I’ll Be Stronger

Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m lying next to my boyfriend while he sleeps. I requested two days off for our anniversary, but I was somehow lucky enough to receive four straight days off. It’s peaceful, and the only sound is the air conditioner he seemingly can’t sleep without. Fortunately, he also has blankets.

I keep thinking “I could get used to this”. I imagine times like these as a preview of what our life would be like if we lived together. Of course, I won’t overstay my welcome and I am leaving tomorrow evening. Four days off just isn’t a daily opportunity. I wanted to use it wisely, and he agreed.

However, while I’m quietly playing on my phone to let him nap, I keep thinking about how things could’ve been so different. I think about how I’m trying to pave a path for my life. I remember when I was so afraid of adulthood, yet it gets better with each passing year.

What if I listened to my family, the people who want nothing more than for me to be blindly compliant and stay locked in a gilded cage? What if I followed in my mother’s footsteps, and had a child at 21 or 22? What if I gave in to the worst years of my life and cut my life off before I reached 20?

The truth is it’s an alternate reality that terrifies me. I really don’t know why since it’s clearly not my reality, but it’s what I’d make a horror novel out of.

Writing posts like these makes me feel like a braggart, but since it’s only recently I’ve genuinely been happy with my life, I’d rather write my positive emotions than endlessly complain. My family set the bar low, and once I was out of the childhood safety of fantasy, I never believed I could do any better. Now, I know I can. It’s not going in a standard fashion. I’ve definitely made some mistakes and it will take a while for me to really get where I’m aiming. But I can do it, and I’m not going to be like my family.

I’m unsure if this is a way of saying I am better than them. I don’t believe I am better. I believe I can do better. Although, I do believe I’m better than a lifelong cheating, abusive when drunk, self-centered alcoholic, but I imagine most people would think they’re better than that.

“Ex” Them Out

Something I subconsciously do on occasion is compare my relationship with my boyfriend to my “exes”.

I don’t like to refer to them as that because none of them were real relationships, but it’s the simplest to say. I say I subconsciously compare because these thoughts, like several, are random and usually pop up late at night when I can’t sleep for one reason or another.

At the time, I felt like I wouldn’t move on, that I’d keep wondering “what if”, that I’d never get anything better out of dating. You get the idea. Now, I genuinely feel like it doesn’t matter at all they once crossed my path and, to an extent, it feels like I never did meet them. On top of that, I feel like I would’ve been miserable if any of them had lasted.

The best example I can give is the one who came right before my boyfriend. To sum it up, even if he didn’t make me miserable, his lifestyle would have. Long story short, his time schedule was so constantly full, in the year we spoke to each other, we never once met in person. Going by what he told me, his life was full of business, constant travel, a lot of people, and very little down time. Nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but I hate traveling and I am not a people person. I’d only be going along with it because I’d have nothing better to do and didn’t want to be alone constantly. There’s no way I’d be happy.

In somewhat of an inverse, I’m the busy one while my boyfriend is often free, but I still make time when I can. Really says something that we live in different states, and can still manage to see each other every week or every other week, but that’s besides the point (my ex lived in the next county over!). I am a lot happier with him than I was with my ex, and he’s told me more than once he’s happy to be my girlfriend.

The other exes either only wanted sex and no real relationship, never made it off the dating website, and in one case, wanted kids later on.

I used to think of my exes as stepping stones I just had to take to get to my boyfriend, but now, I don’t even feel like that. If someone asked, the truest thing I could probably say is I dated around, found my boyfriend, and that’s it. Maybe it’s somewhat cold to say, but it does feel like they never existed to me, or never entered my life. That’s probably the very best way to feel about exes.

If my boyfriend ever becomes an ex, which I hope to high heaven never happens, he’ll probably be the one I consider “got away”. Unlike the others, I would’ve actually had something meaningful with him, and thus, a reason to really be heartbroken about. Of course, simply wanting a long relationship isn’t a good reason to keep it going if it’s failing, so letting go would be for the best. But in a way, I still feel like we’re in the “honeymoon phase” (how long do people say that lasts?). Early this morning, when we were discussing these thoughts I have, I told him, “Half my soul would die without you.” Dramatic? Maybe. True? Yes.

When I lost the first ex, my heart was broken for a week. When I lost the others, I was sad for a day. If I lose my boyfriend? That’s a pain I only want to know in my nightmares. And not even then.

In truth, I shouldn’t make these comparisons to begin with and I feel upset with myself that I do. My exes aren’t bad people. They just had ways of living that didn’t work well with me, and vice versa. This isn’t a rant about how evil my exes were because they weren’t. But I’m happy and very relieved they’re little more than distant memories. I don’t care about “what could’ve been”. I care that I have a loving boyfriend, and I’m happy now.

