Tuesday, December 20, 2011
We were actors and english majors and I wanted to die, I was so special.
What is wrong with me?
I was raised in a revival. God made the blind to see. He made the lame to walk.
A lot of my childhood memories take place in church. Women in tan stockings kicking off their shoes and dancing in the aisles. Giant men falling on their knees in fits of holy laughter. Everybody raised their hands in the air while we sang. People moaned, called out for Jesus to become them, to make them whole, to help them get away from here.
Whispered rumors that a member of the board molested his daughter. Somebody else got drunk and groped the babysitter who returned, red eyed and guilty-looking, to the youth group for prayer.
Sex was wrong.
Once, when I was a little girl, I was walking around saying, "How!" instead of hi, in an impression of an Indian, like from Peter Pan. One of the husbands of the congregation, a mutant with dentures that didn't fit quite right, said to me, "You know how, don't you? You're a bad girl." I squealed and laughed and ran to tell my friends. We were all gawky with braces and hairspray in our hair.
Sex was wrong. Music was wrong. Rebellion was a sin.
The drummer in the holy band that led us all in worship on Sundays; he went away for a long time for making a little girl touch him. She was his neice. She was pretty and funny and didn't have a dad. She eventually moved to one of the mountainous states, far, far away. She had troubles as a teenager and got divorced as an adult. The church forgave her uncle and he came back to play the drums.
None of these things are mine.
Except, my dad hated me.
I've spent my whole life feeling like I was right, only nobody knew it. I was something special. I was bright and talented and smart. I just had to grow up a little bit. I just had to get away from that place. Once I was away from my family and my hometown, then the world would take one look at me and see how I glowed.
Now, I'm almost thirty-three years old and for the most part, I'm unexceptional. I can't seem to finish anything I start.
My dad was a grown up and I was young and idealistic. He used to match wits with me and win. He needed so badly to prove that he was smarter than me. He was bigger than me and meaner and I didn't know shit. I would get excited about something, and he would kick my legs out from under me. He knew more than I did. I tried so hard, but I never won those battles.
So, then, I stopped trying. I only did things that came easy to me. I only attempted things that were a give-in. I became one of those drifting drug kids. I was easily the most adventurous of all my drifting, drug kid friends. I was easily the most suicidal.
One evening, in college, a boy was mean to me and I accidentally coughed all of the marijuana out of the bowl and I was feeling like shit. I was drunk and my head was buzzing with emptiness. There was a pain in my heart. I was hungry and cold and alone. I walked down an alleyway to the gas station and bought a sandwich. I ate it as I walked home, not caring about how I looked, pickles and shreds of lettuce littering the front of my shirt, splats of mustard on the toes of my boots. There was so much fog. I was blinded every time a car passed by me.
I lived in an old house with a revolving number of misunderstood college students. We were a scrappy bunch of artistic losers. Lots of us were gay or hiding something, like missing teeth or a father that wanted to murder us. Kurt was there. He lived in the bedroom next to mine with his girlfriend. She was a pretty girl who couldn't smile without covering her mouth with her hand. We were actors and English majors. Painters and kids who owned worn skateboards far too late into life.
I got home that night and nobody was there. It probably wasn't even very late. I drank a beer and then smashed the bottle on the front stoop. Sitting right there, out in the open on a suburban street in a sweetly nestling college town, I ran the jagged edge of the bottle over my wrists. I fine spray of blood appeared on the front walk.
I went inside and called a boy and told him I was killing myself. He said he loved me, but he didn't. I hung up on him. I left a trail of blood on the wooden floor between the phone and my bedroom. I was something special, I knew it. I've always kind of believed I was brilliant.
In the morning, my arms were stuck to my sheets. I peeled the cotton away from my cuts and my wrists started to ooze fresh blood. I didn't want anybody to see. Everything was a stupid joke. I started wearing the studded leather cuffs one of my roommates gave to me. I wrapped my wrists in bandages and hid them, only not really. Anybody who was looking could see the truth.
So, what do I do, now?
I'm happy, now. I'm married to somebody with integrity and balls and talent. He loves me the same way I love him, which is only slightly less than we love our daughters. We have a little home and we've found ourselves. We know how to live now.
All of that dying nonsense was just us being young. It was just me not being heard, not being seen. It was just that I'd clenched my fists and gritted my teeth and gotten through my unbearable childhood and now, things were supposed to be better.
Nobody could see me. I've always felt like a god. I've always known there was more to life than this.
I'm feeling unseen, right now. I'm feeling like a big, fucking hack. I'm feeling like maybe I only thought I was brilliant because I had to. If I believed what my daddy said, I wouldn't have been able to go to school and play outside and kiss a boy and read Catcher In The Rye and cry. I wouldn't have been able to get out of bed in the morning. I would have picked at all my scabs and made knots in my hair. I would have plucked out my lashes and bit my lips until they bled.
Maybe I have only been suffering a pleasant delusion. One that dictates that I'm somebody special, that I've got a gift, that I will someday be heard and everything will be better.
I work and I bleed and I tell the truth. I love the right people and try to take care of myself. I get eight hours of sleep. I have adorable mom friends who laugh at all the right things and keep me company. I have two beautiful girls who are so happy and wonderful that the world falls down at their feet, everywhere they walk. I have trendy mom shoes and a gym membership. I have a better life than anybody expected me to. I do a good job. I can barely stand to look at myself in the mirror.
I'm disorganized and short tempered. I'm constantly making schedules that only mean something for a few hours. I have no time and I never get anything done. I hunker down and pull the shades and disappear over my manuscript and a set of form letters. Rejection, rejection, rejection. Even the story nerds in my writing groups have lost interest.
I am something special. You have to believe me, buddy. You will be able to say that you knew me when. They're gonna know my name at the bank.
I don't know what to do. I don't even know what's wrong. Everybody is so perky and fit and streamlined and successful. I have no idea where I fit. All I know is that I'm nothing.