Because I Believe in You

Tell me what to change. I want to be better, just like you do. I want to continue to do more well by you and by everyone. I don’t mean to put you under a microscope. I don’t mean to question what you do. I don’t mean to disrespect you, or mistreat you, or dishonor you in any way.
I just wanted to tell you why I struggle to do the things you want. I just wanted to tell you why I struggle to meet the needs you present to me. I struggle to not feel like a pointless, failed project… or to feel that I have failed you on a molecular level.
I wanted to be the thing you wanted.
I wanted to be able to have all the energy and discipline I needed to wash the dishes, and laundry, and do my home-school stuff, and help you with your hair, and run errands, and talk about things, and read to you, and get you food and drink. I wanted to be emotionally strong enough to listen to everything you wanted to say, and be there for you in all of your conflict. I wanted to be emotionally vulnerable enough to sympathize, empathize, and bear my soul whenever you wanted me to. I wanted to be funny, and bright enough to be happy on your account instead of feeling hurt. I wanted to be smart enough, and intellectual enough to have conversations about the books you like, and make informed, interesting comments on your painting. I wanted to be driven enough to accomplish everything you set me to, and I wanted to be laid back enough always to have time for you. I wanted to be the person who brings you joy, and makes you feel like you’re ok, and makes your life makes sense, and makes you feel at home no matter where you are.
But here’s the thing…
I can’t always be that.
And if I try to tell you why I can’t be that: I am not telling you you’ve let me down. I am trying to tell you that I have things that are a problem, and that need to be addressed. I am trying to tell you how to get what you want from me. I am trying to tell you what will make it more likely that I can accomplish what you want. I am trying to explain to you that I cannot do what you want me to do, be what you want me to be, feel what you want me to feel, or treat myself the way you want me to treat myself, unless these steps are taken. The hopeful result is that if these steps are taken I will be able to do, be, feel, and act the way you want me to.
I am trying to help you.
I am trying to create the world you want. Because I want you to be happy. Because I want to have your needs met. Because I want to make you proud of me.
God, I want you to be proud of me. Oh, how I want you to tell me that I’ve grown to be the kind of person that you wanted me to be. I’m not just a grown daughter, hoping to be the kind of late-twenties who makes her mother proud of her. I am also a young boy, trying to be the kind of man that I thought you’d want me to be. I want so badly to prove to you that I can do this: that I can make my way in the world, and be respectful, and be kind to people. That I can be disciplined enough to make you proud. That I can be healthy, and punctual, and intelligent. That I can be an awesome grown-up as well as a kid who’s worth taking care of.
I know that I’m a kid in some ways. I know that better than anybody. But I’m growing up, Mama. I’m growing up, and I just want to make you proud. To keep myself safe. To be firm, and brave, and fearless. To be good at the things you valued, and to be brave in the ways you taught me to be.
I don’t want to make you feel threatened. I don’t want to make you feel less at all. I don’t want you to question whether games are fun if you taught your child too well, or ask you to watch the dishes turn to slime while I’m getting my act together.
But I want you to know me for who I am.
I am your son. And I am your daughter. The child of my father, and my mother, and my ancestors, desperate to carry on the legacy that I’m so proud of… and to make my own. To do the things that you taught me to do, but using my own judgement, trusting my own integrity.
I want to be myself. And make you proud – but just as me.
Trying to show you, tell you, teach you what it will take for me to do what you want, and still maintain my self: it’s meant to be a part of that. Because I respect you. Because I love you. Because I want to show you that you made the right call when you said that you believed in me.
Because I believe in you.
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Reminders of Worth

