Social Media Ate My ‘Me’

In my observation, I knew who I was — once upon a time. I was happy. I was successful. I had a good job, owned my own home, had a dog, maintained a reasonable weight, and looked pretty cute.

That was a long time ago.

I still have a dog and own a home, but the rest has gone by the wayside.

It’s funny to say, but social media has caused much of my demise.

When I was lonely and desperate in 2009, I matched sparks with a friend of a friend. He came with references, so why would I have any reason to have suspicion?

He robbed me blind over the course of three years because I was lonely and desperate and just wanted someone in my life who I could shower my love upon.

I’m a lover, not a fighter.

I still remember the day I met him after work (work #2 because I worked two jobs to pay the bills while he paid nothing). I extended my hand to his friend, and the friend said, “Kelvin, I didn’t realize your roommate would be joining us tonight.”

Roommate?

For fuck’s sake. We talked for months (which is obviously a trivial amount of time) before he decided to move from Florida to Denver to start a life with me.

The agreement was this: I would pay for a one-way ticket to Florida, he would pay for the rental car and hotels to get us back.

As we stood in front of the Avis counter that day, he looked at me and asked if I was going to give the man my card. I knew I was fucked. That was a bad situation that lasted for many years and many, many dollars.

Like I said, I was his roommate. At least, as far as he was concerned.

The funny thing about social media — he absolutely refused to befriend me on Facebook and whatever social sites existed at the time. I always swore I wouldn’t let that matter because it’s petty as fuck, but really… it can matter. For me, it does matter now.

He used to take his phone into the bathroom so he could check out Facebook. Then, he would return to the living room to report about the goings on in his friends’ lives. After being introduced as the roommate, you can imagine how this deflated my being. Super shitty for all kinds of reasons. He was a terrible person who took advantage of me for a very long time.

Not too long ago, he requested my connections on LinkedIn and Facebook. The irony.

In my current situation, social media has always played an equally relevant part in the obstruction of my self-esteem.

It goes without saying that sex is an imperative part of any two humans’ interactions. I have none. That, alone, can really fuck a person up.

Years ago, we were friends and followers on the few social media sites I frequent. Every time my Other got upset with me, he would delete me. Childish move, but I guess I enabled it.

Here we are, four years later. My Other and I are not friends on Facebook, we don’t follow each other on Twitter, and as minimally as I post on Instagram, it would still be nice to be connected. He’s a photographer, so his life is Instagram, and I am not a part of it. I tried to send my Other a message on Facebook the other day, but I couldn’t find him; he told me he deleted his profile.

I feel like the world is ashamed of me. Like I’m good enough to use but not good enough to be seen with.

I want my 20s and 30s back.

I started an argument tonight, which wasn’t supposed to be an argument, but how do you address so much pain without emotion?? One of my Other’s Navy buddies died the other night. It’s hit him hard, as it would any normal human being. In the face of this, he told me he never actually deleted his Facebook. So I guess I was blocked?

How childish I feel for making this such a pivotal trust issue. At the same time, how incredibly painful is it to always be considered a second-class citizen?

I’m tired. I don’t want to take care of everybody else. I need to be taken care of so I can be there for my people when they truly need me. At this point, I cannot. I’m exhausted. My emotions are fleeing. My ‘me’ is fleeing. I don’t want to be blocked or disregarded anymore.

My messages are important. My presence is important. My being matters. Even if not to you — it does to somebody. Or it will someday. Someday, somebody will not be embarrassed to be seen with me.

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My First Coupled Christmas Alone

In my observation, this is a strange place.

I haven’t been in the Christmas spirit. In all honesty, I’ve had no fucks to give. I work too much, enjoy life too little, and have enough stress to put in all the stockings across the country.

I anticipated an unfortunate event this Christmas season (Monday) when, on Saturday:

  • I reached for my daily anti-depressant. I’m out.
  • I called the pharmacy for a refill. They’re out.
  • I received a message from the pharmacy. I’ve used up all my refills; my order can’t be sent elsewhere.
  • I prepare for wicked withdrawals that make my brain chemistry fucking crazy. It’s okay. I’ve done this before.
  • I cry and hide in my bed. This isn’t going to go well, and it’s going to hurt a lot. Merry Christmas.

