Self Esteem so Low

Today I received a Facebook message that nearly brought me to tears. It was from an acquaintance at work I recently got much closer to who is moving to Washington for a job opportunity. On her last day she wrote all of us coworkers a card to put in our mailboxes. In my card she wrote about how I am such a positive light and how she always loved going to me if she was sad or in a bad mood because I always cheered her up.

I was honestly floored. I couldn’t believe how sweet that was. I am notorious for not being able to think of a single good thing about myself when asked.

When I was 16 I had to go through a pretty intense psychological evaluation where, after a four-hour period I was given a final survey. As part of that survey I was asked to list my favorite things about myself, and I left it blank. When the psychologist went over my results with my mother after coming to the conclusion that I was not autistic (obviously) and did not have ADHD or any other learning difficulty (again, obviously), she mentioned this question as something “concerned” her. I had no idea why we were even discussing it so I just shrugged. “I just don’t think it’s a big deal, I know I’m not that great.” Tears immediately filled my mother’s eyes as she exclaimed “You’re amazing honey!” The sudden emotion was intensely uncomfortable for me to see as my mom and I both felt and hid our emotions similarly.

Since then I have become more comfortable accepting compliments and the like. However I still don’t really believe them? I know this isn’t an uncommon issue. Now at 23 I can recognize when I’m good at something and accept recognition for that. In high school I sat second clarinet and first bass clarinet. I placed “excellent” or better in all competitions and gathered a rather large collection of medals and awards. I knew objectively I was good at music and could show and prove that. But still whenever anybody says anything good about me, as a person, I panic. I never have any idea what to say if someone talks about my heart or my positivity or how I radiate light and love and give my whole heart to whatever I do. I never know what to say when my girlfriend lists things she loves about me and my looks or abilities are nowhere on that list (although she appreciates those too).

About two months ago I went to a work going away party for one of our managers. After a few drinks a coworker mentioned how I was such a warm welcoming person and how happy she was to work with me and I nearly dissolved into tears again.

Why is this such a silly ridiculous thing? Why can I not just hear a compliment or a good thing and accept it. Why is it such a problem and such an emotional thing for me? This, unfortunately, isn’t something I think I can blame on my childhood. I remember so little of it that when I think about whether or not I was given any compliments I come up empty. But maybe that isn’t true? Maybe I just don’t remember, maybe the beautiful days are just hidden away somewhere. I hope that’s true. Maybe those things can come out in therapy.

I love to have things to blame my dad for. I genuinely do not remember a time where he sat me down and told me he was proud of me, or admired anything I did. He brought me to my rehearsals for philharmonic but never to my concerts or other performances. I did the majority of my practicing at school as to not bother him with my squawking and squealing. I never really knew if it would amount to anything, or if I would ever amount to anything.

I never knew if the good things about me would shine enough to make a difference in anybody’s life. I work so hard to be the person that other people see. I work so hard to be approachable and kind and loving. I want to radiate love and light and acceptance. Maybe according to my friend’s card I’m succeeding, but I’ll still never stop trying.  I thanked her for her card in a facebook message and she told me that my positivity was contagious and to never lose that.  I’ll try so hard, and never stop.

The Collapse of the “Jesus kid”

Brace yourself for some cringeeeeeeeey pics of teenage Katie in this post!

The summer of 2008 I went on my first Catholic mission trip. It was 100% not my idea and in fact I had no idea what I was getting into when my dad announced to me that I would be going. I had grown up going to Catholic elementary school but then when we moved out of town I had to start going to public school and my chance at salvation suffered. In order to make up for my descent into public school sin my parents had me go to CCD and weekly mass. I also participated in youth choir and Vacation Bible School in the summers.

I was good, I was a good girl. I was everything I was supposed to be and did everything I was supposed to do. I didn’t really love growing up this way or being signed up for all of this against my will. But I enjoyed doing what I was told and what I was supposed to be doing (my budding service kink, I was a perv even then). Then these mission trips came around. According to my mom he was trying to find a way to connect to me, through God, I guess. In a way it worked, but of course backfired.

This was how these mission trips worked: For a week in the summer I, and my group of fairly like minded peers would travel to somewhere along the Eastern seaboard and offer our free labor to those in need, for the glory of God. I believe, technically, we were supposed to be spreading the message at the same time. To be quite honest, I objected to very little of this. I didn’t want to spend a week out of my precious summer doing manual labor, but that part often ended up being the easiest. I would spend the next five years babysitting children of convicts and recovering addicts, I would paint a house for an elderly woman, I would organize a thrift store, and take a group of mentally disabled adults bowling and out for ice cream. I would go on to meet some of the best people I had ever met, people I’m still in contact with to this day.