I know God has a plan for me, and I know that we’re gonna be ok. At this point I feel like I am a useful, contributing person, who has so much inside me to give, and is bright, clever, witty, sweet, selfless, loves people, genuinely wants to help, is motivated, driven, and dedicated, always seeking for the good in things, and always ready to do crazy things that are the right thing to do.
This hasn’t properly diminished the feeling that I am a washed-up, useless, pathetic, lump of ugly fat/skin/bones, that some cosmic cat coughed up, who has betrayed the hopes and dreams not only of their past self, but every person who believed in them, and are now doing nothing but creating a financial drain in their parents’ lives and driving their father to drink himself to death.
But even though your heart condemn you, God is greater than your heart.
I am precious. I am smart. I am special, remarkable, talented, useful, engaging, kind, loving, intellectual, brave, generous, encouraging, gifted, attractive, adaptive, honorable, fierce, strong, affectionate, unstoppable, androgynous, determined but not predetermined, open, caring, honest, and wise.
Fierce. Affectionate. Honest. Wise.
I have learned Faith, Hope, and Love. And in the midst of chaos, there is joy.
So cling to the good things in you – because the cruelest thing that somebody can do is send you out on a dangerous mission, endlessly seeking what you already possess. You could search for years, never knowing that the lantern you held aloft was the thing you were seeking.
I find myself wishing I could sing well; wishing that I could give a voice to the characters, and thoughts in my head; wishing that my writing were intricate, creative, and heart-wrenching; wishing that I felt wanted, loved, and sought after; wishing I had any dignity, or anything to be proud of; wishing that my parents wanted me more than my potential result; wishing that my teachers, peers, and acquaintances would be proud of me; wishing that I could be someone remarkable… some one exceptional… Someone who mattered.
But as I go I have the opportunity to see what so many dark things have tried to hide from me: that my voice is a force of heartfelt power the God himself has given me, and I have fought to hone; that I have given a voice to everyone I came in contact with; that my words create whole dimensions in the minds of those who read them; that I am something to be proud of, and there is dignity in that; That my parents want me the same way they have since I was born: unconditionally; that God has spared no expense in wanting me… loving me… seeking after me; that in the very things I fear will lose me the approval of my mentors and peers, God is far more proud of me than I can recognize; that I am remarkable, and that like everyone else I am exceptional… and I matter.

A Violent Disbelief

Too often untold:
A silent, violent truth
Men hurt by women

 

(Author’s Note: This is written as an acknowledgement of the violence done to men by women. There is no such thing as ‘reverse domestic abuse’. Abuse of men is just ‘abuse’. It doesn’t need a special term. It is people hurting people, and it needs to be addressed. Some wives beat their husbands. Some mothers violate their sons. It is a fact. It happens everyday. This was written to respond to this challenge: https://thotpurge.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/micropoetry-month-nov-2017-9/comment-page-1/#comment-14822)

Domesticated

Trigger warning for domestic abuse, rape

I am brought to heel
I am made tame
I am made to buy my safety with my body

I am not meant to feel
Or to be sane
Or feel I have refuge from your body

No
No
No
No
No
No
No

… Yes… but only one more time...

And once again my one lie is the only thing you’ve heard
You’re fixated

Once again your selective hearing has made my words
truncated…

And my body
…domesticated

 

(Author’s Note: Please understand that this is Not autobiographical. This is dedicated to a dear friend who confided in me about her suffering. This is meant to bring awareness to an aspect of the world that we often treat as too uncomfortable to address. It was inspired by this challenge: https://thotpurge.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/micropoetry-month-nov-2017-9/comment-page-1/#comment-14822)

When I Cannot

When I hold in my heart nothing but contempt for myself and for others
When I’m broken beyond repair, and see myself as a pointless project
When I feel that I have lost the basic capacity to love, and feel, and to be human
And when I feel at war with Your will, as though I am a vessel that cannot be filled by Your goodness
You creep in quietly, in the form of stillness, and deep breaths
Smoothing like medicine across my ragged heart
And in Your soft, and gentle voice You call out my true name
Awake in me the growing love You planted in my soul
Guiding me, and filling me with breath
You lift my weight upon Your shoulders
And love me when I cannot

