Please indulge me as I go off the rails for a bit and vent the emotions I am having or I won’t be able to concentrate on my purpose, with my partner Rachel, directly having a positive impact on the state of foster care and the safety of children. Something is happening in my personal life that is pushing all of the old buttons that store the old tapes. It may seem silly and I already know I am over sensitive. But it’s a good parable for the creation of the sore spots kids in foster and kids, even grown ones, who’s parents die by suicide experience.
We all have a deep need to feel included. Some are so jaded they show it by pushing people away so they make them go before they could leave. Self-sabatoge. Some can’t help but act needy, becoming co-dependant on any relationships they develop with friends and lovers. Suffocating. Some try to have a mature, transparent dialogue with those they care about enough to let in. Sane, balanced approach to a daily hurdle. Feeling unwanted on a deep, subconscious level and not wanting to be hurt that way again. I get lonely very easily.
It took me years but I finally reached the last description. I understand who I am and have learned to take the needs of others as importantly as my own. To this end, I have been what we called building a friendship with a woman in my community. We have known who each other was but it wasn’t until about six months ago that we really started hanging out and talking instead of chatting. We shared things from our childhoods, things about our marriages and children, our common goal of wanting to see my project succeed. She even had me over her place which she doesn’t usually do. Housekeeping is not one of her priorities and around here, appearances matter. Well, they matter to some more than others.
So almost all summer long, she cancelled plans at the last minute. I’m very understanding about the spontaneous nature of existence and roll with it. I had plans with her to get together before I went to Jersey to shoot One Simple Wish that were blown off with no acknowledgement of how much it meant to me. I was blown off in person too. I go walking(or I did I just broke a toe badly)in the early evening to beat the heat. I’ve seen her out with one or two other women. Not only was I not invited to join them, I was actively ignored. And please understand, if I am out walking or whatever, I am easily recognizable. Tie-dye Sketchers, red hair down to my lower back, big shades…you get the picture.
Finally I pin her to a date and we go to lunch and school shopping. Her 50th birthday was coming up and I knew that people were planning something for her, but I wasn’t sure who or when. I told her this and rather than give me peoples contact info, she said she would tell them and have them get in touch with me. I explained it really was important to me to be there for this big occasion. I was excited for that and my big occasion of the one year anniversary of our major donation to KINDRED falling on my mother’s birthday. That’s huge to me, and conflicting since I miss her so much. But I’m trying to focus on the love and celebrate both my mom and my company’s good fortune. So we made a separate date to just go out together and celebrate all of it sometime late in the month.
A few days later, I’m scrolling along FB and see a picture of her and a group of women, most of which I knew as well, out celebrating the big birthday. I got a massive wave of nausea and my first impulse was to be hurt I was left out, seemingly on purpose. But I sucked it up, reminded myself that I’m not nine and getting upset I wasn’t invited to a birthday party was pretty silly. I have no idea who planned what so being upset and taking it personally was pointless.
I waited for my friend to reach out, knowing the whole conversation we just had and how honest I was about the importance of this anniversary to me. She didn’t so I reached out to her. I had spoken to a friend who is an Uber driver about getting a deal on a designated driver and everything. I didn’t mention the party, I just texted to ask what day she wanted to go out and do our celebration thing. She responded by texting how kind it was to think of her but she went out of town for the weekend so we better shelf our plans to go out.
That hurt. I trust so few people and was plainly surprised at her tone, like I was some casual acquaintance and our plans were only about her. It really did a job on me. Nobody is perfect but she expelled the same distain for this kind of mean girls behavior. My mother’s birthday, as I wrote, is rough even after all my progress and must be agony to those who cannot work through it as well. The point is you would expect someone who lost their parents to suicide to be vulnerable around their birthdays and holidays. I know I am.
It’s challenging to be at the helm of this project. It’s intense and scary and sometimes I want to bail out, but I can’t. Like adopting a child, adopting this cause is for life. Never have I claimed to be Mother Theresa or not have a past, but I am a good person with the courage to face these demons who wake up my demons because I am needed. I walk my talk. So why am I the one ostracized? What is the misperception that is causing the people around me who should be cheering us on to ignore me or worse.
At this point, the one thing I was invited to, a baby shower for the daughter of one of the women from the birthday party, I didn’t attend. I texted the guest of honor, now mommy to a healthy baby boy, and apologized. I said I wasn’t feeling well. It was the truth. I was so hurt and angry and disappointed it made me sick and I didn’t need to bring that to a celebration for a baby. I’m not that selfish. When my blood is up along with my hormones; I can easily slip and use my favorite weapon with the stealth of a ninja and cause irreparable damage. Words last forever if you use them properly. I wasn’t willing to risk it.
Now I am left with a hurt feeling and a quandary as to how to proceed. As I said, I broke my left toe and fractured it into my foot. This is almost identical to the injury I had to my right foot during the spring shoot in Jersey with One Simple Wish. I have posted about getting hurt and still, no inquiry. Knowing her, her almost addiction to Facebook and dislike of them, there is a good chance she is trying to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. I thought of reaching out to her, finding out if she has any idea of how badly I felt because of being excluded and frustrated because I hadn’t done a damn thing wrong.
The lessons I am choosing to glean from this are important ones. Whatever misplaced pain I felt is a tiny fraction of what the kids we are fighting for experience daily. My parent’s suicide made me much more sensitive to exclusion but I am learning to let that go. My being so incredibly sensitive is wonderful to the point where it is causing me unnecessary pain, so no more of that. I am an awesome person who deserves people who see and celebrate that. I won’t be apologizing for how I feel ever again. I am working very hard without pay to get this film off of the ground and that’s where my energy needs to be focused. We still need to raise $20,000.
People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you. So my trying to explain to this person why what happened effected me and that I felt totally blown off for the umpteenth time, and this was a big one so it hurt. But if she were a friend worth fighting for, she would have reached out knowing I was slighted and now, seriously injured. It sucks but it is what it is. Just like the kids, I crave consistency and dependability. I desire to feel wanted without chasing it. Then it’s not genuine. But I guess the people I am dealing with here aren’t either.
My foot is painful enough to make all the rest of this seem very petty. Maybe it is, but it’s how I feel. When you have no parents, it’s a bit like being a marionette with your strings cut. Dragged by the breeze, trying to keep yourself upright, you hope you will end up on the Island of Misfit Toys where you will belong and feel loved. But reality is I can barely walk. When I am well and even sometimes when I’m not, I always offer help to those around me but am getting none in return. Thank goodness for my husband and son. When it comes down to it, we have our issues but I have a little family I can count on. It’s so much more than some people get. And I have the most amazing friends in the world, they just don’t live locally. I’ll take that over phony mid-life acquaintances any day. As any of them will tell you, not having me in your corner is truly your loss.