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This article describes where I am right now in life and a little about my past. It focuses on relationships that I have had with others and the realationship that I'm learning to have with myself.
Iím 30 years old. I just turned 30 a little over a month ago. I was looking forward to it. I knew that I would learn something when I turned 30 that I didnít know before. I have decided that age doesnít really matter when it comes to learning new things except that you will just keep on learning and learning and you wonít learn everything all at once.
Time is a funny thing. It just keeps going and going and going. They should have named it the ďtimeĒ bunny. I went to a workshop in college about time management. I never forgot something that the woman said; ďTime is a constant.Ē Seems obvious but it's easy to forget when we're having fun or when we're waiting for water to boil. She continued on about how you have to take control of your time and do what you want to with it. It is precious, of course, because your time wonít last forever.
Ever since I was a little girl I have spent my time trying to do what other people want me to do. It started with my parents (doesn't everything?) and, like most girls, continued with my relationships with boys. I am generalizing, of course. I know that there are girls who grow up strong individuals knowing what they want and are confident about it. I know because I have had the pleasure of having one of those girls as my roommate for the past year. It has been a liberating experience. I never felt like I had to please her. All I had to do was be myself and do what I wanted. I didnít have to check in with her or do anything I didnít want to do.
Back to my parents, since thatís where it all starts. I was born to some screwed up kids. Fortunately, they have both grown up and become extremely respectable and capable adults. I know that everything happened the way it did for a reason Ė I believe that about everything Ė especially since if it had happened any other way I would not be here writing this. I digress. Back on track. My parents were young and I guess they were in love Ė they did get married after all. They had two kids, neither of which was planned. Then my dadís boyfriend moved in. Mom slept in a hammock in the living room. She got a girlfriend. Then we all lived in a split level ranch together: my brother and I, dad and his boyfriend Rufus, and mom and her girlfriend Valley. Rufus played piano at the lounge at the Raddison Inn and I donít know what else Valley did besides drugs. Anyway, they finally got a little smarter and split up.
This is when my people pleasing skills really kicked in. Mom and dad were/are exact and complete opposites. With Dad we got structure and babysitters. With Mom we got adventure and lots of animals. They had joint custody so that we were living with each of them six months out of the year and seeing the other every other weekend. I programmed myself to be ďdaddyís girlĒ and ďmamaís girl.Ē Fortunately, my parents found life partners who they have each been with for over 20 years. Sabra, my other mom, and I are a lot a like and Larry, my other dad, kept me out of trouble.
So I was going back and forth between these two personalities and it carried over into college. My first serious boyfriend always hated it when I talked to my dad on the phone. He said that I turned into ďDaddyís girlĒ and used this high-pitched pleasing voice and that I should just be myself. But I didnít really know who the real me was so I couldnít do that. Interestingly enough, this first boyfriend, who didnít have many good qualities, ended up helping me choose the correct career path. I dumped him and moved on. I donít even want to talk about my second serious boyfriend.
By the time I found the man I was going to marry (third timeís the charm, right?) I was looking for someone to be outside of work. I found a guy who was from a small town, like my parents were. He went to church (that pleased my mumsey). He played guitar (that pleased my Moms). And he was a gentleman (that pleased my Dads). All of these things pleased me because they pleased my people. Now, donít get me wrong, my ex-husband really is a great guy - heís just not the guy for me. I found this out when a new preacher came to the church that he had attended all his life and I had attended all of my engaged/married life. The new preacher announced that gay people were trying to take over the world and that they were evil and as Christians we had to lead them back to Christ so they wouldnít go to hell. This upset me because I have always been of the opinion that the Bible is a book written by men and therefore is flawed because man is flawed. I donít believe my parents are going to hell because they choose to live their lives with the people that they love who just happen to be the same gender as them. When my then husband told me that he and his family believed that the Bible was the word of God written by men who were possessed of the Holy Spirit I was concerned because this meant he believed, among other things, my parents were going to hell. This knocked me out of my tree. We talked about it for six months. The preacher kept on preaching and I tried to live that life. I tried to be the good wife. We were going to church 4 times a week; bible study, Wednesday service including choir practice, and twice on Sunday. But I couldnít do it. I quit going to church and for two weeks my husband and I lived in the same house but never saw each other awake. We had talked about our relationship working. Just because we believed different things didnít mean that we didnít love each other, right? But then we started talking about a family of our own and children. I asked him what he would tell them. He had to stick by his convictions. And so, having to stick by my convictions that my children would not grow up having their father and his whole family tell them that their grandparents are going to hell, I left.
With my fourth serious boyfriend I just wanted to be the woman he wanted me to be. It ended because I wasnít sharing my true self. The more I tried to make him happy, the more unhappy I became. I tried to cook for him and take care of his house. I did everything for him because I didnít know what I wanted to do myself. I cheated him and myself and for this I am truly sorry.
Now I have no husband, no boyfriend, and no parents to answer to. I have no one to please but myself and I donít know what to do with myself. I feel a little bit like I should have figured this out already, like Iím really far behind everyone else. People sometimes tell me that they wish they had known what I know when they were my age. I wish I knew what they knew when they were growing up about their own sense of self. Itís like I donít know myself. I know one thing Ė I canít figure out what to do without someone to do something for.
So Iím starting small. I walk in the morning. This makes me feel pretty good. I tend to be best in the morning anyway. Then I do a few chores and take a shower. Then I eat whatever I want for breakfast and head out for work.
Work is work. Itís a whole book in itself.
Evening after work is the toughest time for me. I have to eat and go to bed but there are several hours to kill in between. Currently I watch way too much TV. I also probably eat too much.
So what do I do now? I feel guilty with so much time on my hands when so many other people have so much to do. But maybe Iíve paid my dues. This is my time. I spent 90% of my first 30 years pleasing other people. Now, itís my turn.