these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.

thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.

my artist website is here.

Mar 29, 2010

the cost

i suppose the time comes for everybody... and maybe numerous times throughout a person's life- the need to evaluate, re-evaluate, define, and re-define the mode and means of one's own life. to discern a path that is true and respectful of who they are.

all my life, i have tried to be the bright spot in the lives of others. the thing that produced laughter and acceptance. the thing that was never disappointing, never hard. the thing that never called for struggle or extra attention, that never got in the way, that never made another person feel bad about themself. the thing.

the thing.

but i don't want to be a 'thing'. i want to be a human. i don't want to feel ashamed of being human. 'things' are perfect. 'things' make no mistakes because they have no desires, no goals, no dreams of their own. they don't learn, they don't make plans, they don't love, they don't hate, they don't aspire to anything. there is nothing for a 'thing' to figure out. they don't need to navigate, they sit in one place. they perform functions that are pleasing to the one who owns them. they do not ever dissatisfy or question or assert a will.

i am talking about the role each person plays. i am talking about waking up one day and seeing yourself, even if just for a moment, as you really are- flaws and successes, traumas and resilience, fear and pride.

i am talking about how one fits in... or how one goes about fitting in... especially within one's own family. how the time comes to create adult relationships, to overcome childhood, and relieve yourself of the expectations that came along for the ride back then. the survival techniques children learn to use become destructive and self-sabotaging if allowed to be used in adulthood. and so... i'm thinking there comes a time when detachment becomes (sadly) necessary. i'm thinking there comes a time for flying solo and enduring the confusion, the hurt, the rumours, the disappointment, the accusations... in order to finally be accepted for who you really are, not who you're expected to be.

the old role is no longer useful. in fact, it is only damaging.

this is something most people go through as teenagers. for some reason i thought that once you got through those years, the need to assert yourself, to find the courage to be true to yourself, to stand on your values and not lift your foot, would be assuaged. why did i think that this declaration would only need to happen once? and i'm not talking about being pig-headed or arrogant, i'm talking about the steps one takes in order to finally be healthy.

i have a deep, bad problem of remaining silent. maybe that is what motivates my practice? to speak somehow. to drop the role of "secret keeper". to expose the fissure, the crack that runs right down the middle of me. to expose the fault-line, the damaged joint, the wound that goes on weeping and weeping... in silence, undercover, hidden, ashamed, humiliated. the trigger.

hiding the wound does not help it heal. it causes it to fester.

exposure... letting in the air... becomes a need.

i have been warned, over and over and over again, that when a person decides to remove themself from the chaos and work toward health, that there will be people who respond to this good act with malice and spite. they will attempt to sabotage your attempts toward health through manipulation and out-right blackmail, whether emotional or otherwise.

most people in my life are so wonderfully supportive of my work and desire to repair the effects of trauma that i am overwhelmed by such a huge sweep of gratitude, an endless appreciation for who they are, a massive swell of love and happiness and playfulness even... but there are a few who aren't. and that cuts deep. they see my repair as a punishment for them and they are not pleased.

i was talking to a close friend about their experiences in AA and what they learned about addiction and toxic relationships- that they must be cut off instantly, swiftly, completely (at least for a time) in order for you to focus on yourself, your life, and how to heal. that just as alcohol isn't going to run away from the alcoholic, the enabled won't run away from the enabler. just as a recovering alcoholic does not hang out in bars, the enabler does not hang out with the damaged people who play on their compassions. the role must be set down and walked away from. the hook must be pulled out and let go.

this is a horribly painful thing to do.

the hook is in deep.

there is an empty place now where the hook used to be.

it would feel better to stick the hook back in than be left with such a huge gaping emptiness.

but the answer is no.

the hook stays out. the foot stays down.

it is horribly painful to maintain such an action. horrible, horrible, horrible. and shame and guilt leak thickly from the wound where the hook was... like a phantom limb, an ache that will not leave, that won't be ignored, a call that gets louder and louder and louder. love twisted by such deep regret, such guilt... the bad lesson that love requires sacrifice of self. the bad lesson that to care about one's own life in 'selfish'. that "if you really loved me..."

