This is what prompted my previous blog post. It was late, and I had to empty my brain. Reading that page strummed an emotional chord with me, and I wouldn't have slept if I hadn't gotten all that out of my head.
I sometimes struggle with balancing the sweet and the sour sides of me. On occasion I think I should be more docile and kinder in general. And while I should, the long-standing anger and resentment that I keep shoving back to its dark hole still reaches an arm up and grabs my ankle, trying to pull me down there with it. But in all honesty, I like who I am now, and I don't want to change things. I do want to corral the mean side of me, but that's always going to be a work in progress. I don't want to become so docile that I fail to LIVE. (Insert Auntie Mame-to-Miss Gooch quote about living here)
I used to be shy. Yes, me, shy - it's sometimes hard for me to believe too. Teachers would call on me because they knew I was smart enough to answer the question, but I was barely audible to even the kid sitting next to me. An hour later, the teacher could hear me talking over the rest of the class. There were lots of things that shoved me into that dark hole. Constantly being stymied and squashed by my parents for whatever reasons they held, being teased by my peers, having a raging case of ADD and no skills to work around it, having a big lack of social skills, being molested several times over the course of a few years by someone related to me, and a general case of "nobody gets me" for years will do a number on a person. I knew I could do so much more than I was actually accomplishing, and that failing of myself cuts too. A sheer lack of electives that interested me at the junior high is what sent me to band. I needed 2 performing arts credits to graduate, so naturally I opted for band again when I moved to the high school for 10th grade. That single set of decisions is what I credit for changing my life entirely. Band geeks get it, and each other, and they don't judge (much) for the quirks. Score one for my dig out of the hole. A girl in band with me moved to my school because her dad was in the Lutheran seminary and that was his year to serve at the church down the street from school. She was in Upward Bound. I got into the program here because I knew her, even though my school wasn't a feeder for that program. That program has a summer component where you live on the college campus, in the dorms, go to classes to get you a leg up for the school year, and you continue through the year on Saturdays. That program is where I met Devildog.
I credit him with cracking my shell. I'm pretty sure that sometimes, he wishes he hadn't. He single-handedly reversed the inner voices in my head. Because of him, I believe that I really AM a beautiful, intelligent, capable and awesome woman. He refused to let me say that I was ugly, stupid, incapable, or less than stellar. He encouraged me to do things that I had been scared of doing for the lamest of reasons to be scared. While he didn't build my confidence, he did do his part to give me the means to feel confident. BIG score 2 for my dig out of the hole.
Because Devildog & I had 1.75 kids by the time we graduated high school, he opted to join the Marine Corps. As a Marine's wife, you put up with a lot of crap that civilian wives don't. You also grow a backbone bigger than a civilian wife's. You gain skills that even some males don't have. My husband brought home a book called "Roses & Thorns", which turned out to be a handy written heads-up for me. I think every military spouse should read it as soon as they're engaged or married to a service member. Then he signed me up for a Brides's Class at the Family Service Center at Camp Lejune. I freaked when he said he wasn't going. "I'm not doing that without you!" He calmly looked at me and said "Honey, I still have to go to work. And they'll pay for child care for you to go to the class". That one, he SHOVED me at, kicking and screaming and I am ever grateful he did. I learned a hell of a lot those 3 days. That prompted me to start volunteering at Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, where I learned much-needed career skills, and more about navigating military life. From there I landed a job at a hotel, where I made myself valuable. Then I moved on to the merchandising job I have now.
All along the way, I've ticked little things off my bucket list. I have grown bigger balls than I ever imagined I would have. If I'd had the skills, attitude, confidence and general persona that I have now, when I was in my 20's, I think our lives would be even better now than they are. I have taken on a personality that people aren't sure about when they first meet me. I am rough around the edges despite my outward beauty. I feel even more beautiful now than I did 10 years ago, despite my need to work out and tone up the muscles from baby#4. But inside I still feel edgy, and the inner Betty Badass keeps popping up to say hi. She's the reason I can take my van someplace and be taken seriously. I learned to use a weapon out of necessity, because one was in the house. If you have something in your life, you need to know how to operate it. The gun range is FUN, and I love going. I haven't been since before I got pregnant with the Blur. I'm overdue for some range time.
Likewise, I've wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle since I was a kid my daughter's age. It was always something on my list, but I didn't have much drive or need to accomplish it just yet. Then, Devildog's Bronco was having some issues, and fixing it was becoming a regular thing. The neighbor jacked up his truck to excessive redneck proportions, to the point it was no longer street legal. He needed to get a truck to tow his TRUCK, so he put his motorcycle up for sale. We used a chunk of our tax refund to buy it. Even I knew it was an awesome deal, and I don't lament or regret that purchase. So, now, that means I have to learn how to ride for real. I've long staved off Devildog buying a bike, saying "I am not gonna be the broad on the back. You get a bike when I get one too." Well, necessity and a great deal on a bike has merited a change of sorts. I'm ok waiting till the kids are older for us to buy a 2nd motorcycle. However, before I even think about riding the back of someone's bike, I have to learn how to operate one. I need to know what to expect from my driver if I'm riding passenger. So that's one of the bigger things on my bucket list that I'm ticking off of it soon. I love gifts, but given the state of my house, clutter free ones are awesome. I asked for the class for my birthday, and some friends have helped make that happen.
And when I finish that course, and get the motorcycle endorsement that Florida requires to legally ride a motorcycle, you can bet, that Betty's ego will be just a little bit bigger. And that shy, beaten-down little girl who still lurks in the recesses of my life will have won another small victory over the people like my grandmother who threw her hands up cursing and saying I'd never learn how to crochet (HAH~ check me out ya witch, I can crochet AND knit!), those who called me ugly, weird, stupid, mistreated me, harmed me and the ones who asked me at 7 months pregnant with my now 18 year old son "Who would f**k you?". Yes, Dennis and Ronnie, I am still waiting to see you this many years later, because I'll gladly introduce you to the Devildog. And I look better now, than I did when we were in school. Tsk, too bad you were a prick to me, because I had a major crush on one of you in 9th grade too.
I get the best revenge because I refuse to let the shadows of my past keep me stuck there, and hiding behind dreams and what-ifs. And in a couple weeks, I can look a little more like Betty - riding a motorcycle.