So I decided to make an attempt to redeem a really godawful day by wandering in a used bookstore for a bit. And while I was wandering, I decided that I wanted to see if I could find something by bell hooks, because a number of people I respect speak so highly of her work.
Intersectionality in action, there.
bell hooks has nothing in the feminist theory section, nor in the women in history section, nor, for that matter, in the race issues section; the three titles in the used bookstore were filed under 'African-Americans'.
And I found myself thinking about the discussion brownfemipower was hosting, about the work of women of color being sidelined, pushed to the back end of the semester as an if-we-have-time. And I'm wandering this bookstore going, "Wow. If I were just puttering about in the women's studies section, I'd never know bell hooks existed." Though there were a couple of titles in there about critiques of mainstream feminism from a POC perspective.
Intersectionality means that nobody knows where to shelve your damn books. It means that only people who are looking at whatever subissue the linear one-person-one-categorisation has lumped you into will see what you have to say, and the fact that you have more to say than fits neatly into the box is irrelevant. Procrustean shelving practices prevail, because there's no damn way of shelving the book in the five different places it goes.
I don't even know how to fix it. Looking at the world in a tangled mess of Venn diagrams doesn't help anyone find something in the damn bookstore. Not until we get VR bookstore interfaces and can shelve everything in all the places that it goes, so people can look in their boxes and find everything that belongs in the box.
Check your local bookstores. Where can you find bell hooks?
(But I now have a copy of Ain't I A Woman: black women and feminism.)
27 November, 2007
So I decided to make an attempt to redeem a really godawful day by wandering in a used bookstore for a bit. And while I was wandering, I decided that I wanted to see if I could find something by bell hooks, because a number of people I respect speak so highly of her work.
The promised sequel to Hiding the Cow, which I got around to because of Renegade Evolution's latest nony, who fancies spewing about how women are all gentle and nurturing and how that shows what's wrong with people today.
A mythological interlude:
A long time ago, back when the world was forging legends, humankind got kind of pissy and uppity and disrespectful of the gods, as humans have done from before time immemorial. This time was sufficiently bad that Ra, who was having a sensitive day, asked His daughter, named Gold, to go explain to them the error of their ways and instruct them in proper respect.
And Gold gathered her power together, and went among the humans to apply proper chastisement, and was known as Sekhmet, Whose Name means "The Powerful One".
And after She had been explaining things for a wee bit, the other gods went to Ra and said, "You know, if She doesn't stop explaining, we're going to run out of humans." And Ra sent to His daughter and said, "I think they have the idea now, you can come home." And She said, "You can never be sure. And besides, I'm enjoying myself." And her enjoyment ran red across the land.
So the gods did as the gods will do in such circumstances, went to wise Djehwty (Who the Greeks called Thoth) and said, "Djehwwwwwwty, you're smaaaart. Fix it! Pleeeeeeeeaaaase?"
And Djehwty had many jars of beer brewed, vast numbers of them, and dyed them with red ochre. And He went to where Sekhmet, replete with the day's slaughter, was sleeping, and poured out the beer until the land ran red with it around Her. And when She woke, she saw the red liquid, and grinned, and dipped her head to drink, and got completely smashed, and ran away to Nubia.
And eventually that caused problems too, and Djehwty was sent to fix it, and bring Her home, and as She bathed in the Nile at the cataract of the border, the bloodlust washed out of her, staining the waters red, and She was again Gold, the beautiful daughter of Ra.
And these two ladies, Hetharu and Sekhmet, They have Their own lives, their own natures, and yet, if you dig deep enough down, you find that the lady Who loves and celebrates all that is good and beautiful has a rage in Her if that beauty is defiled; the lady Who avenges, purifies, and cleanses taint does so out of that same deep, profound love. The one slides into the other so easily when the balance is tipped. The Lady of Intoxication in both Her Names will share a draught of beer with you, especially if it's red, but there is also the madness of music and the madness of blood, and they are not so far apart as some would like to think. Ask your local maenad.
End mythological interlude.
When I wrote 'Hiding the Cow', I wrote about how I kept running into people who just couldn't imagine me as a Hathor kid, couldn't see me as someone who would revere Her first among goddesses. Too cranky, too abrasive, not nurturing enough, or something. But the face I show the world is much more Setian than rooted in Mother's sister-self; the outsider, the alien, the border-walker and challenger. Not the surgeon, not the plague-bringer, not the cauterising flame, Whose kindness can be so cruel.
