When we last spoke, I shared my fear of dying and having my face eaten by animals. That’s actually only one of my death fears. The other way is that I trip in an intersection and a car runs over my head, splattering it like a watermelon, Gallagher style. We are talking brain matter all over the street.
I know – there’s something wrong with me. The older I get, the more I realize the more nuanced foibles that I have and in the end, most of it comes down to my own insecurities. They are deep seeded. Have you ever noticed how the issues we develop as children are the ones that hold us most closely as we develop into adults?
Coming from a large family, there wasn’t enough time for the parental attention to go around. There were four siblings. I was the second oldest and the middle boy, so I got lost in the shuffle many times. The oldest and youngest (who was also the only girl) obviously stand out for their own reasons. My younger brother stood out because he’s never met a sport that didn’t perfectly suit his prowess. Me, on the other hand, literally broke my foot while walking down the street as well as my nose while soberly walking out of a wedding. In short, playing the sports balls isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse. I once tried just refereeing and my mouth and arm gestures weren’t in coordination – I’d yell safe and my arms would say out, confusing the hell out of everyone.
It wasn’t until I started writing in high school that my mother came home excited from work one day. She announced at the dinner table that she was talking to her co-workers about my writing, except they were confused. They thought she only had three children because she never mentioned me. She was then confused why, as an already confused teenager, I didn’t find the humor in her story.
Needless to say, I have spent much of my life feeling like an outsider from my family. Don’t worry, we’re not heading into Lifetime movie territory because, well, they would probably get someone like the nerdy brother from “Step by Step” to play me and that might lead me to go play in traffic. In all reality though, the disconnect from my family helped me to quickly grow up and I’ve been independent for most of my life. It physically pains me to ask others for help with things, especially if I am able to concoct some kind of plan to do it myself. But it also made me seek out a family of my own choosing. That’s not to say that I am not close to some members of my family, because I am. But there are also others that I keep at a safe distance for my own well-being.
I’ve been lucky to find a select group of people who are willing to put up with me for long periods of time. Even though I don’t have any real reason to believe it, part of me is always waiting for the other shoe to drop in many of those relationships. Part of why I am a yes person is because sometimes I wonder if I don’t, will people still like me. It probably goes without saying, but obviously, I have trust issues. I mean, I could be with my boo for 50 years, but if they try to blindfold me, it will most likely end with a karate chop to the face at the first sign of movement. I’m quite the catch, aren’t I? Kung Fu action and grip are sold separately.
A few years ago, I had a conversation with my father and I told him that in retrospect, it feels a little irresponsible that they would let me take a train up to Manhattan to traipse around with my friends at a magazine that they had never met. For all they knew, I could have been turning tricks for dime bags for a pimp named Bubbles. (FYI, pimps always have fun names like T-Bone or Bubbles, right?) My dad’s response was that I was the child they never had to worry about, so I slipped through the cracks a little bit. If Bubbles really was my Manhattan pimp, he would have probably told me the same thing, albeit in a completely different context.
It makes sense because there are only so many hours in the day. But you never want to hear that you are the one who the hours ran short for. Always having this feeling in the back of my head, I tend to need time to warm up to people and many times will actually push people away subconsciously. I wholeheartedly admit that I am an unintentional asshole to those who try to get close to me. My mouth moves faster than any other organ in my body and has laid waste to more people than Thanos in “Infinity War” (too soon? My bad!).
Some people come and go out of my life, and I have occasionally been told that I easily let people go. The reality of the situation is that I am fine with having people who we talk only talk every so often and that I keep at arm’s length. But, if I allow myself to get close to people and lower the walls and they do something to break the trust, I admit that I have a hard time going back to the way things were. I may choose to move past things, but I never forget.
One of the number one rules of relationships is to not test your partners. I know that I am guilty of this constantly. Sometimes I set completely unrealistic expectations. But it’s really because I am looking for those who can be welcomed into my “family”. Nowadays, most of my family is spread out across the country, so when I need someone local to have a drink with at the end of the day or rant with, it’s one of these people. I try to be available to reciprocate, so that whenever they are having a bad day/week/month, they know I am there for them as well. Whereas with my blood family, some topics are off-limits – like politics – this framily (friend + family, trademark pending) lets us all talk about anything without shame. But most importantly, they accept me and make me feel like I belong, even when I am a handful – which, quite honestly, is most of the time.