Cars, music, and broken abandoned things

I was in a discussion recently with a great friend (whom I’ve yet to meet in person) who lives in Detroit. She’s an amazing artist and photographer, and through her, I’ve come to appreciate the forgotten city. When people think of Detroit, it’s often in relation to the breakdown of the automotive industry and the horrible recession/depression that destroyed so many livelihoods so quickly. I jokingly commented that I relate to Detroit, because the three things the city is known best for is cars, music, and broken abandoned things. I have a deep and abiding love of cars, music runs through my soul, and anyone who has read any of my past posts knows that I am a broken abandoned thing.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken places.” I’ve not had the easiest life, but I know others who have had it much worse than me. I grew up with the knowledge that I would only ever be second best, behind my sister. It didn’t matter how well I did, how smart I was, how much I tried. I would never be the golden child. That was the first crack. I started dating and discovered that I am drawn to abusive men, either physically or mentally. More cracks. I’ve never been good enough, and because of this, I get cast to the wayside. I am a broken abandoned thing. I’m still waiting to find out if I’m stronger at the broken parts.

Here’s the irony: broken abandoned things can be beautiful. Looking at photographs of abandoned factories in Detroit, I see all the years of history and feel the pulsating energy that once filled those buildings. I don’t see rubble, I see memories. I try to look objectively at my life and see the beauty, and that’s a lot harder. Some breaks can’t be fixed. How do you get over hearing “you’re worthless” and “you’ll never be good enough” continuously without it slowly eating away at your soul?

My answer is a little 10 pound charcoal tabby and white cat affectionately known as Tiggy. He’s also a broken and abandoned thing. He was handed to me through a car window, and the woman (girl, really) who handed him to me promptly drove off, leaving a very scared cat in my arms. I took him home because I was still devastated by the loss of my previous cat Moo. Three days after bringing him home, he started peeing outside the litter box. That’s a common sign of a urinary tract infection, so I rushed him to the vet and it was confirmed. She also told me that during her scans, she discovered that he had a history of untreated urinary tract infections and that his bladder, kidneys, and urethra were terribly scarred and that he would be an expensive cat to keep because of these medical problems. She also told me that he had fractured ribs (and I recently discovered that he also had broken vertebrae in his back which have since fused and cause him to hunch over when he sits). At that point, he was literally a broken and abandoned thing.

I had a gaping wound in my heart from the loss of my Moo, so I told the vet that he was my cat, he needs me, and I would do whatever it takes to make things right for him. Thankfully, a proper diet has solved his UTI problems, his ribs healed on their own, and he loves me unconditionally. He’s no longer broken, and he’s definitely not abandoned, but that’s because the universe set out to put him in my path at the time I needed him most, and he needed me most.

I don’t think I’ll ever get past the feeling of being broken and abandoned. Too many harsh words, too many physical wounds, too many people walking out on me when I needed them most. Until then, I listen to a playlist of musicians who make me happy and I seek out cars that lift my soul. I try to remember that breaks can be repaired, but those repairs will always be imperfect. I try to accept that I am me, and to shut out those people who don’t like me or want to change me.

I look forward to finding happiness again someday. Lately, that’s been difficult. I disappeared from writing for a long while because my life had become so painful that metaphorically slashing my wrists to let the poison run out was too much to bear. The past month has been a roller coaster of emotions. The ascent so high I felt like I was flying, only to be followed by the let down that reminded me that I am a broken and abandoned thing who doesn’t deserve happiness. My depression is lying to me again. I do deserve happiness, I just need to remember that it comes from myself, not from anyone else. I’m sorting through a lot of emotions and dilemmas right now, and flowing words are how I function best. There will probably be many posts over the coming days, weeks, months, even possibly years. Many of those posts will conflict with each other as I argue with myself, and many will probably be repetitive. I apologize in advance if you’ve gotten this far.

Thing(s) that I am grateful for today: Driving around in a light drizzle with the top down and Matt Nathanson blasting on the radio. The soft, extra fluffy white belly that my cat loves to have rubbed. Dark chocolate M&Ms.

Words of a parent

My parents and I have never had the best relationships. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me to find out that my father and I have gone on years’ long periods of not communicating with each other. In many ways, I think our problem is that we’re too much alike. As I approach 40, I find that I’m mending fences and letting go of old hurts. That’s not to say that my relationship with my father is great now, but we’re slowly getting to “good.”

