Underneath my yellow skin

Losing the Veneer

I was at a wonderful Mediterranean buffet with Ian a few days ago for lunch, and I was trying to pick something out from between my teeth. TMI and kinda gross, I know, but it’s pertinent to the rest of the post. I felt something give in my mouth, and it was the top of a tooth! It didn’t hurt at all, though, so I knew I hadn’t broken a tooth. Believe me. I’ve had that happen, and the pain is agonizing and intense. This time–nothing. I cautiously touched my tongue to the space it came from, and it felt smooth. When I saw it, it had a metal plate in place, and I figured out with the help of Google (which may or may not be correct, naturally) that I had broken off the cap to the crown and not the crown itself. It’s just the top of the tooth to make it look like an actual tooth, but it’s not the crown itself. I have it wrapped in a napkin, and my dental office was closed on Friday when it happened, so I’m hoping after I mea culpa my dental office for not being in for years, they’ll be able to easily replace it. I read articles about how you should temporarily glue on the crown, but it was mostly to prevent from infection and if you’re feeling pain. As I have a metal plate covering the actual tooth and don’t feel pain at all, I decided just to wait until I see the dentist. Why mess with it if it’s not giving me any trouble or pain? In the meantime, I’m careful to clean it and I’m trying not to eat on that side of my mouth, but it’s not been a problem thus far. It’s weird to pass my tongue over it and there’s no top to the tooth, but it’s nothing more than an anomaly.

The reason I mention this is because I feel this way about my life right now. Putting aside with difficulty all the shit that is going on in this country right now (not to mention the world), my own personal life is going OK. I’m in a better place emotionally and mentally than I have been in a long time if ever, and despite the bouts of depression I get from time to time, it’s nothing like I used to feel on a regular basis. It disappears in a relatively short amount of time, but I still gingerly probe my emotions regularly to see if I’m feeling the pain. Most of the time the answer is no, but once in a while, it’s yes. This is where the analogy breaks down, so I’m going to abandon it for the rest of this post.

It’s amazing to think about my mental health even five years ago. I was still pretty depressed then, and I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hell, I couldn’t even see the tunnel because I was trapped in a cold, dark, cramped cage, and I couldn’t see a way out of it. When I look back on those days, I hardly recognize the woman I was. I’m not saying I’m healed, not by far, but my outlook is so different now. I’m much less negative and cynical, though I doubt I will ever be a positive person–and I’m fine with that. I’m calmer in general than I was back then, which has helped me in my familial relationships. I remember a time when we would argue about seemingly innocuous things, and it would escalate to the point where we’d be shouting at each other, and I have no idea how we got there. It wasn’t who I wanted to be, and it wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I felt helpless to stop myself from reacting so dramatically and negatively. It happened with other people–I have an explosive temper–but much more frequently with my parents.

I’ve said it before, but their annual visit this year was diametrically different than it has been in years past. I have to give them both credit for changing their own behavior, but I also have to recognize that I had changed, too. I was more secure in my sense of self, and I was less quick to lash out whenever I felt threatened. More to the point, I felt threatened less often, and I was able to have productive conversations with my parents for the first time in, well, ever, really. Again, this isn’t something I consciously set out to do, but it’s a result of a ton of hard work I’ve done over the years. Taiji, therapy, self-reflection, and more. It’s funny because not much has fundamentally changed in my life. I’m still self/under-employed, am not married, don’t have kids, am not published, and don’t really have anything to show for my life. Some of these markers are ones I don’t want, but it’s still difficult not to be able to tick off any of them.

A great part of social interaction is having points in common. It’s a quick and easy way to make a connection, and not having any of them is a barrier to be considered a full-fledged member of society. It’s harder when you’re not really fringe, either. I mean, I’m definitely fringe when it comes to my ideas in relation to mainstream society, but I’m not fringe enough to truly be considered an outsider, either. Yes, I have tats and some unconventional ideas about sex and relationships, but I’m also very straitlaced about alcohol and drugs, and I’m very risk-averse in my choices. In other words, I’m too weird for the normies, and I’m too normal for the freaks. It’s a very lonely feeling, and it makes me less inclined to interact with, well, much of anybody. It’s no fun being the only sober person at a party where everyone is trashed, and it’s equally not fun being the only non-parent/married person at a more traditional party.

I’m in a weird mood right now. There’s nothing immediate in my life about which I should complain, but I’m also wondering what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. For whatever reason*, I’ve been meditating about the direction of my life quite a bit for the past month or two. I’m not satisfied with my life as it is right now, but I’m unsure how I want to change it, either. I have many ideas–I’ve always been good at coming up with ideas–but little follow through. There’s the big decision about whether I want to go a more traditional route such as going back to grad school for a Masters/PsyD/PhD in psychology or embrace a nontraditional route such as blogging/vlogging/writing/being a social media presence. Twenty years ago, the thought of going the traditional route would have felt like a death sentence to me.  I would have thought it was giving up the core of who I am, and I would have been vociferous in my reasons for not giving in to ‘the man’. (And, yes, I realize the privilege of being in that position for a variety of reasons).

Now, however, I’m older and somewhat wiser. I’m realizing that issues aren’t so black and white, and that doing a job to make a decent living in order to get by isn’t a bad thing. Most people have jobs that are just the way they pay the rent, and there’s no shame in that game. On the other side, there’s no shame in going the nontraditional route, either, but I have to realize that it’ll be the harder route. It’s not as secure, and it may not be profitable for a long time, if ever, and there’s a reason people take service jobs in order to supplement their creative activities. Most people who are writers don’t do it as a full-time job, and it’s only the upper echelon of social media personalities who earn make it rain money. Or, as some like to call it, fuck you money.

I know I have to make a decision because I don’t want to keep meandering through my life. I’m consciously aware that I’m more than halfway through my life, and do I really want to spend the second half in the same manner in which I spent the first? I’m also thinking about dating and what I want from it if I actually decide to do it. I’ve written several times that I have no desire to be in a traditional monogamous dyad, but I don’t know what I want much past that. Do I want a primary partner with several outside lovers? Do I even want a primary partner? Not sure about that. I’ve joked before that what I want is someone (or someones) with whom I can chill, go out to dinner, laugh, maybe watch a game, fuck for a couple hours, then send home. I hate the idea that if you’re in a couple, you have to give up a sizable chunk of your autonomy, and if that makes me selfish and immature, so be it.



*I know the reason, but it’s not the point of this post.

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