December 9th, 2009


Heisenberg's Bastard, part I, or, The whole flock of ships*--

In which I take a jackhammer to the cement encasing my personal Chernobyl

"When someone tells shows you who they are, believe them."
--attr. to Maya Angelou

Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn't mean it
I just want you back for good
Whenever I'm wrong just tell me the song and I'll sing it
You'll be right and understood
--"Back for Good" by Take That, 1995

The books and the teachings all said that a wife must submit to everything except for sin. And making me give away my car wasn’t sin. In fact, it was a good deed. Why was I so selfish? What was wrong with me?
So I sadly but obediently gave away my cute little car to a poor man who worked at our Bible school (not telling him that I *had* to, of course) and then had to get up an hour early in order to drive Mark to work every morning. That hour early was horrid. I had to drop Mark off and then sit in the parking lot of my work for an hour every morning until my job’d doors opened for the day. It was miserable.

He was very displeased at my lack of cheerfulness about the situation, and made sure to let me know, in a pastoral way, that it was a mark of my lack of spirituality. A good Christian would have gladly given up her car at the request of her spiritual leader/husband, you see. Spiritual leaders know best, and the role of a follower is to cheerfully submit.
"Shutting off my Brain, Part 4" from "The Tale of a Passionate Housewife Desperate For God," by Journey

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

--Omar Khayyam, E. Fitzgerald translator.

This is not a linear narrative, because I did not experience it linearly, but in a Groundhog Day way, cycles of events repeating over and over again - or more like some video game in which one must keep rerunning dungeons, fighting the same bosses over and over again because there's no save point, and no way to skip ahead either. This is a Rashomon narrative, because all narratives are Rashomon-style narratives - the way I remember my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, and tried with the fury of a thousand suns to burn out of my mind, to ignore and cover over by living in the present, by telling myself that since it was all over and done now and only I'd been hurt it didn't matter - except that wasn't true, it wasn't "over" and it did matter, as every single younger child in my family has gone through self-harming and depressive episodes too.

My father always claimed that he loved me, just like he loved my mother, and that the fact that he'd adopted me proved that he loved me even more than an ordinary parent.

At odds with that was how he behaved to her and to me in the subsequent years.

--People would say to me even as a kid - other children even, who already knew something of the ways of the world and were not always fooled by words: "Probably your father is so hard on you because you're not really his," as if that were both necessary and sufficient condition for abuse - but even as a kid I knew that wasn't it, or not all of it: partly that was mere logic, because he was also similarly hard on the rest of us, so it couldn't be mere genes determining reaction; he pulled the same stuff on my siblings who were his biologically, so it seemed to be more a problem with parenting generally, since absence of shared DNA was neither necessary nor sufficient.

And yet - there was always something going on between us that I could never fully nail down, something nebulous and yet undeniable, like the Pleiades, some extra hostility and bitterness against me that went beyond the usual "you children just want my money/you children don't appreciate how hard I work for you,.you children hate your old man and dream of pushing him down the stairs in his wheelchair/a prophet is without honor in his own country/you don't appreciate what a sensitive soul I am/you're all trying to persecute me by [not getting perfect grades/jumping on the furniture/being loud on the stairs/etc]/if it weren't for me you'd be starving on the streets, I own everything that is yours and don't you ever forget it/etc" that he subjected us all to, daily.

I always loyally replied, "No, he hates us all equally," -- but sometimes I couldn't help but wonder if there was not, in fact, some sort of male dominance thing going on whereby he was jealous of my sperm donor's prior intercourse with his wife and I was the unerasable reminder of it--

Well, I wasn't wrong that there was more there than an angry suburban dude feeling trapped by his familial responsibilities, but it was way worse than that.

Some time ago, in the course of one of his perennial attempts to get me to tell him it was all okay and he's not a Bad Person for having abused me all those years because he couldn't help it due to his background while simultaneously acknowledging that really I deserved it for being such a bad kid, I finally got the real explanation, the key that made sense of so bloody much which hadn't even made sense.
Some of the seriously crazy-making things I could sort of figure out, over the years, like the way he would hurl the accusation that "I look so much like her" as if that were justification for his losing his temper at me in some outrageous fashion for some trifle or misunderstanding. Collapse )

Heisenberg's Bastard, part II

Can you catch Sin Cooties by material cooperation with heretics?

