When one stays up all night and is forced to work third shift, one gets a little nuts.... the following was a musing that came from some part of my bitter brain - bitter because I was being deprived from my true love, sleep, no doubt....
In some ways she was taught that the sky was the limit. In a place where few went to college, and even less women escaped to higher education, she was the third generation of her mother’s family to attend college, second in her father’s. She was the one who lived her life in books, the written word a substitute for human interaction that she had grown to prefer. However, surviving outside the dysfunctional cocoon was going to require savvy that is only gained in action, in navigating the slippery slopes of humanity and its myriad of transactions. Such brokering exhausted her. She could only understand when the foreshadowing of some literary genius cued her into trouble brewing. And people in real life did not often let her know a page or so ahead.
Some clinicians would call this Asperger’s, and perhaps it is. However, she had only her inner compass to go from, and it was dented and spinning at best. She felt that she had nothing in common with them, or anyone, for that matter. Besides, she told herself, my grades are good.
Later in life her mother would try to convince her how well her life was going. At that point she was married to an alcoholic and mother to two children of her own. Yet something was missing from the picture her books had told her to expect. She was working two menial jobs for little money as her husband was fired from yet another job, leaving her holding the financial marital bag. She had a hormone-riddled teenager and a hyperactive toddler for daughters. And her mother stated the difficulties of her own life a generation before: Your sister was always messing up the house, your father was always leaving and probably chasing some women, and you were always in your room with a book. The implicit condemnation being: she had checked out of the land of the living, and given her mother no motherly joy as she was always escaping into a more insular world.
Tears arise. She had to derive comfort and completeness somewhere. It was not as if her family’s homelife was terrible. It was just too uncomfortable with the undercurrent of guilt that she felt at never being what was expected or wanted. Her father had wanted a son, called her his boy. This bookworm was not exactly what either parent wanted.
Later, when her own daughter retreated into the haven of her own filthy room to sketch magna-like anime characters, she understood. She did not try to invade, much. And she was slapped again in the face when she read the plot. Apparantly her daughter’s protagonist is haunted by her own mother, who is jealous of her powers and wants to kill her.
Tears arise again. Is there no escaping this feeling of inadequacy? No relationship she has is not fraught with unanswered demands, unfulfilled expectations, and the many ways she has failed to be the person they expect.
Her grandmother tells her that she herself has never felt depression or any of those problems. Mental illness is a crutch for the weak, a symptom of not having found god. Capitalized in her mind, she is his ambassador on earth, policing the actions and hopefully the thoughts of those around her with his rules and regulations. No eating meat on Fridays, three hours of silence on the Friday before easter, and attendance at mass on every holy day, your confirmation saint’s day and your namesake saint’s day. Everyone is named after a saint. Not all their lives’ plots are romantic or dramatic. And that nefariously cloudless substance, love, is fleeting or a crapshoot on bad luck roll.
Words are just words, she tells herself. Nothing that they say means anything. Encouraged by base intellectual rationalizing, she reinvented her emotions a hundred times a day, yet always reverted back to this victimless crime she called her life.
And a crime it was, as it persisted beyond her endurance day after day.
There were glimpses of light, in the smile or laugh of her youngest daughter. She had long given up expecting anything but hate-filled glances and demands from the oldest. Every once in a while someone would say something that would make her feel a crack in her shell, a comment of friendship or cconnectivity, nothing she was used to, so it would take her aback when it would occur.
Otherwise the farce continued unabated. Chemical release or relief was sought, and it provided only a weirder canvas for her emotions to be vomited upon.