Eroded Parts

Some things in you don’t go all at once.  They disappear little by little, bit by bit.

Trust is something that is all but gone.

When I find a nugget of it, I protect it so fiercely.

What I do feel toward others is mostly just a CIA-level paranoia. And I have to not feel that in order to let my brain relax.  The trouble is that I can’t forget things.

Gifted, they said when I was a kid.  And I got stuck in a special class.

At my job it’s useful and at times a mildly amusing curiosity.  It has helped me pass tests.  It has helped me remember a vague reference I heard on a documentary five years ago and look it up in order to add scholarly bulk to papers nearly unheard of in undergraduate work.

But I can’t forget. Not even when I drink myself into oblivion. Nothing wipes away the erosion.

I had a dream last night where animals begged me for names and then proceeded to rather obviously lie to me.  So yes, I see it everywhere, even in a dream about a raccoon and some large rodent walking into a library.  My mind’s natural assumption is that they would lie, omit and tell incomplete tales.

I hug my relatives that have lied and manipulated and left things out, but I feel nothing toward them.  Like hugging one of those cardboard cutouts of a movie character or a sports star.

I think we teach people a lot of ways to effectively deal with things, but not about being stuck around liars.   Often in the workplace, you will (by those above you in management) be made to feel that the right thing to do is to diplomatically overlook obvious lies in order to further the job goals.

We want people to keep the peace, keep the boat from rocking.   If they don’t, who will sign off on that time report and who will come over for Thanksgiving?

Otherwise, we freeze it out and freeze them out. Create our spaces and walls of ice.  Hide money and resources from them.  Keep our free time to ourselves rather than get mixed up with them.

The problem is that when people lie, it is because they feel no obligation to be truthful to us.  And that hurts. It is a very deep cut that goes to the soul of our worth in that person’s eyes.  Your heart says, “The truth is, I wasn’t worth the truth.”

And it is harder and harder to lay down that inner part of you that is looking for a place to hide from it all.  That part can be ignited so easily.  A wrong look.  A sideways glance. A mistake.  You see nothing but gradients and shadows.  You become pleasantly surprised when the truth is there and someone doesn’t find some way to screw you over.   You weren’t expecting it.

There aren’t a lot of effective ways to just function. To let your brain rest. To let go.  We need to find better ways to call out those who harm. I know some ways that do work with some types, but for our own mental sanctity, we need to work on more.

Because … we ARE worth more. We DO deserve the truth.  We DO deserve honesty.   People who see otherwise are the problem, and they need to be made to understand that in a way that doesn’t make us, the truth -seekers and truth-knowers, into the ones who are told we are judgemental.  People who see otherwise are projecting their own lack of worth onto us.  And we don’t  need to allow that to happen or impede us.  We need better tools to address it.  To live with it without it taking over our minds, invading dreams about woodland creatures in libraries.  Mostly, we need more truth– but that isn’t going to happen.  To take from my evangelical upbringing, you are not able to “convict the spirit” if it is unwilling.

We have to find ways of letting the reality of that be and defending ourselves effectively and finding ways to call people out when we can.  Truth is a disinfectant.  We need to use it more often.

Solace, resolution.  They are beautiful ideas in stories, but may never happen in life.  Some will never change or be rehabilitated.

We have to find better ways to live with both outcomes.

Advertisements

Save all the receipts

When I was small, I would watch you say something,

And then change the story and say something else again.

I heard you try to make me doubt the things I knew to be true.

Things I saw, things I heard, things I read, they were are all up for grabs.

Anything to fit the idea that served you best.

And I learned, bit by bit, not to trust anything.

And you kept me around people who each had the same plan.

I watched them be cruel and desperate.

Unconditional love was something I would never see or understand.

Every pattern created would break

Every tale would turn upside down

Every time was a time for doubt

Everyone could be an enemy

And you would act like it was all natural, normal

And I was wrong for not wanting the same things as you.

And I was wrong for not wanting the same people as you wanted for me.

People like you.

People who make the truth out of the wind instead of the facts and reality.

