Thursday, July 10, 2014

"If You Don't Like My Gate, You Don't Have To Swing On It"

My relationship history has not been great.

OK, it's been less than "not great". . .

OK, fine.  It's been a fucking train wreck that has involved more alcohol and verbal abuse than the first three seasons of 'American Idol' combined.*

*Much love, Simon and Paula.

The point is, I have every reason to be jaded and disillusioned; but oddly, I'm not.  Despite a string of liars, cheaters, drinkers, and players, I held out hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  And there was. . .there is.  Now, it's just up to me to not let my past bullshit screw it up.

Yesterday I had a moment. . .a flash of insecurity and mistrust that had nothing to do with my amazing boyfriend, but everything to do with my own insecurities.  Someone once told me: "You attract the love you think you deserve", and it's true.  Even though I have this man in my life who loves and accepts me, I still struggle to love and accept myself.  And yesterday morning that came to a head and I had a meltdown over something I created in my mind based on past experiences.  In short, I punished Norm for the sins of those who'd gone before him.

As usual, Norm called me on my shit. . .not gently, but gentle was not what I needed.  He refused to accept my paranoia and forced me to look inside myself to see from where this false fear was emanating.  He held me accountable for the demons in my head and basically told me to quit feeding them and start looking at what IS instead of what WAS.  And he was right.*

*As usual. . .damn it. . .

So often I get plagued by death echoes -- flashes of past insecurities and mendacity that poison my present-day thinking, and for an overthinker, that's about all it takes to quickly drive myself batshit crazy.  You see, all I've ever had in my life is what Norm calls "bacon and egg" relationships.*

*Hold on, because this analogy is magical. . .

A bacon and egg relationship is ultimately doomed from the start because of the gross imbalance of emotion and commitment.  In a bacon and egg relationship, the chicken provides the egg and the pig provides the bacon.  So, basically, the chicken is mildly inconvenienced, while the pig gives everything he has.*

*See what I mean?  Magical.

All my life I've been makin' bacon; desperately attempting to make a breakfast buffet while the chickens wandered by idly, dropping the occasional egg, then sauntering off to the next blonde sow that wandered by. And I allowed myself to be OK with that because I didn't believe I deserved any better.  But I do.  I deserve more than the occasional egg.  I deserve a freaking Grand Slam Breakfast and I have it now so I need to sucker punch my past demons and just enjoy the feast.

My problem (Well, one of them, anyway) is that I've spent so many years being who I thought people wanted me to be that I lost sight of who I am.  But she's coming back. . .more and more each day.  And I'm finding it easier each day to remember the three greatest tenets of self-love.

1.  We don't all have to agree.  I have my views, you have yours.  You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to.  You say po-tay-to, I say this song is stupid so lets shut up and watch '19 Kids And Counting'.  Whatever.  We don't always have to see eye-to-eye.  We don't always have to agree.  The last time an entire nation agreed on anything it was Germany, circa-1933 and as I recall, that didn't end well.  So, if someone drops their pants and tries to get into a pissing contest with you over who was the better Darren Stevens: Dick York or Dick Sargeant, just channel your inner Elsa and 'let it go, let it gooooo...'

2.  Laugh more.  At yourself, at others, at the world at large...and stop giving a flying fart if anyone laughs with you.  A sense of humor is exactly that -- a SENSE; an involuntary mental reaction to whatever it is that YOU find funny.  There is no comedic Rosetta Stone that clearly delineates 'Seinfeld' or 'SNL' at the top of the humor totem pole.  So, if you lose your shit every time one of the Stooges takes a 2x4 to the nutsack then yuk it up!  Humor is relative.  One man's Harpo is another man's Kramer.

3.  Norm's grandmother had a phrase she liked to say: "If you don't like my gate, you don't have to swing on it".  She understood what so many of us don't, and that is: your self worth is just that -- your SELF in in, YOU determine your opinion of yourself, no one else.  So, regardless of how others perceive your looks, your words, or your actions, this is not 'Survivor'; no one else gets to cast their vote and kick you off of the island.  The polls are closed, and at the end of the day the only two people who can determine how you feel about yourself are the Man Upstairs and the Man In The Mirror.  Everyone else can pack up their stones and start lobbing them at the next glass house.  Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

Norm appears to have forgiven me for the giant bag of crazy I lobbed at him yesterday, but I know it made us both stop to pause and ponder.  Not about our feelings for one another, but about how I feel about myself, and how I allow my past relationships to color my present ones.

I'm trying.

I'm learning.

And every day, I'm liking myself just a little bit more and more.  And Norm is helping me with that exponentially.  Not by building me up with cheesy platitudes and false compliments; but by reminding me that even when I am completely jacked up and emotional and more neurotic than Crispin Glover on windowpane acid, I'm still worth loving.  At my very worst. . .I am still .  Worth.  Loving.

So put that on your gate and swing it.




Katie.G said...

That analogy IS magical.

Laura said...

I am only NOW getting this and I am 53 years old. Don't have the same baggage you have but... close.

Suffice to say "life" is a work in progress

and... once again you knocked it outta the park!

Roxie said...

If I swung on a gate, it would break off of the fence!

Mandy said...

Everything about this post is magical. Rock on, sista. Rock. ON.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

This is a whole lotta awesome.

Maggi Shelbourn said...

I need to hear exactly this every now and again. I should print your post and stick it on my refrigerator to remind me every day. Thank you Jen.

Tiffany T said...

Fantastic post, Jen. Every bit of it.

But don't channel Elsa, channel Florence + the machine & shake it off.

Valerie said...

This post hit me in the face with a sledgehammer. I'm trying so hard not to take the past crazy out on my new relationship. Sometimes, most of the time, I want to run. Just put my shoes on and head for the open road. Cut this off before I get hurt. But I don't. And I'm hoping that feeling leaves and my crazy stabilizes. I'm sure it will.. Any minute now... ;0)



Pat said...

Brava! You have definitely hit a common nerve. I think a lot of us come to this realization in our 40s or 50s (whether we make the leap is another issue altogether). Can you imagine the collective power women would have if we reached this realization earlier in our lives? AND acted on it?