And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”~ Abraham Lincoln

I have a confession to make…..

I am the kind of person who gets depressed, introspective, and melancholy whenever her birthday rolls around. Of course, I do my very best to hide this fact, by turning my birthday (and, since I was born right between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, all the surrounding days of festivity) into a unique celebratory experience in which I am the princess and everyone is supposed to go out of their way to make me happy. Yes, when it comes to birthdays, I am a five-year-old child who wants cake and a pony and all her friends to come over and play.

Every year, I do my best to make my birthday an *event*. If I look back through the photographic memories of my life, I can remember what birthday I celebrated based on what city I was in, who was there, and what merriment transpired. One of my favourite birthdays involved a tour of various East Coast cities during the holidays, during which I celebrated my birthday 5 times in 4 different cities. I’ve celebrated by drinking martinis and closing down clubs in New York City, visiting strip clubs in Philly, and having over a thousand people sing to me on a Carnival cruise ship. I’ve celebrated with dinner on swanky rotating rooftop establishments, and by getting stuck in a small town in Ohio during a blizzard and ending up at a biker bar, which was the only thing open. I’ve celebrated by having a dear friend come visit me on more than one occasion, and was a bit disappointed that this was not in the cards for this year. I did my obligatory 21st birthday theatre-geek ritual of attempting to do 21 shots over the course of the evening. (I got a lot further than I ever expected.) I’ve even ended up at more than one celebration that involved grownups taking off clothes in the middle of classy bars and restaurants. On my 29th birthday, I fell down the parking garage stairs.

Yes, folks, birthdays are quite interesting in my world. If it’s not big and over-the-top, it’s not what I want to do to celebrate. If there are not a hundred people leaving me e-mails and Facebook messages, I’m a little disappointed. After all, it’s the one day of the year where I can proudly let my narcissism shine!

Behind it all, though, is the fact that I grow very melancholy and tend to feel more alone than usual on my birthday. I remember it starting the day after my 21st birthday, when my mother wanted to take me out and celebrate because I could legally go to the bar (She pretended to have no idea I’d been going to bars since the age of 15, and would often go sing karaoke as a teenager because strangers would buy me drinks.) I remember not wanting to go, because I’d been crying earlier in the evening. The fun of celebrating with friends the night before had worn off, and I’d just grown conscious of feeling old. I had this feeling that time was passing me by, that each time I celebrated, it was really the mourning of a loss of another year—a year I could have done something spectacular, but didn’t.

I still feel that way, particularly at a point in my life where I’m NOT doing anything spectacular. I have a nice and caring boyfriend, a stable and relatively decent place to live, a roommate I don’t want to kill every day, a job where I can do something I’m actually rather good at, a family I’m still on mostly civil terms with, an extended group of friends, a few random infatuations, a fun trivia hobby, a successful social group, a dog that loves me, enough money to get by, and the knowledge that my recent health crises, while painful, draining, and not fun, will not ultimately kill me. In short, I have all the things most people my age have…and the things some have that I do not, such as a cool car, a corporate job, marriage, kids, and a house…are things I truly do not really desire.

Yet, I feel unfulfilled. Perhaps I set the bar too high in my early years; there were things I wanted, and I made certain to find them. In my 20′s, I wanted to travel, so I did. I wanted to perform, so I did. I wanted romantic love affairs and crazy adventures….check, on both. I wanted to be artistic, scandalous, unconventional…and we all saw how that worked out. I wanted to explore different ways of thinking and living, broaden my horizons. I’ve done that. I wanted to meet rich,powerful, famous, influential people for the sake of saying “When I was young, I did that.”. I wanted to live on my own, and lounge by the poolside every afternoon. I wanted the picture of domestic bliss, playing house with someone who would maybe be the right person for me.

I did all those things. I have not led a boring life, and now that I do, by the standards of many people I know…I still don’t. Becoming “ordinary”, living a drama-free life, choosing relationships over impetuous flings and crazy parties, gaining 20 pounds instead of spending my days eating 500 calories a day and drinking vodka, working a relatively normal, deadline-oriented job, having responsibilities…well, in my way, I’ve grown up. But there are still adventures I miss, still things I want to do.

For some reason, I stopped doing them. I stopped pursuing life as avidly as I did when I was young. I took my self-esteem down a few notches…or perhaps others did for me…and started caring about things outside of my own little bubble. Perhaps I just became content and complacent. Perhaps I became co-dependent, and began to think, as I so often do in relationships, “If you don’t want to do this with me, I won’t do it at all.”. Perhaps I just became older, more mature, more isolated in the suburbs, more fragile. more stuck in a life I’m not particularly sure is mine to live. I can blame a lot of things, but mostly, I had some life experience, and it left me frightened and hurt and less able to believe in myself. Sadly, the city of Atlanta has had a lot to do with that; it’s a large city with a small town attitude, including the tendency to judge, to talk behind everyone else’s back, to condemn what you don’t understand. That has affected me a great deal, taught me to limit myself, to care too much what everyone else thinks.

