Took a nap this afternoon and woke from it in a mind I've had all my life, a mind I've done very little to settle, to deal with, except avoid thinking about, because it always brings me down. Lying in the bed recently awake, I was looking at why it takes me to my own place of unresolved issues that I've already discovered I don't want to resolve. Given the chance once, I chose not to. Chose not to because I realized I didn't want to. It's like attempting to make friends with somebody you don't like and realizing when it's down to able, you don't want to. Didn't want to because of absence of trust. I don't want somebody for a friend I know I cannot trust, somebody I know with my life I cannot trust. And I don't want somebody for a friend I don't like. All the way along in church I hear, Honor thy father and mother. My ongoing question has been, Why? Somebody hits you every day, berates you every day, beats your self-esteem into the ground in the most vulnerable time of your life, and when you grow up, wants to be your friend. Who ever heard of loving the school bully because he picks on you every day? Or even liking him? Nobody picked on me at school. The only place I was bullied was at home, to the point that home became a place I never wanted to be. Loved going to school, hated going home.
I was lying in the bed looking at the ceiling a little bit ago, considering how odd it is that since I've grown up and left the nest, I'm expected to keep in touch, come to visit, never talk back, and take orders like go to church, one thing or another, whatever mother's obsession with making me mind is entertaining this decade. It felt like, lying there looking at the ceiling, I was of a new mind today. I was lying there in a mild awe of the effrontery of expecting, intending that I forget our history, and spend my life denying it, honor thy father and mother. After age 6, I couldn't honor him any more. After age 10, I couldn't honor her anymore. From then on I was captive by way of childhood vulnerability to living with these people who were my foremost enemy. The only time I heard love was, I hit you because I love you. How do you expect even a child to believe that? I was thinking about my new donkey friend, Jack, how I am easing into getting acquainted and becoming friends with him. I don't become his friend by hitting him, telling him he's a dumb jackass and nobody wants to hear him bray. I don't berate him every minute I'm around him. That's not how I make friends. I treat Jack well, talk to him gently, touch him lightly on his neck and back, showing him by body language, tone of voice and eye contact that I am no threat. I feed him carrots by hand and talk to him like he's somebody I care about.
I can't imagine hitting Jack every day and telling him he's stupid and come out of it after fifteen years his friend. He would be obedient, but only sometimes. Making a friend of him by treating him right and showing I am his friend will gain his absolute obedience without any reservation. I don't want obedience, but use it for an example. I don't want him biting me and kicking me, but he won't. The four-leggeds, like children and adult humans, all return what they receive. If I were pushing Jack around, forcing him, yelling at him, demanding, I know he would kick at me when he had a chance, or bite just for the fun of watching me yell out in pain. But I'm showing Jack that I care about him, I want to know who he is. I am connecting with his consciousness, with his mind, by showing him that my mind is with him, on his side. I bend down and look eye-to-eye talking to him. I tell him I'm happy he's here. He likes that. He likes getting to know me the same as I like getting to know Jack. He's not going to kick me. He would kick somebody who threatened me. This is my idea of how to make friends. Kindness, open-hearted caring. Not threatening and hitting and keeping a child in constant fear---at home. Kinda gives the kid a twisted feeling about what constitutes the word home. Upon leaving them, I never wanted to see them again. But duty intervened. Honor thy father and mother. What? How? This has been the question of my life, How? Forgive? How? Obey? How does one obey insanity without going insane?
I've pretended, pretended all the way along. I was like a vulnerable baby smiling and being cute to be cared for. Cheshire cat grins, acting like I liked living with them, because I was afraid to run away. I knew cops would bring me back and there'd be hell to pay. So I kept myself below the radar as much as possible. I didn't want them knowing anything about my inner self, mainly because the only thing in there was hate for them. Like the time I was told, "I oughta hit you for what you're thinking!" I laughed inside. You don't know what I'm thinking. If you knew what I was thinking, you'd beat me to death with your fists. You wouldn't allow me to live. And then there was the pride in telling a neighbor, "He's my kid! I'll kill him if I want to!" That was mommy speaking. I was thinking, 'She's my mommy. I'll kill her if I want to,' knowing the consequences before being stupid enough to say it. I lived two lives. Around them I learned to keep quiet, tell them nothing, stay out of their way as much as possible. Watch tv. And that didn't always work. It seldom worked. But sometimes it did. It wasn't a problem keeping my inner self under guard, because they didn't want to know anything about who I am, then or any time since. In church they were told to FEAR THE LORD. That's how you love God, be afraid of God. I supposed daddy interpreted that to have something to do with how his kid was supposed to regard him, with fear. As long as he saw fear, I was ok. On the other hand, I had my life at school with the other kids and sensible adults. Also had grandparents who cared. Couldn't have made it without them where love is concerned.
