Gregg is asleep on the couch behind me, and Raymond is bed. I’m sitting here at my computer trying to clear my thoughts so I can write a little more before bed.

Some days are like today. My brain starts racing, filled with all the things I need and want to do, unable to focus on one thing. Unable to decide what the best course of action is to take. So I came here to talk a bit, and try to order my thoughts.

Gregg calls it my “Rapunzel syndrome.” (Don’t look that up, the actual Rapunzel syndrome isn’t pretty, and google has pictures. I made that mistake.)

He calls it that because for the majority of my life I was, for all intense and purposes, locked in a tower. As a child we lived thirty miles from town and I only had my siblings to hang out with. I chose not to spend time with them usually because we didn’t get along, so I would spend hours each day high up in a tree, or out wandering in the woods. At school I’d retreat to the library during every recess and break to read, or browse the books. Even in high school when I did have a few friends they were sure to point out when I made social fopas. I spent most of my teens not speaking because I knew if I asked a question, or said something it would revival how inept I was.

Then I got married and of the fifteen years I was married I spent the majority of it at home with the kids. I did go out much, and if I did it was usually with the husband and the kids to go shopping. I went to church for a year or two, but only to sit in a pew and listen to the sermon, then run back home to care for the children.

Want an example. In ninth grade I was sitting with my friends eating lunch when a girl came over to sit with us. I didn’t know her, no one seemed inclined to introduce us, so I just asked “what’s your name?” Everyone else was mortified. I just wanted to know the name of the girl I was talking to, but apparently I said it in the wrong way. Years later when my husband would take me places he NEVER introduced me to anyone, and I would mostly not say anything because I just didn’t know what I was suppose to say. How did you introduce yourself to someone you didn’t know? I would try now and then, but usually without success. One time he took me over to his sisters (a sister he hadn’t seen in a decade, and I never met) and sat there and talked with her for thirty minutes without acknowledging my existence. I finally said “You must be (name), I’m Crissy.” She gave me a cold look and said “No, my name is (X).” and she hated me ever since. The name I said was only slightly different than her actual name, but apparently some people get really offended if you get their name wrong. Or maybe she was just looking for a reason to hate me. Doesn’t matter. The point is I’m awkward, and I know it.

My social experience is…almost nonexistent. I didn’t start feeling like I could handle actual conversations, especially with strangers, until I got my first “real” job. I was 30 years old. And even then it took months for me to finally get to the point where I thought I could have a conversation without blushing, fumbling, or saying something completely stupid. (I still say stupid stuff now but I no longer care, so that’s a plus.)

So, basically locked in a tower for thirty years of my life. I didn’t grow up learning to deal with everyday things like other people. I don’t know basic social ques, or have the ability to filter out multiple imputes like other people. I don’t even understand half the things going on when I’m in a large crowd of people.

Gregg called it my Rapunzel Syndrome, and explained it beautifully to me a couple days ago.

When I get into a situation that has a lot of new input (a new store, lots of new people, a new event) my brain goes into sensory overload and I don’t know where to focus my attention, or what to do. Other people do this without thinking, and don’t understand my dilemma, so it causes some social awkwardness. The easiest solution for me to fix this is to focus on one thing. Usually that one thing is Gregg. I go to him, put my hand in his, lean against him, listen to the sound of his voice, and it usually calms the circuits in my brain that are on overload and I’m able to try again.

But Gregg isn’t always there. In fact this anxiety has made it difficult for me to do new things, go new places, try new experiences because I know with new things there comes the overwhelming anxiety that makes me want to run back to my car. My car is safe, familiar, and I can turn the music on and focus on it. But then I’m in the car and not in the event.

So two days ago Gregg tells me his new theory on why my brain short circuits when we go out some times and he says “take out your phone and start looking at Reddit.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to be on Reddit while I’m shopping.”

“Trust me,” he said.

So I did it. I pulled out my phone, slid open the screen, and tapped the Reddit app. Less than a minute later the racing thoughts in my head were dulled by the funny GIF, and the interesting news article on the front page of Reddit. I was safe, I was home.

