“Can it get any worse?” My thoughts on being ungrounded and what it means to be an adult

“Can it get any worse?”

In a word, “Yes.”

More words:

It often does.  Looking back, people can live a long time, and when you are young you are rather clueless as to how truly bad “bad” is.

I mean, think back to when you were really, really little. What was the worst thing?  Having your lunch money stolen?  Having that really cute girl say no when you asked her out on a date? Being turned down when you tried out for that sports team you wanted so badly to be on?

Okay, okay, I’ll dig a bit deeper.  How about the day your teacher took you aside and told you you need to lose a few pounds.  That teacher held her face so close to you that you could see the creases in her face and all the flakes in her makeup.  You cried all the way home and then you were scared to tell anyone.

Yes, it does get worse.  If you are reading this, you might be one of those people wondering about this or asking yourself that question right now.  I wish I could tell people it doesn’t, but I have no platitudes or euphemisms or answers for anyone.  I’m surely not going to lie.  I don’t have an explanation for why people are mean to others or are uncaring, but that’s the way the world is.

What’s really the worst thing that can happen?  I look back over the years and ask this.  When did the bottom drop out the absolute worst? What events struck me down the hardest?  It’s surprising that sometimes what appears to be rather subtle affects me deeply, and other things that are seemingly huge events I pick myself up from and move on like a trooper.

Believe it or not, I’m not alone in this. I’ll bet most people are the same way.  I can remember tiny things setting me back.  It makes it harder still when people around me put me down for “making a mountain out of a molehill.”  I don’t know why people choose to insult another person instead of trying to be empathetic. Again, humans tend to be uncaring and they’d rather put me down even deeper into the hole that I am already in, hammering it into me how “negative” I am, rather than showing love and affection.

I guess the worst thing that could possibly happen, or ever happened to me was losing a loved one, that is, someone very, very close to me.

Losing my home and being homeless, that is, having to sleep literally on the streets, this would be a bad thing, too.  (The term “homeless” is often misused, by the way.) I hope it never happens.  I’ll bet it sucks bad to lose your home.

I have lost a partner and that, I must say, is for sure like having the bottom drop out from under you.  No explanation, no reason. Random bad luck.  It happens to some and not others.  I’m not going to tell one person it has anything to do with deserving anything.  It doesn’t.

I had no clue it would happen beforehand.  No anticipation. One day he was there and then he wasn’t.  I went on with my life because I had to.

Joe and I had been together every day.  We didn’t live together, nor were we married legally.  I guess we had no word for it, maybe “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” but it had been so many years that we stopped using those words.  I can’t recall the word they used for me in his obituary. I can imagine the awkwardness.

My own family paid their respects, that is, my bio family.  They made a brief appearance and that was it.  I’ve been lost in the shuffle rather quickly afterward.  Ten years have passed, over ten years now.

I have lost dogs. Now let me tell you, losing a dog for some people is a bigger deal than it is for others.   I have one beloved living being in my life right now, my Puzzle with whom I share my life and that’s it, and thinking now that to lose her would mean the bottom would surely drop out.

For some, losing a beloved animal is harder than it is for others.  It has nothing to do with values or morals.  To say that an animal “doesn’t have a soul” or to say it’s a lesser loss than losing a person and that this grief “doesn’t count,” well, that’s an insult indeed.  I honestly don’t know a thing about souls. All I know is that I love my dog. Being sad doesn’t mean you are a bad person or morally weak.  If anyone puts you down for grief, don’t listen to them.

I lost my dog right after I lost Joe.  The timing? Joe died August 19, Tiger died October 12. This was in 2003.

What now?  I can tell you you will be loved, maybe it will last, but for me, it was only momentary, actually a few weeks, then I was suddenly alone and in shock.  People came to court me, and maybe this will happen to you, too, but maybe not. Those seekers may lust after you with caring as a goal, or perhaps only to use you briefly for their own purposes, then toss you aside.  That’s what happened to me.  They may see you as someone who has already been taken out of the box long ago whose original warranty has already expired.  Some folks do in fact meet others and then have good partnerships again. I didn’t experience that.  Again, perhaps just luck of the draw.

How do I feel after all these years?  In a word, “ungrounded,” like there’s nothing underneath me to hold me up.  Everything has whittled away.  I was abused in hospitals a bunch of times, and lost countless friends because of it. I’ve had serious bodily organ damage that affects daily life.  I am completely alone 99% of the time.  I rarely have spoken conversation. Domino effect, I guess. Bad luck.

I’m trying to change the situation, but it’s actually not as easy as you’d think.  I have tried certain solutions that didn’t work and made things ten times worse, so I stopped trying those solutions and tried doing something else to fix the problem. I’m currently in the process of changing my living situation.

Being ungrounded is a blessing, actually, though it took me a while to realize this. How did I come to this conclusion?

We’re on our own.  Adults in this world.  There’s something both scary and wonderful about that. Remember the day you left your original place you called “home”? For me, I remember the day I walked out of that big house with “Mom and Dad.”  I was counting down the days and could hardly wait!  I told myself I was now an adult.  I was so proud but I knew I was going to have to fight very hard to get that “Mom and Dad” machine off my back. That ungrounded feeling felt terrific, however scary it was. The Big Unknown was inviting to me.  “Mom and Dad” felt like prison, and I’d do anything to get away.  It felt like I was in a bad trap with my bio family.

I can tell you one thing: it’s true that when you are completely ungrounded, you do get stronger. Find that strength and hold onto it.  It’s who you are.

I celebrated everything wonderful about being lifted up off my feet when I was 17. I guess now that some very, very bad things have happened to me, especially in the past decade, I can look back on how terrific I felt as a 17-year-old and tell myself that “ungrounded” could be seen as a good thing even now.  Why do I now see it as bad when in fact, it means independence and freedom?

It’s time to find out who I am, that is, the person I always was inside.  It’s cool that I’ve been doing just that.  I love the way it’s gradually unfolding.  If there’s nothing to fall back on, I end up finding that strength within that was always there to begin with. I won’t find it if I fall back into a trap of dependency. I seem to be daring to be that adult I always wanted to be, and I’m taking more and more responsibility for my life.  It’s rather liberating.

Stick with folks that are affirming and loving, and you will go far. If anyone insults you, walk away. Dependency and insistence on neediness is an insult, too.  Don’t fall for that trap.  You will blossom among those that encourage independence, freedom, trust, creativity, and love.

Feedback and comments welcome!