Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THE THERAPISTS COUCH: MY HISTORY WITH WOMEN


Welcome to another episode of Jo gone wrong.

I sure am bored of these re-runs.

So, in order to learn to change the channel, I see my therapist once every two weeks.

Poor guy doesn't know what hit him.

Last session he asked what I'm doing for myself and I told him that I did recently renew my subscription to Pogo.com: an on-line gaming site: $40.00 for a year of entertainment.

That counts, yeah?

*Side note: if any of you are Pogo subscribers, my screen name is ejcbtheshamrock4 and you can typically find me playing 'Lottso!' on any given day.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.

Last year when Ed and I didn't know where our next meal would come from or how we would pay our mounting bills with his wages being garnished while we were in the middle of filing bankruptcy (Phew! That's a mouthful!), my Pogo subscription ran out and I made the wise choice to not renew.

$40.00, as most of you will concur, is gold when you're flat broke.

There's a line from a good movie with Kathy Bates called; 'A Home Of Our Own' where the narrator says, while window shopping at Christmas: "When you're really poor, everything you see is something you can't have."

I get that.

As I've said before and will likely say again, I learned -- and know -- that there's a big difference between what we want compared to what we need.

During that terrible time in our life last year, I was grateful to have a roof over our heads, a few eggs, peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of bread.

I didn't go shopping regularly to buy meals, I made what was available, which sometimes wasn't much.

Being a vegan, that task was made even more trying for myself.

Usually hot dog sandwiches for Ed (even hot dog buns were a luxury so we used bread), 'Top Ramen' and lots of rice and cabbage. But believe it or not, we were thankful, mostly because I know there are many good people out there like ourselves who were going through the same things -- and some not so lucky compounded with little mouths to feed.

So, during that time once my Pogo subscription ran out, I got on this little free networking site called 'Facebook'.

As I've said previously, that time in my life was lonely and brutal and I was looking for a connection as well as a way to pass my time: I found on there long lost co-workers, old 'friends', nieces and nephews, etc.

I reached out to fill a void in my life only to find out that the position was already filled in theirs.

They already apparently had that archetype of the red-headed zany Aunt, friend, etc. and when I would check in daily, I would see pictures of their family bar-b-ques, pedicures, ladies luncheons and girls night out -- complete with empty wine glasses and big smiles.

This went on and on as I would receive little to no feedback: I would send 'Flair', wish people good days, ask them how their weekends were, comment on pictures, etc.

Call it 'the green-eyed monster', envy, jealousy...whatever euphemism you may have for it, all I know is that for me it started becoming hurtful to see and yearn for a life that didn't include me, a life I desperately wanted filled with friends, family, support and giggles -- a life I didn't have.

I found that I was reaching out but wasn't being reached out to.

It just seemed to make me feel worse. Finally B says; 'It's simple, Mom. Get off of there -- it's bad for you. Period.'

And he was right.

My desperation for a connection was breaking up and in return I only got static.

Okay, this isn't working. So, I left 'Facebook' and it's unhealthy for me toxins behind (I'm only speaking for myself) and began blogging my bankruptcy on 'Blogspot'.

I don't work outside of the home (hell, I hardly work in it-ha!) nor do I live in a community where we know our neighbors or where I have lifelong friends. I've, naturally, had women friends in my life here and there over the course of my many years, but people have consistently disappointed me (and I've no doubt disappointed many) and sometimes they've simply moved -- and time and they inevitably moved on without us.

It happens and perhaps I'm equally to blame.

I've lived here almost 18 years and I can count on one finger the friends I made, and that was only recently. Don't misunderstand, one is all we need and I'm grateful to her.

::Waves hi to Nikki (also lovingly referred to as 'crazy ass woman')::

Before Nikki, there was no one but myself, Ed, B and his friends.

So, my therapist asked me on Friday about my friendships....

Um, yeah...about that.

He asked my history with friends, particularly female ones.

I had to go back.

I had to explain that I simply don't trust people easily -- not to be a trader to my gender but I especially don't trust women.

Back in Junior high school in Paramount, CA. I had a friend named Tammy Bailey (yes, I am using her real name -- f*** it and her): we had sleepovers and listened to records. She was a little wild and seemed to accept this gawky, unpopular, weird girl who had bad skin and non-trendy clothes (nor much of a sense of style) as her friend.

She borrowed a ton of my records and in return she told some girls who didn't like me (one of which was her friend) which way I walk home every day -- and I got jumped.

She was there not only not helping me, but encouraging them.

That was a long walk home by myself bloody and battered.

That was the end of my friendship with Tammy -- and my record collection.

