Genetics

People who are “more important” than me are looking at how PTSD passes through generations. All I can say is, “No shit PTSD changes families.”

Sometimes I think of my mother’s terrible fear of the police. Then I think of my own fear, hatred, and dislike of the police. I learned it at home. I learned that feeling during the period of time when my family lucked into the unusual experience of being a white family that could not bear closer scrutiny. That’s unusual. Usually white folks just don’t have good reason to be afraid of the police in this country–so people occasionally tell me I’m irrational. Never anyone who is black–only other white people; I’m not sure that I am irrational, though. I mean just on that one topic.

Sometimes I feel awkward about the fact that the way I parent is described by therapists as doing exposure therapy. My kids have a slightly unusually low startle reflex. I have worked with them throughout their lives to have a less-active startle reflex. They are relaxed and happy and ready to approach whatever is coming. They aren’t afraid.

A lot of how I do this is by being a surprising, startling person who backs off fast at any sign of distress. They get to have an unusual amount of control over what happens to them. As a result they feel very confident in their mastery of many situations. My kids can adapt to different situations in ways I never could. I’ve worked so hard on this.

We have lots of conversations about, “Every building, every park, every space you ever enter has a slightly different set of rules that people are following. It is a good idea to watch people for the first few minutes you arrive–you will learn a lot about local tolerances. If someone has a problem with you, use your words to try to deescalate things and if the person gets in your face, come get me. Don’t face someone down alone. I want to be standing there as a witness. I’ll let you take care of it, but you need backup in place.”

My kids are preternaturally confident that with me standing behind them they can do anything. Sometimes I question whether it is wise to give them this much of a big head. Then I realize that for them… it is probably true.

Sometimes it is hard seeing myself as a positive force–I’m just bringing a whole string of broken genetics and terrible circumstantial training to the process of parenting. Then I look at my kids and I have to believe I’m not a waste. I made them. That’s something.

Heck, then I hear from yet another former student and I think I can’t be a complete waste of air. I am shocked in an ongoing way by the intensity of emotional connections the students still feel to me. I had impact like whoa.

Mostly it is the kids who stayed after school. The ones who cried on my shoulder about coming from bad families. The ones who were told and told they could never be nothing. I think crying with them and telling them, “Everyone said I could never be nothin’ but a drug addicted prostitute. Fuck them. Fuck. Them. You go be what you want to be.” helped a lot. You never have to be limited by the expectations of assholes who don’t love you anyway. Go be what and who you want to be.

Yesterday Call and I went to Dickens Fair. Shanna picked staying home with Daddy to make cookies. I support non-maternal-parental-bonding so that sounded great. Calli and I got to have a lovely date.

We were there for three hours. That was longer than I think I have managed with kids before so I declare it a solid victory. Calli had a lot of fun. She bought herself a HUGE cookie with her allowance for the thrill of power of ownership. I had a lovely chat with the cookie vendor who is apparently, a Brony. He’s a Pinkie Pie. I told him I’m an Apple Jack and he “hoof bumped” me. Hilarity. It’s kind of funny that in watching the show… yeah I’m totally an Apple Jack. I like reading and all… but I’m not much like Twilight.

Genetics are funny things. I watch my children and I regularly feel baffled about how they took all of my personality traits, put them on playing cards, and then randomly handed the deck out between them for a nice game of War. I switch between being preternaturally able to work a room of strangers–I can walk into an event and meet tons of new people most of whom will think I am terrific and wonderful; then all of a sudden I’m shy and standoffish and I want to wait and set the terms of engagement very studiously. Shanna is the first and Calli is the second. Only they don’t switch back and forth the way I do. So getting to really watch the pitfalls of either one being your primary approach is… interesting.

Calli had a lot of trouble engaging with people at Dickens Fair without Shanna to break the ice with her. She had a lot of fun–but she didn’t know how to deal with some of the character interactions. She is used to watching Shanna for a while before she has to talk to someone. She takes someones measure as she watches them talk to her sister. Calli handled getting dance partners with no difficulty including talking her way into a partner-switching-set she was way too small to participate in. SHE DID GREAT!!! All the Fezziwiggers were shocked but thrilled. She did way better than kids more than twice her height and given how tall she is for her age, Go Calli! So proud.

