The Girl No One Saw

Growing up, I had what I will call, an alternative childhood. I loved books and one of my greatest unmet childhood desires was to be read to. My mom and step-dad worked crazy hours and there was rarely anyone around to guide me or nurture me let alone read to me. Without a present parent, the circumstances were far from ideal. I did not have sleepovers or even a best friend. How could a girl have a best friend when she had no clue how to even be a friend? Now, as an adult writer, it is my job to not only write about what happened to me but how it affected me and how I grew because of it. Most importantly, how I managed to get through to the other side.

I’ll be honest. I made it through by stumbling my way along, picking up experiences as I went. I learned life-lessons from sharp comments and public humiliation. I learned how to laugh because of social ostracization. I learned how to do things by watching others from the sidelines of life. The perpetual wallflower. The fly on the wall. The girl no one sees. Finding better ways to be ignored rather than to be abused or humiliated was my central goal during my early years. During this period, I tried to make myself small and insignificant– to which I succeeded for the most part but also hindering my growth.

Also, my alternative childhood left me too scared to try new things, a problem which has continued to plague my adult life. I was not taught that it was okay to make mistakes because that is how you learn; I wish I had been taught that one. Instead, I was taught that not only was making mistakes a bad horrible thing but that I was only good at making mistakes. That was my everlasting teenage state. I was always wrong. I was born wrong into a world that would always see me as wrong, a single weed in a valley full of beautiful flowers.

But in a way, these turned out to be good experiences. I learned to entertain myself. I learned to embrace my weirdness and used it to create laughter when I could. I was semi-cautious and managed to stay out of trouble for the most part. However, I’ve struggled as an adult to learn all the things I missed out on as a child. I’ve found that as a writer, I must observe everything around me in detail, and in doing so, I also am able to shine a light on my own flaws. “To succeed in life is to be able to transform.”

I think this is why I like writing so much. I can write to my heart’s content. I can let it all spill out on the page. I can use what I find within myself, deep below the surface. I can take what I learn about myself and transform my ideas both on paper and in my mind. I can choose what I focus on and how I focus on it. I can find my own alternatives and develop positive action.

When I share what I have written, I am always surprised to find others who feel how I feel, have had similar experiences, or who share my perspective. It reminds me that no matter how alone I feel, I’m not. There might not be many people like me in the world, but there are enough of us that I can finally open to the world around me. I cannot change it no matter how much I want to. All I can do is observe and adjust my own sails. I will always come up with solutions. Being resourceful is how I have made it to my alternative adulthood. Growing is how I made it to the other side.

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Personal Essay #44

I’m going to tell you a story that is quite possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever done. Like most of the “worst” things I have done, this was completely unintentional. Not that it made the situation any better; it never does. My crime was breaking trust and in the process, I lost a cherished friend. This is one of the bigger issues for me as I am not one to make friends casually or lightly or even easily for that matter.

This incident still haunts me. It was one of those situations I wish I could have gone back and done differently. But the truth is that I didn’t handle it well and there was nothing I could do to fix it once the damage was done. Once the words escaped me there was no getting them back. The scene was one of friendship heartbreak. All the sorry’s in the world wouldn’t fix it. Instead, a pile of pain laid where once a friendship stood. The remnants broken, trashed, and useless.

I learned so much from such a small slip. She even sat me down and confronted me giving me a chance to at least explain myself—to own my shit and admit to my wrongness. She was calm and open about it.

It was a chance no one had given me before and it instilled in me a greater sense of responsibility. I, in turn, gave her the ability and opportunity to express her feelings and disappointment. I even allowed her to dump all those feelings onto me like trash upon the pile. I can still to this day feel the pain and the guilt, but I learned.

I lost her then. Well shortly thereafter, she uprooted herself and I have never seen her again. Not another word was spoken or passed between us. She fell off the face of my planet. I miss her. I still have some pictures of us together in Vegas. They are in a box somewhere around here. I don’t know why I still think about her but I do.

I’ve been wary and careful in the making and keeping of friends ever since. It’s a hard thing to trust another person (especially women sometimes). It’s also hard to be trusted and you never know the level of expectation the other person has for you in their own life. Therefore, I have very few close friends anymore.

My closest friends are now mostly independent women. I like that and need that independence as well. It’s not essential to see each other all the time to keep our friendship going and growing. I have changed in many ways over the last few years (thank the gods). I now keep secrets without fail. I am careful with feelings when I can be. But I believe sometimes we do need to hear the hard stuff. I believe sometimes we have to be confrontational and express what we are feeling and allow others to do the same in order to better things. I’m still not good at all the intricate bits and confrontational stuff is, and will probably always, be hard for me.

