I had an epiphany just now. Up until two years ago, I've been in survival mode. In some ways, I still am. I don't think it is a rope we are able to just let go of, but with courage, I'll eventually let it fall from my hands.
As a kid I was torn between two parents. I had the long distance biological father with a big chip on his shoulder who alienated me from my mom's family whenever I would travel to see him in the summer time. On the other hand, all year long, I lived with a custodial mother in a household dictated solely by her second husband, my step-father. There was a fair amount of parent alienation going on here too. All my unfavorable characteristics and less than desirable behaviors were blamed on my father who also happened to be one half Polish. Polish jokes ran amok. From a young age I began the survival mode.
School sucked. There's no two ways about it. I was a weird kid with a minimal network of friends. Social interaction was forbidden due to the fact that I was constantly grounded at the hand of my step-father and now brainwashed mother. I would later learn that my biological father did attempt to step in only one time and was quickly shot down. I also learned, just four years ago, that my long-distance grandparents had discussed taking me into their home in the summer of 1990. No one ever made me privileged to that information before and my grandmother has since passed away. I wish I could have talked to her about that.
Battles at school with peers and with my own grades were fights I endured on my own. There was no productive discussion about higher education. I was left to my own devices with obstacles that were set, I believe purposely, to assure failure. Again, survival mode.
The first thing I did after I got that high school diploma was get the hell out of Dodge. Career goals and college aspirations were unsupported and the only option I could find at that time came with a quarter karat diamond ring and a boy-friend who looked a lot like Garth Brooks.
Of course, a quarter karat ain't much...and looks fade over time. The real Garth Brooks put on some weight, had three kids and dropped out of country music. My own personal version of Garth Brooks also put on weight, developed major depression and had multiple extra-marital affairs. Of course, the affairs were all my fault. (sarcasm) But again, survival mode.
After being separated & homeless from December 17, 1998 to January 17, 1999, with a two year old, I finally found the courage to get divorced. I was a single parent, working a no where job, living in Government subsidized apartments, living in survival mode.
I partied a little bit, but I didn't date anyone seriously... at least not until August 2004. But he would turn out to be an extremely emotionally abusive narcissistic sociopath. I picked a doozy, who continued my need to live life in survival mode.
I met Shark on December 2, 2005. We were married on August 8, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada in a cheesy 10 minute ceremony. He wore a tuxedo printed t-shirt. Everything about our relationship and this union was just right. With Shark, I can be myself, and he loves me. With Shark, I am safe.
I realize now that not long after we got married, I felt safe enough to let my guard down. I don't feel like I am living every day of my life in survival mode anymore. This has it's downfalls.
Last summer I partied hard. I shucked a lot of my responsibilities. I drank a lot. I drank so much, my face got puffy and I put on even more weight. I think it was a long time coming though. I had a safety net! I could let my hair down and lift my shirt up. Things finally began to balance out, thankfully.
For the first time, I am truly loved. For the first time, I feel 100% safe. Thanks to Shark.