Aridity

I had been strongly considering participating in the PBP, but the first relevant word that came to mind for me was ‘Adoption’ and that peeled open a festering mess I wasn’t quite expecting.

I don’t have contact with any human family. It has been a painful mess since I was twelve and understood the depth of my father’s disinterest in my existence (I didn’t even know him, really — I saw him a couple of times when I was very, very young and never again after I was about five — but I knew where he lived, and I spent some time sitting on my bike across the road from his house, thinking about what would happen if I knocked on the door) and there were levels of increasing understanding of my mother’s hatred for me, starting with being told that I should have been aborted when I was four or five, to worse things and repeats of that and similar statements, until I was seventeen. I had already left home by then — going halfway across the country and working full time from the moment I was sixteen and living with awful people actually seemed better than living with her, and I’d already dropped out of school due to a nervous breakdown when I was fourteen — but during a phone call in either late 1998 or early 1999, she reminded me that not having had an abortion had “fucked up her life.”

I never stopped being depressed about it, or wounded. The best I could manage was ignoring it.

When Brand’s family found out about me, they were completely horrified by how neglected and hated I had been, and immediately decided that they would adopt me. He’s said before that there is nothing more important to the jotnar than family, but I didn’t realize that extended to adopting unwanted children to ensure they had family, too. That was probably a bit stupid of me, but I’ve internalized the idea that I am loathsome and unwantable by anyone very well (which I have to admit doesn’t do my romantic relationships any good, either).

I feel like a feral cat, haunting the edges of this civilization and scattering whenever someone looks at me or comes to close, and only creeping in when no one’s paying attention, or is busy elsewhere. I’m prone to raiding the trash for scraps because I can’t handle coming in to my place at the table. I don’t know how to come in. I can only tolerate it for a few minutes at most before I have a desperate urge to run away and be extremely alone. Alone is familiar; alone is what I know.

At our wedding, so many of his friends and family — and part of my brain was trying to consider the idea that they would think of me as part of their family also, while the rest of it was skittering away from that thought and relegating all of these people to his, his, his. No our anywhere involved. His house, his bed, his everything. What am I, exactly, inside my own mind? A doll that he felt sorry for. And decided to take home, try to clean it up, sit it around tea parties with other dolls and stuffed animals. But I don’t have a mouth. I do not know how to make sounds.

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One thought on “Aridity

  1. naiadis

    We are not the same. What we’ve been through has not been the same, and how we go from being damaged and broken and withdrawing to maybe being damaged and broken and accepting of them (Poseidon insists that I’m not broken; I don’t believe I will ever not feel broken) is not going to be the same, necessarily. That said, I’m struck by your brain trying to wrap itself around the concept of His family becoming yours and also skittering away from it, and I can only think: the heart needs to know before the head can believe. And I think that, because that’s how it worked for me. I knew, when I’m being honest, the moment I met Him, shattering and splintering into pieces upon the beach during my first and most thorough breakdown, that I’d found my home. In my heart, in my soul. Security did not come with that knowing, because I had no idea how to listen to what my heart and soul could tell me, and it would be years before I could. Later, after the marriage, after the uprooting of my life and while I was trying to squish our relationship into a whole lot of should-bes, I reached a point where I had to surrender the need to know or understand or even believe. It could be humiliating to admit, but it’s not, because I draw power from it, but in order to get to where I am now, I spent a few years telling myself that it was enough that Poseidon believed He cared about me. He knew better than I did, and maybe He’d change His mind, and maybe not, but at the low point I couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t feel it, and so it had to be enough that I believed that He believed it. Generally, the “I believe you believe it,” line hits me as so very condescending, which is why it could be humiliating, but it also worked. I didn’t know it was going to work, I just knew I couldn’t sustain the “I need to save You from Your bad decision!” approach that I was trying to take.

    The family that deserves your faith and your loyalty and your love? They’re going to know that you’re the feral cat who is only flirting at being integrated, until *you* decide you’re ready to be integrated. If His familial ties are anything at all like Poseidon’s, as far as They’re concerned, *you* are already one of them. They haven’t brought you in not knowing your past or your quirks or your issues. They aren’t human, they have not a human’s short-sightedness, nor as finite an amount of patience or experience or ability to “cope” with what you bring with you that a human might have. So, don’t approach this with the idea that you have to hurry up and get used to it, or they’re going to change their minds, they’re going to get tired of your feral ways. I suspect some of them have been where you’ve been, feralness-wise, and the rest have been around the block enough to know this lovely process that is being human and being broken and being tortured and trying to mend what’s been torn asunder.

    Reply

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