Giving The Thoughts Their Voice

It has been a while since I’ve posted here. I am not sure there is any more cliche line on the blogosphere than that opening sentence, but it is the truth, and I can identify most of the factors that have led to that: the need to distance myself from such close contact with all the stories that were worsening my own mental health; losing my ability to express myself; being unwilling to expose myself to those who happened upon this space in search of poetry, and not the unwieldy emotions of an emotionally stunted girl; a lack of willingness to deal with said emotions; and sometimes, guilt, and frustration at being chained to emotional experiences that seem circular in nature, that are circular in nature.

Those factors have all significantly influenced my inability to word vomit in meaningful ways, but none moreso than the latter two. I suppose this can be considered me caving to the need to express how I feel, word vomits, and all. Twitter meltdowns can only do so much–something I have known since I first began to use it as a crutch, and people have never really been very present options–difficult to turn to them when they are the centre of your distress; are willing but inept at being there; or have become such representations of danger to you, that your entire being revolts at the idea of trusting them. Still, I am not sure that I would have cracked, if it did not feel so important to organise my thoughts, and see them all laid out, structured, and articulate, so that my feelings could stop pulling me in the distressing tug of war of, “You’re right to feel this way, but you’re also wrong. Every thought, and feeling, and every bit of anger, and hurt, is wrong. All wrong. Petty. Immature. Unfair.”

At some point, one has to weigh one’s sanity over one’s pride, and tendency to feel guilty over one’s right to acknowledge harm.

I guess we can say, that I am at that point.

It isn’t that I don’t know that I am entitled to these feelings; that I don’t understand that they are free to exist because I matter, too, but my God, is it hard to give them their right to exist when you once spent a significant part of your life convincing yourself that they didn’t matter; that they do matter, but that they should be ignored because they’re too strong a reaction, or the circumstances that led to the source of your hurt occurring, mean that you should be considerate of them, of that, of everything, and everyone, but yourself, because they need this–you, a forgiving, and open wound to be poured into, and ‘indifferent’ in all the ways that free them of accountability, and guilt.

God is it hard to hold people accountable when you’re terrified of hurting them, of destroying all the progress they’ve made, or the great place they’ve finally, finally gotten to…sometimes on the back of your own destruction. And I thought I could do that forever: always be some kind of bottomless container for people to pour their worst things into, because I was unbreakable, I was strong, I could handle it; it was only fair that I gave them what I did not need. But I was wrong. Very, very wrong. And the burnout was so severe, that I am still reeling from it. How does one spend only twenty two years on Earth, and burnout before one has even gotten to the ‘real’ stuff? But I did, and it was bad. It is bad.

It feels like a motor struggling to keep going; cutting out, and starting back up again, convinced that this time, it’s okay, it can keep going, it can keep pulling all this weight, and carrying things it was perhaps never meant to. And it sucks. It is horrible. It is like a never-ending well of exhaustion. Different from the depression exhaustion–that one is a dryness made of listlessness, and lack of motivation, and just…an exhaustion from existing, from trying to exist, from trying to convince yourself that you should do, and do, and do, so that you can have an existence when you wake up from…whatever this is supposed to be. But that burnout? That ‘I’m so tired I could cry from the sheer exhaustion.’? That ‘I want to give, but it feels like I’m pulling from nothing, like there isn’t even a vacuum, or a void there, just the absence of a bottom beyond this bottom’? That is an entirely different feeling. The knowledge that there is no further to go. That there is nothing else that can be pulled from that place within you, to give, because this is it. You are empty. There are no reserves. There isn’t a reservoir. There is just you, and this dryness.

I can’t believe that it has been at least one year later since it first happened, since I first realised that I had nothing left to give, and I still feel like…I…have nothing left to give? And I feel so unbelievably guilty for it. I feel like a shitty friend for not being able to laugh things off, and return to ‘equilibrium’; for not being more patient, and willing to push back when I know they aren’t okay; for not trying harder; for not doing more to show that I am still there; for becoming the very thing I hated most in my life–being the undependable person, the one always too late, or being too little, or too distant, or there, but not really there at all. And I hate it. Absolutely despise it. But I’m not okay either? I’m not okay. I’m angry, and hurt, and I want it to be known, and acknowledged, and to not feel petty, and unforgiving for the fact that there is damage, and I resent it. I resent that the only people I cared about, the only people I was willing to be destroyed for, to allow to hurt me, and see me in ways that I considered rightfully theirs, are the ones who are at the centre of the damage done to me. That I resent that they broke me in ways my uncle’s actions never could, or never will.