I would also question nearly everything I knew. I would question everything I was. I would meet a girl whose scars looked just like mine and who didn’t care who saw them. I would meet a girl with an eating disorder I envied, but who at the same time kept me from going down a path I could have. I would crush hard on a boy who went onto marry a leggy blonde not many years later, and I would finally voice my bisexuality in a late night prayer circle with my best friend.

I spent those weeks in Maryland (twice), Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina. Everywhere I went I learned something else about myself, my friends, and even my dad. He wanted to connect, but he would spend the week pretending he didn’t know me and only periodically checking in on me once or twice. Everybody I met there would be shocked when I mentioned that I was there with my dad, having never seen me with him. We didn’t have any groundbreaking moments, or moments of clarity where he would breakdown and tell me that he had always loved me and accepted me and wanted me to know it. We still haven’t even gotten any of that, nearly 10 years after that first trip to Maryland.

By the time my last trip rolled around I had been in college for a year, had realized I wasn’t straight, and had pretty much denounced everything I thought I knew from these trips. For the four years previous these trips had been a chance to center my holiness. I came back from these weeks so ready to live my life the way Jesus intended. I wasn’t going to drink, I wasn’t going to smoke, I wasn’t going to curse (anymore), I had a promise ring firmly placed on the ring finger of my left hand. I was so ready for God to fill my whole heart and make me his.

Then I would go back to school and the months would go by and most of that would fade away. I would fall back into all my old habits and realize that maybe my bad habits weren’t that bad after all. That maybe my fluctuating sexuality wasn’t going to damn me straight to hell, maybe it would actually lead me into the relationships that would feel the most perfect and right for me. According to facebook it’s been five years since the last year I went on one of these trips. I decided to step back when I felt that my own personal identities were being attacked by being a part of this. Around that time I also started pulling away from religion in general. I stopped going to church with my dad when I was home, and eventually he stopped going too. I lost a lot of my sense of community by abandoning religion, and I lost a lot of people who had become my friends. I lost the right to go to my church’s youth center and sit in the office and just chat with people who ran CCD, and I lost the right to go and sing at the youth masses. That was something that hurt the most. Youth masses were the only time where I felt my voice was heard, where I sang along and felt good about how I sounded and felt that people knew it was me.

Since then I’ve found different communities. I’ve kept friends from those years and we’ve all grown up and changed and become much different and better people. I come across pictures like these all the time and try to remember the kind of person I was back then. I try to remember how I could deny huge parts of myself and huge parts of my loved ones in order to keep a faith in religion. I try to remember what it finally took to shake me out of it and make me see that these people were not my friends. The same people who would condemn me to hell, and turn me away were the ones who at one time, embraced me.

 

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Oooh an artsy picture of candles with a low shutter speed ooooh

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On “90s pop” night they set the high hat on fire, because why not.

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Hershey Park, on Mission trip “free day”, rocking that hat

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My selfie face didn’t change very much but at least I discovered contacts!

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This remains one of my favorite pictures of myself, with or without the fake nerd glasses.  Soon after this was taken I would be told that gay people had an illness, that it was proven that they were sick.  I would leave and never look back.

I make a case for a lonely day

My girlfriend and I have been living together for almost 3 months now. On the whole it’s been going super well. We argue a little and bicker a ton but that isn’t really any different than how we were before I lived here. We’ve recently moved my cat down and now it feels like I’m officially back home. I can snuggle with my favorite boy and my favorite girl at the same time and feel perfectly at home with that.

But sometimes I don’t. I just started a second job and with that go, probably, my precious days off during the week. Those days off often coincide with my girlfriend’s usual days off which means we get to spend those days together. Which is awesome! Most couples are in no way this lucky and I consider myself super fortunate in that I get to live with and also spend this time with the person I love.  It gives us time to do errands or go do fun things or just hang around and watch Law and Order.

But sometimes I need something different. Sometimes I need an entire day of not talking to anybody and not working and not interacting and not doing anything at all. Sometimes I need a whole day to just sit here at my laptop with a coffee and my back up straight and my headphones on. Sometimes I need a recharge day, a quiet day all for myself.

So that was supposed to be today. Today is Wednesday, my only day off where I can something like this until Sunday. Even Sunday I have a bridal shower to go to, which will no doubt prove to be exhausting and draining in and of itself.

