Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Passing

I feel like I have been blessed at this point in my life. I have a wide variety of friends who tolerate my moods and writing about all kinds of hostile things. In person I generally behave myself. I have a hazy understanding of the fact that most people are guided by rules of behavior. I just don't understand what they are, mostly, and when I do I actively want to do the opposite. Just because.

I'm told that I shouldn't care what people think of me. I'm told that because Noah grew up one of those Gibbs' in his town. The rich ones. He doesn't have to care what people think. He has a fairly codified set of permissive behaviors that are tolerated from the rich geek. He knows how to behave. He knows when and how he has to care.

There is this unspoken set of behaviors that people follow. Mostly they have no idea what it means about them. If I follow the behaviors I was taught then it is patently obvious that I am still white trash. I curse regardless of who is around. Sometimes I dress in absolutely trashy clothes--to be fair I'm mostly eccentric and not "trashy" in my clothing style. I'm weirdly conservative. I have spent my entire life dodging the "you must have asked for it" line about being raped. I make sure no one can tell me it is my fault because of what I am wearing.

I have a carefully constrained life. The most important piece of my life right now is that I learn how to pass. I need to learn how to pass as a normal, stable member of the middle class. I need to learn how to not offend people. It's harder than it seems. It's easy for other people because they were taught to be unoffensive from when they were quite young. I was taught quite the opposite.

This weekend I spent time with a friend I have known for more than ten years. We met in a bdsm relationship class on protocols. It was a six week course on Dominant/submissive and Master/slave variations. It was more interesting than it sounds. What is protocol?  I'm not going to steal the Lady Victoria's class and tell you much about it. If you like such things, I recommend the extended classes. People find interesting things to say.

Anyway, I was hanging out with this friend. I met her early in the M/s portion of my relationship with Tom. I asked her if she was aware that I was depressed and cutting through my relationship with Tom. She said she had no idea. She is pretty sure no one knew.

I pass pretty well when I want to. But I don't always pass as what I want to pass as.

I know how to be not-me. I'm not great at the fine tuning of what people really see. I have a nervous energy I get at parties. I giggle a lot. I'm scared shitless. I usually feel like I want to vomit on the floor. Being around more than two or three human beings triggers my hypervigilance and in my head I am rehearsing polite ways to deflect attention I don't want and I'm praying for attention I do want. Long before I can try to get attention I have to decide the appropriate way to deflect unwanted interest. Or I get in trouble. My natural reflexes are not PC. When I am given truly unwanted attention my impulse is to be violent. I don't hesitate. I have to defend myself and no one else will. Ever. Period. I live in a "polite" society, though. I am not allowed to be violent in defense of myself. I try hard to think of ways to "use my words"that won't get me booted out. If there is a problem it will always be my fault. I'm sure that this guy who has raped other women (I hear the stories) could not possibly have done anything rude to me I am just over reacting. I'm the problem.

I know how to be not-me. I know how to pretend a certain level of passivity so that I can be tolerated on the fringe of society. I don't know how to feel safe. I don't know how to feel like I belong. I don't know how to make friends with multiple people in a demographic. I tend to hold on to a few people from each community. I don't know how to interact with large groups of people because I'm used to tailoring the things I say to one individual person. I can skirt the line of offensive more easily that way. When I'm around a group I feel petrified with fear because someone in the group is going to be an outlier in a different direction and someone will be snotty or aggressive or ... something. Someone will behave in a way that I read as picking a fight. And I will have to walk away or bear the consequences. I can't engage. I can't respond at all. I will be the problem.

I don't mean that I spend my life wanting to hit people. I mean that I don't verbally spar with people. I shut up.

I have friends I can argue with. I have people I have known intimately I can argue with. Unless someone has been close to me at one time I am unlikely to take the chance of arguing with them. I don't go looking for random arguments on the internet. If I bother to argue with you it is probably because I have years of pent up frustration I need to vent in your direction. You have been pissing me off for a very long time. Mostly I felt that I had to keep my mouth shut. At some point I will feel comfortable enough in the turf and I will fucking tell you how you have pissed me off. I can only do that with people who have shown a previous tolerance for me. It's terrifying. I have to trust there will not be repercussions. I'm wrong, still. I go off on people and lose friendships.

