I spend too much time in my own head.
I run in lots of circles.
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“Uncontrollable disruptions or distortions of attachment bonds precede the development of post-traumatic stress syndromes. People seek increased attachment in the face of danger. Adults, as well as children, may develop strong emotional ties with people who intermittently harass, beat, and, threaten them. The persistence of these attachment bonds leads to confusion of pain and love. Trauma can be repeated on behavioural, emotional, physiologic, and neuroendocrinologic levels. Repetition on these different levels causes a large variety of individual and social suffering. Anger directed against the self or others is always a central problem in the lives of people who have been violated and this is itself a repetitive re-enactment of real events from the past. Compulsive repetition of the trauma usually is an unconscious process that, although it may provide a temporary sense of mastery or even pleasure, ultimately perpetuates chronic feelings of helplessness and a subjective sense of being bad and out of control. Gaining control over one’s current life, rather than repeating trauma in action, mood, or somatic states, is the goal of healing.”
I realize finally that I am not evil.
I’m writing here because I haven’t been able to go to therapy, and I have no other way to talk about my feelings, and I really need to in order to keep from hurting myself.
My depression has been getting worse. Much worse. Something happened, I don’t know what exactly, that made it so that all the fantasies and lies I used to tell myself to keep myself going just dissolved in an instant. I know my recent decline is due to the anxiety medication I’ve been taking. I just can’t think a happy thought. I can’t see myself as anything but intrinsically fucked in the head. I can’t see myself anywhere a year from now but dead or alone in a room in some city feeling more trapped and more miserable and even more damaged than I am right now. Everything is triggering me right now. Everything.
I am seeing a psychiatrist on Thursday. The thought terrifies me. All doctors, clinics, hospitals - they terrify me. I know how they work and what they’re capable of because I watched them mutilate my mother, physically and emotionally, and then treat my dad with condescension and inhumanity. I don’t trust their medications, their concern, or anything about their process. I’m nauseous writing this even thinking about it. I just can’t do nothing.
tw: abuse, cancer, drug use, alcohol.
I don’t have any friends or real human connections. They don’t work for me. Or they haven’t worked for me. I know I need them, I know I’m miserable because I don’t have them, but nearly all of the ones I’ve had have hurt me profoundly in some way, in every possible way. The thought of making a new connection with someone doesn’t excite me - it terrifies me, for a thousand reasons, not just because I was abused my whole life by virtually everyone who mattered. I seem to be perpetually alone, and now I realize it’s mostly been by choice. It makes sense, everything given, but it’s something I want very badly to change. I just worry that I can’t.
Since my last panic attack two months ago - the one that nearly got me fired - all I’ve been able to do is think about this moment from years ago. It plays out in my head over and over again, like some kind of fucked up movie looping endlessly in a theater I’m locked inside of. It took me years to find out what exactly happened in this moment - my parents, both immigrants who fled their countries to escape lifetimes of abuse and certain death, went to great lengths to shelter me from the fucked up places they came from, to the extent that my dad outright lied to me about many things and continues to even to this day.
My mom was screaming. It was a long, painful scream that was seared instantaneously into my psyche, that continues to haunt my nightmares, that went on even as I burst into her room from the other side of the house. She was sitting up in her bed, her back against the wall, which told me immediately that something was seriously wrong.
My mother had cancer. She was diagnosed when I was 11 years old, weeks after I taught her how to play chess and let her draw in a game against me. For the next two years, as the cancer metastasized and spread from her breasts to her lymph nodes to her back and lungs, she underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments and surgery after surgery until the doctors told her she would die in six months. Her mother came from Ireland to live with us then, and that was great for my mom. She loved her mom, and her being close kept her spirits up.
My mom changed her diet, began seeing a naturopath, and her subsequent check-ups showed massive reductions in tumor size. Eventually, all of the tumors in her body disappeared except for a tennis ball sized one protruding from her middle back. Then my grandmother left abruptly to go back to Ireland.
I was 14 then. While my dad was at work, I stayed home from school to take care of my mom. I made her food, and brought her teas and medicines. Every 15 minutes on the dot, I would go into her room and check the poultice on her back. If the tumor bled, and it did multiple times a day, I would clean it and reapply the poultice. My mom couldn’t lay on her back - the tumor was too fragile.
I remember that I asked her what was the matter, and her scream narrowed into a cry. She suddenly stood, revealing that the wall and the bed were covered with blood from the tumor, and sobbed. I hugged her, and she wrapped her arms around me tightly and kept crying, a pained cry that I recognize in myself years later. I asked her again what was wrong, now myself crying, and suddenly she fell to the floor, pulling me down with her.
“noooooooooooooooooooooo” she howled, and urinated all over me. The shock was almost paralyzing. I stood and got the phone to call my dad, then sat down next to her, rubbing her back and telling her I loved her until he came and helped me get her back into bed. She died five days later.
As I learned later, that day my grandmother had called my mom and told her that she was going to die. She told her that she was a stupid little girl who shouldn’t have bothered fighting, and that she didn’t love her anymore. My grandmother was drunk. I remember seeing her drinking vodka every night when she was staying with us, knowing she was drunk, but not realizing how serious a problem she had. Nevertheless, the words killed my mom’s will to continue fighting. She loved her mom and made herself vulnerable to her, even though she was the same woman who let her friend watch my mom, knowing that this man watched over many little girls in town and that this man continued to for decades. My mom made herself vulnerable to her even though she was extremely violent, beating one of her brothers once until he was bloody and unconscious - her brother who would later become addicted to anything that would numb the pain and die of an overdose.
More and more I realize that I don’t have a home. The homelands of my parents are not my homes - I was encultured in a completely different place, an in-between place, a place just in between home and oblivion. My passing privilege opens doors for me, but once I’m inside them it becomes evident very quickly to everyone involved that I don’t belong, that I’m not one of them and that I’m something very different, something else entirely. Despite the efforts of my parents and the culture surrounding me to stifle them, the cries of my ancestors continue to echo against the hardening walls of my heart, continue to shape my behavior and my language and fill my dreams with landscapes that are so different from the place I find myself in year after year, the place under the sick orange wash of streetlights illuminating lonely ghosts like me as we haunt a desert where we can only dream alone until we vanish forever.