30 January 2011

Swimming upstream

Yeah, I know, I'm writing a lot the past few days.  Some weeks are like that.  I'm two weeks into the semester, and feeling a bit out of sorts.  I haven't spent much time at all studying.  I like all of my classes, and find them interesting, but once I'm out of class I don't seem to be able to open the books.  Once I get home, I don't even look at the books.

Which isn't right-- yet I'm still avoiding studying. 

I suspect it's two major things going on.  First, every day now is another 20th anniversary of a day of Desert Storm.  I can't tell you exactly where I was standing, if I was on day shift or night shift, or what I was doing at any given moment twenty years ago.  I do know I always had my gas mask strapped to my hip.

Second, there were a lot of things that I did, or that happened, after I came back that I haven't come to terms with.  Why did I stay married so long, and why didn't I see what was going on?  Why did I act the way I did during and after the divorce?  Why did I let things get that bad?  More important-- how do these things fit into my life now? Do they matter?  Can I forgive myself?  What if someone found out about them? (Let's just say I wasn't always an angel for a couple of years there, k?)

The things I learned growing up, and the things that happened as an adult, taught me certain things that turned out to be not so good.  It is true that I did the best I could at the time, knowing only what I knew, but still bad situations repeated themselves.  It was making myself numb enough that I didn't feel anything, no emotion or pain, so I could get through the bad situations because I had to--  I'd shut my brain down so I couldn't talk myself out of getting into those places.

Now, it's today.  I'm trying to make a pretty big leap-- the kid who barely graduated high school and dropped out of my first attempt at college is now taking upper level courses at a major research university.  I have to spend energy convincing myself that I really belong here.  Everyone else seems to be doing better than I am.

These be dangerous words.

I carry around a lot of guilt and a lot of shame.   So many times, success has been met with failure.  Having to recover from a crash, survive, rebuild-- I know these things because I've been doing them for most of my life.  I don't want to air my entire life out for the world, I want all of those memories and events to disappear.  I want them gone so I can just be me, clear conscience in hand.  It's like swimming upstream.  The more success I have, the more I'm reminded of the times when I did something wrong, did something foolish or stupid.  I've carried that guilt and shame around for so long that I feel naked without it.

So maybe that's why, when I'm faced with doing everyday things like laundry or housework, or reading and homework, I feel anxious.  Having all of that stuff under control is something I've never had on a consistent basis.  It's hard to live a normal life when I'm so good at leading a chaotic one.

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