Wednesday, June 27, 2012

But I Was Only 5

2012 has been kicking my ass.  And yet, I feel stronger now.  At least I feel strong when I'm not actually feeling hopeless.    

I started off 2012 just diving right in to some of the most intense social situations I've ever had.  I wanted to push myself to get out there, overcome my shyness, meet people, and make new friends, get connected to others and be part of something.    

The first situation was by choice.  But the second one was not.  The third one was. The fourth was not.  And so on and so forth.  Back and forth it went and continues on that way.  Each event, situation, trial, confrontation, mistake, was/is pushing me through, in what appears in my dreams as, mountains of rushing water, a metaphor for my emotions.    Sometimes I come out of it with a new grounded sense of who I am, but other times I'm left wondering what in the fuck is left of me.  What have I learned?  What am I getting out of this?  I'm still working on it.  I'm still trying to sort it out. 

But here is what hit me lately:

A new found awareness of what it feels like when I leave authenticity.   I've started to notice the twinges of emotion, pangs of anxiety, eagerness to please while concealing my resentment.  All of these signal to me that I've stepped out of authenticity.  Awareness of where I stop loving the people around me, stop loving what is happening around me, and I start to judge the situation not as it actually is but as my suffering ego imagines it to be.  It's paranoid, hurt, afraid, and it tells me stories about what it thinks is going on.  Stories that have nothing to do with reality but I'm lost in my emotions, I'm not acknowledging them for what they are, and I'm feeding them these stories.  I don't know why, but it keeps the pain alive.   Leaving authenticity is something I do more often that staying in authenticity.

It's pretty fucked up. 

I've been jumping into things too fast, too eager, too afraid that if I don't do it right now, I may never get to do it ever.  I'm not realizing that I have not fully accepted myself so I still put on a mask, I still try too hard to play a role that I think is expected of me.  And I fail.  I fuck it up.  My sense of confidence, that confidence that I think others are looking for, is not real.  I conjured it up and pretended to be something I'm not, something that I know I can be but I'm not ready to be.  I'm not ready because I'm not doing it from my own personal center and awareness.  I'm doing it as a mirror of how I see it in others.  

This time it put me in a situation where I hurt someone.  I unintentionally inflicted serious physical injury.  And I've destroyed, permanently, a trust that I had just started to earn.  The ripple of that is not only losing his trust, but the trust of an entire social circle because of how he will warn others; spread the word that I am a bad person.

What was I thinking?  I don't know.  I wanted to be perfect.  I wanted to be what that other people expected of me.  I only wanted to please. 

Later that night, as I was making the long drive home from my disastrous weekend, I was talking to my mom about what had happened.   I was already feeling out of place from things going on all month but this weekend pushed me over the edge.  My body, thoughts, emotions, were all exploding.  I was feeling fear, frustration, anger, worthlessness, rejection, guilt, shame, regret.  I had hurt someone.  Seriously hurt them.  

I was reminded of an indecent that happened when I was 5 years old of a little boy, struggling, one step at a time, heaving a heavy stroller carrying the crying baby of my baby sister up onto the front porch, trying desperately to get her in the house.  She was crying; I was trying to comfort her. I had no idea what to do but get her in the house so that mom could make it right.   But I was afraid that I would be punished for making her cry; after all it was my fault that she was crying. 

I was spraying the lawn with the water hose, playing, pretending to be the little Rainbird sprinkler, as I smacked at the water stream with a plastic spatula. And she, for whatever reason I don't know, was alone with me, sitting out in the sun.  Was I supposed to be watching her?  I feel like I was.     But why would a 5 year old be responsible for a tiny baby just barely a few months old?  I don't remember but I do felt like I had been given the responsibility to tend just because we were alone together.  I don't recall being told to do it though, but it was common for my dad to tell me to do such things.   So, there I was, just hoping nothing happened and that mom or dad would come and get her soon before she started crying.   But then I slipped, I turned too far and a blast of cold water hit her face, startling her and she screamed. 

I was ashamed, I had accidently hurt her, I got her wet, and now I was going to get yelled at, punished, whipped with the belt or whatever, I don't know.   She needed comfort, she needed to be held, and she needed to stop crying so that I wouldn't be blamed for causing it.   But I was too small to pick her up.  And I didn't know where mom or dad where.  I didn't call for mom because I knew she couldn't hear me.  If she hadn't come by now from my sister screaming, she couldn't hear; she had no idea anything had happened. 

