Friday, January 14, 2011

"I'm all right. Don't Nobody Worry 'Bout Me."

Title courtesy of Kenny Loggins.

Back in the Fall of 1983 I married a guy named Sam.  We had met at college and dated for a year.  Sam was a year older than I was and was a brilliant guy and very cute.  He was so smart that he was the kind who made straight A's even though he partied all night long and passed out on his buddy's couch.  Sam was working on his masters degree when we got married.

Unfortunately, Sam never stopped partying.  He became an alcoholic and a drug abuser and he was an abusive husband.  He never hit me until after we were married.  But that first punch blackened both my eyes and shattered my old-style hard contact lens in my eye.  I had to go to the hospital to have the fragments removed, which was difficult since my eye was rapidly swelling shut.  Sam cried and begged forgiveness.  And I forgave him.  I have a tiny scar under my right eye as a remembrance of that incident.

Over the course of the two year marriage, he choked me several times, hit me in the head with a guitar, causing another black eye and an interesting bump on my temple that never went away, broke all my drinking glasses and the china plates from the set mom had given me (only those I had unpacked, thank goodness), chased me around the house with a hammer, and pointed a loaded shotgun at me.  It was the night he chased me with the hammer that he broke all my dishes.  I had run out of the house and taken "his" truck, our only vehicle, to a nearby gas station where I parked it and sat and cried for a while, waiting for him to calm down.  While I was gone, he broke my dishes to punish me for taking the truck.  He told me he broke one every ten minutes in the kitchen sink to teach me a lesson.  (I guess the lesson was "stay here when I'm chasing you with a hammer?").  The day he pointed the loaded shotgun at me was the day I left him.

I was a poor college student.  That is not a cliche... I  was poor.  I had no money for a lawyer.  So I went to the attorney who volunteered at the campus to give legal advice to students and asked what to do.  He told me where the law form books were in the college library.  I found the forms for a Petition for Divorce and a Waiver for Sam to sign to not contest it.  I typed them up on my old cast-iron Royal type-writer and filed them and paid the filing fee of $74.  I don't remember where I got the money to do that; I certainly didn't have that kind of cash on hand.

During the course of that brief unhappy marriage, I tried an experiment one night when Sam came home stinking drunk again.  (He came home stinking drunk many, many times and I cleaned up his vomit and put him to bed).  This one time, I spoke to him in a soft and soothing voice and lo and behold!  There was no fight!  He stayed calm.  I didn't get hit.  So, clearly, the experiment showed that the abuse was my fault.  Sort of anyway.  If I could be a different person, meek, subservient, soft-spoken, then maybe he would not be abusive. 

But there was nothing wrong with the person that I was.  I was not a fishwife.  But I was, and am, a strong, opinionated, outspoken person.  I was not going to change for Sam and shouldn't have had to.

A year ago or so I got onto Facebook.  I really enjoy it.  I really enjoy the friendships I've made there and reading about the lives and thoughts and feelings of my friends.  And I really enjoy writing about my life and thoughts and feelings.  Some people don't like how I write on Facebook.  Some seem to think I share too much of my life.  Some, I suspect, think I am insincere or a hypocrite.  Some clearly think (and one has told me) that I am a "drama queen" and that they "hate" drama queens and that I need to "take a valium."  Some have unfriended me.  At least two have blocked me.

Those things hurt.  Kinda of like getting punched in the face or choked hurt, little different, but similar.  And just as was the case with Sam, it's pretty obvious that it is my fault.  If I changed who I am and how I interact on Facebook, then people like those I mention who have been nasty to me, probably wouldn't have metaphorically "hit" me.

But there is nothing wrong with me.  I am a good person, who tries to be a loving, caring and supportive friend.  I am not going to change for those people any more than I would for Sam. 

One person who has a problem with me on Facebook made a point of sending me in an email one of the posts I had made on my profile, accompanied by her critque of: "gag me."  This seemed particularly cruel.  Kind of like the dishes breaking thing.  And by doing so she clearly showed that even though she had already unfriended me either she was still reading the posts on my page or some other "friend" had sent it to her.