I don't show that either, when I can help it.
And one can say that it's because it's not kind to perform brain surgery on random passers-by without getting proper consents first, or that it's not nice to be cruel and one should strive to not make other people's lives that much more difficult.
But really, mostly, I'm afraid of power.
Sekhmet, The Powerful One.
Who can get just as drunk on the joy of slaughter as She can on a shot of something. Who enjoys inflicting the pain and terror. Who ...
... if you live long enough with someone who hoards information, ideas, notions about a person, hones them to a point, to a razored, jagged edge ...
... it's hard to not get good at knowing where to put the knife.
... and now to twist it.
It's so easy.
It feels so satisfying. To take whatever is inside, all the pain at things not being right, at beauty defiled, whatever outrage I suffer or the world around me suffers, and turn it around, and drive it back into someone's gut.
And there are clean ways of doing the surgery, and there's the slide into dipping one's shaggy leonine head to drink the blood from the landscape, and it's not easy, and it's not clean, and there's a line somewhere but it's hard to know when one's crossing it.
And because I fear it, I fear myself, because I hold that potential within me, just as much as I do the potential to nurture and heal. They are not disparate things, cleanly separated, either; the surgeon is a healer, cutting out the cancerous. The mother must defend, and must not smother with overkindness. Joy can be marred. Rightness can be restored. It's all a seamless flow from colour to colour, red and gold mingled together, thread by thread.
24 November, 2007
Provoked somewhat by discussions on Bastante Already and in reference to Carol Hanisch's 'The Personal is Political', a personal note to the internet.
Those pesky personal problems that I drag into the public arena when I have the time and energy:
Mental health concerns being treated as strongly distinct from other health concerns. Shaming of people with depression and other mental health issues, treating those concerns as being moral failings rather than health matters. Frequent lack of coverage for extended therapy and other mental health concerns in American health care coverage. The dependence of adequate health care coverage on adequate employment in the United States. Attention to diagnosis depending on the sex, ethnicity, class, and other privilege status of the sufferer, such that a suburban kid may actually get the care they need while an inner-city kid may get kicked out of school for being 'disruptive' or something similar. Socially deranged attitudes towards body shape and health that encourage eating disorders, among other consequences.
Privilege-fraught access to education in general. Failure to put forward advancement of actual learning in the schools rather than constant grinding over the same topics repeatedly. Lack of care for students with special needs, whether those are remedial, medical, advancement, or something else. High costs of education. Lack of learning actual essential skills for living. Failure to teach how to evaluate and weigh evidence. The promulgation of misinformation about socially denigrated activities in the hope that fear will keep people from having sex, smoking pot, or whatever else is being discouraged by propaganda. Lack of informed status on such things as the basic beliefs of Islam, the principles of supply and demand, the mechanics of disease transmission, and any of a number of other matters that have worldwide import.
The equation in the United States of form of employment with selfhood. The shortest span of paid vacation in the supposedly civilised world. The expectation that employees, especially but not limited to men, will work overtime rather than have time to spend having their actual lives. The lack of childcare facilities available in most workplaces. The cultural prioritisation of financial gain as measure of success.
The shaming and fetishisation of rape and assault victims as Damaged People. The lack of adequate awareness of social coercion and date rape. Slut-shaming and other tools of oppressive normative sexuality. Seeking to diagnose and pathologise whatever is wrong with people who do not have normative sexuality on the assumption that nobody could be like that without having been abused. Treatment of people who do not constantly adhere to normative sexualities as being intrinsically dangerous, antisocial, abusing, or otherwise disruptive. The unpersoning of sex workers. Treatment of sexuality as something intrinsically unable to be approached with rational thought, commitment-keeping, or human respect. Treating personal sexuality as a political statement.
Lack of awareness and consideration for verbal and emotional abuse. Boys will be boys. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.
Lack of social and legal support for alternate family structures. The inability of same-sex partners to legally marry in most of the United States. The presumption that any non-monogamous family unit is polygynous.
The social presumption of Christianity. The fact that questioning the hegemonial status of someone else's holiday leads to accusations of hostility to Christianity, "War on Christmas", anti-religion sentiments, secularism, or whatever other deranged slanders crop up especially around this time of year. Generalised religion-bashing sentiments that only make sense if one assumes the axioms of a particular flavor of Abrahamic monotheism. Anti-Christian sentiments expressed in the assumption that nobody present could possibly object.
