If you'd told me ten years ago I'd be where I am now, I'd have told you you were full of shit. Actually ten years ago my life was in the midst of it's biggest upheaval in twenty years.
April 21st, 2002: I had bought a house two years earlier. What had started as a "we" project had ended up a "me" project like it always had. I did all the leg work, used my GI loan guarantee. There'd been promises of second jobs and rooms being finished off, blah, blah, blah followed by all the excuses I'd been listening to for 17 years. One year in an old face had popped back into my life and I thought I'd finally found my "happily ever after". 2002 wound up being a year of change and unpleasant surprises. I ended it totally alone and doubly heart broken. I'd survived a meltdown and now had that one quietly settled in college. The other one also fell apart after having two people move out of their life in the same year. I tried to be the stalwart one while crying myself to sleep every night. But like the song says, my soul was ok. I knew I wasn't a failure for not having an s.o. to validate me. I had my kids, my parents and my extended family. I lost friends but it was my own fault. I just couldn't deal. Others were moved out of my life by non-friends who successfully turned my one safe haven into a battlefield and made me and the other kids the enemy. We all left.
Let me go back further though to frame how it got to that point. You don't have to be gay to be bullied, picked-on, put down, etc. In grammar school I was the weird kid. My parents, gods bless them, had no idea how to socialize a child. Fortunately they on had one to ruin...me. I was awkward. My mom dressed me weird. I was smart but I was also very social. The note on my report card was the same every...single...marking period "Kathleen is a good student who could do much better". The rest was, basically, she talks too much. What that boiled down to was trying to get people to like me. Instead it just made them laugh at me more.
Jr High, today known as Middle School, was worse. I'd learned from the few kids that did talk to me that certain things were just not done. I pleaded with my mother not to make me wear white bobby socks. She told me "Don't be ridiculous". I ended up being laughed at more along with being physically accosted over it. Of course, by then, I knew my mother didn't listen which meant she really didn't care. Totally humiliated things went from bad to worse when my dad got transferred and I had to move in the middle of 8th grade. The new town was very different and I was immediately labeled an outcast because I was from a more upscale area (no, my family is middle, middle class). I also was curve-busting on quizzes and tests because I'd had all this material in 6th grade. Add the ever increasing hormone level and the intense pressure to be coupled? Oh, this was getting more fun by the minute.
High school was merely the icing on the cake. No one asked me out. I missed both my proms in an era where there was still a huge stigma attached to it. I was a music geek and a theater nerd. I was still smart and not overly pretty. Looking back though the two sanctuaries I had were the music room and the auditorium. That where we nerds gathered to lick each others wounds. But I still felt the extreme pressure to be coupled.
All this imprinting carried on into my post-high school, early adult life. I became a bit of a slut just to say I had male attention. I did a lot of things I won't talk about here. It all ended very badly when I met my ex. Initially he was a tool to exit another bad situation I'd been in for a few years. However, I mistook the whole mess for love and married him. Then I did what I was made to feel over all those years and procreated. To say I'm the worst candidate for motherhood is an understatement. But I do excel at survival and so the child had a warm, safe place to live, clean clothes that fit, food in their belly and someone to tuck them in with a story every night.
I spent 30 years surviving. Always doing what others made me feel I was supposed to do to be validated as a human female. Thank the Fates my kids set me free from that in 2004. By then I had completed the divorce, owned MY house (which was MY house from the beginning), started paying off credit cards, had the nasty wound created by that old friend start to heal (there's still an ugly scar over my heart today) and was able to sit down and take a breath. When I exhaled I saw and heard really good music coming out of my TV and my kids' iPods. The younger one's guitar and trombone playing were getting better. The older one was halfway to an arts degree. The color had come back into my life.
Since then I've fallen down this amazing rabbit hole full of even more amazing people and experiences. It really does get better no matter how old you are. But you do have to do your part to get there. I could have been okay with just being a music fan and gone to a lot of live shows but it was getting expensive. Also I wanted to help my favorite artists get more recognition but after two years of promoting for free, I kinda wanted some compensation for all that work. I just started following the path of breadcrumbs. Today I have met and had great conversations with big names and the up and coming. I have all kinds of new friends and I'm not done yet. My bucket list is full of wonderful experiences, places and people. I never allow myself to accept "no" from my inner voice. I'm not saying that sometimes I am met with scary challenges but I push through them and then end up very grateful on the other side. Those pushes have, so far, have resulted in some of my most positive moments.
Hang in there. It does get better but you have to take some responsibility. Don't wait for anyone to hand it to you. Beat yourself up a little. Tell yourself you're strong, that you're tough, that you're talented. Truly do not care what people say about you. Don't care if they like you. You will waste a great life trying to live up to other's expectations of you, even your own parents. Be the you that produces the brightest colors, the most perfect harmonies between your brain, your heart and your spirit. Screw everyone else. At that point your life will not only be better, it will be the closest thing to perfect and you will attract people and they will like you.