I believe that people make or break a party.
You can spend $100 or a $1,000,000, but without good people who are there for the right reasons....it does not matter how much you spend. A get together of any kind depends on the people there. Great people make for great times.
After I posted last night, I received a heartfelt comment asking me this....:
What is stopping you from being the lady you always wanted to be in your heart now as opposed to when you move?
The answer is simply the people.
I know it seems too easy. I know it seems like I am passing blame....I know I seem weak that I cannot overcome my past. Some may think I am escaping. Fleeing a place that I can't survive in. I get all this. I really do. Some people are less influenced by public opinion. This is something I am working on.
I am going to tell you a little story that I touched on briefly months ago when I posted about Bitch and Snake. I consider it now a pivotal situation that shaped my life and my honesty. The story connects very much to how people where I live handle the truth and how I came to choose lies to avoid backlash until rather recently.
Here we go!
My Mom has 2 brothers. Both Ivy League, both geniuses in their own way. 1 a doctor and 1 a lawyer. These brothers are close in age (2.5 years apart whereas my mom is 6 years younger than the middle brother) and were always in competition. My Mom was exempt from this. As the baby, as the only daughter, and since she has a slight physical disability...well, she was coddled and favored and not put into the severe pressure cooker that her brothers had to endure.
My Mom's oldest brother (and my favorite uncle) is a real success story. He is just beyond words. Hugely successful and admired in his field. He is simply awe inducing. I cannot believe that he is my Mom's brother sometimes...that they actually came from the same parents, he is just so intelligent and a phenomenal person.
My mom's middle brother....well, he is a genius, too. But, different. He struggled with mental illness, specifically depression and bipolar disorder most of his life. But, he still accomplished so much. He went to Harvard Law School. He graduated top of his class. He was a law partner at 1 of the most prestigious firms in Manhattan by age 35. He was nothing to scoff at. But, during his success, he tried to commit suicide several times. He married and divorced the love of his life. He got into cocaine. He moved to a smaller place and started his own very successful private practice. He married again. He had 2 children. He fell into another bout of depression and tried to kill himself.........he filed for bankruptcy....he hit absolute rock bottom.
And when he had no where to go and no one to turn to, he came to my Mom. His baby sister. He ended up living in my parents' basement when I was 14. He lived with us for 2 full years.
I was born in New York. My parents are New Yorkers. Born and bred. They didn't move to the Midwest until they were in their 40's. New Yorkers own their shit. They talk shit, too. Yes, there are exceptions to my theory, but mostly the truth is the truth out there. I was raised, like my parents were, to tell the truth.
When we moved out here, I remember people were always in disbelief of what I was saying. Not that I was crude, just that I was open. Open about my thoughts, my feelings, and my body. I remember getting the message that this wasn't right. That is wasn't socially acceptable to share what I did and I was always super confused as to why....why was the truth now bad if it was always okay and accepted before?
So, my uncle was living in my basement and my Mom was a bit confused about how to proceed. She, like me, had made new friends who showed her that being honest wasn't always the best way to be if you lived here. She was always very conflicted and would regularly share that people were "talking bad about her and she had no idea why", but unlike me, she really didn't care much and went about her life confidently. My Mom is extremely confidant. I remember her asking me "if we should tell people that my uncle had a nervous breakdown?" and I agreed that it was nothing to me ashamed of. People do have nervous breakdowns sometimes, great people. Geniuses. But, my mom did tell me "that some people here (Midwest) don't like the truth and I don't want you to be brought into this." It was like she knew that this situation may not be acceptable. She felt it.
1 day, Bitch's mom called up my Mom to ask about my uncle. I had been at Bitch's after school and I had asked to use the computer at her house to print something and mentioned that "I hadn't been in my basement for a while because my uncle was down there" and it piqued Momma Bitch's interest.
Blood in the water.
My Mom didn't spin the story when asked. She shared everything. The suicide attempts, the cocaine, the failed marriages, the bankruptcy. Now, I know that I would have done the same thing as her. But, even a few months ago, I wouldn't have. My mom owns her shit. She is awesome this way.
