Monday, January 2, 2017

Falling Up 1: Beginnings

I have said that it is perhaps time to try to tell the complicated story of my life. Having said that, though, I'm a bit lost as to how to start.  I know the principles of good storytelling, that I should start with action, with a visceral memory, with sensation.  And this is my life, How much family background do you need to know for context?  It may explain much, but it would be so boring.  And also there is a chronological telling.

Hmm, a chronological telling.  I have some unusually early memories.  Visceral memories.  Memories that begin to tell the story.  Like, I remember having my pants changed because I had wet them, and feeling shamed.  This was at the babysitter's, and I remember that I had had another babysitter before this one. Because I know that my mother went to work when I was 18 months old, I think this memory was when I was around two.

But before that, when I had just started walking, I remember.  My mother's friend was visiting.  She sat on the chair and my mother sat on the couch.  They talked and talked and I was bored.  I was sitting on the floor in front of my mother, with my legs under the couch when the bottom of my right foot felt itchy.  I put it up and asked Mommy to scratch it for me, but she thought I wanted to be picked up. My other knee was bent backwards and hurt very much.  It hurt whenever I tried to walk.

I don't know if it was a day or longer, but I remember my Daddy took me to the Doctor's aqua office. The door was right on an outside corner, with a curve of glass brick around it. The Doctor poked and prodded and tried to get me to walk, and I sat on the floor and said it hurt.  The Doctor told my Father that he couldn't find anything wrong and he thought I was just afraid to try.  I remember the very real pain, but my whole family started to refuse to help me, to try to make me walk.

One day my family was going out someplace fun.  My mommy and my daddy and my brother stood by the back door, leaving me.  I sat in the floor and crid as they said I needed to just get up and walk or they would leave me alone.  I think they may have even closed the door. I don't remember how this was resolved, I just remember the terrible abandonment because my knee hurt.

This tells you some key things about me and my family, did you catch them?  My mom worked, which was not the norm in the mid '50's, nor was it the norm for my dad to share child responsibilities.  I was taught from a young age that I needed to take care of myself, be tough, and I couldn't rely on my family to help me.  I also learned that my parents and my brother were a unit that had fun together, and I was a burden.

A psychologist once asked me if I noticed a pattern of feeling like an outsider. She said maybe it is something to think about; when these feelings began and check for if they really apply.  And yes, I don't ever remember not feeling like an outsider in one way or another.  From being the outsider in my family, to the new kid in the neighborhood.  From being too tall, too geeky, too sexual, too fat.  I have been rejected for asking too many questions, for being a single mom, for not caring about the right celebrities, to caring too much about, well, everything.

So, I know, as I begin to write this, I write from a slanted perspective.  There aren't very many people left, though, who can tell me what I'm getting wrong. They say that history is written by the winners, by those who survive.  I guess I have survived long enough that my version is that one you get to hear.

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