If only I had known… the inner workings of my mind and emotions are much more complex than they appear.
The first time this really got me into trouble, I was seventeen years old. The brother of a friend had just died in a tragic accident. He was barely an adult. A 10 year old boy died the same day as a result of the same accident.
What happened was the young man fell off the 22nd floor of an apartment building. The boy looked up to watch him fall, and was struck by a truck – the driver had also looked up, and didn’t see the child.
Events such as these bring our mortality into light, and my friends and I were no exception.
The challenge was that I was struggling through a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time. When I say severe, I mean it; I couldn’t close my eyes without having flashbacks to the abused child I was. I was running away from people and places constantly – often with little or no warning. I was hiding under tables, under beds…
I could walk into a room, and immediately know the best hiding place, all of the exits, and the floor plan of the space I was occupying.
I couldn’t handle school. I had friends, but would only go places if my boyfriend was there.
My boyfriend… he also happened to be my best friend, and I was completely dependent on him that year. It wasn’t fair to him, but I needed him, and he was there.
And then this happened. This event that was so shocking, so close, so real – and then I was lost.
Suddenly our friends were telling me that I was in love with someone else. Frank believed it, too, and it hurt him. I could tell it hurt him, and I didn’t know what to do – for I didn’t believe I was in love with this other boy. I didn’t know what they were seeing, but I didn’t believe it to be true.
However, the more they said it, the more focused I became – which confirmed their belief.
I started looking at this other boy constantly, and became obsessed with thoughts of him. I began dreaming of him, and it worried me. I didn’t question that in my dreams I was with John – yes – but I was traveling the world in search of Frank. It didn’t cross my mind that this was my fear, not my desire – for others told me this was true, and I believed them.
Suddenly I was in the arms of this other person – and I didn’t belong there. I missed my friend. I felt lost and alone… but I wouldn’t return to the one who still loved me, for I hurt him. I hurt him, and I didn’t know why, and I didn’t know how to stop myself from hurting him again – so I stayed where I was.
I was afraid – so afraid… and to others it looked like desire. They were so sure they knew what I wanted that I believed it myself, and I stayed. Like a little child lost in the woods is told to stay where they are so others can find them… I stayed. What else should I have done?
From that relationship came my son. I won’t say I didn’t love his father – but I didn’t understand how I came to be with him, and I didn’t belong there.
That was the first time, and I didn’t understand that my biggest fears present themselves as desires to others; so much so that the others have no question that they know what is best for me – and yet, they are so wrong. So often wrong.
The next time was when my cousin was sick. I loved my cousin. Yet when I knew she was dying, I dreamed of her death. I wanted it to be over… but no, I didn’t.
I was afraid of what was coming, and wanted that fear to go away, but I didn’t want her to die. I know I didn’t want her to die – and after…
But it looked like this was something I wanted. I was so focused, so matter of fact about it. I spoke of her like she was already gone, like there was no hope. I maybe even smiled – but inside I was breaking, even as I ached for it to be over.
Maybe it is better how others do it – they hurt, they grieve, they move on. I obsessed. I responded poorly. I was locked in depression for 2 years after. I have never really overcome that experience.
It was after Wendy died that I understood what happened with Frank. It wasn’t something I wanted. I was afraid – and I believe them when they told me I wanted that change. They were wrong, but I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t understand what I was thinking or feeling.
I wouldn’t go back and change that, for from that came my son – but I lost my best friend in the process, and 20 years later, that still hurts.
I know there have been many times over the years where my fears and obsessions have confused others – confused them to the point where they are absolutely convinced that they know what I want more than I do, and they are always wrong.
Did I want my children taken from me? NO!!! – but they would have said yes. Not yes that I wanted them gone, but yes that it was better for me – because in my fear, I was terrified they would be taken, which made me look guilty.
Because as I tried to express to them my need for understanding, what they heard was that I found it to difficult to raise my children – but that was not the truth. The truth was, I was mostly fine with my children, but found it difficult to deal with other people.
Even now, I find it hard to distinguish between what I want, and what I am afraid of; who I am, and who others expect me to be; how I feel about something, and how others tell me I feel about it.
It is all very confusing, and often stressful to me – especially when I have an obsession over a fear, that appears as a desire that would hurt someone I love. I want to shout that is not true! But they wouldn’t believe me anyway.
I am chipping away, chipping away, at who they have told me I am – but I don’t think I will be done anytime soon. Somewhere along the way I got lost in their expectations, and in their confidence over who I was… who I wasn’t – and I still don’t know who I am.