one hundred & thirty two: pessimism

there are words that we use that have judgements inherent in them, and this is one of them, i think.

to be a pessimist is to have a shortage of hope or confidence that things will work out. to see the ‘worst’ in things, to focus on the negative. it’s seen as an ‘attitude’ (which is also a judgy sort of word, if you ask me) that things are not going to be all right. i’ve met very few people who would say, oh yeah, i’m a total pessimist except, you know what, you’re going to, right now. coz unfortunately, i am a pessimist.

i say unfortunately because you know what, it fucking sucks to feel like this. to not trust that things are going to be fine. to catastrophize, to have those niggly annoying convictions that the other shoe is going to drop and it’s all going to hell. to wait for people to leave you. to find it nearly impossible to imagine that people might like you, for real.

i feel like the judgements about pessimism is from people who don’t have a trauma history. and while i am so glad there are people out there who don’t, who were born into families who harvested hope, security and trust, who grew up with confidence and pride, i also feel a bit resentful about the discrimination. i would LOVE to know what unadulterated hope feels like, without the panic alongside. i would have loved to have been a child whose autonomy and growth was fostered and encouraged, instead of squelched. while we’re at it, i would truly have loved to have been spared my dad and uncle’s nocturnal visits, and if they really had to happen? i would have loved someone to have noticed, and to have intervened, rather than turning the other way.

coz it seems to me that the ideas of pessimism and optimism suggest we all start off on equal footing in life, and somewhere along the way, we make a choice to see the glass as half empty or half full. and that, friends, reeks of bullshit to me, and is an incredibly simplistic, reductionist way to classify people into who’s good, and who’s less good. and crappily, some of us start off with less of a chance of a sunny outlook than others.

among the things that make me tired, taking full ownership for my lack of hope is yet another one.

Written Feb 12/19 but backposted to Feb 3/19

 

 

one hundred & twenty nine: violence

violence is so, so many things.

overt things, like hurting someone’s body, with purpose.  i mean, there are millions of horrible ways to harm a body: hitting, kicking, slamming, pushing, shoving, choking, pinching, smacking, smothering. small things on small parts, also bigger things, with bigger sounds and bigger sores left behind.

violence is also quiet things, like silence. refusing to speak to someone, for hours, or days. the tilt of a head. a glare, or an empty stare, as if you are invisible. ignoring, either purposefully or by being disengaged. not watching, not telling. keeping secrets. perpetuating lies. the absence of presence.

violence is words. ones that are spoken, or hissed, or screamed. ones that are whispered. dirty, disgusting words, yes, but also words that are used opposite to how they’re meant. like i love you while simultaneously having disgusting things done to your body without your say, or you’re a good girl when it really means shut up, don’t tell, no one will believe you. words that get so confused in your brain because the sound of their voice, and what they say is not in line.

violence poisons things. violence dresses up in sheep’s clothing. it is a backdrop, an acrid smell, an insidious chill. violence has bad manners; ignores no thank you and please, stop! and fuck off.

violence was bred into me, was done to me and all around me, and i worry i won’t ever get it out, or off. i fear that others can smell it. that i will never get away. that my cells are rotten, that my body was so steeped in it, that violence is my inevitable destiny. though i know it, have always known it, i am terrified, i am an unwilling servant, i want to be free.

written feb 12/19 but backposted to jan 30/19

one hundred & twenty eight: embody

i aspire to embody love.

(where embody is taken to mean: to manifest, stand for, represent, give human form to, symbolize, epitomize.)

if i do anything in this life, i mostly just want to be love. coz maybe, just maybe, i could make something good out of the shitshow of my innards, my gross past, my grief, my shame, my family’s rejection of me, my guilt. re-purpose it, re-jig it, come to re-know it as something of which i can be proud.

*

coz yeah, i also want to be in my body, just generally. like, inhabit it. live in it. feel grounded in it. maybe even like it?

no small feat when i’ve spent years loathing it without quite knowing why, trying to ignore its comings and goings and gurglings and reminders. stuffing it and shaming it and punishing it.

*

the closest i ever felt to gratitude for my body was while i carried our daughter. i was curious about how it felt; had to attend to it, pay it heed. my body made me hear it, and for the first time, i wanted to listen. i was, quite literally, embodying another human form, within mine, and i was alternately awe-struck and terrified.