I'm supposed to pass as a not-angry person. That is a mask if ever there was one. The same people who tell me to "be myself" are the people who tell me to not be angry. It's a lie from the first breath. And I can't point that out. And I can't be angry about being lied to over and over.

There are a lot of things I have to pass as. I'm in the first truly stable period of my life. I have lived in this house longer than anywhere. I have to pretend I know what this feels like and I am comfortable here. I am so uncomfortable I am ready to crawl out of my skin. I want to move. I want to not have to feel scared when I leave the house. I don't feel scared when I feel invisible. I feel so scared here because people have been seeing me around for a long time and they have expectations of me. I feel like I am going to let people down at any moment. Soon they will learn how very angry I am.

I feel very weird about the other ways I pass. I pass as straight. I am now in a monogamous relationship. We don't have the time to be non-vanilla if we wanted it. Not really. I have to walk away from being the kind of freak I was.

Not everyone does. I can't be part of an experiment to raise children in an "open" household. I can't. I need more boundaries than that. I want my children to have a theoretical knowledge of my sex life. I don't want them to see my sex life parading through the house. It's different with their dad. We don't flaunt our sex life. It isn't obvious that I'm keeping him around for that. I do though. He's great at sex.

I feel weird about the fact that I shouldn't talk much about being queer. I certainly don't tell the lesbian moms in the home schooling group that I'm queer. I don't want to see rolled eyes. I have two options: I can shut the fuck up, or I can roll out my CV to prove I am the person I say I am.

It's easier to pass.

It seems to me that queer is complicated. I can never take back the fact that I have had sex with a good thirty or forty women. I don't know the number any more. Hard drive crash. But people don't know that when they look at me. How could they? I have a much larger body count than most heterosexual men. How in the hell can I ever be not queer? But I don't partner with women. I have too many issues with them. I have a hard time working things out with women. With a man I assume he won't be able to figure anything emotional out so I'm ok with spelling things out in small, easy to digest words. With a woman I get incandescently angry that they are so stupid about figuring out my emotions and I just refuse to keep talking.

Women are scary in a way that men aren't. My experience of the men I choose to get close to is that they are not passive aggressive. They are aggressive. They do it or they don't do it. My experience of the women I get close to is that they are going to serve #1 first but they will actively lie to you and say that you are first, no really. When women speak I have this filter in my brain, "Are they lying to me" that I just don't have in the same way with men. Men lie too, but generally about different things and in different ways. Men are easier to predict. Men feel less complicated. Women can smile at you and poison your drink. Women are like me. Women are terrifying. But hot. So there you go.

I loved Julia. I lived with her. I thought we could find a way to figure things out. She showed up one day out of the blue and said she was moving to Boston next week, uhhh bye.

I grew up in a house of women. Women aren't going to do the bad things to you. They are just going to leave you. They are going to let you down when things are hard because they have been overstressed for a long time and they never told you and now they have to focus on themselves and you just aren't important. My mom did that. My sister did that.

And I can't be angry. Not if I want a shred of relationship left. Not if I don't want to be alone. I'm telling you, though: I'm angry. I'm fucking angry. I have to pass as not angry. It will be a carefully constructed lie because I am no better than anyone else. Because I know that continuing to behave in my normal fashion won't teach my kids how to have healthy relationships. I have to pass as someone who is capable of having normal, healthy relationships.

It's hard. It's a game I play every day. How to pass as a "normal" person. I'm not. Normal people didn't go out and get a PhD in sex. I haven't heard of very many things I haven't tried. That was my hobby for the first twenty-five years of my life. It has been one of the largest parts of my identity. It decided my behavior. That is how I use identity. I decide what identity I want/need to have and then I align my behavior with it. I am not just Krissy. It's all a game. Who and what I am varies dramatically in different situations.

