Musings

Pieces: Supposed to Be

Note from 2019 Annie: This is a post that was completed but for some reason was left in the drafts folder, so I am backdating it to the approximate date that it was written. This is unedited.

Tell me who I’m supposed to be now
Make me better
I can’t stay halfway dead forever
I fear now
There’s not much left of me
When you take the sick away
Who am I supposed to be?
Supposed to Be, Icon for Hire
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Anniversaries are important to me. Every now and then I go back through blog posts and read what I wrote a year ago on a certain date or time of year. This spring semester has been full of that kind of nostalgic activity. My Papaw died at the end of February. Looking back and remembering how genuinely sweet and gentle of a man he always was helped bring peace. But not all of my reminiscing has been as tranquil. When I wrote the first blog post about my childhood I don’t think I really had come to grips with how far reaching the indoctrination of that stifling, poisonous environment was. 

While I started opening up about my mental health struggles and eventually seeking help to deal with them, that wasn’t the only aspect of my life that was exposed last March. It was one year ago that I began coming out as– well, not straight. This probably won’t come as a surprise to most people; I haven’t been very secretive about my sexuality and identity. The exact terminology is a bit fuzzy, and the way I identify varies. Sometimes I’ll say biromantic lesbian, other times the term bisexual comes to mind. Exact labels don’t really matter to me. While there are a select few guy type people that I find attractive, I like girls almost exclusively and the general public really doesn’t need to know more than that. I would say they don’t need to know at all, but there’s a problem with that and it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Invisibility is incredibly painful.

Not only is invisibility invalidating, it’s isolating. It isn’t good for me to be left to my own devices; they can be pretty nasty. Much like keeping my pain and past hidden left me feeling imaginary and craving realism, being completely in the closet didn’t last long. I started figuring out my feelings and it became obvious that hiding that part of myself indefinitely was not a viable option. When I first started going to meetings of our campus LGBT club I snuck in, careful that none of my friends saw me. Gradually, those meetings and other events became the majority of my social life. One year later, I’m the vice president of that club where a confused and scared Annie first found acceptance as a queer girl. I could, and probably will, write more about how I had accepted myself as queer as a young child, then forgot about it, but that’s not what this blog post is about. I want myself to be known for the same reason I blog at all. I share so that others can know they aren’t alone.

This year has been my hardest one in memory. At times it feels like I’ll collapse under the pressure and stress of resurrected memories and ideologies that have nearly literally killed me. Like so many other parts of myself, my self inflicted scars are more visible now. When you are taught from infancy that you deserve death, it is hard to come in as an adult and feel that you deserve not just life, but a happy one. Rewriting those recordings isn’t as easy as just swiping a magnet over the tape.

Yet, when I look back at those writings from last year, I can see how far I’ve come in so short a time. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m not as scared of relationships and have allowed myself to be more open to being loved.

Recovery time, a condition like mine
What are we talking here?
Getting so close, I can taste the hope
But I still feel the fear
Supposed to Be, Icon for Hire
Farm and Family, Musings

Pieces: Big Fur Coat

TW: self harm, self hate

Depression’s like a big fur coat,
It’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm ~ Iodine, Icon for Hire

(Internal monologue) No, you don’t need to tell anyone about this. It will only make them feel bad, or ashamed, or remember their own pain. It’s not that big of a deal. No, you do need to talk about it. Isn’t that reluctance a sign that it needs to be out in the open? Some people may not understand the thought process behind it, and they need to know that it can be nearly invisible. And I need people to know this about me. Deep breath.

I struggle with depression and self harm. I don’t remember not hating myself. As a small child I hated that I couldn’t learn to read or ride a bike. As a preteen I hated that I was a girl, that I had feelings that I couldn’t understand or express, and that I had night terrors. As a teen I had successfully turned off all handflowersemotions except hate and anger, but it wasn’t acceptable to express those, so I aimed them at myself as best as I could. I wasn’t always successful in this though, so my self loathing grew stronger. I couldn’t keep up with all of the things I was supposed to do as a good Christian girl. If I couldn’t even function in this obviously basic lifestyle, of what value was I?

