Donning the mask

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I struggle for authenticity.   There is a yearning for wholeness, for acceptance of self, for cohesion within myself.  Despite this, shame has always driven me to compartmentalize areas of my life; to stay fractured, splintered.

Only 3 friends know about this blog.  Still fewer know my dad signed his parental rights away when I was one and a half.  Few people who know me are aware that I swear like a sailor despite me having a good command of lexicon at my disposal.   My eating disorder is only known by my immediate family and 2 close friends.   I can count on one hand who knows this abbreviated story I recount here,  the abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex.  No one knows I am a survivor of incest as a child, but my shrink, my dying mother, and my fiancé.

It is still hard to say that out loud,” Isurvivedincest,” even in a therapy session behind closed doors where no one can hear.

But how to synthesize these areas of my life?  Would people be accepting of the “real me” after years of putting on a veneer and hiding the ugly things that I am ashamed which happened to me?

Me trading authenticity for acceptance began in early childhood.  Often doing what other kids wanted to do even if I didn’t want to, afraid I might lose them and/or their friendship.  I became a people pleaser at a very young age. In a desperate attempt for love and affection which were denied all around me.  Instead of getting love, I received the abuse, exploitation, and humiliation.

As a victim of incest, the first lessons I learned was that my home was not a safe place, and that my body was not my own, and that I didn’t get to have a  “no”.

As early as kindergarten I recall feeling shame, it manifested in feeling ‘less then’ the other kids.   Anxious and unsettled and wanting to sit near the teacher hoping she might like me or show me some approval.

As I grew older and the sexual abuse intensified and more violence in my home occurred, an irrational belief sprouted that the ugliness inside me may be transparent. I began creating a false persona to hide my shame.  Hide my tears.  Hide my emotions. Hide my authentic self.   I had observed first-hand that the girls who were quiet and sullen or melancholy got made fun of, got devoured like shark meat ny the mean kids.  So I immediately suppressed my feelings under a fake happy,  sunny,  disposition.   I realized that with my persona operating, that  I could “pass” for normal.   I could have friends, connection, some sort of meaning in an otherwise desolate life.

Because my older siblings were all poly-substance users, I too began smoking marijuana at age 12.  Took my first drink of vodka by 13 years old and never looked back.   By high school I could drink most guys under the table and had alcohol poisoning once.  I was not deterred by this.  At this point I believed that I couldn’t let the “real me” come through, the fake me had been operating for so long.  I’d lose everything, I feared. Friends were the only positive thing I had in my life at that time and I was petrified to lose them.  Even if their friendship was built upon knowing me, a girl who was hiding the pathetic, sad, depressed, nothing-to-offer loser who hated herself underneath this joke-telling, witty, charismatic confident false girl they came to love.

Using booze and pot helped me turn down the volume of the authentic me deep inside me, screaming for relief and accelerate the fake persona that I was creating externally, that was happy and confident.  As I was fast approaching my high school years substance use was just I needed to survive all the sharks who would eat me up.

I don’t remember much of high school due to all the alcohol and marijuana use.  My parents divorced and our house was sold.  I found myself looking for a place to stay as neither parent was financially capable of absorbing me after I graduated.

I had never told either of my parents  about the incest.   As I entered my freshman year of college, my eating disorder was so severe that I had starved myself down to an emaciated state.  I couldn’t think or read very well as my mental functioning had declined from being malnourished.  For many months I was harming myself, also called self-mulilation.   I used self-injury to push back any feelings of intense emotion with which I couldn’t cope.   Then things changed and my feelings simply left.  My depression intensified and I just felt numb all the time.  Empty, cold, void of any emotion had become the new norm.  I had persistent and intrusive thoughts of suicide.   This dragged on for 6 months or more.  I figured I may as well be physically dead too.  Seemed logical to me.  Finally one night I decided to end my life.

First, I asked God to forgive me, and then I went ahead with it.   I guess God had other plans.  After getting discharged from the regular hospital,  I was sectioned involuntarily into a psychiatric hospital.   This was the first time in a long time any of what happened to me as a child would surface again in my consciousness.

I find it interesting that had I not attempted suicide at 19, I may have well have kept that mask on.   My authentic self may never have had the chance to be re-born.  My then therapist told me, “sometimes we have to have a complete and total breakdown, so we can put ourselves back together in a more healthy way.”

