Whisper Sweetly

I have never been able to view myself as smart. Other people would hold that for me- teachers, tests, peers. My self esteem would not allow it. My parents had a systematic lack of regard for what I HAD done versus what I COULD do. “A 97? Why not a 100? A 100? Why not perfect attendance? We’re worried about your weight. Say, why are you coming home in tears so often? I guess it’s a teenager thing. Must need some space.” I lived in the shadow of my own potential, and my potential whispered sweetly about dreams and a future and having worth.

I cried writing the end of that sentence right there. It sinks me that I remain so far away from viewing myself as a creature with worth, yet I can dialectically hold the concept that all lives have inherent worth. I remain a raw, rotten lump of meat in the corner, an exception.

It’s been a rough 6 weeks or so. I’ve gotten strep, kinda beat it, had it come back with a vengeance and morph into walking pneumonia. My testosterone shot caused a giant weird painful lump in my leg. My mental health regressed enough that I ended up in a crisis residential program for a week. Additionally I’ve been in the ER three times, the Urgent Care once, and my PCP once. I got in a car accident and messed up my shoulder nicely. My anxiety is through the roof. Also, I’m not sure if it’s related to the car accident or the strep-hell but I can’t bind because it makes me completely unable to breathe. I’ve missed enough work that I’m worried about whether they’ll just give up on me like my last employer did.

I also got married, so that was cool.

I kept doing this weird thing during all this stress though. I kept house shopping.
See, I found out we were eligible for a down payment assistance program that’s really nifty.
It was a fun distraction if nothing else. But I let myself hope, and when it came down to it, if you’re getting 36 hours and your company still calls you part time, you have to have been there for 2 years.

Bye-bye hope.

I’ve had big dreams in the past.

Now all I want is a cute little fixer-upper and to SOMEDAY finish a damn degree above an Associate’s.

I was supposed to be so smart. One of those assholes that throws off the curve.

I’ll probably work entry level for the rest of my life because I am deeply, profoundly mentally ill.

Maybe smart doesn’t mean much if you’re broken.

The big bad monster crept out of my mind to stab potential repeatedly.

It doesn’t whisper anymore.

And still…

There was an incredibly powerful exercise that I did once in a group session with other alcoholics and addicts. It was about the first step-admitting you are powerless. It was recommended by one of our peers, who said his sponsor guided him through it. He gave us all an index card and told us to number one through ten, leaving two lines for each number.

Then he said “I want you to think of ten of the worst things you did while you were drinking, and write them down. Leave an empty line.”

Our leader, Bob, was feeling sassy, so he timed people. The first person completed his in 27 seconds. Others needed to think a little harder. I was in the middle of the pack.

Then he gave us the key for the exercise.

After every statement, we had to write “and still I kept drinking.”

We had to confront the fact that not only did we facilitate these terrible experiences, we chose our demon again. And again. And again.

So for me it would start out a bit like:

I broke a goddamn toilet, and still I kept drinking.
I was sleepwalking naked, and still I kept drinking.
I let the horses out in the middle of the night, and still I kept drinking.
And so on.

It occurred to me recently that this same method could be modified a bit for other situations. I thought of my parents, the spiritual abuse they put me through, and how I’d keep crawling back to them.

So here’s another list. Yeah, it’s different, because the first reflects more personal choice rather than something being done to or with you. It was still a key moment for me to process this list, though. I think it’ll help give me strength.

1. They taught me how to tie a noose when I was really young*, and still I gave them more chances.
2. They told me I was getting fat, and still I gave them more chances.
3. They had me work for the family business in a shop from an incredibly young age, and still I gave them more chances.
4. They made me write pages from the Bible every day to improve my handwriting, until I developed carpal tunnel, and still I gave them more chances.
5. They held me to such high standards that it was impossible to ever succeed or feel like I could be good enough, and still I gave them more chances.
6. They stayed close with my exes even though it made me uncomfortable, and still I gave them more chances.
7. They put down my perfectly healthy dog unexpectedly without telling me while I was away in the hospital, and still I gave them more chances.
8. They left bible pages open about raising godly children after finding a dildo at age 16, and still I gave them more chances.
9. They guilt tripped me for how I was making them feel by choosing to live in my car rather than with them during a complicated time, and later gave me a mattress shoved behind a couch as a bedroom, and still I gave them more chances.
10. They refused to let me see a therapist or get medication for my depression, then insisted on a Christian counselor when it became court mandated after my first institutionalization, and had him perform an exorcism on me, and still I gave them more chances.

It was a pretty frequent pattern that I’d get sick of them and run off, or end up in a mental institution. But I always crawled back, and was always made to feel broken and wrong.

The last couple weeks, I kept getting little barbs from my Mom that indicated that she knew about the transition although I hadn’t had the guts to come out directly to them. Things like telling me how I was the feminine version of my dad, or how girly looking my hair was coming along to be, or how “a girl can dress up pretty and wear makeup and heels and have fun but when a boy does it it’s weird.”

It got to the point that I just walked out the door and left their property after she said something like that. Stopped talking to her. I texted her and said if she wanted to talk, I was meeting with my therapist and she could join, so she did.

She claimed she didn’t have a clue about the transition. She said that when she looks at me she sees “a very confused young person.” When my therapist gave me a chance to express how I was feeling, all I could come up with for a minute was “tense,” and she jumped in saying “And I’m devastated.” Not only did she continue to deadname and misgender me after we explained my wishes, she actively tried to correct my therapist and fiance when they were using the right ones. She asked my fiancé if he was okay with this, and after contorting her face in disgust when he said yes, asked “WHY?!?!” When he explained that his love had nothing to do with my gender, she said “Wow, so anybody can do what they want if they love ‘em.”

There’s another therapy session scheduled.

I added to the list number 11. They invalidated my choices about my gender and sexuality.

Any chances from here on out are to be supervised by a professional.

*It actually wasn’t until very recently that I realized this was fucked up. I mentioned something about it in passing on Facebook and a number of friends jumped in saying how gross that it was. I had been under the impression it was fairly normal, like a Boy Scout thing or whatnot.