mother and daughter: a death wish

“Dear Mummy, I hate you for multiple reasons, the most recent one being because you went on and on about my teeth at Easter in front of all your gross friends. You want me to be like your perfect junior league girl, and grow up to do charity balls and be the concubine for some banker, like you. But the truth of it is I am addicted to you like chocolate. I always want to be around you. I’m some like stupid little puppy and you keep like kicking my teeth in with your words and your tone. Sometimes, I wish you were dead.” –Tori to her mother in Lost and Delirious

A death wish: the walls that contain the misery are brought down: the moment of revolution is a new form of reproduction, a reproduction of another kind of life form.[1] A death wish: she sits alone with her mother’s headstone. It’s monsoon season and the afternoon skies are thick with rain clouds cast across the Greater Phoenix Valley. Streaks of sun light beam through like God herself reaching down onto the deforested Sonoran desert.

No one else is at the graveyard. She sits alone. She wants her mother to know everything.

She sits alone with her mother’s headstone. She tries to breathe, recalling words like freak, like recluse, or, to be more precise—freak of nature, recluse with a thick curled “r” looping upside down into the phonetic lull of the “l” like a beachside rollercoaster ride: recluse. She still hears her mother screaming these words from the hallway, through the precariously locked bedroom door. Simply a bobby pin would pick it open, but she locks it anyway.

What does a mother do with such a daughter? Unusual yet disarming. Queer might work. Recluse, solitude: the daughter holds a love for quietness with words and thoughts alongside her hand-me-down Acer laptop and pocketsize rhyming dictionary. What does a mother do when her daughter spends money on books, not shoes? This might seem simplistic, cliché almost. But this was her reality. A troublemaker for reading books and writing poems and feeding her ravenous imagination. She refuses to be placed. Everyday her mother keeps kicking her teeth in with her words and her tone. Freak. Recluse. Blood curdling spews against the cacophony of an amusement park landscape parading in her head. A circus, a freak show. Come one, come all! Bear witness before your very eyes to that which you are not. There is so much that her own mother can’t recognize about her. She cannot recognize her own daughter even when she’s standing right there begging her to stop saying those words in that way. Begging, on her knees, she says please mother please, leave me alone. There’s blood on her knees and the tears they feel good on her cheeks. Please, mother, please.

She wants her mother to recognize her. She wants it but she can never have it in this life-world. A death wish: she writes a poem for her mother, it’s a never-ending story in medias res and in it she creates a fantastical, complicated, beautifully twisted life-world where they both co-reside, co-exist and recognize all that is so defamiliarized: a mother seeing her own daughter for the first time.

Oh and back in real-life there’s tattoos and things, body piercings, In-N-Out milkshakes and other devilish wastings.

Her mother sobbed through the gulps of wine. She had never seen her drink like that. She stood right there, showing her mother the tattoo, and her mother couldn’t see it right in front of her face. Do you do this just to be different? To make a point? As the deviant who attempts to expose the conditions that make her a supposed deviant to her own mother in the first place, this very attempt to expose is used against her by her mother and thus the daughter becomes the origin of emotional and social violence, the cause of unhappiness—rather than acknowledging the historical systematic origins of violence that make her appear deviant in such a way; the daughter being the cause of unhappiness stops any recognition of her daughter’s weirdness as a misperceived production—which prevents the possibility of alternative possibility from seeming possible at all. Possibilities have to be recognized as possibilities to become possible. And yet the disbelief in the possibility of a different world can function as a psychic defense against suffering. The daughter knows of her mother’s suffering, for she inherits it.

Her mother would say: summer is coming up and you are going to have to start wearing shorts, soon. Why don’t you wear shorts anymore, daughter? Is it because you don’t fit into them anymore? Are your legs too fat? How much do you weigh these days?

She would tell her mother to leave her alone. She told her mother over and over again: leave me alone.

