violetcheetah: (Default)
"Do not speak the words aloud,"
the wise sorceress warned her child.
"No matter how forcefully they shriek in your mind,
you must never utter them,
for the earth will rip and
the sky will burn and
time itself will spin askew so that
the future will have happened and the future,
my child,
if you have said the words aloud,
will be unspeakable agony for all,
and you,
my child,
will be responsible."

And so of course the child
did not speak them,
even as every day they clanged
like fighting church bells
only she could hear.
And as she grew,
they grew louder,
until each time she opened her mouth
she feared they would escape,
and so she ceased to speak at all.

Her silence was noted
by the elders of the town
and presumed to be the price
of colluding with Dark Forces,
and she dared not tell them differently.
So she was tied to a stake
above a pyre that was then
set ablaze,
and she sighed in relief
that the words would die with her
and the world would be safe.

But the sigh pulled the smoke
into her lungs,
and each cough
only brought more,
each cough deeper
and louder
and more like a voice,
until she was speaking,
begging,
"Come soon,
death,
come now,
before — "
BUT death didn't obey,
and helplessly
she felt the words she dare not say
rip through her closing throat

where they fell like strong
but gentle rain
upon the pyre,
smothering first the smoke
and then the fire.
The crowd stared in wonder,
and then bowed to gaze
at the ground in shame,
until finally first the children
and then each woman and man
turned toward the back of the crowd
to see the sorceress,
her mouth agape
but stricken in silence,
unable to believe
the world was still here.




violetcheetah: (Default)
This started off as an attempt to explain the emotional/mental side of scentsitivity, but it spread to encompass other ways in which I'm invaded.  I wrote it several months ago, and rereading it, there's a resonance between the way "normal" people seem to perceive me — that they are interacting with a figment of their imagination because they can't conceive of someone like the actual-me existing — and the way I feel interacting with my mother.

Read more... )



violetcheetah: (Default)
[Prompt: Write about something you've always wanted, but that you hope you never get.]

I got baptized when I was 11. I'd been wanting to since I was 8, but I always chickened out when the call went out at the end of service and I'd think about standing in front of everyone and having to say something. It wasn't until I was 11 that I realized I could talk to Brother Bob beforehand, and he could say something for me, and all I had to do was stand and stare at the floor.

The baptism was the next week, and in between we happened to have a revival, so by the time Sunday came, there were three of us. Brother Bob explained what would happen, everything from "The water will be a little cold but not too cold" to reassurances that when he dunked me, it would be quick enough that I would absolutely not breathe in any water through the folded handkerchief he would hold over my nose and mouth. And he was right. The actual baptism wasn't a big deal: I went under, I didn't feel any different when I came up, but because I'd declared my faith in public I wouldn't go to hell if I died.

Herb Broughton was one of the other two baptized. He was probably close to 40 years old, and he'd been baptized before, but a lot of people rededicated themselves to God this way. After we'd all been dunked, the three of us and Brother Bob were going to hold hands and bow our heads while Brother Bob prayed. I was disappointed that I ended up between Herb and the other guy I didn't know, so I was holding hands not with my much-loved pastor but with two near-strangers. Herb started to reach for my hand, but then he shifted. He cupped my shivering right shoulder in his big hand. It was a firm touch, but not pushing, not demanding. And as we stood with bowed heads and closed eyes, I could feel the warmth from beneath my skin meet the warmth of his quilt-heavy hand. What I felt was sacred. Safety. Acceptance. Connection. Peace. At that moment, I adored, not God and Jesus, but this comforting man and his palm that brought me the comfort I didn't know I'd been aching for.

I sought him out every Sunday after that. Before church started, then between Sunday School and preaching, then after the sermon was over. We mainly talked, mainly the sarcastic teasing that was the only way I knew to show affection. Not every week, but often enough, he'd put a hand on my shoulder, or sometimes his arm around me to hold the far shoulder, buddy-like, father-and-son-like, and he'd smile with a slight squint that seemed a little self-conscious, and he'd keep me from floating away into the nothingness where I mostly lived.

There was never anything dark in it. I was primed to expect something sexual in any touch, and to suspect even where there was nothing, and it was never there with him.

He was, I know now, the first parent-I-wanted. Less than a year later, my mother switched from that church, where we'd gone all my life, because of a feud with another member. I was adrift again, unmoored, floating.

In 7th grade, there were three physical education teachers supervising a gym full of us. At the beginning of the year, the court was set up with about 10 different "stations," and we were divided up into small groups and rotated through half of the stations each day doing each of the activities. One station was juggling, which was Mr. Huffman's forte. He wasn't there the whole ten minutes or so each group spent, because there were more groups than teachers. But one day, when my group was ending the period there, he came over. Ora Decker excitedly told him that I'd actually been juggling the scarves. Not just two, but all three at once, in the right pattern and everything. He wanted to see, of course, and I wanted to show him, but I knew before I even tried that there was no way my hands could do what I wanted with a teacher watching. I made the attempt, though, three or four times, until I finally gave up and stood still, begging the tears not to fall in front of the rest of the group. I glanced for a second across his face, risking that moment of eye contact in hopes of telegraphing into his mind that I needed an escape. And I saw such sympathy in the curve of his eyebrows that I felt in a way sorry for him. But he was also smiling softly, and he reached out, touched my shoulder for a second, father-and-son-like, and said, "That's fine, I'll see it at some point."

