Monday, February 27, 2012
I need to work on my house and think and not obsess.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
I'm not very good at being hungry. When I am hungry it is a lot easier to tap into messages about how undeserving I am. I have some weird messages about food. I definitely feel like I am bad for a lot of the food I like.
Wanting food is also tied up with money stuff. Invariably what I can make at home feels like a shitty substitute for real food. I'm not even sure what real food is. Something that doesn't feel like crappy ingredients dumped on a plate.
I'm hungry and that feeling is just about the only kind of hurting myself I can still get away with. It's invisible if I keep my mouth shut. The trouble is keeping my mouth shut. Today I feel like I am bad and terrible. I will be left out from now on because of that damn anger I can't get rid of.
And it is all tied up with food. Food is love, right? And I'm not very deserving of love.
Friday, February 24, 2012
I fuck up. I try to be very clear with myself about how and where I fucked up. My problem is more on the end of taking too much responsibility. I am brutally honest, even with myself; I hope. One of my biggest character flaws this lifetime is the degree of anger I feel when someone else is dishonest. It is very hard for me to maintain respect for someone who is dishonest. If I can't trust what you say to me I have very little use for you. Contempt. That is really the word. I am contemptuous of people who are dishonest. Also for shits and giggles:
Hm. That's a rather strong word. Scorn, sure. Disregard, sure. If I am not going to get an honest answer to a question I shouldn't waste my time asking questions. If I am going to be told something that is fairly obviously your interpretation of what you think I want to hear and not what you will do? Oh, yes. Contempt is the word.
I feel like this is a flaw in me. Liars are lying for a reason. They feel they have to. They are compulsive. They grew up with addicts and they know no other way. That is the best explanation I can come up with for my sister. She knows no other way. She lies constantly. She lies about everything. And I think she is a piece of shit for it. I wouldn't trust my sister if she described the weather. This contempt is hard. It wears me down. I feel torn between this desire to blow up with anger because otherwise I won't have the strength and energy to shove her away hard enough before she hurts me again and this intensely cold feeling. In order to not waste energy on you I need to think you are beneath my notice.
But that hurts my heart. I don't want to feel that way about anyone, not even my sister. Then it comes back to integrity again. Integrity is not just about honesty, it is about moral uprightness. I do not feel upright. I am letting my anger dominate the conversation. That's not very useful. I can't think of anything I want that is going to be achieved this way.
Moral uprightness. What does that even mean? I suppose it is strongly tied to whether or not I feel I can look myself in the mirror. What am I doing and why? I can't let liars set the terms of truth. If I do that then I have no ability to be morally upright because the system is screwed from the get-go. I know my truth. I will be far more likely to be able to communicate my truth if I feel like I actually get to have it. The only one who can grant (or not) my right to set terms of truth is me. I keep forgetting that. I keep thinking that other people get to set the rules. I need to stop doing that. I need to stop letting anyone decide reality for me.
I have been. I have been taking on the crazy role. The unstable role. The angry role. I am certainly comfortable here. I am angry pretty frequently.
I want to learn how to master this. Part of the reason I get so angry is I come up against my truth being contradicted by someone else's truth. I have a hard time not taking that personally. My tendency is to assume that I am wrong and bad because that is what I was told over and over again. I cried in therapy last night as I repeated the ranting in my head. My therapist asked me who I was hearing in my head; I told her my mother. If there is a difference in the reality I am experiencing and the reality someone else is experiencing that must be because I am a crazy bitch. I'm being ridiculous or lying or or or.
These little conflicts set me off. I don't notice my boundaries until someone has crossed me and I want to take their fucking head off. The only way I can avoid getting this angry at someone who is dishonest is to stop considering what they say. I can't listen to a liar and not get angry. I don't know how to have active compassion in the moment that this person is telling me what they hope will happen if everything works out and the planets are perfectly in alignment.
My set of reactions give people the right to put me in a nice, neat, easy to dismiss box. I am so unstable that there must not be validity to my claims. I cling to excessive honesty because otherwise I have no leg to stand on. Why would anyone believe a piece of shit like me? I am not an upstanding member of a community, never have been and probably never will be. I'd have to show up for longer than I have the nerve to be near people. I am a coward. I am just waiting for the next witch hunt. I am angry because the best defense is a good offense. If people are treating me badly my only hope is to hurt them bad enough that they can't keep hurting me.
This does not make for stable relationships. Or moral uprightness. This is no longer working for me. When I look forward I don't want to see how disrupted my life will be through continual blow ups. How can I get to the point of having enough regard for myself to defend my boundaries long before I need to blow up? I'm not sure. I think this will be one of my lifelong tasks. I want to feel like my boundaries are where they are for well considered reasons and it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or feels. I know I am right. Be sure you're right and go ahead.
This is not going to be easy.
It's not just about honesty. Honesty is the easy part. Moral uprightness. How many excuses do I allow myself on this path? The people I had sex with before I was ten... I get a pass on being the aggressor, right? It's not like this moral uprightness thing is something where you have a black mark and you are done. Everyone fails. Everyone falls. I absolutely have to believe that moral uprightness is about always striving forward. It's not about what I have done long ago. It is about what I did yesterday and what I am doing today and what I will do tomorrow.
I worry so about being good. Lately it haunts me that speaking my truth invites pain. I am inviting people to argue with me and tell me that my life story is unrealistic. Dear god. Not that line again. It'll be fine. I'm a big scary mean nasty person. People are afraid of me. What do I have to be afraid of? What do the monsters fear? I dare you to go tell a monster that (s)he is a bad person; I double dog dare you. They will all protest their innocence! They are just trying to live!
I have no high horse to sit on. How could anyone or anything be beneath a child of the gutter? It feels like I don't even have the right to disregard someone. It is disrespectful and girls like musn't be disrespectful. No no no. We must always pretend to be nice.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
One of the talents my mom has is sewing. She's a fairly talented seamstress. I still have things she made from me and I wear them when I get the chance. I have a Snow White costume and an Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) dress--you know the one when she comes down to dinner and brushes her hair with a fork? That one. My dress is awesome. And my mommy made it for me which makes it extra special. She made my Dickens costume. I wish she hadn't told me to buy the pattern and material for three separate Dickens costumes because then in the long run I feel bitter that (as usual) she doesn't follow through completely on what she says. I should just be grateful she did one. Usually she doesn't get through one.