This year, being sick, it taught me that maybe I don’t have as many years left as I’d like to think I do. In just a few years, I’ll be halfway through this adventure known as life, at best. It’s time to make things count, to take chances, to refuse to limit myself, to love myself, to admit I have gifts and talents and not be afraid to show them.

Part of me is afraid that if I do these things, I’m going to find myself alone…as if the real me is one that’s not terribly mature or considerate of others and should likely be single. But another part of me understands that I need a person in my life who understands all aspects of who I am and can handle some of my feelings of unfulfillment and yearning for a more adventurous, unconventional lifestyle.

I can’t stay put because I’m dating someone who likes to stay put. I can’t deny that side of myself for the sake of someone else, or because it makes me feel co-dependent that I sometimes would rather not go if I have to go alone. Alone is OK, and I used to know that…but have forgotten over the years.

This year is one for healing; body, mind, and spirit. It is also one for getting in touch with who I am, the pieces that got lost along the way, what I want from my life, and what keeps me feeling so “stuck” that I stopped taking chances, stopped putting myself out there.

This year is for adventure, for making connections, for expanding horizons. It seems natural I’ll approach these things in a different way than I did in my 20′s, but as people change, so does how they explore the world around them and what they appreciate in others.

This year is for the unexpected, and deciding that makes me feel decidedly less melancholy about adding another year to my age.

After all, I’m an actress. We don’t age. We’re 25 until we’re 40, 40 until we’re 60, and 60 until we’re being shown on that “In Memoriam” page. :)

Every so often, I check my analytics for this page to see what keywords and phrases caused people to discover my blog. (After 2 years writing SEO-based content, it would be odd if I didn’t.)

My favourite search term for the week?:
“You’re attractive, but not my type.”

How sad. That’s so the story of my life, even Google knows it. ;P

Too stressed out with work and sickness and dog-sitting to write anything of interest. Mostly, nothing interesting happens to me lately, anyhow. :P

However, I did see this quote I absolutely loved on Twitter today, so I’ll just leave you all with this thought as I pig out on Domino’s in my PJ’s with a box of tissues in my lap :P (yeah, I’ve seen better days.)

“Real men don’t date the most beautiful girl in the world, they date the girl who makes their world the most beautiful.”~ Anonymous

Only 22 more articles about lawyers, dentists, and plastic surgeons to go. I never knew how much there was to possibly correct about oneself until I started this job. *laughs*

An old friend of mine pointed this song out to me a few weeks ago, because he told me it reminded him of me (for obvious reasons.) Not typically my sort of music, but I think it’s pretty, and now it randomly sticks in my head.

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Today, I spent my day trying to cheer myself up by hanging out in bed and watching “Mean Girls”, which I love and always makes me laugh, eating pizza, and drinking hot chocolate. Sadly, I spilled some of the hot chocolate on my hand. :(

It has *definitely* not been the most glamourous holiday ever. There should be some rule against getting sick at the holidays when you’re stuck at home because you’re ALREADY sick.

I am giving this one more day to go away, and then I’m breaking out the stash of antibiotics to see if it actually does shorten the life of my cold. (This is something people keep telling me, but it doesn’t seem to make much scientific sense, since a cold is a virus and antibiotics treat bacterial infections.)

At least I’ll finally get the tree up and add some sparkle to my living room. :)

There was a period between early 2006-2007 in which I lost a great deal: my home, my circle of social acquaintances, friendships, relationships, lovers, financial security, freedom, even things as basic as my reputation and sense of myself. It was a particularly trying time, and in retrospect, one of the most important in my life. Many people say there’s a point in one’s life, usually in the late 20′s and early 30′s, where one is confronted with life in such a brutal way that it marks the transition to adulthood. Usually it happens due to the death of a parent, illness, an unexpected child…something that makes you look outside yourself, grow up, and take some responsibility for your future. It teaches you to start looking toward the future, not just at today, as so many younger people do.

My life-changing crisis happened a little earlier than it did for many of my peers, but it affected me in the same way. It turned my world upside down, and for an extended period of time, I wasn’t sure how to make it through or what to do with myself. Looking back, I see it brought as many gifts into my life as painful experiences. For every loss I endured, every struggle, there’s something meaningful I likely wouldn’t have in my life now if things hadn’t worked out in the way they had. It often takes life-changing experiences where you wonder if anyone in the world understands, is on your side, is able to help you through, to learn exactly who you are and stop taking time to “find yourself”.