For two years or more, I daydreamed of him somehow becoming my guardian.

He wasn't the last: Mr. Jacobs in 9th grade, Mr. Huffman's wife that year, too. Mr. Berryman in 10th and 11th grades, Reverend Parrish at the same time, Mr. Tyler in the summer program before 12th grade, Mr. and Ms. Lee that last year of high school. Countless others in between, including the foster father from the three weeks I lived away from my parents. Then after I "grew up," there were professors, fellow college students, coworkers, my shrink to some extent, men I thought I wanted to be my boyfriends because that's what intimacy and intensity is supposed to be about. I at least know now that it isn't sex I'm sublimating. It isn't even a parent I want, a different mother or a different father, a replacement. I don't understand what a parent feels like, so that isn't the cavity I'm trying to fill, or if it is, I have no idea what the hole is shaped like or even where it resides within me. I want. I want. It is relentless and insistent and the shame of it makes me back away always from the person I want, makes me shove, bite, run.





violetcheetah: (Default)
[Apologies for those of you who are driven insane by second-person references; I didn't set out to write it that way, it just kinda happened.]

I don't trust people. I also, simultaneously, trust completely. Every kindness you give to me, every tiny act of caring, I grab hungrily, sure that it's sincere. At the same moment, I am searching for ulterior motives. It isn't that I later doubt you; I trust and doubt at the exact same instant, latching on with cat claws to draw you closer — to pull you inside me, or me inside you, because nothing is close enough — and as I do so, slashing you and kicking you away from me. "Ambivalent attachment" is the psychological jargon. It happens with kids who don't form a "secure" bond with their caregiver when they are small. We go through life looking for that intense, all-encompassing connection.

It's hard to both trust and distrust at the same instant, every instant. Not just hard: agonizing. People bandy about the term "cognitive dissonance" flippantly — I do it, too — but real cognitive dissonance makes you want to scream, sometimes for hours. It's exhausting, thinking double, feeling double, especially about something as important as whether you can trust someone with what feels like your soul.

Sunday was not a good day. People surprised me in a couple of breathtakingly awful ways. Not people I intensely trust/distrust; one seemingly tiny event was that at the end of my workday, I discovered that someone had taken my jacket out of the break room. I don't know who, so now I am potentially betrayed by everyone who was in the building, by each person I work with. And I like all my coworkers, so it can't be any of them, but it has to be one of them, but... But the worst part was not the theft. Worse than the missing jacket was the probably three or four minutes I spent, staring at the shelf where I had left it 6 hours earlier, thinking, "But I remember leaving it there. Am I misremembering? I must not have actually left it there, because if I had, it would still be there. Maybe it is there, and I am not seeing it." I went over and actually touched the surface of the empty shelf, half-expecting to feel my invisible jacket. I had to be wrong. I walked down to the other end of the building where I'd clocked in, to make sure that I hadn't brought it down there with me and left it. I did this even though that end of the building is colder than the rest, and yesterday was cold enough that for the first time I wished I'd had something long-sleeved to wear. I remembered standing there with goosebumps thinking, "Gee, I kinda wish I hadn't left my jacket in the break room." And now, six hours later, I stood there in the cold thinking, "Did I actually think that or am I making up that memory?"

I got home and sat with Butler in my lap, petting him more consciously than usual, needing the comfort, and also needing to give him happiness, needing to do something good, to feel good about myself, to feel his happiness. I was after a while completely at peace. But at the same moment, I was in pain. I ached over the betrayals of the day and wanted to scream, while gazing at Butler gazing at me and feeling sleepy peace. It isn't quite the same as cognitive dissonance, but it's still painful to do. And yet, it feels right. The complexity is somehow soothing, feels like what I'm supposed to be doing. But is it something I should do? Is it normal? Not "Is it different from everyone else and therefore bad?", but, is it pathological? Is it maladaptive? Should I refrain from holding two feelings at once because it's somehow hurting my mind, my brain? Just because something feels good doesn't mean it's good for me.

No: especially because something feels good, I need to suspect that it isn't good for me. I mean, I have a track record of calming myself in really bad ways: Shutting off, going numb. Ten years of slicing my arm, or my legs. Attaching myself to people in such all-encompassing ways that I disappeared in them, wore them out, drove them away. Why on earth would I trust myself to make good decisions, to act in my own best interests?

I do not trust myself. Even when I am absolutely sure I'm right, even when a memory is clear, even when I read the facts myself, when someone questions me, I immediately think, "Did I get that right? Did I misread the article, misread the situation? Did I make that up?" The most solid certainty shifts like sand, because it is my certainty.

I trust you completely, but I am absolutely sure you are untrustworthy. And I am sure you are untrustworthy precisely because I trust you. I cannot trust myself to make good decisions about who to trust. I have a track record, from the moment I was born, of completely trusting absolutely the wrong people. Why should I trust anyone I trust?

So at least for me, my own attachment disorder, my trust issues, are in the end all about me. It's not my parents I don't trust, or my friends, or anonymous coworkers when I'm not in the room. It's me I don't trust. It's me I'm suspicious of, that I second-guess until I third-guess until I don't know which certainty to discount. Like all the epiphanies I've ever had, it seems blindingly obvious now. I don't know if seeing it will help anything. Maybe?



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Violet Wilson

October 2016

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