Editor’s note: This story mentions some severe triggers. Please be careful about reading this story if you are easily triggered by the topics mentioned in our trigger warning.
Trigger warnings: Abuse, including torture and child sexual assault, forced confinement, rape, violence, bullying, suicide, and hate crimes.
Yesterday/today was/is a great day. A day to celebrate. Any day that slaps me upside my head and and asks, “WTF you bitching about?” is always a great day!
Day opens up with no electricity in my practice. No lights, no computer for scheduling, billing, or emails. No printer/fax to get lab results, print out receipts, make copies. Cannot use the MC/Visa do-hicky machine thingy. Even the office phone is being persnickety, unlike the days of old where a power outage affected everything except the phone.
How was I going to see clients today, in my little solo practice? The snow kept my receptionist from trekking across the state to work. No one to make my tea in the dark kitchen where the electric tea pot wouldn’t work anyway. (She makes a hell of a cup of tea, and while I’ve worked 100% alone for quite a while, having her now in my life causes me to wonder how I ever got along without her. But I digress – a bit)
“No lights, no phone, not a single luxury.”
Fortunately, my cell phone is a Blackberry; there is email access! First email I see? A concerned parent fears her daughter, my client, is suicidal. Cell phone to the rescue!
“Why, concerned parent, do you fear your daughter is suicidal?” Something about taking “too many Xanax” and needing a “break from life.” I am concerned but also curious, as the day before, this most delightful client left my office smiling and ready to tackle the world. Cell phone to the rescue!
“Tell me, suicidally inclined client, why all the Xanax and this need to take a “break from life?” And she tells me her shit through a shower of tears. Her nicely wrapped concept of the world and her role in it begins to unravel this morning with the electricity being turned off and having guarantees of eviction shoved down her raw-from-crying throat.
Seven phone calls later, TY cell phone, with parents, police, hospital, and client, and all is tentatively good.
Miraculously, my building’s electricity comes back on! Life is looking good 🙂
Then I get a phone call from a different police officer. This one concerning two hate crimes I recently had the pleasure of experiencing. No new leads but more hate crimes being committed in my development. “Isn’t there anything else [ I ] can remember?”
“Oh, did I mention I wave to all my neighbors and always put their garbage cans and recycle buckets back after the wind blows them away? That’s not quite what you had in mind, huh? OK, if I think of anything ‘substantive,’ I’ll be sure to give you a call.”
Then my first client no shows. No phone call, just a no show. Maybe his electricity is out. Then my second client no shows. First time in almost three years I have two no shows in one day. State wide electrical problems?
Fortunately, it is a half day, as I have my own doctor’s appointment. Finish some paperwork and off to see my doc. Hope her electricity is on! Time for me to tell her about the hate crimes and relive them again.
In the retelling, I start to relive the rapes, torture, burns, caging, starvation, humiliation I endure for two years as a child. I am convinced, at the tender age of 7-9, it is God’s way of punishing me for being so ungrateful – the ol’ wrong gender/wrong body thing. God sent me His personal Emissary to punish my lack of faith and questioning of Him. (Enter Mr Parish Priest.)
Maybe I should tell my ___ ? And let him know God is pissed at me? What am I, stoopit? Ever since I can remember, he scares the bejeebers out of me, and since grammar school, the nightly humiliations and daily beatings are almost non-stop. I am not about to give him a reason to pound on me some more.
At age 9, kindly Mr. Parish Priest loses interest. I figure my purgatory is over. And while maybe my purgatory is over, little did I know, hell is on the horizon.
Hell? Puberty, and the only time, in my life, I was beaten up (by three of my peers). Something … snaps. I decide to insulate myself from ever getting beat up. I vow, no one will ever touch me again. Hell, my IQ tests are off the charts, I should be able to figure out some constructive way of keeping me safe!
And I do. Fighting. Not your average school kid fist fights in the playground, but your holy shit, this kid is psycho sticking thumbs into the eyes of other kids who may have cast a sideways glance my way. I feel good no one is touching me. I feel good no one is harassing me. I feel good I can now out-run _____. And I feel like shit for kicking the fucking daylights out of innocent high schoolers. Enter Mr. EtOH and other sundry recreational agents!
The cool crowd enjoys my company at my whim. They see what happens if they ever say “no.” But I hang with the nerds and I am their defacto body guard. No one, teachers included, would ever cast a sideways glance at my friends.
And I continue that through college. Not as obvious, but far more dangerous. Bar fights, knife fights, pool hall brawls. Even getting knifed, I win that fight. My “Flight to Masculinity” broke the Richter machine.
The only fight I could never win is the one within myself. I want to ask God, “Why?” But I fear his retribution. All the martial arts black belts, all the chutzpa in the world, cannot defeat God.
Then, my children are born, and all seems right with the world. Butterflies and bunnies, flowers and fairies, princes and princesses. God gives me a respite. And during this respite, despite the occasional horrific things I do for my employer, all over the world, I have an epiphany.
If I can survive multiple surgeries as an infant; rapes, torture, burns, caging, starvation, and humiliation for two years as a grade-schooler; if I can survive nine years of nightly humiliations and daily beatings by my ____; if I can survive years of daily EtOH and/or other sundry recreational agents; if I can survive bar fights, knife fights, pool hall brawls and getting knifed; if I can survive eight years of life and death situations in parts of the world where my employer, so happy with my cunning and nearly sociopathic way of dealing with “negative situations,” the same employer who would disavow any knowledge of me if needed; if I can survive all that, I can certainly survive a day without electricity.
I can certainly survive a day with a suicidal client, who had her electricity turned off, especially when, at the end of the day, her parents pick her up from work and bear hug me in thanks.
I can certainly survive a couple of hate crimes perpetrated by a neighbor who seemingly hates intersexed, gender variant, lesbians.
I can certainly survive a day where recounting those hate crimes revivifies every non consensual torture I both endured and perpetrated.
I can certainly survive a day where I finally make peace with an old friend, who, for my shitty communication skills, had written me off as an ass.
And I can certainly survive a day where I realize I am not alone. There are sick fucks out there, some reading this post, who know some of what I mean, and one special sick fuck, who knows exactly what I mean.
THAT, my friends, is one hell of an ass kicking day! It’s the kind of day that says, “Don’t forget me. I may visit you again tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year. Hell, I may even leave you alone and start visiting some of your loved ones.”
It all comes down to perspective and realizing one is not alone.
It also helps if the electricity is on to enjoy a cup of tea, but I don’t want to push my luck.