*

i just want to feel like myself in my body. to walk past a mirror and not think, ugh. or to walk past a mirror and actually, purposefully look in it (rather than avert my eyes). to see myself reflected back, my self-in-body.

myself, embodied.

one hundred & twenty seven: muted

my first thought about this word was not in terms of sound, but of a visual…of muted colours. softer, less vibrant palettes. unoffensive colours, like those you’d see in a hospice, or a nursery, or a therapist’s office.

and then i just thought of what being muted means, in other senses: the notion of being dulled down. quieted. dimmed. reduced. muffled. diminished. a gradual decrescendo, the ploy to make someone invisible.

an asset to every abuser’s toolkit.

one hundred & twenty four: scream

i have a recurring dream where i’m trying to scream but no noise comes out. or only a small slow puff of air. but in the dream, i’m so incredibly desperate, eyes bugging out, arms waving, i’m trying my best to let people know i need help, i’m here, don’t leave without me…

lately it’s all kind of seemed like that. like i’m stuck in that feeling of screaming, of needing help but nothing is coming out.

*

as an aside, i also keep imagining those cartoons or movies where people open their mouths to scream and their uvula is vibrating at the back of their throats and then you’re transported down into their digestive system via some invisible gondola with crazy psychedelic colours rippling out everywhere and the scream getting more and more muffled…

or maybe i’m just getting inspired by that weird counting sesame street skit with the really catchy tune. (also, i don’t know why they don’t include the one for #1?)

(and no, i’m not on drugs, unless you count being slightly addled by sleep deprivation and having just taken nighttime cold medication…)

one hundred & twenty two: tired

oh god. this word.

i don’t know how many times i’ve sobbed about being tired in a therapy session. and i’ve meant it in terms of the hundreds of nights of stolen sleep, the physical exhaustion of my ridiculous on-call work life, but mostly, in the aching fatigue that comes from dealing with the fallout of incest and trauma. with battling parents and a brother who deny it happened in the first place, with a mother who thinks i’ve been hypnotized and a father who thinks my lesbian man-hating therapist planted ideas in my head (never mind that she is quite heterosexual and incredibly man-loving, never mind that i’m not a brainless blob that believes everything thrown her way). when i sob that i am tired, it is of the isolation, the shock, that this is in fact my life. i am tired of knowing this stuff, of carrying it. i don’t know when it will stop hurting. i don’t know how it ever could.

i spent much of my life convinced that there was something wrong with me. that all the labels and medications were to try and name and then fix the inherent brokennness that was me. and i was a fierce advocate for mental health issues, i disclosed often and in varying detail my journeys of depression, anxiety and panic disorder, because i hoped that i could help others (and myself?) by staring it in the face. i took full ownership of the wrongness of my neurotransmitters and hormones, medicated them, attempted to forgive my brain for its idiosyncrasies, and just tried to live the best life a damaged, sick, crazy person could live.

until remembering sexual abuse in my childhood, at the hands of two members of my family, turned it all upside down.

and over these past three years, i wished, so many times, i could just go back, that i could just unknow it all and go back. i have been gutted, time and again, by how difficult it is to share the responsibility for how i am; have been razed to the ground by the realization that the inherent wrongness i have always felt was a fucking lie, planted in me by the people meant to love me most. it is exhausting to flinch at the word family. it is exhausting to be reminded, with every interaction with my parents, that i am unseen, unheard, unknown. it is excruciating to nearly drown in the waves of abandonment, terror, and shame, and realize that this is how it felt, this is how little pocketcanadian felt all the time back then.

she wasn’t crazy. she wasn’t sick. she was damaged, oh yes. she was so so hurt, she was made to know things that she never should have, she was unsafe in her home, she was the receptacle for so much shame.

and unlearning all the things that were inserted into me, when i was too little to know different? is a full-time, full-body job. there is no amount of sleep that can remedy this sort of tired. there is just time, i am told. the passage of minutes, and days, and years, becoming accustomed to this new reality, to this identity, to these new labels. hoping that the sting eases. hoping that i can build a new life: of safety, of love, of compassion and gentleness, and that it can be enough.

one hundred & nineteen: good

i spent my whole life trying to be good.

good enough. good for something.

*

looking back, i actually was a really, really good kid. i didn’t make a fuss. i monitored myself, my behaviour, especially at school. i didn’t talk back. i didn’t talk much at all. i was an A+ student, i was delightful, i was diligent. i did my homework. was kind to my peers. strived to be my best. was quiet, was acquiescent, blended in. they never came to my parent-teacher interviews, there was no need, my mom said. they knew i was doing fine. they didn’t want me to get a big head. i was fine. it was all good.

