Friday, April 27, 2012

Life Stages (Again)

I've been thinking about the stages of life that everyone goes through whether they want to admit they did or not. We all go through selfish, yet strangely innocent childhood; awkward, neither here nor there preteen; angry/happy/angsty/every other emotion that you can have teenage years; think you know everything, but in reality you know nothing twenties; etc., etc., etc.

Of course, I've only experienced those listed above and a tiny bit more. It's not like I'm in my 80s with my life winding down and trying to figure everything out (although there are days when I feel like I'm WAAAAYYYY older than I actually am.)  It's just that, recently I had a very shortened and intense version of those stages of life and I have finally accepted that it was just as necessary as everything else that has happened. Not so much to understand me (which is what I feel God was allowing me to do with the amnesia), but to understand how other people relate to me.

Now, this doesn't answer all of my questions in life, I've been thrown a number of curve balls about the people in my life, but it has helped answer a few. Like, why did I make the mistakes that I made and why did other people react the way that they did? If my life had gone differently, I'm sure my perspective would have changed (or in the case of my amnesia, not changed) and I would have never been placed in a position to make the decisions I made, but who am I to question where God placed me? Both then and now, I am where I need(ed) to be.

In my childhood, both then and now, I viewed things simply. Things were black and white, yes and no, fun and not fun. Differences, in my "first" childhood I was hurt by someone I trusted and warned that noone would ever believe a little pipsqueak like me so I'd better keep my mouth shut. I was also warned that if I didn't keep my mouth shut my family would be hurt. So, in my first childhood, I learned to keep my emotions a secret. To never let anyone in. I also learned not to truly trust anyone. Not fully. Not with all of me. In my "second" childhood, I was protected. I was aware of that past's existence, but not remembering it, I never learned to keep things a secret and trusted everyone I was told I could trust. This started with trusting my parents because my psychiatrist told me I could and built from there. This also, unfortunately, included not trusting those I was told not to trust. This included my ex-husband. That was a bad re-start to an already tense situation.

In my preteen years, I was confused. I wanted to still be a child and play and have fun, but I also wanted to be a teenager with all the "things" a teenager had. I thought that as a teenager I would have power I didn't have as a child. In my "first" preteen years, I wanted to be a teenager to escape my painful childhood. Not that everyone hurt me, but I had done so much hiding from who I was that, already, I hated myself. I hoped that as a teenager I would have the power to stop anyone from ever hurting me again. In my "second" preteen, I still anticipated "growing up." It was different. There was a gradual stripping away of the innocent view of all things that I had in my "second" childhood that I never had in my first. I still had the belief that everything could be made okay with the additional "wisdom" of being a teenager, but I didn't believe that I could trust everyone that I was told to trust and that I had to mistrust everyone I was told to mistrust. I was making more judgement calls for myself.

As a teenager I was easily angered and quick to forgive. I was still enough of a child that I thought the world could be made a better place with perseverance, and enough of an adult that I realized there would be people trying to prevent that from happening. The "first" time I was a teenager, I was angry most of the time. The majority of that anger was targeted inward and lashed out at anyone I felt was reflecting who I saw myself as. Thus, I fought with my father a lot, because he and I are a lot alike. I didn't trust family, because the person that had hurt me in my childhood/preteen years was family. I didn't truly trust anyone with all of me, and I desperately wanted that. I wanted someone I could trust with all of who I was to love me and take care of me. I didn't see that I had this and more in my parents, because they were family and not to be trusted. In this time I met my would be husband/ex-husband. He stepped up to the plate in a way no one else had. He saw who I was and loved me anyway. He told me what to do and how to take care of myself, and took care of me when I didn't. The "second" time I was a teenager, the anger wasn't there all of the time, but it boiled up quickly when someone did something that aggravated me. I still had trouble with inward anger. I was remembering things about my life that hurt. Things other people had done to me, and much worse, things that I had done to other people. I had no desire to find someone to tell me what to do and take care of me. I just had a deep desire to learn how to take care of myself. And, I was cocky, both times. I thought I had life all figured out. I thought I had people all figured out, too. My parents, my sister, my friends, my kids, and my ex. I didn't view people as complicated, I viewed them as easy to read, and I viewed myself as the best of them all. Basically, a combination of 10s and 20s. Not a pretty combination, and definitely not a way to make relationships where there was already strain.

Then came my 20s. I was so sure of myself. I believed so fully that I had it all figured out and was doing everything right. In my "first" 20s, I did have the confusion of not knowing why I would be unhappy at times. I didn't realize that pushing down my emotions for as long as I had made me an extremely volatile person. I finally realized how much had been done to me early in life and admitted it, but then ignored it from there. I had never dealt with the emotions and now there was no point. Early in my 20s I knew my life wasn't exactly what I wanted, but if I continued to support my husband in school and work towards having a loving family, then my time would come when I could get my degree as well and our lives would be perfect. Later in my 20s as I started to assert myself as a person, as my confidence grew in who I was, I placed my husband in a tenuous position. The man that had controlled my life for eight years with me happily allowing it and in fact inviting it, was now being told that I wasn't his child. He needed to let me make decisions on my own. Whenever I had asserted this in the past, it had been baby steps. Even then, he had trouble letting go and often held tighter to those little things for a while before loosening his hold. This time, however, it was huge. I wanted to go back to school and take control of things around and within me. It was everything all at once, and instead of giving him time to relax and realize that everything would be okay, I just took control and we fought.....a lot! Change wasn't easy for him, and big change was nearly impossible. Just as before, he grasped harder than ever at what I was asking for control of, but because it was so much I suddenly felt suffocated and rebelled as never before. (Yes, I say rebelled. I realize he wasn't my father, but I had asked him to treat me as such from the beginning. This sudden change to a fully rational woman was impossible to adjust to, for either of us.) If I had given him time, he would have loosened his grip, but I was in my 20s and as such didn't see it this way. In my "second" 20s, I still thought I had the world figured out. More and more of my memories were coming back to me all the time. With them, I thought I knew my kids and how to deal with them. I thought "Gee, look how well I'm doing with my life. It may not be exactly what I was hoping, but still, I'm a great person." I thought I had my ex figured out. He was being unreasonably cruel, and publicly at that. He was complaining that I was "ruining his reputation", but he was doing the same to me, so I stepped it up a notch and he did the same, etc., etc., etc.  I was frustrated with living with my parents, frustrated with living in GA, frustrated with the people around me, but still I had a plan and it would work exactly as I wanted it to. I didn't adjust well when that plan would need to change, but I would adjust regardless.

Now, I'm in my 30s. I hadn't gotten very far in this step in my life before I had to start all over again. It's been good for me. I realize now, I know nothing. I have to think through my anger and word things carefully or I will create more pain for myself and others than has ever been created before. All that's been written here is a rather simplistic view of it all. There were so many things that weren't written about and complexities in a life lived, they are very hard to express in words. The "second" life especially. In that life, I was dealing with all new issues as I relived the old that things get quite jumbled at times. Also, anger spills over no matter what stage in life we are in. That will possibly never change for me. I'm an emotional, volatile woman. It's part of what people both love and hate about me. I am less than I was because I don't try to tamp down and hide what is going on in my head. I've become a very different person than that "first" me. I'm okay with that. I just don't ever want to go through what I've gone through to improve what I was becoming EVER, EVER again!!

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