I often hear people say: You shouldn’t compare abuse. There is no use. Trauma is unique and people react differently. Today I am going to say: yes you should fucking compare. You probably have no god damn perspective on your life and you really should go out and compare. You should find out how good you have it.
I feel deeply uncomfortable with how good my life is now. I’m aware that my current safety and stability is not about deserve. This is not the natural results of a lot of hard work. It’s a fucking fluke. I managed to marry someone rich. Whoo hoo. What. An. Accomplishment. And yet people want to tell me that my life is awesome because I deserve it.
Does that mean I deserved to be raped? Does that mean I deserved to live in poverty when I was a kid? No. There is. no. deserve. I’m kind of angry that people use that word ever in conversations about money. It’s not just the money though.
I think that people should sit down and compare abuse for a few minutes. My father told me that I was a literally-evil-as-in-descended-from witches-evil and a whore. That it was all I would ever be. My father taught me that pain should go with sexual contact. That I should endure it with a stony face. From when I was a baby.
Did that happen to you? No? Well then maybe you should go thank your father. Maybe you could take a moment to realize that if your dad is an asshole, but never did anything actually bad maybe that was him showing restraint. Maybe he is not your cup of tea, but not exactly someone who should die in a fire. Say fucking thank you. Because I’m here to tell you that you weren’t treated how you were treated because you deserved it. You were treated that well because no one wanted to treat you worse. And for one fucking day I think people should stop and realize that it isn’t a birth right.
When people are kind to you, don’t expect it as your due. Thank them for it. It’s a gift. Maybe grudgingly given, maybe cheerfully given.
Did your mother tell you that you deserved what you got after you were raped? No? Maybe you should say thank you to her. Maybe you actually have a much better mother than you know. Maybe you don’t know just how good you have it.
Did your brother tell you that the only career you would be good at was being a prostitute? No? Maybe you should say thank you to your brother. He might be an asshole, but he recognizes that there is a line. And he didn’t cross. He doesn’t degrade your humanity and think you are a piece of shit hole. I promise you he isn’t doing it because you are so fucking awesome that of course you deserve to be treated well. He’s doing it because he has made a choice about the kind of person he wants to be and how he wants to treat people. Even if he doesn’t know it. Because this is a choice. Be thankful.
When I called my big sister sobbing, begging her for help she laughed at me and told me I was interrupting her having sex. Then she hung up on me. I spent the rest of the night trying to OD on crank. Because no really, no one gave a shit about me.
I think people should compare abuse. I really do. I think these conversations should be explicit. I think they should be candid. I think people should stop walking on eggshells around this topic. Given how many people tell me, “Oh I had a hard childhood too” then backpedal fast when I start talking this is a conversation that needs to be had. People don’t know what a hard childhood is. They have nothing to compare their own childhoods to most of the time. There aren’t many books about genuinely bad childhoods. So people don’t know what it means. I think people should. Most people have a lot more to be thankful for than they think.
It’s hard sometimes when people complain bitterly about their families. I miss my family. I’ve spent a month telling all the worst stories I can about my family. I still miss them. I still know my place there. Yesterday was hard. I spent all day rehearsing negative awful things to say in my head. Because I know that my role at big holidays is to be the one who starts a fight and then runs off crying. That way everyone has an opening to say how awesome it is when I’m not there any more.
I used to listen to those conversations as a kid. They would comment idly once I left, “Oh thank god she finally left.” I don’t think there were very many days in my childhood where my mother didn’t comment about how nasty and awful I was. I was too critical, always.
Maybe your family wants you to call on Thanksgiving because they love you and miss you and really wish they got to see you more. And they don’t know how to effect that. You ran away from them to have your own life and they miss you. Is that really so bad? Is that really so terrible? Is a five minute or even fifteen minute phone call really so onerous? Really?
I wasn’t alone yesterday. I have Noah. I have Sarah. I have Shanna. I have Calli. My Complication (who has yet to tell me if it is ok to use her name) was here. A friend named Dave (who doesn’t get to opt-out of using his name because there are 3,000 Daves in my community) also came to dinner. That was nice. The food was excellent. Pre-dinner another couple of friends stopped by for a chat. We all went to bed really early.
