Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Top 5: Bad Things That Have Made Me Better

Acne has by far made me a better person. Because, looking back, I was easy on the eyes in middle school/high school even if I was a little chubby. With my lack of moral standards, I really could have been slutting it up a very popular girl. Acne made me feel ugly and unwanted. It made me feel like I was dirty and diseased, like I couldn't be friends with pretty people. It made me feel less than. When I decided that I was a monster... I wasn't going to go down without a fight. Other than a substantial investment in Neutrogena, I invested in me. I got smart; I got witty. I made my own humor. I tapped into my genetic ability to charm people. I learned the art of self-deprecation. When I grew older and the acne didn't go away, I learned that I wasn't a monster. I found peace in me. I accept my own flaws and the flaws of others. I don't need a perfect body or a perfect complexion. Acne made me hate myself at an early age, and that time has passed. I'm grateful for the strength that trial has left me with.
One of my few childhood memories is splitting a pizza with my mother for lunch while at work with her in a bikini shop in Panama City. When you're five years-old you don't realize that this is the only thing you'll be eating that day, or that your mother is only going to eat your scraps that day. My mom did whatever she could to hide that we had no money. It wasn't until I moved to Madison that I realized we weren't middle-class. (Part of me thinks everyone likes to believe they are middle-class.) We really weren't. I grew up in a trailer; there weren't family vacations; having money for lunch at school was a big deal. My mother always was worried about money. Because of this, I don't think I'm better than anybody. I'm white trash incognito which is fine, but I don't forget where I've come from. I know how to get by on nothing. I know how to budget. I don't need that big, fancy thing with all the latest gadgets. I value quality craftsmanship and ignore trends. I don't turn my nose up at charity or secondhand anything. Growing up poor has taught me that pride has nothing to do with money, and you don't let your big, turned-up nose get in the way of what you really need.
Authoritarian-Neglectful parenting
Oh noble reader, if you've met me and talked to me, I'm sure I've said something that has made you uncomfortable about my parents. If so, feel free to skip to the end of the paragraph, because old news is old. To explain my parents' parenting style as quickly as possible I will give a small example that represents the whole. My step-dad loved, loved to tell me and anyone he met that he never said "no" to me. He'd say it implying that I was spoiled and a brat or he'd change the emphasis to mean I had a fantastic, indulgent childhood. But, really, I was trained at a very young age not to ask for anything. If I asked for money and was given money, this act would be seen as a favor to be paid back. This act would be held over my head for years, years. I remember my step-dad yelling at me my senior year of high school and bringing up that he drove me to school for a year in middle school (because I was beat up on the bus) like that was some great act of kindness. Looking back, I should have hid my bruises better. But, the silver-lining to this dark cloud, is that I learned self-reliance. I learned how to do things for myself. I learned how to take care of myself when the adults were to drunk to notice me. I taught myself how to cook. I found my own transportation. I was my own boss. I learned that I liked depending on me, because I am my own constant. (Downside is that I still don't like asking for help.) I also learned how to fight dirty in an argument. To me an argument is not about right or wrong; it is about ending the argument as quickly as possible.
Did you guys know that I'm depressed? What, no? Holley? But, she's so cheery! Well, I am. I always am. I've been seeing shrinks on and off for 13 years ever since I told my mom that in my free time I like to think of all the ways I could die right then and there. And, that my favorite was the idea of the ceiling fan falling on me and chopping me into tiny bits. I learned pretty quickly that people don't like hearing about all your dark fantasies, no matter how gory. So yes, if you've ever felt that I'm a fake and am putting on a happy face for the world to see... you just might be right. Because, I have made the choice to be a happy, positive person. I struggle to focus on the great things that are happening to me everyday and to ignore the shit that I wade through on the way to a sunny demeanor. I've honed my abilities to remain steady, stable and happy. I'm getting really good at it. Because I'm depressed -- slightly -- all of the time, I'm happy. I have accepted the fact that I have to try for it. That's just something I have to live with, and I'm happy about it.
I have never had a time where I did not have shelter to sleep in. However, I have never felt like I have had a home of my own. Growing up, the house I lived in was a prison and a terror to return to. I would do what I could to delay going home and be out as much as possible. Being my boyfriend in high school had one big catch: you had to have a car, because I hated my being at my house. Since I left home in 2006 to go to college, I have lived in a dorm, a junky old house on Market, an apartment on Main, a junky old party house on Southwest, a nice house on Main, an apartment on Main, and a house on Furnace. I move a lot. I lack roots. Because of this, I don't have a lot of stuff (I hate stuff.), and I never get homesick. I have no place that I long to be or fond memories of a place for that matter. I like that I'm not attached to any where, because it negates any kind of nationalism, state pride or hometown spirit. Keeps all sorts of pride from fogging up my decisions.

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