I focus on the fact that in everything she said to me there was always a lie. I always had to be careful not to get my hopes up when she said anything. I would say I had less than a 50/50 chance of her following through. That wears on you decade after decade. I wish she had promised less.
"I'll pick you up from school" was one of those ones I wish she had promised less of. I would not be able to add up all the hours I sat around waiting to be picked up. I understand. She always had a reason. It's not her fault. Ever. It is always someone or something else's fault. Always. Always. Always.
I hold the people in my life to a higher standard of truth telling because of this. Approximations are not good things. Over-promising is the worst thing you can possibly do. I try very hard to keep my expectations and hopes very low. Too many people are fucking liars who are too self absorbed to even admit to themselves that what they are doing is lying.
There are sins I forgive easily and barely notice; there are sins that cause me to feel like I have to smite someone from the earth because they are hurting me. The real solution isn't to smite anyone. I'm terrified that the solution is simply to never trust a word that people say unless they prove over years that they aren't a liar. Unfortunately I tend to trust more than I should. I get lied to a lot. Oh of course it is never a lie it's just that people don't think they need to have a lot of integrity in what they say. They feel no need to be impeccable with their words. Close enough is good enough. And I die of a thousand paper cuts.
I don't want my children to have this hostility and rigidness around promises. I know it isn't healthy. It is isolating. I certainly can't hang out with people much. I'm trying to figure out how much I can handle really having steadily in my life. I want there to be a predictable pattern. I want to have a pattern, damnit. I'm really struggling because nothing else in the world wants me to. Stupid life just keeps happening. I really do want to see people and so far that has to be a flexible thing.
It is hard to be this lonely and angry at the same time. I know that I have to be careful not to get too angry when other people are around. I manage this with the kids by not talking at all. It's hard to do that with adult visitors. Then they become discomfited and I have to try to knock it off. I can see the visible discomfort spread over people and I feel a wash of shame. Yup. That's me. The angry one. Then I feel so much self loathing that I am always the angry one that I just feel more anger. I've been told a lot of times that feeling that angry around people is basically abusive. I'm a monster no matter what. I just am. It doesn't matter what I do.
Ok, I kicked the cabinet door off the wall. I suppose that is something terrible and horrible. Because more shame really makes everything better.
I have had trouble running since the grief ritual. I feel so overwhelmed with anger that I can barely see straight and it makes me stumble so I am running more slowly and carefully. I don't want to injure myself; I truly don't. I don't want running to become my latest method of self-injury. I want to find joy in my body. It's hard to do in the dark and cold. I miss the afternoons.
I feel stuck in this anger. I am so frustrated and anxious. I need to go proofread six more chapters back from my editor and that's scaring the crap out of me. I am so tired of reading this story. I want to avoid it and I want to get this done and over with.
When I say I follow the scorched earth path I mean that I will forever say anything I want about someone and shun that person from my life. I will be as harsh as I feel the need to be. I can be a very harsh person. It is obvious when I am truly done.
I am struggling with some things in my close personal relationships. I don't want to regret the things I write, ever. I want to always know that I am writing a truth I feel comfortable standing behind. Right now I am having a lot of very strong irrational emotions. I don't know how to deal with them. I am already saying things that are impossible to take back. Dear sweet Jesus at least I will keep them off of my blog. I'm struggling.
How can I talk about what I am experiencing without giving any information or judgment. hm.
I feel unappreciated and used. I feel like I am getting the realistic version of an impossible situation. I feel tightness in my throat. My neck aches. My shoulders ache. My lower back aches and I can feel how bad my posture is right now. All right, I made a few chair adjustments and that is slightly better. I feel empty and drained. I feel abandoned and untrusting. I feel exhausted in a way that isn't going away with more sleep.
Recently I heard someone describe it as being "pregnant" with her book and I kind of feel like that. I'm getting a lot of harsh physical symptoms and emotionally I feel like I am living on the memory of fumes because I ran out of gas long ago. I am at a time and place in my life where I feel like I need an endless stream of support but I am too ashamed to ask for it. I don't have a family and people like me have to just figure it the fuck out because we are too unpleasant to be around. I feel so pathetic and needy. I feel so very lonely. But I don't feel like I get to talk about that because it is my own damn fault that I am so fucking unpleasant to be around and that's why I am alone.
Sometimes I wonder what it is like to be part of an extended family. Thinking about it makes me cry. What would it be like to have people who know me and want to spend time with me? I have friends, yes. But my friends go see their families on holidays. I notice. I tend to feel like it isn't possible for me to stop being angry so I should stop attempting to spend time with people at all because no one should have to deal with my fucking mouth.
It's probably a good thing I see my therapist tonight.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
I cried because my father must have felt a great deal of pain otherwise he wouldn't have hurt so many people. I had all these thoughts about his parents, whom I never knew. What did they do to him as a child? How did he come to believe that female family members were fair game for raping? What I was told this weekend is each person has to deal with his/her family's grief going back seven generations and what you incur in this life is going to be passed on for another seven generations. Nieces/nephews count as the next generation. Even if you don't have children your karma can still be sent on for many many years.
I cried because my sister is so buried under her grief that she turned around and hurt her children.
Anger is healing and inspirational but if you don't do something with the strength it gives you then you risk burning up in the flames. Today I found a place in my heart for forgiveness for Denise. I didn't know I could do that. It took me emotionally hitting a place where I realized just how young she was when she had different experiences.
According to the Burkina Faso traditions when someone in your life dies they hand you their spirit and life so that you can accomplish more. They had you, essentially, a golden ticket. Suicides are viewed as a very powerful way to grant someone else your spirit (my understanding is) because the person escaped great torment and brought that with them. They learned a lot in the process and once they are on the other side of death they can help you better.