Although her betrayal was quite intentional and hurtful, I do also realize that people change -- we grow and we evolve.

I can only hope that Tammy has and that she thinks of me with regret, as I certainly do for all of my monumental mistakes and hurts I've caused others.

During this same time period I was sitting in the middle of the court yard at school eating my sack lunch and literally minding my own business (I tried to blend in and not draw attention to myself) when some girl I didn't know came over with a crowd of people and dared someone for her to slap me in the face; of course, someone did and I was not only slapped, but also humiliated.

Fast forward to 20 years later when my own daughter was brutalized and picked on in junior high and high school and I suppose it's no wonder.

The look of horror on my therapists face as I sat there reminiscing and crying gave away his usually objective demeanor.

I know what you must be thinking: Sheesh, everything but the mean yard dog chasing me down and nipping at my heels.

Pityful or not, I wish to God this story wasn't true.

Shortly after that, I moved to Colorado to live with my Dad and step-Mom and made a few friends there (a fresh start, if you will) and to this day I consider myself blessed by Sue, who lives in Maine but whom I haven't seen in almost 20 years but with whom I'm also still in touch by phone or letter when life doesn't get the best of us.

I moved back to California after I went a little wild in Colorado and my Mom had an accident. I got a job when I was sixteen at 'Taco Bell' where I worked during the day and went to night school to get my diploma so I didn't have to re-visit my junior high school nightmare.

Prior to getting my first job and after moving back, I swallowed a bunch of pills and tried to end my life.

It obviously didn't work.

There at 'Taco Bell', I met 'D' and we became best friends where we remained so for seven years. I saw her enter a healthy relationship with her now husband, who also worked there. I watched them go to prom and was there when she graduated from private school.

She, in the meantime, watched my downward spiral and by the time I was a single parent with a one and a half year old at the age of 21 and now in a relationship with her cousin, she had enough and I was kicked out of her home (where I lived with her and her parents while I worked and struggled as a single Mom with no child support or Welfare) and kicked out of her life.

I don't blame her -- not one bit. I self-destructed one too many times and my getting involved with her cousin was the final straw.

I ended up marrying her cousin, a great guy named Ed -- and I'm thankful that through all our ups and downs, we are still married.

'D' was there for our wedding but I wasn't invited to hers.

I wish she knew me now (we've had no contact and I haven't seen her in 20 years), not that I'm such a great catch I suppose but I do know now how to be a woman, how to be responsible, how to be a good person and how to nurture those around me.

I know what it takes to be a friend and what it takes to not.

I've been on both sides and I admit, I push people away. Especially women.

My mission, should I chose to accept it from my therapist, is to go out there and make new friends. Female ones especially.

Yikes, he's asking a lot.

I cried: 'But I have YOU....'

He wasn't buying it.

I've been hurt and let down -- and have done some of that myself.

Not sure how to go about this or if I'm even ready for that big leap of faith but...I'll give it a whirl when and if I think I am.

In the meantime, nurture those in your life. Be grateful. Be thankful. Be understanding. Be non-judgmental. Be compassionate.

Be a friend.

Peace, serenity and friendship,
~Jo

6 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

In the meantime, nurture those in your life. Be grateful. Be thankful. Be understanding. Be non-judgmental. Be compassionate.
That says it all doesnt it....luv yas friend;)

Together We Save said...
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Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brooklyn Book Lover said...

WOW. I have been through the bully situation in elementary and junior high. I was constantly picked on because I was heavy. I am glad those days are behind me. I feel the same way as you do about facebook. All those happy faces smiling back at me. They make their lives seem so perfect. I looked up a few of the schoolyard bullies and was disappointed to see that they looked happy too! :-( Isn't that terrible of me? I should just get over it by now!

I can also relate to the financial/food situation. Just last night I made hotdog stew for my family - hotdogs, baked beans, a few frozen veggies thrown in (trying to convince myself that this is a healthy meal), over a bed of rice. Me being a vegetarian, I ate the rice.

So, do blogging friends count? If so, you can tell your therapist that you have one in Brooklyn! :-)

Donna said...

Stopping by from SITS to say hello. You have had a tough time, no? Here's hoping it all starts looking up soon.

abitofsouthernstyle said...

As I read this post, I felt like I was reading about bits and pieces of my life. I was not bullied as a kid growing up, but have certainly found my share of bullies in my adult life! I hear ya on the friendships thing. I have a FB account, mainly to keep up with my kids, but like you, though I make a point of stopping in to say hello to "friends", rarely does anyone return the kindness. It can be emotionally crushing at times. Hugs girl~Mitzi