I learned I’m much stronger than I think I am. I’m much more capable–emotionally, mentally, practically—than I generally consider myself to be, and thus, much more so than I let on to the rest of the world. I learned that for all my drama and histrionic scenes and inability to cope with emotions quietly and rationally (something I know now is a combination of a highly sensitive personality and long-term suffering of anxiety issues), I am resilient. I don’t always feel like I want to get back up again…but I do. I sometimes feel so devastated by circumstances that I don’t know how I’ll cope…but I always do. Underneath the layers of emotion and over-sensitivity, often mistaken for weakness, is a survivor. To a certain extent, that survivor is even pragmatic, self-protective, and able to adapt to change. I learned that part of myself, while often invisible to all but those who know me well, is what has kept me safe and resilient through a number of negative situations. It defeats my self-destructive tendencies every time, tells the masochistic side of my personality, “Hey, I am stronger than you”. (Freud would have a field day with me.:P)

In any case, this period of my life brought losses of other types: in particular, five friends and/or lovers (of varying degrees of closeness) passed away during that time period. Not one of them was older than 45, and I saw clearly that I wasn’t the only one in my circle of friends and acquaintances that was regularly challenging the inner self-destructive demons. I wasn’t the only one haunted by things nobody ever talks about. Not everyone has an internal survival mechanism that’s strong enough to win, despite what life throws your way.

I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, in a variety of ways, to the extent where it’s a lesson to me: nothing and nobody will be there with you forever. There is no forever. Even I, myself, am not even necessarily promised a tomorrow. I attempt not to focus on that knowledge, because it brings out the pieces of me that are cynical and self-destructive. But, the only promise people cannot make is the one I need the most: the promise that that person will not abandon you. I know that better than anyone, and therefore, abandonment hurts me more than anyone…even if it’s just a friend who no longer wishes to be friends on Facebook, or an ex whose wife won’t let him be in my life anymore.

Why does all this sad, depressing reflection matter? It matters because recently, I hung out in an area I no longer spend time, because it reminds me of someone, and the reminders are sharp and painful. They are often euphoric, and painful at the same time, the ultimate in emotional masochism. I thought I could handle that, until I realised our car was driving past the place at which my friend passed away, and 30 seconds later, I was crying behind my sunglasses.

I told myself it should not have mattered; that was a different life, a loss I’d mourned a long time ago. But, The Guy I Am Currently Dating, either not aware of how touched I was by the situation or not knowing what else to do, parked in an area that required me to walk by the building. I stopped for a minute, and as soon as I did, I felt my heart beat in my throat, too fast. I couldn’t breathe. Everyone told me it was walking in the cold when I’m ill, and the strain it put on someone on the combination of medications I’m dealing with…but I felt like I was going to collapse. I just stood in front of the building like I couldn’t move.

This week, at night, I’ve been seeing that place when I close my eyes at night, and I cry. I haven’t made peace with a loss I’d closed my heart on and moved past and think about once or twice a year, because I can’t not think “This is the place where someone I loved faded away forever.” I can’t not think about where that place will be for me.

Moving on with your life doesn’t mean forgetting, and coping with the past doesn’t mean it ever stops hurting. I tried to talk to this with both a very close friend and The Guy I Am Currently Dating, but nobody’s interested in engaging discourse about something so sad and personal. There’s no need for me to call up the loss and pain others carry around because I was recently confronted with mine.

Part of me wants to go back to that building, and curl up next to it, and cry…because I never did. I never went back to that place, never returned to any of the spots in which we hung out together, never wondered who lived in the old apartment we’d made memories in. I just refused to think about the existence of any of those places and moved on.

Of course it’s natural that I’ve been crying, listless, depressed, overwhelmed by loneliness this week. Of course it’s natural that I’ve been questioning my relationship….which has been fraught with miscommunication and lack of simply being on the same page, particularly since I got sick. I believe that we have many different soulmates in our lives (a huge part of my basis for an essential belief in non-monogamy), people who come into our lives to open our eyes to different things, teach us about different parts of ourselves, understand us in a way few others are able. I do not believe in the traditional idea that this is one person who will complete you and you’ll love unconditionally and with perfect understanding forever. I do, however, believe there are many who touch us in an essential way that forms who we are, who we become along the way.

