Boy In A Dress, Eating A Banana
He is in touch with his simian roots.
I woke up this morning feeling no more inclined to believe that I fit in this world than I did yesterday. Hot tears kept flooding my eyes for no apparent reason.
It just was that way.
Meanwhile, Mr. Moon got ready to attack the laundry room situation again and Vergil soon came out to help. It made me feel guilty to have these two men here, one who had taken off work and another who had given up one of his days off which he could have spent with his family to come and help fit me out a laundry room.
I realize that it is very hard for me to accept gifts of any type and really, a laundry room is not like a luxurious spa-room or, well, something like that. It's a place where I'll be able to fold clothes on a surface, where I'll have room to move. Where there will be a place for the laundry supplies. It is not exactly a necessity but in some ways, because I already had a laundry space, it is a bit luxurious.
Or so it seems to me.
Who am I, I wonder, to deserve these man hours, this hard work given so freely?
Thinking back to when I was a child, I don't believe I ever learned to ask for what I needed, much less for what I wanted. I think that my younger years were spent trying with all my heart to be as little trouble to my mother as I could be because even though I had no name for what it was she was going through, I intuited that it was very, very difficult and that she was spread about as thin as she could be already. She worked full-time as a teacher and she was not happy in that job. She was a single mother and not happy at all to be one in those days when divorce was almost unknown and a divorcee (what a word!) was almost always judged to be a woman of perhaps loose moral standards at the very least and a home wrecker at the worst. And of course, a complete failure in a world where the only viable option was to get married, stay married, and produce children.
I just knew I needed not to bother my mother overmuch. Money was always a worry even though we did have a nice little house that my grandfather had built for us. We had the basics and a tiny bit more, but not much. My mother and my grandmother made most of my clothes. A new pair of glasses for me was an almost unaffordable necessity.
And then when my stepfather came around and he began abusing me, things changed up a bit. I got presents from him. Sometimes jewelry- a little silver scottie pin, maybe, or a charm bracelet which had one charm on it- a microscopic Bible with the actual Ten Commandments in it. An Easy Bake oven which was ridiculous- I was already using the big stove to make basic meals and bake cookies and cakes in.
And with each of these gifts, there was somehow a silent message- if I kept his secret, the gifts would keep on coming.
I grew to hate those gifts until I was about fifteen and the man drove up in a 911-T Porsche, a car that I had first seen on a trip we took to California (and that trip was a nightmare in all regards) and that I was absolutely enchanted with. He must have found the only slightly pre-owned Porsche in all of central Florida and brought it home. As soon as I got my driver's license, he would start tossing me the keys when I was going out. It was stupid- no child of that age should be given access to that sort of power but my god, I loved that car. I'd learned to drive on a 1960 VW Beetle and the difference between the two cars was like the difference between eating a McDonald's burger and a Filet Mignon. And somehow, I did not kill myself in it or anybody else. And by that time I was old enough to somehow grasp what the man was doing with these gifts, and why and although the abuse had stopped by them, I was angry enough and prideful enough to take whatever I was given and enjoy the hell out of it with a sort of wicked satisfaction. Especially being able to drive that beautiful, amazing car.
Still, he was buying my silence. He had no idea that I had neither the words nor the ability to break that silence then, even if it had occurred to me to do so.
And what all of this led to, I believe, is my inability to gracefully accept anything given to me. It is literally painful for me to accept presents from people I love. And I always feel a confusion when I am given a gift. I can become angry about it, which, when viewed with the perspective of what I've written here, is understandable. Like...so what do YOU want in return?
This is not a way I want to feel. It makes me think of myself in terms that I would rather not think of myself. Ungrateful, ungraceful. Selfish. Those.
And sometimes I am just so overwhelmed that I don't know how to react. When someone gifts me with something coming from what is just so obviously a place of love I don't know how to accept that.
And let's not even talk about how fucked up I am about giving gifts. That's a whole other bowl of wrong soup.
And there you go- Glen and Vergil spending all of this time and effort to make a nice laundry room for me just brings up so much that I can't even begin to describe what I feel but I will say it makes me cry.
And they're done. At least with the washer part. And tomorrow we can go and buy a new one and Mr. Moon will install it and then the dryer will get moved and I'll get some sort of surface to fold clothes on and some shelves for my supplies and I will appreciate that room every time I use it; every time I walk through it. And since the room connects both the back porch and the main part of the house to the newer part of the house which includes my beautiful bathroom, I will walk through it many, many times a day.
