v u l v a l i c i o u s
we were talking tonight about how it feels to be raised up wrong. about learning co-dependence from our mothers because they learned it from theirs, who probably learned it from theirs. a genetic condition passed down the line, one after the other.
i am stopping it with myself, of course.
but i started explaining the way it feels to express desire: how tenuous and terrible the whole experience is for me. because if i tell you what i want and you tell me yes, there is a part of me that believes you're doing it because you feel obligated.
(because my mother has never told me what she really wanted, just let my wants or needs take the place of her own. she never understood that i could see the disappointment in her when she did that. she didn't understand that i learned quickly that the way to counteract it was to know what she wanted and tell her it was what i wanted. that if i did anything else, i knew i'd just be fixing her later, putting together her sadness and tears and broken pieces)
and if i tell you what i want and you say no, there is a part of me that believes you're doing it because you don't care about me.
(because the way we showed care was the lie, the replacement of our own desires with those of someone else. and so the no is not simply a no, it is a rejection of me and all that i am. if you were able to tell me no, you must hate me)
i was learning this at 6, not crying at death but instead going and comforting everyone. holding those tears til i was 13 and they exploded out of me.
not just at 6, but through my youth. not crying. not ever. waking myself up in the middle of the night sobbing and not knowing why, but nodding politely when they said, "she never cries at anything."
at 16, when my mother was out of work. driving her places to "make her happy." holding her while she cried and thinking i was failing because i hadn't caught this one in time.
at 19, coming home and promising we could fix it all together. telling jokes until she laughed and hoping this would be the thing that made her depression go away.
even now at 33, drawing her cards and choosing the food on her hospital menu. pretending not to notice that she's not all there, and instead focusing on the television.
i don't know when i learned that my job was to provide a distraction from pain, but it must have been early. it formed me, shaped me into a tiny performer who'd jump on the tables to sing.
and what i can't explain is that some of the parts of me that were formed in this way are the ones that feel the most right. i feel at home intuiting the wants of a stranger across a lighted food case.
i size them up by looks and within 3 questions they think i know them. the power is heady. godlike. i know their wants before they do, and i feel in control.
and i must have wanted that then as much as i do now.
so we were talking and we both understood all of it. and i realized that's the reason we're in it together. we read each other back and forth, trading wants carefully. maybe we always acquiesced to one another. maybe so.
but we made it pretty far, i'd say.
we're still learning how not to be these people who take too much care of everyone else. we are fucking up and then running to each other with wounds and tears. talking through it in shared language.