Sexism. Including anti-male sexism. Gender essentialism. Mystical frou-frou womb worship. Sexual reductionism. Transphobia. Ableism. Calling things "lame". Calling things "retarded". Calling things "gay". Homophobia. Anti-bisexual bigotry. Racism. Presumption that the customs of one's people are laws of the universe. Ethnic supremacy. Male supremacy. Female supremacy. Kink supremacy. Polyamorous supremacy. Reconstructionist supremacy. Imperialist treatment of non-Western nations and ethnicities.
And quite likely rather a few other things I can't think of right now.
They could sometimes admit that women were oppressed (but only by "the system") and said that we should have equal pay for equal work, and some other "rights." But they belittled us no end for trying to bring our so-called "personal problems" into the public arena - especially "all those body issues" like sex, appearance, and abortion. Our demands that men share the housework and childcare were likewise deemed a personal problem between a woman and her individual man.
From the new intro to "The Personal is Political", linked above.
23 November, 2007
So last night I called all my immediate family members -- both parents and my brother -- to wish them a happy Thanksgiving.
Talking with my brother is ... complicated, sometimes. It's like we grew up in slightly different worlds. He was never close to Dad, particularly, for reasons I understand, and maintains a closer relationship with Mom than I can imagine ever wanting. He asked me why I was finally in therapy, and I told him I'd hit rock bottom, and after a moment he said, "I'm happy for you", and ... it's a funny thing to say, though I know what he meant.
He apparently went to a Thanksgiving gathering with Mom and about a dozen (according to him) or twenty (according to her) other people. She had a great time. He felt alienated by all the strangers having their family togetherness holiday, pretty much.
And he said, "I hate holidays like this."
I asked him why.
"I don't have a family," he said.
The divorce and all its chaos happened while he was still living at home -- I was off to college, and then I went mad, and I stayed here rather than come back. Which I needed to do, and at the same time I wasn't there for him. I'm pretty sure he was upset by that, by not having my support, but I could barely keep myself together at the time.
I know he walked out somewhere in there, lived with friends for a few weeks, just didn't deal with them, because of something Mom said to him, trying to pull the coercion tricks on him because he wasn't bending to her will, because he was trying not to take sides.
I know he was a lot more scarred by the dissolution than I was. I don't know how to soothe that at all.
I just ....
"I don't have a family."
22 November, 2007
Remember, kids, Sesame Street is for grownups!
Not only does cookie cookie cookie start with C, but COMPLETELY CRAZY does too!
19 November, 2007
"What do you want?"
"I have everything I want."
I have never in my life been enough.
When I was about twelve, I think, I started getting my mother chocolates for Christmas. Cherries, with the stems on, in dark chocolate, a half-dozen of them every year. Because I was certain she liked them, certain there would be no disappointment at receiving them, no pause, and then the little sigh, and then the muted, "Thank you" that made it clear that somehow, something had managed to fall short. There was a failure there, something unspoken, a perpetual wound.
And that's without getting into the dramatic spikes of failure at impossible standards, the betrayals by the incomprehensible. The messages I get occasionally, seesawing wildly between "we've got the bestest mother/daughter relationship evar" and "I don't know what to do with you, you shut me out, I'm uninvolved in your life, you reject me", the threat of the latter a now-fangless attempt at enforcing the former.
My father would tell me that he knew I could do better, sometimes, and I know he meant it in that encouraging way, look, the goal is a little further on, it's within your reach, just stretch a little. When I pointed out how poorly "you can do better than this" interacted with Mom's "nothing you do will ever be good enough", he nearly cried.
There is always the capacity to strive, the obligation to strive, and the knowledge that it will not suffice. Hamartia is the Greek word, often translated as "sin": missing the mark, missing the target, the arrow falls short. I grew up steeped in hamartia, leaving stains on my bones like tea left in the cup too long; any success was inadequate, any failure was proof of inadequacy. The moral qualities of failure, of sin, turned me into a newt, breathing in guilt and shame in the constant flood of hamartia.