Calli is a dancer and Shanna is not. That’s kind of weird for me. Shanna is klutzy as the day is long. She has very little physical intuitiveness. She can’t follow to save her life. Calli is a natural. You get Calli on the dance floor and it doesn’t matter what style of dance is happening she can follow it in under five minutes. It means that I now look at Shanna kind of differently. Ha. When Shanna had a terrible time in ballet picking up the most basic of movements I thought she was too young. Now I think that Calli, while younger, could do better in the same class.

It is very hard for me to recognize that my perfect little angels aren’t perfectly well rounded. Sniff.

They are going to be different people. I look forward to discovering more about them year by year. I tell them in the mornings, “I have to get to know you again. You changed while you were sleeping and if I get complacent and I stop looking at you then I will stop knowing who you are. I have to look at you again and again to rediscover your changes.”

Holy f-in-Crisco. Yesterday Shanna woke up and her belly was basically concave. I said, “Whoa. You grew last night.” BODIES ARE SO COOL! Once in a while Shanna tests the waters with questions about whether my love for her will change if she is skinny or fat later. I ask her to describe the bodies of people I love. She eventually verbally acknowledges that I love people who are skinny as skinny can be and I love people who are about as heavy as it is possible to be and still be mobile. Clearly my love does not place limits on the bodies of the people around me. She nods and says, “ok”. I talk about logistical difficulties. There are pluses and minuses of being skinny and for being fat. Neither is objectively “better” or “worse” but being either might be good or bad for a specific task.

Heavy people have a weight and a leverage that often allows them to get something done when a lighter person just physically couldn’t move something. I have a deep admiration for this survival ability. Strength is a big god damn deal in my world. No, we do not prefer skinny around here. Skinny is fine. It isn’t bad. Love your body however it happens to appear. Skinny or fat can make it impossible to find clothes because designers are assholes. Being more slender makes it easier to do some things. Every thing in life has things that make it easier or harder. That isn’t a moral judgment.

I tell my kids that there are people in the world who make moral judgments about weight–I don’t like those people. I think they are bullying people who have minimal choices about their bodies. I have mixed feelings about the fact that I have been considered “fat” for most of my life but if I work hard enough, long enough, eat little enough, and exercise to a nearly unhealthy degree… I can get out of being considered fat. But it is nearly a full time fucking job. It is hard and it takes an overwhelming amount of resources. (I would not have been able to buy running shoes this often before I got married. I simply did not have this kind of money.) So clearly I was able to stop being fat–which makes me more moral in the minds of some people. But I was only able to do so because I had a big scoop of privilege dumped on my head. That makes me feel a little sick inside.

Don’t hold me up as an example of how it can be done. Oh god no.

I sort of feel like maybe I want to get the adipositivy calendar and put it on the wall. I want my kids to see unabashed appreciation of fat bodies the same way they will see unabashed appreciation of skinny bodies elsewhere in the world. Drat. Next year the calendar is a mosaic. I’m less drawn in. The 2014 one was rad.

I’m now eight days away from my next attempt at a visit from Kaiser. I may actually ask someone to go with me. I’m scared to go back given that the receptionist called the police on me last time I went in. What is going to happen next time I go, you know?

I don’t deal well with authority. People who work in systems need the system to Be Respected and I don’t respect systems. Your system doesn’t work for me. Fuck you for trying to force a square peg into a round hole. I’d rather you honestly say, We are not able to treat you.

I’m a special god damn snowflake. Just like everyone else.

My ankle hurts less than it did, so it is clearly healing. It’s been like four weeks? It doesn’t actively hurt all the time anymore, just when I sit cross legged. When it stops hurting when I’m sitting down I will probably try to resume running. I can tell the rest of my body is pissy about the lack of exercise. I’m stiff and sore everywhere. I want to live on Ibuprofen and I can’t because of the test in a week. Yay! Or something.

This year’s cookie exchange will be a lot smaller than it has been for the past few years. I’m not sad. I like both of the ladies who are coming over a lot. There are so few children that I can bust out some more interesting projects that I can’t manage with a huge group. It will be fun.

I need to get some of this food stuff worked out. I’m tired of feeling suicidal and food stuff is making that ridiculously hard. I spend a lot of time lately feeling like I should just die because keeping me alive isn’t worth the effort. Keeping bodies alive takes work. I don’t have much patience for such shit with regards to me. I’m willing to do the work for my kids but doing it for me is harder.