My maternal grandmother committed suicide when my mother was pregnant with me. My paternal grandmother (whom I am named after) died a year or two before my mother had me. My paternal grandfather died days before my brother Tommy was born. If Orlando gave Tommy his spirit, maybe that is part of why Tommy was so fucked up. My maternal grandfather died right before I saw my father for the last time at Jimmy's wedding. Right before I told my mother that she had to take my father back to court in order to get him to stop touching me.
When I was pregnant with Shanna I lost both my adopted step-mom and my beloved therapist to heroin overdoses. Two of the women who were among my strongest bulwarks against the dark. They both suffered terribly from their internal wounds. They were not strong enough to fight back their demons.
Unsurprisingly I arrived at a place of deep anger. I raged and screamed and started beating my fists on the floor. The wonderful facilitator had someone put a thick cushion in front of me. I would have cheerfully broken my hands to pieces and enjoyed the pain manifestation. Later in the day I told her, "I have a habit of beating my hands and head against concrete floors. I really appreciate that you put a pillow in front of me."
Apparently the concept of "personal problems" simply doesn't exist there. All problems are problems of the community because if the community was functioning appropriately the problems wouldn't exist. That made me ache with loneliness for someone who would give a shit about me enough to want to actually help me with my problems. Not just one person at a time. I wish all of Lakeside School would gather to hold me in their arms and let me sob out my grief. I wish they had stepped in and helped me instead of saying that people like me don't exist.
It was interesting to think through the level of responsibility I bear for my niece and nephew being sexually assaulted. My brother thinks it is enough for our generation to shut up and not talk about the incest. He thinks that will solve everything. Thus our grief has already passed on to the next generation. We did not take responsibility for speaking the truth about our family. Silence is consent. If my understanding of the situation is correct I was twenty-one when my sister assaulted her children and taught them how to give one another oral sex. I was living with Tom. I had almost no contact with my family because I was not ready to have boundaries with them. I never stepped in on behalf of the kids. I didn't tell my story to a CPS agent and get a case opened on my sister early enough. There were already many HUGE issues at the time that would have been enough to open a case. Maybe if Denise was being watched more closely it never would have happened.
I don't know. I will never know.
This is where the twelve step programs tell me to trust God. Well fuck God. No. I need to let go of responsibility for my family. I can't save them. I don't have enough of me to give to fill their malicious black hole of need and pain. They have to find a way out of that on their own. If they come find me I don't know what I will do. I know one thing I will avoid doing: letting them develop a relationship with my kids. My family doesn't get to know my kids until my kids are adults. If they want to go meet my family then I will drive them over. I probably won't get out of the car... but I'll drive.
I grieved for my mother. I thought about the smell of her and the comfort of her body against mine as we slept together. I thought about how very much I love my mother. I idealize my mother. It always felt like she was so talented and wonderful and beautiful. I will never compare favorably to my mother. Only at the same time I think she was a weak monster. I think she was shaped by ignorance and pain. You don't know what you don't know, right? I don't think I can remain angry with my mother much longer. I need to treat her as already dead. I need to move forward in my heart to a place where I no longer desire vengeance. She is my mother. She carried me in her body. She nursed me. When I think of what my daughters mean to me I know that my mother is already in enough pain. She has lost three of her children, two to desertion. I'm sure she has already had enough pain this lifetime.
I feel so very sad for my mother. She was abused and abandoned over and over. Her father was a nightmare and he loathed her for the divorce. Vernon treated my mother like a cockroach because she had committed the sin of leaving her husband. Who cares what he does to the kids, right? My mother was feisty and mouthy; her Mennonite family thought she should be taken down a few pegs! See how it starts? My mother used to come home from school as a child and have to clean up from her mother attempting suicide. Again. My grandparents fostered and my mother was never allowed to have any special toys because it "just wouldn't be fair" to the transient kids. My mother was never given a Christmas stocking until I was sixteen and I did it.
And I abandoned her too. Even though I was supposed to be her comfort. Even though I was the good and affectionate child. I was so fucking devoted to my mother. I can't allow her to teach my children that they are small and bad and dirty and they deserve to be tortured. I just can't. I was given a sacred trust by the God I don't believe in to guard these people. My only job is to raise them in safety and love. I'm not about to fuck up my job. Not even for someone I have loved more than life.
I think the oddest part of today was the random older woman who came to join us. She likes to just sit in on these rituals. She was probably in her seventies with broken, missing, and severely discolored teeth. Her hair was a mixture of grey and white and tied into a braid that went down past her waist. She had these interestingly bright blue eyes. She mostly looked like she was in a stupor, honestly. But if you sat down next to her and looked at her with respect she came alive.
I don't want to give her name because that seems like a violation. We talked about anger. She looked at me and she said, "Oh you are vibrating with anger." It was less obvious than usual, in my opinion, so it was both startling and not. I felt calm and like I was in a decent mood. Given how much time I do spend vibrating with anger I just said, "Yes." I can't possibly remember the exact wording, today has been intense and full of new impressions, but she looked at me hard and didn't ask any questions. She volunteered these...I don't want to say fortune cookie comments. It's kind of like reading the Horoscope. Any of them can fit, right? Only it wasn't really that. It felt more like she was getting something from me. God I feel stupid talking about this woo woo shit. She asked me if I was selected for suffering every time. It's not unreasonable for me to feel like that. It's not true any more, but it was. She told me very clearly that I escaped because of my anger but now I have to be careful. She said that there are two emotional experiences that come up completely unprompted: anger and laughter. She said that I have gotten what I needed from the anger and now I need to laugh.
I cried. I cried and screamed and ranted about how much I fucking hate them and I am glad they are dead. I told him that if he wasn't dead I would kill him myself. I beat the floor until my arm muscles spasmed too hard for me to lift them. I beat my head against the floor until I could no longer lift it from the pillow. I lay there and cried and cried and cried for hours lying on my side because I could no longer hold my neck up because I was in so much pain. People took turns sitting with me to share my grief. Mostly I could not allow them to touch me. There were a few specific women who felt safe. Two. I let them hug me.
I feel humiliated admitting that in this room full of people having this emotionally bonding experience I could let two of them (three including the instructor) touch me. I feel like this distance that I keep is part of my problem. I feel so deeply unable to allow people to love me. I don't know how. That is not a skill I possess.