 

And I couldn’t dive into love with my whole heart

Always holding something back

Always unsure of myself

Always checking the story again

Always listening to the tone in the voice for a fraction of a change

Debating what that might mean

I see me at 13, 14, vomiting before a date

With a harmless young man

I see me at 15, telling the truth about you

No one believing me

I see your angry hating eyes

Looking back at me, knowing that I would be my own person someday

Hating that you couldn’t control all of me forever

Hating that you couldn’t make me be like you

Not understanding why I might want something more

 

I see you and all the stories that I heard

I see you and what I overheard about you

I see you what you won’t ever know about me

 

And now I still double check every word.

I still verify everything I hear.

I still hold part of myself back.

I still can’t dive headfirst into love.

I still check everything again and again.

I doubt the very ground I stand on, knowing one day it may too collapse.

I doubt the stars in the sky because they fall.

I doubt the moon and the sun, snow and the rain.

I save every email and haunt just the right places in case someone tries to contradict themselves.

I mount up proof and evidence just to feel safe.

Just to know for once, it’s not happening again.

Any bump in the road is a sign that the bridge is out ahead,

And that I am an idiot for trusting anything.

And I sit and pray that I’m not an idiot for trusting.

And I carve out my insides and grieve.

I don’t know how to dive into love.

I don’t know how to trust myself enough to trust someone else.

 

My heart is littered with the thousand times

That I didn’t realize what I was trying to heal

When I trusted wrong because I didn’t know any better

Or when I heard one wrong thing, and ran like a frightened witness

Or when I dated the ones that you liked that were always so fucked up because you don’t know how to like anyone worth a damn

Running and pushing away, like the mafia was after me

Knowing how to sneak out of the party quietly

I see my 20’s, my 30’s…a series of self-destruction

Wasted time wasted heart

Dating men that I couldn’t truly love

Keeping myself safe, never playing the fool

 

Where does it end?

When do I get enough security?

When I do save myself?

Where is the ladder?

 

 

The Desperation of Rightness

Some of the people out there don’t understand what it is like to grow up in an evangelical home.  I can’t say my story speaks for everyone, but I think it speaks to a common mentality found in certain areas.

The mentality is this:

We are always right.  Your parents are always right.  You may know something that we don’t, but we are right about it by being your parents and therefore being older and wiser than you.

This is why reason doesn’t win.

You can argue all day long about the overwhelming evidence of something.  It doesn’t matter.  And it won’t matter what that thing might be.

For instance:  My father has argued with me about the meaning of the word “tenure”.  I work in higher education.  I have attended 3 different colleges and universities.  I know what tenure is. I know someone who was fired who had tenure.  However, he argued with me that it meant that people could not be fired.  I told him that it did not.  The argument devolved quickly into a nasty “IT DOES, TOO!!” from him.

I was 38 years old at the time.

I gave up.  He will never see my wealth of experience and knowledge or my professional level as being ever equal to something he heard some guy say on a Fox News show or during a sermon from the right kind of preacher.

I could literally write a book on something, and someone from that world would gladly tell me I was wrong about something that I had studied for years.

This is something beyond gaslighting.

This is a systematic devaluing of the knowledge of the younger generation, regardless of what their scope of knowledge is.  Some of it is mansplaining, but I also got it from the female members of my father’s family.

This is belief based in “rightness.”   And they believe in being right about everything.  The pattern of your wallpaper or what color car you should buy, even.   And that is what makes it hard to pin down as what it is.  It isn’t that everyone must fit a certain pattern, it is that everyone must fit the pattern that has been determined by someone else with more perceived “rightness.”

It is about the belief that all other white people are also Protestant and Evangelical, and that they are also Republican and listen to Country music and want and are expected to have exactly the same lives as their parents.

It is the notion that you will marry someone most likely from your hometown even if you don’t even live there anymore.

It is the idea that you want to live in a certain area even though you have never even voiced a desire to do so.  It is the assumption that you want what they think you should want without asking you.

It is constantly saying, to younger people who know something, that some mysterious “they” have you “convinced” of something – that the Muslims you work with every day aren’t planning your doom when they ask you where the scotch tape is, that tenured professors are fire-able.

