04 January 2014

My Tattoos

 I got tattoos this year as well. I have two which are both very meaningful for me. The timeliness and the symbolism of them make them very meaningful for me. Since I was close to death in October/November and sick in December, I believe they represent the strength I really didn't know I had.

The scorpion on my back is not only my astrological sign, but symbolizes passion, transition and protection. It has my back. It's colored red for passion and intensity. I have Arabic along side of it which says "there is not life without passion." Passion is something that can be as simple as having the passion in life to wake up every morning. The passion to just want to live. If we didn't have any passion to do anything in our lives, then what's the point of living? The guy who did it, clearly has passion for tattooing and he did an amazing job and I am glad I planned it and went to him.

The cobra and ankh on my right arm are a mixtures of 2 different interpretive Egyptian symbols. Aside from being a Chinese zodiac sign (which I am the year of the snake) most people think the snake as evil and a bad omen, and calling someone a snake is a bad thing. I think differently. The snake sheds its skin, thus coming out a new, fresh snake. It represents rebirth and starting a new. The ancient Egyptians looked at the cobra as a protector and wisdom. The ankh that it is coiling around was put in the arms of Pharaohs when they were buried. It represents life or eternal life. To me, the snake is the protector of life. It also is symbolizing a rebirth of life or a new journey. The snake may look evil but it's aggression and passion represent what it takes to really get over the bumps in life. Snakes are also smart and cunning. As a whole, it also represents layers. The ankh looks fragile and small compared to the big snake wrapped around it. The snake represents the protective wall since it is scaly and rough. I believe, and this might be one of the few times I think this, but I and even people in general appear as vicious snakes on the outside, but we are really just protecting our fragile insides. We are protective over out lives and it may show a little, but it's not something anyone or anything can take. This circles back to the protection interpretation of it. I suppose it can have a few meanings when you think of it but to me it's only a positive thing.

At the end of the day, I can say whatever about my tattoos. Yeah, my tattoos and other's tattoos are personal but they are works of art open to all sorts of interpretation and I like hearing what other people think.

I am happy and proud of my tattoos. I went to an awesome place and felt real comfortable there. I have a new appreciation for tattoos and a real genuine respect for those who have them. I never hated or looked down on them before, I guess I was just indifferent. I do not regret anything and I am glad I planned and did not get something silly or on a whim. I always, deep in my mind, thought about getting one and imagined myself with one. Now that I have two, it is kind of crazy to think about it. My tattoos are not just for me either. I will NOT be on of those people who hides them or who is all shy about talking about them. Or one of those people that get upset or annoyed when you are looking at their tattoos which are clearly on display for everyone to see. I don't care. I guess my back one will never show unless I am swimming or something but the arm one will show more, especially in the summer with warm weather clothing.

30 December 2013

What 2013 Did for Me

The year of 2013 had some strong memorable moments that I think I will never forget. I don't know why but I feel like I am more reflective and in awe of this past year more than any other year. I think most years I just wanted to forget because they were either uneventful or just real crap. I like to think of New Year's as a real time to refresh everything. Although it's just a calendar change and it's all commercialized and in our heads, I do feel like it's a chance to move on and change. I think I have already been going through this throughout the year but the 1st of the year marks a new, clean slate.

I really don't make any New Year's resolutions because I try to set goals for myself constantly as opposed to just having the one time of the year to make them. I think the big goals I have now can't be completed in a year but it's always a good time to really start on them. I need to really need to continue to focus on bettering myself physically and mentally this year. I think things will level out and go back to normal which will give me time to get working on getting some education for real estate appraising and of course money to save for things that I want.

I look at it as a year of death and rebirth. People, things, friends, ideas died or went away and new things came to be and old things returned. I learned a lot of things about other people, life and myself. I experienced new things and did things out of my comfort zone that I never thought I'd ever do. I met new people that will hopefully become long term or even lifelong friends.

After my sickness I was unemployed until August. During that time, I did have some fun and traveled but I also was getting used to a whole new life. I felt as if I had reset for 2013. It was really a sign for me to restart everything. Almost like a reboot. I had been swimming underwater for so long I had to go back to the surface and catch my breath. The time I spent with my parents marked a big change for our relationship. I felt like they were protectors and real good friends more than just mom and dad. Something I am truly grateful for as I haven't seen much in other people's parents. I met up with friends I haven't seen in a while and I believe that it really strengthened our relationships as well. It just shows that not matter how far away you are from someone, there is still that something that can draw you together. Something you both have to understand and put effort into, but it's something nonetheless. I met new friends as well and even someone who I can one day look up to as a brother figure. Something I never had growing up as an only child.