Throughout my childhood, it was very evident that my older sister was the favorite. She had free reign to do as she liked, and our father frequently bankrolled her. He did things for her that he later refused to do for me. I could write an entire blog entry on all the things I missed out on that my sister got to enjoy, but I’m learning to let go and release that anger. I can’t change the past, all I can do is learn from it. The funny thing is, when my mom and I were discussing this, she admitted that my sister was treated differently than I was. She called my sister “the experiment” and my upbringing was a direct result of what they learned from how they treated my sister. That’s not to say that it was fair, but it did explain a lot to me.

Another thing my mom recently told me was that she was a horrible mother. I don’t think she was, but I don’t have another mother to compare her to, so I don’t know. She admitted that after she and our father divorced, she gave up cooking and left my sister and me to essentially raise ourselves while she put herself through law school and worked full-time. She stated that she thought it was amazing that we turned out as well as we did, mistakes and all. Then she brought up an article that she had read in a magazine from a mother’s day issue where women talked about the things they learned from their mothers. Mom asked me what I thought I learned from her. I told her that I learned that I can be independent and to follow my heart, even when it leads me down the wrong path. There are so many things I wish my mother had taught me. I wish she had taught me how to balance a checkbook and learn to live within a budget, so that I didn’t accrue so much debt. I wish she had taught me about relationships. She and I have never discussed any of the boys (and later men) that I dated, and never held me or talked to me through those painful high school breakups. She never talked to me about sex, and in return, I never talked to her about being raped and later beaten. We didn’t talk about serious things. We still don’t talk about serious things very well.

I wonder sometimes if my son thinks I’m a horrible mother. After all, I’m never around. I don’t call nearly enough or visit hardly at all. I try to inquire about what’s going on in his life, but I get the normal teenage answers of “nothing’s going on.” I think of the things that I want my son to know, so that he grows up to be a better person than I am. I want my son to feel like he can come to me for anything and I will give him honest answers, even when those answers are painful.

I am perfectly imperfect

As a single woman, I have a deep loathing for St Valentine’s Day. I prefer to think of it as my late Uncle Ronnie’s birthday and then treat it as any other normal day.

Remember back in elementary school, when we had to give a Valentine’s Day card to every other kid in the class, whether you liked them (as a person) or not? I’m pretty sure that 6th grade was the last time I received a Valentine’s Day card. It shouldn’t matter, since it’s a Hallmark holiday and not really celebrating anything except to divide those who have someone in their life with the rest of us.

I’ve been told that I’m pretty, I’ve been told that I’m smart, I’ve been told that I’m kind and thoughtful and fun to be around, and then I get stuffed into what is so commonly known as “the friendzone.” I’m not dating material. I have more medical problems than some nursing homes. I prefer the company of my cat to that of most people. My ideal “night out” is being at home with a good book these days, since I can’t actually go out and do anything right now.

The strange thing is, I’m okay with that. Relationships tend to end badly for me, in either one of two ways: violence or apathy. Thankfully, it’s usually apathy. I’m an easy girlfriend to lose interest in, because I am  who I say I am. I don’t try to impress people with pretending to be interested in things that I’m not, and I’m not afraid to call bullshit on someone who is trying to impress me when they don’t know what they’re talking about. I know I’m generalizing here, but men aren’t interested in finding a woman who is exactly what they’re looking for. No matter what they say or think, they always want to fix whatever they think is broken about you, or change you to better fit whatever “ideal” mold they have designed in their mind.

I’ve discovered it’s easier to just not get involved with anyone. I like who I am, most of the time. I’m weird, I’m eclectic, I enjoy having crazy colored hair, I think a good book is better company than most people (especially those who watch any sort of “reality” TV), I get a stupid grin on my face every time I see my car because it reminds me that I can be me instead of who I’m expected to be. I’m not perfect, but I’m perfectly me. I like me.

On love and family

I wasn’t planning on writing tonight, because my pain level is through the roof, but then I decided that maybe if I got some of my tangled thoughts out of my head, it might help me sleep. This is going to be a very personal post, because I’m feeling stripped down to my most basic feelings right now. There is a very special person in my world, whom I have known for most of my life, and who I have been madly in love with for many years. The problem is that I know that he doesn’t love me, not the same way. We have our moments where everything works out wonderfully for a short period of time, and then it breaks down again. I know that he and I will never have a successful relationship, but I still can’t completely pull myself away from him. I know that’s a toxic situation, but I had a toxic upbringing, so I guess that’s “normal” for me.

