Friday, July 13, 2018

Awful Awful Terrible Terrible things

Last night I went to a wonderful yoga class. I left feeling clean and sparkly, connected, grounded, elevated, lite, healthy…It is the best kind of drug and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Every time I go to a class, I am reminded why I do yoga in the first place. Because I feel like that after. I could have run a marathon, stayed up for 16 hours and done 15 drawings, then have a cup of tea and go to bed, totally content.
But I watched Nanette instead…
And as a result I’m unpacking a lot of stuff I thought I had dealt with and put away. 

I empathised with everything. Even when I had’t experienced exactly what she was describing. For example:
I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with being gay. It’s never been something I’ve been actively aware of, or an issue. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been bullied for being gay. But I have been bullied for being American, and really, that’s kind of the same thing. You can’t choose where you were born, just like you don’t have a choice how your born, or what your born as. 
There’s been a handful of split second moments during my life, usually when there is major upheaval, or some sort of massive, unforeseen change, when I’ve been really low. This does not happen often, luckily. I am, in the round, pretty content. But there’s been these weird little split seconds of, 
“ You know what would be really easy? If I wasn’t gay. And I could get married. Have kids. And do all the things that normal people do” 
Then I hear myself and immediately retract the statement.
And I realise that THAT wouldn’t be easier at all. Most of the people in my circles have families, and as much as I love them, that is not the easy life option. 
That is hard work and I am in awe constantly of anyone who is successfully responsible for anyone other than themselves. Hats off to you folks. You are heroes.

Another thing that struck a chord was when she said that guys need to talk to the women in their lives. Ya know…about why women are afraid of men.
It’s not like anything has ever happened to me directly, really.
It’s just that, enough things have happened to enough other people for me to be 
Slightly unsettled
All the time.
Slightly unsettled all the time.
There’s this hairline fracture of fear that runs through my core that is there subconsciously, somewhere in the background, this tiny tiny, sliver of fear when it comes to every single man and it doesn’t matter if Ive known them forever, I’ve only just met them, or they are a stranger on the street.
There’s just a slight, cautious, subconscious fear
It’s completely rationally irrational.
Nothing has ever really…
Nothing’s ever REALLY happened
But enough things have almost happened or happened to other people that I know that would give weight to that fear
The completely subconscious, barely audible fear inside me
I don’t know how to work on that.
I don’t know if I can work on that.
How do you even go about trying to unwrap that?

For example
I did a course since college, and there was a man on it who was going through the slow demise and eventual death of a close family member. In the lead up to the death, this man spoke openly, in a healthy gentle way, that made me feel that he was coping really well with the imminent death of his loved one. But then, this person died, and at the next class he was telling us all about it, everything around it, everything that happened…
And he got very aggressive, very loud very suddenly, and it was really scary. It completely shook me. 
Wow, what’s going on friend? I thought you were dealing with this really well? Why are you shouting at us? What did we do? 
It really upset me, afterwards. But during, I just went in to a state of shock, which I’m beginning to understand is my way of coping with those types of situations. I just held the space, and let him do whatever it was he needed to do.
But afterwards I said to myself
“Wow, I did not feel good about that…that made me feel all sorts of uncomfortable things that I wasn’t prepared for in any way.”
So that totally freaked me out.

There have been many incidents with one particular person during the campaign that have really shook me because I thought this fella was sound. I thought he was crazy in the good fun way, not the dangerous, don’t be alone with him, sort of way. 
So the run-ins with him upset me because I wish I had seen it coming. But I didn’t because he was so sound, in so many ways. He just had this one gigantic blindspot that never made itself known in any conversation, in any circle, at any point. And his sudden aggression. He was instantly angry. It was like setting a match alight. One second you’re wood, the next, you’re fire…

There was another guy. Now that is an entirely different situation, but I am just as deeply upset and disappointed by it. Because he was another that I really felt bucked the trend. But really, he just had us hoodwinked. And without even realising he has done it, he has tainted for me, what was a pure campaign. And as a result, I don’t want anything more to do with him.

But this is what people seem to do. They start off sound, you think they’re cool, they gain your trust, and then they turn around and say
“Ha! Surprise! I’m an asshole!”

Is it any wonder I am fuelled by anger?
Which is one of the many things Hannah said. Anger connects people, but it’s not a healthy connection. It’s absolutely not healthy to feel like this all the time. Even if I'm not consciously feeling it all the time, the fact that it’s bubbling away in the background is unhealthy. It’s not good.

