Monday, November 21, 2011


I think a lot about the past. The things I regret. The actions I made, the naivety, the ignorance - perhaps forgiving others more than I forgive myself. Arriving unsure of where to place boundaries, when to lend myself a kind hand when others would not. I think of the relationships I severed with otherwise close friends, afraid of how toxic they could be when my own emotional habits remained unchecked - distance becoming my safe house, ever uncertain of where love existed. I think of these patterns - how, for years, I was angry at myself for the assaults against me - how I blamed myself for being naive, loathing myself for being "intelligent," an "empathetic doormat," but not keen enough to label abuse and put it in its place, not courageous enough to feel no self-doubt, self-pity, self-destruction, living in a perpetual nightmare where I was afraid I would wake up alone and unsuccessful, waiting for people to proclaim their hatred towards me, to walk away. I blame myself for things, constantly - as if I were always supposed to be aware, hyper-vigilant, unwaveringly kind and sharp - not the girl who bumbles through flirting, butchers intimacy and boundaries in any form of relationship, blaming herself for not being better/faster/stronger (thinking of close-minded and ignorant blog posts such as "trauma feminist" post, wondering if the world of advocacy could forgive me when I mislabeled myself and shamed others efforts with my own ignorance). Pacing, restraining, biting my lips until the right words come out - I grow more and more aware of my privilege of everyday, and saddened by the fact I have it better than a majority of people in this world and still come home feeling exhausted, regretting things, blaming myself, body-tired mind-heavy, remembering in the thickets of my skull of all those who have less resources than me who work harder/receive less/stick out as a knave in the corruption of the economic and politically oppressive systems.

I do not sleep on nights like this. It's almost a punishment, reminding myself of the wear and tear. It's almost like the series of suitcases in White Oleander. Except I cannot pack myself into these boxes, sleepless over the graves of the future, the past that remains unburied with motives I still question, wondering how the symbols fall into place, when the past will end.

I think of sitting in a mental health professional's office, listening to her tell me my depression isn't severe enough to qualify for inpatient hospitalization, as she remarks "getting into inpatient hospitalization is more difficult than getting into an Ivy League college these days," too stubborn to say the words I would've easily said (and meant) years ago, depression so deep that thoughts of suicidality were pervasive. I somehow stopped qualifying the more I learned to deviate from the past, crudely coping on my own. She tells me she's been working with "women's trauma for years," but will not listen to me as I say I cannot afford that type of time off work that she is recommending for a separate program. She acts as if my job is an inconvenience - she does not ask about my coping mechanisms. She is putting me into a box, ignoring the vastness of trauma, and the reality that "women's trauma" is based on a series of oppressions including economic oppression (insert easily found statistics about how little land women own/how many hours women work/how much less they receive than men). I do not say anything: she is putting me into a box, one where my depression, my coping skills, my identity does not adequately fit into.

I remember not knowing my abuser, what abuse was. Being afraid Child Protective Services would find me. Scavenging homes in the spare rooms and blow-up mattresses and couches of my friends. Cutting so many classes they would almost not let me graduate high school. Over 20 medications. Over 15 therapists. Crunching down to bills and $1 in the bank account. Smoking cigarettes and nude modeling. Being involuntary hospitalized once (and almost again). Being recommended rehab. Drinking so much coffee, taking too much classes, working too many hours that my body would not shut down - falling asleep at inopportune times against my will, 2 hours a slot, dropping down to 100 pounds: hospitalized again. The thumb of economic oppression, waiting to lose all that I had been given because I had refused to lie and accept an abusive reality as one that was okay. I remember feeling nothing the first time I had sex - knowing I was nothing but a thing. Scraping the system, body exposed, scavenging for money amidst mood swings. I could not regret how I didn't feel anything, because most of the time I felt too much. Desensitized through vodka, my memories would not leave me alone. Being told of my greatness, my strength, my talents, my intelligence - feeling none of these things: feeling survival, knowing that others have survived "worse."

I wonder how long it will take me to regret this entry, laying myself down before the internet, vulnerabilities and truth: the fact that I think every night of the people I have deeply burned in my own attempt to survive, the fact that I think walls mean protection. So tired I bottom out below the looking glass. I know my whole life people have been telling me (and likely will continue to do so) who I am, who I'm not, what I should do with my life - trying to stick me into a box, label me, give me an identity. I know they will find a way to make a definition stick. I know that I, too, have engaged in these behaviors. It is my greatest hope, amongst all my mistakes and re-learning, that these identities begin to slip away until there's nothing left except the narrative of truth.

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