Sometimes I wonder if it will be a slow slide. Or more like the ground giving way from beneath me. In a most unceremonious fashion.
Sometimes I can feel it creeping up inside of me. Slowly. As if lying in wait for the (in)opportune time to strike.
Other times it simply lingers. Like a bad smell you just can’t pinpoint enough to rid yourself of it. Time passes and the odor dissipates but never leaves.
And then there are the times it just annihilates you.
People have a hard time with me. I know by the looks on their faces that I throw them a bit of a curve.
It happened last night when I was at work.
I have mentioned before that I am heavily tattooed. I also have university degrees. And am polite, well-spoken, and friendly. Apparently this combination is terribly confusing for people. Still. In 2015.
A rather conservative woman approached the counter with her items. She had eyed me once or twice during her browse of the store and declined my help when I offered. She was pleasant enough but seemed rather distracted.
I am sorry, I do not mean to stare at you but…you…have…a lot of, um, stuff on you. Do you have a bird?
She nods towards an owl on my arm.
No. That is in honour of my grandmother.
Oh, well…that’s, um, lovely…
I thank her for the (sort of) compliment and her purchase, then bid her a lovely evening. As she departs…
Wow, I mean, I don’t…wow, that’s a lot…of…um…
Once out of ear shot my co-worker, an absolutely lovely woman, turns to me and remarks: It is a good thing she kept going, I think she may have been on the verge of saying something unkind. And I think she was right. Though this isn’t my first time around the block – as they say – and I have had horrific things said both to my face and behind my back about the way I look. Being bullied and teased as a child gave me an incredibly thick skin so it rarely bothers me.
Tattoos are not for everyone. My husband has none. I do not understand why strangers care – what are you going to do when you get older, how can you do that to yourself, why would you do that, do you have children, did you not think of them before doing that to yourself…
- When I get older I will be more worried about bodily functions than the way my wrinkled body looks; besides, most of my tattoos are flowers and over time flowers wither and wilt.
- Every piece on my body has been carefully thought out and designed, no regrets there.
- I am tattooed for very personal reasons and do not feel those reasons are anyone else’s business.
- Yes I have a child. And he has no issues with my ink. In fact, he has been privy to some of it. The artist that does my work is a close friend, the artist that runs the shop she works in is an old acquaintance of my husband (small world, eh?) and my wee one adores going there.
Any more questions?
I respect the real history of them. I am not in to tattoo culture because I find that today it has a foundation in sexualisation and that is not how it originated. I do not dress scantily to show off my ink work. I simply have a lot and so it is visible. Though sometimes I ponder wearing long pants and turtleneck to keep the comments quiet.
And the touching to a minimum.
Yes. Strangers touch me. On an almost daily basis. It would seem they feel my colourful skin is up for public consumption and I often have people physically exploring my work. I always kindly ask them to keep their hands to themselves with the exception of small children because they usually ask first, and given the nature of my tattoos I am sure they are of great interest to young ones.
I am not fond of physical contact. I am affectionate with my little one but I struggle with my affection towards others, even my husband. So you can imagine how awkward it is for me when people randomly approach and put their hands on me.
I am used to feeling out of place. It seems to be my lot in life (that and weirdo health troubles).
But…lately that feeling has intensified. I have no sense of belonging anymore. Though there was not a lot that I felt I belonged to…
I do not feel a part of my family. Yes we go to family functions and have an absolutely wonderful time, but I still feel awkward. Brothers Two and Three still refuse to be a part of anything I attend, and even though I know that is their (adult) decision I cannot help but feel responsible. Especially when my Nana is there. Plus, taking a nearly decade long break from it all means you miss things. And so certain events/cues/memories are often lost on me.
I do not belong to a group of friends and so do not have a sense of comradery or support outside my home life.
And I feel out of place at my job too. Like I don’t really belong there or should be someplace else. I like the job, the location and the staff a lot. But they have either worked there together or somewhere else for extended periods of time. You can’t crack that and sometimes I feel like the odd one out. Maybe I just AM. Sometimes I feel like they all know things that I do not, leaving me with that why am I always the last to know feeling.
I also feel like something is amiss in my marriage. And I don’t know if it is me, him or something else. Probably me. Probably him. Probably a lot of things. But none of that makes me feel as though I belong in it. I feel isolated. And alone. With no plan or idea how to move beyond that zone.
It’s a Mentality
I hate categorizing people. But here I go…
“Normal” people do not have to work on their feelings. Most “normal” people have the usual fluctuations in mood and emotion but it isn’t typically work for them. For me it is.
I will try to explain, as I did to my husband last night.
If someone were to ask me how I feel right now my honest answer would be this…
I feel overwhelmed by sadness; I feel if I let my guard down I could cry for one hundred years; I feel horrible that I feel this way; I feel a tremendous load of guilt because I do not feel happy and yet I have so much to be happy about; I feel like crawling in to my bed, drawing the curtains and never leaving; I feel like I would rather not take six needles a day, bucket loads of medicine and certainly do not want to prick my fingers every two-three hours to see what my blood glucose levels are; I feel alone; I feel unworthy of the remarkable child I have; I feel like I have wasted opportunities; I feel pointless and misguided; I feel like walking off in to the sunset and never coming back; I feel anxious; I feel angry; I feel heaps of disappointment and despair; I feel worried and fretful; I feel like I cannot possibly do it all again tomorrow.
And so I work on it all. I do not supress the feelings, I believe they benefit me greatly when exposed because then I actually have something to work on or with. I accept that I am different. I accept that my ‘up’ days are a handful a year and relish in their memories during the dark days. But that work only mildly helps. It only slightly eases the struggle. But I do not mind the struggle.
Generally, I am just glad for the opportunity to be here.