I have thought a lot about this blog and what I want to do with it and not do with it. I have read many other blogs and articles about how to write a successful blog. On one hand there seems to be some “conventional” wisdom about blogging and on the other, a “fuck it, do what you want” attitude.
I think I fall somewhere in between. Part of me feels like there is a nice little niche I could fall into somewhere. But what is that? People with mental health struggles? Identity blogging? Life with kids? Life after the military? The truth is that my interests are as scattered as my brain and I think if I try to stay on a theme, it would bore me and my writing would be uninspired. I like the idea of just writing whatever when I do write. I think it’s more authentically me. I can’t really stick to one thing, so why should my blog?
One thing I really like about this so far is that I’m not caught up in all the statistics. This isn’t about followers and clicks and how many views I can rack up. It’s just about me learning to stop censoring myself and work on who I am without listening to anyone else’s idea of who I am. I feel myself separating from the versions I created to make everyone else happy. I see myself setting boundaries in my brain and in how and when I respond to people. If I am busy, I do not stop what I am doing. I don’t have to be reachable 24-7. I get to determine when I write back or answer my phone. I don’t have to answer everyone all the time. While I was active duty, I had to be reachable at all times. I had to answer my phone. I was scared of my phone. Every weird number must be someone from work, needing me for something. But it rarely was. And the constant vigilance of who was calling made me paranoid of phone calls. And this is a boundary that feels so good to put up. I do not have to answer ever. I can constantly ignore my phone.
I feel myself mentally working through conversations with my parents. What will they say when I tell them I am changing my name? Will they refuse to talk to me again? Will they insult me? Will they cry? Will they just accept what I tell them. I had a sudden fear last night that they might turn to some unexpected argument that I can’t think of. My therapist said I get to begin and end that conversation however I want. If they respond in ways that make me defensive, I can choose to end the conversation. I don’t depend on them for anything anymore and so they don’t get to tell me anything. They can’t change any of my decisions. They have no leverage over me. Not now.
But once, years ago, they did. And for one really bad summer they abused me and held my college financing over my head. I was 19. I was with a woman at college. I was keeping that to myself, other than telling one person from high school. But I went to college with people from both of the high schools I attended and eventually word got out to my old friend groups. My brother was starting to hear about it, so I decided to tell my parents. They reacted poorly. My father called me triggering names repeatedly, told me I could not make a decision like that, and told me I needed to straighten myself out. It was awful.
When I went home for the summer, I was only allowed to be at home and work. They let me out of the house a couple of times to see old high school friends but that was it. I was not permitted to call my girlfriend although I was paying for phone cards so they wouldn’t see anything. We wrote tons of letters and stayed in touch as best we could. It was terrible. I felt like a prisoner in my own home.
When I went back to school, things were better because I just didn’t call them. Things seemed to be slowly calming down until I got this one terrible call from my parents. My father said I better enjoy my last semester at college because they were no longer going to help me pay for it. They called me more terrible names and my father continued to minimize me and call me ugly things. I hated him so much. I hoped he would die of a miserable heart attack. What had happened was an old friend of mine heard about me and went right up to my father to ask him how he felt about it. He took it poorly and thought I told her. I wanted to kill her. Who did she think she was? What a dumb jerk. I wasn’t sure how I would get over this. My college couldn’t help me find another way to pay and so it looked like I would be done at college.
After some time, my brother asked my parents why they would piss me off by pulling me from college and then bring me home to live with them completely miserable. And why would they intentionally hurt my future by pulling me from college when I had worked so hard to get there? He called their bluff and they backed down. My parents called me and said I would be able to stay after that semester.
The damage was done though. I have never been able to trust them since. The way that my father was verbally abusive (I have intentionally chosen to not list his hateful language) and cold to me cannot be repaired. I have no trust that this “new” information won’t somehow set that same performance into motion. But the difference now is that they have no power. They can’t take anything away from me. They can’t hurt me in any way, other than emotionally and I don’t have to take that from them. Respect me and what I am telling you, or never speak to me again. It’s really that simple. But until my brain doesn’t rehearse these conversations, I won’t be ready to tell them until I can be strong and remember that they really can’t hurt me anymore. I do not need to let them hurt me or go back to the old ways of telling me who I am. I know who I am and no one else gets to define that for me anymore.