I didn't tell my dentist he was a fucking asshole when he told me that he wouldn't recommend my book to people because it is too hard and people shouldn't have to know about such things. Instead I just told him, "That attitude is why it happened. Because no one can bear to know I exist." I hope he felt bad.

I have to pass. If I don't then people don't want to acknowledge that I exist. I have to have a presentable, tasty candy coated shell. I have to pretend to be good enough. I have to pretend to be of the class of the people I am talking to.

I'm god damn tired of being scolded because my manners are terrible. You have no idea. Go to hell.

Everything about the life I am choosing right now is a carefully constructed lie. See, I'm a good mom. I can play this role. I can be patient and kind. I can be tolerant and mellow. I can be careful what behavior I model. My children are not going to learn how to be a whore by watching me work. When I am in the mood to I can go pick up sex basically anywhere. There is usually someone willing if you know how to look. I'm trying to learn how to ignore those signals. I'm modeling the behavior that I believe a "good" woman would have. I'm a fucking fraud.

I don't even make people buy me dinner before I fuck them and leave. I want to have physical contact, not intimacy. I don't want my children to learn that. Not from me.

I think that my relationships with my children will be pretty much the most intense ones of my life. The most intimate. My mother treated me like an obnoxious burden. I don't do that to my kids. My mom dumped me on people I didn't know. My kids are getting to know a short list of people very well.

I will spend significantly more time with my children than anyone else. Far more time than Noah. Noah will take decades to catch up on time spent because he likes his alone time. I will have a good solid ten years of being with my kids before they start really trying hard to get away from me. I have to pass as a good mother.

What makes someone good or bad? I'm not sure. I'm told that you are bad if you do bad things. I've done a lot of very bad things. I guess that's that.

After my experience with my girl friends a couple of weeks ago I remain convinced that I am not a dancer. If I am to be defined by my behavior I am not a dancer. I occasionally dance. I enjoy dancing. I'm not a dancer.

I am a mother. That will never be taken away from me. Nothing can change that. I think it is the most permanent part of my identity. Will I ever want to pass as not a mother? In order to act like a slut I would have to. I don't want to. I want to have this permanent change in who and what I am. If it is possible to simply be another person I want to be. I want to figure out how to stop being bad.  It's not that I think that all people who have multiple partners are bad. The sex I like is the most high risk kinds there are. I just can't model that to my kids. I can't. I have to pass. I have to.

What does being queer mean then? How is that going to work in my life? Am I giving that up to? I was talking to a friend about passing this weekend. The Godmama. She said she doesn't really think about being queer any more. It's there but it's not a conscious part of her life. I said, "You are trans and married to a woman. You don't have to think about it to wear it on your face." I am who those disgusting ministers point at when they say that you can get over being queer. I pass.

I tell my children that they grow up to love men or women or men and women. I tell them that the most important part of relationships is that you respect your partner and can trust them. Some day my kids will figure out that I know some really weird people. It's probably going to take them a while. To them this will be normal.

Why do I want to consciously construct a heterosexual monogamous life and model that? It's not the norm. Not really. Look at history. I want to model picking a life and really doing it. I want to not be distracted by all the could-be's in life. I want to be creating something with a person. Noah and I have a lot of joint goals. We are building something together. It happens that he is a guy. It was a lot more convenient for that "having kids" thing I wanted. No woman ever wanted me the way Noah wanted me. That's why I picked Noah. Not because I don't like women. Not because I'm not attracted to them. No one ever wanted to take on the project that is my mental health. I don't blame them.

My teenagers will understand that non-monogamy is a common, perfectly reasonable path that I do not choose. They will hear which people we know are doing it well (Grandpa J) and which people are not doing it well (name redacted). We will talk a lot about ethics. Heck, we already do.

Am I trying to pass as not depressed? Yes. I don't want them to learn the physical behaviors of depression. I don't want them modeled. I want my kids to grow up around productive people. It's ridiculously important to me. It doesn't matter how I feel. I have a place in my head that allows me to go through the rote motions of life. I may not be cheerful but I consciously work on maintaining a neutral facial expression and I god damn do everything I am supposed to do. I make food. I do chores. We go to the park on park day. I have a role to fill. It doesn't matter how I feel. I can pass. I can do this.

