Tonight I wanted to talk about a subject that’s very interesting to me: self-care. This may be a bit of a controversial subject for those who know me personally, but I disregarded this subject for many years and the longer I have to think about it, the more I realize just how much of an effect it had on me-both good and bad (don’t worry, I’ll explain).
For starters, I’d like to mention that I have no hard feelings toward anyone who has “wronged” me in the past. If anybody has, it is partially because I allowed them to, and therefore I don’t hold any blame over their heads anymore.
Up until I was 21 years old, my main philosophy was to put others first without any real regard for myself, though I unfortunately didn’t realize this until just shortly under two years ago. My vocal coach doesn’t like the particular sound of my voice. It’s my responsibility to change my voice to fit her preferences. My friend is disappointed with her marriage. It’s my responsibility to make her feel better. Another friend isn’t happy with her job, or her school. It’s my responsibility to make sure that she makes the most out of the job she has as well as all of the classes she’s taking. I have three jobs and a full-time school schedule, but my fiance has to work and no one else can watch his toddler, so it’s my responsibility to either watch him or pay for the babysitter to keep him for two and a half hours while I’m at my vocal/piano lessons. But since I have so many things going on, how am I supposed to find the time to manage the responsibility of taking care of my classes? And my health? And my…what’s the word…happiness? Self-care? Something along those lines?
Since my junior year of high school (and really before then, if I’m being totally honest with myself as well as the rest of you), I’ve dreamed of graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston. But since it was all the way in Massachusetts, and to be honest, I’m way too close to my mom, dad, stepdad, and brothers (I’d make it more general and say family, but I have family about an hour from Boston as well so that doesn’t really narrow it down), I decided to attend UMHB so that I could be closer to my direct family. For a while, I really did enjoy UMHB, honest. But my second year, I got involved with a particular guy.
Again, I don’t want to use this as a bad situation, because I really did learn a lot from this situation. I learned a new way to love, I realized what my true passions were, and honestly if it weren’t for this situation, I wouldn’t be where I am now. So I don’t want to make this out to be an entirely terrible thing. In all honesty, it was probably for the best. It just did cause a lot of heartache that I wasn’t prepared for.
About 6 months into the relationship, me and this guy and his almost-two-year-old son moved into a duplex together. It was about ten minutes from my mom’s house and only about thirty minutes from my school. How perfect was that?
Shortly after we moved in, we wanted to have said guy’s mother over for dinner. She came over, and as she and I were in the living room with my boyfriend’s son, she mentioned to me that I really wouldn’t be able to move to any big music cities to pursue my dream unless I wanted to leave my boyfriend and his son behind, since he and his ex had a court agreement to stay in the same county until the son was 18 years of age. I was so shocked, that I didn’t know what to say other than “yeah I know, that’s why I want to pursue a career that could keep me closer to home.”
Can someone remind me why the fuck I said that?
This tied me to an unintentional agreement for almost a year and a half. Less than a month after we moved in together, I decided I was going to leave UMHB and pursue cosmetology school.
Again, excuse my language (and absolutely no disrespect to anyone in cosmetology because I know that I couldn’t do it even if I tried-it just isn’t something I ever thought I’d do):
But what the FUCK.
I mean, cosmetology school was cheaper. I would have to spend less money and I could travel a smaller amount of time so I’d be able to spend more time with my boyfriend and, BONUS, I could even watch my boyfriend’s kid more often so he wouldn’t have to pay the babysitter! How awesome!
I applied to a cosmetology school. I got accepted. I randomly decided one day, just out of pure curiosity, to check to see if online music degrees were a thing. This way, I could pursue a degree in what I really wanted, and still be able to take the babysitter burden off of my boyfriend. I decided to Google “online music degree.” And lo and behold, what’s the first thing that pops up? Berklee Online.
I’ll never forget the day I texted my mom (who was not too happy with the idea of me attending cosmetology school–of course, now that I’m no longer blinded, I realize she was only against it because she knew better than anyone how passionate I was about music) and let her know about the online degree program through Berklee. She knew how much I admired Berklee, and when I let her know that I wanted to apply, and that I intended on taking my admission decision as a deciding factor between music and cosmetology, she couldn’t have been more ecstatic, despite some of the disagreements we had gotten into over the past few weeks about me switching schools.
July 24th, 2016, I was accepted into the Bachelors Degree Program at Berklee College of Music. The #4 music conservatory in the US, and I was accepted.
