(This post is directly typed out from something I wrote in my journal a couple months ago. And yes, that is a photo of me in high school.)
My parents and I had a hard time understanding each other. I know that sounds normal and actually quite common but there were layers to it. I used to have confrontations with my mom and by that I mean I’d write her letters and fold them gently on her pillow for her to read before bed. For awhile, that was our clearest means for communication. She would write letters back and through writing under the same roof, we would explain ourselves. For me: why I wanted to eat dinner alone in my room. Why I shut down in the middle of conversations. Why I pierced my own ears without permission or pushed my couch over the paint stain on the carpet instead of just cleaning it up. For my mom: why she was crying. Why she worries about me. Why she wants to feel closer to me.
A couple weeks ago I found a letter she wrote me in high school tucked in my old yearbook and I couldn’t read it all the way through. I feel guilty about how I shut them out. I feel sad that I only knew how to communicate with my own parents through letters that I’d sneak into their bedroom when I knew they weren’t home, unable to initiate a face-to-face interaction. Some of that holds true to this day – I mean, shit I can’t talk about a lot of the stuff that I type into my blog for strangers to read.
When I was just a fetus, I waited two whole weeks past my due date to emerge into this world because I wasn’t ready yet. When I finally arrived, my mom says I didn’t stop crying. I threw tantrums when I went to school. Or Disney World. Or really anywhere I didn’t want to be. Acting out seemed to be one of my favorite games to play as a child. Later on in elementary school, one of the classroom mothers told my mom that I was a “bad kid” and wouldn’t amount to anything (obviously I didn’t find out about this until years later). In middle school, we thought I had depression or something so I saw a therapist a few times who put me on meds which made me feel worse. The only thing I really remember about my first therapist was how she thought I was funny, which I guess had to be around the time that the dark, harsh things that came out of my mouth evolved into my dry sense of humor. But the inside joke that I had with myself was that this woman’s psychoanalysis of me and my puberty depression was based mostly on fabrications of the way I really felt. She’s just going through a lot of emotions, she’d report to my parents. It’s pretty normal for girls her age to go through mood swings. In reality, I was deeply indifferent and I desperately wanted it to be for a reason that wasn’t tied to my age. I wanted someone to know how I’d dig my house key into my thighs until my skin broke open a little bit just to feel something other than vacancy. I didn’t know how to verbalize a genuine emotion and I couldn’t even put words together to my own mother much less the ~child psychologist~. So in high school, when I caved inside of myself and took up photography and painting, I suppose everyone was just pleased that I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs. My mom once told me she always wanted a daughter she could cuddle with and talk to and bond with like she did with her mother. I grieve all of the conversations she and I so desperately wanted to have but couldn’t move beyond pen and paper. I was a wound up package of cries for help but didn’t know how to untie the first string.
Ernest Hemingway said, “Write clear and hard about what hurts” … Sometimes, everything does. Sometimes I can find a reason to lay in bed until noon and not return phone calls. Or to sit in the parking lot and procrastinate for fifteen minutes just to see if I can get myself to cry. Sometimes, I wish I could speak clearly about what hurts instead of scribble it into this journal.
I’m still sometimes that girl who was unamused at Disney World. The girl who needed to eat dinner in her bedroom from time to time. The girl who prefers to write letters instead of sit down face-to-face to properly convey the way that I feel. But I no longer resent the way that my brain was wired back then. I think I went through a handful of sad things and after holding everything inside, I reached a point where speaking out was the only way I could have possibly moved forward. I’m grateful for all those years I spent inside of myself, though. I liked the way my hands looked when they were stained with paint. I liked the bewildered look on my teachers’ faces when I aced a test after they thought I slept through the whole quarter. I liked my box dyed hair and the uneven piercing holes I’d poked through my skin with sewing needles. I was sad, and a little bit difficult to raise, but I was authentic. I knew myself better than anyone else did and all of that still holds true now that I’m happy.