To My Sister

Beloved big sister,

We’ve been through hell together. Childhood? What childhood? We were too busy trying to cope with an insane mother. Trying to figure out why everything was our fault. What we were doing wrong. Of course, I was the golden child. I saw Mom’s good side. She was a better mother to me.

You tried to mother me. Heck, I needed it sometimes. You didn’t understand that Mom was better toward me. So, that led you, a child, to unintentionally be an abusive sibling. You led me into depression. But you know what? Most golden children grow up to be narcissists, themselves. So I’m grateful that you were there to balance me out. In all honesty.

I’ve always looked up to you, no matter how much I tried to deny it. You were strong and sassy and smart and pretty, and I wanted to be just like you. How times have changed. I’m happy being me.

You hurt me. I won’t ever deny that. A lot of my depression issues come from innocent comments you don’t even remember making. That’s okay. You helped me develop a spine. I can take insults, spit them right back, and shrug them off. I stopped caring whether or not I’m Mom’s good child. I’m an adult. She can’t punish me anymore—not that she’d have the guts to do it anyway. I’m stronger than she is.

Sis, I love you. I’m so grateful to you, being there for me through my discoveries with depression and especially with this problem with Scott. I’m glad you’re letting me make you watch anime. I’m glad you’re taking me climbing, and offering to hang out with me. I can’t live with you anymore, of course, but I love having you around. You’re so caring and now, that you’ve grown up, you’re the kind of mom figure I wish I had. Definitely the closest thing to a surrogate mother I have.

Thank you for everything you’ve done. I forgive you.

With love,

Mac

On Suicide: For Scott

Today, my best friend, Scott, took his own life. The friend who gave me the name for this blog. The friend I’ve complained about in posts here, and in my life, talking about how needy he was. How emotional. How annoying.

He’s been there for me through my own self-harming, suicidal depression. We promised each other we’d tell the other one if we decided to go through with it. I was getting better. He wasn’t.

He texted me early this morning, when I was asleep. “I told you I’d tell you if I was going to kill myself, and I keep my promises.” That was at two. By the time I woke up, he was dead. I never had the chance to keep him alive. But if I’d only known, I would have done everything I could. As much as I complained about him, he was one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and I really didn’t deserve him. For some reason, though, he stuck around, right until the end.

So many people today have told me that there was nothing I could have done. But just one hour. One hour earlier, and I would have gotten that text in time. One kind word. Instead of berating him for imagined stupidities, I could have told him I cared about him. That he was like a brother to me. That I wanted him to be happy. One apology. I’ll never know all the small things I could have done that would have kept him alive.

Scott had his problems. He was drinking heavily. He had several mental illnesses, including depression. He felt his entire family hated him. So many friends walked out of his life because they found him annoying. This is the boy who started talking to me in Financial Literacy my senior year of high school. Who asked me to sit by him, and made me feel worthwhile. The boy who took me on a date. My first kiss. A friend you couldn’t get rid of. Always willing to rescue me when I locked my keys in my car, or my battery died, or I had a flat tire. He took me shooting, running, hiking. Once, we had a sword fight with his shoes. He listened to my boy and family problems, and did his best to make me laugh. I’ll never have another friend like him.

What could I have done? One hour. One word. If only.

But the stark reality is that he’s gone. He was unhappy here, and he’s found peace now. He’s free from all the awful things life was piling on him. It hurts so badly, but he’s in a better place.

Please, anyone out there who might ever consider suicide, think of the effect you’re going to have on your loved ones. The gaping wound you’ll be causing them. I don’t ever want anyone else to know what this feels like. This horrible pain. Wondering where I went wrong. What I could have done. I can’t even begin to imagine what whoever found him must be going through. His family.

Personally, I’m broken. I have no heart for lame jokes right now. All I can do is sit and cry, and try to get my thoughts out before my eyes get too blurry with tears.