I have been quietly mourning the loss of one of mine…although I know nothing is forever. I do not know when I’ll feel at peace with goodbye. I did what people do; I laughed and drank and spent time with my friends, and tried to forget how much the experience of walking past that space affected me. I didn’t talk about it, because nobody could understand.

I am a highly emotional, intuitive person…and I don’t know how to explain the experience, except I felt something, and it was magical, and overwhelming, and devastating, and I wish I’d have been in a situation to experience it alone. Because more than anything, I felt I needed more time; more time just to *be*, to be close to the memory of someone you’ll never hold again.

Sometimes, I see this friend in DreamLand, and it reminds me that emotional memory is both devastating and of great comfort, at the same time. All I know is that since that day, I’ve constantly wanted to cry—whether from joy, sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, anxiety—and I don’t understand why. I don’t understand why I feel so misunderstood.

Today, I do. You never stop missing those that claim a piece of your soul, no matter how long ago.

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Solitude is an achievement.” ~Alice Koller

I have a tendency to get overly attached to people. It’s handled in a way that’s mostly positive and harmless, rather than reminiscent of the creepy stalker from “Two And A Half Men”, but it can be said that in almost all of my relationships, and in many of my close friendships, there’s an element of co-dependency. An old friend of mine once hypothesized that my extended period of polyamoury was a choice well-suited to my personality, because I was self-aware enough to know there was not a single person in this world with enough time, energy, money, attention, or any other attribute to manage to keep me entertained, happy, and fulfilled.

I do not know whether or not this friend has a valid point, or is simply mocking some of the quirks of my personality, but one thing that hasn’t changed about me is this: after living on my own for my entire adult life, I still do not like to be alone. Yes, there are times when I want to concentrate and create and live in my own world, and, as a friend would say, I need the world to STFU and GTFO. *laughs* It’s also true that most of my relationships go haywire when the “moving in together” phase kicks in, because frankly, there’s not that many people I like enough to want to be around them all the time. My home is generally my retreat from introversion; I like my own little oasis, and I’m picky about who should be allowed in it. As my Meyers-Briggs profile correctly points out, I am an extrovert who needs time for introspection and quiet,solitary activities.

Yet, I do not like to be alone for long. To say that the past 6 months have been a challenge for me is an understatement, and the challenge is as much psychological as it is physical. Something as simple as gaining 20 pounds because I can’t walk miles each day, and I am constantly dependent upon others as a result, has significantly lowered my self-esteem. It isn’t just what I see in the mirror, it’s the person I see. This dependent, introverted, physically tired person that looks back at me is not the person with whom I identify. The hardest part of all of this has been the significant amount of time I’ve been forced to spend alone, in my apartment…and when the time comes that I am finally able to get out and spend time with others, there are never any guarantees my body will cooperate. Sometimes, I end up back home in bed. It is not something I can control, but it’s been very difficult.

This is something that really hit me recently because, over the past few days, most of my close friends have traveled home for the holidays…and those who aren’t doing so are staying because they’re choosing to spend time with their families. I know that in some ways I will be happier here on my own, than visiting my family, which year after year seems like an obligation—and one that reminds me maybe a visit to the psychiatrist would help me, after all, because my home environment is less than healthy. Yet, there’s a part of me that’s still convinced that any company, even toxic company, is better than being alone.

This part of me is destructive; it’s the one that would accept booty calls from ex-boyfriends who weren’t worth my time, the one that would stay in jobs and relationships with no future, the one that would make it impossible for me to go to a club in my 20′s and end up back in my own bed before sunrise. Things that are not good for you are not a viable alternative to keep you from feeling alone.

Alone doesn’t have to be so bad, and I know that. However, today it hit me: one by one, friends were leaving, my roommate was gone, and my former roommate dropped off her dog so I could dog-sit while she and her husband traveled home to the family (she always does the same for me when I travel, so it works out incredibly well.) And although today was no different than any other day; I still worked inside my apartment, watched some TV shows, tried to make time for artistic projects….it felt different. There was nobody on Facebook, nobody texting or calling me to say hello, aside from my boyfriend, who has seemed busier than usual lately. I should have treasured the peace and quiet, but instead, I felt alone.

I can recall certain relationships in my life where, after spending time together, I’d look forward to the person leaving so I could do all the things floating around in my brain. I’m too type-A to want to cuddle in bed all day; my brain goes on active-mode and starts wanting to get up and do *something*. Now, I have all the space and freedom in my life I could want and nobody to answer to, and I am too ill and too bored with myself to know what to do with my time.