Enneagram – Repressed Center – 001

I had a realization (apropos of nothing) about my repressed center, and one of the ways it manifests.
For those who haven’t studied the enneagram in detail (or at all, for that matter), one of the aspects is that every person is in one of three stances: aggressive, dependent, or withdrawing. Do not be deceived: most people in the aggressive stance are not mean, most people in the dependent stance are not co-dependent, and most people in the withdrawing stance are not cowardly. This is just a set of terms to explain the interactions of the different stances.
Hypothetically, each stance represses one of the three centers (thinking, feeling, and doing), and uses the other two centers to make up the deficiency. For those in the dependent stance (which I am), their repressed center is ‘thinking’.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t think – rather, it means that I think very ineffectually, and have very little confidence in my thinking. Instead, I depend on my feeling and doing to carry me through the events of my life.
I’ve recently been challenging myself to elevate my thinking to the same level as the other two centers (feeling, and doing). Sometimes it is as simple as discarding what I feel I aught to believe, or have been taught to believe, and asking instead “what do I think about this?” Sometimes, however, it is a process of looking at my life and saying “when have I discarded my own logical thoughts, because I did not feel they were welcome? When have I replaced thought with action, or emotion?”
This example was one of a few that came to mind:
When I see people fighting (with each other, or themselves), I have this thing I do, where I will tap into their emotions and speak for them.
I use my gut, my intuition, my empathy, and look at things from their perspective. The thought behind it is there, but the brunt of the thing is me trying to talk them through it – combining doing, and feeling. Admittedly, there is thinking involved; however the thinking is not on my own account. Then, after I’ve repeated to them what they have thought before (what they said their priorities were; what they would tell someone else in the same position; etc.) I finish up by explaining how this all fits into their current doing and emotion. Almost always, they look relieved, and renewed, and thank me. Then they are ready to move on. … But I’m not.
at some point, after all the talking for them, and parroting what they’ve said explaining what they feel, reaffirming what they’ve done, and telling what they needed to hear (at least so says my intuition, and their unconscious thoughts), I tend to want to talk about how this thing looked for me: how it made me feel, what the impact on me was, how much I do/don’t agree with what they felt or did or thought. Around this time, the person I’m talking to usually tells me I’ve been talking for a long time, and now that I’ve gotten to talk about me, can’t they talk about them?
Of course, though, technically, I haven’t talked about me. I haven’t said what I think, or what I want, or what I think we should do next… I’ve just told them what they were subconsciously thinking, or wanting to hear (usually something they would have told someone else, but don’t have the confidence to say to themselves).
Then once I’ve used my words on their behalf, they’re kind of tired of my words, and before I can speak my thoughts (and after I’ve spoken theirs), they give a contended sigh, and ask if they can go ahead and speak their thoughts now.
This situation has happened, sometimes multiple times a day, for years. Whenever my mother and sister fight, they will inevitably tell me ‘Jehanne, will you please go tell such-and-such? It always comes out wrong when I try to say it.’ I almost constantly find myself being asked to donate my words to someone else’s thoughts. Yet it is surprisingly uncommon for me to feel that people would welcome my opinion on the same subjects I am repeatedly called to expound upon. I speak at length about other people’s thoughts, bridging gaps between their thoughts, emotions, and actions, that they didn’t seem to understand in themselves. My own thoughts, however, are not necessarily wanted or appreciated.
I don’t know if that fits into what the repressed center thing looks like, but I am willing to find out.

