Am I even the same person
I was 10 years ago? 

… I mean, I don’t remember what I was like so how should I know? 

All I know is that I feel different, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. At some point between my physical pain and things from my past catching up with me, I’m not sure I came out the same person on the other side. And like Dante’s Inferno, I still have a few circles of hell to go. 

I feel like I’ve manifested my issues with family into tangible shit storms more in the last few years. And since I finally decided to go to therapy, coinciding with getting braces so I would be forced to stick with it (to an extent) for a couple years at least, things definitely got worse before they got better. 

At the beginning of therapy there was a lot of drama surrounding my mom, and I felt like she was not only ruining my life by stressing me out daily, but she was also taking up all my therapy time. Time and money she didn’t deserve spent on her really. Her decisions were mostly irrational and selfish and after deciding that all I can do is enable her by “helping”, I was able to back off a little and stop trying to take responsibility and apologize to everyone for her actions. 

This didn’t make anything go away, but the longer I go without talking to her the better I feel I think. Even though 10 years ago I may have been more outgoing, confident and fun, I wasn’t at all dealing with my shitty past. Talking about things and remembering things have periodically made things worse and I think they’ve made me a more serious person. Maybe one day I’ll learn how to have fun again.  

Is there a point in dealing with a shitty past? probably yes. 

The stresses and resentment from my childhood were being prodded and enraged by my physical proximity to my family (mother and sister). I have been traveling a very long time and it was brought up that possibly some of that has to do with my not wanting to be near them or my problems. They can’t show up at my door wanting a place to stay if I live in an RV in Louisiana in the summer. The act of traveling was my way of enabling myself to not have to say “no” to them. 

When we came back to this area, near where they are/were living, and I started to get to know some of my extended family as well (in addition to being closer to my mother and sister,) I went through a lot of awful feelings on all fronts. I constantly felt abandoned, disliked, and judged for my mother’s actions, and I felt the need to prove to my extended family that we’re clean, comfortable, happy, nothing like my mother or sister. The more I got to know them over the last 2 years, this August, I realize that although most of them seem happy and well adjusted, something I will never be, they have their faults too. And I don’t judge them for it at all, knowing they’re not perfect makes them more approachable. I spent my life before them with a dysfunctional mother and mostly homeless and/or drug addicted sister (not always at the same time) and no one else. My friends from highschool (like, 2) have always lived in different cities than me since I left town after I graduated and most friends in Portland were either shitty people or temporary. 

When I moved to Argentina it was because I had reached a breaking point with humans and wanted nothing to do with them. Talk about feeling free, 11k miles from anyone I knew was great at the time. It was only M who visited me the entire year and showed me what a real friend was like. I’d never had anyone do anything like that for me before really. Even my friend’s from highschool, I was the one who had to fly or drive to see them. The idea that I could have a good person in my life changed my perspective on people and who’s worth what to me.  

So, things have changed for the better in ways and ‘null’ in others, and I guess I just need to write them down. I still can’t picture the moment when I have to say no to my sister when she finds out we’re renting a house in town. Yep, a house! After 9 years of living in RVs and occasional vacation cabins, having a ‘home’ might be a real thing. I’m almost crying but I feel stupid for it. I moved so many times growing up I never had one true  home, and as an adult I had a couple stints in homes or apartments where I got to decorate and settle in but it didn’t last long. Then I just traveled and owned little from 2006 on. We’re renting for a year while we buy furniture, study up and save money to buy or build a house. That’s the current plan at least. The way I usually feel is after a few months in a cabin I want to tear my face off and get back on the road, so sitting in one place for a year, let alone several, is hard to picture. It’s hard to know what M wants, maybe he doesn’t care, but usually it seems like he’s not completely happy no matter what. He will say what he doesn’t like but not often what he does like. I know he wants to retire, asap. 

Generally, I think, after 2 years of therapy and being away from my mother for about a year (though chatting a little on her bday, halloween and mothers day, because she called),

  • I have stopped having as many physical world associations with childhood memories, invasive memories that are really nothing important, but oh so annoying. When I do kind of have them I don’t get the same negative feeling from it.
  • I worry less about what my extended family thinks of us. Weather because I think I’m kind of passing as not trash, or because I don’t really care, I can’t be sure. Seeing them as people with their own problems has helped a lot, dark as it is. 
  • I still think strangers hate me, but at the moment I care less.
  • Getting a house and putting myself in a situation where I have to say no to my sister when she asks to come live in our yard, hard stuff but progress I think?
  • Not feeling as guilty about not calling my mom, seeing how she is, etc. I have felt responsible for her and like “I’m the only one she has” for years, even while keeping distance in the RV, I’ve kept in close touch, paid some bills, bought cat food for her, listened to her constant “world is against me” arguments against the world.  I feel like I’m escaping from a brainwashing cult, she’s very manipulative and she knew she could always come to me and I would validate her irrational thoughts with my melancholy “that sucks, those jerks”. It took a while to notice how she used me and abused our generosity and support. 
  • Kind of cut off my sister, I won’t give her money anymore , they get 2 SSI checks a month, they’re just bad with money.  They left the area for a few months, which was a huge relief, for that situation but also because they live in a van and shouldn’t stay the winter in the NW, but they came back…idiots. 
  • I’m trying to get better about doing my own thing and eating and liking what I want. Formerly, if M thought Doritos were M, I wouldn’t buy the one vegan flavor they had because we both have to eat all the same things. But I bought some (and they were kind of gross), but I did and I ate them all myself. It wasn’t that I felt like “oh no M won’t like this” it was a little “he’ll probably judge me”, but mostly it was “why should I have anything of my own and be an individual at all really when we can just be one giant person? sounds selfish to do anything by myself”.  And I hate being selfish..or late, or messy, or fat. yes, there’s shit to work on still. I still haven’t gone on any solo photo road trips in a while, I did one big one last summer. I get enough driving getting to therapy with my 6-12hr drives, depending on where we’ve been the last 2 years. 

But, I digress, overall I think I’m doing better even though it feels weird and I’m still a little embarrassed by acting at all like a “normal” person – something I’ve considered myself incapable of being and I would only look like a bull in a tutu (and something I have no right to pretend to be). I can’t even type “I deserve” in a coherent sentence because I still feel like I don’t deserve anything, maybe that will be the next and probably the most difficult change. 

Me as a teenager. (not really me but, you know..)

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