what did this to you?
who did this to you?
All I can give is a helpless shrug. It’s not the right answer.
I am not supposed to exist.
Around 1 in 100 people have schizophrenia; only 1 in 40,000–by the highest estimates–have childhood-onset psychosis. Extremely rare, they say.
And multiplicity? Not a thing. Not a study. There’s DID, OSDD, sure, things my therapist shakes her head at. Studies, articles that call my existence a part at best, a dissociative symptom at worse.
I am weird.
I shake, I rock, I flap. I have vague, intangible nightmares when I sleep, and calculated, stabbing fears when I awake. I want things I’m not supposed to want. I always have the wrong emotion. I flinch when anyone raises their voice; I fall to the floor, curling in on myself in a fraction of a second, when an adult goes shh-shh-shh, but not for any “real” reason, “just” a reflex as natural as blinking when I look at the sun. I am confronted with tragedy, and I feel nothing, or worse, laugh. My friend confides her self-destruction and I am positively happy–glee turning to contentedness–, albeit ashamed because I know the feeling is wrong. Or I go to the other extreme, situationally appropriate emotions but inappropriate strength, sobbing and screaming over a tiny inaccuracy.
I see myself as inhuman; otherworldly, yet always tangible. Always embodied, even if it is only through my fluidity–the sharp exhale of air from my lungs, the fingers always grasping for something to touch, the slow trickle of blood down my skin. “Never still,” my therapist described me.
There are holes in my narrative. Always too weird, always too clumsy, too large, too feeling, my life story does not fit without dissection, without surgery done on my memories by someone with an untrembling hand and a clear mind.
If I try my best to make my story fit, to make it seamless, tear and fold and patch and sew back together without the string poking out, it doesn’t work right. It comes out cold and clean, clinical, like the recitation of words in a foreign language; the sounds are right, but there’s no real meaning behind them. I get congratulated for it, but it doesn’t seem right.
Even then, it doesn’t quite work. I can try to blame society, or smiling girls with high ponytails and bouncy two-syllable names, but when it comes down to it I have friends who mirrored my life exactly, attaching to people with similar penchants for cruelty, following queer paths in this society alongside me, and yet most escaped without this strange calamity I call my mind. Even those that did end up with twisted brains got theirs later in life, for the most part, trying to learn to deal with self-harm urges at twice the age I dealt with my own, four times the age my brain first decided to set itself on fire. Still, in most ways my life is idyllic; I have a few friends who love me deeply, the single most Healthy and Functional family I’ve ever come across, no real financial worries. Had it not been for the exquisite strangeness of the brain that sits behind my eyes, I would be right alongside them and my friends. Quirky, of course, but not one of those people.
So attempts to blame my past end up ringing flat for me. While it certainly did affect me, they are not the sole reason for how I am.
In some sense, I just came this way, weird and crazy, all too sensitive and never quite of this world.
Perhaps this is the gift they were talking about when they called me gifted. I knew what they were saying, of course–I was smart, a bright young lady, IQ 130 or higher–yet I was never quite sure of their choice of words. Gifted & Talented; well, I have the talent down, where’s my gift?
So maybe this was my gift, given in fourth grade: a peculiar tendency to self-destruct.
See, I can try to shift the blame fully off myself, spin my story into man vs man, man vs society, man vs nature, man vs the supernatural, but when I look at it I have to admit that there is something in me, even now, that stops to listen to the fairy bargain.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s curiosity. Maybe it’s the beauty, as strange as myself, I see in pain and torture and tragedy. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and a writer has to find a good story. Maybe it’s the dysphoria, the body that never fit, everything at the wrong angle. Maybe it’s the way I see the world, senses askew, gagging at the taste of apples, trying to run from my emotions so fast I am not allowed to go on field trips in elementary school (a safety hazard), spending a day smelling everything Bath&Body Works and LUSH and every other store in the mall that makes anything, anything scented. And of course, it is everyone else, it is the glittering girls who hurt me, it is the society that screams at me for my wrongness, it is the ghosts and demons that haunt a brain made of broken glass.
