This is about to get real people. Buckle up. I always tell my friends that one of these days I’m going to write a book called “Uninvited to Christmas: How Email Forwards are Killing Society’s Families” because 1) I have a LOT of experience in this arena and 2) so does everyone else. Really. Email forwards need to stop.
My liberal friends and family forward me liberal jokes and articles that they know I’ll agree with, but chances are I’ve already seen it online myself. My conservative friends and family forward me jokes and articles they know I will hate on the off chance that this one email forward will make me rethink my whole life philosophy and my positions on Obama, Jesus and Bill O’Reilly, in that order. I really think the conservatives want me to hate Obama more than they want me to love Jesus. It’s disturbing.
Even the seemingly benign email forwards are stupid and pointless. Bill Gates has never sent anyone money to track anything. I have NEVER gotten flip-flops in the mail, which is the dumbest thing ever, and the recipe chain letter…well that started one of the biggest fights in Rodgers family history.
A friend sent me that recipe thing and I was the evil forwarder this time. The year was 2005. I passed it along to my mom and grandma, both excellent cooks, and thought it would be something fun they could do on the interwebz as they were both still not wholly comfortable on there at the time. My grandma Bonnie, the most awesome spit-fire-est redhead to ever live in the state of LA, promptly emailed me back and told me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t call her enough on the phone and talk to her enough to get any of her recipes and this was all a bunch of bullshit in which she would NOT participate.
Having been born a blonde but with a little bit of spit-fire myself, I replied. That was my first mistake. I should have just called her and had a fun conversation and realized that this was her butthole way of asking for attention, quite literally, because she needed it. Instead, I told her that listening to a list of all her ailments and how badly she wanted to “crawl in the grave” all the time was not fun and that’s why I didn’t call her very frequently. I told her I thought it was especially inappropriate since she knew very well that in August of 2005, my grandfather on the other side of the family had died and I was still upset about that. That was my second mistake.
This must have been post-Thanksgiving and before Xmas, because I’m pretty sure I’d have been uninvited to Thanksgiving also if that were near. As it was, I was uninvited to Christmas. We made up and everything was fine before Christmas actually rolled around, but for a couple weeks there, things were really tense…
WHICH BRINGS ME TO -
I’m going through something like that now. The reason my family did not visit last week was because my father and I got into an argument. I had asked him for some financial advice (not money, advice on what to do with MY money) and I believe he was genuinely trying to help me, but he went way above and beyond what I asked and did it behind my back. I felt left out of the process like a child. Then he WAY overshared with the financial advisor who was supposed to come to lunch with us and accidentally forwarded it to me in an email. Email forwards are ALWAYS a bad idea. Much like car alarms, the FWD option on email needs to die. The advisor, looking to keep my dad happy and make a nice commission, ate it up. ”Thank you for telling me all this. I need to know this to make decisions when you’re gone.”
Ummm, no you don’t. How exactly does the way in which my grandpa died affect your financial advice, jackass? Do mutual funds only accept money from people whose grandpas died of cancer but not strokes? No. And now I don’t trust this man AT ALL because he helped hide these plans for my money with my parents and then flat out lied to them about needing all these horrible details of our lives that my dad laid out for him with such great clarity. Bottom line: if someone will help YOU lie to someone else, they will also help someone lie to YOU. They cannot be trusted.
This is but a snippet of dad’s email that I’m sure he meant to delete before I saw it: Dominique is my oldest daughter and she is the one in Baton Rouge. She spent her junior and senior years of high school at Natchitoches in the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. She got a $20,000 scholarship to LSU in 1997. She still hasn’t gotten a degree. She changed majors several times and then went to work and took classes part time. She is back in school and says she will finally get a degree.
There was a LOT more to it that led to the argument, but I was also very angry at the tone of this passage. And then I thought…why? It’s true. I don’t think it was this financial advisor’s business but nothing he said in there is a lie. Some of it is out of context, perhaps, but it’s all true. Maybe I’m mad at him because I’m really just ashamed of myself. I’m certainly not bragging to anyone that I wasted a 20k scholarship and racked up 244 hours of college credit without a degree. I’m not happy that I suffered severe depression in college for many years without telling anyone or getting treatment. I wish that mental illness hadn’t stolen about 5 of the most important years of my life, but it did and there’s nothing I can do about it now except try and do the best I can in this moment, right now. That’s all any of us can do. Call me crazy, call me a late-bloomer or immature. That’s fine. I’ve been (rightly) called much worse at times. I’m almost 34 years old, single, childless, and still ask my dad for financial advice and run to him first any time something is wrong with my car. I’ve made many terrible HUGE mistakes in my life, and I don’t think those mistakes are anyone else’s to share. Basically, I’m mad at dad for bringing out my skeletons before I had the balls to do it myself. So, I’ve decided to take a page from his book and get it all out there so no one can surprise me by revealing my secrets ever again. So here goes – my skeletons. I did fine for about the first 2 years of college and then something changed. It was gradual, but something definitely changed. I went out less, saw my friends less, and cared less about school and work. I know now that I was in the first stages of my major depression and at an age at which it typically strikes. I put on a show for everyone and never let anyone know how exhausted I was all the time or how much effort it took to give a shit about even the littlest things. I went to the Health Center once at LSU and they assigned a student to talk to me. She was blonde, thin, gorgeous, a sorority girl, and wore a huge diamond on her finger because she had just gotten engaged. She was 2 years older than me. She didn’t help me and instead I ended up really annoyed with her and wanted to kick her in the taco, to steal a phrase from a dear friend.