Sometimes when I sit and think about what hard things I have done I feel confused. Like those must be the acts of a different person. Doing those things would make someone strong. I feel so weak. I'm trying to get stronger every day. I have to. Even if I have no interest. I have amazing willpower. My willpower seems to be inhuman. I have tremendously more control than I let on. That's part of the game. That's part of passing. You have to fake it until you can make it.

I have a picture of Jenny and her mom in my garage. I think about them and their relationship a lot. I try to puzzle out the has been from the should have been. I haven't been able to stand near very many mother-daughter relationships. I don't understand them very well. Jenny doesn't have overly close relationship with her mother for a variety of reasons. I think about the lessons to be learned from the choices her mother made. Jenny's mom was nicer to me than any other mother of a friend when I was a kid. It's complicated in my head to set that aside and think of her from other perspectives.

When I'm trying to create this person in my head, the person I am supposed to "pass" as I think hard about my role models. I try hard to think through the long-term consequences of their behavior. I don't want to adopt other broken models. That's not useful. I feel scared. When I look around my life I see that most of the people who want to know me are people who also come from problematic back grounds. People would rush to say, "Not like yours!" but whatever. No, incest is not rampant among my friends group. But people who tolerate me probably had an emotionally unstable parent or close relative so they have coping skills. That's kind of not great.

I feel afraid because I feel like I am trying to create a person who genuinely could not exist even under the best of circumstances. I know a handful of people who came from stable, happy, affectionate, appropriate families. They are oddballs. They know it. They are nearly mythical. At least in my head. I'm not trying to be Mary Poppins.

We live in a strange time. Through most of history people basically grew up to do what their parents did. Sure there were transition times when people left farms and came to cities, but then the family found a trade in the city. Mostly people did what their parents did. What kind of person do I want my children to grow up with?

On the subject of body wind: Noah tells me that farting is one of those things that tells you which class someone really is. Rich people ignore bodily functions. Middle class people apologize for them. Poor people laugh. I go back and forth between ignoring them and giggling. I feel anger over the idea of apologizing for them.

I am expected to follow all these stupid made up rules. They have no basis. They are regional. They don't matter. That's what you are supposed to do in "polite" society. How in the fuck am I supposed to teach this shit to my kids? My goal is to take them out of the country at formative ages so they understand exactly how irrational and arbitrary these rules are. But I don't want them to feel the same anger I feel.

I don't want my children growing up with the idea that getting angry all the time is normal and natural. That's really hard on your body. It causes long term stress for the rest of your life. So I have to model not being angry. This is not a good cycle for me.

It's ironic that I had two girls. It means I have to work on my emotional intimacy issues with females. Festive. When Shanna gives me a nasty look I respond with surprise. I say, "Oh gosh! Am I looking at you like that?" Then I rub my forehead to get rid of the deep lines of scowl and I repeat whatever I had said to her previously. I explain that I wasn't feeling angry but I was thinking hard. She generally smiles and repeats whatever it is she is on about in a more friendly way.

I'm going to have a hard time with the homeschooling group. I don't really like how often the topic is, "Obviously we love our kids more than working mothers." I'm not yet in a position where I can sit and argue with people. I keep my mouth shut and my eyes on the ground. It's horse shit. It's self-serving dogma. You can't measure love. You don't take care of your kids a certain number of hours per day and compare it to a chart to see how much you love your kids. Not all mothers want to subsume their complete identity into parenting. Some people might call that healthy.

