Tag Archives: Personal Growth

My Parents Suck

I think the primary challenge to the new blogger (at least one as anxious as myself) is getting over the fear that someone they know — friends, family, or coworkers — might read their writings and judge them, perhaps harshly. Anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows this is an unfounded fear: most people don’t actually give two shits about what you’ve written let alone recalling the fact that you’ve been writing in the first place. I recall my cousin asking me about this blog a year or so ago: “So you’ve have, uh, what’s it called? A blog? And you write? That’s really cool. I haven’t actually read any of it yet though…” Yeah. No shit. No one in the family does and I’ve stopped worrying about them reading it a long time ago. I feel like I can bash them all I want and no one would ever know.

This post will be a little different though if you read the title again. My parents do “follow” this blog on Facebook even though I don’t think they’ve read a single thing I’ve written. Ever. It seems fitting for the topic at hand, doesn’t it? Despite not reading anything I’ve written, I think them seeing a big, fat, blue and white banner saying MY PARENTS SUCK might get them to change their minds, if only temporarily. I’m not going to post this on Facebook. I’m not scared they’ll read this, I’m just worried that if I write this in the frame of mind that they could read it I might not be as open as I would be otherwise. And if they do read it? Who cares? It might do them good to read it and especially so if I wrote it as blatantly truthful as possible because I thought that they wouldn’t read it. So this will just be a secret between myself and those who find it themselves.

I don’t think kids realize how much their parents affect them growing up. I’ve always felt separate and unique from everyone else and being a child was no different. I’ve always felt like myself and never considered that my family/parents where shaping me as a person. Obviously being around parents/guardians as an impressionable kid will change you, it just never felt like it at the time. As a child you also have no outside perspective as to how other parents really are. All you are aware of your narrow personal situation are are hopelessly ignorant of other families. You don’t realize that other families can and are horribly fucked up or immensely better than yours unless you have knowledge of them. In short, being raised in a fucked up home can easily lead you to think the situation is normal. You grow up inevitably altered and perhaps even damaged without even being aware of it. It’s scary.

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate how many flaws probably stem from the damage my parents inflicted, usually unintentional damage. And I want to stress that we (my sister and I) didn’t not have a bad upbringing with a capital B. No one was molested, abused, or tortured. We never starved. We never suffered. But I think this made it harder for me to accept the damage; by not having a Bad upbringing how much damage could’ve been done? It doesn’t take a dramatic event to mold you though. The small and nearly imperceptible hits you take daily slowly bend and form you even if you’re unaware of it.

The Mom

My mom was crazy. Unhinged. Angry. Depressed. Memories are vague from my childhood but she would always be yelling at us. Tell us how ungrateful we were and how we didn’t do anything to help out around the house. Her anger was always relegated to yelling and despite constant threats to “beat our asses” she was rarely violent. We’d usually laugh it off because she was never a threat. A dog with a fearful bark but no bite. My dad and her would scream and fight at each other and I vaguely recall her grabbing knives a few times, but usually would just throw random shit at him. He never seemed to do anything bad to her, but I later come to understand what I had missed with age; my dad wasn’t a saint.

She was very selfish and self-centered. Everyone had to cater to her. She is still this way although she has improved immensely over the years. But she is still a fucked up person. You always need to do the work, or to have an understanding of her unique situation; she always needs to be catered towards. If she owes you money, for example, you need to drive to her house and get it yourself. And you need to be grateful that she even paid you back the money! “I hope you’re happy” she has said to me a few times upon paying me money for our mutual phone bill. Yes, I’m serious. She also “borrowed” $200 from me once and upon nagging her for a payment, she wondered why I didn’t want to help her out and wasn’t grateful for her raising me. It wasn’t the point, I said, a loan was a loan and you can’t just change the terms of what was agreed upon. I still don’t have my $200 either…ANYWAYS…

Apparently she struggled with mental illness and depression the entire time we were kids (and still does), but it always seemed like an excuse. She’d endlessly bitch, yell, complain, and scream at us and justify doing so with her depression. If you tried to argue any opposing point of view about anything she’d usually break down crying, play the victim, and talk about her depression. Always on the attack until you attack her and then she is the victim. And endless “woe is me” story. You literally cannot tell her she’s wrong in a firm way without her being a victim. Considering the previous paragraph, depression always seemed a way for her to make anything instantly about herself. She was the one hurting, no one else understood this, and to hell with anyone else suffering: it was her that needed the most help.