Metamorphosis happens. As does hamartia. I cannot keep breathing the same thing as I did before I grew legs, but hamartia calls to me, a safe place to swim, even the toxins are familiar. Until I realise I'm choking, choking on shame and guilt that's just ... floating about ... and there's nothing here to breathe. Not a baby newt anymore, soaking in poison through my skin. I can drown, here, now, in hamartia and the things that flow in it.
"What do you want?"
"I have everything I want."
They're amazing things, the moments where the world coils in close and simplifies down into just us for a while, the shape of being me and being him and us being the two of us and setting down the outside for a while, his hand on the back of my neck, my face buried against his shoulder, the urge to please and serve told that it does well, that it is ... enough.
I have never in my life been enough, I told him, and I cried. Never been enough. Never been able to put down the striving to be better and more, or the knowledge that no striving will be sufficient.
And he said he had been sad, and I had given him happiness, and this was enough.
For a little there, curled up in his arms, settled into the glowy contentment of satiated service, I ...
... can almost believe it.
17 November, 2007
A lot of people hate binaries, dualisms, that sort of thing. And I love them. And I often agree with the people who hate them, at that, because a lot of people misuse the concepts of duality in messy ways.
And I got a thought about this when I was responding to this post about transmisogyny and BDSM at Questioning Transphobia. Which relates to this post I made last month at Let Them Eat Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces, somewhat.
I wrote over at QT:
The other thing about the whole “there’s this binary (and implicitly gendered) thing going on here” is … okay, when I was a babykinkster and trying to find resources to understand whether there were people like me out there, people who might be the complement to the stuff in my head, I kept running into things that … made no sense to me. There isn’t one dualism there — there’s a myriad of complexly nuanced different dualisms, some of which line up pretty closely to each other some of the time. And most of the publically available material doesn’t speak to the stuff in my head.
Top and bottom; dominant and submissive; sadist and masochist; all different things, which spread out like a fan or a peacock tail and not everyone has all the feathers. And some people conflate these with male and female; active and passive; abuser and abused; perp and victim; subject and object; this vast tangle of presumed other meanings.
And "male and female" has its own fanning morass of dualisms -- active and passive shows up again; violent and nurturing, we get there; public and private; bunches of moral dualisms depending on political and social beliefs; friend and foe (or foe and friend, depending); sometimes 'abuser and victim' turn up again; butch and femme; active and passive, sometimes, at that. Great whirling varieties of dualisms.
And lots of people don't fan them out. They presume that the bunch of dualities that they're dealing with all line up tidily, so one can say "dominant and submissive" and mean "maledominantsadistabuserperpbutchviolentactive and femalesubmissivemasochistabusedvictimfemmenurturingpassive". There isn't space to pull out and say, look, submissive doesn't mean masochist, say -- as I want to do occasionally -- or have some sort of sensical discourse that doesn't involve discussing victimisation -- where the thread on SM-Feminists degenerated to -- or have space for a female top, or for that matter people for whom gender identity isn't particularly connected to their kink preferences at all, a completely disjoint axis from the mishegasmishmashmess.
There's this whole sense that having one thing in there means buying into the entire unfanned mess, sometimes even without knowing what's folded in there and hidden away under the top feather. It's found safe to presume that because some of these things tend to go together, they're all words for the same thing.
And this is the gorgeous thing about dualities to me, the huge range of nuance one can get spreading out the feathers one has, combining all the different nuances that come of living on the spectrum between a thousand different this-or-thats -- and sometimes that's being all of one or another, sometimes living in the blended zone between them, sometimes not having any feather from that bird in the fan at all -- into this fractal of differentiated meaning. What does it mean to have 'submissive' fit but to have cognitive issues with 'bottom'? Here, there's someone with 'dominant' and 'masochist' both in the fan; there, there's someone with 'spanko' who doesn't fancy anything from the sadomasochistic duality at all; allí, someone who had a couple of feathers from the whole dominant-submissive bird, but a couple of them are kind of chewed up from past experience and so they tend to hold it carefully so they don't show.
It's this amazing dance of possibility, not just left or right but the full range of rotating possibilities, spun around and around like an orrery. Today, these bits of gender possibility, these bits of sexual possibility, these bits of religious possibility, all these variety of the possibles that exist, some of them line up here, but time moves on, they spin, the planets will be in a different position tomorrow. The satellite doesn't exist in my whirling brass soular system, but maybe it does in yours, and don't they sparkle when they spin? How dull it would be if they all swept around in straight lines, all the time, identical in everyone, never forming conjunctions or transits or aspects with each other, never dancing.
