What is it Ben Folds says about growing up?

Oh yeah, it hurts, it sucks. But everybody does. I've had a rough stretch lately. I go into the weekend promising myself it's going to be great, relaxing, fun, productive, and best of all, I'm not going to cry. Well, that doesn't seem to work out. Maybe it's because I'm calling it out and acknowledging the elephant in the room. And my elephant is a big-ass drama queen with tear ducts on overdrive. His name is Melvin.

So what's getting me down? I have no reason to be such a sad bastard. Nothing's "wrong." Seriously, absolutely nothing is wrong. Everything is going great.

If I'm honest, I'm what's wrong.

I'll be honest, I'm what's wrong.

Growing up, I've recognized things about myself, mostly as the outcome of terrible interactions, let's call them fights. I'm not as grounded as I'd like to be and I act on emotions. Worse that that, my emotions aren't based in the world that I now find myself living. My emotions come from my past. They come from childhood. And I suppose that's not uncommon. Everyone is who they are because of the ways in which they were formed. But the problem with that - for me - is that most of the time, those emotions weren't selfish. I'm not sure I'm making much sense.

I'll break it down.

What's wrong with me?

  1. I have an inability to make a decision when it will directly effect anyone other than just me. This infiltrates everything, right down to how I want my fucking eggs prepared. I don't know how I want my eggs prepared - just give them to me how you're having them, because that's easier for you.
  2. I have a martyr complex. I generally need help. But I don't ask for it because I don't want to inconvenience anyone. But then I feel resentful and feel the need to make someone/anyone feel sorry for me guilty that they didn't help, even though I never gave them a chance to.
  3. I cannot directly identify my emotions and therefor, don't let them out. It's not that I'm not feeling emotions in the moment. I'm feeling them. But if I were to open my mouth to try and explain them, it would likely just result in a series of exclamations that wouldn't have a chance at forming an actual sentence. Explaining emotions takes practice and it's a set of muscles I've never exercised. And as a result, people don't realize there was ever a problem. Which is my own fault. Fuck.
  4. I don't act for myself. This I suppose ties back in with #1. I don't like sushi. I don't like fish in general at all. But if a group of friends is going out for dinner and everyone likes sushi, I won't say a word. I'll just have a ball of rice for dinner. It's "fine." See #2 for how I'll respond if questioned about it.
  5. I feel that I am responsible for maintaining the good mood/emotions of those around me. This ties in with #4, but it's worse than that. If someone I'm with is having a bad time, it'll ruin my good time and I'll feel that they must be mad at me for being in that given situation. I'll also feel that it's my responsibility to fix it, even if that compromises me/my emotions/my anything.
  6. I'm insecure and afraid I won't be liked... or loved. Here's the thing. There's love. I understand love. And often love trumps like. You can love someone and not like them one bit. I believe that. (It's really hard for me not to re-write that in a more audience-friendly way because, after all, what would happen if someone read that and didn't agree with me? Chaos would surely ensue.) I believe that I have relatives, for example, that by familial convention, love me, in whatever way they can. However, I'm likely viewed as offensive and rude and ungrateful and selfish. Fine. Ha. There's the trick. I said, "Fine," but it's not fine. I'm a good person. And I think I know that. (Fucking self doubt.) And THAT needs to be enough. The rest will either fall into place, or it won't.

To sum up. I'm fucked up. And there are a number of things that I need to work through. But I don't know how to. Identifying the problems is supposed to be the first step. Working through them is the painful part. But I have to. Because Elephant Melvin is everywhere. I can't keep living ignoring these things because they're poison and they're ruining everything - they're ruining me.

We'll stop there. That's enough.

Burger Queen

I had this friend growing up that would pick her nose. Just that would be fine. All kids and most (yes, I said most) adults do it too. (It's about to get gross.)

She would pick her nose, take the booger and roll it into a little ball.

(It's about to get grosser.)

Then, she would take it and place it back inside her nose, for safe keeping.

(I'm about to be gross too.)

I tried this once with her in the back of her parent's van. In a word, it was uncomfortable.

I can't explain why this happened. And I also can't explain why I have a lingering thought that she would compare the process and/or the end product as a "burger."


I spent a large part of my childhood and a fraction of my adolescence wishing I could be as cool as that girl, independent of the booger-rolling-into-a-ball-naming-it-a-burger-and-placing-it-back-into-her-nose thing. I don't wish for my past to be different. But I do appreciate that the present allows me to examine things that happened and gives me the opportunity to say, "I'm glad I wasn't cool in that way."

Can you handle it?

I don't hold my hairbrush by the handle.

When I was young I got gum stuck in my hair. Peanut butter is the solution, but it doesn't always cut it. To my recollection scissors had to cut the rest. I lost the handle to that hairbrush when my mother's frustration collided with the tile floor.

I'm not complaining.[1]

But there was a gap in time from that day to the day when I received a replacement hairbrush, complete with handle. I'd been palming the brush and that grip had reached the point of normalcy.

I like smaller brushes that can fit in the palm of my hand. And I never hold the handle.


[1] The point of the story is not to complain about childhood. I re-wrote the line about how my mom threw the brush on the floor because she was frustrated to make it sound poetic and not like I’m bitter about the situation.

The part I’m bitter about is my own tendency to settle, readjust and compromise. It’s over twenty years later and because I got gum in my hair once, I will always hold my hairbrush with a different grip. Talk about ripples in the pond.