The Dad

My dad was much more “normal” I guess, but his demons and flaws were just not as obvious to us kids. I remember writing a paper in fifth-grade calling him “my hero” and also remember my mom being ultra-pissed that I wrote it. “He’s not a hero, you don’t know the bad things he’s done.” I attributed it to her being mean and pissy (like always) but surprisingly she was onto something. Dad is fucked up, and maybe even more so than our mom. We just didn’t know it really. Mom was openly fucked up whereas dad wasn’t.

He sometimes would drink and would become mean and violent. He’d throw shoes at us. Always the loving father sober he would be transformed by a few drinks into a total asshole. He told us many times “I never wanted you guys anyways” or something along those lines. When we’d get upset by it he’d claim that “drinking made him tell the truth.” It’s one of those things you don’t think sticks with you, but apparently when you write a blog post about it decades later it still hurts. LIke, shit, that was really mean. I was really hurt by it. Luckily he didn’t drink that much, maybe once a month if I could guess. But when he did drink things weren’t good.

That was a classic sign of my dad’s flaws: being too hidden to be honest with himself or others. He’s still that way too, maybe even more so. Passive-aggressive as anyone could ever be. He never directly insulted you or had an opinion as most of his actual opinions and thoughts were hidden behind jokes where he could say what was on his mind and laugh it off if challenged or questioned. Anything emotional was hidden. I’m assuming this is why he’d be a dick when drunk. Everything came flooding out and you couldn’t really blame him because he kept packing baggage deep within himself. And this is why my mom would be immensely mad at him; he would say smart-ass “joking” remarks that were very incendiary towards her, and her being fucking crazy in the first place would totally lose it. He’d pick at her, subtly insult and provoke her and all of this went right over the heads of the short and ignorant children that we were. Dad wasn’t evil, but as mom was well aware he wasn’t a saint either.

I’m certain my dad’s emotional immaturity stems from his mom’s — our grandma — death from stroke when he was twelve. I assume he was faced with some serious emotional shit and coped by just stuffing it deep inside and ignoring it. He had a slew of brothers and sisters and being one of the oldest required him to grow up quickly and act as a parental figure. As I’m talking about myself being fucked up by my childhood situation, you also have to realize my dad is also fucked up from his childhood situation. You can’t blame him I guess. I guess you can’t blame anyone really. It’s one big giant chain of fucked up people raising fucked up kids. And so on.

And Myself

And now onto myself. How am I fucked up? That’s hard to answer because knowing yourself is hard to do, at least it is for me. I struggle with depression, maybe some genetic holdover from my mom. I don’t know. And my depression is usually hidden, tucked away, and kept quiet possibly due to my mom’s bombastic treatment of the subject. Remember depression was her go-to, catch-all reasons for everything. It didn’t feel like serious depression even if it really was. It seemed like something she’d bring up to win arguments or to get us to do things. She never tried to get help (that I recall), making it seem even more trivial. I guess I’m totally opposed to this. I see depression as a serious thing, so don’t want to bring it up to strangers and coworkers every day or to play the victim all the time. In a way I probably keep it too hidden and end up being more like my dad. Shit.

Most of what I learned through my mom was an opposite reaction to her. She was open about mental illness to a degree that trivialized it; I keep it hidden because it’s a serious subject to me. My mom would also yell and act generally crazy while I try to remain calm and logical. She was/is also terrible with managing money, and as a response I ended up being super talented at managing money; this still leads me and her to arguing like the examples above. I do have her mouth, as you can fucking tell from my writings, but otherwise she taught me who not to be and it probably worked out for the best honestly.