I understood more about my mother today. I understand her scars and wounds in ways I didn't before. I love my mother so much. I understand her frustrations and anger and thinly veiled violence. I understand why she was so frantic when I misbehaved where anyone could see. She told me constantly that people would judge her by my behavior so I had to not fuck up. I understand now why she reacted the way she did to my unpredictability. Now I have children. Now I can think about her father and what kind of man he was. Now I can think about Aunt Vonnie's dark references to terrible beatings.
Sobonfu's tradition believes that diabetes exists in the body because of an inability to truly accept love. Vernon, my mom's father, is the oldest example of that in my family I know. And I know he treated his daughters like shit. He never wanted their love; he wanted their silence and obedience. Sound familiar? I was actually rarely hit as a child and my mother took flack from fucking everyone over that. The whole family was ready to line up and beat me with sticks. I have never been popular. My mother defended me. My mother defended me in so many ways. She saw me as being like her. We were both the youngest girl in families of four. We were both raised very separately from our siblings. We both felt like the black sheep.
This life business is complicated. I'm starting to understand how compassion is part of this story for me. I can have compassion for my mother and her suffering and still refrain from contact because my children deserve a childhood safe from people who are likely to tell them things they shouldn't be told. My mother likes to blame people for things that aren't their fault. My children will not learn shaming from their family. They'll have to figure that out somewhere else.
Part of my ancestral grief is our constant desire to have shit roll down hill. We always pass the blame for our emotions. I wouldn't feel this way if you hadn't made me. This is why I cannot be angry with Calli for throwing my wallet out of the wagon. She is a baby. She is not responsible. I should have bloody well put my wallet somewhere secure. When Shanna is doing stuff that drives me nuts I have to ask her why she is doing something before I react. 9/10 times she has a reason that is totally fucking logical from her world view. Her world view and mine have only occasional overlaps, mostly things like "ice cream is good" though we strongly disagree on how often we should eat it.
I don't want to teach my children that they are to blame for my rage. They aren't. I have a whole god damn book about why I feel so much rage. I have no ability in any way to blame my emotional reactions on them. That's kind of annoying, actually. In my family I was the scapegoat. I wonder who is getting it now? Someone is at the bottom, I promise you.
And I spent a long time today thinking about everything I know about my ancestors. I can see why my family culminated in the horror that was my life. I can have compassion for all of our respective victim-hoods. I would kind of like to stop being a victim and they don't even know enough to understand that it is an option. That's quite sad. Today I thought hard about the fact that my sister wouldn't do the things she does if she was in less pain. She was harshly rejected by two fathers. Her birth father rejected her before birth and then again in her thirties. He didn't want to know her despite the fact that she did 100% of the effort to have a relationship. I pity her.
If the book pays off the editor I'm going to use that personal money to go to another grief ritual. I have many more layers. But I feel like I can perceive the beginnings of a path. I think I am going to find somewhere to put an altar in my house.
It's time to wash this grief off and go to bed. I need to scrub my entire body with salt first.
I'm on the train on my phone so this will probably be choppy.
Why would anyone want to read this book? I've been thinking of little else for weeks. I am unable to concentrate on other things while I have this puzzle in my brain. I know why I wrote it. I wrote it for my kids because someday they deserve to know the story of me even if I die and can't tell them myself. That could be satisfied by hitting print and putting the book in a drawer for a few decades until they hit their majority.
Why should anyone else read this? I'm not sure there is a should. If there is a should involved it revolves around the idea that we are all locked in the perspective of our own narrow experiences. We can't know what we dont know. My life was not normal by any reasonable measure. Yet I'm not alone. Millions of children suffer like I did: in silence, alone, believing they deserve what happens to them.
My life journey seems to be learning how to find out what I don't know, specifically how to be a good person. I don't know now. I don't know if I am a good person. I have never believed so. I would like to believe that. The first step is forgiving myself for the things I couldn't control or change as a child. I had to write a whole book before I really understood what happened to me. I had to be thirty years old and have my husband explain to me that I was tortured. It never felt like torture it just felt like life.
You only know what you know.
It is hyperbole to say that I only knew pain until I was eighteen. Barely. I experienced more pain than I should have. Since adulthood I have slowly and carefully tried to learn how to stop bringing more pain into my life. When you have been tortured you go on to bring more pain into your life because it is uncomfortable to be in an unfamiliar state: namely lack of pain. I want to like me enough to stop inviting pain. I have good teachers. My daughters teach me who I want to be. They are full of love and joy. I want to be like them.
Why should anyone read this book? To share my grief and provide me with invisible community so even if I never meet you my grief can be less because you carry a speck for me. Because people need to learn how to look at children and recognise signs of crisis so more children do not suffer like I did. The system failed me spectacularly. I don't want all the other abused children to go unseen either.
Why should anyone read this book? Because you are part of the community of human beings and we are all responsible for one another a little.
Why should anyone read this book? Because it will probably make you very uncomfortable that things like this happen in the world. Silence is consent. Everyone who chose to remain ignorant and involved when I was a child damned me to living in hell. I don't want anyone else to have that experience. The silencing of victims, no, of survivors has to stop. It has to.
It has to or we will continue to convince small children that they deserve to be raped and beaten for being bad. I was not bad. I just wasn't.
There is a lot of work to do and I'm not getting it done and I am struggling emotionally with that. Finishing the book is like pulling teeth. I'm on the last page but the kids are up and I can't concentrate. I have to leave the house in two hours and I won't be home until after bed time. I really do treat my kids as my first priority. Shanna cuddled up next to me watching a movie on her iPad and Calli is having fun banging things together. I can blog with less than half a brain.
I'm tired and empty feeling. I'm struggling with feeling avoidant. I wish I could hide in a cave for a month or three. If I am supposed to feel happier after the relief of grief I'm not there. I feel so tired. I feel like I have seen the beginning of a long journey. The ritual is being held at a small college in San Francisco. Most of the people there are students who will write an academic paper about this experience. Uhm. Wow. That's actually fairly cool but it means that they are all building a community together because they are all students together. I'm an outsider, as usual. Above and beyond that I live an hour away; I'm just not going to come to an event in San Francisco that starts after 7pm on a regular basis. I don't handle lack of sleep well and I can't sleep in. I have a really strong internal clock and I'm going to be awake by 5am. It hurts. The running takes too much out of me. I can't go without sleep.
