Little Anna’s Need for Security

In the 90s, this is what Security looked like: a Nintendo Gameboy with lots of games.
Yes, I still have my original Nintendo Gameboy and it totally still works. Photo Source: Vexteo Media Group, LLC. Anna Leary.

I’m 36 this year and finally Little Anna’s need for SECURITY is being realized. I’m just now learning how to talk about my feelings in real time and be coherent about it. I come from a long line of, “Hey, let’s just stay on the surface and bury this hurtful shit rulllllll deep, OK? OK.”

Thankfully my wife is a strong proponent of TALK ABOUT ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME.

As you can imagine, when we were dating, this was a strange meeting of life experiences. Even years into our marriage it’s still a struggle sometimes because I just can’t seem to share my feelings in the moment. I’m very much still a work in progress. Aren’t we all? Seriously y’all. We’re all just working through our own issues a little at a time. We’re in this journey together. We can do this. You’re not alone. I am here for you.

I have a vivid high school memory: my teacher called home telling my mom that I was failing AP Calculus (otherwise known as the Devil’s Witchcraft, Math Edition).

I was only in AP Calc because I was really good at taking standardized tests in like 5th grade and tested into all the gifted programs. Awesome. Except it put me on a math track I most definitely should NOT have been on.

In that calculus class our teacher eventually created the Anna Curve and everyone else was graded on MY score. I found it hilarious. I didn’t even try in that class because I’m a practical hustler and even in high school I knew deep down, “I am never going to use this derivative BS. This is useless to me. I shall focus more instead on memorizing Pink Floyd lyrics, my AP English Lit class, and perfecting my long-sleeved flannel shirt tied around my waist look.” It was the 90s. I was on trend, y’all.

Back to my vivid memory: my mom railed on me, rightly so, for failing a class and how could I? Think about my future! What about college?! Did I think this was a joke?!

And I sat there with zero expression on my face. I quite literally felt zero emotion. Why? Because even by the end of high school I had become such an expert at burying all the REALNESS of life when people came at me with something uncomfortable, I was able to numb it all out.

Why talk about my real feelings to the person who taught me that my real feelings didn’t matter? (Whoa. That’s deep. That just flowed out of my fingers onto the keyboard and it needs to be digested for a bit. I’mma just get up, walk around, get a fresh cup of coffee and let that one sit for a while.)

Like, she wouldn’t understand that AP Calculus just didn’t matter to me. That AP classes don’t count toward your GPA (at least this one didn’t for mine – of this I had been assured, and SPOILER ALERT I graduated high school with honors and still went to college where I also graduated with honors, so, clearly, it all worked out). It just felt like she was playing the part of Mad Mom. That she didn’t really care what my experience was like. So, I numbed out. It was easier like that. That was most of my childhood. Learning how to numb out.

Back to security. Like I said before, I’m 36 this year and I’m married (thanks Obergefell v Hodges! Stop now and read about it. I’ll wait. Know your Supreme Court history, y’all. We had to leave our home state of Georgia in 2013 to get married in Vermont where our marriage would be recognized…and it wasn’t recognized federally/nationally until 2015. We still have so much work to be done to have a country that values equality for all, friends.). I have two children, one of whom I birthed and seven months later we adopted her little brother because we’re a little bit crazy. And brilliant. Almost-twins are awesome. Having two kids going through the same phases at the same times and then be done with them at similar times rocks and we love it.

They are the best of friends and I have found my voice partly because of the security I’ve found in being their mama.

I grew up in a lot of financial turmoil. We were rich for a long time. Then we weren’t. Then we were. Then we weren’t. My parents weren’t good with money. They divorced when I was eleven. It wasn’t the fact that sometimes we had more money than others – it was that things just always felt so uncertain. I always had what I needed. Clothes. Food. Soccer cleats. Field trip money. We weren’t destitute. But, I just never felt secure and it went so far beyond money.

I often felt money, when we had a lot, was used to somehow take the place of emotional security. My parents bought me a lot of STUFF. While, at the time, I appreciated the stuff (I was a kid obsessed with my original Gameboy and was SO GOOD at Tetris and there were these games about a cloud named Kirby and YES THAT IS A PICTURE OF MY ORIGINAL GAMEBOY THAT STILL WORKS at the top, but again, I digress) I lacked the emotional security that would follow me into adulthood where I felt safe.

OK, kids. That’s enough for today. We’ll meet again here soon.