I Gotta Be Me
One of the great loves of teenage Jive Turkey (besides rolling her eyes and crying over the Elephant Man) was The Far Side. You know, that crazy little one-panel cartoon with the talking cows and such? LOVED IT. Owned every single collection and calendar that was ever released. The punchlines still get stuck in my head from time to time. Lately, this is the one I keep coming back to:
This is the point at which my mother would say, “These make me nervous because I never get them.”
Admittedly, I don’t have a very good history when it comes to being myself. Sure, I’ve gotten a lot better since my junior high days, when GOD FORBID any article of clothing I owned fell even slightly outside the norm of what everyone else was wearing.
Thank God I was never cool enough to own a jacket like that.
But even though I’ve become infinitely more comfortable and honest with myself over the years (thanks in no small part to the fact that acid wash is no longer popular), I still have that overpowering desire to please other people and to avoid conflict at all costs. And in a way, it’s great to be the person who wants to make everyone feel at ease, but in another way? It’s total bullshit. And I’m beginning to learn that I don’t have the patience for it anymore.
In other words: I am, truly, gettin’ too old for this shit.
The year I turned 30 was actually the first time I started to feel like I could be a more honest person – but mostly, that was about being honest with myself. I finally stopped giving a good goddamn about what people from college and grad school might think about my part-time theatre hobby and my full-time non-theatre job. I admitted to myself that YES, I like living in a place that is not a huge city, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. So what if my idea of a fun weekend is cooking big breakfasts and getting things done around the house? I like being at home. And you know what else? I DON’T REALLY LIKE SHAKESPEARE. Bores me to tears on the page, on the stage, and as an actor. There. I fucking said it.
“I’d like to see YOU write a five-act tragedy. Bitch.”
Nowadays, with my 30th birthday nearly two years behind me, it seems I’m reaching another milestone in being comfortable with myself. And this time, the situation is being brought to me courtesy of someone whose intestines are not currently all the way inside his or her body yet.
“SHUT UP, Mom, you’re embarrassing me! GOD!”
It’s weird. It seems like all these insane pregnancy hormones and body changes have not only given me a sizable new rack, a renewed love for banana peppers, and the napping schedule of a house cat, but have also completely stunted my ability to sugarcoat and/or soften my true feelings in the interest of keeping the peace and not ruffling any feathers.
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Very early on in this pregnancy (Ha! Listen to me, talking like an old pro. An old pro who still insists that she can fit into these jeans THAT ARE CUTTING OFF HER CIRCULATION), I realized that I was cutting to the chase a little bit more than usual when it came to communicating my wants and needs. It wasn’t something I consciously chose to do, it was more like something my body was telling me to do. Half of the time I wouldn’t even be aware that the words were coming out of my mouth, but they came out so strongly and with such conviction that I began to suspect that my body was holding up little cue cards directly to the speech center of my brain, as a way of circumventing my usual wishy-washy thought process. These messages, you see, were just too urgent and timely to be delayed or watered down, and required immediate action. Among the things i heard myself saying in a tone usually reserved for housebreaking a puppy:
- “I need to eat. NOW.” (It is also perfectly acceptable to insert “gummy bears,” “mashed potatoes,” “red meat,” “a burrito,” or “those stale crackers from Target in my drawer,” after the word “eat.”)
- “I need to take a nap. NOW.”
- “I need to sit down. NOW.”
- “I need you to stop talking at my face. UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”
- “I need to cry. INDEFINITELY.”
And there is no discussion about these things. There is no compromise. These are 100% non-negotiable, with the consequences being me passing out, throwing up, or coming after you with a hanging folder and a box full of push pins (my arsenal of threatening implements at work is kind of weak).
But now I see this trend spreading to areas beyond my insistent, first-trimester needs. It’s starting to apply to the bigger stuff, the stuff that will matter once this kid is out in the world and under my watch. And Internet, I am learning that when it comes to my kid, I am not going to mince words. There are things that need to be said and I am prepared to say them, regardless of what other people might think.
On Monday, I wrote a rant – a RAAAAAANT – that I almost posted here. It was angry and raw and unedited, and I decided to let myself cool off a bit before hitting that publish button. Of course, now that it’s been a few days, I don’t feel the need to throw all that frustration out into the world. I still feel as strongly about it, but I’ve decided that instead of ranting, what I need to focus on is sticking to my guns. And it seems the time for that is now.
I know I’ve been awfully cagey about this issue in previous blog posts (and I probably won’t reveal too much here), but I will say that the stance I am taking is going to hurt and anger my immediate family. At the same time, I’m angry that my rejection of one particular label will mean more to certain people than the fact that I am a good and loving person. I know that by simply being honest about who I am and what I feel, I’ll be shunned and shamed before anyone considers trying to listen to me or understand me. I hate that this is the consequence, but I hate pretending to be something I’m not even more, and that’s fucking THAT.
Not to draw on too ridiculous an example, but you know how Clay Aiken just came out (to the surprise of that one middle-aged woman in Duluth who still holds a torch for Barry Manilow)? And you know how he said it was inspired mostly from the birth of his child, because he didn’t want to raise a child to lie or hide things?
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m feelin’ you, girl. Also, I think my aunt has that sweater.
That’s kind of where I am right now. Some people will judge me, some people will lose respect for me, some people will say really hurtful things to me out of the hurt they feel I’m causing them, but if there’s only one person who will understand me and my motivations, I just hope it’s the same person who’s totally worth the entire shitstorm: our little Spats.
And now that I’ve gone and paralleled my life to that of CLAY AIKEN, for shit’s sake, I think I’m done here. I hope you’re having a good week, Internet. And remember: when you’ve reached the point of being too old for that shit, embrace your Danny Glover, and let the world know.
Also: Congrats, Clay, on coming out. Congrats, also, on sporting more makeup and highlights than an 18-year-old Aeropostale employee back when you were still pretending to be straight.
Entry filed under: Taste my Backhand.