Today, I wished intensely that I lived in a city. I’d have liked to walk around and see Rockefeller Center in a December that wasn’t 20 degrees, or haunt the independent coffeeshops and bookstores of Washington D.C. I’d even have settled for being able to walk to dinner at the Vortex here in Atlanta. I think the suburbs are sucking out my soul, making me feel even more isolated and dependent. And while maybe it doesn’t matter now, when I’m sick and technically supposed to be on “bed rest” (for me, this is bed rest, evidenced by the refusal of my favourite dresses to zip.), I do hope at some point I will be better, and it will matter.

I am comfortable alone, in a city, where I am surrounded by people I don’t know and perhaps with whom I’ll never interact. I am comfortable alone, as long as I get to go out in the evenings and be amongst people, or even have interesting phone conversations and Facebook chats with people who intrigue me, who have interesting lives, share interesting gossip. Some days, I even prefer to stay in alone and watch my reality TV shows, and turn down social invites to do so.

But lately, I am just immensely bored with myself and with all this solitude. There is plenty to be interested in, but nothing excites me, because I want excitement and adventure outside of this tiny little world that’s been my very limited home for months. I hope I’m able to get my medical issues resolved soon, so I can work on restoring a more active and inspiring social life. Or, at least, I can leave the apartment and get sunshine and exercise again, so I can stand to go to the mall or look at myself in the mirror.

Tomorrow, I am going to amuse myself with hot cocoa and chick flicks, and when my boyfriend comes over, we’ll finally put up the tree and the stockings. But, somehow, it just doesn’t seem like Christmas, not the way it normally does. I’m far more excited about ringing in the new year!

“What a man wants is to believe that a woman can love him so much that no other man can interest her. I know that is not possible. I know that every joy carries its own tragedy. Oh, it is beautiful to love, and to be free at the same time.” ~ Henry Miller

After my last entry, regarding communication and relationships, I’d asked The Guy I Am Currently Dating if he’d read my journal…and in specific, that entry, which mentioned a lot of things I was pondering about relationships.

I was hurt, because he said he didn’t, and also because he said “Why should I have?”

It made me realise that although I’m not creating any great works of art here, either with my online journal or my personal diaries, or—in this day and age— my Facebook and Twitter communiques, I have been spoiled. I have had a number of people in my life absolutely fascinated by my thoughts, people who have not even really known me but become enamoured with me because of my form of self-expression.

I didn’t answer, but I wanted to tell him that that’s why. I don’t know if I can date someone who doesn’t make time to read what I put out there (although he mentioned he was busy at work all day, he also spent time on FB and linked to other articles he found to read elsewhere.)

I think I have been spoiled by learning there are people out there that are fascinated by my mind and my communications with the world, and the realisation that I am—not for the first time—with someone who doesn’t share that fascination because communication is so easy to come by, and to be taken for granted, that’s instilled a feeling of discontentment.

We managed to have a good enough weekend together, but I still couldn’t get out of my mind that his response to not reading my thoughts was “Why should I?”…and the feeling that perhaps I’m still looking for a certain type of connection we do not share.

It is this that often makes me wonder if I need someone in my life with whom to share this type of feeling-based, intellectual, artistic, introspective discourse. It reminds me of the days when I’d send special people in my life books to read, and we’d have great fun discussing them; the days when I had time for long e-mails and very open, personal conversations, and special connections.

I believe I need more of that in my life these days. I love the friends I surround myself with on a regular basis, but by and large, we do not share that same type of connection.

I believe I need people in my life who read this journal simply because it interests them, and by connection, because I myself am of interest to them. Perhaps that doesn’t really exist anymore; we’ve been pared down into a fact-based, text-message-Tweet-and-status-update kind of world. It doesn’t necessarily leave room for the connections that I inevitably value the most.

“A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.”~ Leo Rothsten

I don’t know why communication is so hard and frustrating. I’d like to meet one person in the world with whom it wasn’t; someone who didn’t always either yell at you or shut down completely and make you feel like you’re talking to a brick wall.

I’m so sick of feeling like everything I say or do or am is wrong. It’s exhausting. And the past two months, I’ve felt that a fairly good deal…not just from my relationship, but from friends, and former friends, and family, and my roommate, and virtually everyone in the world. I do, though, feel like a relationship should be a sort of oasis from that, all that judgment the world hurls at you…and,if you’re a sensitive person, bothers you more than you’ll ever let on.

I feel like a relationship should be that safe place, where you can take down the walls, lower your guard, and share how you truly feel. It’s no secret I believe in a level of openness that most just can’t handle, one where your lover, your soulmate, your best friend, your confidante, and your life companion are the same person; one where that person understands you as intimately as you understand yourself, and never seeks to limit your growth…both inside and outside of that relationship. I understand that such things are an ideal…and not realistic, and to look for that is to always find disappointment and perhaps miss out on a good deal of love in life…but even if a bit of that could be put into practice, it would be like a missing piece, something I genuinely *need* in order to be happy and to feel loved.