I think I want to start hosting a survivor discussion group at my house. I'm thinking once a month at first because weekly hosting would freak me out. No one else wants to meet early in the day and the only way I can handle being at an event that starts at 7:30 or 8 is if it is in my garage. It's a sad fact of my life but a fact never-the-less. I'd be thrilled to hear input on what day of the week people could make it here. If I want to be able to talk about my experiences maybe I should start with the people who are willing to come to me and are already broken in by knowing me. If you already know me in real life you will probably be able to handle me saying what I'm going to say because I already do. Ha.
I'm never going to be able to go find a community to join. I'm not that kind of girl. I may have to make my own. That's what Sobonfu told me. I feel very tired thinking about how much work that sounds like. I am not good at being the work horse any more. I feel far too resentful and I have no energy to spare. I want to live my life and invite people to join me in it in a way that doesn't actively drain me. The things I have been trying... well... holy crap. I need to get past feeling weird about inviting people over for dinner. I need to be brave enough to just do it. It's frightening. I expect that people always have something more interesting to be doing.
The big parties are hard. Having a housemate was too hard. Hosting family dinner was too hard. Why does it work out better when someone comes randomly on a night? I don't seem to feel resentful about the fact that one more body on a given night doesn't mean much extra work. I tried too hard for family dinners. That was a lot of the problem. I wanted it to be a "nice meal". It was stupid. I have a very bad habit of making things too hard for myself and then feeling overwhelmed and unable to enjoy the result.
I don't really do that when one person comes over for dinner in the middle of the week. I'm distracted and distant because I don't talk much while cooking but I work on my attitude while the kids are around. I will just not speak if I am feeling testy. My bad attitude is not because of my children and I try to keep it away from them as much as possible. This means that if I am in a terrible mood and I am thinking horrible and nasty thoughts I smile and nod and listen really carefully because I need to keep the conversation off of me. It is a mixed bag because I really enjoy the way I am getting to know people. But I need venting space. I'm curious how it will work to have a specific "Hey! Let's Support Each Other!" night. I'm wondering if that will be a format I can formally recognize as support and stop feeling so lonely.
I'm not alone. I have a ridiculously widespread community of people who love me intensely. I just feel like I can't see them.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Life involves an awful lot of work. I can only do so much and feel good in my body. There needs to be a balance of different kinds of work: mental, physical, emotional. Without balance it all falls over.
I'm trying to edit the book. I have 13-14 pages left. I'm struggling. I'm feeling a lot of tremendous anxiety about the end of the book. How do I ensure that all the right elements are in place to honestly lead to the rest of my life?
I'm thinking hard about the foreward. Ok fine, I wanted to write this. Reasonable, fine. Why do I want to publish it? Why do I want other people to know this story with me? Because I'm tired of being alone with it. I'm tired of having people giving me entirely inappropriate advice because they assume my life was like theirs.
Other people grow up with families who pass their stories on. People know what "Bob" acts like; you can tell because they say things like, "Well you know how Bob is." No, I don't know. I have never been around long enough to find out. And people haven't really been around me long enough to understand me either.
No one can ever know these things about me unless I tell them. I have spent my entire life feeling isolated and alone and scared. Once this story has been set down there is no fucking way I wouldn't publish. I want to be known. I want to be seen so much it makes me ache. I'm publishing because I want to. Because it is an interesting story and I want to share it. Because people will finally understand my vague allusions. When someone wants to give me advice I can ask them if they've read the book and then let them say what they want. I don't have to follow the advice. But I get to know that this isn't some random passerby who doesn't know shit about me. This is someone who cares enough to go read the backstory so that (s)he can be part of my life.
That feels really different. Most of my family will be shocked if they ever read the book. They have no idea about most of it. They don't know me and I savagely resent them for this. I savagely resent that god damn everyone in my family will get to say, "But we never knew!" and be telling the truth. I think that is what I can't forgive them for in the end. They managed to silence me such that I was never able to get proper help from all that psychiatric care for fifteen years. They can't silence me forever. I want to tell my story. I want to get very clear about what happened to me and I can't do that in private.
That's strongly related to why I am upset about some other things in my life. I'm not happy about how I am being treated and I feel like I can't talk about it in public and I don't have anywhere else to talk. I am talking in therapy and to Noah about this situation but that's the limit of my talking to people. I literally just don't do much else of it lately. All of my IM buddies have disappeared. Fuck you all. (I'm kidding. I love you and miss you intensely while you are having Real Lives.)
It's time to go parent.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
I also didn't put carrots in the ground yet and I need to get on that. I'm not going to feel bad about skipping parsnips.
6 weeks till the 1/2 marathon. 8 months till the full marathon.
Just keep running, running, running.
Friday, February 10, 2012
And I realized yesterday that my dream of traveling with the kids when Calli is over is a bit... not realistic right now. Unless I can get to the point where I can handle travel without having a nervous break down or crying I can't do that. I want to go to countries that are far less friendly to hyperventilating women. I can't do that right now. It's just not safe.
Lots to think about.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Girl Genius by Kaja and Phil Foglio volumes 1-9 in paper.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess also by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I read like my friends start knitting projects. These are the ones I am in progress on:
Hideous kinky by Esther Freud
Autobiography of Mark Twain by... Mark Twain. This one is going to be a slog. Holy moly. I've been working on it for weeks.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Neverwhere by Neil Gaimon
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaimon (this is the one Noah is reading me)
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice (I don't want to talk about it.)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or something like that. The Kingsolver one.
I need to change the stories in my head. Time for distraction. It's making it hella hard to edit my book. It's too sad.
Everyone has a complicated relationship with their parents. It's a difficult relationship. I understand it more from the side I am on now. It seems to me that parenthood is a relationship based on temporary, stored power. Right now I have incredible power over my children. I get to decide pretty much everything about their lives. In fifteen years Shanna will be an adult. My power over her will be limited to the amount of influence she chooses to allow me. It will depend on how well I have earned that respect.