Her mother would say: don’t you have any respect for yourself? Don’t you care what other people think? This is where it starts. You gain five pounds this year, ten pounds the next year, and before you know it you are obese and have no self-confidence. Don’t you have any self-confidence? You are barely fitting into the size fives anymore. You are bulging out of your pants. What did you have to eat today for lunch? Any fruits and vegetables? Whatever happened to that cute shirt I bought you? I have never seen you wear it. That’s it, I am sick of doing nice things for you and constantly buying you things. The world doesn’t revolve around you, daughter.

The world doesn’t revolve around you, daughter. The world doesn’t revolve around you.

She tried to tell her mother, to tell her, but she never listened.

Her mother would say: you are so unappreciative and selfish. Those long hippie skirts you buy are like circus tents, trying to hide your fat self underneath them. I never see girls your age wearing those.

Her mother nagged and picked and prodded. She hated her for it. She started to learn to ignore her. The mother’s voice abuzz in the background cackling amidst kitchen sounds while the daughter stares down the hallway, at the front door, wondering when she would, when she could, leave.

She sits alone with her mother’s headstone. She wants her mother to know everything. She hopes it’s not too late.

The grass is yellow and hard and is irritating her skin. But she has nowhere else to sit— besides, the pre-monsoon sky comforts her and she is finally relaxed, she can finally breathe, and she feels like her mother is finally listening to her. She breathes. She lets the moist desert oxygen wallow in her alveoli. She reduces speed: direction over time. Her eyes roll up into the back of her skull and she sees her own thoughts. And she lets the pounding, screaming thoughts breathe. Just lets them breathe and lets the neurons rest and maybe cry a little bit because she can feel those tears coming on through the face. They are boiling and breaking and baking and deep-frying and steaming beneath the surface begging to get out. So she is going to let them out and let the storm free free free.

She throws away her old pants. They don’t fit her anymore, her mother would be proud. She almost squeezes into a size two now. She burns them. The pants. She burns them in the desert. It is a huge fire. She jumps into that fire. She rolls out the side into the dirt and stares at the flames that are ignited on her shirt and she watches it go through the cotton onto her skin. She feels the burning against her body and she smells the rancid smell of burning flesh. Finally she puts out the fire on her arm. The doctors say it will scar forever. It is beautiful and the new layer of skin starting to grow over it is chunky and pink.

Her mom is gone. She dedicates the scar to her. A reminder, maniacal memories: freak, fatty, recluse, disappointment. Her mother’s voice buzzes and the words blend together and she slams her door against the boils of her rage, her unhappiness. But the buzzes they crawl through the opening at the bottom of her bedroom door and she could still hear her mother. She could always hear her mother. It didn’t matter how hard she tried not to she could always hear her.

Her mother would say: obviously he doesn’t want you as a girlfriend because you barely even take care of yourself! Why would he want a girlfriend like that? Maybe if you put on some mascara and eye shadow once in awhile he would notice you in a different way! Maybe if you didn’t tip the goddam scale! Then he would want you and want to show you off to the world. But look at you!

She tries so hard to un-remember, to un-hear all that is living and ever-present.

She shouts back: shut the fuck up! She yells back at her through her locked bedroom door. She is hiding in the corner on the other side of her bed ripping out the carpet with her fingers. She digs her fingers into the carpet with her chewed nails—she rips so hard at the carpet her damaged fingernails start to bleed. Stain the carpet. She continues to rip at the carpet. She says, leave me alone. Leave me alone.

She sees red. She snaps in a fury screaming at her mother: why would you say that? Why! H o w  c o u l d  y o u ? She hates her and she can’t stop yelling and pulling out the carpet. The screams they turn into desperate cries and light up the house and she barely hears herself screaming because her ears go numb from the verbal abuse. She hated her mother for making her snap, for making her say irrational, horrible things to her own mother. She hates her for it. What does not get noticed is the violence that makes her act in the way she does, as the violence of provocation hovers in the background.[2] She hates her mother for it because she feels like her anger has nowhere to go. She can only direct so much of the anger at her mother because not all of it is for her. The violence of provocation that hovers in the background is the production of her mother’s misery, the mother’s long childhood history of fatness and being bullied. How can she blame her mother when she knows of such pain and suffering?