Sometimes I feel like I often make the same mistake in relationships: I try so hard to make things work with someone who is so different from me, it’s very natural they will never see things the way I do, that I feel lonely and abandoned and misunderstood. And because I grow to love that person, I don’t ever want to walk away, but I have to think…..can you love someone and want them in your life, but still know that on an essential personality and compatibility level, they’re not the right person for you? Or is it just a matter of learning to understand and live with the differences? Because, over and over, I’ve tried with people so very unlike me; relationships full of love and a few shared interests, but never really bonded in that way you feel when you meet someone who seems to relate to you effortlessly. Perhaps that effortless communication just can’t exist in relationship-world; it burns out after a few months, and you stop sharing and start avoiding and judging and criticising.

Sometimes I feel like I’m with someone and I can’t talk to them about something that’s upsetting me without having them fly off the handle, blame me, and make me more upset…the person I’m with isn’t really the person I can most easily talk to.

I feel like if I’m with someone, and I can’t express my honest feelings…particularly my feelings about that person expressing honest feelings about me….without that person then refusing to talk to me, and saying they’re just going to go be alone now, it’s like being punished and abandoned for having feelings, and for expressing feelings the other person doesn’t want to hear. It certainly doesn’t feel safe to know that communication always runs the risk of emotional abandonment. :(

I’d say that I feel like it’s a sign that I’m with the wrong person, but the honest truth is, I’ve never met the person who could communicate with me in a way that was open and accepting and didn’t end up making me wonder if our relationship would work without couples’ therapy.

It’s odd, because people tell me often how it’s refreshing that I’m open and encourage honest and straightforward communication. My friends compliment me on this attribute. I’m not afraid of feelings, and some have told me they really like and/or admire that. But I can’t seem to maintain a personal relationship where healthy communication is natural.

They say opposites attract, but maybe being involved with someone too unlike you means you can never really communicate on a level where it’s healthy and effortless and encouraging. Maybe opposites never really understand one another.

I would, one day, like to find someone who understands me, who isn’t going to punish me for expressing my feelings by retreating into silence, or make a bad day worse by yelling at me about all the mistakes I’ve made and what’s wrong with how I’ve handled a situation, when I’m already upset about it.

I don’t need a father figure, one who will yell at me when I do something wrong and encourage me to do something more with my life, yet become frustrated when I confide about my problems…even if I’m not turning to anyone but myself for solutions. I’m old enough and experienced enough that I don’t need to be taught about life. I need a soulmate, someone who truly understands how I think and feel and communicate, and what I want and need from my relationships. I need for someone to be on the same page with me, for discussions about difficult topics to happen without yelling, crying, or silence.

I’ve never found that. I don’t know if it’s because what I’m looking for doesn’t exist, because I seek out people too different from myself, or that people get worn out and overwhelmed by me. But I wonder if it should always be this hard in relationships. It seems as if it always is, for me…and I’d like to know why. If I get upset that I’m being yelled at after expressing my feelings, I’m not validating the other person’s right to feelings. If I get upset that the person shuts down and won’t communicate, I feel as if I’m being punished for wanting to express my feelings at all.

Either way, I feel like the key to a successful relationship is to avoid talking about anything too unhappy, and make your close friends your confidantes. This goes against everything in which I believe, who I am. I’m that idealistic, overromantic person who thinks the person you end up with should be your best friend, the one who loves and accepts everything about you, supports you even when you’re the one who made the mistake that caused your bad day.

I just want simple, old-fashioned communication that’s honest and open and doesn’t end with conflict, silence, and people feeling horrible about themselves.

This isn’t just an issue today, or lately,or in my current relationship. It’s been an issue in many.

I don’t want to be with someone I want to change, or someone who wants to change me. I somehow just have this idea it should be natural and uncomplicated and right…the right connection with the right person. Not that people should never argue, of course they will….but every relationship I’ve seen where all communication attempts turn into either screaming and crying or complete withdrawal of communication and affection has ended in a breakup or divorce; or in the case of many in my parents’ generation, people who really just don’t like each other much agreeing to co-exist without much commonality.

Maybe I really am an “alone” person, despite my overabundance of feeling and need to share and communicate. Maybe this blog is the closest I’m ever going to get to the kind of understanding I desire…and something about that is just terribly sad.

