Friday, March 6, 2009

Feeling Safe (Originally published on 11.06.2008)

This is all on my mind recently due to a dream I had last night. But first, a little bit of back-story. My mother has always decided when I not longer needed something by redecorating my room. I know this sounds strange but let me break it down for you. When I was about 8 she decided that I needed to be more girly and sent me to stay with my friend for the weekend. When I came back my room was painted purple and I had a canopy bed. All my “non girly toys” were packed away and my Barbies (that I usually used for target practice or to act out my stories) were out on display. I reacted in the way that I knew she wanted me too. But when they left me alone I curled up on my canopy bed with all its useless pillows and cried. I just wanted a space that was mine. So from that day forth I would find a spot outside of my house and claim it as my own. Usually it’s a place surrounded by trees so I can feel hidden and safe. When I was about 11 my mother left my father and me (my sister had moved in with her step father because she could no longer deal with my mother lashing out at her) and we moved to another town and I got to claim my own room. Then my mother came back. Once more I was kicked out of my room for a weekend and all my toys were packed away because “I was getting too old for them”. I had trained myself not to care anymore. it didn’t matter as long as I had SOME WHERE to feel safe. I was never really allowed to close my door until I was about 18. But even then she’d walk in unannounced and start picking up my room claiming I was a pig and lazy for not having everything in its place. This would be a good time to point out that my mother is OCD. Everything had to be perfect or she’d flip out. When I vacuumed the lines in the carpet had to be straight or she’d make me vacuum again. Pretty much the whole time I lived with my family my mother made sure to let me know that I should be grateful to have a place to live and demanded that I keep the house clean. Yet I was always chastised for being lazy because I didn’t dust the tops of the cupboards or some other inane thing. I was also never allowed to put anything on my walls unless it was with scotch tape. Since we all know how well that sticks, I moved to putting random things on my dressers and tables. She flipped out about that as well. When I moved out to San Francisco I first lived with a boy that didn’t want me there, then moved in with a psycho who’d completely disregard the meager sliding piece of plastic that was my “door” and just walk into my room. Then I moved to the Hugo House. I *finally* had a place that was mine. The first couple of months I lived there I slept on a mat and the only furniture I had were 2 ikea dressers and a paper lamp.

Then my mother came out to visit me. She insisted that we went shopping to decorate my room. I didn’t want her to spend the money, but mostly I didn’t want to give her ammo for the arguments that would come later. Any time I entered an argument with her she’d use the things that she bought me as a way to guilt trip me into submission. I never ASKED for anything. I stopped asking for gifts by the time I was 13 because I knew better. Once again, she invaded my space and made sure to leave pieces of herself behind. It took me a good year before I felt safe in my room again and that was only after I rearranged into what *I* wanted. Since this is a city I don’t really have a secret spot I can call my own because going into the park at night isn’t exactly the smartest decision. So my room is the only thing I have. So if you’re still confused as to why I flipped out the way I did when "she" disrespected it… and yeah that is something that can change overnight. It's not a mental illness, it's a matter of picking up after yourself. You can make time for it.

Now to the dream. I didn’t really sleep that night due to tossing and turning thoughts in my head so when the dream started I was a bit confused because there were so many elements from reality placed in it. My mother was staying with me and each of my walls were covered with various themes. One was pooh-bear, another was filled with band posters, and another was filled with beautiful artwork in glass frames. She came into my room, drunk and I suggested that I should probably re-decorate my room and she immediately volunteered. I kicked her out of my room and she huffed herself upstairs. My roommate came opened her door and asked me what all the yelling was about. I explained that my mother wanted to decorate my room to which she replied “Isn’t she drunk?”. The rest of my dream is a bit of a blur but I do remember there being a strange aura around my mother. It was black and seemed to shadow everything behind her.

It seems that recently all I’ve been doing is removing her presence from my life. Trying to figure out where her labels ended and my thoughts begin. I don’t want to claim that my childhood and past was that bad because I had food, shelter and nurture up to a point. I’m just trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t. There is so much I don’t remember and I finally know why. I was in a state of hypomania. I would retreat into my head whenever my mother would start hurling insults at me. My father added his own to the foray but as soon as I was about 15 he stopped with the sudden outbursts of anger and we actually started building a pretty solid relationship. The catalyst for that was showing him a poem I had written for English class. I won’t post it because it’s so incredibly cheesy but I know that it definitely touched something in him and he looked me straight in the eye and apologized. Maybe that’s why there is still so much hurt leftover from my mother. She’s apologized so many times, insincerely because she truly doesn’t understand the consequences of her actions. She still doesn’t get it. I don’t know if she ever will and I have to accept that. I just wish all this baggage would just drop away so I could finally just LIVE MY LIFE. I wish I had a reset button so I could clear away my cache of my past. It just sucks because no matter how much she hurt me… I want my mom back. The one that would take care of me when I was sick or the one I could make laugh so hard she’d wet herself. Or the one that would just hug me when I was crying uncontrollably. It hard to make sense of things when you realize just can’t just dismiss one side or the other.

I want to let go of it, I truly do. But I have to relearn everything I know. I'm one of those people that just wants to do something immediately. I'm terrible at practicing and I feel like I'm behind in so many ways. But that's just another part of relearning things. I shouldn't be placing these unreasonable expectations on myself. I guess I'm just used to it. Perhaps that's why confidant people put me at ill ease. Ah, but that's another post.

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