Examining my list of the worst things I have done, I’d have to say this one rode in on a high learning curve. Which in my perspective, turns a mistake, into a lesson.

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Personal Essay #43

Why is the feeling to quit such a strong one? I don’t know about everyone else out there but this is a serious internal issue for me. A task, a job, a relationship, a project; it doesn’t matter what it is, I get to a point where I hit a wall, my mind tells me it’s too hard, I can’t do it, just quit. In those situations, quitting seems like the easiest option, even though I know it’s not.

When I quit smoking it was hard. Quitting any habit is difficult. It doesn’t matter whether it is something like chewing one’s nails or not eating sweets, it takes active effort to quit. The research says it takes 3 weeks to break a habit. Basically, 3 weeks to really quit anything. Yet it takes me one second to say to myself “this is too hard, I can’t do it, I quit” and walk away.

The weight of this feeling slows me way down. Everything suddenly feels unbearably heavy. Everything seems ultimately impossible. It’s that devastating “all is lost” feeling and it tries to devour me. This feeling usually comes along hand in hand with moments of lashing out at those around me because things did not go my way. This frustrated reaction only serves to make matters worse, when what I need to do is to make things work.

Luckily, I’ve been through this series of events and feelings enough times now to know there is another way out. I stop. I pause. I take a deep breath and I either try again or I ask for assistance. Once I have refocused and put that feeling aside, everything usually falls into place or I fall into a place of acceptance. I always feel better for not having quit and enjoy instead the feeling of success.

With all this said, I still don’t understand the feeling and why it persists. What keeps it alive? Cognitively I understand that this is a learned behavior and that every time I choose to change the outcome, I am slowly overcoming that behavior. Yet, it is still there. Like the temptation of a cigarette or Halloween candy sitting unattended in a bowl. Perhaps it is just part of the human condition and entwined in the bare bones of our primitive human brains. There are a million reasons and a million excuses, much like the ones that come up in my mind when I want to quit. I am grateful that, for me, the will to live and desire to improve overcomes the hunger to quit.

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Personal Essay #41

“Not everyone is going to like you.” She said.
I was in my early twenties and still new to this world in so many ways. I have always been a sensitive person so I won’t lie; this statement cut me to my very core. We all want to be liked and to fit in and I had always tried too hard and I often failed miserably. I was perpetually socially awkward, (who am I kidding, I still am) with little in the way of ability or experience to fully understand the dynamics of interpersonal communications, let alone possessing any of the tools or skills needed to navigate certain aspects of social interaction. I felt like the child who’d been raised by wolves or apes, possessing no clue as to how to accomplish more than meeting my own basic needs of survival.
This handful of words struck me hard, hitting me like a knife tip sticking into the wood after it’s been thrown, leaving only the ominous sound of pain behind it. This one sentence changed the course of my personal growth. It shifted me into a state of being and learning that would take decades to come full circle bringing about harsh truths of the matter relating to the reasons why not everyone is going to like you and why you will not always like everyone you meet.
Someone may not like us because we annoy them or because we behave in a way or do things that encroach on their personal space or bubble. Sometimes this dislike grows slowly over time and other times it is an initial first impression. Other times it is a conflict of personalities or a difference in beliefs. Sometimes the dislike will evolve into change for one or both parties. Sometimes, and as is most often the case, things will escalate into some kind of drama, some personal or public confrontation.
It happens— it happens all the time.
So who was the woman who spoke this life-changing sentence to me? Honestly, I don’t remember her name. I only remember her face because she was someone I used to work with but I barely knew her. I can’t think of anything specific I could have possibly done to incur her wrath. Looking back, the only thing I can think of is that she didn’t like the person I was then. Honestly, I can’t blame her for that. I didn’t like me then either.
This moment, this sentence, this catalyst, made it easier for me to accept when someone didn’t like me. I was able to spot the signs right away and just steer clear. Though it didn’t take the sting out of the feeling, it gave me the ability to not really give a damn, at least not as much. However, it also provided me the ability to be okay with my not liking someone else. Therefore, I have learned to pause and take stock in the “why?” And then act accordingly. I have learned this introspection is necessary and important and can be very revealing on a personal level.
“Not everyone is going to like you,” …and that’s okay because not everyone has to.

The only person who has to like you– is you.