*gives up on others and retreats into the little happy world in her head, where being herself isn’t such a bad thing to be, and expressing her feelings is valued rather than cause to hurt feelings, lose friends, and end up alone. Maybe this is just, naturally, what everyone does. *

“What’s hard is simple,
What’s natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me
How to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free;
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me. ”

—Stephen Sondheim, “Anyone Can Whistle”

This is the first Christmas that I remember not feeling filled with joy, and thankful for the friends and family and relationships I have with people all over the world, and the bit of money in my pocket, and the small things that make the holidays worth appreciating. It is the first year I am not excited about traveling, seeing loved ones, embracing the lights and the energy of the city…because I’m not able to do any of those things. In fact, I feel an overwhelming depression that’s becoming more difficult to bear as the month drags on.

The beginning of the month didn’t get off to a stellar start. In addition to testing positively for a variety of medical issues, sinking even deeper into debt just trying to find out why I can’t function like a normal human being, and being de-friended by two people I once considered friends and actually cared about, I had struggles with work. Namely, the 9 projects a day I was receiving had been cut down to three a day; sometimes three every other day. The result is that my first paycheck for the month is smaller than if I’d spent my time working for minimum wage at Starbucks. My only hope was that things would improve, and the assignments would start rolling back in for the second half of the month. In the meanwhile, I contacted everyone I’d ever done work for, seeing if they had work for me to handle.

This hope yielded some positive results. I’ve gotten my 9 assignments per day, plus another client that said they’d have some work for me around the 17th of the month. Then, I find out today that I won’t be receiving another paycheck this month. My work won’t be paid until the 27th, due to the office being closed for the holidays, which means it won’t show up in my account until the 30th or 31st…which means it won’t, because weekends and holidays are not banking days. Therefore, not only can I not afford to visit family or do things with friends, even if I could, but I can’t afford to buy presents for anyone, either. I basically can’t afford to leave the house for the next two weeks.

But you always have your health, right? Well, unless you’re me. Then, you’ve spent 6 months being physically and emotionally ill and racked up $50,000 in medical bills that the insurance company won’t cover. Once you pay out of pocket for the tests that can diagnose your issues, you find out that you do have medical problems: one that will supposedly “resolve itself” but I can expect to be extraordinarily painful, and one that will likely require surgery in my ear…that is, after more tests that I can expect to pay for out-of-pocket are done to confirm the diagnosis.

And, if you’re me, you’ve also gained 20 pounds in six months as a result of said medications, and have constant breakouts for not reason…and it’s gotten to the point where you can’t stand to look at yourself in the mirror, much less identify yourself as a person anyone, anywhere would ever be attracted to.

However, since I’m in a relationship with a guy who’s not shallow enough to stop loving me because I’m fat and unattractive and can’t hold the pieces together long enough to have any semblance of a fun social life, at least that should bring me comfort. It doesn’t, though, because I feel like there’s a growing chasm between us. When we spend time together, we sit on our separate computers, play trivia, or watch movies. When I try to talk about serious things, I don’t really get answers. Serious things like: “Why have we been together for three years, but I still spend every holiday alone?”

Yes, The Guy I Am Currently Dating lives 15 minutes away, and I will be spending Christmas alone. I would have spent Thanksgiving alone, too, if not for friends that invited me to be part of their family for the weekend. In fact, I spend as many holidays alone as when I was single, when I was dating a guy who denied my existence in his life to his parents because they wouldn’t accept me, and when I was unwisely keeping company with a married suitor….which by nature of being “the other woman”, means you will spend every holiday alone. The Guy I Am Currently Dating spends every holiday with his mother, the lovely woman who has called me “ugly piece of shit”, pointed out all my undesirable physical and emotional flaws and told me no man would ever want me, told me I was trash, likened me to Casey Anthony, told me her son only settled for me because his self-esteem was too low to chase after pretty girls, called my a psycho, and wished me dead three times, before threatening that something vaguely bad would befall me if I didn’t move out of Georgia and get out of her son’s life.

Yet, that’s who he’s spending the holidays with, the person who treated me that way. Not me. It kind of shows where I rank in the grand scheme of things, and when I asked if any of this would ever change, if we’d ever have a normal life together, I didn’t get an answer. And it’s because I know the answer is “Not until my mother is dead and we can live together”. And I don’t know if I deserve to spend the next two decades of my life alone, waiting for someone who supposedly wants to build a life with me to put me first.

