I haven’t always existed. Having a personality, interests, a self – these things don’t come naturally to me. These things are things I created out of the wreckage.
Having a self is dangerous when you’re being abused. Having a self is the most vulnerable thing you can have. A self is up for ridicule, scrutiny, a self might be destroyed if it’s determined your self is sinful. A self is a thing that is in direct defiance of abusers who have told you that you are nothing, you are worthless, you are supposed to be whatever they want you to be, nothing more and nothing less.
So I didn’t have one. I liked whatever I was supposed to like. I had the opinions I was supposed to have. I had no interests. My entire childhood and teenage years is just one long nothing.
Becoming a person has been hard. First off, because we have this belief that in order for an aspect about you to be real, you have to prove some genetic cause. Or at least some childhood inclination. Which doesn’t work if you don’t exist, if all you are is an extension of what you are told you are. I am making myself. I’m taking pieces and seeing if they fit, if I’m comfortable with them, and that isn’t always a clear-cut answer – especially when some of those pieces go against all the training that’s been pounded into me about who I’m supposed to be.
And second off, trying to be a person is…terrifying, to say the least. Because it’s vulnerable. Because you can get hurt, being a person.
People always want to know what I like to read. Or what movies I like to watch. Or what I like to do for fun. And honestly? As little as maybe five or six years ago, the answer to these questions would have been: nothing. Would have been whatever particular Christian novel I was reading, whatever safe answer I could give. And even when it started to be something, I hid these things from others. I was ashamed of myself, regardless of whether or not we would have shared the same interest. I didn’t know how to exist and I was ashamed that I did.
When I first met my platonic soulmate, she would suggest lots of movies or shows for me to watch. And I never did – not because I wasn’t interested or was afraid I would hate them, but because I was afraid I would like them. It was terrifying to me, the idea of liking things, of having interests, of being a person. Because even if you were the one to suggest it to me, I would be afraid it was a trick, a trap, and the second I said “That was amazing!” you would turn on me, make fun of me, treat me like an object of ridicule.
And this of course, is just interests. This isn’t even getting down to the more personal aspects of who I am as a person. That has been even more terrifying.
I’ve been finding myself…or creating myself, whichever it is. Pulling myself from the wreckage and fitting the pieces together, trying to find ways to feel comfortable in this body, as me, for the last few years now. And I’ve surprised myself, by how different I am now than I was even a year ago, or two years ago.
But for some reason, these feelings are coming back. I flinch over every word I write, afraid of what people will think. Just writing this post has taken me weeks. I’m too afraid to exist, in fact I’ve been doing everything to NOT exist. Finding every negative opinion I can online, everything that would tell someone like me that I am wrong, that something is wrong with me, that everything I went through is a joke, anything and everything that would prove to me that being a person isn’t safe.
I don’t know why. I don’t know why it was okay to be a person a year ago, but not now. Maybe because I moved, maybe because now I have to realize that there is a world beyond the safe little internet community I’ve constructed for myself, and they are just as prone to ridicule and disdain as my family is.
I don’t know. I just know that I feel once again immobilized, snatching all the different parts of me and trying to shove them down, away from prying eyes, trying to make them disappear, make myself into someone impervious to abuse.