Learning to make gluten/dairy free food is much harder than learning to make healthy food for the kids. And that was a major educational journey for me involving reading a lot of books and spending a lot of time looking into nutrition. There are reasons I jump up and down and refuse to put my very young children on skim milk. Their brains are developing and need fat, thank you very much.

I remember my brothers being very skinny as children but they were athletes. I was never skinny. My sister was never skinny. My children are so slender. I’m going to give them forking whole fat milk. Clearly it isn’t hurting them. (Also: I see their poop. Not hurting them!)

My poop isn’t wanting to settle down again. I would blame myself and cheating on the diet but I’m more inclined to blame myself and say “anxiety”. Dealing with Kaiser is going to get to the point of inducing diarrhea at the name so this is going to get complicated. Yay anxiety! Yay for feeling like shit and like the people who work there would prefer I die so I stop bothering them! My body will do its level best to kill me just so that I don’t have to feel people hate me so much.

Melodrama much? I can’t tell.

People aren’t against you. They are for themselves and you are just incidental. That becomes malice when they hold the keys to the castle.

Sometimes I get these little whiffs of reminder–that people aren’t for me and I feel deflated. I feel like I don’t know how to be part of their life.

We haven’t talked to the Godmamas since before the accident. I don’t know how to reopen the doors of communication. Last I had contact I was told not to contact again. That ban was never lifted so I’ve just… not tried again. If the only thing I’m told is “Leave us alone” I’m going to back off. Well, I was told I could ask for information from the person who is buried in medical school but I also have to expect that she may or may not really return emails because… she’s busy. I take that as leave us alone.

Not to mention that I made a few comments on G+ posts and that was received with hostility so I stopped following and have backed off. This is complicated given the net of legal paperwork involving them. I really don’t know what to do about the Godmamas.

We need to go see our lawyer. And I need to admit to myself that all of the people who I thought were going to reliably stay in my life… are gone. Godmamas, Brittney, Alex–haven’t heard from them. Probably won’t ever again. That was my full list of people I trusted to be able to help my kids.

30 years, 14 years, 12 years of friendship and they are gone. Well, maybe I’ll see them again some day for a few hours of talk. But they are not present in my life and they aren’t appropriate as hand offs for my kids any more.

I feel like it is my just desserts. Please God, let me live till my children are grown so they never have to pay the full penalty for being my children. I only need 13.5 more years.

On the upside, Noah’s college best friend and his wife have agreed to be added to paperwork. We don’t have a backup plan. I don’t know who to name as executor. I haven’t scheduled an appointment with the lawyer to revamp the paperwork because I don’t have more names to give. I feel so sad.

Sometimes my friends hear Shanna mouthing off at me (by which I mean repeating verbatim [with the same inflection] things I have said to her) and they tell me they could never tolerate having a child talk to them that way. I laugh and tell them I appreciate it. She is looking at me and noticing me enough to have an opinion on my behavior.

We are all very clear with one another in this house: I love you and sometimes I really hate the things you do. Your behavior can be very annoying. Doesn’t change how much I love you and want you nearby annoying me day after blessed day.

Shanna has very little awareness that she is in a period of life called “childhood” where most people would give her very few rights. She thinks of herself as being shorter than she will be and less competent than she will be with more practice but she’s here. That’s what she needs from the world. She will not someday be worthy of doing things. She is worthy now. Maybe she won’t be as deft as an adult but that’s a stupid reason to refrain from trying.

It sometimes takes a lot of fast talking about safety considerations to convince her that a certain task should be held off until she is taller, heavier, has more fine motor control, etc. She thinks of herself as being here, ready, so let’s go.

I feel like watching Shanna gives me this really pure vision of how people see themselves as unchanging. She genuinely does not see herself as less than she will be when she’s 30. She is just there. She’s not waiting to grow up. She’s living. I spent a lot of my childhood just waiting for time to pass. I could do things when I was older. There was always the put-off. I was never interested in what I was age-appropriately allowed to do. I was always reaching. I’ve let Shanna reach.