I was once trying to talk about gender and writing and got a response something like "kids are given pink or blue blankets when they're still in the crib, you can't not do gender in this particular way."
The blankets I had in my crib were yellow and green.
14 November, 2007
So for a while in my tracking logs for here I had a google hit for "why are people into stuff like BDSM? is it evolutionary?" which led, of all places, to my blogging for sex education day post, rather than any of my, y'know, posts about why I'm into stuff like BDSM. This has dropped out of my cache.
Now my google hit for that post is for "teen sexuality is a chemical imbalance or by choice".
12 November, 2007
I am so tired of my mother.
Which is, of course, why I'm stuck writing about it, because my entire universe keeps collapsingto "Goddamn, am I tired of my mother."
Every glitch, every petty irrationality, everything I snap at or over, somewhere along the way I come across this moment of revelation: oh, right, I go completely nonlinear here because of a pattern from my mother. I am tired of this. I want to be a crazy freak for a different reason for a bit.
I was going to print out "Have you ever gone mad?" from this blog and my detailed writeup of the assault from my LJ to hand to the shrink tomorrow, to have something to talk about other than my mother, but that was before a dispute and revelation led to me sobbing in my husband's arms about how tired I am of my mother. Sobbing and wailing to the point of nausea (how I hate that emotional upset makes me want to vomit) about how everywhere I turn, she's there, the echoing voice in my head, the patterns, the irrationalities, every damn problem I try to tackle, every issue I want to resolve, oh look, there are mommy issues. So maybe I should talk about how tired I am of my mother.
There's no escape. She lives in my head and I don't know how to evict her. I live five hundred miles away from her for a goddamn reason, and I still have these small signs that light up saying "Please do not push this button again".
And who am I kidding, anyway? So much of the madness is tangled up in having no refuge, no way of recovering, becoming sane, her obsession with the condition of the filthy sheets over showing any concern over my pain-wracked mind, fighting to stay where I was rather than go back anywhere near her where I would have to face the buffeting of her towering contempt. I don't know how to chase down the origins of that break, either, though she's not uninvolved. So much of the aftermath of the assault is tied up in not having anywhere safe to turn to, because my mother was untrustworthy and my father was emotionally shut-in and ... there's no escaping her there either, just a diversion of other reasons to be quite crazy that are at least slightly separate from the all-consuming howling madness that she taught me.
And my liege just asked me, "Do you want some tea or something?"
I said, "I want an exorcism."
He said he'd look for his manual for Catholic priests.
I am so tired of my mother.
Therapy is hard. I don't see any way of getting free.
A conversation I just had:
B peers dubiously at this catalog. It's a "for women!" pocketknife, containing "anything you might need for an emergency". This includes a mirror, nail clippers, needle and thread, and ... a little bitty perfume vial (perfume not included).
Dw3t-Hthr says, "..."
Dw3t-Hthr says, "Where are the needle-nose pliers? Back when I carried a purse, that's what *I* always had."
B says, "Heh. That does seem rather more useful."
(After hitting several overloaded links, he found it here, by the way, if other people want to point, laugh, and be kind of depressed. Amazingly, it comes in colours other than pink.)
Seriously, this is better than more ranting about my mother.
08 November, 2007
The name I post under to these blogs, Dw3t-Hthr, is one of the standard transliterations of an ancient Egyptian temple position, which means "Adorer of Hathor". (I will note that I tend to use Egyptian names for Her rather than the better-known Greek, but since we don't know what vowels they used, I use a variety of transliterations at more or less random.)
It struck me as an interesting thing that I picked that handle to post under, a while back, because the parts of me that resonate with Hetharu are not things that I much bring out in public spaces. I have had people tell me that they saw no influence of Her in me, and it has occasionally taken me a bit aback, until I thought a bit about how little of the parts of me that are Hers I reveal to the world at large. My public persona, especially online (apparently), is brusque, short-tempered, occasionally argumentative, somewhat withdrawn, puts up with no nonsense, and is not femme.