I wake up to a note on my computer, which I fell asleep next to as I watched some silly Netflix show in anticipation of the coming events. I knew I’d be unwell. It’s a terrible feeling to feel good and have that all taken away when the pharmacy isn’t able to oblige. Fortunately, this isn’t the first time, and I know what I’m in for.

I’m dizzy, unable to think, and filled with tears for no reason. The note simply says one thing:

“I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m right here.”

My naked self stumbles to the bathroom. We live in a concrete shoebox; everything is within stumbling distance. I smell food. I don’t know what kind of food, but it’s food.

Pee. Back to sleep. Blankets securely placed over my body in such a position an intruder would simply think the bed was well made while the inhabitants of our condo were out enjoying the holiday. Head covered. Body immobile. Brain swimming.

I smell coffee. What’s that food I smell?

I move… as best I can. Back to sleep. I awake to a gentle backrub and a beautiful man telling me he’s prepared my Christmas dinner. Here’s my coffee. He refilled my water glass with fresh ice and that filtered goodness that’s so cold, yet so welcomed to my fragile body.

Since then, he’s gone off to the homeless shelter to make food for the needy. Apparently, he’s on cornbread and beans. He’s putting his cooking skills and Southern style to work this Christmas.

He asked me if he should cancel. No! Do not cancel!

He asked me if I’d like to go. I would love to. But I cannot. I cannot move.

He asked me if he should stay here. No! Others need you more than I do.

My heart is filled with happiness. Would any man spend his Christmas making food for others when he hates being “a cook”? Absolutely not. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m thankful. I will happily spend this Christmas alone, busily writing about data security breaches and marketing whatnots so my family can be embraced in the blessings we have that others do not.

As I began walking around, I had a memory-in-passing. Didn’t I see a sample pack of my anti-depressants as I was packing for last week’s vacation? I did! I found two three-year-old sample pills — twice my current prescription — hiding in my suitcase.

I’ve cut them in half and taken one. My brain has balanced. My heart has filled. My kitchen has accumulated an amazing amount of ready-to-eat homemade food while my Other is away.

And I’m watching shitty daytime TV. I heart shitty daytime TV.

My Other is busy making life better for those less fortunate. I’m busy basking in the blessings that are my life.

I don’t do religion. But I do do gratitude. And I am  very grateful for the person who has taken every effort to take care of me — and anyone else he doesn’t even know — this Christmas day.

 

 

Job Jockey or Job Junkie?

In my observation, this question could be perceived in several ways.

I really thought about it before I posted this — am I a Job Jockey? Or, am I a Job Junkie?

The word “junkie” has such a negative connotation; however, as I look back upon my almost-two-years at my current job, it seems that’s what I’ve become. Fortunately, it’s far from a negative. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I now live and breathe my job in the healthiest of ways. I want my company to succeed; I want my boss to do well; I want good fortune to come for all of us.

If you’ve been keeping up with me, it hasn’t always been this way.

You see, for the first eleven years after I obtained my noble and golden piece of paper, which tells the world I’m worthy of being employed, I was treated like dog shit. At each professional job I worked, I was great at what I did. Yet, at each professional job I worked, I was put in a corner and told to work as hard as I could without a name or a face. In fact, my former Vice President used to introduce me to people as her Workhorse.

That was my name.

And that was my trade.

Unfortunately, I lived up to those expectations because that’s what I do. I’m a people-pleaser. If that’s who I am to you, then that’s who I’ll be for you.

I love being me, but this is a significant downfall in my people-pleasing personality.

Back then, I wanted nothing more than to be a Job Jockey. I wanted nothing more than to take the reigns of whatever opportunity came at me — be it the manager of an office, host at a restaurant, or walker of dogs — just so I could be amazing, win my medal, and move on to the next. Back then, the only thing I wanted was for someone to recognize me so I could put it on my resume and have someone else pat me on my back for my awesome accomplishments.

