Hi. I've been a little absent from things for a while. I check in sometimes, and gain strength and understanding from the conversations here, and this helps me; and often I feel shared pain from what I read, and this helps me, too.
When I post on the Discussion Board, I feel an obligation to include something positive, like perhaps a statement about learning, and resolution of a problem; or simply the possibility of hope. I recognize this is something I put on myself, a responsibility to affirm that, despite how much is bad, life is still good. I tell myself i can't be negative. Do you ever do this to yourself?
Really, I've always liked this about myself. I'm enthusiastic. I'm positive. I know I (and you and we and whomever I am taking with) can do this, whatever it is. But hidden within this positive voice, I recognize me: a little boy who had things stolen from him, a little boy who was abused, who had to bargain for love with his body, with his life. I'm that little boy, whose parents gave his toys away to his friends in bribes, to keep them from telling what my dad did to them. I'm the little kid thought to himself, "It's okay. I can play in the dirt, and tell myself stories. It's okay, I can walk in the hills at night, or hide in a closet, because I couldn't sleep in my bed. It's okay that my mom gets drunk, and I have to take care of her, and defend her - look at what a good job I'm doing. She'd be proud, if she knew. It's okay. I'm happy. I'm determined to be happy.
I haven't been posting lately, because it's not okay. I paid with my life, and i can't get it back. Where before I would tell myself that "no matter how bad it gets, I can find good," lately I've recognized - or have come to believe - that no matter what I do, it's still bad. I'm still in pain. That it's never going away.
My partner retired in June. We moved away from the city, to a small town in the country. The transition has been overwhelming. I mean, it's good, of course it's good! But suddenly I'm faced with myself. There are no distractions. And what I see has shaken me. In the absence of distractions, I see my pain. Sometimes it's all there is. It persists.
I'm back in the city for two days, in a hotel, on my own. I cannot sleep. Today and yesterday I met with four people, artists. I visited their studios, and talked with them about their work. You might understand that these visits are like psychotherapy in a way. Art is personal. Each meeting lasts from two to four hours. It is incredibly rewarding, the understanding we gain is profound; and it is exhausting. At some point in each meeting, several times each, my eyes fill with tears at something we are discussing. These people know me, and they know this happens all the time. "Sorry," I say, "I'm emotional. It happens." and we move on.
I've never talked with anyone about these episodes. They just happen. I'm known to be sympathetic, I guess. (It's good, really, it is.)
Driving to my hotel tonight, my vision blurred, I felt disoriented, I thought I was having a stroke, and I started crying, hard; and it came to me that what I want to say to people when that happens is "I'm sorry. My father abused me, and then he killed himself. I never felt an emotional connection to him. I'm feeling an emotional connection with you, now." That's why I cry.
Tomorrow I'm going home, to my sweetness in the country. I've got my own studio there. I'm working on a self-portrait. It's a box, roughly the dimensions of the shelf in the linen closet where I slept. I've found drawings and writing that I did in the years after my father shot himself, and I'm incorporating some of these into the piece. It's also got a metal and plastic working rifle, suspended from a wire, pointing straight at my heart. A photo of my partner hangs just below, as if he's my guardian angel, protecting me from harm.
My dad killed himself, but he's not going to kill me. People love me.
Maybe he did take my life, and maybe, just maybe, I can take it back.
Thank you guys so much for being here.