Hethert ... Hethert is the daughter of Ra, sometimes seen as the personification of the hand He wanked Himself off with to create existence. She bears the title Eye of Ra, a title of some several goddesses of manifest solar power, protectors of the sun. Her name means "House of Horus", house of Her husband, Heru-Wer, Whose eyes are the sun and moon, the vault of the sky; she is called Mistress of Heaven. Gold, she is called, the shining golden one, governing beauty, femininity, motherhood, joy. Lady of Intoxication, dancing the ecstasy of drunkenness. Healer, shade tree, Lady of the Sycamore. Hers is the rejuvenating power of sexuality, capable even of turning back old age. Lover of precious stones, especially blue and green ones: Her titles give her specific dominion over lapis lazuli, turquoise, and malachite; as She Who Reigns in Punt She looks over imported wealth, incense, luxury. The Mistress of Music's son is the musician, and the sistrum is frequently shaped in part in Her cow-eared likeness. As the Mistress of the West She receives the dead and brings them to rebirth just as much as She brought them to birth.
And people look at me and wonder how I might claim to love Her so, because aside from a manic fondness for blue things and perhaps a little mythological mockery in reference to The Distant Goddess, Her title from when She had to be coaxed back to Egypt with flattery and trickery rather than remain brooding outside the borders and depriving the sun of its protector and the land of its manifestation.
But seeing the cow is an intimacy, truly, not something that I put forward so often -- reference, perhaps, occasionally, but Her reflection in me is not something I am always entirely comfortable sharing. So I laugh at my choice of names, adorer of Hathor that I am, and reflect on things.
Like the vast amount of wrestling I am doing with my mommy issues, and the secret thread of that which is making myself capable of motherhood, of reflecting Her image. Not just cleansing myself of the traumas of my past, but this trial of worship, of preparing, of making myself more capable of manifesting Her nature in this manner, making more space to embody this goddess in this fashion. And this is a madness, a religious fanaticism, but it is nonetheless there, in all my striving towards adulthood, responsibility, mastering myself so that I can endeavour to avoid failing at this calling. And twined in with all that the curled up in my husband's arms, shaking with the force of it, knowing where I need to go, fear to go, ....
Like the deeprooted urge towards healing, towards support, that touch and mending of the wounded, which has to be held close, not loosed too freely or too readily, or I will spend all my life mending the unmendable. But I remember talking a friend out of suicide, once. Or getting someone in horrible personal pain to call me at three in the morning (my time), because she so clearly needed someone to talk to and there was nobody else. Or one of my classmates, shaking with pain, rocking and sobbing, and Her hand in mine, knowing that there was something that I could give her when she could speak, and the wonder of the giving and the receiving. And one could, if one wanted, chase threads of this into kink, into service, into the offering of support and dedication; I do not think that would be incorrect.
Like being reminded -- as Cube mentioned when I was venting about toonspace -- every so often that I brighten people's worlds, reveal joys to them that might otherwise go missed. That I show the world as a wondrous place, full of wondrous things, at least when I am well and balanced and kept properly maintained. (I lose this too easily.)
Like the constant play of music in my life, played or sung or performed or just rattling along in my head. Like years of training on piano and voice, a few with the flute, dabbling with teaching myself drum and bagpipe. My liege has commented on how charming he finds it that I sing along to things, sometimes under my breath, sometimes without seeming to notice that I am doing it; and he was not surprised that I remembered the music that was playing the first time we had sex, either.
Like long hours spent watching the infinite vault of deep heaven, and finding it warm and present and loving.
And wile they weren't singing about Her, the Who put it well:
Listening to you I get the music.
Gazing at you I get the heat.
Following you I climb the mountain.
I get excitement at your feet!
Right behind you I see the millions.
On you I see the glory.
From you I get opinions.
From you I get the story.
(There will at some point be a followup to this, titled 'Hiding the Lion'.)
05 November, 2007
Back to the mommy issues, alas. But this one is at least interesting.
One of the things that I wrestle with when trying to deal with my mother, trying to explain things and express them, is that the more stories I tell, the more I feel like I'm trying to present a cartoon as reality, present toonspace and toonlogic as things that actually work in the real bound-by-physics world. Trying to explain this makes me look like the crazy one. Which is of course one of those mechanisms-of-control, if trying to explain how something is broken makes one look deranged, there's no way of escape, getting out, getting support. (UTBM has, as one of those things-kids-of-borderlines-say, "My friends all think she's great!")