It’s not an age thing, though. It’s not that I’ve gotten wiser as the years have gone by. It’s that I’ve been shit on enough to know when I need to stand up for myself. I now know when a job is a job and when a position can be a career. Thankfully, I’ve found a career where I can excel, and I am now a Job Junkie.

Rest assured, this wasn’t always the case — not even in my current company.

To any job seeker, I want to offer my full honesty, as this was far from an easy route. Here’s a breakdown of my breakdowns over the past decade or so:

I Cried

And I mean, I cried a lot. I cried on my way to work on most days. I cried on my way home from work everyday. When I was having extra special days, I cried in my car during breaks.

I knew I was better than the way I was treated, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I had also landed myself inside a bubble where company culture dictated that my treatment was acceptable.

I Plotted & Planned

After about four years into my seven-year stint, I started strategizing. I had spreadsheets, color codes, notes — the whole nine yards. I was getting out of there, come hell or high water.

I tracked every application I submitted, every person I made contact with, every interview I went on, and every rejection letter I received. I reached out when I was rejected, and, while I seldom got a response, I documented my efforts so I could improve.

I made the Grade

After three grueling years of second-best and almost-had-its, I was awarded my dream job. It took six months and one week of interviewing. For my final interview, I was flown out to headquarters in another time zone. That interview was nine hours long, lasting from the moment I stepped off the plane until the moment I boarded again. Why on Earth that wasn’t a sign, I can’t tell you. I can only tell you that job grief does amazing things to a person’s perception of the next possible reality.

I Quit

And damn did it feel good. I worked at that job for one week less than I interviewed for it, and it felt so good to not give a shit about what I would do with the rest of my life. At the time I quit, I was working 120 hours a week on a very entry-level income. I had one day off in six months — no weekends or holidays — my day off was jury duty. On that day, my boss threatened to fire me for insubordination when I didn’t return his emails within his required two-hour time frame. Weird. The judge wasn’t cool with it in a court of law.

I Meandered

I pulled out my 401(k) and spent my savings because, in my mind, if I was this stressed out at 32, I’d never live to spend it anyway. I spent 18 months being a Job Jockey. I hosted, waited tables, watched a few dogs, wrote a ton of words, visited every coffee shop I could find in a ten mile radius (there are so many!!), and made random bar friends I never spoke to again. But, in their moment, they were the best things to happen to me.

I Made it Here

This month marks my eleventh year in Denver. I was offered my first job in this city six days after I got here. I had no friends, no job, and no apartment until about twelve hours before my departure. I loaded up the MINI with everything I had and hoped for the best. I had some clothes, some shoes, a TV, and a big pile of omg-what-are-you-doing? in my backseat.

I spent seven years at that job being treated like I didn’t belong in public. It does something to a person. After my 18-month stint, I was broke, couldn’t pay a single bill, hated writing words, and didn’t know what I would do.

Was I worth anything to anyone? What could I do to rectify the setback I’d made for myself?

Then I met my Other. We’re very different. We couldn’t be more opposite. I met him accidentally — I couldn’t make eye contact with him at first.

We accidentally started a life together.

Then my current boss found me — on Careerbuilder, of all places! I hadn’t posted a resume there since 2011 or so! He asked if I’d be interested in a job he was looking to fill; the job description was nearly verbatim my resume.

Welcome to Today

I spent over a year wondering why I made the decision I made to join the company. It was tough, and it felt all too familiar. I hated every Sunday evening, just as I had before. I dreaded the morning talks, just as I had before.

Thankfully, with a strong skillset and a diligent mind, I’ve found a place where my boss and I communicate as though we’re business partners. We understand that we want nothing but the best for our clients, and his clients are my clients. My Other and I have had each others’ back for almost three years; I’ve been at my job for nearly two of those.

 

I’ve found that my life, like most other people’s, requires a lot of ducking and dodging. When it comes down to it, you have to decide — do you want to be the Jockey or the Junkie? and before you decide between the two, you have to define each of those titles for yourself, as they could find themselves in very different places, depending on how you look at things.

I Just Can’t Put My Finger on It

In my observation, I can’t tell if I’m the victim, the prey, or the observer.

Who am I?