Poison Child

My dad just did the thing he does where he pushes down anger for years, until he finally snaps and turns and walks away. He will do anything from throw a knife point down into the floor and say that he will beat the crap out of his own child (he never has, and never would), to pull the car over, and tell us all the we can find someone else to take care of us. Or put his head through a wall – he did that once, too. Mostly he just yells at us to shut up. He once screamed at me ‘Will you stop? For once in your life will you just fucking stop?” Today, he just started screaming at my sister to shut up. He came roaring in while mama and my sis were fighting, slammed the door, and just started laying into my sister, verbally, roaring that she needed to shut up. My sister yelled back that she wouldn’t, and it just kind of deteriorated from there.
I know he finds us irritating, but for the most part, mama asks him to do a lot of stuff, henpecks the man within an inch of his life, and acts like he’s not holding up his end of the deal if there are emotional thresholds he holds back from her. He takes it.
She does similar stuff to me and Jessa (all unintentional, she just really wants to be taken care of like a child, and is very picky about *how* she’s taken care of). We do not just take it, and often set boundaries, or sound frustrated, and say anything from ‘okay, but I can’t right now’, to ‘I love you, but that’s not my job’. In more ungracious moments, I’ve been known to be more colorful than that, mostly beginning with the words ‘for *real*?’
Mama’s great, and we’re great, but it’s hard to take care of a care-taker, and she has a habit of doing things for you that are nice, but not something you’d have chosen, and then saying ‘well I did all this stuff for you’. Needless to say, she does not respond well to the answer ‘yes, but I never asked nor wanted for you to’. She’s getting better all the time, as am I (I’m an asshole), and I’m proud of the progress that we’re making. Still, there’s always lots of conflict, and that’s a lot of fun…
Papa hates conflict, so he goes out of his way to avoid it, and resents us when we don’t. I’m not super keen on conflict, in act it kind of scares me witless, but I think sometimes it’s necessary, and better than lying about your feelings. Sometimes conflict can result in sorting things out. Lying never really will.
That said, usually it’s after mama has henpecked his eyes out, and Rose (my sister), mama, and I, are all arguing over something (none of us are keen on rolling over to avoid trouble, though mama and rose both come closer than I do), that papa finally snaps.
If he didn’t have a drinking issue, and if he weren’t borderline suicidal, I might to be so worried? He’s never hurt any of us when he’s drunk, but he gets very depressed and seems to have a lot of suicide ideation.
I sympathize with that – I nearly killed myself in my early twenties. I know how that can suck, and I know how the more outside stimuli you get the more it starts to overload you.
But my near suicide is also how I know that it DOES NOT give you the right to tear everyone else down with you.
Being a fucking martyr to a cause that only you wanted, does not entitle you to being selfish again by being fucking rude to everyone around you. Avoiding conflict was what *he* wants. Not me, not mama, not Rose. Acting like a persecuted hero because he did what he wanted and not what we wanted is not a reason to come yelling and screaming at those of us who are stuck at home together while he goes to work. I AM STAYING HOME AND CARING FOR MY MOTHER INSTEAD OF GETTING A JOB THAT WOULD LET ME FEEL FREE OF MY PARENTS. Yes it sucks that he is our main source of income right now. Yes, we are all falling apart around the edges with four adults and one car, and one income. Yes it is frustrating that he has to earn money to support four different people, and the other three of us are freelancing, and barely have time for that. This is a very frustrating situation and he could easily pull the ‘breadwinner – my house my rules’ card at any point.
Here’s the thing. I have other places I can live. I have jobs that I am good at. I have things I want and am able to do. I feel that staying home, writing, taking care of my mother, and stepping in as housekeeper/homemaker with my sister is more important than running off on my own, and going back to college, and finishing up my degree right now. Laugh all you want, I genuinely think that God has told me this is where I need to be.
But still, I find myself feeling really trapped, because the same dad who picked a lock with a knife and then threw it into the ground screaming “I’m gonna beat the crap out of you” at my sister, is the one with access to the only car we have, and can pull the trump card of being the breadwinner any time he wants. He’s already threatened to walk away before, and he is totally unpredictable when he gets this way. I’m sure he’d never hurts us, but I feel really, really unsafe, and I don’t know how to handle it.
