Tag Archives: growing up

It Isn’t All It Seems at Seventeen

My emotional life at 17

At 17 I was an active volcano.

Every mental health professional I’ve ever worked with has asked me if I’ve attempted suicide, if I’ve ever felt suicidal, or if I have any suicidal feelings. The simple answer is no. The complex answer is I’ve been homicidal, not suicidal. I was an angry kid and an angrier teenager.

In my mind I’ve killed off my mother, my grandmother, and Julie and Wendy, the two girls who relentlessly picked on me in elementary school. The only one I was serious about killing was my mother. I didn’t have a good plan. I thought about pushing her in front of a train. I wanted to make it look like an accident. I considered trying to make her overdose on barbiturates, but I never purchased pills or figured out how to mix them with alcohol. There was no internet to turn to. Continue reading

Living with the Dichotomy

Butch-cognitive-dissonanceI am trying to listen. Without interrupting, without succumbing to distraction, without shutting down. This is what I hear my six-year-old self say (in not quite six-year-old language):

I’m not a girl. I don’t want to be a girl. It doesn’t feel right. I can’t pretend I’m a girl. I hate being a girl. I can’t pretend I’m happy. I don’t want to grow up unless I can be a boy. I want to wear boy’s clothes and play baseball. I want a boy’s name and a crew cut. 

I want to be like my Dad. Not like my mother. Not like my grandmother. I don’t want to grow up and be a wife or a mother. If I could, I would turn myself into a boy. Continue reading

I’d Like to Talk to My Dad

My 6th grade graduation in 1970. I might have been happier in a jacket and tie, but pointy collars were in style.

My elementary school graduation in 1970. I might have been happier in a jacket and tie, but pointy collars were in style.

It was a simple question, an ice-breaker at a meeting. If you could invite anyone over for dinner, dead or alive, who would you choose? We were going around the circle, and I wished I was more imaginative. My immediate reaction was “I’d like to talk to my dad.”

I could have said Emma Goldman or Magnus Hirschfeld. John Lennon or Rosa Parks. Would Mahatma Gandhi be looking at his watch, wondering if he had to stay for coffee and dessert? Would Audre Lorde have to feign interest in my writing? Would she wonder why she was brought back for this when there were so many more interesting things she could be doing?

My dad would be tickled that I choose him. He was forty-three when he died; I was thirteen. I wish I could talk to him. I’ve got questions. Continue reading

Bonnie and Clyde

Now I like to cook, but when I was three I refused to play with them.

Now I like to cook, but when I was three I refused to play house.

I first knew I was in trouble when I was three. I went on a play date and there was nothing in her room that I wanted to play with. She offered me a set of plastic vegetables and I thought they were the dumbest and most unappealing toys ever. She had dolls. She wanted to play house. I wanted to get out of there but I could not say why. I picked up a plastic tomato and threw it on the floor. I refused to play with her, and was not invited back. I was not gracious about it.

I turned into a quiet tomboy because it was easier to be quiet than to try to explain what I was thinking. I was a loner because It was easier to play by myself than to explain how I wanted to play. I knew I would be teased by the girls and I knew I would be shunned by the boys. I did not try to fit in with either. I never learned how to hang out with kids my own age. Continue reading