TRIGGER WARNINGS for this post: discussions of suicide, captivity, cult abuse, PTSD symptoms, drugs & alcohol, self-harm, mention of sex slavery
“Fear is temporary. Love is slavery.” —Peter Harness & Steven Moffat, screenwriters ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World’ (season 10 episode 7 by current-series reckoning)
When I was young anything seemed possible, and I knew what I wanted and could put it into words.
Alexithymia is a word meaning not being able to put words to your feelings, not being able to articulate your emotions using words. I think it’s the expression that’s blocked, not the perception of feeling, and knowing that there is a lot of feeling going on, but not being able to identify it. I believe it shows up sometimes as a symptom with some cases of autism and I know it’s something that shows up in survivors of long-term and particularly child abuse, if we’re abused out of talking about our feelings or having or expressing them at the age we need to be learning that skill set.
If there’s a word that means not being able to identify and articulate what I want, and having a sheer clammy-palm thick-throat every-muscle-clenched paranoid phobia of expressing to someone else what I want, I don’t know it. I know why I am that way, can point to and give some specific examples showing the shape of the whole of years of experiences that specifically trained me into that, but I cannot overcome those things. For example, gleefully showing others something I’m enjoying and having them take it away or outright steal it and physically assault me. Or letting others know what I want, and them using that knowledge to manipulate or taunt me for the entirety of our ‘relationship.’ (A word that covers all manner of sins, to paraphrase ‘Love Actually.’)
Another increasingly large reason for not being able to articulate what I want is because my life has been in a catastrophic nosedive since 2004, as more and more really horrible things happen to me, I lost more and more, became more and more nonfunctional physically and psychologically, and had more and more resources and options taken away until I am now stuck and sliding toward oblivion with no hope or help or relief in sight. I have one option left to survive and it’s looking less and less possible.
For instance, selling off everything I have of value, I was asked today, reasonably, “What are you looking to get for [thing]?” and I didn’t even understand the question. That was not a thing I was allowed to even conceptualize in my position. My position is: I will take what I am given and not complain or I will get NOTHING. Like: without health insurance, where I am, there is only one place I can afford go if I am sick, and if I get mistreated, there’s nothing I can do, nowhere else I can take my ‘business’ because I can’t qualify-for/afford-to pay for anything else, let alone anything better.
Spending three years in a personal hellhole that is the best of bad choices but is so triggering and horrible and uncomfortable and unhealthy for me personally in so many ways has taken its toll. I’ve been watching myself give up and have been powerless to do anything more than what I’m already doing. Spending years and years trying to convince others that I am disabled and need help and being told ‘no’ over and over again and trying harder and seeing more people and giving up all my privacy and secrets into evidence and still being told ‘no’ has made me crazier and crazier, and more and more paranoid that I am being personally persecuted, especially as I see others less unhinged than me sailing through the same process as me—and paranoid that anything I do to try to prove my case, and more importantly anything I do which other people can find on the internet, can and will be used (unofficially) by Social Security Disability people to judge me not disabled and a liar. Including this blog, which is in essence me posting a diary online. Any fool can keep a diary like this, and no one would ever pay me to write this, and clearly even if they did I don’t even do it regularly for my own relief of my own feelings and frustrations.
I happen to think that if I would rather commit suicide than be forced to work forty hours a week ever again, as I’ve only ever tried once before, that shouldn’t be seen as me bluffing or lying or just not trying hard enough, but as evidence that I cannot work for a living because working enough to make a living wage is so excruciating for me physically and psychologically that a merciful swift death is preferable. Here’s an exercise, gentle reader, if you balk at this explanation: just for right now, set aside all your preconceived ideas about suicide and imagine that I’m telling the truth and try to imagine what it feels like, what I’m telling you right now. Put yourself in ‘beginner’s mind.’
Imagine feeling that working full-time puts you constantly into flashbacks of living in captivity and abuse, feeling threatened and unsafe and constantly paranoid about what anyone around you might do at the drop of a hat, especially if you don’t quickly and without complaint not only do everything you’re asked to do but anticipate others’ needs and fulfill them with every waking, heart-pounding, desperate terrified moment. Lest you have, for instance, food privileges taken away, or get physically tortured with some bizarre cult ritual ‘for your own good.’