I am furious. I am furious that I am still finding damage. That I am still finding destruction when I think that I am healed. That I can stumble across posts on emotional abuse, and say, ‘This is familiar. This was done to me.’ That those posts, and people unintentionally screw me up for hours. That I am here right now because I stumbled across a ‘funny’ meme, and had a split second gut reaction where I wondered, ‘Had someone gotten a hold of one of our conversations, and posted it?’ even though I knew it was impossible; that I would never reveal something so humiliating as the time when I felt like I deserved to be hurt, or knew that you treated me like I wasn’t worthy of more, but I took it because I loved you. That I forced myself to laugh at the stupid, frigging meme, even though my body immediately began to spiral into hurt, and anxiety, after weeks of feeling nothing. 

I am furious. So furious. And I resent the fact that my inept attempts at explaining why I can’t stop throwing pithy, sarcastic comments that we all laugh at, are only the surface of what I feel. That I rarely use profanity, but every time I am accidentally forced to confront the sheer scope of the damage done to me, I want to say, ‘Fuck you.’; that I would genuinely not care if you walked off a cliff, and yet…I can’t, which is what I resent the most. That despite being so aware of all that has been done to me; that I will continue to find more damage that I will ineptly attempt to explain, while my frigging tongue stumbles, and I stutter, because my mind refuses to give me the words to say what was done to me, and to hold you accountable for it, I will still never be able to walk completely away, or turn off the care that still guides my actions, because it is automatic that I make sure everyone is okay; that I make sure they know no matter how angry, or disappointed, or disgusted I am; that I am still there, and available.

I do still resent the fact that a year later, even the thought of being emotionally close to other people, leaves my body strumming with tension. I resent that the very idea of other people, caring about newer humans, terrifies me, because I’ve seen myself destroyed, seen myself give until there was nothing left to give, and then been told by the people I’d done that for, that I was a fool to have ever done so. I resent that no matter what I say, or how I say it, I will always come away seeming like the one who has made mountains out of molehills, because I worked so hard to protect others from themselves, I forgot to protect me from me, and them. I resent that I grew to hate the parts of me that were my best selves; that were the soft, and gentle, and kind, but truly, most of all, I will perhaps never cease to resent that I will always be there. That the reason I will always find myself re-experiencing the same feelings, rehashing the same conversations, demanding an iota of the respect, and concern I deserve as a person, is not because I ‘can’t let things go’, or because “[I] forget nothing.”, but rather, because I will always be trapped in the same unhealthy patterns–where I cease to exist–because despite what you’ve always said, beneath the surface, the implied requests that I be there, sustaining, pretend that I need nothing, while given nothing of sustenance in return, is our implicit agreement that I cease to exist so that you can.

I resent not the giving, but the demand that I shrink away, shrivel up, and die, so that you might be free of guilt, and responsibility. That is why I put my foot down. That is why I became cruel, and unforgiving. Not because I couldn’t forgive it all, but because I was only worth the effort if there was no effort at all.

***

This made me feel better, surprisingly enough. It felt good to touch the tip of the iceberg, and give it a voice.

All In The Family

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and the only reason I haven’t touched on this yet, is because I’ve grown so accustomed to a blog filled with “cryptic” poetry, that it seems far too revealing to have this dialogue with myself. I’ve never felt that it was one that needed to be had, but in the last few days, it came to a rather funny conclusion (well, funny for me since I have a warped sense of humour), and I think it will also be helpful for those who feel like they’re the odd one out so to speak, in how they interact with…certain…people.  (Trigger warning for those proceeding.)