Every so often I come up with a story about her, and think, "If I tell this one, nobody will believe me." It's just too implausible, too weird, too off the wall, too ... toonworld. Here's one: Back in 2002 when the snipers were causing panic around Washington, DC, she forgot to stop for gas one morning and barely made it to work. She was furious with herself over this, up until she learned that a woman had been shot that morning at that gas station. At which point she sent my father an email mock-apologising for not stopping for gas that day.
And, okay, maybe that one story can make sense, in the context of a just-finalised acrimonious divorce, but, y'know, stack that up with my 'How I horrified the Shrink' story, with the time she decided to stop washing her hair to see if anyone would notice, with all these other things, and we've got a character that might work in a particularly exaggerated webcomic or a nineteenth-century satire. Not someone who really exists.
But anyway, I pinned down some of my issues -- I grew up in the universe of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Some people are normal people and operate like normal people, with normal physics, and so on. And some people are toons, and operate on toonlogic and with toonphysics. And some people are toons who look just like normal people; presumably there are some normal people who look like toons. And I don't know if I'm 'normal' or 'toon', or somewhere on the spectrum between them, and some people have implausibly large mallets in their back pockets for delivering chastisements for the violation of one set of rules or the other. It doesn't matter how soundly defeated some people are, they just reinflate and keep coming. And so on.
Are you real? Are you a toon? Am I real? Or a toon? I don't know. Some of my discernment got swallowed up by that borderline-black-box long enough ago that I don't know how to get it out again.
My liege keeps telling me I'm not as crazy as I think I am -- that my functionality is higher than I constantly fear it is.
But if I look down, I might fall. That's one of the unbreakable laws of toonphysics, after all. Never look down.
Sometime back in September (yeah, I have a backlog of things I want to post about, and the only other thing in my head is more mommy issues and I'm tired of mommy issues right now), The Wild Hunt noticed a small group of Christian blogs posting entries about paganism, and I went to look at them.
The one that particularly struck me was "Following the Wild Goose" at Eternal Echoes.
Why did the Wild Goose speak to those ancient Celtic Christians? To begin with, wild geese aren't’t controllable. You can’t restrain a wild goose and bend it to your will. They’re raucous and loud. Unlike the sweet and calming cooing of a dove, a goose’s honk is strong, challenging, strident and unnerving – and just a bit scary.
She goes on to write about the extended community that encompasses more than the human -- the manifest world as an expression of the will of the divine, animals as part of that dialogue among human, divine, and world, the value of the world of spirit as a part of the world that one lives in rather than a disjoint thing that does not touch on the centre of living.
And while I'm no Celt -- I leave that to my liege -- that doesn't mean that I don't have a shrine that Brighid shares in my house, accepting my cool water libations and occasional offerings of scent, milk, and whiskey. Integrated, a part of the spirit and the living of the house; my house shrine honoring its Two Ladies also houses all the miscellanea of day-to-day living -- the box of envelopes, a drawer with pens, stamps, and in theory nail clippers (in practice, at the moment, not so much), because the smooth maintenance of the extended household is a thing of spirit and reverence and also a thing of sometimes needing a pair of scissors. It doesn't make sense to separate them out to me, to pray for household peace and security in one place, and to trail about looking for a tape measure elsewhere, when all of this is a part of living and maintaining that household.
There is listening to the world, and knowing down in the bone that it breathes the will of the divine. I live in New England now, land of the Three Sisters, the corn and beans and squash twined together, a holy trinity of vegetable nutrition, each supporting the other in its own way, and feeding people well at the end. This is one of the secrets of the land I live in; I fully expect that the surrounding world will reveal a cornucopia of truths about the interrelationships between lives if one only pays attention. In ancient Egypt, the system was stark and clear; it is perhaps harder here without the richness of the thousand dualities that they knew then and there, but it can still be found, written in flesh as much as in storm and stone.
And when one listens, sometimes one can hear the voice of God, in the cry of the goose or the stormwind through the trees or the moon falling behind shadow or the clear returning glory of the sunlight, reminding and demanding that one attend, be present, listen to what it has to say. Maybe today it speaks of the seasons turning, or the end of drought, or the sun triumphant after another treacherous night beset by dangers; maybe it speaks of something more personal, more private, more demanding, down in the secret places that are never confessable, not in mortal tongues.