Shortly after I got accepted, I decided I wanted to leave my jobs at Papa Murphy’s, Prima Pasta, and Luigi’s Italian Restaurant (yes, I was working three jobs and raising a kid that wasn’t mine-I figured I owed myself the opportunity to just work one job at a time-I had also just turned 20 years old) and decided to work at Guitar Center in Killeen, TX. I met some of my best friends there, other than one of the operations guys who just seemed to be in a bad mood all the time. Let’s just save a little time and call him Angry Ops Guy.
I worked there for about a year. About three months after I started, my first semester at Berklee ended, and in the two week period between the fall and winter semesters, that guy and I got engaged on Christmas Eve.
What the fuck.
While I was working at GC, my then fiance started working a new job, working overnights every third week. Since we got his child every other week, this meant that every six weeks, I had the child overnight for an entire work week. While my fiance was working, while I was working, and while I was going to school. When I think about how often I nap nowadays, I honest to God don’t know how I managed to stay awake from 7 am every day to about 2-3 am, waking up still every hour to check on my fiance’s son, while also knocking out a full work schedule + commuting as well as a full school schedule. Honestly…how did I do it?
I started feeling neglected. Even when my fiance was home. By the time he would get home, I would have to either go to bed to get to work on time the next morning, or he would get home at about the same time that I was about to leave for work. And it really wasn’t his fault, he was doing the best he could to support us, he really was. But honestly, what’s the point in being able to pay the rent and all other bills for your family, if you can’t even spend time with your family?
Even so, his side of the family always came before mine. Christmas Eve was spent at his mother’s house, because it was a complete necessity to propose there. It wouldn’t have been the same anywhere else? *Disclaimer, it was romantic and all, but I’m my mom and my dad’s only daughter and I sort of feel as though that was taken away from my own family just to please his, who has three daughters and three sons*.
I also don’t want to forget to mention all of the open mic nights that were missed purely based on “I’m too tired,” or “I don’t like their food” or “well I was planning on going to *insert town* with *insert name of person he didn’t invite to my show*.”
The more I realized how much my music and my passions were suffering just to satisfy his own, the closer I became to my friends at Guitar Center-particularly, Angry Ops Guy. Turns out, he wasn’t as much of an ass as he appeared to be.
He started to make me realize how much my music was worth. Those of you who know me know that I am my music, so in turn, he was making me feel amazing about myself as a whole. I tried to shake it off, I really did. But the weekend before I was about to leave GC for a closer job, I couldn’t stop myself, and I blurted out over a drunken phone call to Angry Ops Guy just how much he meant to me. I knew it wasn’t mutual, but I didn’t even have to work with him any more since we were both off all weekend, he was off at 3 on Monday, and I didn’t work til 3 on Monday-what did I have to lose? I would never have to see him again.
“Are you kidding? It’s completely, 100 % mutual.”
Long story short, I left my fiance for Angry Ops Guy. Though I felt neglected by my ex, it wasn’t his fault. Judging by the rest of his family, how the majority of them always acted towards me, and how a select few of them still act towards me, I’ve decided to assume that he just didn’t know any better. And that’s okay. I’m not mad at him. I truly loved him and though it’s not in the same way, I always will in the way that I wish him nothing but the best. I could say that he took advantage of me, but I knew what I signed up for, and though leaving behind the child was hands down the hardest part of walking away, I know it was for the best for everyone involved. I’d love to be honest and say that I didn’t cheat, and physically, I didn’t. But to be honest, mentally and emotionally, maybe I did. And though I still care for that man very much and I’m so beyond sorry that it involved hurting him, I’m not really that sorry for finally taking care of myself.
Angry Ops Guy has missed a total of three of my shows in the past two years, and those three were only because he had practice with another band he was playing with (which honestly, is kind of something I take pride in, so I can’t even be mad at it). And every day, he pushes me. Every day, he reminds me that I’m worth something. Every day, he makes me feel recognized and appreciated.
Moral of the story: you can’t pour from an empty glass. I give my all to my relationship with Angry Ops Guy every day, but every single day, he returns it, no question. He loves and appreciates my family and I his, and he never lets me question my worth, my value, or my purpose. And the idea of spending the rest of this life proving that to him finally feels like more of an opportunity rather than a chore.
Sometimes, opposites attract. But in my case, I know in my heart that I’m meant to be with somebody who is just like me, and who maximizes the best parts of me.
Take care of yourselves out there babes, and never forget who you are or what you’re worth.