Scott, you moron, I love you dearly. Rest in peace. Please be happy.

Sometimes You Just Don’t Think About It

Don’t mind me. My Prozac prescription ran out today (getting it refilled, so no worries. I’ll be Happy Mac again soon). That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I’m depressed. I do what I want!

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking recently. So many kids grow up without realizing how good they really have it. I remember one time in high school, I overheard one of those perfect, pretty, popular straight-A students complaining about how her parents had taken her phone away for a week. She was a good kid, she protested to her friend. Her parents were being so unfair.

Personally, sitting in my dark corner of the classroom, I wanted to tell her that she didn’t know the meaning of unfair.

But, at that time, I thought my parents were still normal. I was the crazy one, according to myself. Everything was wrong with me, personally, and most of the time, I shoved that off as regular teenage melodrama and only wrote about the good things in my journal. Never a word about The State, or hoarding, or having a VCR thrown at my head for quietly asking if I could use it. A total gloss-over of the summers of hell. Don’t worry, Mac. Be happy.

That’s what child abuse is really like. You never realize that it’s wrong. You just think the world is a horrible place, and all the nice things you see are just a facade. You love your abusers, because they’re not always the Big Bad Villain. This is your parent. Your sister. People you’re supposed to love. People who make flower crowns for you, and buy you big Get Well baskets when you’re sick. They listen to you when you cry because of your kitten who just died. They make banana milkshakes for you, and give you a spa treatment. They do your hair and makeup, and tell you they love you.

All of that kindness makes the other side so hard to comprehend. The yelling and fighting, scratching and screaming. Crashes and holes in the walls. The “you’re too sensitive.” Being blamed for everything that goes wrong.

That girl, Sarah, still annoys me. Just thinking about her. With her neat clothes and her neat hair and her perfect grades. Sure, she had her own problems, but it’s hard to remember that, looking at her from that angle. I just see a girl who doesn’t realize how good she has it.

Growing up with a narcissistic hoarder for a mother and a scapegoat, parentified child for an older sister is no picnic. All those things people take for granted, like a stove or hot showers, cell phones or an Internet connection. A clean house. Parents who didn’t yell or throw things at your head, and actually loved each other. Being able to play outside. Going to school. They were all distant dreams for me. As much a fantasy as being able to fly. That was what I spent time daydreaming about—having a normal life. Wishing—praying—that I was adopted, and that my real, functional family would come for me someday.

Well, it never happened, obviously. Someone else’s horror story is my reality. I come with my own Certified Tragic Backstory. And thus, my secret comes out. I am a Mary Sue.

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Devil Child

Get the holy water! Pray for mercy! DELIVER US FROM EVIL! Why? Because, dear readers, I’m officially the devil child!

After so many years of trying to get away from my original Golden Child state, I have finally succeeded, and things are as they should be. Everything is right in the world. My sister, who is always feeling guilty about things and is most definitely the nicer one, is finally being recognized by my mother for her efforts. You know where that puts me? As the evil one. And oh, how I love it!

It’s so liberating, really, being the scapegoat. I’m an adult. I’m old enough to realize that my mother is full of shit. So I just don’t care. . . especially now that I have a Prozac prescription to fall back on. I don’t feel guilty. So I’ll drive like a maniac, hate knitting, blare my evil rock music, play my evil video games, wear the black that depresses my aunt, swear like a sailor, watch all the horror movies I want, talk about autopsies at the dinner table, tell people the truth to their faces, flip them the bird, tell every dam joke that enters my head, call little dogs Cat Snacks, belch as much as I want, laugh at dirty jokes, wear tank tops, and snap heads off. It offends my mother and my aunt, but who cares? Auntie Darling hated me even when I tried my hardest to be the Little Angel, so screw her. Done caring. I’ll wear all the black, all the ratty clothes, and all the skulls I want, and I refuse to feel bad about it.

