I suppose I could start by apologizing to my friends whom I have long promised to write about my adventures here in Paris. While I do journal from time to time and write some stories down, I admittedly have not shared the realities I'm facing other than an occasional one liner on facebook. That being said....the following is a confessional that manifested into something much more serious than I anticipated, but it is the reality of what has happened to me.
I always have mixed feelings about the holidays. Christmas was important in our house because we were a Christian family with a Southern Baptist heritage that spanned generations. It was the one time of year when we dreamily became distracted from our actual problems with each other by wrapping presents, hanging decorations, singing holiday songs and throwing ourselves into the holiday Christmas spectacle debacle at our church. To this day I do enjoy the sound of Christmas Carols, even though the text no longer carries much meaning. As it must have been in most small American towns, there was no mention of Judaism or Islam, and Kwanzaa was just a holiday not based in reality (insert juxtaposing "Santa" irony here). No matter what the reason during the season I usually got yelled at by some family member for misbehaving (you know how adults have difficulty dealing with an intelligent, strong-willed child) and the odds for this occurance were greater for me as I usually had three separate families to share holiday joy. One year the fire department came to extinguish the Christmas fire started by my mother; and another my sister and I had our presents taken away for locking our baby-sitter out of the house - which I will justify doing to this day because she broke the rules and invited her boyfriend over, therefore stripping her of all authority. The last anecdote I'll deal out is when I convinced my sister we should call our mother's bluff about Santa. In every Christmas movie you see the children waking up early, running downstairs and immediately opening their magical gifts from Santa in their stockings. SO, I woke up my sister at 6am and rushed to our stockings feigning joy and excitement as we began to tear through "Santa's" presents. My mother's bionic hearing led her into the living room - without a stitch of clothing - where she proceeded to yell at us to get back to bed and shoved the presents back into the stockings and wrapping paper. I secretly giggled at all of this because I knew my behavior was completely logical - why should SHE be upset that we were opening SANTA'S gifts? Besides, an angry half-asleep, naked mother is pretty funny when you're about 7.
I suppose looking back I was ornery, but I guess I always felt like a fake at Christmas. Christmas didn't change that I was an uphappy, angry child. My sister and I were still the only outcast children of divorce who never felt completely accepted by our mother's, father's or step-father's families. It didn't bring my father around more often. It didn't make my step-father stop yelling at me whenever I pissed him off (which was a lot) and my mother usually clung to the childish behavior of making things all about her. The eight years I spent in New York only lead to one Christmas back in California and I admit I was never sad about it. I don't say any of this to negate my family, because this year we've become much more open with each other and I love them for better or worse as they do with me. Or at least I hope they still do after reading this.
What I am sad about is having left a beautiful family in New York that always supported and loved me in ways I had never felt. They thought I was amazing and I had never been able to see myself that way. I have always felt very encouraged by those friends who became my adult family and I thank them all for their love.
The reality of my journey to Paris has set in. I am very much alone, but it was a decision I made to figure out the reasons I have been drowning within myself for so long. Most people don't know the demons I face because I keep them hidden in the darkest places within and had become a champion at hiding them from myself. However, perhaps now it is time to share a part of me that I have been afraid will put an unlovable condition upon me to the world. A few days ago I watched a dvd my mother sent me (for Christmas...) of a compilation of home movies during the times when I was 13-15 years old. I felt sick to my stomach and cried as I watched and saw so clearly that I have hated myself for as long as I can remember. I had spent so much time feeling self-hatred, that I didn't even know when it began. I had never believed I was worth loving, or succeeding and have spent my whole life running in a direction that is furthest away from having to face that. I turned off the dvd and thought: you have tortured yourself long enough, and now it's time to stop. I don't think I've ever felt so peaceful and such a cliched "moment of clarity" in my life. Now, here I sit in my beautiful Parisian apartment on the brink of a second chance to treat myself with the kindness, love and acceptance I have always sought from others, but have never been able to give myself. Holy crap. Has the answer for me always been so simple? I'm almost annoyed because I know I'm smart enough to grasp this concept, but have obviously been too proud to apply it to the person who needed it most.
Well, I can't promise the next blog will be super upbeat, but I can promise more detail of my daily living. I mean one only gets one Christmas epiphany a year, right?
Love and Happy New Year to all!