I was the unwanted child. I was the afterthought. My older sister did her best to kill me when I was a child. Back in the 70s, it was considered cute, not dangerous, when an older sibling would shove a younger sibling down a flight of concrete stairs. Repeatedly. My father doted on my sister (and still does, I imagine) but simply put up with me. I remember, after my parents divorced, every Friday night, my father would get dressed up and go out places. Presumably looking for women. I hated being alone in the house, so I taught myself to bake, because if I was busy, I didn’t think about being alone in the house when I was 10 years old. The good thing is that I am now a fantastic baker. The bad thing is that life with my father has screwed me up as far as relationships go. I have spent most of my life dating men that I knew would either reject me, abuse me, or otherwise not be available to me. I have been punched, I have been beaten, I have been thrown into walls, I have been told repeatedly that I am not worthy of love. And so, I go on chasing what I can’t have, or what I know will cause me pain. Physical pain heals so much easier than mental pain. Bruises fade within a week or two. The emotional scars from my childhood are still there nearly 40 years later.

I don’t know how to love. I don’t know what it feels like to be loved. I have friends who love me, but that’s a different kind of love. I have never been the most important person in anyone’s life except for perhaps the first two years of my son’s life when he depended on me for everything. My son is in 6th grade now, and nearly as tall as me. I realized today that he has told me he loves me more than both of my parents put together. Maybe it’s just an automatic sign off when we get off the phone, but it still touches me. The only other family member who always made it a point to say “I love you” was my stepdad. That’s right. The one who married into my family could tell me that he loved me, but my own parents couldn’t express it. Not that I am ungrateful to my parents. After all, without them, I wouldn’t be here. Then again, I’m pretty messed up medically, so maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.

I keep telling myself to just keep on being me, and maybe someday I’ll find that “perfect” person out there that is supposedly waiting for me. Unfortunately, I don’t believe in perfect, and I don’t see myself ever finding anyone who can see past the physical problems and the mental problems, and deciding it’s worth it. There are a lot more women out there who have less baggage, and require less effort. I know that deep down in the reptilian core of my mind, I’m searching for the unconditional love that I sought from my father, who was an expert at throwing rejection back in my face and telling me everything in life I have done wrong, and probably will do wrong. If I thought I’d live long enough, I’d joke about becoming the crazy old cat lady, but instead, I worry about who is going to care for my cat when I’m gone.

For those who know me, yeah, the pain is excruciating today. Worse than normal. I tell myself that it’s just pain, and to go on, but sometimes, I just wish I had someone who loved me enough to hold me and lie to me to tell me that everything will be okay.

Time for a little levity

I know that my past few posts have been rather serious, and perhaps even depressing to some people, and that’s not my intention. I write about the things that are relevant in my life, and maybe it means something to someone else, and maybe it’s just drivel. For me, it’s a way of organizing my thoughts and blowing off steam. Today though, I thought I’d share a little bit of insight as to why I am single, and have given up on ever having a serious, long-term relationship. No names will be provided, nor will there be dates, so the men in question can remain happily anonymous (and/or oblivious). We call this “I knew [the relationship] was over when…” And yes, every single item below is absolutely true. I knew it was over when:

  • He told me that he couldn’t see me next weekend, because he was going to be in a wedding that weekend. His own.
  • He broke up with me because spending time with me was keeping him away from hanging out with his friends
  • I came home from work sick, and found him in bed with my then-best friend
  • He told me that he could tell that I was becoming an alcoholic because I went out and had a glass of wine with friends after work
  • (the ugly one here) He shoved me into a wall and told me that I was a waste of space
  • He went off to college in another state, without letting me know until he was moved into his new dorm
  • He decided that he would rather get shot at as a government contractor in Kuwait than be with me
  • He called me from jail and asked if I could bail him out. And also his girlfriend. After they were arrested for having sex in public.
  • He started talking to me in babytalk
  • He told me that if I really loved him, I’d get rid of my cat
  • He lied to me about graduating high school

I could go on, but I’ll cut it short for now. The funny thing (to me) is that I warn men up-front that I am very difficult to deal with.  I’m pretty darn close to being a Type A personality (or whatever the current terminology is) and I have extremely high standards as far as basic cleanliness and manners and, well, honesty. I don’t think I’m unreasonable to expect that if you make a huge mess in my kitchen, that you wash the dishes, or at least stack them in the dishwasher. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to wipe down the counters when something sticky gets spilled on them. I just want to be treated with respect.