They’re going to complain about me anyway, because that’s how they work. So, I might as well really give the two of them something to complain about! Besides, being evil is my natural state of mind! All my hard work must be recognized!

In the immortal words of the great and terrifying Dark Helmet: “Evil will always triumph–because Good is dumb.”

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Effemiphobia: A Fear of Femininity and Weakness

My sister and I (mostly her) have discovered something. Our life is a lot like the TV show Supernatural, if you take away the supernatural elements, and genderflip everyone. Crazy, abusive parent? Check. Older sibling scapegoat who has to be the parent? Check. Younger, golden child sibling who has to be protected? Friggin’ check. Effemiphobia? You bet! Now, I’m not a big fan of the show, so a lot of this is what my sister tells me, but I’ve seen it in the episodes I have watched.

For as long as I can remember, my brain has been split into two parts. I was in middle school when I finally named them after my two male OCs (original characters) who they seemed to represent. There was the quiet, cold-tempered, intelligent chessmaster who despised all weakness (the cynic), and the kind, gentle peacemaker who just wanted everyone to be happy (the sensitive). My two personalities, as I described them. I knew I didn’t have multiple personalities, of course, but that was the best way to explain it. When I was experiencing negative emotion like anger, sadness, hurt, fear, whatever, I tried to emulate the first. Shut down my true feelings, raise an eyebrow and make a snarky remark. When the emotion was positive, I was the second, laughing at myself, making jokes at my own expense, slipping on ice and taking a bow. But sometimes, I fell through the cracks. I’d cry. I’d fly off in a rage. I’d scream when I saw a spider. And the cynic side tried to tear me apart, angrily telling me how stupid and weak I was, while the sensitive side cowered before that rage.

Depressed people have described feeling like they have two voices in their head. One, always berating them for the stupid things they’ve done, and the other, constantly apologizing for living and wondering what they could do to make things better. This was me in a nutshell, for most of my life.

The problem: why were they both male, in my mind?

In the past, I’ve described myself as a tomboy. But maybe that’s not altogether accurate. I’m not really the sporty type. I hate almost any sport that involves a ball, as a matter of fact. No, what I am is terrified of femininity. The trap of masculinity, as I’ve called it in the past.

So, yes, I’m a girl. Yes, I’m friggin’ effemiphobic. Dean Winchester’s line, “No chick flick moments,” might as well be my motto.

It’s a hard concept to explain. Effemiphobia is the word commonly used across the Internet (especially Tumblr), though it’s mainly used to describe men, especially gay men. It’s got nothing to do with misogyny. I don’t hate women. I am one. I don’t even hate femininity–forgive my language, but I’m fucking terrified of it. It’s a message I inhaled from my first teacher, Hollywood. Feminine women need a hero to rescue them, while they stand around looking terrified. Masculine women (and guys) are the ones who save the day, and kick the bad guy’s ass. Maybe it was also because I idolized my dad and action heroes, but the only feminine role models I really had were either damsels in distress or my mother and sister (who were both their own brands of crazy). Masculinity, to me, was sane. My dad was masculine. He was sane. He was smart. He was rational. My dad could fix things. My mom and sister knew how to mess them up, and let their feelings get in the way.

And the more masculine I acted, the more my dad acknowledged me. The more he wanted to spend time with me. The more I wanted to be his son, not his daughter. Anything was better than being my mother’s young lady. Because my batshit crazy mother wanted me to wear dresses all the time. She wanted me to be the proper young lady. Her golden child. Her perfect little girl. I rebelled. My sister is far more feminine than I’ll ever be, and that was not the way it started.

I have guilty pleasures in anything remotely romantic or soft. I love fluffy animals. I’m decent at amateur romance scenes. I love analyzing every romantic moment of my favorite movies. Heck, I love a good chick flick, and I’ll occasionally pick up chick lit. Sometimes, I just want to eat a salad and listen to music that’s described as girly.

