I don’t think anybody reads this blog who knew me 5 years ago. If you think I’m messed up now…
I was never supposed to go to college, never supposed to graduate high school, really. I wasn’t supposed to leave Los Angeles, or do things like present at conferences, give speeches at important-ish things, or be asked to be on boards or committees. I was stupid, I was shy, I had crippling social anxiety, and I had such a dysfunctional upbringing that I really had no concept of how the world was supposed to work.
In my first couple weeks of college an online-but-trusted friend sent me a care package. It had cookies in it. It was one of the few pieces of mail I received that year, and it may have been the first time somebody spontaneously did something nice for me. I freaked out for hours. No joke. Later that year another friend sent me a check for $100. I freaked out for considerably more than hours. I very, very seriously contemplated sending it back for days before agreeing to deposit it. Simple things like that just completely baffled me.
The thing is? I’m getting better. And I’m trying.
This morning I called that same friend who sent me those cookies over five years ago, just to cry. To paraphrase, I said to her, “What the hell did I do wrong? I have tried to do everything I was supposed to do.” She said “You DID do everything right.” But I guess I’m just not sure I believe her.
Because I graduated when I wasn’t supposed to, I left an abusive home, I put myself through college I found places to be during breaks so I didn’t have to go home, I secured a job before graduation, I got an apartment, I even ended up taking custody of my little sister in order to give her a chance at what I didn’t get in high school.
And here it is, mid January in Maine. I’m jobless, broke, out of heating fuel, my pipes burst on Sunday, and I am feeling out of options. I can’t be at my house – it’s not livable. It’s been in the single digits here the last couple nights. That’s just not a doable situation without heat of some kind.
So I’m trying to trust friends when they say that it’s OK to stay with them. Part of me so badly wants to believe that that is true. But a much bigger part just tells me that I’m a burden. I have no idea how to accept help still, not really. Some of my friends are good about knowing how I work and how to shove help at me – these are the friends who knew me at the end of high school, who did have to force the help on me because if they didn’t I’d sit in the freezing apartment before letting anybody know that something was wrong.
Now I tell people when the heat is out, when my car breaks down, when something goes wrong. The problem is that I go to somebody’s house, and then I just sit there, or lay there, or hide out. I try so hard to not be a burden and probably end up being more of one because I’m so awkward that I have to be there in the first place.
The thing is that my friends here, my friends from college and the community that never knew the old me, the me who couldn’t EVER say yes to help, don’t know how much I have changed. It’s hard for me to explain. To explain why I am crying over something stupid, why I am doing X, or Y, or Z. To put it bluntly, I do a good job of pretending to have my shit together, until I don’t.
So I hide out, I cry, I try to ask for help and then I cry some more, and I annoy people, and I KNOW that I annoy people, and I wish I knew how to not annoy people, but I don’t.