It has taken many years in therapy and I am still only able to let down my guard and become vulnerable to a few.  Happiness? Real long-standing  happiness? Still elusive I’m afraid.  I do find moments of real joy though.  I’m told I can learn to expand those and they can grow.  Self-love is the one thing I have yet to be able to achieve.  I have been working on learning to set boundaries and learning what it looks like to truly care about myself.  Imagine, having to be taught that.  Most of my life has been spent caring for others and I do that really well.   Historically, I give and give until I am emotionally drained or financially bankrupt.   The goal for me  is to learn to put myself first and not feel guilty for doing so.

Though I have always had the ability to love others and deeply empathize, I find it strange that both myself and my pathological narcissist both employed “masks” to hide our authentic selves.  Perhaps we have something in common after all.

 

Of Mice and Monsters VI

At some point I thought I would try and get into his mind to see what sort of pathology (or not) may exist. I held a college degree in Psychology and had worked in the field for several years.  Beyond the obvious of his sexual sadism, and catching in numerous lies, his words and actions weren’t shoring up. Ever. I felt crazy all the time but my gut told me something deeper was wrong.   I needed proof that I wasn’t crazy, that there was something there underneath his mostly charming personality.

I knew I would be unable to be objective. However, I believed I would be able to keep a good “veneer” on not showing my shock if he divulged something that upset me. I also knew that if he got the first hint that I was off put by his disclosures, he would not only shut down but that he would also retaliate against me.

Risky for me indeed, yet things were not adding up and I wanted answers. I felt this sort of going “under cover” with him was the only way I would get my answers. Unless you a person with a burning sense of inquisitiveness, where you are almost “driven” to be analytical? None of the reasons I needed to know, will ever make sense to you. Don’t try to understand. Because by this point dear reader if you can’t understand why I needed answers, you have probably already written me off in the “crazy she should have just left” bin long ago.

I began probing his sexual fantasies fully expecting to hear more tales of sadism. I lied to gain his trust that I too, had a few sadistic fantasies but had repressed mine. Mine however were not sexual. They centered around retaliatory themes about bullying done to me in high school and by the abuse I had endured as a small child.

It worked.

He began trusting me and opening up. I never imagined what he was to say.

He envisioned enticing a young 17-18 year old female student into his van. My first question, “how would you get her in?

He answered, “well that’s where you would come in. Teen girls are much more likely to come near a van when you are asking for directions if a woman is present and asking.”

I let out a sigh…..

“So, I would need you to help me lure her near the van.” He quipped.

Okay” I listened.

Then I would run around and grab her and put the chloroform napkin over her mouth and you would help me shove her into my van, then we drive off.”

I’m quite certain I had to take great effort to mask the absolute horror as it was coursing through me as I was listening to him say the word chloroform. My heart was racing. I felt sweat pooling everywhere. I knew if I bailed now I would never know who was in front of me, nor how much danger I was in. I pressed on.

Okay, so what would we do with her once we have her in the van?”

“Well the van would be soundproof and she’d be chained to the floor by bolts on her legs and I’d bind her arms making her easier to control later. I wouldn’t take any chances.” he explained

“Right, not after all that trouble.” I said.

“Then we’d take her back to my torture chamber. I haven’t built it yet. But I can tell you it would be awesome, state of the art. All stainless steel. Drainage grate in the floors that bodily fluids could be washed down. . All kinds of hooks overhead to hang implements. Large stainless steel hospital bed. You get the idea. This way you can bleach and clean everything so there’s no trace of anything. Soundproof. “

He was so excited talking about it all. It was chilling.

“So what would you do with her first?” I asked.

“Ha ha ha ha ha!!!!! Other that the obvious of taking her several different ways?”

“Yeah right.”

“I’d pull her nipples off with a pair of needle nose pliers.”

Once again I struggled to maintain composure and made sure not to wait too long without commenting I didn’t want him to think I was faking being into his sick fantasy. The best I could muster was to reality check him.

“If you did that, she would likely go into shock and wouldn’t be alive much longer after that.”

He chuckled, “Smart. I knew there was a reason I keep you around.”

He spoke about various torture methods too gruesome to speak of here. I can say that it involved torturing the girl til she passed out, waking her up with ammonia and other means and then repeating this until she died.  Then disposing of her body in plastic bags in a river.  This was a turning point for me.

This was far beyond the scope of anything I had ever personally encountered. Only the sort of thing one reads in text books or watches on shows like Forensic Files, where the girlfriend/wife/victim ends up dead.

I always look better on paper

 

There are those people who are just mother fucking talented individuals.  Charismatic as hell.   They can walk into a room and just open a can of multi-talented whoop ass and skills and bedazzle those around them.  and then there is me.

I am insecure as fuck.

I am the girl who walks into an interview nervous as shit, sweating like a pig thinking my entire resume is packed with bullshit and most of me just looks good on paper.