I called a friend the other day and cried for a couple of hours. I had never told anyone about my depression or self harm. It wasn’t very visible. I was ashamed of my feelings. The feelings of loathing and worthlessness were so huge that they would fill me, and I had to find a physical manifestation. I wanted to cut, but I was so scared that someone would find out if I did anything that looked so deliberate. So I got very clumsy. I am naturally a clumsy person, I think it has something to do with the combination of being tall and having tiny duck feet. But this was purposeful. I would punch brick walls and “rap my knuckles.” I would kick brick walls and “stub my toe.” I would hit my head on, yeah, brick walls and “have a headache” (I often did have headaches). The closest I got to cutting was biting my fingers. I always hated how my hands looked, so I didn’t care if there were scars or scabs. Those could be explained away easily too. I love climbing trees and working with my hands, stuff happens.

Learning to love myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I couldn’t control my urges to act on my feelings. I couldn’t keep up with my “Christian disciplines.” I couldn’t do enough to make a difference in the world. My self worth was based on what I did or didn’t do. It wasn’t until someone told me that I was good enough and in control that I even considered either of those to be possibilities. When someone else told me that I had beautiful hands I laughed in their face, but it was another mile marker.

I’m still learning to see the good in myself. I love my hair and my eyes. I’ve figured out some things that make me feel not just like a girl, but pretty. I am a good writer. I have deep, poetic thoughts, and people like to hear them sometimes. I have accepted these things about myself, but what’s harder to accept is the fact that they aren’t consistent. Not everything I write has to be perfect, and that’s ok. My hair is a mess a lot of the time, but it has so much personality I love it anyway.

I wish I could say that I am past self harm. And I was for a while. But I have relapses. I slip back into patterns that should never have been in the first place. Part of me doesn’t want to write about it until I’m healed. But then, part of me thinks that sharing about my pain may be part of my healing. It’s just so damn hard to trust anyone when those closest to you are the ones that hurt you.

Farm and Family, Musings

Pieces: What Was That?

We throw tantrums like parties
We’re not happy ’til everyone knows we’re sick
And that’s just how we like it
We’ve hurt bad enough, right, we’ve earned it ~ Get Well, Icon for Hire

It’s taken me a long time to figure this out. I’ve been thinking about it for months. I haven’t been able to write anything because it’s been in the forefront of my mind, taking up all of the space. I hate writing about things that aren’t resolved. You write what you know, not what you don’t know. But sometimes we don’t know what the thesis statement is for a period of our lives.

I want to start out by saying that I love my parents. They were tricked by people who they viewed as authorities, who themselves had been tricked. But I can’t let that love keep me from telling my story.

Illusion_by_nondani

I read a website called Homeschoolers Anonymous. I would say I enjoy reading it, but that sounds wrong. It is full of stories of former homeschool students who have escaped the fundamentalist environment where they were abused, and how transitioning to life on the outside has been. It’s sick. It’s demented. The things that have been done in the name of Christ are abhorrent.

I read it for the same reason they write it. To validate our past experiences. Sometimes the stories are almost identical to my own, but not usually. They are usually much more abusive and extreme. There are aspects that I can relate to, but the intensity of it makes my empathy ache.

For a time this contrast made me question my analysis of my childhood. Was it really that bad? Was that really abuse? I mean, I only remember one short period of time when any of my siblings were bruised from spanking. I was only hit a handful of times because I was older when we started following a fundamentalist lifestyle. But then, if it wasn’t abuse, why do I still show signs of an abuse survivor? Why do I feel so validated by songs like Get Well by Icon for Hire or Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling? Why do I still have such a hard time letting myself have platonic relationships, let alone harbor the thought of a long term romantic relationship? Trust issues and self harm don’t just happen without a reason.

A dear friend told me the other day, “Just because someone else had it worse doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to hurt.” This is hard to believe sometimes. I don’t want to marginalize the experience of others. But I have to remind myself that it’s not a contest. Just because I was never beaten doesn’t mean I wasn’t abused. Emotional abuse can be very invisible, but have the same results as a belt. My parents didn’t hit me, but the way they made me feel lead me to hit myself.

Don’t tell the others but it’s all getting old
I mean how many more times must our stories be told?
And being lonely’s only fun in a group
It sort of loses it’s charm when it’s true ~ Get Well, Icon for Hire