I didn't know. I didn't like the ads, they made me think; but they also made me think that if I was going to insist that Catholics be free to publish anything and everything we wanted, then I had to extend that right to everyone else, too, and what was immoral about presenting the arguments of the opposition (let alone in such a passive and peripheral way as making camera-ready-copy) to be openly debated in print since even St. Thomas Aquinas did it, why half the Summa was spent on dissenting views--

I didn't mention at home that I was statting ads for heretics, though; I knew that would be a no-win situation.

The turnover rate there was enormous, as was the wastage rate of materials due to inaccurate order transcriptions and rushing - it wasn't so much "measure once, cut twice," but "measure? what's that mean?" - only I assumed then that this was unique to this particular disfunctional plant, not common to the industry as I subsequently have learned. It was scary, not just the constant sexual talk that taught me what "smegma" was and "felching" and who Rosie Palmer and her four sisters were and how handcuffs went with sex, and the yelling and occasional fisticuffs among the 'roid ragers; Collapse )

Heisenberg's Bastard, Part III

When the game is rigged, the only way to win is not to play there is no way to win - or not to play

It got a lot easier, in terms of my own ethical center and sanity - not that it got any better from a day to day basis, but at least I didn't have to angst over whether I was being a Bad Kid so much. But he hated unarguing compliance even more than he hated resistance and would mock me for being a milquetoast, "meek," "lukewarm who will be spat out of the mouth of the Lord" when I wouldn't give in to his baitings, the more bland and emotionless I managed to make myself, the better I got at wearing a faint, fixed smile so that I wouldn't be accused of "sulking" (even when I wasn't at all, when I was actually feeling fairly okay & just being quiet with my face its natural shape) and likewise wouldn't be interrogated over what I "had to smile about" for being too cheerful (if, God forbid, I actually was feeling happy about something.)

"You're taking the path of least resistance," he'd sneer - and how could I argue? Collapse )

Heisenberg's Bastard, part IV

Some animals just are more equal than others--

It's more important that we all suffer and eat all the shit he dishes out, than that he have to face up to his own responsibilities - because he is The Good Guy and the one who deserves protection, that nobody else merits. The last time he decided he was going to "reconcile" with me - with those revelations that broke my last psychic brake cable - I told him, I warned him in advance that I didn't think he could bear to listen to me, to hear me out, to listen to how badly he'd hurt me over the years and how these were systematic patterns that he did to all of us and was still doing and needed to stop if he really didn't like having us keep on walking away from him. That there couldn't be Reconciliation without Truth, and truth hurts. He insisted that he could handle it - and then broke it off abruptly when I yet again wouldn't give him easy absolution, saying that it wasn't doing either of us any good, as if I hadn't warned him all along that he couldn't handle the truth, and that I was making him drink too much again - Oh yeah, party of personal responsibility!

"You're so lucky to have such a happy family, you're so lucky to have the parents you have, you're so lucky they're together and not divorced like mine, if only I could have your home life" - Yeah, if only. I'd have traded in a heartbeat, all those years when I was wondering if I cut my elbows with a razor blade like in Quo Vadis, Collapse )

Heisenberg's Bastard, Part V

Of course I'm a fanatic and a milquetoast at the same time - wave/particle, legitimate/bastard, evil-selfish-brat/goody-two-shoes, it's a wonder I even exist--

My brothers were allowed to go on school and scounting trips to Canada, Pennsylvania, out West, to go rock climbing and rafting and have lives as kids because they were males and males needed freedom (and children, or at least male children, shouldn't be coddled, see Good Old Days of unsupervised play) while it wasn't safe for girls to walk down their own suburban block in broad daylight in company let alone go away from paternal protection because Something Bad Might Happen (even though the Somethings Bad that did happen always happened under our own roofs or those of trusted acquaintances and by friends and relatives, in our extended families); but even my younger sisters were allowed more freedom than I - even when I was in college and they were in high school, and after - I was the one who got yelled at for being half an hour late from an unannounced curfew that I simply should have known I was bound by, by pure natural reason.

Yet I also got ranted at as an evil destroyer and/or destructive fool for calling to let my father know I might be twenty minutes late because he hadn't thought to fill up the tank when he had the car earlier, too.

Then he'd get mad if I timidly begged, or grovellingly apologized, too, because I was making him out to be some kind of tyrant by being nervous around him of provoking his disapproval, and I should be bold and courageous and just tell him to bugger off if he was out of line. Collapse )