There were two things I wanted to do with TBB when she was here.
I wanted her to help me hang the damn fucking shit flat screen that has caused so much pain to now and will cause more — I had to slam myself through dinner, pounding my head for discipline against my father taking up my cooking time to natter about the damn mount.
And I wanted ritual.
I needed ritual.
I got to take care of her instead; a chat, her indulging a fantasy of being a healer by stroking my sister’s crap, shopping, a drunk and a hang over.
No TV, no ritual.
She hasn’t contacted me in a week and a half after, and probably won’t until she needs me. She is in the place of avoiding her own history, her own fears, her own nature, all by playing the gadfly.
But here, well, here the decay continues.
I didn’t clean the chicken fat off the main burner of the twenty-year old stove because I hate getting things back together, between the rust and decay. The resulting fire turned electrical, and took out the burner, after I stopped it by myself.
We looked at new stoves, but that takes life, so the solution is to work with a gaping hole, being forced to work around the decay and be pounded by the intervening microwave. To me, it’s just like managing the decay in my mouth, all ache and emptyness, workaround and death.
After all, the only person who is really affected by the stove is me, and I am, after all, my family’s abuse taker. They get to slop and shit, and I am expected to take the abuse, to be the absorber bit, cleaning up and working around.
It’s been this way since I can remember, of course. As long as I just take the hit by submurging my own needs and becoming more selfless, the damage and decay can be ignored in the family. It was just yesterday my father was pretending that my mother cared about what I wanted to do, when it was clear that all she wanted was for us to figure out what she wanted to do and do it.
I told Ms. Rachelle that I really didn’t mind the monastic life of asthetic denial, but what I missed was the performances.
“Did nuns have performance?” she asked, and then answered herself, “Of course! Ritual was always required.”
Yeah. Dedication and benediction, dressing up and honoring connection, touching the divine. I remember sitting at Old Country Buffet as Ms. Rachelle read me the forward to her book on ritual ( http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/books/books.php?id=2091 ) and helped as she cut the opening down to the statement of ritual connecting us to god.
This weekend was a key ritual for many of us, the time of the year when the veil between this world and other worlds is thinnest, when the liminal is present.
And I got to clean more shit, like I have for seven years, like I have for fifty years.
It is my capacity to eat shit that binds this family. And too many think that I only suffer in bursts, and when those pass, things are OK again.
My brother was here on Friday, as my mother decided on a whim that she wanted to entertain his family just before his second daughter, over 21 and the graduate of a good university, leaves towards Guatemala with her first boyfriend and new husband, but only after she goes out trick-or-treating.
He reached to remove some newspapers my father had left on the table just as I reached for them. I immediately pulled back, as I always have to do around my parents, to give them space, and he looked at me as if I was deranged. I wondered what he planned to do with the papers, but a plan was irrelevant to him; he just was entitled, just as he opened a second bag of tortilla chips to satisfy his daughter’s need, not thinking to ask.
I was seen as sick. His departing daughter asked me if I built the wheelchair ramp in the garage, and I remembered last year when I was told my brother wanted to help, and I said I needed someone to negotiate with my father on the ramp. That turned out to be a lie, though; the real help was to beat me into compliance with my mother’s wishes, which got hellacious soon.
TBB told me that my sister was sorry for her actions and that I should let it go. Did TBB plumb the depths of that sorrow, or is my family’s need for deniability and comfort sufficient for me to take the hit again, and eat the pain of being attacked to gain compliance? “She was acting out to hurt me in order to break me,” I told TBB, and TBB just said to accept that, as if the Golden rule means nothing.
It certainly wouldn’t have been acceptable if I acted out; I would get piled on with shit. After all, I am the smart, queer and therefore scary one, so I have more responsibility. You know, like the Roman Catholic church says that priests can accept chastity, but gays have no choice; chastity is their only route to acceptance in the church or in heaven. They must deny for the, well, comfort of the community, which is seen as the will of God, protecting the church being the most important thing. Submit to the will of the normative or be cast out, you queer!
But me, well, it has always been the queer ones who are the caretakers, because they have always had to be able to function in worlds not of their own making, always had to be able to be the flexible bits that absorb shock.
For me, though, without performance, without ritual, without connection, it is just cost without replenishment, a healer unhealed.
TBB knows this, she does, but it is a place she still dares not go, the pain of being queer and a fear object still something to keep submurged, though she also knows that she will not be able to do that forever.