Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Floodgate to my Childhood

Side Note: So I went back to the post where I know I mentioned him and I'm completely dissatisfied with the pseudonym I picked back then, so I'm going to pick a new one.  I just don't know what yet, so for the moment, I'm just going to go with Boy (which amuses me for various reasons (not the least of which because he's more than ten years older than me)) which is DECIDEDLY different than Boyfriend, who I'm not dating anymore, and will henceforth be referred to as Riley (though I doubt I'll mention him as much).

So in both the previous posts where I've talked about Boy, I've talked about the fact that we can talk for hours and a) not notice and b) not be sick of each other.  For years, I thought that I had told every story I had; every secret I'd buried.  Turns out, that's really not the case.  And even if I had told all my stories, I've realized that I've pretty much never discussed them from an emotional standpoint of how they intimately affected my life. It's interesting, because in the course of about a month, I really have told Boy stories that I've never told anyone before, and the emotional details that go with them.

Boy and I are very similar in a lot of aspects.  Not personality-wise honestly, we're very different people in that regard.  But we have similar interests, fetishes, kinks, humor, mental-processes (though if we respond in tandem without planning it one more time, I think our coworkers are going to find a special punishment for us (and I, at least, won't blame them in the least)).  The similarity that has struck me, however, is that we were both very similar as children.  He had a lot of anger-management issues, which mainly manifested at school.  I had a lot of anger management issues that mainly manifested at my parents.

The biggest difference for me was that I had a very specific trigger.  And it this case, it relates to my younger sister, Carla.  I have two younger sisters, Carla, who is 2+ years younger than me, and Shea, who is 3+ years younger than me.  And let me tell you, those age gaps were huge when we were growing up.  I probably would have been closer to my sisters if I've been five or six years older, and I could fondly regard them as cute, kid sisters (instead of annoyingly immature, pseudo-peers).

Shea is smart, charismatic, athletic, popular.  I was a bit jealous of her when we were growing up (the charisma/understand people part of me didn't kick in until I was much older).  But, ultimately, we were kids who had a lot in common.  Carla on the other hand, I was never good at handling.

Carla is smart.  There is no denying that.  And I wish I could understand how she sees the world, because it must be utterly beautiful.  But growing up together, she might as well have been the devil to me.  She was diagnosed when she was extremely young, with a number of learning disabilities and behavioral issues.  She has ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, and is bipolar manic depressive.  The list is long, but I think I've forgotten something (or maybe two).

And when you lay her disorders out like that, it's hard to not be impressed (that's so not remotely the right word) by them.  Well, I can tell you that she's more than her disorders and every stereotypical thing.  And it is true.  She is more than her disorder.  But as a child, I couldn't see that.

All I could see was being the straight-A student who excelled at soccer and volleyball, loved art, and had a solid group of friends (even though, I knew even then, that I wasn't that close with them), but that was never good about it.  I was competent.  I was impressive.  I didn't have a meltdown at the drop of a hat.  And so Carla got the attention.  What little attention that was left from my parents, generally went to Shea.

Now, the perspective of a child is usually very skewed and egocentric.  But my parents admitted at the time (when Shea and I accused them of being preoccupied with Carla) that they did have to spend more time focusing on Carla.  I remember have the self-possession to tell them that the reason I always picked fights with them [my parents] was because even negative attention was still attention.  I think that was the first time I go through to them.  I was maybe ten at the time, possibly younger, not older.

I resented Carla endlessly.  And I resented Shea (to a significantly lesser extent) because her coping mechanism was to throw everything she had into being a perfect child.  The thing is, it worked for my dad.  Shea could do no wrong in his eyes.  So I was left with a father enamored of Shea, and both parents utterly distracted by Carla.  I, quite expectedly, always felt left out.

When I was about 16 (it was one of the last times I was traveling for sports) I ended up going out to dinner with my parents, which was unusual.  Shea was eating with her soccer team.  Carla had decided to mope in the room.  And I was done with my volleyball tournament and bored out of my mind.

We went to a really nice restaurant and I couldn't help but think that my parents were up to something.  Turns out, I was right.  They had been meaning to corner me for ages (I would guess on the order of years, not months).  I felt ganged up on, naturally, but they actually managed to talk through my upset and anger, which was rare for me.

They told me that they didn't get along with me, because they didn't understand me.  Well, yes, I knew that.  They told me that I was harder to relate to than either of my sisters.  I found that hard to swallow, considering Carla, but they assured me it was true.  And then they told me what I hadn't expected.  I scared them.  Me?! Scared them!?  They felt like I was condescending to them.  I didn't even know it was possible to be condescending to a parent (and deep down, I was surprised that my intention had come through).  I was so much smarter than them that they didn't know what to do.  And this, it was this statement that shocked me out of my mind.

Praise was not something I was used to.  Turns out, when you make a point to be so good at something that people take it for granted, that they take it for granted and don't praise you.  That might just be in sports, because it certainly hasn't proven to be true in theatre.  My parent's high school graduation card to me, brought me to tears, not because of the nice things they said about me, but because there wasn't even a small part of me that believed the nice things they said.  I was smart, I was a good person, they were proud.  These were all profoundly mind-altering belief-structures that I was not remotely prepared to accept.

I can look back at all of this now and see plainly how much my parents struggled with me.  When people ask me about my childhood, the first thing I'll tell them was that I was not an easy child.  The second is that I wanted to be an adult more than anything else in the world, which confused my parents.  My poor parents who had a child they had no idea how to cope with, a child who pretended to be perfect to hide he insecurities, and a child who scared them because she could and did manipulate them into doing what she wanted because she didn't see any other way of getting it.

Their lives were not easy and it's so easy to recognize that with hindsight.  And looking back, I owe them another apology (I feel like I will never get done apologizing for how much of a monster I was as a child).  I know that there were so many times that they felt like the failed me.  And, if I'm being completely honest, they did.  But it wasn't really their fault.  And I love all of my family.  I'm actually shockingly close to my family now.  Though I still desperately wish I was able to relate better to Carla.

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