But all that sucks. Know why? Every time I engage in one of these activities, I hate myself for it. I don’t want to be the romantic. I don’t want to cry when I see a mouse get killed. I want to consume the entire double bacon cheeseburger, and I’d drown it with beer if I drank. I watch horror movies, I read and write the most horrific, gruesome things I can devise. I can burp on queue. I bombard myself with action movies. Because they’re safe. They’re not weak. They’re not feminine. They make me strong.

I have a different perspective than any guy who’s effemiphobic, obviously. I can’t escape femininity completely. I can deny all the aspects of it I want to, but in the end, I’m still a girl, physically and mentally. I’m still attracted to men. I still want them to notice me. To find me attractive. But I’ve been told I’m beautiful more times than I can count. I’ve been told I’m awesome, smart, funny, cute, whatever. I’ve been told I’m soft, and I can’t stand to even think about that. The highest compliment I’ve ever received was being told by a guy that I was more of a man than he was. Because that made me strong. That meant I could protect myself, that I didn’t need anyone else to protect me. I need that assurance as surely as I need to breathe. I need to be strong. I need everyone to see that I’m strong.

But I’m still a girl. I wear flattering clothes and jewelry and makeup and fix my hair. I own a lot of shoes. I like to cook, and I love to dance. But I haven’t worn pink in years. Lace is disgusting.

It’s like constantly being at war with yourself. Wanting so badly to just be a guy, but at the same time, realizing how much that would suck. Wanting to enlist, but knowing you can’t get in because of depression. And even if I could make it in, I’d wash out during basic training due to depression. I know that. And I hate myself for it.

But, oh well. Life goes on. First step to fixing the problem is admitting that there is one, and I’ve come a long way toward fixing it already these past few years, even without having a word for it. I’m pretty happy being the way I am, honestly. Effemiphobia doesn’t control me. . . most of the time. And when it does, I just need to blow metaphorical raspberries at it, because I’m awesome. Right? Of course right!

Thank you for tuning in to the Rantings, Ramblings, Ravings and Musings of Mac. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

 

Life on Anti-Depressants

Well, WordPress, I’ve been taking it easy since being put on drugs. Lazing around. Writing. Feeling a lot less moody than I normally do. Let me tell you guys, that’s been great. It’s a weight off my shoulders.

I’ve also talked to my sister. Actually sorted things out.

My sister, who admits she abused me, now. My sister, who was also diagnosed with depression. My sister, who’s found so much through counseling and fiction that I never would have thought of. It’s amazing. Things are actually working out between us. We can talk our problems over rationally.

And so many of the paranoias my mother imposed are crashing around my ears.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Arizona, where I’ve been visiting my mother’s parents with the rest of my family since Sunday. My mother told me she was abused by her own mom. That my grandma was a horrible, terrifying, abusive woman. I was shocked, of course, to discover that’s not the case, at all. Grandma just happens to get that my mother is a narcissistic, compulsively lying hoarder. My mother’s parents are fantastic people, who completely understand the problems of dealing with my mother and my aunt. I thought I didn’t have grandparents who loved me, honestly. This realization is shocking. And wonderful.

Also, I never realized just how far my mom went into making my sister the scapegoat. But, just recently, my sister told me a story. How, at the age of fourteen (when it typically happens at age twelve), she finally dared to apply for a temple recommend (need to follow specific Mormon rules to be eligible). She didn’t get one before because she thought she was such a horrible person. Because she believed what my mother told her. And when she brought that brand new recommend home, she showed it to Mom, trying to show her that she wasn’t worthless. You know what Mom did? Shoved her up against the wall and told her she’d lied to get that recommend. A fourteen-year-old. A kid.

I’ve heard things no little kid should ever have to hear. Mom and my sister, fighting. Or so I thought. But my sister was always just a kid. Only two years older than me. How could those noises I heard coming from her room ever be a real fight? Her screams? How could she possibly fight back, when my mother was the one with the power? I was only about six. I wanted to go solve the problem, but I was too scared to see. And when my mother came in to talk to me, her golden child, I believed what she told me. After all, Mother is God in the eyes of a child.