I kept up the mask for a few more years, running out of scholarship money. Then for a few semesters I’d put tuition on a credit card, go to school for a few weeks, get overwhelmed, and withdraw. Sometimes officially and sometimes not, so I have a few F’s on my transcripts. This lowered my GPA and raised my debt quite a bit, but I was working and was able to keep up with that, so it was manageable. Then I was laid off, or more accurately, streamlined myself out of a job. Then all the bills went on the credit card, including medications for the depression I was now being treated for. They were not cheap, esp now that I was without health insurance.
The meds worked though, enough to make me think with every new semester that I could do well this time and the cycle repeated itself. (This is part of how it takes a LONG time to get over depression when you wait so long to get treatment.) I got another job, kept up with the payments and with school, made some progress, then I’d get exhausted/overwhelmed and drop out again. I did this a few times without telling anyone. I never wanted to hurt myself. I knew I deserved better. I knew a girl who went to a boarding school for gifted students ought to be doing way better in life than all this bullshit, I just couldn’t seem to come out of this fog and make it happen.
Eventually, through another job change or two, I had to declare bankruptcy. All this was going on from about 99-05, and then I just quit school altogether, worked, tread water and tried to stay afloat till everything collapsed in 2008. Thinking back on it, I should have reached out for mental and financial help MUCH SOONER, but I was ashamed. I was still operating under the illusion that mental illness was a character flaw and not a disease, that I was just lazy. Later, it would become very clear to me that wasn’t the case and that my family had a history of depression that I didn’t know about.
Anyway, I declared Ch. 13 bankruptcy in January of 2009. I’m not proud of it, but it happened. I wanted to pay something rather than pay nothing. I felt horribly guilty and that was the least I could do, and a Ch. 13 worked out better for me than a Ch. 7. It wasn’t fun. They make you stand up in court and announce, basically, that you are worthless…and that’s how they treat you. It’s a very humbling and shitty experience. But…that will be all paid off and over in about a year. I am actually doing okay in school now. The progress is slow but steady. I have a lot of hours in several degree programs, so I wasn’t too far off from a general studies degree. I only have about 4 more classes left, I think. Maybe 5. I’m not sure. But things are looking up. 2013 is already off to the best start that I can remember in a very long time.
My argument with dad won’t last too much longer. My hurt will dissipate and eventually he’ll apologize and explain why he felt the need to keep me in the dark about all this. We still love each other, I know that. And maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s forcing me to admit to myself all that is and WAS, wrong in my life. Nobody’s perfect. You can’t take a look at someone’s social media and infer anything about their life. Most of the time people only put their absolute best moments up there. For every cute “selfie” photo your friends have posted, there are a dozen they threw out because of a zit or a double chin. Well I’m out here, world. Here are my zits and double chins. Some of them, anyway. Now no one will ever be able to use them against me again.
A lot of my friends and family will be shocked to read this because I hid it all really well. I got very good at essentially lying to myself and others about how I was doing, so I wouldn’t worry anyone or have to face myself just how bad it was. Others will be shocked because they already knew and knew the incredible shame I’ve felt about this up to and including last weekend when this argument with dad started. I can’t explain it. I didn’t plan to write about this when I woke up this morning. But the argument with dad, then this article: mrkt.ms/ZsLtZN , and it being Good Friday just got me thinking.
I also didn’t write this for sympathy so please don’t feel a need to reach out and tell me how awesome I am despite all this. I know that. Not being snide, I just really do know that. My mental health is doing better now and I know that these prior events and setbacks do not define me. I just felt like taking it back from others and sharing it myself, on my own terms. This is where I’m living now and it feels pretty good: Instead of reaching out to me, reach out to someone around you. Statistically 1 out of 4 people is suffering from some type of mental illness, the effects of which can reach WAY beyond their brain, as you can see. If you suspect it’s you, then it’s you. Get help. The longer you wait, the harder it is to treat. If you suspect it’s someone else, talk to them. Do not go behind their back and not involve them in their own treatment. Do not let them feel tricked in any way, just reach out to them and offer your love and support. Encourage them to get help on their terms and check in with them. That really can make all the difference.
Everyone enjoy a great Easter weekend! Even us non-religious folk can celebrate. It’s all about fresh starts…and chocolate! – HRGF