’t some cold hearted bitch, I did feel everything they felt, I could make connections with people and have feeling. I just didn’t know how to express them, and because of it I became a bitch to everyone.

It is so crazy how this minuscule conversation reminded me of who I truly am inside when I’m not being brave. See, somewhere along the way things changed enough to where I am not shutting out my emotions altogether. Do I still find ways to protect myself and mitigate the pain. . .yes. . .but it’s ok, I’ve accepted myself. This may come as a surprise to some because I know I can be very outspoken, but I’m not outspoken about everything. I found in writing I can let the feelings flow rather than have them bottled up inside. Sometimes I blog privately just to get things out of my head. Some people who know me well enough don’t make me feel bad about telling them I love them in writing because they understand saying I love you out loud can feel a little weird at times. That’s with some people not all, and at some moments not all. As I have gotten older I have found moments to just take the plunge, send the message, blurt it out or whatever it takes to keep from bottling in emotions. It’s a constant trial and error but it’s a better process than that of before. Sharing my feelings comes with a scared shitless kind of territory to me, but if I remind myself enough of the instant relief I will feel after (perhaps followed by anxiety. . .but that’s a whole other story) I’ll gain enough courage to say what I’ve been meaning to say.

This constant self introspection has given me an unusual kind of depth with people. I can connect and feel deeply without saying much. I am really good at gauging emotions and I hate when people feel displaced. I hate when people look sad and a topic being discussed is the cause of it. I can look at someone in the eyes and see the pain they hide and I don’t have to force a word out of them. In those moments I opt for a change of conversation or subject because I realize other people can be unintentionally insensitive to people like us. I take other peoples comfort as my own personal responsibility. I don’t need to question why people are who they are, I get it. Admittedly I am curious about people, I love having long winded conversations about everything and nothing all at once. I guess because I can relate and find reminders of myself in them. We are our worst enemies but when I’m looking at myself through the eyes of others I find the self appreciation for myself that I depreciated early on. 

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“I May Be a Little Bit of a [Love] Dealer!”

I sat and looked at this blank screen for a while, trying to make it into something. Blank pages almost seem like a brand new start. I can take things where I want to, to a place I have never been before. I guess the same can be said about new relationships, or I suppose the development of a friendship that could become something tangible. So you give it a go, you take a step forward. There stands this person with a blank slate, you know nothing about them and you very quickly and easily decide this one is going to be different. The risk will be worth taking because it is something you have never tried before. . .but see the difference is when I write, I can take things exactly where I want to but in matters of the heart, I am left with very little choice. Before taking my most recent leap of faith, my giddy little heart whispered, “you break you buy.”

Well,where are we now?

We. . .me & my heart

. . .long story short, you get what you pay for. I won’t say that I am heart broken but I can say I feel like I am at a loss. Every time we take a photo, a little bit of us goes away with it.  That memory and moment captured will never be duplicated in life again. Much like the warm embraces and quick glances shared among two people. They go away and cease to exist when you’ve parted ways.

For those of us starting over. . .

There is this crippling certainty of what we don’t want. We spent over a decade married or in a relationship knowing what it’s like being attached to the hip to someone. The very same someone who once knew us better than anyone else and yet never seemed to remember after countless conversations that, “no thank you, I don’t like peanut butter.”

The peanut butter wasn’t that much of a big deal it’s just the little things.

Day after day you found yourself taking the same route home, dropping your keys in the same spot and unwinding in a way that can only be done in a place called home. . .but little by little home dismantled itself and it was no longer your happy place.

So you let go, you live and you claim the type of independence that only comes after years of captivity. This is me now! This is how we spread our wings! We kindly decline any offers from others to assist because we have this innate desire to take care of ourselves. No I’m fine, I can get my own check, nope I am capable. I can, I will and I don’t need you!

I don’t know if it is because we left ourselves as precious cargo in the arms of someone who dropped us countless times. Maybe it is a post traumatic relationship disorder. . .I haven’t a clue.

But. . .I realize that independence can be found in a group, in a pair and even in a solitary walk to the park. Independence is the freedom to choose and be who you want regardless of what others say. Independence is knowing that you can change your own tire but you can choose to allow someone to do it for you because they simply want to help. Help is not weakness, it is not ulterior motives. . .it is what it is. . .it is, “I know you can do this but let me make it easier for you.”

There are men and women out there determined and willing to make another persons life easier and more pleasant but we are always so willing to say, “no thank you.”

We’ve been given such a big dose of reality that we fail to realize the fact that our once now past reality is just that. . .it is in the past. Not everyone is out to take advantage. There are people who offer to hold the door for you and place their hand in the right place and walk side by side with you, not because you’re their trophy but because they can see you. They see a potential equal. These guys don’t look at you like you’re only a woman and one to be desired but more of a worthy companion, someone who elevates them and also someone who is worth standing side by side with because we complete them. We are capable of fulfillment if we allow it but first we have to stop saying no and start accepting the offer to potentially be someone worth taking a walk with. Someone whose silence speaks volumes and whose embrace means the world.