At the same time of positive relationships, I had negative ones. I experienced my first serious (what I considered serious at that time) relationship. With that, I experienced my first break up. It was something I was not prepared for at all but I got through it easily with the help of friends and good music. No drugs, no alcohol or destructive behavior. Even though it lasted a month, the relationship taught me a lot about what I actually want and what I really deserve as well. I think my whole ideal of what a relationship changed after that and I needed that. I don't want to expect anything this year and I don't want to play the "it will happen when you least expect it" game. I feel like if you are thinking like that then you are already expecting it and over thinking things.

I went through some positive career changes as well. After being slapped in the face from my old job (which is out of business now) I was able to get into something I wanted to do and that I thought was interesting. Unfortunately, being a  part-time real estate assistant wasn't going to let me live alone in Arizona. With some pressure of my parents to get a job or go back home and live with them in Connecticut, I was able to get a job pretty last minute. It was a call center job and worse, a collections position. I was going to grin and bear it for as long as I could until I could move up or go into a different position within the company but I barely lasted a month. I quit and was able to get a temp position at Wells Fargo. The best thing was that it is off the phones and getting into the back end work. It is relaxing and very laid-back. I am happy I moved and looking back I cannot imagine how it would have went down being on the phones when I had just been dumped. I could barely even take an 8 hour day at the new job when it happened.

I think I am on the right path to get to where I want to be. I know everything falls on me and nothing will fall into my lap unless I do the work. I feel like I have a time. When it will be? I don;t know. I just know it will happen and it may be next week or even another year. I have been learning how to focus on my life and think of what I have been through and accomplished in my life so far. I had been so caught up in watching my friend's move to better things and move forward in life as I thought I was going backwards. I have felt that way since I was a kid, Everyone was taller than me, had different things than I did, got their licenses first, had brothers and sisters and lifelong friends to go to. Everyone learned new skills before me and had successful jobs out of college and even started families before me. I know it sounds silly but I was actually jealous. I appreciated what I had but in a way I felt as if I was taking the baggage for people when I really didn't deserve it? Or did I?

I have learned to open up more not only to friends, family and strangers but also to myself. I have accepted the things I have done in my life and the consequences of them. I have always secretly struggled with the person I portrayed on FaceBook in public and to friends and the person I was behind doors. They were totally different people to me. I have never done drugs or gotten drunk but it doesn't mean there were other demons. I tried my best to turn to music and working out for my anger or sadness. I did things I liked but still I would turn to online for comfort. I knew what I was doing and at the end of it, I would get back to my house late at night and hate myself all night. I dreamed of having someone who cared and loved me truly. I knew that those guys I met didn't. I knew it and yet I still did it and the cycle repeated itself. At times I thought my parents were right. Maybe it was a bad idea for me to be alone here in Arizona. It was almost like they blamed themselves for my behavior. My self destruction got me sick. I had to wait till my possible death bed to realize this. I was truly awoken in 2013 and I have a long ways to go but I know it can be done.

I learned that everyone has some demons behind them and there will always be someone ahead of you and at the same time, there will be someone behind you. The best thing you can do is not even pay attention to them. You don't know their situation and you sure as hell don't know their mental state. At least, most people will not admit to it. Realizing and sharing for me, just like anyone, is hard but it has to be done. I may not be in journalism now but writing for me is the real healer. I get better everyday expressing things through words-written and spoken. I used to be so depressed at times that I thought no one cared and I was going to go back to live in Connecticut with my parents forever and die alone. I used to daydream of the perfect situations in my head of what life should be and will be and it would put me to sleep. Once I got to speaking to people and friends about things, I woke myself up realized; even though people may have their own lives now and they are doing their own things everyday, they still care about you. They may not answer you right away or call you back but they still care. Behind some of the flaws we ALL have, we are still human and we do care about each other, no matter what. I know this is true. I know God has a plan for all of us and that life is not over. It is just starting.

16 July 2013

What Is Wrong With You?

As humans we are social creatures who have a natural curiosity for things. We like to find information and we try to make it relevant to our own lives. One of those is finding what makes us who we are. Why do I do this? Why don't I do that? We want these questions answered. We need to have a name for these behaviors. Whether we go online or read to self-diagnose ourselves or go to a physician, we just need to know.

I may seem like I am undermining syndromes, disorders and diseases, but I am not. I believe they are all real and they are the catalyst for people's behaviors. I believe that people really suffer from these disorders and syndromes but what about the rest of us? What about the people who are on the line? We watch documentaries of people who have OCD, Schizophrenia and Autism but they are extreme cases. We never see people on TV with mild forms of these things. Does that mean that when someone has these things, such as OCD, they are like what we see on TV? They are constantly doing things in an order and repeating behaviors and washing their hands 100 times? Well no, not really.