So, when I hear from a good friend of mine all the romantic things he’s doing for a girl he’s been dating for a few months, it makes me terribly, terribly sad. When I hear about my couple friends, who have all, in the same time I’ve been dating The Guy I Am Currently Dating, met, moved in together, gotten married, and had kids or adopted dogs, it makes me terribly, terribly sad. I feel like asking why I’m always the one left behind and alone when holidays and family occasions come around, always “the other woman”, even when I’ve changed my lifestyle to avoid that outcome. Why am I not the person that someone, somewhere moves heaven and earth to be with, travels with, adventures with, and not only *says* he cares about more than anything else, but shows it. I’ve had a lot of lovers and love affairs in my lifetime….too many….and yet, I’ve never been that girl. I’ve always been loved, amused, entertained…but never that girl worth changing everything for. I’ve had diamonds and Dom Perignon and holidays in the Caribbean, but never been treated like a permanent part of anyone’s life, never been anyone’s family. And that hurts me, somewhere deep inside. I guess I understand it, because committment and old-fashioned family values have never been my strong suit, and I don’t even know how to promise monogamy to someone I love….but there’s a hole in my heart that wonders why everyone seems to find this life-altering love and romance thing but me. It’s not that I’ve gone through life alone, but that all the love and romance I’ve ever been offered seems to come with a “but”….and that “but” means I’m not the girl that the men in my life have worked to woo and plan romantic adventures for or desire quiet holidays alone, just the two of us.

And part of me really wants that, feels that, maybe at some point in my life, I should start deserving that…and if I’m with someone who can’t or won’t offer those things, I’m with the wrong person, no matter how loving and supportive he is in other ways. It can’t be “I want to spent my life with you, but…”. :( ((((

In the past, I’ve tried to fight against all these feelings by visiting with my own family, who aren’t exactly paragons of love and support and remind me that I don’t know if I’ve ever really been part of a family, or loved like part of a family, since my first day on Earth. I’ve leaned on my friends, who over the years, have grown up and started their own families and fallen in love with their ideal partners…many of whom learned the hard way that that person turned out not to be me…and they’re happy to be there for me, when they’re not spending time enjoying the families and relationships they’ve built.

I still feel like the “other woman”, always, no matter what choices I make in my life. Maybe at one point, that was a specific road I chose…to be free, alone, unattached, unconventional, up for amusement, even connection, but afraid of love….but I had no idea back in those days that I’d end up at this point, feeling this lonely and isolated.

I don’t even recognise myself anymore. I don’t feel like any of the things that used to make me who I am are still there. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I have anything at all, and life just isn’t a place for people like me, who are always a step or two out of sync, marching to a different drummer, on a path that’s not only isolating, but easily forgotten.

It isn’t a surprise that people aren’t calling to invite me to parties this year, seeking out my company for drinks or celebration. I have another birthday coming up soon, one that puts me at an age where I’m well-past grown up…and I don’t have much to show for it, much less celebrate.

It’s like I’m still waiting for life to happen to me. Once upon a time, I tried to make life happen rather than the other way around…and I live four decades in less than one. Maybe it’s just that I’m done now. I don’t know. I’m what I never wanted to be: an aging party girl that’s lost her health, her looks, her charisma, her self-confidence, and is meant to spend a lot of her life alone, watching others easily find all the things that have never come easily to her.

Some days, you just feel like you’re having the scariest, crappiest day in the history of the world, and then you open your mailbox, and see holiday cards from people you’re really happy to have as a part of your life.

One today was from a long-time friend in Australia, another from a long-time friend who lives much closer, but I don’t see any more frequently than if he lived in Australia. They both contained beautiful and heart-felt messages that made me cry.

My life hasn’t been the most stable this year, and I know I’ve been driving everyone up the wall with my constant issues and neediness and emotional ups and downs. My life and my personality and my relationships and friendships aren’t the most conventional, and not everyone I meet likes me or wishes to be a part of my world, and I’m OK with that….because I know I’m blessed with friends and family that love me and want me to be happy.

My mailbox today made me remember that: that there are people who care, no matter how busy life gets, no matter how hard life gets, no matter how far the distance between old friends and family. Life is bigger than just the here and now, which I tend to forget. There are people who have loved and supported and stood by me through some tough times, and years later, are still there to tell me they’re there for me.

While it might hurt that not everyone is the person you think they are, and you can find yourself abandoned or hurt or betrayed when you put yourself out there, you can also find yourself with some pretty amazing friends.

I hadn’t checked my mail in like three days because I’m lazy, but everything happens for a reason, because today I needed the reminder that I am far from alone in the world…and that was there. In addition, I had some good conversations with people I do get to see on a regular basis, but still reached out and talked to me and cared, without even knowing I was struggling today.

As the Golden Girls would say:

Thank you, all of you who truly have been over the years, for being a friend.