Imagine, too, that you’d also experience flashbacks to every other job, full-time or part-time, where this happened, and you remember (no matter how hard you try NOT to) always eventually cracking under the strain, sliding into extremes, taking drugs or drinking or mutilating yourself to stop the screaming of your terrified little child self in your skull, the one who would go and hide in the closet and stuff her face in a pillow and sob and sob and sob until sunup.
I get that Social Security is trying to keep people from ripping them off, but (a) the benefits are paltry and barely support a most impoverished existence, and (b) no one in their right mind who had any other option would go through everything I’ve been through for three years if they had any, any, ANY other choices. I have chased down every possibility I have seen, but every single time I hit my disability like a dog slamming into the end of its leash—I can’t. I really can’t.
And I’m so tired.
Back to the beginning of all this, I was saying that I can’t even articulate what I want, really. I want an ending. Happy may not be possible; it could be that only an ending is possible. I’ve lost my imaginary friend that showed up with an imaginary bang when I was fifteen and suicidal and took me into a vast world of my own imagination when I had nowhere else to escape to. I’ve lost my enjoyment of pretty much everything I used to enjoy. For four (or so) days a year I feel home, I feel safe, and wanted, and enough, and included, at ROOTS Week in Asheville, and they have blessed and humbled me with a subsidy to make up for my disability and poverty every year I have applied. In between I hole up and try to outlast, but every year more bad things happen and every year I’m not sure if I’ll survive to the next ROOTS Week.
How can a person have motivation, drive, stamina, when one is going nowhere, and has no more hope and no dreams anymore?
I try to think: what do I want?
What I want is guaranteed income that doesn’t depend on me doing something I can’t count on being able to do. I want income that doesn’t depend on the whims of one or a handful of people who might not be able to provide stability, especially in the face of getting nothing in return, when bad things happen to them in their lives as happen to us all.
I want to live in a place that is safe and mine alone—because I have learned the hard way over nearly 38 years on this planet that everyone I have ever lived with has eventually become increasingly unsafe—and not have to worry about it being taken away. I want to not have to do things that I can’t sustain in order for that to happen. I want to know that when I’m at my worst, my sickest, in the most pain, that it isn’t going to cost me my safety, home, health care, and my basic needs. I want to know that as I am right now, more nonfunctional than I’ve been in my life, I will still have a place to live, and a car, and not be hemorrhaging money every single day because I have no income.
I don’t want the moon. I don’t want someone else to have access to me while I sleep or when I am at my sickest and most vulnerable. I don’t want things. I don’t want some flash car with spinners or ludicrously expensive clothing or an entourage or fame or fortune. Just a car that will allow me to get food, medicine, treatment, to get away from unsafe places and situations, and deal with emergencies.
I want survival. I want a sustainable life that can hold me well as I am on my worst days as well as my best, rather than requiring me to be at my best (which I can only manage on rare occasions) forty hours a week and fifty-two weeks a year. I want privacy. I want to be able to tell people who mistreat me to go to hell rather than grit my teeth and endure it because I have no other options or choices.
When you’re the only game in town, it’s surprising what an asshole you can get away with being to the people who have to come to you, and there’s nothing they can do about it. And it’s surprising how many people sort of unconsciously loosen the belt, kick off their shoes, relax, and become the worst versions of themselves secure in the knowledge that they’re set for life in their bully pulpit. People who work with the hurting and needy can be extremely abusive. Not all of them are, but a surprising number are. In fact it’s the best place for an abuser to get their jollies on the job year-round, because (and here’s the thing that people don’t understand) to the bully and the abuser, it’s not abuse, it’s a curiously overwhelmingly satisfying way of interacting with other people, that makes the bully feel good.
Abuse and bullying seems to be almost never a conscious or malicious decision, and in fact abuse works best if the abuser really truly believes that they aren’t, and are too wrapped up in their own stuff to even want to consider the feelings or complaints of others as valid. This is the most frustrating thing about dealing with people who want to see all points of view as valid, who want to mediate disputes and groups that contain someone who is doing this. We want to believe the best of everyone even in the face of continual evidence that this is a dangerous approach to take in every single situation. Bullies and abusers are similar to addicts in this way; if they don’t want to admit they have a problem, if they don’t want to stop, the only way to protect oneself from the consequences of their behavior is to go no contact. To, in essence, take a terrible page from their book and stop trying to empathize with them.
I have spent too much of my life both empathizing with them and agonizing about the problems this causes in my life when it’s allowed to orbit their black-hole lives, as well as all the time I spent reading towering stacks of books and articles to try to understand what was going wrong.