Kid can use a very sharp knife with aplomb. She can cook a wide variety of meals. She can talk to just about anyone. I don’t worry about Shanna’s ability to make a place in the world for herself. She will be ok. She has such verve and will to live.

I feel like Shanna had a “baby” stage where she knew she couldn’t do things and then she grew out of it. Somewhere between four and five. I don’t think Calli has outgrown it yet.

Calli doesn’t yet feel like the permanent person she will be for all times. She’s still shifting, like water. They say that the personality hardens/forms/becomes set around 5/6. Calli had some fearfulness stuff when she was 3 so I have been working on it pretty hard for over a year and she’s past that. She’s got a ways to go before she’s 5 but it feels like she is on a great path. I’m glad that she will turn 5 on the road trip. (If I can get my blasted health in line.)

I think that Shanna is always going to be more of a wanderer with me than Calli is. I think Calli is going to have to really consciously learn how to adapt. I think she will have more struggles. But who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Earlier in life I didn’t see Calli’s passionate devotedness to me. Lately it has become impossible to not see. The switch from 3 into 4 has meant that Calli is way more attached and loving than she was before.

Sometimes it looks like Calli felt like she wanted to be more loving before but she didn’t know how. Sometimes it seems like she eventually learned how to get the loving attention she wanted and then she asked and asked and asked and asked. She didn’t rebuff me when she was littler. She just didn’t ask much. And I had Shanna so I wasn’t pushing for more attention from Calli so Calli was left to be… passively ok somewhere more often. Now she’s done with that shit. She’s ready to be the Center of the Universe. (She has a t-shirt that says she’s the center of the universe. She wears it a lot and reminds me that she is special and I have to love her. It is hilarious. “Mom! Remember, I’m the center of the universe. That means I get what I want.” I look at her with a raised eyebrow and she practices her best shit-eating-grin.)

Shanna freaked out from day one if you set her down at all. Calli didn’t do that so I think I incorrectly interpreted that as a preference for being set down. Live and learn.

Shanna wore me the hell out. I’m sorry Calli. I had less need for 24/7 contact when you were born. I’m terribly sorry.

But now Calli gets her many hours a day of snuggling. Shanna’s down to just insisting on half an hour a day of dedicated snuggling time. Calli is a love-bug. She would be happy if I wore her on my back all day every day but I can’t. She’s too heavy.

I talk to my kids about disaster training preparedness and I talk to them about how to deal with emotional fall out from trauma. “Someday something terrible might happen to you. You might feel so scared. You might feel like you are going to die. Bad things happen to people. If you want to survive it is good to know in advance how to find help. Here’s what you do…” I’m not super dark about it. I talk to them about how to evaluate safe people. I talk to them about how to talk to police officers and give police reports. I talk about how the police are only sometimes your first call. I tell my kids which words are key to getting help fast. “I am in immediate danger”.

I am fascinated by the research happening around generational transmission of PTSD. Is what I’m teaching my kids helpful to them or not? I don’t know yet. We know that many layers of trauma happen because people are enculturated to go look for that trauma. I was taught to go find rapists. Taught. By my father and brothers and sister. My sister hunted for boyfriends by being pen pals with convicts. She did this many times. I’m dead fucking serious.

Siblings may have more effect than parents on behavior. Sissy, you taught me well. I don’t smoke. I don’t chew gum because you hated it. And I think it isn’t ok to tell men no for sex. Thanks for all the lessons.

That’s not true. I think it is now not only ok but mandatory that I tell men no for sex. But it isn’t because of my preferences or beliefs, my cunt is off-limits. It is already on contract with another guy. Sorry.

Awkward.

I ate half a meat pie yesterday. I’m not sorry. Even though it has gluten and dairy it was glorious. I dream about those pies. I love them so much. Calli hated the kind she ordered but she loved the kind I ordered and I equally love them all so I was happy in any case.

I was a big sucker. There is a downfall to going places with one child. The requests for stuff are halved and they sound so much more reasonable… Calli got a pretty pink bonnet that matched the Victorian dress she had on (that she will probably be able to wear for another year and which has a matching dress a size up that she will wear for two or three years after that… the hat wasn’t a bad buy) and a dress. The dress wasn’t necessary. But it was a really pretty hand-smocked Christmas dress. And it was less than half the cost of the other dresses she wanted. But it’s an every day play dress that she will really wear. And it’s SO LONG that her sister can borrow it this year (and maybe next year) and Calli will wear it for three or four years. See my defensiveness, it is mighty. I refused to buy another frou frou dress up dress. But a pretty little play dress that you can wear almost daily in the Christmas season that has fun little peppermint sticks? Ok. I’m that kind of sucker.