But back to Hannah
She was brought up in The Bible Belt. Which is probably the worst place in any country to be ‘other’ (which is pretty hypocritical, if you ask me). I don’t know where the Bible Belt is in Ireland. I feel that for most of the last 100 years, the whole of Ireland was the Bible Belt.
It was just a Bible, in the shape of a country. Thankfully, that’s changing.
Hannah was brought up in that environment, where she was steeped in shame, the politics of the day and society also had a huge effect on how she viewed herself. 
She had been abused. IN THE BIBLE BELT, on multiple occasions. 
For someone to go through so much, survive, get on stage and speak about those things…
It’s deeply upsetting, on so many levels.

I’m upset that anyone goes through trauma. There’s no need for it. People should not have to suffer, for any reason at all. And yet we all do, and we carry it around with us all of the time. Never wanting to burden anyone else with our suffering, even though everyone is suffering. It’s all relative, but just because my worst day, is your best, doesn’t make my worst feel any less shit.

The other thing Nanette stirred up for me is sexual abuse.
I’m sure the vast majority of people in my circles have been abused in some way by some one. It spans the generations, it knows no boundaries, and respects no borders. It’s not about strength. It’s about power. Which means that women are just as capable of committing these awful awful terrible terrible things as men are. So please, spare me the lecture. You won’t convince me, because I know better. 

I know better because I was raped, by a girl who I trusted, in a place I felt safe, when we were both completely sober. And I've never told anyone. And I've never written it down.
For a long time, I forgot about it. I actually forgot it had happened. But recently, with everything that's going on, it came up to the surface, and wants to be/needs to be dealt with now.

I've never talked about it, because no one has ever asked. I've sat and listened and comforted my friends when they've told me about their awful awful terrible terrible experiences. Helped them deal with the aftermath. Consoled them and tried to convince them that it wasn't their fault. 
I guess, in a way, taking on everyone else's stuff, distracted me from my own.

But it happened. And it happened a long time ago. It happened when neither of us were really out, and being gay wasn't nearly as accepted as it sort of is now. 
So screaming out for help wasn't an option.

Please don't
Your hurting me
Why are you doing this

Didn't work either. 
I consoled myself with the fact that at least I couldn't get pregnant. Can you imagine that internal monologue...? 
This situation is terrible, but at least it can't possibly be made worse by getting pregnant as a result.
That, is all sorts of fucked up.

And after, I think the only reason it did't damage me as much as it could have, is that I never blamed myself. I couldn't find a reason for it to have happened. Sometimes Awful Awful Terrible Terrible things happen for no reason...which can sometimes be sort of worse. Because you have nothing to focus on. You can't unwrap NO REASON. It's too big.

From there, I went into a relationship that lasted far too long and was completely celibate. And you know what? That probably caused more damage. Or just as much. In their own unique way, they were both awful awful terrible terrible things.

Hannah suffered repeatedly, in different ways, but instead of disappearing from the world, which is what you would expect anyone to do in the same circumstance, she has turned her trauma into an amazing piece of art which will/is/has helped so many people who have either gone through, are going through, will unfortunately go through something similar. What she has done is given a gift to humanity
But she’ll probably never really feel that, because very brilliant people hardly ever truly feel the impact of what they have done. 

I breaks my heart that someone has to endure awful awful terrible terrible things in order to help so many other people who have experienced awful awful terrible terrible things. 

It reminded me of Chester, from Linkin Park, who I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last week. All the awful awful terrible terrible things he had to live through. But, instead of burying that and never thinking about it or talking about it…he actually made music about it. 
Which has had a huge impact on those who could identify with it. His awful awful terrible terrible suffering helped and will help other people.
But in the end, it didn’t even matter, because he still killed himself. Because sometimes life is too painful, and it doesn’t matter how much work you do on yourself, or how much support you have, money, how together you look on the outside…it really doesn’t matter, because sometimes the pain of being alive is just too much. And that in itself is an awful awful terrible terrible thing. 

So, watching Nanette last night, has brought stuff up.

Hannah has put words on so many things I’ve felt but have never been able to articulate and has brought out into the light so many things I have articulated but never had the audience to receive. And for that wonderful wonderful thing, I'm thankful. 

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