Friday, September 23, 2011

Being other

I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year.  I've never done it before.  I've always been too intimidated.  I want to write honest to goodness fiction.  But because I'm me it will be creative non-fiction instead. :P  I want to rewrite my life.  I want to take the time to play in my head with some of the "might have beens" in my life. Stephen King says that if you want to write a book you have to do it in private, so the blog will see very little traffic in November.  I sort of feel like October is necessarily my time to do more of a run through of what happened for real and all.  Mmmm writers block.  I remember your sweet smell.  You always bring cookies.

I feel really weirdly conflicted about what I am trying to do, what I am trying to say.  Why does it have value?  Why does it have worth?  Why do I need to justify my life choices?  What am I doing?  Why am I important enough to talk about?  At this point I have to do it and get it over with because I have several hundred friends on facebook and even if only ten of them actually read the announcement, come hell or high water at the end of November I will have a book done.  I have been talking about doing this all my life.  Some day I will write down my life story.  It will be a terrible book.  I want to get past the terrible parts of my life so I can enjoy the parts that are really pretty wonderful.

I believe in the pit of my stomach that there is a story in me waiting to get out that many people will want to read.  Millions.  I'm afraid that I am too afraid to write it.  I am afraid that I am going to look for evasions.  I'm afraid I am going to instead write 3 million blog posts full of unuseful and misleading digressions.  I have something to say.  It will take a lot of words to do it.  But there is something useful in it.  It matters.  I tell myself that when I have insomnia at 5 am at least.  It's hubris.  But I want there to be an awful lot of people who will cry when I die.  That will give me a reason to keep fighting.  And I'm too fucked up to have that as something I can deal with much in my day to day life.  So I have to keep people far away from me.

Viktor Frankl says that people can survive anything, anything, if they just have something they are living for.  People survived Auswitch because they wanted to find their mates, children, etc.  I didn't survive torture.  But I did survive a pretty ridiculous amount of trauma.  When I talk to people about my life they react with horror, pity, disgust, sadness, and unfortunately sometimes empathy.  The degree of their reaction usually depends on how much detail I offer.  When I say, "I was abused" I get a lot of "Me too" from other people.  Then I keep talking.  There have only been a few women in my life who have met me head on and looked me full in the face while I have related anything like details.  I think Noah and Chris are the only men.  My story is too disgusting to tell.

That means that all the people who spout platitudes about how abuse sufferers shouldn't compare trauma because people process things differently are actively damaging me.  I can not figure out how to go about living my fucking life because I'm told over and over again that abuse is abuse it is all the same and people tell me to just meditate and all my troubles will be over but the worst thing that happened to them is that their daddy touched them once through the sheet when they were 13.  I'm sorry.  My brain doesn't work like yours.

I'm not coherent enough to delve into medical research, but I know that the research is there.  Trauma rewires your brain.  I am different from most people.  I think differently.  Throughout my entire life I have had issues in just about every place I go because my opinions are always off from the majority of the group no matter what group I am in.  I am discordant.  I don't do it on purpose.  People tend to strongly dislike the discordant energy I bring.  Some of this is my imagination, some of it is true.  Being this kind of person is what allowed me to get away from my family.  It is why I am not wallowing in poverty with the rest of them continuing the abuse on to future generations.  Why the fuck should I have to feel bad because I think things other people don't?

I survived.  I survived being raped over and over.  I survived being raised in a family with rampant drug addiction and alcoholism and my big problem is that my one year old and three year old trigger flashbacks so I anesthetize myself with pot so my time doesn't wander.  I barely drink and it can't be a bigger factor in my life because it hurts me physically too much.  Harder drugs just aren't appealing because I don't have the recovery time.  I'm turning to marathon running, which will require not smoking and dear god I don't know what I will do.

This is what an honest to god healthy life looks like.  This is what the 95% have.  This is what normal people experience.  People like me don't get here.  And I'm only kind of here.  I can't be part of the 5%.  Because any time I chat with my neighbors I have to be very careful not to mention my sex life or my childhood.  Because even with our weird ass house... we are probably still normal, right?

If I write a book as good as my hubris tells me I can, my neighbors will figure something out.  Seriously. And that means that when people walk by my house they will whisper about me.  Oh bullshit.  They will talk loudly so I can hear it.  There will be people who think I am disgusting.  My children will have to face that.  Right now in this minute my friends who love me tell me that isn't true.  I tell you it depends how many people read the book.  It depends if I actually get published.  If the book is published, I think it will sell.  If fucking lame ass Elizabeth Wurtzel can publish Prozac Nation...  Good God.  At least something actually happened to me that vaguely justifies my whining.  *ahem*

Who would I be if my life had taken different paths.  I don't think that most people have as many wildly diverging options as I have had.  I can even imagine a fun, less self-destructive, path that would still lead to Noah.  I should write that tangent down.  Done.  That's if I want to play with the idea of my One Twue Love.  He is pretty spiffy and all.  I don't think I could do better no matter which rabbit hole I wander down.