I can only imagine some dark cabal out there determining that one must sneak around and “convince” us “dumb” people who actually work in a certain field what terms in that field mean, and that these meanings are somehow different from their actual secret meaning, which is somehow known to these other people out there.  Or that entire groups of people would decide “Let’s be nice about the office supplies and conduct ourselves graciously.  That’ll be how we get ‘em!”  The ongoing fallacy is that there is some secret code between individuals, who may have never met before now, and are deciding to do this complete social con game, full-on convincing other people into believing something. The fallacy that YOU disagreeing with them on a point about global warming or Charles Darwin means that that weird blob of random strangers has done their secret handshake behind the screen and has “convinced” you.

And this “having you convinced” will be proclaimed as truth–even though the person making this proclamation about you hasn’t managed to convince you of anything since 1983.  Because you just aren’t easily convinced.

But that screws with everything in their perception of you.  They want, nay, they NEED for you to fit the mold of a dumb kid, easily convinced of things by fancy people.

If I was a brain surgeon, I’m sure that would come up too.  And I would hear how wrong I was about something dealing with the brain.  How someone had me “convinced” about the benefits of some treatment or another.  If I sold cars, I would be told that some mysterious “They” had me “convinced” that one model was better than another.  I have heard my father argue with historians on TV.  I have heard him argue with scientists about the behaviors of tigers during wildlife shows.

Right.

Right Right Right.

That is what evangelicalism has to have.  Because that’s how evangelical preachers talk to their flock.  Admonitions rather than research and theological debate.  Evangelical preachers don’t care who disagrees with them or the level of knowledge of that person.

“I KNOOOOOOOWWWWW that the Lord created Adam and Eve in six days, the scientists and the atheists are trying to convince yoouuuuu that you came from a monkey… “

There is always the desperation of rightness. There is always a verbally confrontational tone, which we see now in national politics.  The preachers I grew up hearing were all too happy to tell you that they didn’t care if they were told they were wrong, were called bigots for their views on gays, or anything else.  They didn’t care.  Because the name-calling people were going to hell anyway.

Small towns in the red states are ruled by this type of thought pattern.  It doesn’t matter, even, if that person has never been to church in their life.  The thought pattern is “I am right.  It doesn’t matter what you show me, I am right.  It doesn’t matter how many sources you list, I am right.  It doesn’t matter how many experts you have, I am right.  It doesn’t matter if you tell me you saw it yourself, I am right.”  The big kicker is that my father wasn’t always very religious, but he was always “right” about everything.  His turn toward religion more seriously has been a product of a lot of life upsets.  My not-actively-church-going relatives are also “right.”  That is why they voted for Trump and other individuals who pop up in news feeds with stories that make most of America shake its head.  He reminds them of themselves in his constant insistence of his own rightness.

“I’m Right.  I’m Right even if I’m Wrong.”  That is the core attitude that is held by current politicians and constituents in the red states that the Democrats and many moderates fail to understand.  But I know it.  I’ve lived with from birth.   Christians who are from mainline belief systems don’t understand that this certainty of rightness is exactly why Evangelicalism is so very appealing.  There is no consideration of multiple meanings or historical changes to word definitions.  There is only Rightness.

This mentality requires blinders.  You have to ignore that your cardiologists’ last name is Hussain, that the person cutting your hair is a gay man. You have to seek to actively “not get it.”  To be so inside your own head that it never dawns on you.  To actively assume your bubble is the one that everyone else is living in, too.  Or to live so externally as to be perpetually worried about what other people are going to say about you or think about you or feel about you, so much so that it supersedes the realities of your life happening all around you.  Either way, the result is a triumph of non-awareness that is impressive.

I don’t argue with my father about anything anymore.   I avoid it as much as possible and seek to avoid saying anything that betrays my real thoughts on any subject where differences lie.  Arguing is pointless.  The only thing that does work is letting him find out the hard way.

It is hard.  But there is nothing that works nearly so well as failure.  Arguing is a desired outcome.  They want you to argue.  They think it is a fun exercise to argue. They don’t want to learn anything.  They don’t want to absorb information from you.  They just want an excuse to be snide from the beginning of the argument.  The only way to win…

Is to let them think they have. To be more mature.  To avoid the problem.  Then, go do what you want anyway.  And you let them lie in the bed they made for themselves.

I can tell you the story of a teacher from my hometown.  She had a husband that was politically passionate.  Put up signs.  She would help and do and volunteer and give money, but when she went to vote, she voted for the other person, every time.  It must have been a hell of an act.

I think of that lady from time to time.  I wonder who she voted for in the last election.