Anyone who knows me, is at least remotely familiar with the fact that I have a “complicated” past with my father’s younger brother. I suppose you could say it bothers me on occasion, but for the most part, it’s a blip on my radar that I really don’t pay attention to. Has it altered my life irrevocably? Well, yes, but that’s another situation all to itself, and anything I have to say on that would probably disturb a few psychologists 🙂

akjfnd

The above is a comment from my uncle, posted on the new profile picture I’ve uploaded to Facebook. When I logged in, and saw the message, I was a little flabbergasted. Mostly because I had spent a few days prior thinking about the very disturbing trend that governs our social media relationship–I mean the man poked me on Facebook (pun unintended obviously -____-) a few years ago, and I ignored it. And while that did get my goat; all in all, it was a mostly hilarious thing that I did not take seriously, and I figured that would be the first, and last, of our social media interactions…until the above occurred. Now some may ask why this fellow is even on my Facebook friends’ list, and I would say that this gets to the heart of my post.

To have grown up in a society where family is first, and foremost in your interactions, is not something I’m sure everyone will understand. You are trained to be respectful towards your elders, to mind your manners around older adults, and to only be “boisterous”, if you are of a precocious nature. There is no “I don’t want to go there.”, or “I don’t feel comfortable around so, and so.” For the most part, that is something that you grow accustomed to. Uncomfortable hugs, awkward pats on the back, the usual. It doesn’t lessen the irritation, or discomfort, but with age, you learn to mask that, and appear less uncomfortable about the whole affair. In my case, this has had little impact on my day-to-day relations with actual relatives because I was never much for physical interactions, but it did make me appear to be a rather queer sort to extended family, and family friends who were raised to expect specific types of greetings.

I am sure there are many who can relate to the above, and if they have had truly traumatic pasts, I can only empathise with just how upsetting that may have been. It’s a delicate balance walking the line between holding your life together as you know it, and wearing the right masks, and attitudes for appropriate social events, and whether it be from your social media interactions (“Why haven’t you responded to your uncle?” *Insert bland smile*), to (“Why don’t you ask him for help with your Math homework?” *Finds self going to do so*) or not, in time you find yourself falling into a “comfortably uncomfortable” relationship with the person who has altered your life completely.

Those looking in, who are aware of the past, or have heard stories from you, are often confused by the type of reticence you seem to have about the whole relationship. They find themselves unable to comprehend why you would have an amicable enough relationship to one day make the life-changing discovery at 21 that you just so happen to share musical tastes, handwriting styles, and stationery preferences with this person. (Like…what?) And for some, it is even harder to comprehend that you can have perfectly normal trivial conversations about school, “Hey, how are you doing? What are you studying now? Have you improved in Math? You’re a smart girl, you know, you’ll get it eventually.”, while wondering, “How was my family so blind? How are they not remotely concerned that the person I once accused of such, and such, continued to be my occasional babysitter when they still considered me too young to stay at home by myself?”

It’s complicated. With family, especially in certain cultures, you are expected to act, and be a certain way in their presence. You hover between wanting approval from an elder family member, like any normal child, while a completely different part of yourself steps back, and eyes the very disturbing fact that you, and your (former) molester(?) have an uneasy understanding. There are the “Do you remember anything?” flashes across the face, while you look back, and return a “Remember, what? The information that could upturn both our lives as we know it, and possibly distance me from my actually awesome other family members?” And in all of this “confusion”, as you age, and reach the age where you look around, and realise that there are other friends in what amounts to abusive family relationships that have also found this “uneasy” balance between being the daughter, the niece, the grandchild, the cousin of some person who also happens to have screwed their lives up, you arrive at the conclusions that no one ever really explores. No one talks about those fringe-land people like three of the friends I care about a great deal, who are compelled by the laws of nature to look at, and seek approval from parents who can, and would be defined as having been “text-book” described abusive, except as a footnote, or offhand comment. They only speak of the souls who have been taken away from dangerous situations, from lives that felt normal (until they learned what the healthy, untouched others were blessed enough to have), and looked back on the horror of their past experiences with all the emotional range of a tornado, a hurricane, and an earthquake put together. They don’t speak of the complexity of forgiving a molester, or abuser (whether sexual, verbal, or physical), and how “easy” it can be to fall into walking the tightrope of “This won’t happen again…But wait…if it happened before, what makes me think it won’t happen again?”. They definitely don’t talk about hanging out with, playing basketball with, being thrown together with, or some other such totally “normal” relative to relative interaction happening on a weekend, or having tattoo conversations with, that person. So instead, we find, well, at least, I have found, that there are all these fringe-land people who have internalised that it is “all in the family”, while looking at another situation, and thinking, “My God, how horrible! But my life is nothing like that.” not realising just how troubling their every day interactions can be to those who have healthy, normal, perfectly untraumatising familial relationships.