As for my dad? I think I have the same “opposite action” thing going on from him, especially lately now that I’ve realized the ways he is flawed. As stated my dad avoids problems by not acknowledging them. He recently had a pulmonary embolism where his breathing became worse and worse over a few weeks. A few weeks. Just avoid the problem until it goes away, right? He’s also terribly overweight but doesn’t seem to care about it, not enough to change his habits at least. He’s also diabetic but doesn’t give two shits about insulin and checking his blood sugar as well as he should. It’s the same emotionally: closed off and not acknowledging any issues whatsoever. So as a reply to this I’ve been trying to be much more open and receptive of my problems. Realize the problem, make a plan to solve the problem, fix the problem. It’s easy and the hardest part is realizing the problem in the first place.

On a more visceral level I think I’m so terrified, anxious, and frightened because of my upbring. Once again our parents arguing was never an obvious problem at the time, but something seems to have been carried into adulthood from the fights. One scenario really stands out. A few years ago my dad moved in with my mom to help her pay for her house (yes they are divorced and yes they did move back in for financial reasons and no it did not work well at all) mostly because she’s bad with money. They somehow got into a yelling argument just like they did decades ago and something deep inside me appeared. A visceral terror and fear of people arguing. The precipice right before a simple disagreement turned into full-fledged yelling, and possible knife-grabbing and waving and object tossing affair. I felt panic and on-edge and tears creeping around inside my eyelids but adult me was able to choke the feelings back down, but in the moment I felt like I was instantly teleported back into my eight or ten-year-old body feeling as helpless and terrified as a child me would feel. When you have those memories from childhood hidden deep down inside you where you’re not even aware of them, is it that hard to imagine that they might also be the source of anxiety and fear that seem to haunt me daily?

I also have very strong beliefs about my upbringing and my inability to persevere in the face of difficulty. I totally blame them for how I am with this aspect of my personality. I had very good grades as a kid. I was smart. I was the kid the teachers would “want an entire classroom of!” or some bullshit like that. I didn’t have to try hard to succeed at school or anything academic. My entire life in school was one of ease — no effort, no motivation, no difficulty — and I’d be rewarded anyways. They also kept telling me how smart and talented I was and how I could do anything I wanted to do if I just applied myself! Bullshit. This is my biggest regret about my childhood and what I blame my parents for the most: I didn’t learn how to persevere.

I know they were trying to be supportive to their kids (maybe as a reply to their own parents’ lack of support?) but that’s how you scar them and cripple them as adults. Before this blogging ordeal I never tried anything difficult that was outside of my comfort zone and in some ways I think I enjoy blogging so much because of the challenge to persevere in the face of zero obvious progress. I never experienced failing over and over until I succeeded because I never had to do that as a child. By endlessly encouraging me as a child they crippled my ability to weather defeat and learn perseverance. I learned that I didn’t need to take chances. I’m a softy. I can’t take rejection or failure. I can’t hear criticisms. And damn is it a struggle to unlearn things you’ve had beaten into you for literal decades.

This was a really long and rambly post that probably didn’t offer any readers anything in return, but I wanted to vent a bit. How have your parents (or other adults) fucked you up? Did they do it in small and subtle ways like mine did despite having an average childhood? Do you have strange personality quirks that you’re not sure where they came from? Did you have a good childhood and your parents actually didn’t cause you much harm? Are you a well-off and well-rounded adult? Or did you have a childhood from hell where all you learned to do was be beaten and insulted day after day? Where your adulthood is mostly a struggle to live and deal with all the trauma inflicted upon you?

Conversing Sucks: Limited Conversation Points

Trying to conserve valuable ‘conversation points’ is a struggle.

Note: In the chase for record monthly viewers this month (I need about 55 more views), I’ve finally gotten my shit together and and posted two days in a row! Sometimes you just hit that stride where you write a blog post that flows so easily and wonderfully that it doesn’t feel like a chore at all. This is one of them, and why there is a new post so soon; I actually haven’t gotten my shit together.