As I'm thinking about how to write this book I realize how much my choices are influenced by the people who are standing closest to me.  I'm trying to think about what kind of people could have come into my life to lead it in a very different direction.  Like that girl I was friends with in Whittier.  When I lived in Whittier that was one of the darkest periods of my life, to use a Shamus Young phrase, and there was a girl who was my friend.  I can't even remember her name.  She was the daughter of missionaries.  Her family was staying in a shitty house the church organization rented for them in between over seas placements.  She is the one who introduced me to books like A Wrinkle in Time; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; The Secret Garden; The Island of the Blue Dolphins; Sideways Stories From Wayside School and biographies like Anne Frank and Helen Keller.  I was in 4th grade and I was in a serious rut.  I read nearly exclusively The Babysitters Club and I could read a new book in 20 minutes.  The other options in my house were pornographic romance novels.  I moved around so much that libraries weren't really an option.  If you only stay in one place for three months as a young kid you don't get around enough to go to libraries.  My mother didn't consider such activities necessary.  That makes me think I should add the library to our weekly activities schedule.  Anyway.

So this one little girl, who happened to be the only other white kid in my class, talked to me.  She introduced me to classic childrens literature without knowing what she was doing.  She was just being near me.  I didn't know many kids like her.  She was quiet and introspective.  Because of her upbringing she was unfailingly cheerful and big on advocating for Jesus, but that was worth the price of admission.

The first time I was invited over to her house after school was the last.  She stopped talking to me at school after that.  I went back to sitting on the edge of the playground alone.  I lived in that house for 18 months.  That was one of the shittiest periods of my life.  Third and fourth grades.  Tommy lived at home with us after he was released from the hospital.  He spent a lot of time trying to either kill me or rape me, he would probably have been happy to do either or both.  I bet he would have kept fucking my corpse.

The other kids at school taunted me about my "retarded" brother.  He would do things like run down the street naked.  He tried to attack kids.  Oh man.  I haven't explained what Tommy was like after the accident.  Tommy was hit by a car May...something...1989.  He was in a coma for five months.  I was brought back to California by family friends (we had been living in Texas) because my mother flew out in advance to sit by Tommy's bedside.  Because that is what you do when you are destitute and you have other kids to provide for, right?  You sit distraught next to one off-springs bedside and you completely abandon the rest of your obligations.

We lived with a lot of different people taking whatever hand outs were available.  When we got back to California it was a while before we found the house in Whittier and Tommy moved in with us.  I don't know how much my dad paid but my mother eventually found a job.  I'm not sure how long we were homeless between Texas and Whittier.  My mom would try to claim we weren't homeless, but we were couch surfing with friends and family.  I was watching my mom fuck a series of men to earn the shelter over our head.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't want me to admit that out loud.  But that was my role model.  My mom went from guy to guy in between periods where she tried to feebly provide for herself and her kids and invariably things went badly.  She couldn't earn enough money to make ends meet.  Only a couple of the people we stayed with were guys she was sleeping with (one was an old childhood sweetie and come on if you can't leave your abusive second husband and run away to your old childhood sweetie, who can you run to?)  but the other one I remember distinctly is my uncle--my father's brother.  So it wasn't incest.  But it was awkward.  My fathers family appeared to me to have a pretty strict code that if a man was present it was the responsibility of whatever woman is present to fuck them.  My brothers expected it of me.  My father expected of me, my sister, and my mother even after they divorced.  My uncle traded sex for a roof for my mother and I.

These things are more complicated than they sound.  "My brother was in a horrendous accident so we stayed with my uncle for a while because his house was closest to the hospital."  That sounds fine.  It doesn't sound like we didn't have anywhere to live.  Our stuff wasn't with us.  I didn't have my belongings and I was living out of a suitcase.  My mom was fucking my uncle and they weren't quiet.  There was a lot of drinking.  My uncle kept his screwdrivers premixed in the fridge and that is the first place I got drunk.  When I was seven or eight.  No one noticed or cared.  For every age and stage of my life there is this easily apparent level of fucked up, and then there is all the stuff that happened in private.

I'm not doing that though.  For all that I am obsessed with transgressive sex... my kids sure don't know anything about it.  Our conversations about all things sexual have so far been limited to things like, "Don't put your finger in your anus or your vagina if it is dirty.  Go wash your hands first.  You don't want to stick dirt inside your body because it will get itchy and painful.  And wash your hands afterwards because bodies have germs in different places that are supposed to stay in that place and not get spread around to other body parts."  That's ok, Jack.

How did I learn to be this?  I'm weird, to be sure.  But despite the incessant words in my brain, I'm not bad.  Not really.  I like to play at being bad.  I like doing things that are bad for some people or are bad in some ways.  But I always skirt a line.  I flagellate myself horribly if I feel I have gone too far over the line.  I kind of feel like hypervigilance is kind of the antithesis of being comfortable with your choices and uhm... I'd like to stop feeling it.  I want to be just comfortable in my skin.  That means accepting that some people are always going to dislike me.  I honestly feel like a lot of it is just because I smell funny.  I smell like not-them.  It's not an actual odor, mind.  It's a feeling that I am not part of their tribe.  That is the best way I can explain it.

1 comment: