Lesson is Fear continued…..
If you read the last “Lesson in Fear” posting you might have felt you were left hanging. So to orientate you to the blog Mondays posting will run in a series format centered around one topic covering 3 to 4 weeks. The second posting of the week will be related to quotes I am pondering and books I am reading or just random thoughts about life.
Now knee deep and head over heels in love with fear, I was looking for all people and events to support our union. I wanted everything to validate that this thing I had with fear, our relationship, was real. Even when my relationship with fear threatened my happiness and sanity I still choose fear. When fear and I were together we were as good as gold. Fear led the way and I followed blindly without hesitation. I offered my body to fear starving and drinking to stay in my committed relationship with fear.
Waking up drunk on some random bathroom floor was my first sign that fear did not love me the way I loved it. But letting go of fear meant letting go of hate, anger, shame and guilt. Leaving fear required me to stand I my truth an action I was not ready to take. If I let fear go I could no longer hide in the pills, at the bottom of vodka bottles, or under the unwanted sexual partners. As I climbed the stairs to my freshman dorm I thought to my self, “Ok, Danell this is not working. Going to a party your first week of college, getting drunk and letting a male friend take you home was such bad idea.” As my vision continued to blur I willed my self to the third floor, my movements something between a crawl and side winding. On my drive home the next morning I made multiple stops along the country road to purge the remaining alcohol from my system. I prayed between each vomiting spell and once the wave of nausea passed I promised to never drink again.
Pulling into my driveway I parked and unpacked my car managing to not vomit all over my front yard. I made my way to the yellow polyester bedspread in my room. The same bedspread I had offered many silent tears. The very same yellow bedspread I laid on when I realized the world was just as mother said it was unsafe. Upon waking up the next morning, I roamed the house for food and water. I found my mother cooking in the kitchen. Upon seeing me her harsh disgusted gaze sweep from my feet to my head and back again. Her eyes meet mine and she said, “I can’t believe a daughter of mine could be so fat.” In that moment, all of the promises I made on my way home were being tested. I needed something. I needed to not feel so empty, sad, and rejected. I needed control over the internal spiraling set off by my mother’s words. Immediately my self -dialogue began, “Don’t cry, Danell. Don’t do it. You better not. She cannot know she hurt you. If you cry she will use it against you, so don’t do it!” Gathering my sadness, shame, and rejection I turn and walk out of the kitchen and back to my yellow polyester bedspread.
I spent the remainder of the weekend avoiding my mother. I was disappointed in myself. I knew how she operated and still I came to a gunfight with only a knife. I mean really, how many times did I need to be shot and dragged through the streets to get the point. She was not safe, not today, not tomorrow, and not ever. What would it take for me to learn this lesson? At every turn she was there holding a sign that stated in bold red letters “Run, flee, fear”. Going to homecoming at 15 was a prefect example. Her pep talk was straight and to the point. She woke me up around 6 am and said, “Danell, you are going on your first date and 3 things are likely to happen. You will either fuck, fight or walk. But most likely you will fight, get fucked and still have to walk home. Here some money just in case you need to take a cab.” Talk about game day prep talk.
My mother was battling her own lesson passed down from her mother. She had little space to connect with me and provide consistent stable interactions. At 16 my mother spread horrible rumors about my one of my best friend’s mother. My mother’s behavior were not prompted by some adult discord but because she was jealous. She was fearful I would choose another mother over her. She often became jealous when I wanted to spend time with other people. Her jealousy took the form of calling me names and questioning my motives. She knew her shortcomings yet opted to hold me hostage to the type of love she had to offer despite the impact it had on my wellbeing. I had to face the fact if I did not choose her I would lose.
I knew any level of independence would create an emotional response in her and in turn things would be unsafe for me. I needed to go inside myself and stay there. I needed the comfort of fear to help me stay the course of isolation. See, when I was a faithful lover to fear I did not get hurt. During the times I flirted with joy, connection and peace I got crushed. To contain my inner chaos I ate too much and not enough. I managed my pain and sadness by obsessing about eating while equaling obsessing about not eating. To cover the shame and guilt I felt I drank and drank and drank. I repeated this cycle of eating and drinking and not eating and drinking for the next 2 semesters.