I wasn’t alone. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m still the problem. I’m still the wild card. I’m still the one who might break out crying and stomp off. I’m still the one who is difficult to predict and triggery and an asshole. I’m so fucking self-absorbed.
But I tried really hard to talk about the things I am thankful for. Because I don’t deserve them. I didn’t deserve the things that happened to me as a kid and I don’t deserve the things that happen to me know. It’s not about deserve. I changed my luck. I’m excited that my life is different now. But it’s not about deserve. It just happened. Life is like that. I think that people can work their whole life and never get what they want. I think that people can work for five minutes and get more than they ever dreamed. It’s not about deserve. It just happens.
I have relatively good health. I have a safe, stable home. I have friends who are willing to tolerate a torrential flow of shit-talk from me. I have a husband who thinks I can do or be anything I want in the whole wide world. Well, maybe not an NBA player. Or an astronaut. Oh well.
I am thankful for the privilege and security I have because it is allowing me to be a good mother. Other women can be good mothers with less support. I don’t think I would be able to. My life is set up around babying my mood swings and impatience. I have created space for dealing with my rage. Because I have Noah and Sarah and a big pile of money. I’m not a good mother because my kids deserve it. I’m a good mother because I am lucky enough to set up my life in a way that allows me to be. I can play to my strengths and minimize my weaknesses. That isn’t about deserve. But it is really nice that my kids get to have that. I would like to find a way to teach them that it isn’t a right without having to hurt them in the process.
I am really thankful that I get to sit down and think about these things and make decisions about them because of my raging privilege. I am so fucking lucky. That makes it harder that I’m still bitter.
I’m bitter when I hear people sit around trading off how onerous it is to have families. I can’t have a family because I believe that it is unhealthy for me to have ongoing relationships with people who enabled me being raped for more than a decade. What’s your fucking excuse? Oh, they aren’t your same chosen culture? Uh. Grow some fucking balls and learn to deal with the fact that world isn’t just like you. I promise you that the world isn’t just like me. I have to find a way of talking to them anyway or I get to be alone. I think it is hubris to toss away your family. You never know when you might want them again. And some wounds can’t heal.
I think people should catalogue their abuse. And then actually compare. No really. Make a decision for yourself. Either be ok with it or walk away. The back and forth is bullshit. Holding on to bitterness for things that happened decades ago is bullshit.
And I do it. I know I am hurting my life with this bullshit. This was one of the best Thanksgivings of my life. Yeah, I spent some of the day in my room crying. But less than usual. Far less than any given year from my childhood. No one had anything resembling a fight. I had one explosion where I told people to stop bitching about having to call their families. That was it. That’s pretty good for me.
I feel really bad that I know that my pretty good would be unacceptable for most people. Only one melodramatic meltdown ending in tears. But if you are going to compare you have to really compare. I had 18 years of people telling me on Thanksgiving that I was unpleasant to be around and difficult and I should just leave. Was that the experience of most people? Probably not. Maybe it’s ok that I still cry.
But I also try really hard to notice that I have it really good. My life is exceptionally easy and good right now. I have the kind of life that people dream about. Maybe I need to stop crying. I may have had a bad childhood, but whether I have a bad adulthood is up to me. I can choose to spend every Thanksgiving crying or I can work on not doing that. It’s not making my life better. It is no longer a good thing for me to isolate myself. Once it was a good and necessary thing. I need to learn how to deal with the discomfort of being around other people. Even though it is hard and it hurts. Because I have these amazing people who have stepped up. I need to be thankful for them, not bitter about my bio-family. Because there is no deserve. I don’t have this now because the universe adjusted from an inappropriate tilt and now I have what I deserve finally.
I’m just really fucking lucky. And not everyone is as lucky as me. For me to piss and moan and whine is pretty disrespectful, honestly. It’s bullshit. And I should change it.