Odds and Ends and Scattered Thoughts

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since I posted, huh?

It’s not that I haven’t had ideas–instead, rather, I almost have had too many. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, with no real connecting thread. I’m gonna put down these germs of ideas as a way of letting you know what’s been on my mind, but also a way of reminding myself what I want to be writing in future. It’s also gonna be in bullet point format because I like bulleted lists, probably too much.

Here we go.

  • Gender. I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about my gender and how I present it, lately, and while I’m still teasing out the specifics, there’s enough there that I want to share it with those of you who read this blog.
  • Poverty. I’m poor, as I’ve mentioned in my introductory post and elsewhere, and it definitely has a huge impact on my life. Being poor shapes how I approach every purchase I make, obviously, but also other things about my thought processes, both blatant and less so. I don’t think you can really understand poverty unless you’ve experienced, but if I can open a window into my life I’d like to.
  • Superheroes. I’ve been experiencing an uptick in my thoughts about how DC comics and related media mischaracterizes their cast, some of the most iconic in the genre. There’s a lot of wasted potential there and it makes me surprisingly upset.
  • A sequel of sorts to my last post, examining my (lack of) relationship with my mother and talking about ways I can maybe open it up enough to contact her and thank her for some financial support she recently gave us, without falling back into patterns that were destructive for us both.

So that’s what’s been in my head. What about yours, followers? Any of these you have your own thoughts on? ¬†Anything you’d particularly like to see me expand on? I want to hear from you.

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June, 2003

Note: this post talks about suicide, emotional abuse, child abuse, and addiction. If you are triggered by any of these subjects, please be aware and make sure you’re in a safe headspace before reading it.

 

I have been thinking about the past today. It started pretty mundanely–a friend mentioned a book that I haven’t read since tenth grade. But that led to the realization that tenth grade was some nine years ago, nearly a decade. And that, in turn, led to the realization of what was actually¬†a decade ago.

June, 2003.

In June, 2003, I was twelve years old and my sister was ten. We lived with my mother, my father, a dog and a rabbit in a small apartment in urban Winnipeg. My father travelled quite a bit for work–and does still–so it was often only my mother taking care of us.

I say she took care of us. In reality the opposite is almost more accurate. My mother is an alcoholic with a severe mood disorder (my sister and I are also mentally ill, but in different ways). She expected us, from the time we were very young indeed, to support her in her depressive periods, to be the ones who reassured her that we loved her, cared about her, were there for her when our father was away. She would regularly go out for groceries and come back hours later, empty-handed but wildly drunk, and spend the rest of the evening dancing to cacophonously loud music in the living room until she passed out.

This pattern was years old, in June, 2003. It was familiar. We coped with it as well as we could manage.

Until one day in the middle of June, 2003, while my sister and I were trying to recover from her most recent bout of emotional manipulation, she sat down at the dining room table, and proceeded to take every prescription pill she had.

We realized almost immediately–in fact, as soon as she had taken the pills, she called us in and told us what she had done. When my sister called 911, our mother helpfully told us exactly what pills she had taken, information we relayed to the emergency responder.

She survived. She set everything up very deliberately so she would; it would have been the easiest thing in the world for her to take the pills when we weren’t home, if she was so inclined. It was never about her wanting to die. It was about her wanting us to prove that we cared enough to save her. Shortly thereafter, we moved out of that house–our grandmother took care of us until our father returned from work, and it didn’t take long for him to secure sole custody (for obvious reasons). Mom spent some time in a mental hospital, where we visited her regularly until moving halfway across the country that fall.

I still saw my mother regularly after June, 2003. I only completely severed contact with her nearly six years later, in early 2009. But after that June day, while she was still my mother, and I still loved her, I was never able to trust her again. I was never able to persuade myself, as I once could, that she cared about her children as anything other than a tool for her own emotional validation.

In June, 2003, a woman failed to commit suicide. But my relationship with her, nonetheless, had started to die.

I’m not a “good writer”

Or so I’ve been led to believe all my life. Not by concrete words to that effect–quite the contrary, my verbal skills were overwhelmingly praised through my entire time in academia. But despite this, I’ve never conceptualized myself as “good at writing”, as a person who Writes.

Sure I occasionally jotted down my thoughts, sure other people told me they were lucid and interesting, but that doesn’t make me a writer, right? It makes me, I don’t know. A pretender. Someone with delusions of literary talent. Playing in a sandbox while other people are building skyscrapers.

How did I reach this conclusion? What happened to make me think this way? I don’t know if I can pinpoint a specific causative event, especially since I’m still in the process of unpacking how far down this lack of faith in my own skills goes. But part of the problem, I am pretty sure, is that I am a descriptive, rather than creative, thinker. I can articulate my experiences and observations. I’m told I can do it well. But I can’t invent, I’ve never been inclined in that direction.

It’s taken me years to grasp that “can’t invent” is not synonymous with “can’t write”. Even now, while I recognize it intellectually–certainly my love of nonfiction points to this conclusion–I have trouble believing it on an emotional and personal level. Yes, essay and other nonfiction writing are skills. I know this. But I am unwilling to accept that they are skills I have, despite evidence to the contrary.

This blog, as with so much of what I do these days, is an attempt to unpack the assumptions I’ve made about myself. To find the ways I’ve learned to minimize myself and my accomplishments, and to challenge them. To gain confidence and hopefully to connect with other people along the way.

Maybe I’m not a great writer. But I’m not a bad one, and I can get better.