So today is all for me. Unfortunately it’s also my girlfriend’s day off, which means I’m giving up quite a bit of a day spent with her in order to get my “recharge day”. I’m still trying to figure out how that makes me feel, or how that’s going to affect my relationship if it’s something that I need to continue to do. I don’t want to give up time with her. But if I continue having days where all I do is work and worry and stress and deal with people then the time I do spend with her will be worthless. I’ll be flat, I’ll be a shell of myself, and she’ll think I don’t want to spend time with her. This is already causing arguments; it’s already becoming a problem. I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t let myself feel so bad and so sad that it all comes out in a meltdown at 2 in the morning (ahem, a true story that happened last night). But I still feel terrible. I’m sitting in a café right now writing this and wracked with guilt because I’m not with her. Instead I’m basking in this alone time and saving every second of this solitude. I feel genuinely in love with this feeling of peace and quiet.

When I was living apart from here this was all I had. I didn’t have friends whose houses I could go to, everything I knew was here. Everything I knew was a four-hour drive away so I had to make do by myself. I would go whole days off without speaking to anybody except my parents and not doing anything but watch TV. I think those nine months may have messed me up a little? I would go to work and come home and go downstairs and hang out with my cat and that was it. Sometimes I would go downstairs and not see my mom for several days because I was so lonely and so sad that I wouldn’t emerge from “my cave”, as they called it for days at a time. I sat around and sat on my computer and missed my friends, and I missed her.

I tend to not miss people if I know I’m going to see them soon. I know I’ll go home soon and see her; therefore I don’t miss her now. I don’t feel a longing for her or a sadness at not being with her now because I know in a few hours I’ll get bored or hungry and I’ll go home and she’ll be right there waiting for me.

Me needing to take these kinds of days has begun to cause a rift in our relationship, I fear. I need to make it clearer that thee days are only because I care about her. I care about her so much that I want to be my best possible self for her. I can’t be my best self if I am constantly, emotionally drained and tired.

I’m going to fight for this alone time because I know it’ll make us better in the long run.

I know that it’ll be better for my own mental health and my own personal safety if I take these days to myself.

I need her to see that.

I need her to please help me.

I need her to please take these days not as an attack, or as me trying to avoid her, but trying to help myself.

Indulge my vanity won’t you?

Do you ever think of where you were before Snapchat existed?  Imagine there was once a time, in the not so distant past, where I could NOT distort my face for shits and giggles.  There was once a time where a selfie taken would simply be #nofilter, and would not be improved up on by a puppy nose or kitty ears.  Here my loyal loves I share with you some of my favorite, or at least most recent Snapchat selfies.  Some will say that Snapchat is just the latest proof that millennials are self-absorbed and selfie obsessed.  And I will say with pride that that’s probably true.  So be it.

Taken while my girlfriend was trying on clothes in a dressing room, trying to make the best of the lighting

I truly just love pigs, this was made for me

This is my personal favorite flower crown and made me feel like the littlest most perfect princess in all the land, pink lips just a plus

❤ Katie

Why I won’t be just like him

My girlfriend and I have very open communication. We’ve grown a lot together in the past year and a half (or so) and with that what we’re able to talk about has grown too. A few months back we had a conversation about our exes. I like talking about past major relationships and why they didn’t work it because it gives me a kind of reassurance that because of those relationships and those mistakes, we’re working out and won’t make those same mistakes. I hadn’t thought too much about why my last major relationship ended, other than that I just didn’t love him anymore (and that I had cheated on him). But then in talking about this and that and why I didn’t love him anymore I finally realized this, “I didn’t want my kids growing up with a man like my father.”

That’s been sitting with me for years probably but that conversation was the first time I had ever said it out loud. It was true that I didn’t want my kids to grow up with a man who probably didn’t really want to have them in the first place, or a man who was withholding with his affection or easily angered. But I think also I didn’t want kids growing up with me?

I grew up describing myself as the same person as my father, but my mother’s twin. As I’ve grown up I’ve switched this up almost entirely but I still remember those ways that I remain like him, and all the ways I vow to change.

My dad is an angry angry guy. He’s angry and sad and doesn’t know how to take that anger and the sadness and make it constructive or useful. He went to therapy for a few months on and off but eventually stopped returning the appointment reminder calls and we never spoke of it again. Over the years we’ve shared a lot of surly, bile filled car rides by being angry at each other and not having the common language to turn that anger into understanding. Instead we would sit in the awkward silence, I would eventually put my headphones in as loud as they could go and stare out the window all the way home. He used to use this anger in his classroom. He used to say that his students were more afraid of him because his anger and disapproval was so quiet. I knew that disapproval well.

Apart from the silent, biting anger was the occasional explosions. These were few and far in between, but I’ve never forgotten. I’ve never forgotten the slammed doors because I left a dish in the sink, or the curses hurled at me because of a forgotten towel on the clothesline. I won’t forget the day I was afraid for my life in the truck, or the bruises across my baby brother’s chest because he wouldn’t get into his car seat fast enough.