She sits alone with her mother’s headstone. She wants her to know everything. She hopes it isn’t too late. She says, I’m sorry. She says, Mom, I don’t think I can stop.

She holds her breath and picks at a hangnail, pulling a piece of skin down her finger alongside it. Her mother: consisting of bones, varicose veins, and sagging skin. Her entire body, withered and gauntly. She still hears her mother at night, vomiting into the toilet. There are bloodied bile stains on the tile, the stench so vile with chunks of crackers and frosted cookies.  She wants to wipe them away but she can’t. She could smell her mother’s looming end. She could smell it. It’s everywhere. She wanted her mother to stop but she never listened to her. She loves her so much and she is so sorry that she never told her enough. She is so sorry that she never told her mother that she is lovely, she is kind. She is sorry that she never told her mother that she knew she sacrificed it all to raise her daughters. She knows she sacrificed it all: dreams of art-making, designing, creative ventures. Her mother’s house, like a museum of hints at that which she could have had. Hand crafted ornaments, homemade sofa pillows, decorated picture frames, painted strokes of gold and red and purple covering the shelves she created and installed herself. She hopes it’s not too late.

She chews on her fingernails alone next to her mother’s headstone down to the bone down to the crescent of the moon. The nail biting is compulsory, automatic, obsessive. She digs into her fingernails, ripping away skin and cuticles and flesh and nail. She becomes vicious in her pursuit: nails and flesh locked against teeth and jaw. And she sobs. Her hands are preoccupied, clenched against teeth, and she tastes the salty salty tears that pour into her open mouth like sweet raindrops. The tears stream down her hot cheeks and slide over her lips, curving into her slightly open mouth. Salty and sweet. Red-hot cheeks moist and shiny in the bittersweetness; forehead and eyebrows braced in distorted expressions. Freak. Recluse. Do you do this just to be different? To make a point? Soon she tastes blood as well. She tastes the sweet, salty tears and the odd taste that is blood. She wants her to know everything. She doesn’t think she can stop. She destroys her nails and cuticles enough to the point that blood is oozing and seeping through the tips of her fingers. She rips one last cuticle out from the side of her middle fingernail. The pain is so sharp the pain is so deep the pain is so excruciating from ripping out a thick, rooted cuticle and a long piece of skin that for a brief moment her sobs pause and she breathes calmly through her mouth as she watches the fresh hot blood throb in fiery pain where her cuticle and skin were just attached. Enthralled, she tears back pieces of skin surrounding the wound to make the crevice wider and deeper.

She wipes her tear-stained face with her tender swollen fingers. She sits alone next to her mother’s headstone often. She is quiet and she sits there and watches the sun as it sets. She says, the sunsets are incredible here mom, even with the monsoon clouds—they’re all the more brilliant. Bright orange, pink, fuchsia.

She pushes herself off of the ground and shuffles down the small hillside. A death wish: the walls that contain suffering are brought down, and she might be recognizable to her through all that is defamiliarized. Her mother is alive and ever-present.


[1] Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness.

[2] Ahmed.

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Put it in the deep freeze.

A deep freeze, my shrink explains to me.

She says I’ve been putting it in the deep freeze, like all good PTSDers do.

But it’s time to un-do. Our goal: EMDR, once it thaws a little more.

I enjoy this analogy, this deep freeze. I’ve Saran wrapped the tasty trauma to save for later: I put it in the deep freeze. Count on Saran™ for freshness that’s easy. Whatever it takes to appease me, to relieve me. Deep freeze: a condition of being held in temporary suspension or inactivity. Like a refrigerator, hard ice, a storage space to keep things for a long period of time. Store it in the back of the deep freeze and forget about it. It will keep there, hidden away, buried with ease. It will keep in the deep freeze. It will keep. If and when you take it out and let it thaw, like really thaw, be cautious and make certain it’s safe ‘cause when you take it out of the deep freeze it’s as good as fresh like oozing like no time has passed at all. Like you just stored it yesterday.

I enjoy this analogy. But letting it thaw makes me angry no matter how tasty the freeze promises it will be.