I mentioned to a real friend my concern about whether I had "friends" who were just masquerading as my friends so that they could make fun of or be spiteful about my posts.  Indeed, I suggested there might be a secret, "People Who Hate Julia" group on Facebook.  (Which idea kind of tickles me because it would feed into my narcissitic personality). 

My real friend pointed out that my security setting on my page were such that "friends of friends" or possibly "everyone" could see my page.  Well when she sent me that message I resolved to fix that just as soon as I got home.  But wait... sometimes a friend of a friend follows a friend over to my page and comments on a photo or a post and sometimes I strike up a new friendship with a new and interesting person when that happens!  Why just the other morning I saw that a friend of a friend had posted on my photo of my window treatments, inquiring where I had gotten them.  And I was happy to be able to give her the link to the website of the manufacturer.  If I changed my security settings to protect myself from mean and petty people then I would deny myself those little pleasures.  So, once again, I'm not changing.  There is nothing wrong with my letting anyone and everyone see my page.  There is only something wrong with the people who are mean and petty.

So perhaps the title of this entry should have been: "I wont go changing, to try to please you."  As an angst filled teen I wrote the poem:

I am who I am
And I don't give a damn
If you can't understand
Who I am or give a damn.

It's not true though.  I do give a damn.  It hurts and makes me sad when people don't like me.  Nonetheless, I think I'm all right so don't nobody worry 'bout me.

8 comments:

  1. I will ALWAYS be on FB for you.I can give cyber-hugs and try to make you laugh.

    April

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  2. Thank April. I really appreciate that. (((hugs))) I'll keep trying to make you laugh too, from time to time (when I'm not being a drama queen! ;~)) Was a rough week.

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  3. Julia, we have lived similar lives. I however, didn't learn the first time and put myself in the same situation more than once. That's why it is just me and my kitties...happily:) I totally identify with your "don't give a damn" attitude also. Most peeps think I don't but they haven't looked past the surface. Thanks for sharing. Take care, Tina

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  4. Love you Tina! (((hugs))) I am just very grateful that I didn't have any children in that marriage. Children would have made it much harder. I have some difficulty with people who are critical of women staying in abusive marriages and call them "stupid," etc. They haven't been there, they don't understand. I believed my marriage was to be a lifetime commitment. I struggled with feeling like a failure for years because I couldn't make it work. If there had been kids too... well I don't know what would have happened. I'm glad you are not in that kind of situation now, sweetie. You stay strong girlfriend! Nobody has a right to hit you. Ever!

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  5. Hugs, to you my friend. Life is good now and has been for quite some time. My boys are grown. In fact they are older than I am now LOL turning 35 and 33 years old in a couple weeks :) I am content and happy to have gained all the friends this awesome place, the internet has allowed me to meet and call my friends :)Keep on truckin', sister!

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  6. Amen sister! I just wish I'd known more about this at the time. Love you. XoxoT

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  7. No one should have to change for anyone. - If they expect you to, well, they're not worthy enough to be apart of your life!

    Great blog post!

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  8. You go, girl!

    I'll just add that I feel one of the shortcomings of Facebook is the briefness imposed on status updates. I think that leads to a lot of misunderstandings which longer posts - such as this one - would clarify enormously. We lose so much when we always communicate with each other in 420 characters or less.

    That's not to say those brief communiques are never helpful - but they're best at conveying single, fairly simple ideas or statements of activity, not expressing introspective or reflective thoughts. And while you can write "notes" on Facebook, they seem like the orphan child, a link away, in a tiny font, not really encouraging of response or discussion.
    The structure of facebook seems geared to surfers, not readers, and to knee-jerk reaction and then moving on, not to careful discussion.

    I'm glad you may have found here a forum with a better format for your more subtle and elaborate thoughts.

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