Negative Attention is Still Attention

“Negative attention is still attention”

That was a deep realization I came to recently. “I’ve got a thirst for self destruction and I’m scared of it”
Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I had written and wired this neuron that equated attention to love, in any form. Even negative.. hell, especially negative attention. You know.. the kind of attention where there’s a lump in your throat, and you’re spewing emotional baggage out because you feel lonely, hurt, lost, misunderstood, etc?

Only as I knock on the door of thirty years old has my self awareness allowed me to see that I would lash out in these patterns in my life when I was feeling these ways, and grasping straws for attention from the people I loved, even if it meant I was a crying ball of bitch. Somewhere I was taught (attention == love), and I’ve spent a good chunk of the last 7 years rewriting this story inside of myself.

Only now do I realize all the shit my parents were going through in their own lives that might have influenced these beliefs inside of myself. That’s because I’ve finally felt strong enough inside to be able to sit down and look at it.

A few years ago, I started to wonder why I couldn’t remember much of my childhood. Did it all get erased? Did that big accident a few years back knock it all out of me? Was it all the weed? Or was it the trauma? DING DING DING.

I had blocked it out.
And I realized that I spent much of my childhood in my own little world. That’s why I have the imagination that I have today. I spent so much time practicing it to escape the chaos around me.

My parents divorced when I was 6. I found out because I went looking for my toy box and it was gone. My mom bent down to tell me that my toy box was at the place my dad would be staying at for a little while. I held that little white lie with me up until my dad remarried. I was crying at their wedding, and everyone thought it was so beautiful because I was so moved that my dad found someone amazing (and she truly is amazing). But I was crying because I realized, at that moment, my parents were never getting back together again.

That little piece of trauma was so wrapped up in my life that I had only begun to dissect it many years later, when my best friend Cam brought something new home for the apartment. It was a dope thing, and everyone I know would have been stoked on it. And I should have been stoked on it too. But I wasn’t. That got me curious. I retraced that feeling of “Why do I get so anxious when something in my environment changes, even if its good?” I went back and back to that moment of the missing toy box.

Holy fuck was that a wakeup call. That little moment had affected every single day of my life going forward in ways that I was completely unconscious about. That got me thinking what else from my childhood was affecting my every day life. Then I realized “fuck.. I literally don’t remember much of anything from my childhood…”

Why? I asked myself. I started to contemplate. Piece by piece things started to unravel. At first I was mad, like anyone would be when they realized that they had been influenced by so much of their life that was entirely out of their control. Then I started to have compassion.

My parents are amazing people. I love them so much and I’m so grateful for them. But one of the things I’m not sure that has even been realized or acknowledged outside of myself was how much their shit became my shit.

How much pain my parents were going through individually that myself and my brothers were just by-standards to. How much stress my Dad was under after losing the woman he married “for richer or for poorer, in sickness, and in health, til death do us part.” How much stress my mom was going through trying to put two groms through private school while managing an 80 hour work week, and still making it to all my games. How much both of their hearts hurt for the decisions and repercussions that were made. That made it a little easier to dive in and start to dissect these things I had been carrying with me.

If you guys are close to me, you know I’m incredibly “sensitive.” It’s my superpower. It comes out in my attention to detail and nuance. My ability to read people and situations. My ability to think outside the box. My sensitivity goes so deep in to my nervous system that I only have to take about ¼ of anything for it to affect me. That led me to a life of masking the sensations, because being incredibly sensitive while you’ve got chaos all around you growing up, was not very safe.

No wonder I’ve felt so unsafe all my life. No wonder I’ve been afraid of love. No wonder I have no idea what a healthy loving relationship actually looks like.

This doesn’t give me an excuse to carry this anymore though. In fact, the awareness of it means that it’s my fucking job to own MY shit and not pass this down the line to people in my life, and especially the children I bring on to this rock, if that’s in the cards for me.

When things would be okay, THAT would feel like chaos for me. What the fuck is “Okay” and how does one cope with trusting that someone loves you when your youngest memories of love are filled with screaming matches, substances, war, and being forced to pick sides.

Little fun fact: I solved my parents custody battle. I was walking out to the car with my dad at like 7 years old and we were talking about trying to figure out the days when we would be going back and forth. I thought it would be a good idea to go 5 days back and forth, because there’s 7 days in a week and that way, we could evenly split up the weekends.

AT FUCKING SEVEN LOL.
Two grown ass adults had been arguing back and forth about all this bullshit, and my little ass figured it all out. That would be a borderline nightmare for the next 11 years, but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything else they were proposing. That was the state of turmoil they were in.

It’s with that understanding that I must now rewire the inner child inside of me. Somedays, like today, I have to literally sit down with my 7 year old self and talk to him. Ask him what’s wrong. Tell him that it’s all going to be okay, and we just need to breathe, and trust that things always work out for the best.

Because they do. Even when its scary. But you can’t freak out. That never ever ever has made it better. Even though it feels that way, because that negative attention, it never helps in the long run, and we’re in this for the long run.

What’d I get from my parents divorce? That best little fucking brother on the planet I wouldn’t trade for the world, and the most amazing step mom that is a angel incarnate. I was given an unbelievable set of skills and compassion. I was given an unbelievable amount of strength.

Just like I said: It always works out for the best, even when you can’t see it right now.
So don’t freak out. Breathe. And Trust.
And most importantly, LOVE.

Because no one ever became lesser by choosing to love, even when its scary.
Remember: Negative Attention =/= Love
Even when it feels like its all we’ve known.

Trust that you’re worth it.
Trust that you have a path ahead.
Trust.
And Love,
Like its your fuckin’ job.