The next day, I went to school and I felt new stares in the hallways. People were treating me differently. At lunch, when I asked what the hell was going on to my "friends", Bitch replied...."My mom told me that your uncle is poor and crazy and sponging off your parents. How pathetic. She also said that your mom said that mental illness runs in your family, so now it all makes sense. You are crazy."
Ahhhh.....I was now known as a crazy person at high school because my mom told the truth.
You see how this little tale got spun? Because of the people.
That year, I got dumped by my friends, I didn't get asked to any dances, and I worked really hard to remove the crazy stigma (ironic now that I suffer from depression). I made new friends from other schools and came back better for it, only to fall for the same tricks again. I was dumped again my senior year for being crazy......and I think some of my depression does come from the idea that other people think I am crazy. I cannot believe I just admitted that, but it is true...I endured bullying. Lots of it. But, this was before Facebook and all that. Sometimes I think that if I lived now as a teenage in my old high school with all of the social media...well, I would have killed myself from the nonstop bullying. At least when I was younger, the bullying existed mostly at school and from being left out, but my emotions were manageable. I could escape the tourture in the hours I didn't have to be at school.
Down South, ...people own their lives. Again a general statement and I am sure exceptions apply here, too.
SIDENOTE: Please know that I share my personal experiences and I try to tow the line with over-generalizing, but I will say things are simply passive-aggressive where I am for me, in my town. I don't want to debate it that much as I know that everyone has their own life experience and the story I am telling is my own.
In the South, some things may be said sweetly, but real life is real. 1 of the reasons my parents got on famously with Crush's was because neither set has secrets. My Mom openly shared her brother's issues, my Dad openly shared his struggles with my Grandmother and his sister, Crush's parents shared personal things that no one in my area would ever openly claim. And they did so without spinning it. Just the truth. A few moments on each subject. No whispers. No judgement. Accept reality and move on.
My parents couldn't believe that during the trip when we ran into Crush's parents friends and something came up, everyone answered candidly, even in front of my folks....this would NEVER happen in my neighborhood....you see here, private information leaks from a trusted source. A person tells someone they trust, like my Mom to Bitch's mom and then stories get passed along and shared, but because people are embarrassed to share their truth in public here, there is no control over what gets out.
Here is an example of a real exchange down South that I heard over the weekend:
Crush's mom when seeing an old friend: "How is Dean? Is he enjoying life as a newlywed?"
Old Friend: "Darling...didn't you hear? He is already getting divorced! Love is a complicated thing. But, there were no babies yet, so he will be okay. He learned a lot. Does Ready and Fading have a single sister?"
If this was in my neighborhood, this is how it would have likely gone:
My Mom when seeing an old friend: "How is Dean? Is he enjoying life as a newlywed?"
Old Friend: "Of course (even if the divorce proceeding were already occurring)! He is so happy and we are so happy and we are just praying for grand babies. How are you? How are things? How are the girls? (SUBJECT CHANGE)."
Then my Mom would find out a few weeks later than Dean was getting divorced and her feelings would be hurt that her old friend didn't tell her, but she would be forced to understand that the lie was to "save face" and done in "protection."
Aren't you all confused?
So, to sum this all up.....when I moved home less than 2 years ago, I didn't realize how much pain and emotional distress coming home to a place with the people I avoided for over 12 years would bother me. I thought that I would be safe. I thought people would understand the distress I was enduring. No one did. No one cared. I didn't want sympathy, I wanted understanding. I hide out because it is easier for me than it is to face the reality that my life is not what other people here think it should be. I am okay with this. I am weak here and I know it. It is an issue that I am trying to work through in therapy and something I have been dealing with for 2/3s of my life. It ain't pretty, but it is mine.
I am excited to start over and to be given the opportunity to wipe my slate clean. To be the honest, open, free person I have always wanted to be in a place that accepts this type of behavior.
You see, down South, "crazy people" are simply "characters" and everyone loves a character!
The people here, are not privy to my party.