On my own little site yesterday, a person asked me how I got the nickname “Bird”, and it reminded me of a time in my life that was really, really painful and how that one little nickname had made me feel better about me and my life.
I was sexually abused as a kid, and it caused me to have PTSD. I’m not going into all the scientific stuff about this….Wikipedia explains it pretty clearly, if you’re interested. But in me, it triggered a real identity-hatred and it shored up in me a determination to never, ever be vulnerable to anyone again. Thinking that if I could just escape the abuse, everything in my life would calm down, and I could be happy again, I left home at 17. But, because of these fears of giving others power that they would use against me, I kept making really bad decisions for myself. And to make my mind shut-up from its incessant harping on every single subject in the whole world all the time, everyday..Ugh!, I’d use everything from vodka to NyQuil. Stronger drugs only made it worse, so in a way, that hyper-vigilance kind of kept me from become a full-blown drug addict…Got to love some positives, I guess…
Nothing I was doing was making me really feel better, and in most cases, I was feeling worse — By the time I had my children, I was experiencing some real despair and anger. I finally kind of gave God an ultimatum… fix me or kill me. I can’t live like this anymore, and I’ll end up messing up my own kids if You don’t.
Enter, Donald. I’m not going to paint a picture of sunshine and roses. It wasn’t all happy times. But, my God. The man could make me laugh. Within the first week I met him (he was my boss at Olive Garden), I’d laughed more than I had in years. Subjects that other polite people would never even broach talking about with me, he simply turned into tasteless jokes. Frankly, he reminded me that life is hard — we’re all either going to be crying or laughing, but it is our choice. And then we’re going to die.
He loved my name — one of his favorites, he says — but he had starting calling me Bird, or Birdie, affectionately, and it just stuck. Because the Bird in me was able to laugh at her past, while the Catherine in me seemed stuck there.
For over 20 years now, I’ve been laughing at my pain, and the Catherine in me has all but vanished. She peaks her head out once in a while to help remind me what others are feeling, but she isn’t in control. I’ll always owe Don for teaching me to laugh at what I simply can’t change….
PS: It occurs to me that I sound a bit like a schizophrenic, but I assure you, I’m speaking metaphorically only.