Manual Labor

What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.

– Stephen Richards

Whether I think I can or I can’t, I’m right. I’m sure someone greater than me originally said those words, but I am thinking about them today. Co-dependency for me started in childhood, and has followed me all the days of my life… or at least, it did. Writing gave me a chance to let go of some of those fucks. I became driven to own my life, my mistakes in it, and verbally processing my interactions with others so that especially down the line, I got some clarity on them. It is cleansing to me to look back over the past months and years, realizing that I’ve gotten stronger instead of less so, because I realized that if everyone was allowed to take up emotional space, I wasn’t using mine… that being said, no one will ever have a real name on this web site unless they choose. I’d like for my next partner to be a real person, but it is not necessary. I gave Diane Syrcle a “Google Tattoo” because what happened between us happened when the balance of power was ludicrous. I was a child. She was an adult.

It may not have seemed predatory on her end, but it didn’t just come across to me that way. My parents and my adult friends would have had to jail me to keep me away from her, and God knows they tried. But they couldn’t see the underground letters and phone calls that kept our relationship alive against what is now my better judgment, because I am old enough now to see it from a parent’s perspective and not the swirl of emotion I was feeling then. When I started seriously thinking about having children, I thought about what it must have been like for my own parents as they tried to control my interactions with Diane, as they should’ve, but didn’t count on the fact that we both got sneaky about how letters and calls were executed.

To add insult to injury, I had an age-appropriate friendship with a 12-year-old at my church in which sometimes we were in choir together and a few times I helped her with her homework. Everything was above board, I was friends with her mom (and good friends at that, not someone I just knew peripherally), and she was the one who entrusted me with the ability to spend time with her daughter. Diane wrote said friend an e-mail and told her that my relationship with her daughter seemed predatory… and even then, I didn’t allow myself to get angry with her. Blood just ran out of my face and I stared into space, white with fear.

Thanks, Hector Projector.

A healthy relationship with Diane at that age would have been Diane’s good relationship with my parents and their allowance of access to me once she’d been vetted… and they were looking for any reason at all to have her arrested. At that age, things had been so logical. I hadn’t been physically abused, so abuse did not exist. I could not report what was not there.

Second of all, an arrest would have happened over my dead body, even if physical abuse had occurred. By that time, I was so enmeshed in her problems that I just wanted to solve them, and the ruminations ate me up. I wouldn’t have wanted to add to them for anything in the world… because that’s what children do when they’re afraid for their abuser instead of being scared of them. Plus, the thing that kept my weird shitometer at bay was thinking that everyone in my life was just prejudiced against gay people. I wasn’t wrong. They were. We weren’t doing anything wrong, we were just oppressed. I had another friend who, at the time, thought she was standing up for me by saying, “you leave them alone. They’re kindred spirits and they’re going to need each other.” However, even though that was the truth, it wasn’t all of it. You could see the transformation in my personality almost overnight as I went from handling 7th grade problems to 24-year-old problems, and since they were much more interesting, my grades and school life began to suffer, and I didn’t academically recover until college, except for English, but only when I had to write papers… and even then, they were rushed all-nighters without ever going to a library. I made up the entire bibliography because I knew all the publishers and I created great title names for my “sources.” It never caught up to me. I got As on all of them… except for my senior paper, because not only was I sick and missed three weeks of school, I was working hard on my then-girlfriend’s paper, and of course, hers meant more to me than mine. I got an A on that one, too.

By then, Diane had moved away, but the rewiring had been done over our two years in the same city, and was now irreparable… it has showed in every relationship since.

I am not a child anymore, so there is no reason to report. No reason to hold someone accountable to that level. Even as I write through my problems, I am writing around them. Sometimes I reflect on the fact that there’s more in the spaces than there is in the words, and how I may need to learn to write fiction. Because I know I can’t do it on my own. It’s a craft, and for whatever reason, I don’t got it.

But, of course, even in fiction there are parts of me that will stay inside, because we all have those demons that shouldn’t come out. I am much more well-suited for a manual entitled “What NOT to Do.”

….and perhaps, I’m writing it right now.



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