This post is prompted by Janine, who said this: “I’d love a post on everything you LOVE and are passionate about. More than just books and bubble baths. What made you YOU before Jax?”
What an interesting prompt! Sometimes it can feel like the person I was prior to having Jax is “other,” far away, forgotten. My friend Ron tries to remind me of that person from time to time by asking me about her and listening to her stories.
I spent a few minutes this morning trying to remember who I was before Jax was born, and it was difficult. I found that it helped to use a trick I picked up in therapy–use of the third person voice.
Jaime was the shyest kid in class, the one who preferred to remain unnoticed, to blend into the crowd (although she didn’t love crowds much). She let her anxiety define her, in a way, not that anyone recognized it as anxiety until her twenties. For the first 15 years of her life, she was a chameleon and changed as her surroundings and peers demanded, hoping not to be noticed or to upset anyone. She needed to be liked. But then she met Dana, Nicole, and Melanie and she eventually grew into herself around age 16. She started to write poetry every day on any canvas that was available, whether skin, clothing, or paper. She also sculpted, drew, and painted. She had 3 art periods in her senior year, and there were only 5 periods in the day. She was liked enough in high school, even though she mostly hung with the outcasts and weirdos. Her hair was nearly down to her butt, and she lived in her thrift store digs and her Doc Martens.
Things went wrong with her relationship with her biological father, and she became an angry teenager, dressing in a lot of gray and black, listening to her music loudly. Favorites then were Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and a lot of industrial music; but she appreciated indie rock as well, which is confusing but true. Going to concerts became a thing once she turned 18 and inherited her best friend’s neighbor’s license (the neighbor was 21 and looked like Jaime, so Jaime was able to use the license to get into concerts that were for an older crowd only). She stopped being shy because of the music and thought nothing of approaching a singer to dote on him or her.
She was a hard worker, with a lot of goals and plans; she got this from her mother, who’s also very ambitious and goal-oriented. She got her first job at 16 with her best friend; this was also the only job she’d ever had from which she’d be fired. By age 19, she was working two jobs while going to college on student loans. By 20, she was working full time on top of being a full-time English major, after changing her major from history. She originally planned to be a history or english high school teacher, but when that path was taking too long, she dropped the secondary ed thing and decided to work in publishing instead.
She moved out of her parents’ house at the age of 20 and into a house with 2 boys–her boyfriend and his best friend. She laughed a lot, but she also became depressed partly because her parents and little sister moved across the country, partly because of a reaction to birth control (she didn’t know she had a family history of depression and that this particular birth control increased her risk of depression further). She stopped being creative. She failed Intro to Bible twice because of her depression, but had a very kind, empathetic teacher who looked like Dr. Weil if Dr. Weil rode a motorcycle and were depressed, too. She had another influential teacher at college–her creative writing (and later, advanced creative writing) teacher–who gave her confidence in writing.
She developed an interest in alternative medicine, which isn’t a drastic change in a girl who used to give her friends natal charts she’d write up for them as gifts. She always believed in astrology more than anything else.
After a few years, she ended up living alone and enjoying it for a while–except for the part about having to deal with bugs that find their way inside. She had such an irrational fear of bugs that when the occasional cricket found its way into her first-floor apartment, she wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call a friend to come help.
In her early twenties, she graduated college after long enough and tried to move across the country to be with her family. She came back less than a week later, terrified to go through with it for various reasons. She got a job working in the art department of a newspaper until something better came along, which never happened there. She left after 7 or 8 months and became an editor at a health care publisher. She worked on medical journals that grossed her out on a daily basis but found that she enjoyed the work anyway.
For fun, she went to parties with her friends most weekends, some of which she hosted at her apartment. She still wrote, although poetry wasn’t her thing as much as journaling was. She was very introspective and always strove for self-growth. She fell in love with someone into comics and she tried to make some but wasn’t very good at it.
She took a lot of bubble baths and read a ton of books. She was the kind of girl who was never without a book and was even known to crack it open in heavy traffic or while stopped at railroad crossings or long red lights.
She was intense, always feeling things very deeply, “emotional” in everyone’s eyes. But this also made her very empathetic to others’ emotions and, she hoped, a supportive friend.
I wrote this post today not only because Janine asked me about who I was/am but also because I’m struggling with low self-esteem right now. I worry endlessly about how others perceive me, and it’s uncomfortable. I’m considering this post to be a necessary excercise in figuring out how I want others to know me and how I know myself. It’s been helpful to see that I’m still the same person I’ve always been at my core–an introverted girl who’s struggled with anxiety and depression but fought hard to overcome those and other challenges; a supportive, emotional, empathetic friend; sometimes a bit messy; still afraid of bugs, still into astrology; a music fanatic; a believer in the power of words.
I’m issuing you the same challenge issued to me. If you blog your response to Janine’s question, please link to it in the comments below. I would love to know you better.