Today I did laundry at Jessie's house and played with those boys and read books to August. And to Levon. He handed me first his book about trucks and other fascinating heavy machinery and then the one about animals. He is a smart one. He can point out the dogs and the ducks and the cows. He can tell me with sign language that he wants me to read more to him. He can say "truck" with great authenticity.
We also went to lunch and then to the nursery next door to the restaurant. Jessie needed some tomato plants and a few other things and I needed a big bag of potting soil. They had kid-sized carts there and both August and Levon pushed those things all over the place and I was amazed at how well they did, especially Levon. The combination of a baby and a kid-cart is generally a recipe for disaster with collisions and tears being inevitable but that kid just steered and pushed like he'd been born for the job.
Like it WAS his job.
It made me want to go out and get him a little grocery cart of his own to carry his shovels and trucks around in. Giving gifts to grandchildren is not that hard for me. It's such a sweet and pure thing.
People were a bit confused about August in his dress. He was called a girl several times. As in, "What a cute little girl!" and at first, I would correct them and say, "He's actually a boy," and then explain about the dresses and how I made dresses for his cousin and how he wanted dresses too, blah, blah, blah.
But then I realized that it doesn't matter in the least what gender people think he is. Although, it did occur to me that if I told them he's a boy that it might remind them that gender is not always what we think it is.
Oh well. Whatever. The boy loves his dresses and who wouldn't? They're so comfy and floaty and unrestrictive.
In chicken-and-egg news, I got my first two green eggs today in weeks. I guess that Pansy and Eggy-Tina are finally recovering from the psychic and physical wounds that the roosters inflicted on them. I was so delighted to find the eggs, both in the same nest, the two sisters both able and willing to lay again.
It is easy for me to accept the gift of eggs from my hens but I think I may be a bit overly grateful.
I mean...chickens. Eggs. Yeah.
Still. I am gladdened by each one of them.
Each hen's egg is so very distinctive and different.
I have no ending tonight. No tie-it-all-up-in-a-bow-and-deliver-it tonight.
I suppose it's like one of my clumsy, poorly wrapped gifts.
Trust me though, my heart was in it. As it generally is no matter how it may appear. And let me just say that this seemingly completely unrelated topic is yet another way that childhood sexual abuse can affect a survivor for his or her entire life. One more layer of the stinky onion of it all to be peeled back and examined, one more clue as to why things are as they are for us. And with each peeling-back, with each close examination, there is more understanding and a small but important freeing of one part of a soul.
That shopping cart is so cleverly engineered. It has "legs" on both sides to keep it from tipping, or at least to control any tip to one side or the other, and hopefully break a serious fall.ReplyDelete
Yes! It does. I noted that it came from the company Melissa and Doug. They make good toys.Delete
I think you’d love this book Sourdough by Robin Sloan. I am off reading books by men and was halfway through this one and in for good when I realized this Robin was a man. He is forgiven. It’s an easy read though deep and odd and delicious especially for those few of us who bake our own bread. And it has Lois Clubs and robots!ReplyDelete
I ordered it! It should be on its way. Thanks for the recommendation, dear Rebecca!Delete
you, I believe, will accept the *gift* of your new laundry room with open arms. Love went into it........ love is and has been returned by you many times over. I love this post and I trust it was not easy to write. No tears, Ms Moon.......just embrace that this is all full circle. TrulyReplyDelete
Thank you, Susan. I really appreciate those sweet words. I will try.Delete
Gifts are hard; I get it. My husband comes from a totally normal family (hahaha! who knew those existed because I didn't) and they love gifts and giving them and they aren't emotional blackmail like my ex husbands and my parents gifts were. They also make me angry. Gifts, not my husband and his wonderful family. AND--Jonah is always mistaken for a girl. On the plane on Saturday the woman next to us kept referring to us as "girls" because, I guess, his hair is long. He doesn't care at all.ReplyDelete
My husband came from one of those families too! So weird, right?Delete
Good for Jonah! I have always loved long hair on a man.