When he yelled at Rose, she started hitting her own face (the only form of self-harming she still does) and left the room in tears. (She admires him much more than I do, and he has always been more like her than our mother. It has tended to pair up: me/mama, Rose/papa. Needless to say, she also feels more betrayed than I do – at least on a surface level – and is having even more trouble processing than I am, since we were both raised being told that frustration is fine, and healthy, and expressing it politely is ok: not something that you’ll be screamed at by the people who protected you when you were kids.)
Anyway, I found myself sending her to her room (how did I end up as her parent?) and then body-blocking papa in the hallway so he couldn’t follow her to her room. He stood, less than foot from me (in fact we bumped a couple times, and screamed down the hallway about how he *never* gets on anybody’s case, he always keeps his mouth shut, why can’t we do the same, why don’t we all just shut up, just for once just shut up.
I’m not proud that I waited til he’d turned away, and very quietly asked him how he fucking dared act like that, and said that it must be *so hard* being the only *sane one* in the family. All this to the person who just acted like a fucking lunatic, slamming his hands into the walls, and a roaring loud enough to hurt my ears. I went to my room and slammed the door (very mature, Jehanne), and checked on my sister. I brought her Zyrtec, and a cup of tea (I made one for mama, too – Rose had been halfway through making it when this whole shit-storm started). I talked to mama, who was a fucking saint, and said that she was very glad that papa hadn’t suppressed his feelings – though she was sorry that he had been so rude to Rose, and that she was glad that Rose had stuck up for herself – though she was sorry that Rosy hurt herself. (A lot of times, we treat her like she’s just a little crazy, but I think that she was every kind of hero just now.)
Rose is feeling a little better and sent a couple of messages to my dad – he has summarily ignored them, possibly waiting til he’s calmed down. Mama’s physical therapist and her best (mama’s friend, not the therapist’s) have randomly arrived at our house at the same time, so it’s kind of interesting, and there’s a bit of a crowd in our two bed one bath house. Meanwhile, my dad has gone outside, and after I spent a while convincing myself to talk to him (it seemed fitting but mature to give him some kind of silent treatment), I have found that he’s all but giving me one. I told him that mama was in the bathroom, and he made a soft grunting sound. I told him that Rosy had messaged him, and he said he’d seen that. I told him that I was sorry if I’d responded poorly earlier. He literally said nothing. He just walked away.
I don’t know how to handle living with a mother who gets back and forth between being wise/caring and being a five-year-old, and a father who goes back and forth between being Santa clause and being a sullen teenager who hasn’t got a girlfriend. Lie my parents go back and forth between perfection and psychosis really quickly. It’s a great, big, yo-yo miracle. Hide me. An hour ago, mama was telling papa that he seemed frustrated every time she opened her mouth. Papa sounded upset at her, and eventually went outside. (I was in the other room so I’m not prepared to call it ‘storming outside.) Next thing I know they’re both sounding frustrated at my sister, when she literally did nothing but sound irked at bing give three more jobs before she’d finished the last three. (I had been in mid-sentence trying to tell her something I’d been working on. She was very disheartened and stressed about how many times we ha d been interrupted within a couple minutes.) It’s like… it feels like we’re being punished for the tension in our parent’s relationship and having our choices judged by the choice they make. As though when papa hasn’t been there for mama enough, she tries to make us fill in for him, and when mama has been poking at him, and he forces down his frustration, he goes off on me and Jessa if we don’t push it down too…
Meanwhile, our intrepid loser, Jehanne is sitting on her bed trying to filter through her feelings.
I want to to trust my dad, and I’m sure that what he’s doing isn’t actually that big a deal. That being said: if I heard one of my friends talking about their father storming in and yelling at them, because they were bickering with their mother while he was LITERALLY OUTSIDE THE HOUSE? I would tell them they needed to get out of that house. If after that they told me that he had once threatened to beat them up, and that he had abandoned them and their mother in the car, and tried to just walk away until they all begged him to come back, and that he would give them the silent treatment for hours after he screamed at them, I WOULD FREAK OUT ON THEIR BEHALF. I would assume that this was an emotionally unstable man who had taken on too much responsibility, and had come to resent it, to the extent that it justified emotional abuse in his mind. That he wasn’t sold on being the father of this family, but thought that they couldn’t make it without him. I’d think he probably did care about them – loved them quite a great deal, probably – but that that didn’t mean that he was healthy for them. I would…