Maybe it’s the way I hate myself, maybe it’s the way I see myself as innately bad. Not just someone who shouldn’t exist, someone in pain, put them to sleep; no. The way I see myself as deserving of the worst tortures, the worst sufferings of this earth. (They say “there are people suffering worse than you,” and I wish I could say, “not if I could help it”–not just because I don’t think others should suffer, but because I think I should.)
Maybe it’s the fact that, given all of this, my impulse still is not to avoid the rabbit hole, but to jump in, headfirst.
I didn’t run away from the big bad wolf, after all; my friends warned me, my parents warned me, and I snuggled closer and closer to her. They begged with me not to eat the pomegranate seeds, and I reached out with both hands for that which I dreamed would send me to hell. I fancy myself a girl among monsters, a monster among girls, an uncanny thing.
The success of these various strategies, of course, changes, but there is always the same premise: since I was eight, I have been trying my damndest to hurt myself. Destruction or strength, tragedy or monsterhood, carving a path for myself with knives and fingernails or else die trying, reaching my hand into the fire to save a fellow person, these are all good as end goals, and certainly I see this as superior to most average lives; but I’d be lying if I claimed those as my true reasons. My true reason is simple enough. I want to hurt myself. I am nothing if not a sadomasochist, hurting and being hurt all in one, a lovely relationship with my own self. As to why I chose my certain ways–other people, sure, and society, read every other post on this blog for the lurid details, but there is also my own need to change myself in ways that are careful, controlled, always acting in and never acting out. A good girl, and a girl in total control over her own life, all in one. The reasons behind it are murky, sure, and the results are icing on the cake, but when it comes down to it, you can give me anything and I will find a way to hurt myself with it. Self-destruction out of a childish sort of macabre curiosity feeds and feeds upon itself (you can’t go halfway, nobody loves someone who’s damaged) until you have no self left to destroy, and then you are left with an empty sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that it is time either for you to blink out of existence utterly or for you to start building everything you just tore down. And they see you, a tiny thing in the midst of the wreckage of your life, and they wonder who did that to you. And the answer, simply, is: I did. My reasons are external in a way, not a part of my soul and selfhood, but when it comes down to it, I am the arsonist, the murderer.
But why do I have this peculiar penchant for destroying myself? I can discuss my own brain until I pass out, and still no solid answers, no reason that sits on my collarbone or between my thighs or in the curve of my spine. Surely there are other weird girls out there who did not make it their life’s mission to destroy themselves.
Her and I would have lived very different lives. She, too, was not supposed to exist; but perhaps she did not take this as instruction, as gospel. She would be a very different person; a different past, a different present, a different future, all the tearstains shed at 3am disappeared, the bloodstains on my bed and the bathroom carpeting missing. Perhaps she can live at war with the rest of the world without also having to declare war on herself. Perhaps her body does not burn with the same hurts, bear the same scars; the ache of the back, the sharpness of an infected blister, the feverish heat of the gag reflex, the bright silver of the blade. Perhaps she does not doodle on her homework nooses and pills and razors and deep water. Perhaps she did not ever walk towards quiet train tracks, or walk across the street without looking both ways, or send naked pictures to men twice her age. Perhaps her life never looks like ashes no matter how hard you squint. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Is she the true version of me, of us? The tidy narrative, the unstained child, the manic pixie dream girl, the weird one, the psycho who is still an undanger to herself and others. Is she even me at all, really, or is she fundamentally someone else? Where along the line did our selves diverge? Is there a sense that, with every cut and tear and scream, with everything I did to try and unravel me, I made myself?
Only questions. No answers. But this is what I know: to live as I lived is to be a paradox. Your self comes from your ability to destroy yourself. Eventually the whole thing crumbles. And then, you pick up the crumbs and you build yourselves anew.
who made you this way, strange girl, so unlike everything else i have ever seen?
who created you, for you cannot have simply arisen this way, such an unnatural child?
who filled your soft brain tissue with razor wire and the echoes of distant screams?
i don’t know.
i don’t know.
i don’t know.
maybe that’s okay.