Abuse, the gift that keeps on giving. I can't imagine living through that and yeah, it would fuck you up forever with regards to gifts. But I am glad that you will have a new laundry room, built by love.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty excited about this whole laundry project. I think I might start taking in laundry as women used to do. It'll be such a pleasure to wash clothes that I might as well make some money doing it, right?Delete
Gifts have always been hard for me, too though I did not put together why until reading this post. It isn't easy to trust, but you put trust in Mr. Moon and the love that was there made a wonderful caring family, all of whom love you. You more than deserve it.ReplyDelete
I just put this all together in my own head in the past few days. Makes me wonder what else I'm missing. Lots, I'm sure.Delete
PS: I love the new dress and I'm happy for August that he comes from a family that is cool with him enjoying them.ReplyDelete
His dad is the coolest. But then again, his mom was (and is) totally cool and Vergil had a dress when he was a little guy.Delete
Damn it - I spent longer than I ever do composing a comment and then poof I hit something with my fat finger and it is gone.ReplyDelete
Forgive yourself for a completely natural reaction. I am in awe of your self-awareness. You are a smart woman!!
P.S. that little chicken in the egg bowl. I love it! Is it felted?
Ope, I just zoomed in on the chicken and see it is not felted. Well I still love it.Delete
My 8yo son loves the color pink and loves princess books. He also likes his Pokemon and Captain Underpants. I never try to dissuade him but I do make sure he knows what others might say so he is prepared. He doesn't care and that makes me so happy because I cared so much at his age what others thought and was still mercilessly bullied. I'm glad he is growing up in an area that is open to him. -Sarah in OhioDelete
Jill- oh, the agony of the lost comment! I hate it when that happens. No, as you could see, that is not a felted chicken A friend of mine made me a tiny chicken altar and that hen was inside of it but the children always find it and put it in different places. Right now, the egg bowl is where she lives and I get a little smile every time I see her there.Delete
Sarah- You made me think about something. It is probably far more important to try and teach children to be comfortable with who they are than it is to try and prevent all bullying. Bullies will always be with us but if they aren't able to provoke someone, they might just give it up. I bet I'd love your son and I'm so glad that you support him in all of the ways he is.
The dress looks great on August.ReplyDelete
I think it's adorable. Thanks, Anon.Delete
Hearing how these experiences have affected you helps us all understand, as you put it, the big stinky onion.ReplyDelete
The fact that you're so aware of the work involved in the laundry room shows the depth of your appreciation, even if it is conflicted. And I'm sure Mr. Moon appreciates all the laundry you will do there -- it's a trade off, after all!
I'll never get to the innermost layers of this whole thing, I feel sure, but the more I reveal, the better off I am.Delete
And yes, Mr. Moon does very much appreciate the laundry being done. He does not take it for granted.
where is August's wild curly hair? everyone thought my son was a girl too because I let his hair grow long and it was also wild and curly. my husband does not know how to accept gifts. no one in his family ever gave gifts when he was growing up but sometimes he's downright rude about it to the point that I just don't give him gifts anymore. I had to tell him too many times the appropriate response is thank you. the men are probably having a good time putting your laundry room together.ReplyDelete
Oh, his wild curls were still there. His mama had just put some product in his hair to make the curls more defined and the ones on top had not sprung back up yet.Delete
I'm sorry about your husband's inability to accept gifts. I'd probably give up giving them too if I was received with rudeness when I did it.
Yeah, the guys do love a project. But I know it was hard work.
Thank you for sharing this Mary. It can't have been easy to write. All of us carry the past within us. I am so grateful that I never had to bear the extra weight of remembered abuse.ReplyDelete
We do all carry the past, don't we? Even the parts we may not remember. Humans are strange and mysterious critters.Delete
Dear lady: a laundry room is no spa. It's laundry! You will give your thanks with the gift of laundry. And doubtless babysitting. Own your heart and say thank you. And breathe.ReplyDelete
Thank you for your always-brave posts.
Oh, Jo. Thank you so much. You have been so loving and supportive to me for so many years. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you.Delete
I can understand a lot of what you are describing. I, too, am uncomfortable receiving gifts. I always think that there is no such thing as a 'free lunch'. With regards to the laundry room, though, give yourself a break. Just tell yourself that a laundry room is not a luxury. It really isn't. It really is just a completely normal thing. And, after all, yours are not the only knickers that get washed in there. It's an 'everybody' room. ;)ReplyDelete
You are so right. Everyone's laundry gets done here. Well, actually, all of the kids have their own washing machines now but I HAVE done everyone's laundry at some point. Still do when we have a hurricane and someone loses power and I don't. And I don't mind doing laundry at all. It's a chore that doesn't bother me in the least.Delete
August sure looks happy in that dress. I love how his socks match. We are alike in so many ways but in this we are different: I truly dislike doing laundry. And yet I get how it could be meditative.ReplyDelete