I vowed in that moment to never let my anger get the best of me. I vowed to never let it scare my loved ones, like I was scared of him.

My dad doesn’t communicate. Not only that but he doesn’t ever really talk either, about anything. That isn’t us, it isn’t our style. He’s tried, maybe, to come close to connecting with me emotionally about anything but it’s so uncomfortable I shut it down. I hate to think I have real and true “daddy” issues, but I have found it incredibly difficult to connect emotionally with any cis-man since then. It was no wonder to me that my parents got divorced. I admired my mother for sticking it out 20 years with a man who definitely never talked to her about anything real, a man she probably didn’t even know. I applauded her for being the only one to try and communicate to fix things with them, every day for 20 years.

I am not one to be confused with a good communicator. I don’t like giving voice to my feelings or admitting when I’m upset or angry. I like to think of myself as independent, even solitary. I don’t really need anything or anybody, I am myself to give to whoever needs me, but I don’t need anyone to do the same for me. Because of this people-pleaser kind of attitude I’ve become also, a terrible communicator.

My dad and I are, for all intents and purposes, no longer speaking. For the foreseeable future I have cut communication and have no intention on rebuilding any bridges with him. I struggle with the simple fact that he was never truly abusive. He never hit me, although I was sure he would eventually. He never belittled me, or called me names, or did anything that we’re taught equal abuse. But there’s damage done. There’s damage to my ability to have relationships, or to trust people, or to see any cis-man as a safe place for me. If he should ever pop up on my phone again I’ll have to make the decision whether or not to answer. I won’t be like him in this relationship, I won’t be like him and lean on my crutches, I won’t be like him and give into my anger. I want my kids to be proud of their role models. I want them to want to be like me someday.

Social Media!

Hi all!

I’ve updated my little menu to include the new twitter I’ve made for followers of this blog in particular!

Scroll on down that menu and click the twitter icon to be redirected there, there isn’t much going on there right now (in fact there’s nothing but a profile picture). But soon there will be links to posts and such!

Top 5 Books that Changed my Life

The Red Tent

The fall of my sophomore year of high school I sat in Period 2 English lit hating my damn life. I was flicking my mechanical pencil against the side of my glasses and hating my damn life. I hated this stupid summer reading book, The Red Tent, and the last thing I wanted to do was write a whole essay on it.

Now eight years (!!!!) later it’s always my go to answer when people ask my favorite book. After the ridiculous essay I wrote about it, where I believe I used four full block quotes, I picked it up again. I had apparently put it in the basket of magazines and little books we had in our bathroom. You know the one, the basket of magazines everyone seemed to have in their bathrooms for when you needed a little extra entertainment in there (pre-smartphones and such). That was where I read it for the second time, over a few weeks. Then I read it again, and again….and yet again. I’ve never stopped reading it since. The language is beautiful and chilling and I find the story incredibly gripping. It’s both very traditionally feminine and, I believe, quite feminist in its message. I’ll love it forever.

 

The Lorax

This book encapsulates most of the good memories I have regarding growing up with my father. That may be dramatic, but then again maybe not.

This will be another book I get a tattoo for because I am absolute Dr. Seuss trash and this one was 100% the most important to me. This book taught me to speak for the trees and I will be forever grateful.

 

Harry Potter (All)

I’m totally cheating by putting a seven book series as one but it deserves it. I mean Harry fucking Potter. Need I really say more?

I have a tattoo commemorating my love for this series and plan on getting another inspired by my house (Hufflepuff, tell me yours!). This series made me feel okay about being plain and bookish, it was the first real “fandom” I was a part of and therefore the first real community experience I ever had. Because of this I have a very complicated relationship with any criticism given to this series. I am both very understanding and very bitter towards people who haven’t read the series (but like seriously though why).

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This fucking book. This fuuuuuucking book ruined my whole life in the best possible way. This was the first book I ever listened to on audio and that entirely made the experience. This book made me fall in love with both audiobooks and Lin Manuel-Miranda, for his wonderful performance. There isn’t much of a plot to this book it is much more a snapshot in time kind of story, which happen to be the ones I like best. It’s a fairly typical coming of age story but there was nothing typical about my reaction to it. I clutched my heart and wept openly in the car all while on a road trip to my new home (long story). I immediately called my girlfriend while weeping to explain why I was weeping and she just laughed at me. But I’m not insane it’s really a wonderful book.

Pride and Prejudice

This truly is a cliché classic for the ages. I hopped on this bandwagon right at the beginning of high school and never looked back. Darcy was potentially my first literary crush and he holds to this day. I’m a little obsessed with the aesthetic of all Jane Austen novels and all of the wonderful movies of her works scratch that itch for me.