Sometimes the wild goose demands more than is easy to give. And one can turn away and listen only to sweeter songs, more pleasant, more flattering, or one can take the buffeting of the wings and hear the glory of the divine in all its registers.
03 November, 2007
It was probably a couple of months after I broke up with my first boyfriend, the one who assaulted me. Maybe a year after, the following summer, I mean. I was still a little shellshocked about it all, was wanting to talk about it with someone, was finally coming into a place where maybe I could. It was a bright, sunny day; I remember the light coming in through the windows.
I was old enough to not trust my mother with information right out, but not so old that I didn't try to hope she might turn somehow motherly if I gave her the chance. And I can't remember the context of the conversation, whether we were having some dispute, whether I brought it up out of the blue, any of that.
I asked her, "Did you ever wonder why [the ex] never calls anymore?" I think it was relevant to the conversation, or something.
She shrugged. "I figured he'd forced himself on you," like it was just something to shrug about, like it was normal, expected, something completely unworthy of comment.
I had no idea how to deal with someone who thought I had been raped and could not bring herself to care.
02 November, 2007
So I continue with this therapy dealie. This past session was spent largely on stories about my mother, at least one of which visibly horrified the shrink. (I may not have told that one here. I'll tell it another time.)
One of the ones I told was when I learned I couldn't trust her. Which ... what almost horrifies me now as an adult was that I knew this from the age of seven or eight or so, whenever this story happened, and yet I kept trying. Kept offering her things to break to see if she was going to break them again, like she always did. Kept giving her opportunities and being hurt when it didn't work out well. (And the shrink says that that sort of faith is good and human, but that doesn't make it not feel like a horror movie in retrospect -- don't open that door, you know the monster is behind that door, can't you hear the cellists?)
Anyway. At seven or eight I was seriously considering running away from home. I planned it thoroughly, in the oddly myopic way that kids do things -- I didn't have plans on where to go, I figured I'd go to a friend's house and work from there, but I had charts and diagrams and lists and things plotted out in where I'd put my stuff in the little red wagon -- money in a particular corner under other things so nobody would steal it, this much space for clothes, these critical stuffed animals, and so on. Twenty or so pages of notes about this -- I was a meticulous kid about that sort of thing.
And in a fit of, I don't know, generosity or weakness or something, I confessed to my mother that I'd been thinking of this. And she comforted me, patted me, made all the right there-there-dear noises, and I thought that maybe I wouldn't need those pieces of paper after all, all those carefully laid plans.
That night at about eleven I decided I needed a drink, and crept downstairs to get one from the kitchen. I overheard my parents talking in the living room -- or rather, my mother declaiming and my father grunting. I slipped up towards the edge of the door to listen, and heard, in vicious, dismissing, sneering tones, "... gave me this bullshit about running away ..."
I stood there, shocked to the bone, and I don't remember anything else of the conversation. I considered, fleetingly, bursting in on them, defending myself; considered getting the evidence of all my planning and presenting it as proof; considered just vanishing that night, I think, or the next day, to show her. And then I crept back upstairs, full of the shock of my mother's support and gentleness being a veneer over that contempt, too afraid to make a noise of getting a drink and getting caught having potentially heard that savagery. If she had that much hatred in her when she thought I didn't know, what would she do if she thought I knew? What would she do if she knew I caught her lying to me, expressing care and sympathy, pretending to be a friend, while she harbored that level of disgust for what I confided?
It's one of those things that has reverberations down the line, echoing in the cavernous hollows of the spaces between people. I am not put at ease by the 'polite social lie', but rather quite the contrary; I also deflect the question rather than speak untruth, if answering it truthfully would be inappropriate. (I honestly have no idea whether this is related to my decision at about the same age to stop lying. They aren't related in my memory, but.) I am not capable of considering the misdirecting social corner-padding a kindness; it's just another way for me to doubt my senses, for me to find a reason to mistrust.
My liege and I had something of a fight this week, because he had the basic respect for me to tell it to me straight. And then we went and we damn well fixed it, because all the parts were laid out mostly in the clear. Which reminds me of back early on in our relationship, when I anxiously told him I had a temper and might blow up under stress, and got the response, "Good. Then we will fight efficiently." It was very efficient; he even held me for some of it, the bit where I got lost in the old mommy-issues tangle of what is real, whether memory can mean anything, all of that mess that's why I can't handle the pretending. Keeping the truth straight is plenty hard enough.