Funny That My Eyes ARE Literally Green

 So I'm reading a book (shocker, I know)

I've been thinking lately about my brain. About how I'm weird now, but I was SO weird when I was younger, and about how even if things were like now and there were diagnoses available, would I have gotten one? I feel like I had features of Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, even a few of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, although only a few and very much not the main ones. And would it have made things any easier? 

(This book - it's a book about parenting, sort of.)

I have chronically low self esteem. I don't know why. My parents weren't mean. I was bullied in a sort of desultory manner by a few people in elementary school, but not for anything that would cause low self-esteem, probably more because I already had it (I know, I know, it's not my fault, but I can see that I put off vibes that were like blood in the water to anyone with the mildest bullying streak). I seem to have just been born with it baked-in as a really dumb feature. 

(I went to the actual bricks-and-mortar library to get the actual paper-and-glue book because it wasn't available as an ebook.)

At this point in my life, I can recognize that my low self-esteem is not rational. I'm fairly smart and capable, I do several things quite well, I'm a pretty good mother and I have a lot of really good friends who are most likely not just friends with me out of some fervent charitable impulse. Although I'm sure you can imagine that being my friend and thinking I'm smart and funny and nice and dealing with my much-improved but still-present self-denigrating narrative is super fun. 

Now let's spare a thought for the poor sonofabitch who's married to me.

(I requested the book because I saw it mentioned on Facebook and recognized the author's name.)

You all know I adored - still adore - my mother-in-law. She was funny and spiky and adored her boys and had her flaws as jesus god, don't we all, and she was an intentionally wonderful mother-in-law. I think we would have been friends if we'd met under other circumstances. Recently I had my second birthday since she died, and Eve graduated, and I felt her absence in an achingly physical way. Even when Matt and I were just dating, she was never mean or cold, never tried to make me feel like I had to live up to some standard to be worthy of her precious boy. Once we had kids she was always fulsomely complimentary about how good a mother I was. Even introducing me to people with my other sisters-in-law, the brilliant English professor and the brilliant MD PhD (I know, sucks to be me, right? And I can't even hate them because they're sweet and amazing people, it's total bullshit), she never undermined me in any way.

Except once.

I have such a clear memory of this - we were all in Brockville, to watch my youngest brother-in-law (although Matt and I weren't married yet - yes, Steph, I did wear Docs, and yes there is photographic evidence, I'm working on finding it) figure skate. Matt's parents, his two brothers, his grandparents. I was not in a great place in my life - I was working at an audio publisher for a mercurial, sometimes-abusive Irishman and the office manager had taken a dislike to me and whenever we went to meetings she made me ride in her car and smoked the whole way even though she knew I was allergic so I couldn't breathe and was nauseated by the time we got there. And I was young and not yet medicated for anxiety and depression, so I thought the fact that I wasn't happy was a personal failing rather than an understandable reaction. At some point, we were in their hotel room talking, and the name of an old family friend came up. "Ashley. Oh my goodness, Ashley is the best. So beautiful" - she looked at me speculatively, as if comparing our looks and feeling really sorry about how short I came up - "so smart, and so talented, and SO pretty." I nodded agreeably. My middle brother-in-law piped up helpfully "oh, oh, AND her sister is even prettier!"

In my head, this went on forever, and my soon-to-be-husband nodded sagely as if acknowledging the inescapable fact of my unfortunate non-Ashley-ness.

Ashley probably would have gone with blue

I know what's in my head is almost certainly garbage (I say almost certainly because, from what I've learned, Ashley is one of those people that people talk about like this, because she's smart and talented and beautiful, so, you know, fair enough). It's a  hilarious memory now, just because of its sit-com-like unsubtlety and the way my insecurity probably coloured it so differently from the way it happened. I know my husband doesn't want to be married to anyone else (regardless of how much easier it would make his life). I know my mother-in-law loved me and didn't wish for a different partner for her son. But I still couldn't shake this vivid memory.

So three guesses who this book is by. And it's an important, well-written, rightfully-celebrated book about a really tough set of circumstances.

It's so weird how you can use your brain to think about your brain, isn't it? And yes, how funny that talking about my low self-esteem, I've made someone else's book about her harrowing experiences all about me. Whatever, it's my blog. 

All I'm saying is, I had a LOT to unpack before starting to read. And yes, yes it is exhausting being me, thanks for asking. 

Comments

Ernie said…
Love the photo. I cannot guess who wrote the book because unlike you and Nicole, I don't have my thumb on the pulse of the literary world. I rely on the two of you for tips on what to read. BUT based on this post, I'd guess the author is Ashley, the beautiful family friend.

Glad you can see that you are smart and funny and that the esteem issues are not warranted. I laughed at the blood in the water bit. So true.

My heart breaks for the loss of your mother in law. She was a gem. I'm envious - you won the lottery with her. She sounds so authentic. The Ashley scenario - yikes. Makes me cringe. Glad it was only the one time.
StephLove said…
I'd tell you your brain is lying to you, but you already know that.
Your mother-in-law was a really special woman.

Kind of dying to know what this book is!

Also, what Steph said.

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