Tuesday, February 08, 2005

New Year's Resolution

I was looking at some of my old entries and I noticed I've been holding back in my writing since I came back from my summer break. Most of my writing has been what I would call neutral. When I have written about things that mean something to me I've only skimmed the surface of what I've wanted to convey. I wondered what had changed. Now it seems that when ever I start to write anything I feel like I am boxed in and unable to express what I really want to say.

I have finally figured out my problem. When I came back from my break I realized people were reading my blog. I know, it sounds stupid since I've always known that people were reading it just by perusing the comments but I did not understand what that meant until I came back.

It it like the time I went skydiving. I knew before I decided to do it that skydiving meant you put on a parachute and jumped out of a airplane. I knew what it meant when I got into the airplane and we started rolling down the runway. I knew what it meant when we started climbing up to the jumping out point. I knew what it meant as I watched one of the other jumpers dive out the open cargo door at 5,000 feet above the earth. But seeing that made me really understand what skydiving meant. It meant I was going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and fall hundreds of feet while wearing a parachute and hoping to god it would open. In that instant my understanding of what skydiving was went from the abstract to the concrete.

Well, I have gone from the abstract to the concrete in understanding the fact that people are reading my blog. I have gone from seeing a mass of undefined "people" to seeing that individual persons are reading my blog. Real live people are reading my blog; family, old friends, new friends, and people I don't even know about yet. By reading what I write here you can get to know me bit and that thought is frightening to me. If you get to know me then I become visible and I have spent my life trying to be invisible. Invisible because that was the safe thing to do. Anything else was dangerous for me and those around me.

I first learned that being invisible was good by being around my father when he was drunk. My father was a happy drunk at the beginning of a drinking spree but then, at some point in the process, turned into a mean one. The problem was you never knew where that point was. He could laugh in delight one minute and the backhand you across the face in rage the next. When he reached the mean stage becoming invisible was the only safe thing to do. Becoming invisible meant not attracting attention to yourself in anyway-baby bird in danger time.

Later I learned that being visible would cause pain for my older sister. My sister had some sort of learning disability in a time when doing badly in school still meant you were not trying hard enough. I hated report card time because, although I would get praised for my grades, my sister would get a whipping for hers. I would sit on my bed pressing my hands against my ears as tightly as I could trying not to hear the sound of my father's belt hitting my sister's body, or her screams and sobs, or him repeatedly asking her why she couldn't get good grades like me. I was in mental agony, wanting to do badly in school, thinking that might help my sister, but at the same time not wanting to get the whippings myself.

But even if I did get a whipping I knew my father would not whip me as long or as hard as he did my sister or my brother because my parents had done the one thing that, in some ways, is almost as bad for a child as rejecting him or her. They made me their favorite. My father showed this by not hitting me as much as he did my brother and sister's, praising me more, and remembering my birthday a couple of times after he had finally left us for good. My mother showed her favoritism by making me the responsible one after my father left. When I was younger I felt a sense of pride whenever she would say I was the responsible one. By the time I was fifteen hearing those words make me cringe. All they did was drive the wedge between my siblings and I deeper. So at a young age I learned that doing anything that drew attention to myself only brought anger and pain.

Blogging is a aberration on my part, something I would not have done if I had not gone to Spain. I started it for myself not even thinking about who or if anyone was reading it. When I realized people were reading I subconsciously became worried that by writing about anything I felt the need to write about (becoming visible) I would somehow be placing myself or others in danger. There were times when my need to express myself overcame my fear but for the most part I have been keeping a low profile.

But things are going to change. This year my New Year's Resolution is to stop trying to be invisible. It's time to toss away an old coping mechanism that has turned into a crutch. I can stand on my own two feet now.

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