It can be extremely dissonant from the inside looking out, and realising that somehow you are not normal, and while I haven’t had the terrible misfortune of actually loving this particular family member–thank God for that, although I’m not sure I love any family member–I can look out, around, and across from me, and acknowledge that there are a population of people who are not so lucky. They are encumbered by years of parenting, and emotional attachments. They have been left to feel that something was wrong with themselves for having had any emotional attachments at all–whether the emotional attachments existed prior to, during, or after, someone became an abusive prick–rather than having been reminded that there is very little wrong with them, but instead, it is the people they have had the misfortune of being emotionally attached to, that are clearly the sick, unhealthy ones.

Don’t confuse this with Stockholm’s syndrome, or assume that people who are genuinely terrified of their rapists, abusers, molesters, etc., are secretly harbouring some kind of love, or affection for the person(s) who destroyed their lives. And don’t assume that this conversation is about people who have had difficulty understanding just how (*insert appropriately descriptive adjective*) their past experience(s) have been. While it is possible to love, and fear someone at the same time, this is not a discussion of those types of relationships, and it is not a discussion about grasping the severity (How severe is severe?) of a traumatic past, and how it should colour the relationship you now have with a relative, or some other close individual. This is a discussion of the complexity between growing up, and having to answer questions like, “How is your uncle? I heard he’s doing such, and such now?” while thinking, “Will I ever get away from having to act like all this is normal?”, and for those who have lived day in, and day out with someone who eventually became an abuser, or performed an act (in some instances, a one time act) that can be considered abusive, during the course of their interactions.

Is this a completely in-depth discussion? No. Does it really go into the myriad of complex feelings that exist about all of these things? Hell, no. But it is a snapshot for those friends, psychologists, therapists, etc., etc., who think it’s fine to trivialise certain  situations because you have done so (Don’t. Leave that to the person dealing with the situation.), or are always caught on the “WTF?” loop when trying to understand how someone can yo-yo between “I need to get the hell away from this/these person(s)”, or “I can’t be around so and so without having this horrible pit of fear in my stomach.”, to cracking awful jokes about past situations, and saying things like, “I just had so and so drop me off at the copy shop.” (Like what?)

Kittya.

Author’s note: I live nowhere near my uncle at this time, and I definitely am no expert on the psychology of…any…of this.

One Thousand, Eight Hundred, and Twenty Five Days…and then some.

Return often and take me,

Beloved sensation, return and take me–

When memory of the body awakens,

And old desire again runs through the blood;

When the lips and skin remember,

And the hands feel as if they touch again.

C.P. Cavafy

Return; 1709

It has been five years, perhaps more, since I first learned to love you. That is, over sixty months, two hundred and sixty weeks, and even more days since I discovered my capacity to love.

It has not been easy, it has not been sweet, nor neat, nor clean. Five years of carrying two. Two hundred and sixty weeks of refusing to choke, or crumble. All for you to destroy each year’s work, each month’s toil, each week’s sweat, each day’s trudge, each night’s un-poured tears with fears, jests, and indifference? Silly games, and adolescent angst?

By now, I should be angry; I should be hurt, or upset, or weary, but I have known weariness, and worn hurt, and been the face of anger for too long to feel those now. In their place is a pleasant apathy. One that I will perhaps never tell you of, because a part of me does still care about the things that weigh you down at nights, but these are the things that change a person. They craft a glass wall that would bring pleasure to even the most blinded glassblower’s eyes…a hazy, translucent wall–dyed crimson at its centre, swirling a kaleidoscope of blues, and blacks beyond that crimson, until there is nothing but the glistening sparkle of crystal–with only hints of yellow forming a silver-lining along its uneven, but smooth surface.

