–“I had a conflict–homework or Dynasty and uh…Dynasty won” “Dynasty again”? “Bad story—soaps will kill ya”–Nightmare on Elm Street 4
“I have the strangest feeling we’ve done this before.–” ”
“Why do you fight it so hard, Earl?”–Mr. Brooks
I am experiencing this deep inner conflict at the moment. I feel like Earl in Mr. Brooks. If you haven’t seen the movie, you have nothing to base that feeling on, and if you have…let me just say I don’t want to kill anybody. It’s just the feeling that you want to do what you know to be right, to stop pretending that you are a great person and actually BE a great person, but the lure of being a less than great person follows you everywhere and keeps trying to lure you back into mediocrity, into play-acting like you have it all together when that’s the biggest lie.
For example, everyone thinks I am happy, if not all the time, most of the time. Nothing can be further from the truth. Should I be that happy? Sure. I could be. I was, for a while. I tried to genuinely stay that way. But there’s always something riding alongside me that thrives on my only appearing happy to other people. It is against showing any real emotion. It’s like I have an inner wall of partition between me and how I am supposed to feel sometimes. I see what it looks like, and I can mirror it, but sometimes I don’t really feel it. And it’s so easy to pretend like you have feelings than to have them. I used to like my ability to disassociate. It saved me a lot of tears.
My stepfather died in March, the day after my mother’s birthday. Of course, having been with someone for over 20 years, she took it hard. My brother did as well; after all, that was his “real” dad. I would have taken it hard had I let myself. I slipped gratefully back behind my wall. I was in a place where I could not cry. It was odd. I couldn’t even mirror the emotion of sadness; I was numb. I served food, I wiped grubby little hands and faces, I cleaned the house, I made meals, I comforted my mother, I squelched all drunken arguments and antics…but it didn’t feel real to me that my stepfather had passed.
Slowly, however, reality is creeping into all of those sealed off places, and real emotions are peeking through. I cried for a while this morning thinking about my stepfather. I still want to ask my mother where he is, or talk to him. I remember being little and trying so hard to learn to play the keyboard because he played. I remember sitting on his lap and “driving” around the backstreets on the way home, much to my mother’s horror. I remember that he always, without fail, told me he was proud of me, even when I couldn’t see any rational reason for anyone to be proud of me.
I want to embrace the feeling of sadness. I know it’s the only way to move on. But even now, it is slipping away from me. My boyfriend is lying asleep on his couch, completely oblivious to the storm that has taken place in his living room. All the floodwaters are just about dried up now. There are no high water marks or water damage to be seen. He won’t know it ever happened.