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feelings grab bag

October 20, 2014

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of this blog. This post is #454, so I’ve averaged ~90 posts per year.

On Twitter late last night, I offered sympathy and/or empathy to a bunch of people I follow, including some people who usually converse with me. For whatever reason though, last night, no one responded at all. Even as these same people responded to other people’s sympathy and/or empathy, so it wasn’t just that they weren’t on Twitter, or didn’t feel up to interaction.

I realized that maybe I think I’m skilled at expressing sympathy and/or empathy, but maybe I actually suck at it. That idea made me even sadder than not getting any responses did.

But for the first time, I didn’t fall face first into a shame spiral. I just felt sad. A bit frustrated.

Eventually I engaged with 2 people. One of them was unhappy, too, and I . . . took the plunge. I expressed concern (despite having complex feelings about the whys and wherefores of their personal issues). They . . . didn’t respond to my attempts at sympathy and/or empathy. But somehow, it hurt less this time. I . . . didn’t take it personally.


Someone else I follow was talking about race and class issues related to making a living at being a writer, especially as relating to affording college these days. Another person mentioned that tuition at the University of Chicago now costs $50,000 a year (!).

When I was in high school, I dreamed of attending the University of Chicago, which was super-expensive back then too. My parents would’ve needed to take out a second mortgage (if they were going to help me out financially at all, which they weren’t); there was no way on earth I could afford to even consider applying. And I did not apply, so I don’t know if I could’ve gotten in.

All these years that I’ve spent in the riptide of how horrible my life with my family of origin was, I’ve been angry that my parents wouldn’t help me out with college, when they did pay for both of my brothers to attend out-of-state private colleges. That was unfair; it sucked.

But… in high school, when I dreamed (uselessly) about the University of Chicago, I didn’t understand anything about how the adult world actually worked. If money had fallen out of the sky, enabling me to attend the University of Chicago, I would’ve still struggled with the transition from high school to college. I would’ve still had a spotty work history, at low-paying jobs. I might’ve still dropped out.

I was really ambivalent about college. If my parents had taken on crushing debt to allow me to attend some expensive school, when I didn’t even want to be there, I’d have been squished by guilt.

I don’t think I ever got anything I really wanted from my parents. They excelled at obstructing my dreams. But. . . now I don’t owe them anything.

Maybe if I’d gotten stuff I wanted from them, I’d have turned into a snot-nosed prat.

None of that matters anymore. I’m 48 years old. My life is what I’ve made of it.

Trial and error with barely any help, ever, was certainly not the fastest way to figure out what I want to do with my life. But I’ve gotten there all the same. Via having many cool experiences I’d not have had otherwise. My work history in no way resembles that of either of my brothers, but I wouldn’t trade mine for theirs.

I’ve earned every inch of my life.


It never gets any easier, dealing with people who had/have supportive parents that they love unconditionally (more or less). I’m not going to try to make conversations about someone else’s parents into conversations about mine, but sometimes it would be nice to just. . . relax into the comfort of the idea that parents genuinely want their kids to thrive. That nice, normal assumption that so many people take for granted. . . that I cannot relate to, at all.

The good news is that I no longer cry when telling a therapist that my parents told me I was stupid and worthless, and that no one would ever put up with living with me because I was such a pain in the butt. The bad news is that having that conversation, for the 18,739th time is somehow still relevant to my life at 48.


Yesterday Spouse brought home a dozen red roses. I like roses a lot, but I don’t really like red roses. And I definitely don’t like bouquets where all the flowers are approximately the same color, and same shape. Also, I had the flowers I’d bought for myself Friday, so it seemed a little odd that he’d brought home flowers. But hey, a husband bearing flowers for no special reason is a nice surprise all the same.

Except the roses weren’t actually for me. He’d used them as props in a photo shoot, brought them home afterwards.

Initially, I felt deflated. I recovered my equilibrium fairly quickly, I thought. Went on with my day. But here I am at 2 a.m. still thinking about it. (Well, the roses are also in my line of sight.)


Lemonade sweetened with maple syrup is delicious. I wish I hadn’t drunk the entire bottle yesterday.


I’m very glad that I’m no longer feeling terrible all the time. But I’d like to feel happier more often. Not just . . . blank. Or vaguely disappointed. Or worse yet, invisible.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2014 15:25

    idk, if my spouse came home bearing roses, I would think they were for me too.

    do you have a favourite colour?

    You put a lot of thought in empathy and where boundaries are–so I think you are developing a conscientious practice on how and when to care in a way that respects both yourself and the other person. Does that make sense? :s

    • October 21, 2014 19:35


      Favorite color right now: orange.

      I think you’re right. I appreciate your insight!

      • October 21, 2014 19:48

        You’re welcome.

        My favourite color right now is… Pale blue.

      • October 21, 2014 20:21

        Orange is opposite blue on the color wheel. What do you like about pale blue?

      • October 21, 2014 20:31

        It is very calming for me right now. It makes me think of the intense calm I get when I am holding a baby. What do you like about orange?

      • October 21, 2014 21:30

        I can see that. Watching fluffy clouds float in the sky makes me think of pale blue (even though clouds are not blue).

        Orange, for me, is vibrant, energetic, and delicious. It’s juicy. It’s bold. It dances. I’m Orange right now! 🙂

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