And when the potential employee asks the million dollar question of “why is it that I want to hire you Lexi for this position?”  I come damn near close to blurting out,

“well truthfully you probably don’t because I’m quite sure there are more talented people who showed up for this fucking interview that can do a better job and I’m really not too sure I can even last the first fucking week.”

******

I wonder how people get confidence.  Like where does it come from?  Can I get it at the local convenience store?

I sure as shit better find it fast, ’cause time’s running out for me.

House of cards

They’re all the same though aren’t they.

Their names change.  Their faces.

But the pattern, it inevitably repeats.  Because I don’t change.

I keep building my house of cards.

****

I like my adrenaline rush with a side of cortisol please.

I don’t know any other way.

And yet there is a tiny seedling within me that wants something different.

****

The Hallmark industry has brain-washed me into thinking that some white knight was supposed to come with his steed and

sweep me off  my mother fucking feet and I was suppose to traverse into some fairy-tale and live happily ever after.

They lied and

I bought it.

****

Fact is there is no fucking fairy tale.  No white night.  And happy ever after?  Pfffft …..the closest I’ve ever come to it

was numbing out my pain in fantasy, booze, weed, or other escapist activities.

****

My two greatest defense mechanisms have always been humor and intellectualization.  I hide behind them like great steel gates.

The authentic me?  who the fuck even know what that is anymore.   who the fuck knows if I’d even be recognizable to myself, or even be likable?

*****

What do I see in the fucking ink blot?

Oh yeah……..fucking rainbows and sunshine you assholes.

Even though I see black, death, blood.

Oh but I know the ” right” answers.

That’s the problem.

I know what you want me to say.

but at the end of the day….. I still can’t find my way out a fucking emotional paper bag.

The Stepford Addict

I don’t fit in anywhere.  I never have.  I will be anything you need me to.  But none of its real.  I do whatever it takes, act however you need me to, just as long as you like might like me…

I’ve lived in this God-forsaken shit town for 3 years and I haven’t made one friend.  I’m not looking for your pity or sympathy either.  This blog isn’t about that.  I’ve got my pillow to cry into and a therapist who hears me bitch enough about being a loner.   I am a loner, but it’s not by choice.

I just don’t fit into this cookie-cutter community.  Apparently I don’t know the secret fucking handshake in this one horse town.  Most women here are trust fund girls who went to Yale and probably have their silver spoons embedded up their snatch to prove their purebred status.  I’m the mongrel they secretly want to spit on, the girl of which a few of their husbands sometimes secretly steal furtive glances when they’re not looking.  Something about me makes these women uneasy, but I’m not sure why.  I’m college educated too, but I didn’t go to an Ivy-League school.  I had to get to a state school through work-study, scholarships, and financial aid.

But something about me threatens them, because they can’t even make eye contact with me when they’re away from the “pack” all by themselves.   You know, the clique they usually stand in?  The group of women that just like in high school, stand to the side and whisper in hushed tones as you pass by.   Most of them are approaching middle-age and have starved their way to being thin through daily yoga and pilates.  They walk around toting their children they adopted from a foreign country because they were way past menopause when they started their family and because it wasn’t working out having just dogs as surrogate children anymore.

Everything is sanitary, sterile, and healthful from clothing to food.   I don’t think any of their kids have ever tasted a cupcake with red dye #4 and high fructose corn syrup.  Hell no, they subsist off of organic soy and sunshine products that both look and tastes like cardboard.  But those kids won’t learn that until they get far enough away from mommy’s helicopter apron strings.

At the last PTO meeting I attended they were all clambering  who’d take home the compost pile from the Harvest garden at school.   I wanted to raise my hand and offer to take a shit in the compost bag just to see if anyone would notice I said anything.

When I walk by they don’t even acknowledge me.  As if I do not exist, like I am a non-entity, a non human being.  And in those moments, It makes me fantasize about being on my knees and sucking off one their husbands, purely out of spite.   But I wouldn’t.  I have morals and besides their husbands are just as narcissistic, arrogant, and filled with hubris as they are and equally creep me out.

And yet, I am still on the outside looking in.   Filled with a palpable sadness. A long-standing dolefulness that spans years.  The kind of penetrating sorrow which makes one turn a collar to that cold and damp, almost as if to shield oneself from its grip.

It’s like I’m seven years old again on the play-ground and some asshole kid won’t pick me for the team because I don’t have the “right” clothes.    It’s the same bullshit, just that those kids grew up and became adults.  Now they’re still the same pretentious elitist assholes just older….Same as it ever was.  And I, I still don’t have the teflon I need in life to let it all roll off.

Despite what people think, addicts have feelings too.