Thursday, June 8, 2017

what to change in order to become yourself

As I relaxed into the embrace of the floor, I could feel myself there, the honey and tawny strands of the floorboards spreading out from underneath me, the sun spilling down on us through the windows. But I could also feel the past bubbling up to the surface, I considered the particles of memory floating like dust motes in my field of vision between me and the floor receiving the forces pouring through me. A shitty little house in Nowhere, Florida with almost no furniture and an empty fridge. The places where my brother and I slept were two couch cushions on the floor, shoved in opposite corners of the room, my body still small enough that I could curl myself onto it, as I watched the roaches skitter around in the dark. That house where my brother and I were mostly alone, I was too small to reach the sink in the bathroom or the countertops in the kitchen as we tried to feed ourselves, if I needed water, to clean myself. Once I reached up to the top of the electric stove in curiosity while my brother's back was turned, and seared a perfect spiral onto the flesh of my tiny hand, radiating out from the center all the way to the fingertips. I think he was just tall enough to boil some hotdogs for lunch. That was when my father still claimed joint custody of us, and those weekends still pop up in my emotional radar sometimes, collateral damage while my parents used us as pawns in a game I was helpless inside of.

The floor. Like reflections on a soap bubble, the past swirled around me as I watched. And it was the past, so I let it fall away to feel the coolness underneath my body that balanced out the heat on my skin from the window.

As I moved, considering the instructions from the teacher of what and how to explore, I found a familiar wall of panic when I reach a place where it feels like I am incapable of doing what I was being asked to do. Getting as still as possible and trying to slow my breathing, I knew I needed to stop moving before I triggered a full blown panic, but I could feel the painful contractions starting around where I imagine my vocal chords to be and instinctively pulled myself inwards, like a reverse unfurling of a fern. Like a switch was flipped, I was free, I could move past the paralysis at the beginning of a meltdown.

Once when I used to babysit the neighbor's triplet toddlers, I was around for a birthday party. The father was a problem, and not much long afterwards they went their separate ways (he took the older son, she took the triplet girls), and I don't remember what he said or did, but one of the girls started crying from a startle. I was in high school, just helping in every way I could because I saw the mom needed help, and I heard something I recognized in that little girl's cry - after the third one that sounded exactly the same, like a computer, a record caught on a loop, I knew I had to disrupt the repeating pattern and I gathered her in to me. While her parents snapped at each other in whispers, her cries multiplied and then subsided after a fractal shift. My mother has mentioned a few times her early experiences of being potty trained - my grandfather punished their accidents by making them wear their soiled panties on their heads, overlapping their face, their breathing pathways. Recently I've started to wonder about how being shamed about something you have no control over affects us as adults, maybe the thread of chronic constipation she has suffered her whole life is a story I am telling about her relationship to shame and her need to be in control even at the cost of our relationship. Her inappropriate sharing with me of her sexual escapades as I moved from prepubescence into sexual maturation also gives me the perspective of how her bowels turn to liquid when she is emotionally or sexually attuned to a man, and in her lack of control, we were often forgotten in her blind hunger for something only her interactions with these men could potentially fill. I wonder if her inability to let stuff out is intimately related to my inability to receive.

Manifesting is both a concrete and completely unpredictable thing. I wonder if noticing any of those potential connections might be a way for my mother to knit back together some damage, to be able to tell new stories about how she relates to others. I wonder why I have the distinct habit of relating everything I experience to a few early similar experiences, instead of being able to fully be inside of something new. My mother and I, why must we always be in control over everything? I can't even bring myself to what seems like a childish place of hoping for a return of adoration in a sexual partner, to let myself be so lost in something as unpredictable and defenseless and dangerous as being 'in love' whatever that silly fabricated idea arises out of.

This is not my father's floor and I am not that child on a couch cushion. How can i wade through these stories, untangle these threads enough to make a different choice and not succumb to the emotional bubbles trapped inside of them? Maybe I am exactly where I need to be, learning how to love the floor, how to receive its support, how to give it the fullness of my weight. To know it can't be taken from me, the it won't turn me down, that when I lay in its embrace, it is impossible to fall.

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