When I was a kid I always knew something was wrong. I had ideas that I knew weren’t normal. My great grandfather used to call me a solemn child when I was only a toddler. He’d never seen a kid with the self restraint and demeanor I had even as young as 2 or 3. He’d been a teacher for nearly fifty years. He’d seen his share of kids.
I can’t say I know what I was thinking back then. but I know some of my earliest memories were around stress about gender and identity. I knew the way I felt about myself was not how everyone felt about me. I made the rational decision to hide and suppress who I was at an incredibly young age. A decision that had far reaching consequences.
One of the things that happens when you suppress who you are is eventually you forget yourself. You become nothing, I’ve talked about this before:
What I’m going to talk about is how my relationship specifically with my mother developed. My coping mechanism was to reflect expectations, I would form to meet whatever people thought I was. In High School it made me reasonably well known, if you never challenge anyone’s ideas of who you are you’re very comfortable to deal with. but I digress.
My mother doesn’t have the ability to form deep relationships, and she doesn’t form particularly strong ideas of people. So when she was around I had no outlet to discuss anything serious. because my mother never expects anyone to have a serious conversation with her. It isn’t done. I used to contrive stories of minor issues and drama so that I could have “real” conversations with my mother and let her feel like she was parenting me. I couldn’t tell her anything serious that was going on because she couldn’t handle it.
I want to tell a story that will explain how that turn of events happened. There are two separate events. Both occurred when I was ten or eleven. The first was I attempted to kill myself. I’d taken a knife to bed with me and had woken up in the middle of the night. The only thing that kept me alive was the knowledge that in seven or eight years I could be out of there. I was so emotionally void that with a knife digging into my flesh the only thing that pulled me out of the tailspin was the only thing that could make me happy, leaving my parents behind and getting out of their house. To say I hated my parents would have been an understatement. My parents never knew this happened.
What came out of this event was the thought that I had to get away. A couple months later once the weather was warm enough I packed up a bag of food and some clothes, as well as some basic camping supplies. I was going to run away, I think my goal was a cousin who lived a couple hours away (by car) I’d made it pretty far for a kid. When it occurred to me that I hadn’t brought water. So after a couple hours of progress I turned around and made my way home, realizing that I wasn’t in a position to execute on the plan I’d created.
My mother came down that morning to find me outside my house, I’d been polite enough to lock the door on my way out and hadn’t brought keys with me. She let me inside, screamed at me for a few minutes about how ridiculous and stupid I was, then how late I had made her. Then went to work. We never spoke of it again.
The only kindness my mother has ever shown me was her absence. In the quiet I was not judged or manipulated, or lied to. I was not screamed at when she wasn’t present. When she was, I knew only anger either vocalized or silent.
As I’m writing this I’m understanding better that I should have expected her reaction. Like most people I think I was hoping for a better resolution. My mother has always claimed to be a progressive and enlightened person. I guess I believed the hype instead of remembering that anger is as anger does.