It was easier to maintain a bit of self-deception when I lived alone. Living in family strips me of my anonymity and blindness. In a way, it’s like living with a bunch of mirrors and echo chambers. When I lived alone, there were no witnesses. I could construct an identity to present to the world and there was no one at home, except the cat, who politely never spoke of it, to challenge my consistency. There were no eyes in which I was reflected, no voices repeating my words. I felt mature, responsible and grown-up. After all, I lived alone and took care of myself. I had a job and fed myself, put myself to bed, and, most mornings, woke myself up. Such a big girl! Now I go to bed afraid I won’t be able to fall asleep and awake afraid I will be tired. Instead of having compassion for a little one’s nightmares, I dread middle of the night disruptions and feel like crying when they occur because, selfishly, I know I’ll struggle to get back to sleep and I am tired.
I want to be angry with the kids. I am angry with the kids. It’s not right or fair of me, and that makes me even angrier. I feel like I’ve been poked with a hot stick. I feel shaky and scared and I don’t understand. I don’t know if I even want to understand. I want to run away from this hatred, this anger, this confusion, all the lies and fakery. And yet, what have I got in my own life but deception when I refuse to explore or know what it is I want to do, how I want to be? I don’t want to be like this – bitter and defensive. I pretend I’m unworthy, undeserving, or insulted, just so I can avoid actually being me.
Who owns my life? I feel sick and paralyzed if I even allow the question to enter my mind. I don’t want to have to answer for it and I don’t want to answer that I don’t even know where to start to answer. I’ve set out to capture it, or at least pursue it, and I choose to do so at the keyboard rather than with pen and paper, that exploration of unknown territory in a rustling, inky, wet, messy and too real way. It’s safer to be typing. I feel shielded by the computer. I feel clinical. I feel in control. Nothing will seep out or sneak out that I can’t backspace over or delete, like I just did to get “can’t” right. I’m still editing, I’m still suppressing, I’m still withholding.
I’m still stuck and I feel not so much angry as ashamed, less indignant and more defeated because I’m not brave enough to really look. If I look and know, then I might have to do, or at least try. People will watch me try and they’ll have to know I am trying and they’ll question and wonder and be skeptical and expect that it’s not going to work, or wonder why on earth I decided I wanted to do that and shouldn’t I just do this, it’s much more suitable, much more predictable, and ought to be good enough.
Then I think it’s that I won’t be able to do what I want to do, or there won’t be enough money, or security, or certainty in who I am. It will uproot our lives too much and I don’t want my life changed. Yet, I want life, don’t I? I want to be me, don’t I? But how can I when I’m not even sure who that is or how to do it? I’m afraid again that I’ll fail, again. I can pretend now, but what if I look in the mirror, see myself and realize how far away I am and how hard it is to get there? And if I know where I am, I really have no excuse not to try. In fact, I know I won’t be able to let myself not get there.