You are not to blame. Well, not entirely. There is me. There is the 17 year old boy who taught a five year old things she should not know. A mother whose best skill was not asking questions she did not want the answers to. Friends who did not have the capacity to return what they could not understand. And perhaps, even others.

You see, it is not that I am angry, or hateful. Not even that I am petty, and strangely enough, not that I do not understand why you are, the way you are, or that I do not love you. I simply. Just no longer. Care.

Sigh. Such a waste of a pretty quote.

Do not return to me.

Sincerely,

There are limits.

Note: To be read with a pinch of salt, and probably a few other seasonings. There is such a thing as venting. 🙂

On Endings.

What has often bothered me, is not the ending of things, but the ease with which I’ve seen perfectly beautiful journeys destroyed for the littlest of things. It is the loss of what should have been, could have been, and now will never be. And the saddest part of it all, is that you never notice until that time has gone. Perhaps it is why I’ve always done my best to glue things back together again, but release is the sweetest peace, in and of itself.

Lost Words

Losing my words was a slow, and unmarked process. There weren’t long pages of diary notes, where I wrote myself dry; nor was there one major work of fiction, where I poured every ounce of my being, into the words that left my soul. Instead, when I climbed out through the last of my heaviest depressive phase, I found that there were no more feelings. I no longer depended on friends to distract me from the processes that went on within my own mind. I moved away from secretly expecting the people I cared about, to offer me the same kind of giddy, unequivocal affection and love–although, it must be said, my kind of love was not the healthiest, so perhaps it was good that I no longer held those expectations.

In the place of my lost words, I gained a nothingness I still struggle to explain. There is a nothingness I still struggle to explain. It was unlike the numbness that had swallowed me, until I almost hurt myself to feel again. This nothingness held all the words I no longer felt enthusiastic enough to write. It contained the thoughts I found too self-pitying, or too morose to take note of. This nothingness was filled with dreams I never knew I had, that had withered away, and it showed me all the feelings I once took for granted, when I thought I loved too much.

After I discovered the nothingness, I tried to speak again. Strangely enough, my voice had finally returned to me, but there were no words to use it with. Somehow, I had divorced myself from my emotions, and my words. On any other occasion, perhaps, in any other year, this would have been a joyous discovery, but knowing that I could finally speak without as much self-consciousness, and laugh with total abandon was an altogether alarming knowledge. I felt betrayed by the newly abrupt, and serrated Rhythm that had replaced my lyricism. My poetry was sharp, and blunt. It hit me in the face, and made me wince when I recalled it, and all I really wanted, was the girl who could write stanza, upon stanza of poetry, in ode to love, and life, and loss. Still, that discovery, was not as disconcerting as my inability to speak, although I’d regained my voice; for in place of my newly gained voice, I’d earned a tongue that stumbled over words that were once a reminder of the music I loved to play. I choked on chapters the way I’d once hurt my brain with musical notes I could not play quite right. In short, the depression’s fog had settled on, and poisoned parts of myself, I never knew I could lose; that is to say, I lost interest in everything that had been so important to me. My writing. My music. My reading. My poetry. My unguarded ability to love.

Through all of this, what finally struck the death blow, was not the depression that had created a shell of myself. Neither was it the regression to a place where speaking was hard because I could not remember the feel of words on my tongue, despite the lack of the fear that had once haunted my speech; rather, it was “Correction.” That one short story that I forced myself to complete, so it would not fall prey to the works-in-progress pile that distresses so many writers. Writing “Correction.” had taken a very influential piece of my writing away, because I had finally wielded my words the way I wanted to. There were no allusions, no euphemisms, no eloquent lines marked by lyricism, and musicality. All that existed in its cathartic creation, was a plain image of a girl that could be me, in a world that could have been mine, with a story that was unlike mine in so many ways, but a truth that was mine.