I want a life where I can walk out on that and go somewhere else to get my needs met. Where I can put down the books and start reading my own heart and soul for a change and find out who the frak I am, without being defined by the gravity wells I get sucked so easily into. I want a life where I can walk on by and say, “Not interested,” without even adding, “…sorry.” Where I apologize to no one for being who and what I am, whatever that turns out to be. Which may be different every day as I figure it out, given the chance!
I want a life with choices and a future, that doesn’t cost me even more than I have already given, because I have given my all and gotten back hurt in return. I want a life that’s not crushingly claustrophobic and septic as this place has become, like a garbage compactor. Some place I can rest, really rest, and breathe, and stretch out, with room for dreams to grow again and not get smothered to death by despair, so I can find out if it will ever be possible for me to want things again other than ‘survive’ and ‘get the hell out, for good, and never come back.’
I want to find out if there is still a Kassi inside this paranoid, defensive, crazed cornered animal I’ve become in this wreck of a life that’s bleeding out all around me while I lie unconscious on every day’s pavement, stepped over and spat on by sneering, angry, upright people, my pockets regularly (metaphorically) searched and emptied because I can’t fight back, getting kicked for being in the path of people who needed an outlet who couldn’t retaliate or provide consequences for their cathartic casual abuse.
The people who care aren’t in a position to do anything about my problems. The people in a position to do something about my problems don’t care, or actively distrust and/or mistreat me. Because it doesn’t impact them at all if they ruin and end my life. I’m less than nothing to most people. Sometimes that can be liberating and freeing and sometimes it can be fatal.
These days I don’t even feel human, robbed of imagination and soul and desire and dreams and creativity, all the things that help define humanity. I’ve become walking dead, darting frantically from day to day, trying to hide from the enemy one more day, the enemy being the cost of living. Trying to steal one more day, but not being able to do anything with the days I steal.
Wondering what the point is, and feeling deep in me where culture planted it, the insidious ivy crumbling through every crack in my walls, that I am worthless and have not earned a right to survive and live because I cannot service other people to their satisfaction and pleasure enough that they would be willing to pay for me to live, with me feeling like a filthy sex slave to their every whim and rule and powerless to resist or defy any demand if I want to live.
I’m tired. I’m so fucking tired of waiting in terror for people who don’t give a shit about me to decide whether I get to live or die, and being powerless to do anything about it, and struggling just to survive month after month, year after year, losing my humanity and hope with no end in sight and no future.
I hope in a couple of days to start posting some other stuff I wanted to make videos about, concerning art and story. It will probably be less angry and hopeless than this. I had to stop making videos because I was tired of the hate, and could no longer manage the effort. I retreated to a more defensible position (this blog) which so far mostly only friends read, but making those videos left me with a lot I needed to get off my chest, and it took me a while to even be willing to communicate again at all.
I thank you for your patience, especially if you are reading this. <3 I know these words are not easy to read. It is, I hope, a process of moving back toward sharing more of all of me, not just the angry and defensive parts of me activated by all the nastiness in my real life mirrored so potently on YouTube.
One positive thing I want to share is that when I feel suicidal but cannot bear to talk to anyone, because my triggers are the fact that my life is inescapably horrible for reasons beyond my control, because I don’t want to live like this anymore, and nothing anyone says is going to change that or the things that are making it so, I go to this web page: https://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ and no matter how many times I have gone there over the years, by the time I have reached the bottom, I get through one more night. Why it works for me, I do not know, and it may not work for everyone. It has saved me many times.
Sometimes I want this: that if I don’t survive, that if I don’t make it out, that some of my words that I wrote or said might survive me, and might reach someone else who just needs those words to push through one more night, or push that one bit harder, and get out of their trap, out of what’s killing them, and survive. Or that they might then write or make something that passes it on to someone else who then manages to get out of their trap. More than one person I loved with all my heart died, but it’s because of them I’m still alive. The words and works of others long gone have helped me through those one-more-nights. They are the ropes I hang from and reach for now on the Cliffs of Insanity.
If I could live on words alone I would be the richest, happiest, fattest cross of Buddha and Neil DeGrasse Tyson that ever womaned on this Earth. Safe behind this keyboard (which I would name ‘Sleeps-Not’) I could feed the hungry and never want for anything again…