i spent 2 years locked inside a major depression. i will not walk back in to that. relationships that require me to be someone i'm not, to do what i'm told without question, without thought as to my total right to be healthy and safe, that pray on my compassion, that force me in to a life of secrecy and shame and overwhelming expectations for perfection, will be let go of. i do not care what it costs me. the cost of not doing this is so much higher.

i am so grateful my mother sprang in to action when she did... the gentle word, the offering of non-judgemental truth brought the lie down and i had a hand, finally, to grab and pull myself up.

it was a choice between my life and my continued obedience to someone else that put me in that big bad depression in the first place... the crushing guilt that followed my decision to choose my own life. the price of being someone else's savior is too great. it is your own life. this is not an exaggeration and it is not dramatic. it is the cut and dried truth. anyone who's ever lived under the crushing weight of perfectionism and obedience knows exactly what i'm talking about: that you are living a lie. that, after a certain point, you are not just a victim anymore, you are an accomplice as well. in order to live, the lie must be brought down.

there are people that think i am cruel. they don't know what i know. and i can take half the responsibility for that because i'm so good at being quiet. i'm so good at being a 'thing'. i've been so concerned with not disappointing anyone, never letting on about what the stakes really are, that of course they don't understand. i have to trust that, in time, amends can be made, and mistakes can be forgiven.

i will trust that healthy relationships are possible and i will not abandon that hope. i won't.

that hook... i won't even look at it.


Heather Jerdee said...

From one Thing to another Thing. :) I am feeling and can relate to this so much. One relationship in my life has been broken wide open the last few months and it just keeps on breaking wider. Before that last summer I confronted some other family relationships that were horribly unhealthy and destructive. All of these things you are writing about, the perfectionism, the silence ( I got serious skills too ), the coping mechanisms that are now as an adult woman doing me no good. The worrying that I'm making other people uncomfortable, or just the damn worrying.

Yes we can make mistakes, we can, especially to get healthier. The rewiring of the brain is not for cowards. I'm hoping too, I'm trying to remember that having a heart is good and being true to it is in the end good too.
You know what though, Angela your art is a bright spot to me <3

angela simione said...

ha! thing 1, thing 2! hahahaha! :)

thank you so much, heather. i am always so comforted by shared experience... especially these hard, hurting experience of struggling to become better, healthier. it sure does get minimaized a lot... made fun of and belittled.

i really enhoy what you've said here about mistakes being part of becoming healthy. it is so compassionate and TRUE. thank you for that. the weight of perfectionism is horrible and i'm so glad you are crawling out from under it as well. THE WORRY is such a killer. constant constant constant. the self-doubt it fuels. the extreme fatigue. the endless list of expectations, contingencies, and conditions is defeating. thank you for letting me know your story. such a gracious thing! and much appreciated. it is a grand and glittering hope to learn you are not alone. thank you. :)

p.s. i like being the bright spot in that way. :D thank you for that!

Roz said...

wow angela, all i can say is, amen.

"i have been warned, over and over and over again, that when a person decides to remove themself from the chaos and work toward health, that there will be people who respond to this good act with malice and spite. they will attempt to sabotage your attempts toward health through manipulation and out-right blackmail, whether emotional or otherwise."

that is so sad but true. and pulling out the hook can be such a hard thing to do. even though it will mean much much better things for everybody concerned, eventually. even though it hurts like hell right now, and will probably continue to hurt for a while. but it's the right thing to do, for everybody concerned.

i don't know you and have only started following your blog but this situation you're describing resonates with me in a lot of ways. hang in there & more power to you, i can tell you are doing the right thing for yourself and the people you love.

angela simione said...

hi roz! good to see you round my way! and thank you!

remembering that this is good for everyone (keeping the hook out) is the hard thing. it's the one i wrestle with but it must be done. more and more i see how absolutely necessary it is to be oneself. to be true to oneself. the hardest thing about living, it seems, is finding this out and how to go about doing it in a healthy manner. i so so so appreciate the support, your insights and experiences. :)