I believe some people may have a few symptoms or even just one symptom of some disorders and syndromes. It doesn't mean they have it. The human mind and personality is so complex, yet we try to categorize it by grouping behaviors and calling it something like Autism. Just because you may be a neat freak doesn't mean you have OCD. Just because you are having a bad day and get sad and cry doesn't mean you have depression. Why are we so quick so point out what is wrong with ourselves and each other? And the real question is, what is normal?

When I was a kid I was a handful. I was hyper and crazy and my parents were having troubles with me. I was brought to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with ADHD. I also would be sad and may have said a few things that concerned my parents about suicide. I was then diagnosed with depression. I was put on Ritalin for the ADHD and then Prozac for depression. I was young, not even in high school for all this. When I was young I was considerably neater than other kids. I liked things in order and always put things away. I didn't like tags on clothes and was very particular about food, clothing, where things were and how they were set up in my room, for example. I don't believe I was officially diagnosed with OCD but it was talked about. No medication for that since I was not so compulsive as I was obsessive. I don't like wrinkles, lint on things, dirty mirrors, spots on things, and I need my hair to look a certain way before I leave. I never got into washing my hands several times or repeating a particular behavior. The only thing I do that I call "Monk" behavior (if you know that show you know what I mean) is when I am at a clothing store I touch and feel the clothing as I walk by it. Almost all of them. I don't count them nor would I go back to one if it was missed. This is the reason why I think I have OCD but in a very midl, almost common form. I know people who have the same "obsessions" but they would not meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders definition of having OCD or anything like that.

I have never been one to self-diagnose either. I admit, I have taken online quizzes and such but I would not go to a doctor and have a real examination of myself. I think it's silly. If it's not affecting my life at all and I am living OK then what's the point? I don't believe that dwelling on having these disorders helps you. Blaming them and fixing them and wondering about them does nothing for you. All you can do is try to be a good person and live life the best way you can. We all have our quirks. We all have things that we do that drive others crazy and that even drive ourselves crazy.

But who is to say who is what? There are clear and easy cases of someone having bipolar disorder or schizophrenia that can be diagnosed by anyone with some knowledge of the disorders and of course a doctor. If someone appears to be something, they most likely are not. You can't see someone with a neat house and automatically assume they have OCD or that they are even a neat freak. It's the same as looking at a guy who takes care of himself and takes care of his looks and you call him gay when he is straight. (He's called a metrosexual, by the way.) It's just so hard to really sum people up with a bunch of disorders and syndromes. One person could even be a little of everything. A control freak, a neat freak, slightly bipolar, OCD, and even a little sociopath. There is really an endless amount of possibilities.

My mother was and still is the one who has done all the diagnosing and suspecting. She has been diagnosing my father and I forever. In terms of the ADHD, my aunts didn't believe I had it. They thought I was just an ordinary, hyper kid who liked to play and have fun. I don't know, maybe everyone has ADHD these days, it must be in. Lately, my mother has been telling my I have Asperger's syndrome. She even has said my dad has it as well. I obviously denied that and I did my research on what it actually was. Again, if you have one symptom of something, it doesn't mean you have that disorder or syndrome. The DSM IV has Asperger's Syndrome and I went through it and yes some things fit me but not all of it. Also, I feel like it's a weird line between that and other social disorders. I feel more like I am just shy and have some anxiety but nothing like Asperger's. In fact, Asperger's is not even in the DSM V. It is now under the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I don't see why people need to know what are and to have a label with it to feel special. We are all different and special in our own ways. Who cares what you have or what you don't have. I am not going to sit here and say I have nothing but I know what I do not have. I don't go around advertising it and being "proud." Why? Well because I don't think those things are real major influences in me. They have never defined me. My ADHD may have played a role in my childhood, I don't know but I what I do know is that today, I don't "feel" like I have ADHD. I just know I am different and have certain quirks and qualities about me. I don't say, "oh that's the ADHD or the OCD doing that." It just feels weird to label things that may be completely normal in human behavior. Even if you are not OCD or ADHD, you can be labeled something else. It's not like anyone is not labeled something. Again, I think we are too complex to just quickly diagnose one another and even to go into some big evaluation. That, and people change all the time. I have changed and I am not even the same person I was in college. I think, if anything, I have become stronger and better or I have just built on the person I was. That is change. I don't have to a 360 to change.