CUDsWeL
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Personal Essay #38

This year has been populated with natural disasters the same way last year was crippled with celebrity deaths. Enormous hurricanes ripping across populated islands before flooding the coastal mainland. Wildfires destroying miles of forest. Excessive earthquakes bringing unexpected destruction and death. Some people will claim it’s the end of the world or even the effects of global warming— and perhaps either one of those is to blame in part or whole. However, I think it’s more likely to say that this planet is very much alive and is always growing, changing and evolving, all while we cling to her back— like fleas on a dog.

Perhaps we have simply irritated our host with all of our smoke, our pollution, our neglect, our mistreatment, our fracking, our nuclear weapons, or even just our very existence here. When a dog becomes infested with fleas, without proper treatment he’s miserable and is eaten alive over and over. He randomly attempts to put down his offenders only to end up scratch his wounds until they bleed and he starts to lose patches of fur in the process. Perhaps this is what is going on with our Mother Earth— we’ve annoyed her and she’s just trying to shake us off.

The most likely scenario of all is that this is all just part of the natural life cycle of the planet. Perhaps it’s similar to the cycles of the seasons, only longer and on a much grander scale. This cycle potentially holds more time than we will ever have in our own written history. Perhaps all of this is merely the natural course of the planet that has absolutely nothing to do with us at all. Perhaps this is the way things are and would be whether or not we were here to experience it. Perhaps nature is just taking her own course, whether we like it or not.

We may never know what the actual cause is. People will continue to blame those whose choices are only affected by lining their own pockets while they pollute the Earth. Other’s will blame the wrath of God. But in truth, we don’t know who is to blame for anything in particular. So, we continue to weather these storms and pick up the pieces after the destruction has stopped, as we always have. We do our best to help those we can and find ways to avoid such occurrences in the future. Destruction and death are part of this thing we call life. Our life here has its ups and downs, it’s good and it’s bad. We never really know what each day could bring us, so I believe we must remain grateful. We must play the cards we’ve been dealt, the best way we can and be grateful for every day we have on this amazing planet we call home.

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Personal Essay #35

What is hate? With all that is going on in the world today regarding this subject, it is nearly impossible to not do some kind of self-reflection in this area. As I look at myself, I see that just because I would never hate someone based on visible perceptions, doesn’t mean that I don’t harbor any hate at all.

Upon my first examination, I felt like I had walked into a giant oven. These feelings were that overwhelming. It is painful to take a realistic look at yourself sometimes. I realized that I have a handful of people in my life who I carry a deep distasteful hate towards and have ostracized. All of them have crossed personal boundaries that are deal breakers for me. I harbor hate for something they said or did that went too far and for allowing myself to trust them in the first place.

I know I need to “fix” this part of me. I need to acknowledge my pain, my distrust, and my broken boundaries. I need to find a way to let go of my hate— even the kind that stems from the defense of others. I need to edit out the excuses— let go of the pain and be warm instead of cold, friendly instead of short. Open instead of closed.

I know I can still honor my boundaries by not rekindling any of these friendships. I can be friendly and nice without being actual friends. I will always protect myself from those I do not trust. But I can learn to drop my aggression and animosity and be a mature grown-up (whatever that is). I just can’t take the weight of these feelings anymore and I am sure I’ve carried them for far too long already.

So my new goal is to treat everyone with friendly respect whether I like them or not. This is all part of me becoming a better person and a part of my personal journey that I am sharing with you, who ever is reading this because hate is an important emotion to shake. It does no good. It only divides, distances, and feeds an unquenchable fire. Hate carries on a life all its own, jumping from person to person. The only way to eliminate hate is to make an active choice, a proactive choice to not give it any fuel at all.

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Personal Essay #29

As a beginner at anything in this life, you must celebrate all your successes, no matter how small they seem. As you get better, more comfortable and you improve with practice and dedication, you won’t be able to see your own progress right away. When you eventually look back, a year or two or ten, you will see clearly how your path has carried you along and only then will you see for yourself how far you have come.

Over the last year, I have written well over 250,000 words in my quest to become an author. To date, not a word has been profitable and few have been publishable. But when I compare my work in the beginning to now, I can see that my dedication has paid off. My quality has improved in ways I never expected. My learning path has come in leaps and bounds, allowing my writing to expand, to go deeper or to touch on hidden truths.

Writing is one of the few things in life within my control. It is not just a form of expression but a creative, artistic and humbling process. It is a way for me to soothe my own soul— to unburden it— even to nourish it. Writing is not just part of my essence but a lifeline, no an umbilical cord!

Writing is where I find my voice. It is the only safe place for me to break down what I am feeling and get to the real core of things. Writing is where my realizations happen and where the magic happens, enchanting me further down my path. It is the garden of my personal and private growth. Writing is a place, a space and a time for me. Writing is where “I” happen.

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