And I felt a little sick of myself. After all, I was trying to have  a nice outing with my boyfriend and there I was reading Reddit to keep my brain from overloading. Couldn’t I even go Christmas shopping without having a melt down? Horsefeathers!

But he was right. I needed something new to help order my thoughts, something that would give me a little freedom from the house so that I could go new places and try new things. And apparently my phone is it. It’s sad to say that I am more addicted to my phone than I ever was before, but at the same time my phone gives me freedom from my underdeveloped mind that I never had.

Anxiety sucks. Being the closest thing to a shut in without being a shut in SUCKS! For a few years all I did was go to work, go home, go to sleep, then go back to work. If it wasn’t for Gregg I’d probably still be doing that. But at least now I have a little adventure, and I try a little more each day.

Maybe that’s why I love to write fantasy so much. For those brief moments I get to go anywhere I want, and see anything I can imagine. I fly on the backs of Griffins, and dive deep into the sea with mermaids. There are airships, and castles floating above the clouds. And all of it is right in my mind.

I hope to keep growing, and be a little less like Rapunzel every day.


New steps

Things can change so fast sometimes. My daughter is in taking her test for a permit. She’s going to learn to drive! That means she’s a step closer to moving out.

I how she passes. I hope she moves out. And I wish she was still my little girl sitting beside me on the sofa while we watch Digimon together.

They grow so fast, and it’s amazing to watch. They take the life you helped them start and make it their own. Sometimes I don’t agree with her choices, sometimes I want to chain her down and make her quit growing up so fast. Other days I can’t wait for her to move out and be her own person.

Teenagers are nature’s way of encouraging parents to let go of their children, or so they say, and I can totally see that now.

BTW, she just passed her test. I’m afraid Dave, and totally excited at the same time.

Who Are You?

I’m 37 now. My children are 19, 17 and 15. The oldest is out of the house for the time being, the middle one starts college in two months, and the last one… well as long as he has food and an internet connection he’s fine.

If you would have asked me who I was about five years ago I would have said “I’m a mom.” It was my identity. My job. My world. My entire life revolved around making decisions for my children.

Not so much anymore. My children have grown up and need me less and less every day. Now I am freer to be myself then I ever have been before.

The question “Who am I?” is subjective. The answer changes and shifts as the seasons change. Once you were a child, then a teen, then hopefully you grew up into an adult (though some people never grow up.) Life, responsibilities, education, loves, loses… all the things that change the fundamental being of who you are.

“Who am I?” is a scary question. I think that when you finally start asking it of yourself then that is when you start really growing up. That is when you stop being a piece of floatsome washed about by the circumstances of your existence, and you start really being YOU!

We are more then the sum of our circumstances. We have choice, and free will. We can make of ourselves something more. Or… we can chose to let go, and let circumstances dictate for us.

I feel like any creative person (artist, writer, director, musician) who takes creative authority over their creations has already said “circumstances do not dictate who and what I am.” This goes for any entrepreneur who searches out their own path, not the path handed to them.

It’s sometimes lonely asking this question of ourselves. And sometimes you find out wonderful things, or things you hate and want to change. But nothing changes until you start asking the question.

So… Who are you?

Letting Go.

Yesterday we drove an hour south of Portland. It was a very long drive, and a bit tiring. And when we got there we dropped off my daughter, and her bags. Then my boyfriend and I jumped back in the car, and drove home.

She’ll be at school for about a year, learning some life skills, and getting some certificates and diplomas so that she can get a job a little easier. She’s 18. She’s suppose to do this sort of thing.

But for me… my little girl just left, and my house is so quiet without her. My other two children don’t talk as much, or share their art and accomplishments with me quite as much as Tiffy did. They don’t complain that no one is doing chores, or constantly pester me to go get things for their cat.

Not that these things are bad. She is a really helpful person to have around the house, especially when I work a lot. But it made a constant noise in my house that is now gone.

I’m so proud of my daughter. She’s facing some of her fears so that she can make her own way. She’s a good example.

Now… I’m going to go toss and turn for a bit and fall asleep.