Who are we all?

It fucks me up when I know that the only thing I need to do in life is be me.

But who am I?

Where have I gone, what have I done, and who have I become?

It’s a crazy life, and I just can’t seem to put my finger on it.

At some point, I got really lost. At the exact same moment, I found myself. I have no idea where these two moments intersect, but I know that there is a specific moment in time, unbeknownst to me, when all of this chaos meets in a single place and becomes cordial.

It’s a place where serenity meets destiny. When “I don’t fucking care” sits down at the table with “Let’s do this.” It’s a place completely unfiltered, yet filtered to its fullest.

This place puts its best face forward. It smiles when it meets new people, shakes hands, and makes kind gestures.

This place angrily resents people it meets for their fortunes, their beautiful homes, their happy families, while simultaneously being thankful for all that it has, all that it’s come from, and all that its become.

My place, on the other hand, welcomes the inquiries from others and seeks to find solutions to their questions. I’m a people-pleaser. I love this about myself. Recently, my therapist has questioned if I should really love this quality as much as I do.

The answer? I should, and I do .

But her question made me question myself, as well it should (after all, that’s why I pay her.)

Who exactly am I supposed to be at this moment? I just can’t put my finger on it.

I see photos of friends’ kids graduating, and I think to myself, “Did I fuck up by not wanting that?”

I can’t afford myself, so, no, I can’t put a kid through college.

I see photos of my friends’ babies having their Year One bib baby pictures, and I think “Is that where I’m supposed to be?”

I can’t imagine having babies. So, no, that’s not it.

I see photos of my friends’ beautiful homes they’ve built from the ground, up, and I think, “That could be my house.”

I live in a 600 square foot shoebox. Maybe that’s it.

But I live in a happy life where a man treats me like a princess and plans his every day around my happiness. We’re not rich. We don’t have babies. We have each other.

I can’t quite put my finger on my frustration, but maybe that’s because there’s nothing to really put my finger on. Finger-pointing is blaming. What if I just have a great life, a man who loves me, and a job that needs me?

What if I’m looking for something I don’t need to make me happy? What if I can’t put my finger on it because everything I have in my everyday life is already everything I’ve asked for, regardless of titles, techniques, and tethered histories?

What if I can’t put my finger on it because it’s so obvious?

The Strength of Vulnerability

In my observation, it’s hard to be weak.

In truth, it sucks.  As people, we’re bred to think we know how to conquer the world.  We spend every night planning for the day ahead, and we spend every day, working to settle into the night.

We’re never not working.

I’m never not working.

I’m working to make money.  I’m working to better myself.  I’m working to make my family as happy and as prosperous as we can be.

I’m working to be the best person and woman I can be.

Two years ago, I met a man who changed my life.  From the moment I met him, I loved him.  Deeply.  Like nothing I’ve ever known.  This man is my family.

There are few things I don’t love about him, but among the most spectacular of characteristics is his vulnerability.

I find strength in his weakness, and he does so in mine.

I often wonder — Where would I be, had chance not given me this man who I treasure and hold so dearly?

We struggle.

Sometimes it’s hard to pay the bills.  Sometimes it’s hard to have fun with the incessant thoughts of life rustling around in the back of our heads.

I take the odd days.  He gets the evens.  Wednesdays, I’m allowed to feel down;  I give him Thursdays.

When I look at my life, and the last 34 years, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so vulnerable as every moment I feel in my home right now.  I can say, too, that I’ve never felt so strong.  As individuals, people aren’t meant to make it through this life alone.  We need to cry.  We need to suck.  And we need someone to tell us to suck it up and be better.  With a partner, two individuals can conquer the world.

My job is to be strong when my person is vulnerable.  And my job is to let him figure out how to be weak.  His job is to figure out how to be vulnerable and to wrap his arms around me when I need strength.

There’s a certain comfort in tears.  They are your own.  They were born from your own feelings, experiences, frustrations, sadness, and loneliness.  You own them.  They belong to you.  They’re part of your own mind, heart, body, and soul.