She lied to me. And I believed her.

Now, my sister is no saint. She was trying to protect me in her own way, but as a kid, she resented me for being the golden child, and went about protecting me all wrong. She’s a parentified child who thought that I needed looking after. But let’s face it. My mom was a much better mother to me, because I was her golden child. I didn’t see the dark side until I was older, really. But in my life, there were always those two opposing female forces, neither one of them completely trustworthy. Always telling me different stories. Thanks to all that, I’m a huge fence-sitter. Apathetic, for the most part. Peacemaker might as well be my middle name, because I will always see both sides of the issue, and trust no one completely.

Well, that’s the serious part of what I had to say. The rest of it? I could regale you with the fascinating tale of the dam we visited on our way to Arizona, and the storm of dam jokes that didn’t stop (and I was the queen–even after we left, I was on a dam roll!), but that might get tedious and repetitive. Or how about my sister’s dramatized impressions of my mom’s passive aggressiveness? Making jokes with grandma behind Mom’s back? Mom mispronouncing the word anise (“Oh. Anus!”), or any other number of little amusing things (an adventure at the Hard Rock Cafe!). But, once again, repetitive and boring, quite probably. Humor and light stuff is not the point of this blog, you know. We want darkness. Doom, death, dying, and depression. Not necessarily in that order.

So I’ll leave it at that for now.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be here all night, pretending I’m funny.

Lessons Learned From A Haunted House

Ah, October! Season of so many things dark and horrific! Everything that is beautiful! The one holiday I adore! How it makes me reminisce, back to my younger days, working in a haunted house. And the things I have learned from it.

After transitioning high schools, adjustment was tough. I was friendless again, and trying not to make all the stupid mistakes I’d made in junior high. So, what was a poor girl to do? Be nice to everyone, rule number one. Second, try to join some clubs. Through my short-lived association with the drama club that year, I found out that the local haunted house needed actors. Well, having been a fan of suspense and horror for the last couple years, I was quick to fall for the idea.

Haunted House

Yes, the haunted house in question looked just like this.

At the meeting I was directed to, however, were not a bunch of drama geeks. Nah, these were the kids I’d always been afraid of—and admired a bit. The rebels. The goths and emos. And there I was, probably the only person not wearing black!

But I got in with ease, and devoured the cast manual. Though I failed in my first role as an asylum patient, I was given a new role within two weeks. Zombie.

And that was when I met her. My haunted house role model. A very short goth in her early twenties, who didn’t take crap from anyone. She was the queen of that room, and we all appropriately worshiped her. Her motto, which I instantly absorbed? “Suck it up and deal with it.” Or, sometimes, “Go hard or go home.”

I only got to work with her a few weeks before my throat gave out and I had to be transferred to a quieter role, but those weeks formed my perception of my work at the haunted house. According to the owners, I became one of the best, most versatile actresses they had. I didn’t whine if I wasn’t given the role I wanted. And I did my best, every single night of every single season for five years. I got bruised, cut, groped, suffered allergic reactions, and lost my voice repeatedly. It didn’t matter. I sucked it up, and dealt with it. I emulated her take-no-crap attitude.

Since then, of course, I’ve learned. You can’t always suck it up and deal with it. Sometimes, you can’t give your all. But sometimes, you can. And when you do, you shine. Heck, you’re freaking made of moonbeams!

As to the other lesson in the plural title of this post, you know why I love horror, even though I’ve now got a pretty permanent fear of the dark? It’s looking that fear right in the face. Acknowledging it. I’m facing something that’s meant to scare me, and staring it down. Telling it that it can’t. Proving I’m stronger than that. Pushing back against my fear with everything I’ve got.

Beyond anything else, I think those were the most important lessons I learned in those five years.