While trying to manage my internal spiral I find my self in a relationship. I had dodged commitment up until this point. I don’t do relationships, but here I was with boyfriend. I never really understood why guys would what to have anything to do with me? Although, I did not show it I was losing my sanity one day at a time. Didn’t they know I was broken? Also, dating significantly jeopardized my tried and true relationship with fear. There was not enough space for fear and boys. Given the fact I lacked the ability to effectively express myself vacillating between pure aggression and passivity saying no was not in my vocabulary. So, Danell ended up with a boyfriend.
Frozen, reserved, and guarded. I was already stuck in my mind and trapped in my body. Now, I was trapped in a relationship with this boy, man, person. He wanted to touch me, talk to me, be with me. He was always lurking. Everywhere I turned I saw him or heard his voice. He invaded both my physical and mental space. He constantly asked why I was so quite. “Don’t you have something to say, Danell”, he would ask. Internally I would say, “Nope, I have absolutely not thing to say to you. I am just going to sit here quietly and hope you keep your hands to yourself.” I listened to him talk about his relationship with his father and the expectations his mother had for him. I felt overwhelmed by him, his words, his closeness, and his need. He forced his way into my car on the weekends demanding he be allowed to accompany me home. And like with many other things I offer my silence and conceded.
If I had to be connected to him I cannot live in my world of fear. I did not want to care. Truthfully, I didn’t have the energy to care. I was so wrapped up in whirl wind love affair with fear I did not have much else to offer. Fear kept me up late at night reminiscing about all of the times we had been together over the last fear years. Fear met up with me when I was walking to class whisking me away to the nearest corner, stealing my breath and clouding my thoughts. Fear nurtured me convincing me to stay in my room away from the world. Fear protected me at parties giving me drink after drink to help me unwind and keeping my negative thoughts at bay.
With fear’s seduction and protection who had time for other lovers. The boyfriend was just another person I used to shield me from the world. I had long mastered the art of using others as shields. I learned to develop and maintain relationships that were not too demanding, but allowed me to not be seen. Because I was not pretty, a fact I learned long ago, I gravitated towards groups of pretty girls. I could go to party and clubs with these “pretty girls” get drunk and no one would ever notice me. I was good at hiding from others, if only I could learn to hide from myself.
Finally we broke up! Although free from the boyfriend situation I now had to deal with the attention of other boys. I decided to pass on any form of commitment instead opting for drunken connection. No talking, no affection, no commitment. I willing participated in the kind of connection that was temporary and did not require public outings. This way of engaging allowed me to be fully involved with my first love, fear. I stopped compromising fear for connected and surrendered fully to all fear had to offer. Fear allowed me to hide. Between bingeing, purging, not eating at all, working and drinking I was able to function. I felt in control and could breathe. I mean, sure, I was moody and tearful but the hurt was not as intense. I did not want to be present. I wanted to live in my bubble absent of emotion.
By the end of my sophomore year I was returning home for good. Armored with drinking and a poor relationship with food I was ready to face my mom. I could do this. I could live in the same house as her. There was no pain she offer me that I had not already felt or that self-medicating could not fix. I was wrong. My vices were not enough to create a barrier between her and I. She broke through every safe guard with her hurtful comments, name-calling and unstable mood. Her relationship with fear reminded her that my unwilling to meet her demands was a reflection of her inadequacies. Her love affair with fear pushed her to reject me in effort to preserve what remained of her self. My mother’s connection with fear reinforced the notation that I too was a threat to her wellbeing. She needed me to be successful so I could take care of her. As she reminded me often she was “done caring for other people”. I was letting her down and I did not care. She let me down a long time ago. My relationship with fear told me above all else she was the most unsafe. Like superman coming in contact with kryptonite I was dying, mentally and physically. I needed to get away.
Away I went. The United States Navy promised me a life of adventure that did not resemble my current life