Growing up, I learned about existence in terms of status quo. I learned that there was a common denominator that everyone learned the skills to aspire to in order to maintain order and cooperate with each other in the world. That set of skills was called normalcy.
I learned that in order to be normal, I could not be difficult, or uncomfortable, or challenging, or obnoxious. My feelings had to be subdued, I had to care very little for my own desires and needs in order to perhaps get what I wanted or needed. So I learned. I learned to manifest a three-point trifecta: a pleasing or otherwise unbothered affect, a pleasing or otherwise unbothered physicality, and a pleasing or otherwise unbothered articulation. As long as I could maintain these three, I could survive. If I let any of these slip in the slightest, I was attacked from every angle and chaos would ensue.
Basically in order to be normal, I learned that I had to exist for other people.
And as I got older, I understood that it was not enough to simply exist for others. I had to exist for others correctly. I could not let on that I was existing for others, it could not be obvious. That would break the facade, and would make things too real- it would point to the truth. And the truth could never be revealed.
It wasn't just that I had to be these things- I knew that everyone had to be these things. I trusted that the people around me were doing it right and that I was simply too young, too little, "just a kid", and I couldn't be expected to learn the great skill it took to be "normal". I was basically small, stupid, and impossible.
So I learned as quickly as I could. Every time someone laughed at me, or scorned me, or made me feel insignificant, my skills became more sophisticated. I learned to excuse my abusers. I learned to store my real feelings in a box, either deep inside of myself or if I could, outside of myself somehow. This became how I remembered a lot of my childhood- as if it happened to someone else. I was thorough, I was meticulous, I was swift. I was very good at it; it wasn't long before people began to remark on how well-adjusted I was. I remember specifically the word "adapting" or "adaptable" being slung around to compliment me. I knew that this was the ultimate feather in my cap, but when that compliment fell on me it fell hollowly, it fell emptily, like a pin falling on a glass table. I began to feel enraged with it without understanding why. That rage followed me throughout my life. Every time someone tells me how brave, fearless, or inspirational I am, I feel that same rage. I feel rage because of what I have lost in order to appear this way. I feel rage because really my journey is so much more complex than that- I know that I worked to appear this way, knowing that the only thing that would make me worthy of existence would be to exist for other people. To never be bothersome, make others uncomfortable, act out the abuse that was enacted on me. I was a good little submissive victim. So brave. So inspirational. So strong. So fearless. So well-adapted. Well-adapted to the bullshit cycles being acted out. To the abuse. Whatever anyone wanted to do to me, they could do, to make themselves feel more powerful and to make me feel like nothing. I existed for them.
I started really to wake up in my teens. I started to identify my rage. I started to understand that if I was adapting so well to this, there was no hope for me. So I began acting out. And for about 5 years, things got really, really dark. And then for about 10 years after that, things were wild and red and hard and I was the bad guy multiple times. And every time someone told me I was brave, I felt sick. I embraced wickedness. I did things wrong, I cried for days, I was impossible, I deliberately decided to misunderstand things, I made people uncomfortable. I alienated almost everyone I knew, if I could. I felt small. And weak. And wrong. For a long, long time.
And it took me that long, just letting the pus run from my open wounds, feeling embarrassed and awkward and punishing myself for being so wicked even as I knew it was exactly what needed to happen, it took me till now at almost 30, to start to get in touch with myself and to remember my life as it happened to me, as my own memories. To retrieve myself.
I sit here sobbing openly, and I allow myself to miss me. I miss my life. I missed so much of it, putting it away until I was safe to feel. I put myself away until I was safe to come out. And the bits and shards of me that are stuck, sing to me from my past.
Come, feel this.
My stomach hurts. I feel physically ill, I am dizzy, disoriented. I'm not used to feeling my feelings, I'm not used to being me, I'm not used to inhabiting my entire world. For fucking once, I'm here and I'm present.
It is so good.