When you’re strong enough to be vulnerable, you let someone else in.  You invite the possibilities of every weakness you’re allowed to encompass, and you welcome the people in your life to bind their strengths together to create a bridge from here to there.  In the end, you’ll either find you again, or you’ll find a new you who is ready to accept the challenges and uncomfortable situations the future has to offer.

I’ve always been strong.  And the person I love is even stronger.  We’re strong in different ways, which affords us the ability to be weak differently.  We’ll never fall.  The other one is always here to grab a shovel and scoop the other one into a healthy, loving spot where we can be ourselves — whoever that person may be at the time.

Without vulnerability, no one can be strong enough to do this life.  This life can’t be done without friends who love us unconditionally and without cause or clause.

Glass Walls

In my observation, adulthood is a strange place.  

Somewhere between love and hate, turbulence and serenity, we find ourselves.  Even if the selves we find are found to still be lost from decades past, we find an understanding of this wandering, and sometimes directionless, journey. 

There’s something so perfect about being able to be honest —

When emotions cry and angers rage —

When the truth comes out, despite every bulletproof article you arm your mind, body, and soul with, are you ready to take the hit?  Will otherwise silenced words slash like a sharp knife across your flesh when they’re unleashed?  Or are you strong enough to accept the person you’ve become and the people around you at face value?

Since I’ve discovered words on paper, conversations have become much easier.  I can’t decide if this ease is attributable to the tool I use to create a voice or if it’s simply something that comes with adulthood.  

Maybe it’s timing. 

Maybe everything is timing.  

Somewhere between “fuck you” and “I can’t live without you,” we all have people who can ignite passionate emotions unlike any flames another person could ignite.

I thank timing for delivering my person to me.

When the words start flying, which side of the glass walls will you be standing on?  Stones blemish the fragile layer of protection no matter from which side they’re thrown.  One crack can cause a spiderweb of pain and complex, intricate lines, each of which takes on its own destination and intention. 

At some point, the unified shield will collapse under the pressure, and nothing but shattered shards and ruins of what once was will remain. 

That is, of course, unless those stones turn from things we throw out of frustration and become decorative accessories upon which we choose to build a foundation and reinforce our fortress.

I choose love.  I choose strength.  I choose happiness. 

The Honesty of Truth

In my observation, it’s hard to hide.  When you are the person you are meant to be… when you’ve honed yourself into the person you’re proud to present to the rest of the world…

…When you’re good…

…It’s hard to hide from the rest of the world.

I’ve spent over three decades trying to be okay with myself, and please let me tell you — the day I figured out my worth was a day worth celebrating.  Seriously, it was fucking beautiful.  Amidst doubts and troubles, tears and jeers, I found a way to go beyond accepting my me and loving my me to the fullest.

As it turns out, I’m substantially awesome.

This doesn’t make the struggle any less difficult.

In recent weeks, or as some may call them months or years, I’ve had a few conversations with myself that are not to be mistaken for blind silence.

I know.

I get it.

I understand.

Somewhere between happy and healthy, lies a finite measure of okayness.  Of beauty.  Of everything that made you not okay yesterday is fucking perfect today.

Today, you are fucking perfect.

So am I.

I have words that swirl in my head every moment of every day.  From every angle, the way I see the world is so perfectly spectacular.  Between a few tiffs, some tough moments, and times only someone who truly loves you could understand, we get by.

It’s a strange world to enter — one that welcomes your arrogance but reminds you stealthily not to be too arrogant.  My world is filled with a super supportive super hero of the beautiful kind — one who would never want anything less for me than the very best

A Letter to the Ex

In my observation, you made me who I am.

So, please allow me to thank you.

Let me get this straight, for the record, of course.

Under your rule, I wasn’t good enough. I was someone to be kept in a corner, hidden in a closet, or wrapped by so many suffocating cloaks that no one could ever find me, less they knew I existed at all.

I tend not to re-read previously written pieces — they are what they are, and what they are is how they’re supposed to be. Without reading them (which I suspect I will do in the next coming days), I know that I cheated on you because you made me feel inferior, yet I knew I was of value.

