It used to be that sometimes, I was afraid if I started crying, I would never stop. I’ve learned through experience that eventually it stops, and I always feel at least a little relief from tension and anxiety when I do let myself cry, in a safe, secure place with no one around.
I’ve spent so much of my life in silence, because of the consequences when I did speak up. Interruptions, invalidations, betrayals of trust, retaliation, violating of boundaries ‘for my own good.’ Condescension, especially. Because of others’ fear and discomfort with the things I most needed to talk about.
I feel all backed up inside with all the things unsaid, and worse, the things I did say that were hurting that got salty lemonade poured on them, escalating minor annoyances to traumatic isolation.
I write hundreds of pages a month. I write like I need it to survive. I write my own deliverance. But somehow, it’s not enough. And I am afraid if I start to blog, here, all the things where I feel I really need to be heard, I’ll never, ever stop. And I’ll wind up like Virginia Ridley. I’m already a hypergraphic shut-in.
I stopped sharing when people weren’t listening. There are such awful ways people have of appearing to listen, but really only using what I say to their advantage. I’ve been through so much, and I’m so tired of myself and my body and my words getting used as a prop for other people’s needs.
I have so much to say. So, so much. I have a brand-new blog here, but I don’t even know where to begin. My heart is hurting deeply. Other than with my dead husband I’ve never had an in-person relationship where I was totally myself, that felt equal, respectful, trusting, joy-inspiring. I enjoy books and dogs and my imagination. They’re safer and they don’t care about the things other people judge me for.
When it comes to figuring out how I feel and what I need, I was pretty well abused out of the honest ways of a child. Even my own self-awareness is blocked because the fear and shame of my feelings and needs is so deeply ingrained. No matter how much work I’ve done deprogramming myself, it’s hard to create and hold on to acceptance of myself when I'm still surrounded by people who find what I have to say uncomfortable to listen to. And I can tell. I can really tell.
Sometimes the thing that’s scariest about the possibility of being aware of my feelings and needs is that it may come along with a sense of intolerable and triggering powerlessness to do anything about those things. I think that may be the strongest deterrent that keeps me from that knowing. Just like kids who are abused tend to feel it’s our fault, because it gives us a sense of agency — if we could just figure out what we’re doing wrong and what’s wrong with us and fix it, the abuse would stop, right? Because when kids figure out that nothing they do matters, and the abuse will go on regardless — which is true — they give up, fail to thrive, and die.
I haven’t given up. But for the moment I’ve given up on face-to-face with anyone other than my therapist and the intern I see when I can’t get funding for seeing my therapist (ugh, don't get me started). It’s too much effort for me to explain and see things from their point of view, and too little effort from others to reciprocate or even recognize that there are a lot of basic assumptions that aren’t applicable with me. That such unconscious assumptions even exist. Spend too much time around people just like you and you forget how to relate to people who are different. But I’ve never been around anyone even remotely like me, except in online support forums. We don’t get out much, for reasons like these. Can you blame us?
Maybe I was just fooling myself into thinking I could handle the face-to-face world. And I paid a heavy price for going out there. I don't know if I can even see the extent of the damage. I feel it, though, feel it in every aching fiber. I will build myself a fort of books and tie a line to things that feed my soul and take walks alone and write and strive for the best I can make out of this so-called life.
Your Dolphin Moment
(It’s easier to think about dolphins than to NOT think about rhinoceroses.)
I intended to end this post on a high note. But it took hours more than it should have to give you what I will, yes, eventually give you, and it will be worth the wait.
Things stop working.
And when you’re on your own, and have no money and limited energy and resources of all kinds, it’s you who has to deal with it. I made and maintain this website myself. I’ve had no special training and no desire to spend time and money and energy I don’t have becoming a WordPress expert. What I wanted was my own domain name, and a simple beautiful place where I could easily share my words, my hooping videos, my photography, and photos of my sculptures.
I was fortunate to find and work with a WordPress YouTube tutorial by Tyler Moore whose finished website looked appealing to me. It was easy enough to deal with the ‘What You See Is What You Get’ website editor, with just a few technical difficulties it was easy to use Google searches to remedy. I lovingly crafted logos and graphics and made everything just right. It was a place for me to share all the art I hoped to make.
But when you’re poor, disabled, struggling, and on your own… things take their toll. Medications and coping skills stop working. Things that you enjoyed lose their charm, and a little more color seeps out of the world. Every morning I wake up knowing there’s a possibility that everything that enabled me to get through last month, last week, yesterday, might not work anymore. I can’t rely on anyone or anything. Talk about no comfort zone. All my creativity and time gets poured into finding new solutions when the old one stops working, learning how to do for myself or how to do without.
Hoopwalking provides low-impact exercise and warms up fibromyalgia-stiffened muscles, as well as soothing me and encouraging me to hydrate more. And lately there have been irises in bloom out where I hoopwalk, inspiring me to take pictures, as I love to do. I wanted to share the beauty of these irises that struck me in this tough time.
Because of changes Google is making with Picasa, not only could I not make a perfect new little iris gallery like the others, in trying to copy the widget from the hibiscus gallery I lost that one too and couldn’t restore it. Hours of attempting to fix the gallery, the widget, start a Flickr account and use that, finally resulted in a not particularly user-friendly or pretty gallery of the admittedly beautiful iris pictures, and a similar one to restore my beloved hibiscuses.
Maybe there’s a better fix, but I’m expending psychological bandwidth I can’t spare just to try to share this and end on a high note. (Not doing so well on point B, I realize.) I’m not getting paid. This isn’t what I want to do with my time. I like having control over something—anything—because powerlessness is so prevalent and triggering in my life. But sometimes it takes so much out of me that doesn’t get put back.
Most of today was taken up with this website redesign. Which isn’t perfect, but it just has to be done. (There’s two more things I want to do and I’m in terror of what toll that’s going to take.) I’m the queen of starting over. I try things, they don’t work, I try new things. It’s how I’ve survived this long and continue to survive.
When I started this website I ambitiously wanted to be an multi-discipline artist living spherically in many directions, retaining my childish enthusiasm. But I was still in denial about how disabled I truly am, because it’s heartbreaking to me. Partly because of the socialized systemic attitudes about disabled folks, and typical attitudes of pity. (Note: pity is not respect in any way, shape, or form.) Not being able to do things that others can do makes me feel lesser. Not being able to have my needs met, or to depend on things, scares and angers me, disempowers me. I’m resigned to using this blog to share my struggles in the absence of any social, familial, or community support. (Massive failures on all those counts.)
Loneliness isn’t the absence of people, it’s the absence of understanding. Every person wants love, attention, and respect. I have met so many people, tried so hard to explain myself, to gain understanding and connection, had my heart shattered and those shards ground into glass dust. Fired and made whole again and shattered again. In silence I have written a million words, and still I wonder if anyone will ever really hear me, really get it. Intellectual understanding blocks empathy, and unfortunately is the first thing people try in order to hear where I’m coming from. I want art to express how I feel, but sometimes I’m completely at a loss as to how to do that either.
What these pictures say is: please, let there be just this one moment of beauty.
Tomorrow, who knows what may be lost? Will I be able to get out of bed, or will pain nail me there? Will I be able to feed myself? Will something stop working that I can’t afford to replace? Will another coping mechanism cough its last, and the dark tide of my past flow in to consume me? Will the crazy man in the neighborhood find out where I live?
Please, let me find the fleeting moments that will be gone tomorrow, the few things left that are free, that I can reach, that I can touch. Let me have this light and color while I can.