Not all homeschooling mothers subsume their entire identity into their children either. But they give up a much larger chunk. Either that or they drag their kids along into their identity. Is there or is there not a barrier between your children being full members of your life? For me there just isn't a lot left they can't be part of. I go to adult-only events sometimes but it's rare. I have a lock on my bedroom door so that I can have a sex life. I write behind a closed door. I don't smoke near them. That is all I do away from them. They are part of the whole rest of my life. I really enjoy the company. I really enjoy feeling seen all the time. I enjoy the fact that what I do with every minute of my day matters because I am going to be accountable to this person for the rest of my life for my behavior. This relationship is the opposite of temporary. This is the the most intensity I will ever have in my life. I want to really experience that. I want to drown in it. I want to find out what it is like to really and truly be responsible for another human being at all times. Yes, working parents are still responsible for their kids, but they delegate a lot of the day-to-day supervision. The ultimate responsibility is still there. Just wait till your kid steals a car. Ha. I did that.

I am integrating my children into my life. I am creating a life that is fully appropriate for them. Who do I want to be? What kind of person are my children likely to respect and trust as they grow up? What do I have to do to pass as respect-worthy and trust-worthy?

This is so hard. I was not taught to be this person. I am a judgmental bitch and I will say that I did not grow up around people with a strong work ethic. Most of my family survives on welfare of some kind. There is no impetus for working to better your life. You just have to learn how to hussel to fill in the cracks. Declare bankruptcy every so often. Let other people support you. Don't pay your rent and get angry when your (relative) landlord tells you that you have to move because they need to make enough money to pay the mortgage. You are owed a living, aren't you?

I grew up angry poor. The kind of poor that is surrounded by beauty and wealth which only emphasizes how terrible it is. My Uncle Bob and Auntie live down in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's beautiful. When you spend most of your childhood surrounded by the California Redwoods you travel and think, "I can see that they have nice bushes but where are the trees?" It's a very wealthy area. Our neighborhood slowly gentrified during my lifetime. When my relatives bought in it was the cheap and cruddy area. The poor people lived there because it was what they could afford. The original mortgage more than forty years ago was $40,000. Last I heard the mortgage was several thousand a month and Auntie had to work full time to pay it. She was in her seventies.

Our house was the unsightly dump at the end of the road. Lots of cars on blocks. You know those big metal storage PODS people use? There were a few there as permanent instillations. Several big ramshackle barns on the property. It was a serious health hazard. Uncle Bob was a serious hoarder. He spent money like it grew on trees and never got rid of anything. So he could never find anything in he mess and would go buy new over and over. He was so bitter about not having... something. I never knew what.

I went to Los Gatos High School and I was on the free lunch program. There weren't many of us. When I went to Lakeside, up in the mountains, it was different. There were always a few other poor, problem kids. A lot of fucked up people go hide in the mountains. Which isn't to say that everyone in the mountains is fucked up. Anyway.

I wasn't allowed into the nice homes. I was only invited to play with the other kids who had alcoholic parents. The other girls who watched their parents have sex. I had Brittney. That was it for a stable friendship in my life. Every family has issues, even Brittney's family. I learned some bad things there as well. Mostly lying.

What do I want to teach my kids? How do I need to pass out there in the scary world? I would be less scared if the consequences mattered less. How do I not fail my children? How do I not teach them to grow up and act like they have an alcoholic parent? This is hard.

I feel like they shouldn't have to deal with the fact that I am an angry person. Full stop. I'm not angry at them or about them so it isn't their problem. I don't give other people the same leeway. I'm not sure why.

Shanna and Calli are unabashed in their need. They still truly need me in order to grow up whole and healthy. I have to be a positive force in their life. Someone who makes them feel good about being themselves. That's my job. It's a lot of pressure, meeting their needs all the time. It's a lot of work. In many ways it is unsatisfying work because they feel like bottomless pits of need and I never make a dent. But that's not true. They are very happy people. Life is going well for them. They don't have unmet needs. Even though I feel like I can't I can't I can't I am.

I think about how their needs are going to change. How I have to be the bad guy sometimes. I have to be the mean mom. That's part of the deal. I have to set limits. If I don't then you won't learn how to deal with them in the world. Everyone has limits. People who tell you that you don't have to worry about what other people think are mostly lying. I want my kids to make the conscious choice of which opinions to care about. I hope they will respect me enough to care about mine. I don't take it as writ.

How do I need to act in order to be someone they can respect? That feels like a lot of pressure. How do I need to change? How do I need to pass?

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