Yesterday I spent my off hour reading/watching videos about Steve Jobs again. I like his Stanford commencement speech and his sister's eulogy is gut wrenching. I also watched a few random videos about happiness because D sent them to me. What does it mean to live?
When we were up in Portland I broke a large relationship rule. This is part of why I say I am not good at monogamy. Noah was right next to me and handed me the implement so he's not as angry as he could be. What happened is we were at Dad's birthday party (non-bio dad) and I got to talking to one of my sisters-in-perversity. Dad has a whole harem of daughters you see. The one in question is the youngest in terms of being newest to the family but she is a year older than me and thus technically the oldest of us. I refer to myself as the senior daughter for clarity. He adopted me first. We like to ignore the one he adopted second. She's not my favorite sister.
I don't keep in close contact with this sister most of the time. Her life is in a very different place than mine and we are both busy. It's not a slam or a negative judgment. It's nice to catch up when we can. At this party I heard a lot about this guy she had fairly recently broken up with--see, there he is. She spent a lot of time watching his scene with another woman. Her heart was on her sleeve. One of the things that breaks my heart faster than anything is seeing a woman I love pining over a piece of shit man. And from what I saw of this guy... yeah... he's a piece of shit.
I don't like men who pursue mastery to be degrading to women. If you only want to own women you can insult then I have a low opinion of you. I don't mind that you want to use those names sometimes, but if that is what you think of your partners I think you have a personality disorder you fucking piece of shit. You are not better than women.
My sister managed to kind of get involved in the scene. She really wanted to play with him. The girl he was playing with was slightly less extreme of a bottom than my sister and my sister pretty obviously wanted to show off. The guy demurred. He had been using his belt as a whip. He gave it to his slave/submissive/bottom/partner/whatever her chosen identity label thing is. He then taunted and forced her to hit my sister. She did, but it was lackluster and obviously not that intense. It was a giggly good time. The guy started encouraging fairly random other people to hit my sister. One got her in the eye because he didn't know what he was doing. I felt like I was watching a train wreck.
I nudged Noah and told him to give me his belt. He did. See how it feels kind of fuzzy for him to get mad at me for doing it? But I'm not supposed to play with people any more. It didn't feel like a scene, exactly. I sure didn't do it for my sexual gratification. I did it because I didn't want to listen to those asshole men tell her that she was a dirty whore. They didn't mean anything nice by it.
My sister has had times in her life when she needed to feed her kid and she didn't have a job. She has sold her body to put food on the table. I felt such an explosion of anger when he was picking on her for it. They dated. He knows her history. He was explicitly picking on something that is a mixed circumstance in her life.
I changed the intensity of the scene. I only used the belt and I stayed on her thighs: the fronts, backs, and sides. I hit her hard and I hit her fast and I forced her emotional reaction towards panic as hard and fast as I could. And while I did it I started a litany to her. You are not bad. You are good. You are strong. You are brave. You are fierce. You have survived things that would take down lesser people. You are strong. You are good. She tried to interrupt me and tell me that she was a whore. I paused long enough to hold her face in both of my hands and tell her that even if she has had to prostitute her body to survive she isn't a whore. You are not defined by what you do. She is a bad ass mother fucker. She sobbed and clung to me.
Bdsm is rarely about sex for me. That is not how I grew up in the scene. I made every top who was kind of sort of leaning in to get in on the hot available action flinch and back off. I was not going to be one more person starting a pile up on a poor girl. I was nastier and meaner and harsher. I kind of like being the visiting bad ass. This wasn't a game. It was very serious business.
I do bdsm because it is one of the best ways I know to force the body to get rid of the excess energy that poisons people. There is atonement and release and a journey to find the core of yourself. When you are in the middle of a very intense scene you can't hide who you are. You react from the animal core of yourself. I am a vicious animal who will strip you down to the bone and show you what it looks like. I will tear the flesh from your body so that you know that I can see all the way through you. I see exactly who and what you are.
And you are beautiful. Your strength amazes me. That you can allow me to do this to you amazes me. I worship you. I adore you. I love you. Thank you for showing me this fierce core of strength and intensity that other people simply don't have. It takes a warrior to experience pain like that over and over and over. We don't have a good place in our current world for people who have to suffer. Even being a soldier is more about being a cog in the machine.
I see in my sisters-in-perversity a desire to be made clean through suffering. Not all people in the bdsm world are after the same thing. But I know my sisters when I meet them. I see the same need in men, but I am less able to address it. It has long felt like a flaw in me. I can't offer the same experience to men. I am too locked in being afraid of men. I can't look at them the way I can look at a woman. I can't identify in the same ways. I have always believed that is a grave failure. I'm sorry for it. There is a part of me that understands men as other and I don't know how to change that. I see a specific wildness in women. I see women in bear traps thrashing about. I understand their feelings. I don't have to know all their feelings. I don't have to really know everything about their lives. I know that trapped. I know that desperate need for release.
I know how to rip someone down until they can no longer stand nor defend themselves. I know how to make them cry and hurt and wish they could do anything to get away from the pain. The pain I am giving is just a stand in for all those things they can't change in their lives. All the things that hurt and hurt. All those other things make you feel worse about yourself. Because it hurts and you can't stop it. It weakens you over time because no one can stand up forever under an onslaught.
My beatings are short in duration. And the whole time you are taking it you are being coaxed and reassured and told that what you are doing is impressive. You are showing your mettle. You are proving how very strong you are and I will delight in building you up with it. By the end you know that you are an intensely strong person and you can go do fucking anything. Anything in the whole world. Most people are cowards compared to you. Not very many people will permit a beating like I give. I only hit the girls who can't say no. They have outrageous pain tolerances. Other people want warm ups and I'm not here for that shit. I'm here to prove that I can take you apart but it will be a lot of hard work for both of us because you are so god damn intense.
I always stay in contact with my sisters-in-perversity for a while after a visit. It seems important. They see a part of me I don't reveal much in life. It's interesting for me to get perspective on how we are changing over time. I learn a lot more from brief flashes of my wounded warriors than I do from dozens of conversations with people who have never been hurt. This is the part I hesitate to say because it sounds so awful. I learn what mistakes are there for me to make. When I see my wounded warriors I see There But For The Grace Of God Go I. In their struggles to perceive themselves as valuable I see what could happen to me if I had a lower opinion of myself. I know that I was brought up to be one of them. I was quite literally brought up to be competitive about being able to take more pain during sex. Thank you, Jim. You were an inspiring father.
