So today is the first day of my college courses and I am having a complete panic attack about it. Nothing fancy is going on. I’m only taking bio and history. I kick total ass in both. I could do both these courses in my sleep without even opening the books. But here I am, deer in the headlights anyway.
Suddenly it’s real and I’m in it. Either I do it this time and actually finish a whole semester, or I choke and drop out for the sixth time. That’s right, this is my sixth attempt at college. I have completed exactly two college credit hours in the last twelve years. I have mixed feelings about that.
I am thirty-one. My peers have by this point either finished school and become well established in their chosen fields, or they have never gone to or completed a course of study. Statistically returning to the beginning of school six times is practically unheard of, so I’m actually a statistical fluke. So, upside: I’m tenacious as fuck, downside: I’ve got five layers of failure I have to push past to even crack the books I’ve got sitting on my kitchen table.
I’m not afraid of failure. I can totally handle not meeting expectations. It’s like, my thing, in certain respects. But meeting expectations…
I grew up with a physically distant, emotionally absent mother and an emotionally enmeshed, malignant narcissist father. Failure was the only act of rebellion I could manage to get away with, mainly because it kept both of them comfortably in an accusing role where they never had to examine themselves; I was the problem. All of my failures were mine alone. They washed their hands of me and gossiped about how much they “worried” about me to neighbors and relatives.
On the other hand, meeting expectations was like sending them an invitation to emotionally hijack, psychologically invade, use, waste, and prey upon me. Achievements were his, never mine. Accomplishments were his, his, his, his, his. I was finally making something of myself because of whatever bullshit he came up with the crow about. Then he wanted access to my time, my money, my friends, my lovers. Anything I built for myself was usurped and drained by him, while my mother approved from afar because of all they had “done” for me that I should now start “paying back”. Whatever I tried to do wasn’t about me making a life for myself, it was about improving their lives for them. Like so many other fucked-up abused kids, I made sure that they starved as often as I possibly could. The fact that this hurt me more than it ever hurt them never factored into my thinking. In that kind of emotional environment, there is not future to think about, there is only the current dire threat. And then the next one.
So, here I am, 31, mother of three, married to a fighter just as stubborn and tenacious as me. My mother is dead. My father is cut off. I’ve been free long enough that I can see a future; I can come out from under the rock; I can try.
I’ve never tried before.
This shit is bloody terrifying.
The truth is I don’t know how to try. Like Yoda said, I never tried, I just did. Often the results have been brilliant. Other times, not so much. But, there was never a concentrated effort to move forward while building upon what came before. This is entirely alien territory for me and I really, really want to run away back to the safety under my rock where I keep my antiestablishmentarianism and my witty retorts.
So there it is. There’s the fear. I’ve said it plainly. I know where it comes from. I know how it got here. Now it’s time to take a deep breath, find my center, and punch that shit right in the dick.
Watch me do, y’all. Watch me do.