Just ask people's pet peeves and pay attention to detail when they do things. You will see that everyone has the something that makes them tick or that irks them. It can be as simple as having dollar bills facing the same way to having their whole house/apartment a certain color or set up a certain way all the time. Stop labeling people so quickly and just love who they are and focus on their personality not what everyone else says they are. Get to know someone beyond those labels. There may be some truth to labels but they certainly should not define us as people. We have the capacity  to change and adapt.

04 July 2013

You're Not Alone

We moved to Glastonbury, Connecticut when I was about 10 years old. We moved from Manchester, CT for the better school systems. After I was adopted, schooling was pretty tough. My parents tried me in a Catholic school for first grade and they could not handle my behavior. I guess I was pretty wild compared to the other kids and so I went to the public school system. Around this time I was just a normal, hyper kid in elementary school. Manchester was a pretty nice town. I had nice neighborhood friends but the school was rough. It was going down the tubes and becoming too overpopulated and filled with teachers who didn't seem to care that much. What made us move was the overall decline of the neighborhood. We had a cul-de-sac and I used to play there until some new kids, who were black, moved in and basically threatened to hurt me. School wasn't any better.

I don't have a lot of memory on this event but I do remember some of it. I believe the teacher stepped out or something. All I know is that I was in a class that was unsupervised. I was and have always been the smallest kid in class and so I was an easy target for kids. For some reason they thought it would be fun to shove me in the classroom storage closet. Of course I wasn't liking that and was trying to get out. The closet had a sliding door that they were trying to slam on me. As I was fighting this, my hands were in the way and the door slammed against them. I don't remember much of the immediate aftermath but I did end up in the hospital with my nails all bashed up. I do remember that it was not a pretty sight. I did receive a lot of homemade get well cards from the kids at school but I am sure that was done by the teacher. Nonetheless, it was nice and made me feel better. I was sure some of them were genuine as well considering not every kid in the class was involved. I would have to guess that this made my parents even more willing to move away from Manchester.

I started 3rd grade in the Glastonbury Public School system and it was not bad at all. We got a nice house and the kids seemed nice as well. The only troubles that year were with the teacher. Fourth grade came and I was very hyper and this was around the time my parents decided to get help. We got a therapist and a psychiatrist involved who started me on Ritalin for ADHD and prozac for depression. I thought I was doing fine and loved school. I had friends and sat at a table with friends who I made laugh all the time. Eventually, things changed and we all got older and the drugs were taking more of an affect on me. By 6th and 7th grade   I was more calm. I was always to myself and didn't really socialize all that much as I had before. People were changing and the friends I knew were now older or had moved away. Again, I was the smallest kid in the class and now being more quiet made me an even more vulnerable target. However, when challenged or if I did have something to say, I would speak my mind. In 7th grade, there was this kid who didn't have things easy. I look back to those days and really think that I didn't have it bad every single day like some others. I didn't and still don't know much about his situation but he was kind of sporadic and unpredictable. Again, the circumstances are kind of blurry but it was again a time when a teacher was not present. People were making fun of this kid for his hygiene or something and I happened to be in the middle of it. I wasn't making fun of him but I said something to him and he just went off right there. He was a lot bigger than me and he grabbed me and basically choked me to the point I was off my feet. I believe he got suspended after that, not sure. All I know is that it was pretty terrifying to not have any control over your body. Regardless if I said anything bad or not to him, I didn't deserve to be attacked.

As I look back at these kids, I now realize that a lot of these kids were victims of bullying themselves. I have never bullied anyone. I don't know how someone can be a victim and turn on others. I have no sympathy for those people at all. Fortunately, that was the worst of the psychical abuse I would take in school. However, I do believe, to an extent, that verbal abusive is the worst.

Seventh and 8th grade were not my greatest times. I didn't really have any good friends or a group of friends established. I dreaded the cafeteria and lunch time. I sat at many tables like a nomad. I dreaded sitting alone, although there were those who did. I wanted to fit in somewhere and at least be welcome, if not accepted by others. We all go through this period of wanting acceptance. I was in the thick of it. Kids were verbally mean with mostly jokes about my height or my quietness which showed off as awkwardness. I was so obsessed with being accepted that I somehow was able to sit with what I looked as to be "the popular kids." They DID have the center lunch table and were all attractive. I sat there for maybe one or a few days but felt uncomfortable. What was I doing? They were clearly mocking me and even worse, ignoring me. I did not feel welcome at all. All this mixed in with rejections from girls and other people who I wanted to be friends with was normal for me at this time. I didn't have anyone to really go to at this time who would listen and talk to me. I was convinced by the many kids who said, "no one like you" that it was true.