I have been binging on sugar for the past few days. It's kind of obscene. I came home from Portland and both girls are acting out in various ways. I feel trapped and angry and frustrated. My life fucking sucks. But my life only sucks because I have a bad attitude. I look at my sister-in-perversity and I have to understand that my life is quite cushy in terms of me having everything I want when I want it. Sure, I have to do it with my kids along. That just means I need to figure out how to work with my kids.
Someone on facebook linked to an article about why French parents are happier. Apparently in French they do not have the concept of "discipline" the way we do here. They constantly think that they are educating their children. My entire life right now is an education to my children. What am I teaching them? Dissatisfaction. The funny part about sitting in the garage as I write... it's a constant reminder that I get work done with my children around. I didn't have child care when I insulated the walls and put dry wall up. I didn't have child care when I painted a mural. I had help sometimes. I had friends who did it with me. But my children were around and under foot and I cared for them. I had help for all the stuff that was genuinely beyond my ability to do it alone. I could not have done the drywall without the consistent and reliable help of T. He saved my ass. I'm going to owe that man for a few lifetimes. He doesn't understand what he is to me.
I have been struggling for a long time with feeling trapped. It's been a lot of ... well... all of it. I have a lot more freedom than most. More than most people for all of history. I am somewhat unique in being financially secure in a tumultuous period of history. Yes, we could be hit with disaster. For now I am going to continue with the fact that I am ridiculously safe. I have a lot of options. Even as Noah and I fuss back and forth about the fact that we have to carefully budget... we have a lot of options. Noah only gets $600 to spend on a weekend trip with his buddy. Cry me a river. We have a really good life.
In every relationship I have in my life there is a mixture of uplifting and wearying. I need to start thinking a lot harder about the uplifting or I am never going to get out of this muck. I have a marathon to run. I can't be hanging out in the muck. It's too tiring. I will injure myself. I have to run five miles today. You know--just get up and do it. And tomorrow I'll run three miles. On Saturday I will run seven miles. Next Saturday eight miles. So on.
When I run I feel strong and capable. What I used to get from getting my ass beaten. I don't know how to get it from getting my ass beaten any more. Now I'm always mad that Noah isn't doing _______ exactly how I would. It's kind of sick.
I don't know how to be a follower right now. But we don't have room for much else in our relationship and I don't know how to guide us. I don't know how to guide Noah. That's an interesting thought. I resent being the guide for more than a couple of minutes. I'm impatient. I want to be lead. There are journeys Noah simply can't lead me on. He doesn't know how to get there. I've had kind of this dawning horror around this topic recently. I have some ideas. I'm not ready to spill them yet.
I don't know what the future will bring. I hear that if you spent more time focusing on the positive you can change your life. You can actually make things better. I am fairly uniquely positioned to do so. Dr. Frankl taught me that if you have something you are burning to do you can get through any circumstance. Some dude on a Ted talk yesterday brought up the idea that everyone desperately wants to live. Then I listened to Steve Jobs talk about how much he wanted to live.
How does one go about finding their own path? Well, I think by definition I can't ask anyone else. Whatever it is they did or would do will be wrong for me. That's why I'm not fond of advice. I do like hearing stories though. I like finding out what other people have done and why. I've been reading a lot more recently.
When I feel fussy about what I am doing I need to decide what I would rather be doing and do that. That's part of the binge eating of sugar. The kids are pestering me for sugar. We have a lot in the house that we don't normally have. I am tired of fighting the kids off of it. I'm tired of being whined at for it. I'm eating it with them them till it is gone. Then we don't get dessert unless you can talk me into making some with sweet behavior. I like doing it when I have a cheerful house to do it for. I won't do it for whining. It has worked for me in the past. I think we ran out of chocolate last night. Now the sweet snack in the house is fruit. When the answer is, "We don't have any chocolate in the house; would you like an apple?" The response is more positive than you think. And then we just don't think to buy it at the store. It works out. One of these days she will remember to ask for it at the store. That will be figured out later.
I'm getting defensive already. That's lame. I felt cheerful through most of the writing. I'm tensing up as I think about going in. The family is awake now. The girls are extra clingy right now. I will miss these days. It's a lot of physical contact for me. I feel bad about how difficult it is for me to handle physical touch sometimes. I wish I liked it more. This is part of my feeling of inadequacy. I'm not sure why I feel inadequate though.
I'm supposed to think about three things I am grateful for. I'm always grateful for a white wall in my house. I like thinking about how I will paint it. I think I should paint it next month after I get the book edited and up on Amazon. We'll see.
I'm grateful that I get to raise two daughters in an environment where I am not under ridiculous stress all the time.
I'm grateful for stories to think about. Something is bubbling in my head. I'll think about it on the long run today. I'm going to run to Lake Elizabeth. It is just over five miles roundtrip. I hope it warms up soon. I have to leave by nine. Noah is having a late start day. I should probably go see him for the time I can today.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I used to. I used to experience everything scary or hard or painful as something that caused me to withdraw. Now the harder something is the louder I want to be while doing it. I just can't suffer in silence any more. This means that my neighbors look at me funny while I run around singing fairly loudly. I smile and wave. I decided that if I am going to run in a Cheshire Cat hat complete with ears I am required to be cheerful. People stare at me a lot. If I take the hat off and run with the super short hair they stare just as much. Early in the running I felt kind of defensive and weird. I doubt my facial expression was cheerful. People used to look at me warily. Now I run along singing, at about a normal conversation volume, and I smile and wave and interrupt myself to yell, "Hello! Nice night, isn't it?" Then I go back to singing loudly. Now people laugh and wave and answer me with some appropriate comment.
I think people dislike me because I project hostility so much of the time. Mostly people don't have an opinion of me. But I'm a polarizing figure! Whatever. Mostly people don't have an opinion of me. They don't care enough to have an opinion.
