I sent a complaint letter.
I’ve never done this before, me, people pleaser extraordinaire, forget the thought of me speaking up when mistreated or handled in a clumsy way, but I did it.
I have revelations all the time- Oh! I can do this! Oh! This seems so normal! – it’s disconcerting how I realize and understand so much about myself in these short bursts, like an explosion of light bulbs above my head, it’s so blinding and so illuminating all at one big time. Sometimes I have to laugh because I feel so off center and wobbly that if I don’t laugh I might just cry and revelate forever. I reassure myself with little victories: I’m learning to walk, how to stand while bearing weight on both legs- to be in my body. I can take deeper fuller breaths than I could a year ago, I’m not always holding my breath. My accomplishments may seem small in the grand scheme of things- I can keep my chin level now instead of a little up ready to defend, I think about sex without wanting to seethe, disappear or hide, I danced with other people in the room, I sent a complaint letter. Revelations. Grand scheme ones.
I’ve gone from reading about sex to reading about grief. Unexpressed grief is basically like shoving giant wads of gunk into your feelings pipes so they get mucked up, impassable, and you become anxiously paralyzed by the fears you’d meant to cry out but drank down for twenty years instead. I can connect the two so clearly, sex and grief go hand in hand for all of my life. I can see how the grief was the beginning, I can take myself back to me at five sweet years old, strawberry blond hair hanging down my back, past the ties of my favorite pinafore, sucking in my tears because I was too dramatic and so so stupid for crying, my parents teasing me for having feelings. I can feel how much it hurt when I needed tenderness and my parents had no idea what that even meant since their parents had no clue how to do things like feelings either. How that grief led me to using sex for hurting myself and being hurt, how drinking helped me unrealize who I was enough to do it, over and over until the beauty of my body was lost and I spread my legs again, bereft. Revelation.
I can feel how much I try to hide myself, too big to disappear and too unwieldy to blend in.
I sit on the couch across from my therapist and stay a good girl, unable to sob out the tears that are dying to get out because I want her to like me and have me please come back again next week. I have stuffed it all down for so long that I’m afraid to let it out because I could possibly head into a nervous breakdown, never to return- we only have one small hour, and then I have to head to work. Not a lot of time for falling apart and then back together.
I imagine a time when I don’t have all this work to do, that these moments of glaring understanding, these revelations, will happen only a few times a year instead of a few a week. These things that come up, these elementary understandings that could have been lessons learned long ago had I only been bravely paying attention instead of fearful and drinking. I feel so stupid sometimes that I’m just now getting the idea that I can ask for what I need and it isn’t a crime, it isn’t wrong. Why wasn’t I this person I am now all along? My years of work boxing up and shoving down all of the feelings and it turns out they never disappeared after all. All that work, down the drain.
The other day I was talking to my mom about being sweet when people are hurting and she said she uses humor to make people feel better. WHAT? I felt so sad and angry thinking of all the times I cried, hurting, and got humored by my own parents. They were using their humor, the very people who were supposed to love and heal me instead making it worse. Making it funny. I’m in total disbelief that she thought that teasing was what made people feel better. I want to stomp my five year old foot and scream stop laughing at me! right in her smiling face. Which would have only made her laugh harder.
No wonder I have no clue about what a normal emotional response is. No wonder I don’t know how to take myself seriously, or how to speak without questioning myself, or how to be tender, or where to put all these big feelings. No wonder when I sit on the couch at therapy when the most hurty things come up I laugh. God, no wonder. No wonder my life is full of revelations, these connections that lead me from disappeared to conscious again and again.
I’m all spun up, so much happening, so many feelings that I don’t know where to put them all. They’re all unruly as puppies, scattered and making messes everywhere. I don’t feel like myself anymore, but I don’t know who I feel like either- sometimes it feels so much like me and then I hardly recognize who I am. It’s like giving birth, but for years.
I feel so fortunate to be coming along in my understanding, and also so right at the beginning, like I’ve been running for a hundred years and somehow I’m still within sight of the starting line. It’s frustrating in this gracefully annoying way, this is where I have to laugh, where it actually is funny, and lovely, sweet and amazing. Me, at forty-five years old, stumbling along, learning to walk. Learning to fly. Being exactly myself at my life. Being born, by revelations.