I still laugh at the Saturday morning, age 14, probably 1956, I got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. Had to pass through the living room. Saturday was hell day, daddy was home. He was sitting right beside the door I had to pass through looking at the newspaper. That was a funny sight in itself. Him reading was something of an oxymoron, though I didn't know the word. On sight I knew something was up. When I walked by him he said, "If you ever join the Communist Party, I'll kill you!" I thought: Gee, thanks, daddy, you're the most. This is where I learned my irony. Of course, the only thing his wisecrack did to the kid was make me curious about the Communist Party. What is it? Where do I join? And atheist. That sounded so cool. It freaked out all the adults. That was the first day of my curiosity about Communism. I didn't study it, but paid attention to it. By the time I read the Communist Manifesto in college, I was all for it. Bring it on. It wasn't anything like the propaganda about it. Then I took a course in Soviet history. I was turned off by Communism before Lenin died. He turned out to be an emeffer from l'enfer. Stalin was worse. I was thinking: Shit, what's so great about some ego-maniacal testosterone freak for my leader? I think not. Had enough of that at home. I admired Angela Davis in her time of making the news, proclaiming herself a Communist. I started her autobiography, which was interesting by a brilliant woman until she joined the party. It turned into party doctrine and I quit reading. It was like reading Republican parrotry. I lost my interest in Angela Davis the day I closed the book the last time.
Communism failed, which was not real Marxism. Capitalism failed in its own excess. I came to think of Soviet Communism militarist socialism. And I think of American Capitalism as militarist fascism. Neither one is a real ideology because both are militarist first. Like colleges that put the majority of their budget into the sports program, it's their money maker. Our military force is also our corporate government's money-maker. Hence, perpetual war. Defense contracts. Halliburton. Exxon. Suits. Suburbs. Country Clubs. Swimming pools. I went intentionally to a small college that did not have government funds in their budget for research and had no sports program. It was great not to be required to fake team spirit and buy season tickets to something I'd rather watch on tv or not at all, esp the latter. The day of discharge from Navy was the last day of living my life by somebody else's command. Got out on a Friday, started at the college on Monday. It just worked out that way. That weekend was the first days of living by my own command. Went to the beach. Been through a two year marriage. Married daddy in female form. When I saw that, it was like the frog dropped into boiling water. Looking back, from leaving high school to leaving the Navy, a period of about 5 years, this was one dumb shit hobbling around with no idea about anything, a head boiling over with confusion like dry ice in a bucket of water. And that's a self-serving way to say it. Unable to make sense of the circus of the false calling itself the truth blinking and flashing all around me, my heart shut down the best it could.
I rented an apartment and started reading novels from drugstore racks; Peyton Place, A Summer Place, novels from movies, The L-Shaped Room, Ben Hur. Jack Kerouac was coming out in Signet paperbacks at the time. And Grove Press was printing Henry Miller in paperback. This was the beginning of my reading life. I didn't know what was "good" to read or what I was "supposed" to read. I just wanted peace in my mind and it wasn't happening. Today, at this time in the life I feel like peace is the nature of my mind. I don't have anything in my life that is wrenching my heart with guilt, remorse, fear or hate. It's been a long row reading fascinating psychology books, the most helpful being Alice Miller's FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. She blew my mind to smithereens. I'd felt so guilty for so long for hating my oppressor. Alice said, Of course you hate your oppressor. To deny it is neurosis. Uh. That set my guilt adrift like a note in a bottle to ride the waves between sea and sky forever. Alice taught me that what I feel is real, not what I'm supposed to feel. Don't deny it. Start the healing from understanding that it was not the victim's fault. First step. Thank you, Alice Miller. I've wanted to write her to thank her for several years, but inhibited the impulse by knowing in advance the letter would be way too long, take way too many pages, would have to be mailed in a box. I couldn't do that to her. Who wants a long letter of nothing but gaga praise and gratitude for so much the list is endless? By now, I've found the home of my soul in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the Blue Ridge Mountains I feel the peace of home. Like in Jimmy Arnold's song, The Rebel Soldier, "Tell me parson, will my soul pass over the Southland?" I'll be asking, Will my soul pass over the Blue Ridge? And when the parson says yes, I'll ask if I can write in the sky over Alleghany County, I love every one of you.