Freedom

Ugh.

*****

Ugh some more. I don’t feel free, that’s why this word is crap. To any onlooker, I absolutely am. And fuck, get over yourself pocketbrit, first world problems right here…compared to so many people out there you are so damned free and should be grateful, not here, moaning, yet again.

*****

But actually, screw that too, I’m reflecting on a word, that’s all, and like I said, I don’t feel free. I feel trapped in a life that I don’t seem to be able to have control over; I know, logically, that I do make many minor decisions all the time which place me in control of my life (which therefore should infer freedom, and yet, it really doesn’t feel that way). I don’t feel like I am able to know what to do with my life, I don’t feel like I am capable of risking things and giving things a go if there’s a potential for failure. I don’t feel like I can escape my current reality of remaining in the town where my parents live, working in their business and seeing them regularly. Isn’t that so weak? Seriously pb, grow up…if you want to do differently, do it. Nobody else can do it for you and you can’t blame anybody else for not doing it yourself.

But its not really about that…I absolutely am a coward in ways, but this is trauma, this is attachment, and screwed up family dynamics, and the recent aftermath of telling my family (sort of…all they’ve made me do is keep it a secret from other family members that they consider more important…my abuser being one of them). This is the fact that the family I belong to, the only family I have, and perhaps the only family I will ever have, want to keep me quiet, want to ignore my pain, push it aside, tell me its no big deal, that he matters more. And I feel trapped. My emotional freedom perhaps, (at some point in the future, and likely not ever fully emotionally free), lies in leaving them and living a life where I am not forced to keep the most vile family secrets. And yet, that’s a life without a family…maybe that’s freedom, but what does that involve giving up? Won’t I feel so alone? Won’t I miss all the good times? Won’t I think of them all the time? Won’t I wish I hadn’t given them up? Won’t I wish I could take it all back, just for one moment of feeling like I belong somewhere, even if I’m only allowed to belong if I keep my mouth firmly shut? But also, do I even really have those things by staying?

*****

I also don’t feel free in my body. Especially lately. My one body feels like it’s containing several people. Several people that I’ve on and off acknowledged are there for a couple of years, but that’s 98% off and only 2% on until recently. Now it’s about 85% on and all I want to do is revert it back to that comfortable 2%. I have an image in my head of an old wooden trunk in a loft….i’ve picked up my wee one and put her in there, upset though she always fucking is. I’ve told my young one to get in, she doesn’t talk much, and she’s just gone in, eyes watching me. My sullen, ‘told-you-so’, sarcastic, detached, scary one gets in on her own accord, like she expects it and is rolling her eyes and shaking her head, and seething at me, for never stepping up and helping, for always being a disappointment. And finally I scream and shout at my teen, who argues back and rages. She won’t get in, not without me physically forcing her. And that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to get her in there and push her back, and put my foot on her and hold her down if I have to and put all my weight on the lid of the trunk to try to close it fucking shut, even though it can’t really fit all these stupid people to begin with. I want to scream back at them, to tell them to get lost. That I want nothing at all to do with them. I want them gone. I want them dead. And I’m meant to be the one in control, the one that gets by and lives our life, and is functioning. Not so functioning, is it, to be scared and spinning because I can’t shut my brain up?

So, this doesn’t feel like freedom. This feels like being locked in a cage with people I really don’t like and don’t want to have to interact with, yet are coming right up to me and crying/raging/talking incessantly in my ear. I want quiet, but I can’t have it.

day seventy-one: freedom

at various points in this journey (extra long eye roll at that euphemism), particularly as i was railing against the injustice of it, or in a particularly deep pit of grief, i would sometimes think, you know what, fuck this. i don’t need to keep wallowing in this crap. i just need to pull up my bootstraps and get through it, you know? get over it. stop making our lives so miserable and just cut it out. and each time i’ve said those things (actually, usually i’ve shouted them, on the sofa across from my therapist) – i’ve then sat there, eyes ablaze, chest heaving, eyes streaming, fists clenched, ready to challenge everything that came out of her mouth. and pretty much very time, she would say, with such sadness and compassion, no, sweetie. that’s not how you get free from this. being mean is never the right answer. being gentle always is.

and the concept of freedom always gave me pause. i think it was because i didn’t often think in these terms: being free versus being bound or imprisoned (although jesus, why not, it’s a pretty fucking apt description)…and then, it just didn’t seem like something for which i could hope or see as being possible for me. i mean, what would freedom mean? what would it look like? how would it feel? so much of the time, i walk around feeling like i’m a raggedy, rat-gnawed shell in the shape of a woman, a fraud of a human being. how could freedom apply?

over time, however, i began to crave it. i will never be free of this experience, i cannot take away what happened to me. but the shame, oh. if i could be free from some of this shame…if i could hear the word ‘family’ without feeling choked, or if i could just bask in the affection and adoration from the people who see me, and love me, if i could stop my descent into the dizzying spirals of shame…that feels like freedom. i mean, the shame’s not ours, is it? it was given to us, inserted and splashed and threatened and shoved and suffocated into us, and we’ve been carrying it, our bodies bent and bruised and battered. haven’t we held it enough? please, let’s give it back.

*

earlier today, my friend asked a question about whether i valued happiness and thought it was achievable. she was asking because we had been talking about our kids, and on the kind of life we hoped they’d have (and the one we were trying to give them). she said that her eldest sister thinks that the purpose of life is to leave a mark, to contribute, but that she feels that striving towards happiness is more important. i said that i wasn’t sure about happiness as a goal, that it seemed a bit overrated; that i definitely thought life was far more than about bettering the world…and then i surprised even myself by saying that really, what i wanted was to be okay with however i was, at any given time, in any given moment. that however it felt to me, whether it was horrible or joyful or hard or wonderful, that i could accept that as the truth for me. that I could just let things…it…myself…just be. and that that was what i wanted to pass on to my kiddo.

the more i spoke, the more i realized how true it was. that for me, freedom will be standing strong in myself. knowing that however i feel is fine, and okay: no matter how different it might be from how others feel. i want to be free from the me i’ve been for so long: from the judgment i absorbed, from the shame, from the awful endless convictions that there is something wrong with me. the very stuff that got me so strong that i am still here. the same stuff that was the lullaby of my toddlerhood, the soundtrack to my life. i want freedom from that.