Monday, November 27, 2006


Yesterday in the car, I found myself telling G a story about my Mom taking me to a gymnastics class, to see if I'd like it. To make a long story short, it didn't work out, and when we got home, my Mom and Dad started screaming at each other, not really about me, but kind of about me. I don't remember what they were saying, but I trudged upstairs to the playroom and tuned them out while I played with my toys. Like I always did. I did that so fucking often.

When neighborhood girls would come over to play, they would make their stuffed animals and dolls talk, and they'd have conversations with them, right there in front of everyone. I never did. One even asked me "Aren't you gonna make them talk?" I was silent. Part of me was afriad that if I exhibited that kind of creativity, I'd get made fun of like I did at school, and I was damned if I was going to be made fun of in my own fucking playroom. But I played silently when I was alone too. I'd put music on, a record or a tape, and play quietly. The only noise I made was if I decided to sing along, and I did that a lot. No wonder adults loved me. What a well-behaved child I must have seemed to be.

There was something deeper going on - a need for quiet. I didn't want my parents to remember that I was up there, so I stayed quiet. I didn't want to be pulled back into the yelling, or worse, become a target of the yelling. I cocooned myself in my playroom with my stuffed animals and dolls. I was still doing this into my teens - it didn't stop until I was in high school - about age 15. At that point, Kristin and Lisa pulled me out of my room and into life. It took two people - one alone never managed to do it.

New York City is the ultimate manifestation of my childhood images of home, with all the noise outside, all the yelling and danger and uncertainty. My apartments became my new playroom, where it was quiet and safe and I could sing along with my records. Except that in New York, when I went outside, I never saw the same people twice unless I chose to, so I didn't have to fear being made fun of every day by the same kids on the same playgrounds anymore. New York was the macro-sized Home, but with escape routes and better hiding places. No wonder I never minded hearing noise from neighboring apartments! In New York, the screamers never said my name. The fighting wasn't about me, wasn't even remotely, in any possible way, my fault.

Balance all that with loneliness, with being overly sensitive, wanting people around, but being afraid of them and hurt by them. I didn't want to be alone, and I didn't want to be around people either. It's much the same today. New York is the perfect balance of these fears, and these needs. Millions of people everywhere I turn, but they mostly leave me alone, and I still have a quiet playroom to disappear in when I need to.

In some ways - and he'd kill me for saying this, but I think it's true - G had a self-centered mom and a semi-absent dad too. I think that's why he, more than any guy I've ever been with, really understands me. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't love me, in part, because of my baggage. Maybe he recognizes something in me that mirrors something in him.

I think that's fine.

The hardest part of therapy - for me, anyway - is making these connections. It is a continuous process of self-discovery. I could have related these memories at any time, but the connection between the playroom and my apartments is a huge "a-HA" moment for me. I never wanted to leave my playroom, and in my adolescence, it became my bedroom. I made it my own in every way, until Earl ruined it for me. Another story for another time. But I have such wonderful memories of feeling safe in that room. And I felt safe in my apartments. Which explains on another level why leaving my last apartment ripped me up the way it did, and why I am so addicted to New York City. These kinds of realizations give me great perspective. They help me to forgive myself.

No, actually, making the connections is the second hardest part of the therapeutic process. The hardest part is forgiving myself - or realizing that there is nothing to forgive. I shouldn't have to be forgiven for feeling guilty, for feeling afraid, for being weak. I'm human, and it's human to be afraid sometimes. The guilt I feel is really empathy, a wish to be able to help someone, make my parents happier. I take the responsibility on myself to make the fighting stop, somehow thinking I might have that power. I wouldn't have done that if I didn't love them, and it's good to love people. Maybe if I didn't love my parents so much, I wouldn't have felt so worthless, so powerless, so insignificant. Like such a disappointment and failure. If I didn't love them so much, maybe I would have loved myself more.

I'm getting better at that last part.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Yes, either love yourself more or (or maybe that's "and") really get your arms around the fact that there's nothing to forgive. Still, if you feel, on some emotional level, that forgiveness is part of that, then give it to yourself.

However you get there, the main thing is that you let yourself grow and heal. You deserve that.