Como luceros fríos

Sobre el olivar hay un cielo hundido y una lluvia oscura de luceros fríos.

03 February, 2008

It's Sunday night again and I've tried to do the things I should do this weekend. I saw people. I did stuff. But it isn't enough. It never is. Why does a hug from a friend make me feel like I'm about to start crying? The easy answer is everything else makes me cry, so why not this, too? The real answer is that it gives me permission to feel. And then, just as quickly, I deny myself that permission. Seeing a pair of hands outstretched, reaching out to me, it makes me seize up and I can feel it in my neck again at the base of my skull.

Why am I so ruthless with myself? How many more ways can I practice self-injury without actually picking up a blade?

I have defended my parents so many times. One emotion towards them that is so staggeringly not present is anger. I have a huge blank space there. I try to look for it and all I can find is sadness and defensiveness. And that leads to another round of disgust with myself. It's not that I can't feel any anger towards my abusers. The sadist I dated in high school, my first husband-- I have a whole world of hate for both of them. They both richly deserve every bit of hatred and contempt that I can muster. The attachments I had to them lingered, then fell away suddenly and I could admit what they'd done to me, I could be outraged and indignant and angry. But the anger with my parents comes in the shortest bursts, stomped out almost immediately. Especially when it's directed at my father.

When I think about all the effort I put into reestablishing my relationship with my parents after I left the cult, I feel kind of sick. But maybe I wasn't quite such a moron. I didn't try to move near them or anything like that. But I listened to them like they've never listened to me. I called them almost every week to talk to them. Since I left their house, my parents have called me maybe four times. In fourteen years. Would it have been so hard to pick up the phone and say I missed you, I was thinking of you, tell me about your life? So why am I still defending them? Why am I still protecting them from my own accusations? Why can't I pick up the phone myself and say Hey, you need to help me pay for my approximately a gazillion medications and therapy because IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT?

My father has acknowledged his abuse of me exactly once. I think I was fourteen or so, and he was not long out of in-patient treatment for his alcoholism. I guess he was doing that twelve step thing where you go around and apologize to everyone you ever looked at funny or whatever. He was very vague in referring to it all, but he said that none of it was my fault. I remember exactly what his voice sounded like. Strangled. I couldn't look at him while he spoke. Or respond. So he left. I was playing a game on our Commodore 64 computer, and I just kept on with it. Nothing was ever said again. He could have told on himself. He could have got help for me. Instead, he said he was sorry and I felt like I was supposed to forgive him. I mean, that's what you do, right? Wasn't he so brave for acknowledging what he did and telling me it wasn't my fault? When you are a kid and someone offends you, the adults make them say they are sorry and then you have to say okay and move on. If you don't, then you're the one who is bad. I imagined that he felt tortured by what he'd done. Did he? Does he? Or has he magnanimously decided that what's in the past is done and that he should just move on? And I want to know who hurt him when he was small. I want to excuse it all. I want him to be a victim, too. I want to stand in solidarity with him against the really bad people and I refuse to see his face amongst their numbers. Because I know where all of this is leading. It's leading to the place where I can't love him anymore. It's all leading to the place where I would rather kill him than lay eyes on him again.

Until then, I'll keep sending him birthday presents that consist of books about Appalachian music or language or any of those things. I'll keep remembering the time I got really sick on Christmas and had to go to the hospital and he carried me to the car. I'll keep seeing him in my nose, the color of my eyes, the shape of my face. I'll keep longing for him to tell me his stories, to talk to me, to notice me, to spend time with me. But I won't pick up the phone. I won't.


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