In case you haven't heard it on the geek grapevine, today is Pi day. According to the Pi Day website (yes, there is a website), "Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159." So, I'm thinking about circles.
More to the point, I'm thinking about circular patterns. In my life, there's a big circle. It has everything to do with values and self-esteem. When I was a kid I went to catholic school and everything seemed fine with my peers until we started getting pre-pubescent (4th grade). Suddenly, I was an outcast because I was the smartest kid in my class and I was well-behaved. In fact, the year before that I had won the "Jesus Christ Award," supposedly for setting the most Christlike example. I mean, I just thought that's what we were supposed to do, i.e. study hard and try to be good kids. But my peers, starting at about that age, had different ideas. I found myself getting bullied and ostracized for being a "goodie two-shoes".
So, I was lonely and stopped really interacting with my classmates unless they sought me out to taunt me. I was miserable. And on top of that I was starting to clue in to new influences in the media, namely, Madonna, who seemed to take everything it meant to be christian and twist it around on itself. I felt like, why be good? It just leads to pain and torture and everyone wants you to be a "bad girl" anyway. I mean, that's how you got the boys to like you, wasn't it?
By the time I was 10 I decided that I wanted "in." I wanted to be bad. I wanted affirmation from my peers. I wanted to be, if not popular, not the butt of the jokes. Well, all through the rest of grade school (until 8th grade) I did a terrible job of being a "bad girl." I really didn't get it and my parents kept a watchful eye on me anyway. So, I kept getting picked on. In high school, I lucked out and found friends in honors classes and theatre who were intelligent and "eccentric" and who also, for the most part, tried to do the right thing. My senior year I was elected to both the National Honor Society Board and Thesbian Board. It should be noted however, that I was being pulled in for counseling on suspicion of manic depression. (I just thought I was being dramatic). Also, I had an after-school job at a restaurant and I was starting to get myself into trouble with some older men. Yes, I'll come out and say it: statutory rape. So, overall I felt like I had moved up on the "coolness" ladder but I didn't even imagine what was happening to me.
18 happened and college. Without the the thoughtful guidance of my parents, an illness creeping up on me, and too much time on my hands I suddenly found myself in way over my head. I remember the first day I was walking around campus with a hangover and everything "made sense." I felt like I had joined the human race. There are a lot of stories to tell here, but for now, suffice it to say that I spent twelve years drunk and stoned among other things. I had a series of abusive and dysfunctional relationships. My first diagnosis (bipolar disorder) came at 24 and I kept using while I was on meds. I got into self-destructive activities like being on the submissive end of violent bdsm. I gave up on meds. At thirty, I made my first two suicide attempts. I went numb.
But that same year, I realized the first thing I had to do was get sober, or I was going to die, so I quit using. And no, it still isn't easy feeling left out of all the "fun." Unfortunately, about that same time my paranoid schizophrenia really kicked in and so I went a little overboard giving up dysfunctional relationships, because I thought everyone was a threat. I spent 6 years moving around, trying to have a life, completely alone. Finally, another suicide attempt when I was 36 and a subsequent hospitalization got me back on meds. About a year later, I finally re-connected with my family.
Now, I don't think of it as good or bad, but survival. It simply follows that if you want to live you have to take care of yourself. You have to ask for respect and respect others. For me, it means taking meds, working with my doctor and therapist, staying clean, and keeping up a healthy daily routine. What has happened is that I've ended up rather lonely again. If I didn't live with my parents, I don't know what I'd be doing. I have a very small number of friends who are all awesome, but very busy with their own lives. My relationships are functional though, and peaceful, and I can't ask for more than that. And these days, I live with the stigma of "mentally ill" and "recovering addict," so no matter what you do, I find, it's futile to try and be a crowd-pleaser.
There you have it, back to square one: helping my parents, blooging hard, trying to take good care of myself and be a good person. Only now, I understand why all that is so important, and yes, I'm proud if I can set a Christ-like example.
So, I have circled all around it and given you my own personal Pi Day tribute! Happy Pi Day! :-)