As time went on, more and more people changed and I hardly knew the kids I went to elementary school with. High school came and I was nervous as any freshman would be. High school is and I am sure was tough for most people. It was no exception for me but it also was one of the times in my life where I actually grew up. I learned things about others and myself and finally befriended someone who was and still is a true friend. The first two years sucked. I was still shy, small and awkward. I was considerably innocent too. Not having done the things the kids have done (I didn't really want to either). I never drank, touched drugs or engaged in sexual activity in high school like many kids started or continued doing. I still had some verbal abuse from people and mocking. Kids in high school were now learning how to be fake and I got to be the guinea pig. I did have one main bully in the beginning years. He was primarily verbal but with some minor physical abuse mostly on the bus on the way home from school. It got to the point where I told my parents and they spoke to his. Apparently, he had been bullied or was being bullied. I still didn't feel for him but glad I talked and it was taken care of. After that, I was just to myself. I guess I wasn't bullied in the traditional sense. I can't think of a time I was really humiliated because kids then were fake so they would do nothing in front of you. All the laughing and teasing would be done behind your back. I knew this only cuz people would tell me or I'd catch them. Sometimes you could just feel when you are being laughed at and not really in the joke but you are the joke.

I was in a play in freshman year. I decided I wanted to be in the drama club just to try it out. I was OK but was a very minor part. I hated the experience though. The kids were into drugs and acted like they were God's gift on Earth. I was not welcome and was not comfortable. It was not be and I didn't want to be a part of that at all. I did find something I liked though. I had been part of the orchestra for a long time but the high school orchestra was a great experience. It was one of the few classes I looked forward to attending. I met good friends there and made good memories as well.

Beyond high school, I was going through the whole religious exploration and family backlash as well as sexual questioning. I am glad that things took a turn for the better. So I am gonna end this with a positive note that leads to me today.

In sophomore year I was able to get out of being in the special education program (why I was in there in the first place, I will never know). In freshmen year, I met someone who I'd consider and still do, my best friend. Someone who I still talk to today even though we are thousands of miles apart. She helped me through high school and all it's craziness. Even though she had her own group of friends, she still made me feel like she was a part of her life just as much as they were. And even though her friends may not have been crazy about me, she would spend one on one time with me. By senior year, I knew what I wanted to do and I felt like I had established myself pretty well. I was more outspoken and vocal and tried to be more social. I gained more confidence and changed my appearance and way of looking at things as well. By college I remained pretty much the same. I tried to be more social but I realized that was going nowhere for me. I thought by being in the dorms it would help, but it didn't. I was still an outcast and even on a trip to Ecuador in 2008 with a small group of people my age, I was still not a main player. I didn't make "long lasting" friendships as these experiences promised. And you know what? Looking back at it I am OK with that. My friendships have come from nothing. They were not forced or done in a way that made me feel like I had to make a friend. They were as simple as sitting next to someone everyday in class or every day in an office. I didn't have to talk to anyone in class or at work and a lot of people don't. I am happy I still talk to these people today considering school is over and we are no longer working together. Sure, I had friends in high school and college but they were just convenient friends. I don't see them or hear from them today. That's what makes a true friend. Someone who doesn't forget about you after you have been together in a class, job or some travel group, etc.

At work, I don't like to be in the center of drama and everything but I am no longer being ignored. I have a a voice and can make friends easy. I like to make people laugh and tell stories. I always have. I am glad I am back to that and the days of me being suppressed and beaten down mentally are over. I know I have obstacles now as an adult but I always remember how I was when I was young and it just makes me keep on.

Bullying sucks and no one deserves it. It doesn't just happen at school. It can happen with adults at work too. It can be physical or verbal. Even ignoring someone can be a form of bullying. Being ignored and shunned is just as bad. I would say that's the majority of my experience in bullying. People need to realize that no one is worthless. We all have worth and we need to recognize that. Whether that takes a good friend or a nice letter or note, we need to be told how much we matter. I have contemplated suicide a few times in my life when I was younger. When I was close to death back in November, I realized that if I was gone, a lot of people would be sad. I would hurt a lot of people if I were to end my life. I thought my family would be the only ones who cared but I was wrong. I knew I had a purpose and I meant for something. I know I have always been at the end of the line for things in life but it has to be for a reason. Life is no fun if things are handed to you first or if you are socially privileged from the start. Just know that there are people who care and you are special. Never forget where you came from and what you went through. Whether you are gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, Black, White, Asian, Latino, short, tall, fat, skinny, pretty, ugly, cute, weird, shy, goth, nerd, jock, popular or just plain different, you are loved by someone.