He’s also the reason I now believe in this quote. ❤

Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mothet was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!

A Different Perspective

For the most part, I like going to work. Maybe not the actual “work” part of it (who does?) because it is tedious, but I like being around my co-workers and getting out of the house every once in a while. They’ve been slowly increasing my hours, and I think they did it well. They started me off with 10 hours a week. Then, they gradually increased it until it was 19 hours for a while. Now, I’ve been working over 20 hours per week as of late. Granted, in one case, that was due to being called in because another person called out and I accepted, but besides that, the hours have been scheduled for me.

However, there’s one particular thing at my job I really appreciate.

I’ve talked about my family plenty of times on this blog. Sometimes, it’s been positive, but most of the time, it hasn’t. Most of my family members are very judgmental people who make me feel like I live in an eternal high school. They criticize the tiniest things, and I don’t mean only myself. It goes without saying I’ve struggled with my self-esteem most, if not all, of my life. I don’t believe I had any esteem until my late teen years, and while that was partially due to over a decade of school bullying, my family was worse than any bully ever was.

At my job, it’s the total opposite. Not only is there no judgment, but much of the time, I’m discouraged from being hard on myself. I’m told to relax and go slowly. I feel guilty and incompetent when I make mistakes, but instead of being yelled at or criticized, I’m simply told it happens and to be a little more careful. If I need help, I get it without hesitation. I had a customer get angry with me because I didn’t know the answer to a question. One of my co-workers told me not to be bothered by it.

It’s not only the other cashiers who do this. The supervisors are the same. One supervisor outright told me to my face, “You’re human. You’ll make mistakes.” He then proceeded to tell me about much worse mistakes previous cashiers have made, that, in my opinion, sounded like there was no way they could’ve been mistakes. This same supervisor had previously told me about customers attempting to return items that belonged to other stores not of the company’s.

I love the lax attitude and it really does help me feel good about how I perform at my job. At the same time, it feels so strange. I’m so used to being criticized for something as small as the color of my headband, it feels odd to not be told off for mistakes I do make. The person at my job who kicks myself most for screwing up is me. Staying calm about it is easier said than done.

I do try to learn from my mistakes and figure out something that’ll prevent it next time. Most of my mistakes, ironically, are a result of me working too fast because I feel self-conscious and like the customer feels impatient when I work slowly. To be fully honest, I’m surprised I’m even capable of holding down this job. Being a cashier is by no means the most difficult job on Earth, but as someone who’d never held a job before, it was nerve-wracking to me. Of course, now, it’s another part of my weekly routine. I feel like I’m going to miss it when the seasonal period is over. Or, more specifically, I’ll miss my co-workers.

A Promise Isn’t A Promise

These days, it seems my avoidance of drinking alcohol, smoking, or using other drugs is less because of the promise I made to myself and more because I lack access to these things.

From observing my grandfather, it seems being an addict is a free pass to take money from everyone else after blowing all your own. You don’t have to concern yourself with their possible needs because you need their money more than them for your needs. If they temporarily have to go without, it doesn’t matter because you’re not going without. All while being in denial or not realizing you’re an addict.

I can’t say being an addict doesn’t look appealing when I judge by that view. There seems to be little unappealing about it. On top of that, the urge to start is getting stronger with each passing day.

I left home without bathing or eating this morning. Not eating breakfast isn’t unusual for me since I haven’t eaten breakfast regularly since I was 17, but not bathing is. I’ve never been frustrated to the point of not bathing, so it’s a first. All I did was put in deodorant. What’s more surprising is I really don’t care.

Yesterday, I had a dream about driving off a bridge and I feel like that’s my brain trying to tell me something I really don’t want to admit, but might be necessary. Unfortunately, my own cowardice prevents that, as it always has when I first began feeling that way several years ago, so it’ll never be reality unless it’s done by someone else’s hand. Truthfully, I feel like all of this is my fault for ever expecting my efforts to lead me anywhere and wasting my time with trying. I’d think the first decade of my life alone would mean I know better than to expect things to get better, but apparently not. To quote a character of an anime I recently watched: I was stupid. So stupid.

I may not keep that promise. It seems to be pointless. I turn to comfort food when I feel so badly, but that hasn’t been helping like it used to. Perhaps alcohol or nicotine or whatever else there is would be the better alternative. It’s certainly better than selling myself on the street, which I’ve also considered doing out of desperation. Really, I best not get into the things I’ve felt desperate enough to consider for money until I manage to find steady paid work (yes, I’m still looking, for some reason even I fail to understand).

At this point, I’m wondering how much longer I can refuse the desperation or the urges to intoxicate myself. How much longer until I finally decide it’s not worth it and break that promise?