I'm sure mom was in the house somewhere but I didn't dare leave her alone. If anything were to happen to her because I left her alone, I would surely be punished.   So I did the only thing that made sense to me at the time, get her in the house so that mom could hear. 

The stroller was heavy, it was awkward, and the handles were as high as my shoulders.  The best I could do was tilt it back and drag it backwards, heaving the back wheels one step at a time up the concrete stairway, one, two, three, steps, then pausing to rest for a moment and regain my grip.  Each step hit her with a profound jerk and bump, each one seemed to make her cry worse.  Four, five, six, I was at the top.  Tilted the stroller back on all fours and then turned my attention to opening the door.   Once I managed to get the door open I turned just in time to notice the stroller had rolled toward the stairs, out of my reach and the front wheels had already hit the first step. 

I was literally frozen as I watched the stroller tumble down the stairs. Each jostle of the wheels as they dropping down onto each step sent shards of adrenaline through me and amplified the sound of terror I was hearing in her crying. When the front wheels hit the bottom the stroller flipped forward, head over heels, landing upside down, smashing my sister's face into the concrete. 

I no longer heard any crying, it had all gone silent. 

I rushed down the stairs; I was shaking, and muttering to myself, "Oh my god!  Oh my god!"  I was so weak; I was trembling; I could barely turn the stroller on to its side.  "Oh my god!" I kept muttering trying to unfasten the seat belt.  But I was shaking too much; I could barely grasp the buckles.   Her face was contorted as if she was trying to cry but couldn't catch her breath, she just shook, trembled and twitched.  There was a bit of rocky dirt on her chin and forehead and blood was starting to drip from the edges of her mouth.  "Oh my god!  Oh my god!"

When she finally caught her breath, in what seemed like a lifetime, she let out the most disturbing cry I had ever heard and don't want to ever hear in my lifetime again, a frantic screaming cry of terror, panic, pain, trauma. 

This was bad, this was serious, this was my fault, she was hurt, really hurt bad and I couldn't do anything, I didn't know what to do, and I had caused this. 

It was shortly after this when mom finally heard the screaming and came rushing outside to see what was going on, all the while screaming at me in panic, and demanding answers.  "What's going on?!  What happened?!  Why is she bleeding?!   What in the hell were you doing?!  What have you done?!  Get away! Don't touch her!"  I don't remember what I said or if I was even able to say anything.

Mom took her in the house, at which point the details of my memory have faded to images of her trying to get my sister to suck on popsicles or bottles but she couldn't do it.  Images of streaks of blood on anything her mouth had touched, the unending crying that seemed to last for days, and then I have no more memory. 

But this memory of my baby sister has been with me, haunting me my whole life, playing over in my mind from time to time, but only as a bad dream, disconnected and disassociated from it.  But now, I was suddenly reliving it all over again while driving home that night. 

I had to stop the car, before I passed out and crashed.  I was convulsing with intense wailing, soaking my clothing in sweat, releasing emotion it seemed from every pour of my body.  Even now, as I retell this story here, even rereading it as I proof read, I crumble in fits of sobbing.

I had found out a few years ago that I had actually broken her jaw.  I had broken the jaw of a baby only a few months old.  She is now in her mid 30's and has had to cope with problems as a result of that her entire life. 

And now, out of some twisted turn of events, I'm still paying for my mistake.  And continue to do so as I keep replaying my history.  Doing it all over again; hurting people while trying to play a role that I am not ready to play.  Just like when I was 5 years old.   But then, I was also forced into that role.  It's no wonder I feel such intense anxiety when I'm forced into roles, jobs, obligations, commitments, that I'm not willing to do or I'm not ready for.

That is why I hated being in the Mormon church so much.  It was an obligation, a commitment, a role, that I couldn't fill.  No matter what I did, I was never good enough.  But I did it anyway to keep the piece.  To protect myself from the anger and wrath of those who had authority and control over me.    But I'm not there anymore, and yet, I have been continuing to force myself into a roles I'm not ready for today.  Why?  To please others in hopes of earning their respect? 
Respect that I can't ever earn?  Am I doing it to try to redeem myself for the harm I've caused?   That seems ridiculous, as I'll just keep causing more harm.   I don't know. 

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