*

i bet all they had to say was that i was a good girl.

that i was so good, that good girls didn’t tell. that good girls didn’t like it, didn’t do that, didn’t let them.

that would have been all they needed to say, but once. because no one ever said that to me. i could never be good enough, i never was. no matter what. and i was desperate to be good. to be right. to belong.

*

i’m sorry because this all feels totally disgusting. i hate this word. i feel sick and i’m not good. i’m not good at all.

one hundred & twenty: release

like people around the globe, we have been on the instant pot train for a couple years now. i love that appliance, i really do, and if you’re thinking of buying one, i’d say you should. (no this post is not sponsored. i don’t even know how i would go about getting it sponsored. and no, am not interested in finding out). (oh and ps, it was invented by a canadian, pocketbrit! which i’m well aware will instantly incite disdain and eye-rolling, you predictable ridiculous woman.)

but why i thought of my instant pot was because there is this thing on it called a release valve. when you are using the pressure cooking function you can wait for things to cool down (a “natural” release), or you can hit the valve, and in an instant, all of this hissing steam comes blasting out of the lid, fogging your windows, and filling your house with the smell of whatever you’re cooking.

and somehow, yesterday, i seemed to have hit an internal release valve, except what came pouring out was grief.

it took me by surprise – not the grief per se, that had been there, simmering in the background, after a series of difficult texts with my mom, whose main purpose in life seems to be to remain clueless about difficult things and to undermine anyone who challenges her cluelessness. i had just been grocery shopping, and the tears had threatened close while i was there, as i texted with pocketbrit, but were easily blinked away. i parked my car in my driveway, clicked the ignition off, and was going to open the door to get out, when i started sobbing. full out, full on. no particular precipitating thought or reason for it, just pure, unfettered anguish. and so, i burrowed my chin into the beautiful soft scarf pocketbrit knit me, and let it out.

my grief fogged up my car windows. the wet on my cheeks felt so cold, and my feet froze in my boots as i sat and waited for its waves to subside. had i not been startled by a sensor light turning on suddenly at the side of our house, i may have sat there even longer, my breath ragged, my voice not even seeming my own. but as quickly as it started, it sort of stopped, and i made four chilly trips in and out of the frigid black evening to bring in the groceries, and then started to unpack them.

my daughter didn’t see my face, but my wife did, right away. and she put her hand on my arm, wanting to draw me into her, but the thought of it made my eyes well up again and i choked out that i couldn’t, not just yet. i poured myself a cold glass of water, hoping to swallow the lump in my throat, but instead my eyes spilled over and i could feel another wave coming, so i excused myself into my room, and i muffled my sadness into my stuffed dog and my pillow for i don’t know how long. and eventually, the waves became ripples, and my breathing slowed, and i mopped my face and nose and went back to join my family.

and then, my sweet daughter noticed my puffy eyes and splotchy face, and suggested that we have a cuddle in our beloved cuddle chair (a big leather chair in our living room, perfectly suited for the snuggling of one grown up, and one growing-but-not-quite-grown kid). so we did that, and she asked what had happened, and i just told her i was sad, so sad, i wasn’t sure why, but the feeling just go so big, did that ever happen to her? and she said it did, and she also said that it was okay, that i could be sad if i needed and she would be there. (and frig, that almost made me start up again because hello, who is this beautiful, sensitive creature who is just freshly nine years of age?!)

so then we had dinner, and did our bedtime song and dance, and after i’d tucked that beautiful, sensitive creature into bed and crawled into my own, there was a part three to the release. and i don’t know what exactly precipitated this series of releases, what button i hit, but even though it was exhausting and made my head pound and my eyes burn, i was just so grateful for the emptiness it left behind, for the feeling of my exonerated, exhaled grief in the room.

and in fact, it is only just now that it strikes me why it felt okay, why i can feel grateful, and it’s because of how gently i was held through it: by my wife, my child, by pocketbrit. by my t, when i told her about it today. and mostly, that i managed to hold myself through it, that somehow, i managed to sit with it, and let it be there. that i finally discovered a mute button to shame, under whose rule i’ve been living for weeks.

i know the relief cannot last, but for today, it is enough, it is welcome, it is good.