I’m an introvert, and a classic one at that. I’m also a shy introvert and while most people think the two words are interchangeable apparently they’re not. But even knowing that I don’t think I’ve ever come across an obviously outgoing introvert and sometimes think they’re a myth. I don’t even know what a person like this would even look or act like. I’ve probably came across them numerous times and just never knew what I was supposed to be looking for. I rambled a bit there, but shy and introverted. That’s the type of person I am. INTJ. Possible Type 5 enneagram. But that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

I should also say that I have some suspected and undiagnosed problems with social anxiety. I’m always wondering how people are “supposed to act” and find myself overthinking any and every remotely social situation I find, or even imagine, myself being in. If anything makes this painfully clear it should be this very blog post where I’ve written 2,000 words about talking to people. This social anxiety has never been properly diagnosed so the degree and even the fact of it is questionable. I don’t know, but it sure feels like I have social anxiety and if I don’t I do feel sorry for those that do have real social anxiety. This also brings up that age old question of whether people are more alike or different from each other. Maybe everyone feels this way and I’m blowing it out of proportion? Or maybe it really is a problem with me as an individual? The only person’s brain I can be inside is my own.

I’m a firm believe of something like a “social interaction point scale” or whatever it’s actually called (I’m sure it has a proper name). The idea is this: we all have an allotted amount of social interaction “points” that we can use within a day and once these are spent, well, I don’t really know what happens. Maybe you shut down like a robot that ran out of electrical power where you can’t talk or interact at all. Or maybe you just get really moody and while you can still force yourself to interact you can’t “deal with it” anymore. You turn grumpy and bitchy and start yelling at people, being curt, or just giving them constant side-eye. This “point system” makes perfect sense to the introverts such as myself. After talking to people, especially certain people I work with, I find myself mentally and even physically exhausted. I feel drained. As for how this “point system” works for extroverts who are energized by social interaction I have no clue. Maybe social interactions add points while time melts them away. Like a clock always ticking down to zero. But I don’t know. Remember, stuck in my own head and all of that.

And the fact is that people vary wildly in how draining or invigorating they are to talk to. You have to give the diversity of people credit; with people you will never find yourself feeling like you ever “have them figured out.” Every single person I talk to is different and unique in their own way and I’m not talking about lifestyle, physical traits, beliefs, or whatever, even though all of these differences are real. I’m talking about conversations. Talking to a person is always a unique experience and there are always subtle conversational differences between even similar people.

Some people I can talk to enthusiastically and easily for hours on end; it’s like they don’t make a dent to my social interaction point total. These conversations are always interesting and fulfilling even if the topic being discussed is something mundane. It’s like something clicks between myself and the other person. Sometimes I even think these people might add points which sometimes throws my whole identity as an introvert into question. Maybe I’m an extrovert with certain people and it’s only others that I find draining? Hmm. And obviously on the other side of the spectrum are those unique and special people whom I hate talking to. They’re instantly draining and I can never pinpoint exactly why. It’s like our personalities are so goddamn different that there is no meaningful conversation going on at all. I will literally find myself spacing out while making the damndest effort to pay attention out of the sheer politeness of being a respectable human being. It’s not that I don’t want to pay attention to them, it’s that I literally can’t. My brain won’t allow it. It goes into rest mode. Sleep mode. Hibernation. Whatever you want to call it. My go-to example here is a conversation I had with a well-meaning lady at work a year ago. She literally talked to me for twenty minutes about how she did her laundry. Yes, laundry. How she separated the clothes based on color/shade, washed them, relaxed while folding the clothes, and found the entire process to be almost an escape from the hassles of everyday life. Seriously. I couldn’t take it. Twenty minutes.

And there are all the grey areas in between that you can dream of. Some people I feel submissive talking towards, they lead the conversation and are in charge, and other conversations I feel dominant in, the rare conversation that I lead. There are fun conversationalist, serious conversationalists, the people who like to constantly joke no matter what, or the people who constantly bitch about stuff. There are people who you can’t actually talk to but can only talk at, they provide nothing in the way of actual two-sided conversation. And there are some people who can only talk about themselves. No matter what, these people play a complex game of conversational chess to take any topic, sentence, theme you’re talking about and make it about themself in as little back-and-forth motions as required. Obviously they’re exhausting to talk to as the conversation is blatantly one-sided. And you’re not being paid therapist wages to listen to them whine, bitch, and complain either.