After nearly seven years of bad luck, innumerable tears, and a significant weight gain, I knew what it felt like to be as amazing I could be and still be in the worst relationship I could imagine.  Three and a half years after I sat across from you, eating my peas and carrots, I still remember how I felt when I left that metaphorical dinner table and consulted my keyboard for help.  I honestly had no idea how long it’s been since that conversation took place until right now; it resonates with me as though it was last week.

That was then.

Allow me to remind you that our official breakup took place four days shy of my two weeks’ resignation.  That was the day on which you decided to have someone who had worked for the company for two months walk me out, without notice, in front of my entire team of people.

Publicly.

You shamed me.

While you sat behind your closed office doors.

All of you.

I never said goodbye or had the opportunity to thank you.

So I will do it now.

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me how to treat people.  Because anything I can do that’s not what you did makes me a better person.

Thank you for teaching me the industry.  Because without you, I wouldn’t have you on my resume, and I wouldn’t have been found by another of your exes.

Thank you for the professional PTSD.  Because since my time with you, I have learned to acknowledge the flags, and walk away quickly.  Unfortunately, you’re more common than you are rare.

Thank you for empowering me with the understanding that, even when I’m being spit and shit on, kicked and punched, covered and suffocated, I am still wonderful.

And you’re welcome.

You’re welcome for all that I gave you for all of those years.

You’re welcome for my phenomenal resistance to your hateful nature and my constant strive to want to be a better person, despite your hideous downfalls.

You’re welcome for taking everything that you’ve taught me, mostly through opposition and the desire to be nothing like you.

You’re welcome for accepting a position with a company that will fight for the people you fuck over on a daily basis.

In my observation, you. are. welcome.

Self-Esteemons

In my observation, they’re worse than bed bugs, mosquitoes, and spiders.

Those self-esteemons.

Those demons of self-esteems.

Those haters of confidence and eaters of all things comfortable.

Those deniers and dwellers, those criers and past lovers, those things you wish you could do better, and those things you wish you hadn’t done at all.

And those things you wish you could do a million more times over.

All in the same “emon”.

Those self-esteemons.

Those demons.

If you only understood how beautiful you are.

How amazing.
How frustrating.
How perfect.
How stubborn.
How wonderful.
How irritating.
How incredible.

How incomparably much I love you.

Your consideration is immense. You put me before yourself — before anyone. You love me.

It’s so nice to be loved.

I cannot understand how I can be so lovable, and yet, I am so incredibly undesirable.

It’s those self-esteemons.

They’re not pets; they’re pests. They creep into my life, stowing themselves away on a piece of luggage or an old pair of shoes. Finding their way from the floor to my heart and wandering into my soul without invitation.

They’re an infestation, those self-esteemons.

I struggle.

I struggle with the fact that I am loved and protected so fiercely that I know you and I will always be fine.

And yet, I am nothing.

But I am incredible.

I am finally at a place where I love me.
Where I appreciate me.
Where I am grateful everyday that I am me, and I wish others could experience the kindness that is me.

But still, I am infested.

I am infested with these self-esteemons, who, after nearly a year, cannot let go of the fact that I am undesirable. They aren’t willing to unlatch their clutches and let me go. They’re not willing to allow the beautiful person I see in the mirror be touched again.

Because I do not know why.

I don’t know why I’m not good enough.

I don’t know if I’m not pretty enough. Thin enough. Smart enough. Funny enough. Naive enough. Bitch enough.

I just don’t know.

Those fucking self-esteemons.

Those demons.

I have the most beautiful, amazing best friend I could ask for. You protect my feelings like I am a princess, and my heart lives in a fort within our castle.

I have the most wonderful guardian. You want the best for me and nothing less.

I live in turbulence because when you ask me if I will have company tonight, I want to cry.

I do not want company. I already have the company that I want.

I do not want to be touched by another. Because your touch was the last I had, and it’s the last I want.

And it’s been a day less than eternity since I’ve been touched.

So, please — do not ask me if I will have company.

I would love to have the company of you tonight, as I would love to every night, but I will not have the “company” of any man tonight — or any night in the foreseeable future.

Because I am infested

With self-esteemons.

And I would, at this point, not understand who I am without them.