They got other new dresses from Grandma the day before. I’m willing to bet that part of my defensiveness is I know they don’t “need” this sort of thing from me. They truly do not need more forking clothes. (Especially not Calli. Anything itchy has already been shoved on her half of the closet so she has all the 5/6/7 dresses and she wears them interchangeably; size is a myth.)

Is it terrible that I am deeply grateful that I got daughters who are so into dresses? I liked dresses and hated pants. Well, I hated jeans. Leggings are fine to wear under your dresses. My kids dress exactly how I would have killed to dress as a child. I didn’t have a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes. I have pangs that my children wouldn’t if it weren’t for Noah’s talented mother.

My kids really have outstanding clothes. Noah’s mom hand-makes some really beautiful stuff. I am getting better at sending thank you notes just because year after year of largesse is making a dent in my hostility and hatred. I really appreciate the clothes.

Sometimes, in a weird way, I sort of think of them as presents to the little girl I was. I wanted to be pretty the way Shanna is. I never was. I wanted to be pretty the way Calli is–I never was. I was poor. I was dirty. I was erratic and weird and inappropriately sexualized. I wasn’t just pretty. I was attractive sometimes, but in ways no child really should be.

My kids are innocent in a way I didn’t know existed when I was a child. If I had met someone like them I would have done anything in my power to shatter the privileged fucking bubble they lived in.

It was nice seeing people yesterday. Many commented that it was “so good to see me” “I know it is hard for you to make it out–I’m so happy for you”. I was told that people miss me.

I’m sitting right here. You don’t have to miss me. You just have to come see me. But that’s effort.

What you miss is the energy I put into making your hobby more fun. It was never really my hobby. I just wanted to stand near you. I don’t care about doing those things you do with all of your time. And if I have to care about those things to be part of your life then I won’t be part of your life.

I am selfish. The older I get the more and more selfish I become. I am not good at fading into a system and becoming one of the worker bees. I don’t believe that the system is worthy of support.

One friend asked why I don’t bring the kids and work at Dickens. I said, “You mean why don’t I come work very long hours for no pay while someone expects me to cough up lots of time and money for elaborate costumes that I will be criticized if I don’t spend enough time and money to decorate?” He said, “You sound bitter.” I said, “Only about five people remember that I worked at Fezzi’s despite their impassioned “Once a Fezziwigger Always a Fezziwigger” and they all knew me before I worked there. If they honestly told people, “We won’t remember you unless you work here 10+ years and make it to management” I wouldn’t be bitter.”

Expectations, baby.

I put in my time in the bdsm scene. I understand that people don’t get instant standing in communities. I’m not trying to be a high status person in every community I walk near. But I want to be acknowledged as a community member. Or I’m going to think of myself as not part of the community and I’ll be bitter.

My bitterness isn’t the fault of anyone currently dealing with me. Not really. My family picked rapists over me. Even dead rapists. Loyalty to dead rapists is way more important than me. My bitterness creeps into other parts of my life. I’m not that important.

I certainly understand that communities can’t pathologically hold on to every dilettante who comes along. I get it. But can we get more honest advertising?

I actually feel like that is something that the lady who runs the home school group does really well at. Even though I’m flakey and there are gaps in my attendance–she notices when I come back and says my presence was notably gone and that was sad.

Why don’t I respond to that with hostility the same way I respond to Dickens Fair with hostility.

Ahh! No one in the home school group has raped me. So being there is inherently more comfortable and safe. People who are pissy about me not working Dickens Fair are telling me that my discomfort working with a rapist is something I should just get over so they can have their fun. Different.

I wrote till everyone woke up and Noah and I had a long fierce discussion of the merits of Paul Graham’s essays and it’s time for breakfast.

4 thoughts on “Genetics

    1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      No sweat, honey cakes. I’m super glad to hear you are feeling better. I know things are still mixed. I know the future will have ups and downs. Any good day is a mitzvah.

      Reply

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