I'm not sure I can actually wrap my head around that.
Yeah, no. Can't do it. I have an opinion about everything and everyone. Only I don't actually. I think I'm lying again. I'm sitting here trying to force myself to have neutral thoughts. It's more difficult than one might think. If I look around my garage I can think that I don't have an opinion on the quality of most of the books (I share library space with people who have a lot of books I haven't read) but I have an opinion on how much room they take up and where they are stored. Is it a neutral impression? Well... if I see the book dropped somewhere else I will have very strong negative opinion about the book. So I think that all of them are just on the negative side of neutral for me which means I have an opinion.
Yeah. I don't think I can imagine what it is like to go through the world with actual apathy. Do you want to know the problem? The problem is that I have this weird little piece of me in the center and it decides if my opinions are positive or negative today. Pretty much across the board. Today I'm feeling hostile and pissy; I don't even know why. I could come up with candidates, but they aren't really big enough. I have too much good coming. I should be excited. At this time tomorrow I will be on an airport shuttle with Noah and we get three full days of no kids.
The running is hard. I'm tired. When I arrive back I am in high spirits. Then I crash the next day. It's fairly consistent. I am not explosively angry I am just kind of short in temper. Snippy. I feel bone weary exhaustion and the kids aren't happy unless I'm running with them. I really can't right now. I'm so tired. I'm not always. I won't feel like this all day. But it feels like the core of me is just barely on the negative, whiny side.
Noah is trying to express appreciation for me. For all the work I take off his plate. I hate feeling like it isn't enough. I don't feel appreciated. I don't feel valuable. I don't feel effective. I feel plodding and stupid. I feel like I am barely going through the motions. I feel like I'm looking at everything through a dense cloud bank. I feel like gravity is too heavy. I think that is what I feel. Gravity is too heavy. That makes it harder to do everything. I have to decide if it is worth the effort. I still haven't started packing. Not for us and not for Shanna. Shanna is getting picked up at two this afternoon. I should probably get started.
It doesn't help my overall feeling bad that last week Shanna was helping me with cleaning. I didn't like how nasty her tone was and her word choice in describing the activity. Do you know where she learned it? Watching me. I didn't say anything to her about it. She was just reflecting what she sees. But I've been thinking about it. I haven't described her toys as crap since. She doesn't have crap. She has high quality neat toys in a dizzying variety. It's really not crap.
I'm cheerful sometimes. I'm not sure why it is so hard right now. I'm grieving; I think that is part of it. Grieving for so many things. I'm more than half way through the first round of editing the book. I really don't want it to be an angry book. I want to tell the story in the most simple and direct way I can. I don't want to flail around and be angry forever. I just want to get it right. I want to have other people know the simple facts. I don't want to be alone with my story. It's scary. I can't handle being alone with it.
As I run I think about a lot of things. I think about the one who got away. Ha. I have several. I think about the many possibilities I had open throughout my life. I think of what choices I made and where. Which were the most important ones? Where was the tipping point?
I have the life I wanted. I really do. Why aren't I happier? Why is everything viewed in terms of me failing? How have I really failed? How am I bad? I'm not really engaging in questionable activity any more. I think this is as close to the center of the bell curve as I will ever be. I still feel bad. I still feel like I am bad. That's what makes everything just negative of center. Because I am. I can't help it. I was born bad. This is why I run as far and as fast as is safe for my body on a training schedule and I yell out the words to Born This Way.
I'm not bad. I have done a lot of things that other people don't do. That doesn't mean I am bad. The balance of my life is heavily skewed towards doing and being good. Why do I still feel so unworthy? I feel terribly unworthy. God knows I don't deserve Noah. He is far nicer than anyone like me deserves. In this mind frame I even know that he wasn't trying to cheat. He did act like a jerk, but good grief how much do I expect one man to put up with while never ever doing anything to retaliate? I deserve a good smack down now and then. I get too demanding and pushy and uppity.
I don't like it when I think this way. I know these thoughts are fleeting. I know this isn't how I always feel. It's how I feel today. I'm enjoying this part of growing older. I feel a lot more security around the fact that I won't feel this way forever. And I really do know that I have far more good than bad in my life.
Today my baby goes to her Godmamas. She is excited. She loves these visits. Recently she asked me if we will be together forever. I told her that depends on how we define it. I told her that we will always be together again but we won't do everything together all the time. Sometimes we will be in separate places but if she thinks about me real hard and knows she will see me again soon it's like being together at all times. We will always be together again very soon. She said that works for her.
Calli has changed dramatically recently and I don't talk about her in writing much. My experience of parenting her has been different. She needs me in very different ways. For the past few months she needs much more intense physical contact than she seemed to want when she was small. She is very serious and when things don't go how she wants she gets this stricken expression on her face. It's really pretty hilarious. I love watching her play with things. She looks like she thinks more like an engineer. She isn't a dilettante. She wants to sit and figure something out. That's not how her sister approached objects so it's neat to watch. She makes me understand how uncurious I am. She also makes me understand that I know so much more than I think I know. She holds things up and grunts at me. She wants me to explain. I always start at the most concrete level with name, color, size, that kind of stuff. Eventually I get to imaginative uses. It generally takes several options before I find the right one for her. Then she nods and runs away. I'm not sure if I have finally given her sufficient data or if I finally said the right word. I won't know until she can talk.
Calli is going to talk on a very different curve than Shanna. That's ok. It means that she feels much less there and I think I've been underestimating her for a while. Her comprehension is fairly astounding. I think she understands a lot more than she obeys. She is willfull. In a very different way than Shanna. If I try to prevent Shanna from getting what she wants she responds in a very wild, free-swinging way. She always has. Calli clenches her fist and shakes with fury. She may or may not release a few ear-drum-shattering shrieks but mostly she just looks like a bull about to charge. She doesn't swing out but she may lean over and bite. Calli is a runner. Letting her walk on her own is dangerous. She won't come back and she is going faster by the day. Shanna never went far from me and would come back when I called. This kid doesn't feel as strong of a leash to me.
Today I need to pack. I should probably go do that. Everything takes a really long time so I had best get moving. Any second now. Don't wanna.