I admit it, I don’t know how to let the reigns go but I want to. I can’t be the only single person who wishes they had a companion to share the laughs with but who also is afraid of giving up another moment to someone who may be just wasting their time.

I don’t know. . .

Maybe it is the biggest truth or the biggest lie I have ever told but I am pretty sure I am being honest with myself. . .I think. Oh hell, I am confused.

WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT.

The answer is clear for many aspects. . .

I want to publish and live off of my writing

I want to stay healthy

I want my son to be happy

I want my dog to stop having asthma attacks every time I walk in from work

I want a flat belly with ridiculously long beautiful locks of hair. . .that’s enough right?

WHAT. ABOUT. A. RELATIONSHIP.

Ummm. . .here goes.

I have been the boss of my life for a very long time, so much so that I honestly don’t know what I want or how to get it. There are so many aspects of myself that I get to know and love every day but I am finding that my biggest weaknesses are those things that I love about myself. I thought I had discovered myself a long time ago but it turns out this too was part of the life long journey of getting to know me. I have mommy and daddy issues and while I do not make anyone else pay for their mistakes I have somehow etched in the scars of the shards so deep that I didn’t realize I was hurting myself time and time again.

When I was around 9 years old my mom and sister were in a pretty serious car accident. I remember hearing about it and crying. I was scared. At that age I didn’t know the difference between a bad accident and life and death. My mom was nowhere near life and death but I didn’t know that. When my sister came home that day she knelt down in the living room and looked me in the eyes and said, “Johanna, you need to cope, you have to, for mom.” I’ll be honest, I had no idea what cope meant, but the look in her eyes and the all too familiar story of taking up after mom was resounding in my head. See my mother is one of the strongest people I know but in the same note I realize she is also about as strong as a sheet of paper in the wind. As a family we have gone through so much and when I was growing up my mother held it all in as best as she could but she also exploded quite frequently. When my sister told me to cope, I knew it meant that I’d have to cry in silence again. I knew that I would have to console myself and avoid showing my mother how I felt because everyone else’s feelings were too much for mom to add on to her plate.

My mom made me the woman I am today. I am thankful but she didn’t give me a manual, it was almost as if she handed me a complicated system and said, “you figure it out!” So here I am, this algorithm of feelings and experiences that amount to the confusion I live with to this very day. My behavior has become predictable but I don’t know how to change it. I think I may be at the point where I realize the error of my ways but I do not know how to fix what I also consider to be my greatest strength.

My grandfather was my best friend for the majority of my childhood. He would joke and make me laugh. He played his guitar so much that at times I almost expected it to be the background noise. I was the center of his universe but when he passed and for many years now after, I have no idea what it is like to be someone’s world. I have been bits and pieces to people but never their everything. You see as a child I had my mother in bits and pieces. She worked so much that she failed to show up for anything. I remember running up to show her my first straight A report card in High School and she brushed it off because she had to do dishes. So I hung up my report card to look at it every morning because I was proud of myself.

I remember having bouts of depression as a teen. I also remember huffing every possible chemical my mom had around the house. I felt so much and couldn’t let it out so I dealt with things on my terms. Over the years those bits and pieces of me that belonged to no one began stripping away. I hid my feelings and walked around like the happiest person on earth. I stopped expecting others to acknowledge me. My siblings were all living their lives and I just internalized everything and never said a word. . .I had finally learned how to cope.

As the years have mercilessly gone by I have been in relationships with people that benefited from my up bringing. I did all for them while I continued to cope and internalize my own wants. I did not necessarily know I was doing this until now. I say I want so many things. . .I want to be happy and of course I want to be in love. I would love to be in a relationship with someone but I finally know I have ruined every one I have come across because I lead them to believe I am ok with being an after thought. How do you stop feeling like you’re second to all? When people let me down, I say It’s okay I understand. When people don’t choose me again I say, It’s okay I understand.

IT’S OKAY I UNDERSTAND. . .those. . .my final words of every short lived relationship.

I have made it ok for people to push me aside. I do not like feeling like an inconvenience or a bother. I do not know how to expect anything from people, not because I am jaded but because I truly don’t. I have done everything for myself my entire life. I have taken care of myself financially, I have motivated myself and I have coped with every tragedy that has come my way. I do not know how to tell people I expect them to be there for me, to love me and to care for me. I do not even know if I truly expect anyone to do all of those things for me, I just wish there were someone who would want to.

24/7

It is indefinitely indefinite
How long it takes
Moments to fall
But years to fix the break
Thirty one million-
Five hundred thirty six thousand seconds
It is about time, don’t you think?
For my soul to have mended

It has been too long
Enough to heal a break but I am not sure why
I think it will take longer to make
The desperate palpitations of his mention
To cease and resist without the thought of his reflection after a kiss
It may take another eight thousand seven hundred sixty hours
To take back what took but moments to devour

It has been five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Since the last time I embraced our love, moments before it diminished
Three hundred sixty five days
Fifty two weeks

And still I can’t imagine a lifetime without you making me weak in the knees

By: Me (Johanna Arroyo 8/13/2013)