I used to deal with conversations I’d found myself stuck in just because it’s the right thing to do. People are people and you should respect them and whatever other feely-good bullshit you want to spout off. Something like they enrich the world. I believe this stuff — seriously — I’m just terrible at taking the high and noble road and actually implementing it into my actions. Basically the general theme of what I was bitching about in the enlightenment post; I have the right ideas and I’m just a terrible person in general. But lately I’ve had a twisted revelation that throws all niceness out of the window, a sort of blatant acceptance of who I am as a person, as douchebaggy as it is. Given my point system theory here, why would I want to sacrifice my precious and limited points talking to someone that drains them? Why aren’t I selective with my points? When there are a handful of people whom I love to talk to, why wouldn’t I save my points so I can spend them where I’m happiest? It isn’t a radical idea, but might be radical to me being as shy and introverted as I am, but I can actually decide who I talk to if I wanted or needed to. I’m not obligated to talk to anyone.

To hell if we don’t do this in every other aspect of life when it doesn’t involve people. I don’t sit down and watch random movies that I’m not interested in “just to watch them.” With books — especially with books as they require a lot of time — I don’t force myself to read things I’m not enjoying or slough through some bullshit book to prove a point. Video games, music, YouTube videos, and food, with almost everything we are immensely discriminating towards because we have no reason not to be. I’m not advocating staying ignorant and tucked firmly inside your comfort zone at all times, but you need to know what you enjoy and be decisive with the time that is given to you. You can’t piss your time away doing everyone else’s interests for them and no one expects you to. It makes sense and no one would shit on you for being this way. We’re picky about our time and we treat it like the precious resource it is.

And so back to conversations. We (or maybe just myself? Who knows.) aren’t very picky with how we spend our precious and limited conversation time/points and the only reason I see this being any different from anything else is because people are involved. Once again I invoke the “people are special, unique, and beautiful” outlook here that I agree with; it’s easy to stop reading a terrible book and there is no real personal insult to anyone by doing so but it’s much more difficult and possibly insulting to stop talking to a person because they’re awful to talk to. I don’t think it has to be this blatant thought, you don’t have to flat out tell someone, “Look, I just can’t talk to you right now. My mind is seriously shutting down and won’t let me pay attention to anything you’re saying. But it’s not your fault it’s mine!” That’d be terrible to do. But you know how conversations are; they’re fluid and chesslike, a game of back-and-forth and give-and-take where one thing you say leads the other person to say something. If you’re sort of aware and talented you can always find a way out of nearly everything. A convenient excuse to use the bathroom, or directing the topic away from something terrible to something more interesting usually works. Or passing your “conversational baton” to another person, swapping conversational roles with the unknowing, ignorant sucker standing next to you allowing for your selfish escape, your points saved up and your motivation mostly intact.

As stated at the end of this post, I have a friend who likes to rip my worldview apart in a fiery outburst of his usual optimism. When complaining about all of this to him, he pointed out that the places we feel most angry, upset, and awful are the places where we have the most room for improvement. This is the direction of optimal growth and possibilities. These things that piss me off, the boring conversations where my brain shuts the fuck off, are like a giant neon arrow sign saying, “Jeremy, this is where you need to go to have personal growth. RIGHT HERE.” If only I could face my fears, realize that this is something that just irks the fuck out of me, maybe I could learn to deal with it and grow as a person. What would happen if I got over my anger of talking to these certain people? Would I even have anything to complain about anymore? Could I learn to love and accept these people as they are? Maybe this is my path of personal growth and peace with humanity and the universe? Maybe.

But I just hate talking to certain people. And my points are precious. And maybe I’m just a terrible person because I want to drop these conversations faster than I drop a boring-ass book. Maybe I’m just not wired for it, and as the wise prophets on Facebook say, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.” I mean that in the most goddamn sarcastic way possible: I’m joking. That saying is stupid. Maybe I should sacrifice some conversation points in the pursuit of personal wisdom and growth. But damn is it difficult to do.