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One of my greatest strengths, as well as my greatest flaws, is that I prefer to see the world with a lovely gauzy pink veil cast over it. Any color will do actually, except maybe black.

Of course I know that when things get really bad for me, a friend, or family member this means I just flat out shut down and refuse to accept that things are Really That Bad.

The funny thing about this is that I'm not particularly religious, I just hold on to some strange inner belief that no matter what happens, as long as I wake up on the right side of the grass, I know that it's going to be "okay".

I'm not entirely sure where this attitude comes from, to be honest. Neither of my parents were or are particularly optimistic, but they were (and are) very good at denial.

Take for example my first husband. He was a mentally unbalanced control freak with anger management issues. No, really. He was. He's the kind of guy who would get into some disagreement with me while we were riding together in the car, pull over at some store on the side of the road, and make me get out of the car. He used to put his fist through hollow walls (I once watched him punch a hole in a hollow door). The man was one angry fellow. This anger showed up fairly early in the relationship, but I stuck it out anyway thinking somehow he would magically transform into a kind hearted, emotionally stable prince who would just "be there" for me when I needed him.

I wanted to believe that he was a good person, or at least someone who wasn't quite so screwed up. Of course this lead to me sticking around in an otherwise psychologically abusive situation for far longer than I should have.

I've always had a problem with recognizing when people were being jerks to me, not wanting to believe it - wanting to believe that "they can change.. if only...". If only the sky turned purple, and the grass blue, and the world looked like some far out funky Peter Max painting with groovy people wearing flowers in their hair. Yeah right, pass the magic herb over this way, I'm sitting over here on a giant orange mushroom.

With all this inability to see the faults in others, I have to say that this optimism has saved me from wanting to opt for the big dirt nap more than a few times.

More than a decade ago, I suffered my first bout of very real, very serious depression. Within about 6 months of time I lost my job, my grandmother, was in the middle of a nightmarish situation with my then-housemates, and a former boyfriend (that I still had not managed to get over) announced the birth of his first child. One at a time, these types of life issues would have been easier to weather. Getting them all in one big flaming ball was pretty hard to manage.

Still, some little chunk of meat inside my skull fired off enough electrons (along with the help of some modern chemistry) to convince me that if I were to die today, I might miss out on something else that was infinitely better than what I was going through right now.

This same dynamic kicked in when some years later, I went through a bad breakup and financial ruin within a small stretch of time. Even though I felt like a big wad of melted gravel-infused bubble gum on the bottom of the Universe's shoe, I figured dying wasn't an option because there are folks who are not given the option to stick around another day.

Somehow I just manage to keep breathing, which keeps my brain operative, which keeps the body doing it's usual thing.

So what?

Alright, so here's where it gets stupid.

I've always managed to get myself into trouble by looking forward to things happening in my life that never seem to materialize.

I spent the better part of my childhood and teenage years daydreaming about growing up to have some mythical life with a husband, children (with 2 cats in the used to be so hard...), staying at home writing books, tending a garden, and being some hippie earth mother type. I remember being 14 years old, thinking about John Lennon and how old "40" seemed to be. I wondered what my life would be like at 40, and started to think about all the living that John Lennon would never get to do... (okay, cut me a break, I have ADD). The point is that nothing seemed to be able to shake that fantasy loose from my brain - that I would have this storybook life of perfect bliss someday.

Never mind that my parents hated each other, my home life was far from idyllic, so where the heck did I get all these vague notions of what a perfect life would be for me at 30, 40, etc. Maybe it was too much pop music, but any other life path for me would have seemed unbelievable at the time.

It wasn't until I reached my mid-to-late thirties that I realized life really is what happens while you're busy making other plans, and that old fantasy started to fall apart like some city from a post-apocalyptic movie. Before I knew it, I was staring at the wreckage of my beliefs that I would have a happy marriage, kids, the house in the suburbs, etc. and was trying to come to terms with the reality of being in a bad relationship with someone I didn't want to marry, approaching the point of being "too old" to have biological children, and still climbing out of a pit of financial ruin. My career was getting better, but it certainly wasn't the life of a prolific enigmatic author. This feeling sucked, but losing this dream shook up that pink glittery snowglobe in my head that always wanted to believe that all dreams come true.

Here's another brief tale of weirdness from my recent past. About 7 or 8 years ago I had a crush on a guy that I only saw a few times a year. Every time I saw him, I wondered if I could ever strike up some sort of longer conversation that would lead to us (at least) going out for a drink, coffee, etc. I knew that he was single, and lived a few hours away, but that didn't matter. He had an adorable smile, was bright, a little reserved, but also had a very calm manner, pleasant voice, and great sense of humor.

I attended a regional convention related to the hobby that we shared, and he and I sat next to each other at dinner one night (with a group of other hobbyists). We talked a bit, I learned about his financial (and other) troubles, and I felt a little sad for him. He seemed fairly defeated. Despite talking for that brief time (and some well meaning friends trying to convince him to call me "someday"), nothing more materialized. Shortly after that convention, I took up with another guy who I was far less into and my crush fantasy was tucked into a metaphorical box in my mind.

My life got stupid, complicated, and crazy over the next several years. A few years ago I attended a club meeting for that old hobby I was into, and learned that my old crush had passed away in 2009. Just like that. I had not thought about that guy in years, but somehow the news of his passing made that old daydream feel uncomfortable. I felt an overwhelming sadness. More Reality beating the living shit out of Fantasy. Dreams die. People die. Everything dies.

But I don't wanna live in Realityville.. It hurts.

The last year or so of my life I've been cultivating a sense of pragmatism when it comes to my daydreams. I've cultivated crushes on men I have no chance in ever meeting in real life so I can keep my fantasies in check. In other words, I can sit and watch Top Gear and daydream about James May, going for a ride in the English countryside in one of his amazing cars and stopping off at some lively pub for a few pints, and so on. This is a fantasy that falls squarely into the "not bloody likely" category. I can wrap my head around the fact that there is no pining for this person, wondering what they're up to, wondering if they think about me. None of that.

When it comes to thinking about men that I actually know and/or have seen and would like to know better, I have learned to temper my enthusiasm. I've learned that no matter how much I might want to get to know someone better, hope that they call, wonder if they are thinking of me, etc. boarding that particular train of thought is like being blindfolded in a large transit center, spun around a few times and pointed at some random door. You might end up going somewhere interesting but you're also just as likely to end up completely lost, stuck just outside of Clusterfuck City, in the absolute worst part of town (with no return train until morning).

Mind you, this is still a raging battle in my head.

This daydreaming habit is very old, and I do tend to cling to it when I'm feeling bored or lonely. The key in winning this battle seems to be avoiding those choices that lead me to be "bored", and to find activities that make me feel less socially isolated.

I'm never going to knock this out completely, and I am okay with that. Being a dreamer is what I am, and despite my crunchy cynical outer shell, I still have that old romantic heart beating within. I'm just trying very hard not to paint anyone's face into that perpetually unfinished painting tucked away in the dusty corners of my mind.

March 2013

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