Honestly, I would think that this person was unhappy with his life, and his choices, but could not bring himself to leave them after years of them being dependent on him. I would suggest that they just all leave: my friend, their siblings, their mom. I would think that they should probably free this confused, misguided person from their family, and that he might feel better if he didn’t think that he was saddled with them, and they would be happier, healthier, and safer, if they all learned how to cope without him. I would assume that what he wanted was to be free of this family that he was having second thoughts about,. And hat they would all be healthier if he stopped forcing himself to be their care-taker. I would think that the whole family should just leave, or let him leave. I would worry about my friend, but I would assume by this man’s reactions to his life that he felt trapped in it. I would suggest that he get therapy (that all of them get therapy), and that they seriously consider that the parents separate (either officially or just as a temporary measure), and have a trial run of the family living divided – the father by himself, and the three women (or two-point-five women – as you may recall I am non-binary) live a life by themselves. I would think that it would be healthy for this man to learn, a) that he didn’t have to run the world and keep all the plates spinning, and b) that he was not as necessary as he seemed to think to the mental and emotional health of his family. I would assume that it would do them all good to learn that they could function without this father figure who so clearly resented being made to fill this role.
That scares me, kind of, like, a lot.
I keep finding myself shaking. I feel oddly rejected. Like papa would be happier if we just let him leave, cause until then he’ll just take out his frustration by passive aggressively not wanting us. But that can’t stop me shaking. I can’t stop myself from starting to feel scared. I’m scared, cause he’s so much bigger than me, and when he yells I’m so, so scared. And a part of me thinks that it’s all my fault, because I should have moved out of this house by now, but I really wanted to do what I felt God was calling me to do, and that included staying here for a while longer. Trying to be healthy in my relationships with my family – not just leaving because I felt trapped and scared. I get scared, because I feel so overwhelmed by his anger, and I know that I can’t just lash out, and be horrible. But he is so unfair to my sister. She’s only trying to trust mama enough to talk to her when they are both upset, and papa treats it like it is our holy order to be silent in the face of pain and frustration. I hate it. I hate … I want to say that I hate him. He was supposed to take care of us. He was supposed to be the one who cleaned up the mess he made – not lurk in his room and act like he’s a fucking saint for doing it. Not hide like a sniveling coward when his wife is needy, and the world is hard, and none of us can do this on our own, and then treat us like we are ruining his life if we actually engage – with anger, with life, with anything. I cannot just hide in my room while my world flies by without me. I cannot, and will not do that. I don’t care if he treats me like there is something wrong with me if I don’t curl up in a dark corner and ignore the outside world like him. Don’t think that there’s some sort of divine right in hiding in your bed and waiting til your wife who made vows to gives up on waiting for you to act like you’re alive. I don’t think that that is some holy good that can excuse looking at the woman who your tiny child grew into and being a loud, bellowing, ASS to her. You can go back and bray you piece of shit father, because I am not in the mood to watch you treat it like not having the perfect nineteen fifties family is too much a of strain for your fucking perfect halo that you earned by hiding in the darkness like the selfish cunt you are.
I want to leave. Only trying to do the right thing has kept me here. I can’t keep being afraid at every full turn that if I sound unhappy too loudly, I will be… the thing that makes my father want to kill himself oh God….
More painful than the yelling… more painful than the threatening… more painful than watching my father stop the car and walk away… …”Sometimes, I hear you fighting in the other room… and I just wonder how much it would actually hurt if I just slit my wrists…”
I feel like I’m killing my own father. And he’s not even fighting me. And then he comes into the room and yells… after months or years of rolling over and pretending that this slow sinking into darkness is ok… after months of numbing himself with alcohol, and cigars, and Netflix, and cruel comments about people he has Never met… after years of waiting in the darkness of his room, rather than face the harsh realities of having a family… He blows up at me – as though I’m the thing that’s wrong… and I don’t know if I can disprove him…
I don’t want to kill my father. I don’t even want to be here. I just want to go to a home I don’t have, hide in an RV that isn’t finished, with a sister who my father treats even worse he has treated me, and pretend that the world I grew up in will be okay if I’m not there to see it fall apart.
I wish I didn’t want him.