Anger can be healthy, says my psych.

Yeah well FUCK HIM, I reply.

Ten years go by.

Ten years go by.

Couldn’t even try to say hi. Keep it in the freeze.

I’m traumatized too goddammit, does he think he’s the only one?

Ten years go by and I’m finally done.

I can’t keep it in the deep freeze anymore, as good as fresh blood dripping knees to floor, fresh like thrift store fine china crashing against the back door.

He’s not the only one.

Dear god let me be done.

X-Loves and madness and family holidays

Not sure what’s going on here but I took a zolpidem, swallowed it down with stale warm water yet refreshing water all the same. So I will be sleepying soon enough but sometimes right before bed there’s just something stewing or burning or aching that I must tend to before I can sleep. Tonite it’s like an ache in my bones like in my knees and hands and shoulders and my jaw is tight I keep trying to loosen it but this can be a difficult task. I ache emotionally for my mom for my dad for these parents of mine because they do so good to me when I visit and spend all this money on tasty food and all I really have to do is eat it and grace them with my joyous presence in return. But this narrative of giving and deserving and appreciating involves all these other weird manipulative social scripts like if I don’t act proper enough and host our extended guests as I should then its like a cost against me for all the costs my parents have incurred so that I may have such a privileged experience. Words and feelings like disrespect and distrust and hurt and pain get lost amidst these holiday performances of good food and family time.
We sit around my parents’ beautiful outdoor fire pit having dessert, in some ways it’s like the nite has only begun. Apparently my best friend Jessica who i have not spoken to since April 2012 for deeply painful reasons sent my mom a thanksgiving text message and my mom responded by inviting her to stop by. My mom invited her thinking what? shed be all cutesy and have Jess over even when my mom knows the sitch and needs to be my ally? So I’ve evacuated the downstairs and locked myself in the upstairs bedroom for the moment. I really really can’t see her on a whim on a holiday like that so whatever. I physically left the downstairs but I’ve also deserted my parents and all their work on the holiday and I don’t want them to think that I don’t appreciate them all and love them all I just need a place of refuge like this dark upstairs bedroom typing on my iPhone a blog entry into WordPress. I mean really mom, there’s almost a laugh coming out of my mouth and almost a tear coming down my cheek in disbelief I just don’t get why you’d invite her over. I feel weird and upset and quarantined with this insanity just leave me alone please and let me be. I might only feel safe here with the bedroom door locked lights off away from you and her.

what happens when i go crazy

going crazy – what does it mean – to me – to you – different things, different madness, different minds different bodies different pain wrenching pain pain pain pain.

what happens when i go crazy

well

i throw things, like heavy staplers, phones, candles, books.

i break things like ceramic, like glass, like dishes, like clothes ripping off my body cuz well i’m going crazy aren’t i. performing madness like my life is a stage and my body dissociates at every turn into every scene, goodbye reality.

i clean my kitchen like my life depends on it. scrubbing hard, every last dish every last crumb every last coffee stain wine stain like amoebas crusted on the counter tops must douse with Windex wiped down til it squeaks.

what happens when i go crazy

i bruise my body, i cut my body – with my fists, with razors, pick off old scabs see new blood blood blood.

i can’t stop.

?

what happens when i go crazy

i cry

i cry so hard

in the bathtub, running steaming hot too hot scalding hot water over my body crying into the burning water. i cry, i scream, wailing like i have no other way to convey this pain but to caterwaul into the echos of my little bathtub.

i cry in the rain when i’m breaking dishes on my front porch but it was san francisco so no one really hears anything and thank god for that.

i deface my dresser with words scribbling words writing stream of consciousness negative self-talk beautiful penciled words scrawled across my $35 ikea mini wooden dresser. i cut and i bleed and i blend blood with pencil on wood and ah it’s so wonderful.

what happens when i go crazy

i curl into myself, folding in, cradle.

i pull my hair i pull hard pull and pull and pull pull pull pull.

i go crazy until the craziness has no where else to go and i’m depleted i’m wretched and i can finally sleep.