Thank you Jesus, it’s all my parents fault.
My therapist actually said those words.
Yes I’m seeing a new therapist but that’s beside the point.
Apparently, psychologists had no trouble detecting that those who rebel against authority do so because they were raised in either oppressive or very lenient circumstances. It took them a little longer to explain why those that attach the same importance to authority, but with a plus instead of a minus in front of it, exhibit an extreme sense of duty, responsibility, and guilt to and for everyone and everything, even if they were raised very laissez-faire.
You see where I am going with this.
Minimal boundaries, and minimal guidance. When you give a child free reign over its life, you also give them a terrible burden of responsibility that exceeds their knowledge of the world. If the child does not know that the fence is there to separate the front yard from the motorway, the safe zone from potential harm, then this responsibility also comes with a terrible sense of guilt: you chose to leave the safe zone, and if you got hit by a car, it is your own fault. We gave you freedom, you should have known how to handle it.
First I sat in my therapist’s office in amazement and catatonia, tears rolling down my face as only evidence of the effect this had on me. Why isn't this printed out in pamphlets and distributed in schools across the globe? Am I the only person in the world not to know about this?
Then I walked for about two hours before getting on a train that would take me home, watching pieces of my psyche drop down like Tetris blocks, fitting into perfect shapes and clearing the screen for the next level.
I hugged and kissed my parents when I got home. They were happy that I had a breakthrough, even though I did not tell them what it was. I love those people more than anything in this world. I know it was no picnic getting me for a child. A child like me required, demanded free reign, even if she could have used a little more guidance. I am a glorious conglomerate of both their characters and temperaments. I accepted the dispositions they gave me and took them to a whole new level. And not only that, I have a baby sister who did the same. We're a cool bunch. I hope never to lose the pride, gratitude and humility that their love has given me.
I just needed an explanation.
This is why I have no measure. Because every step could be a splash in a puddle or a dive from a cliff.
This is why I take risks, but not responsibility. Because they could be the same thing for all I know.
This is why everything I touch does indeed turn to gold. Because I have had to develop an acute sense of choosing my battles. Which I lose at the drop of a hat the very next second.
This is why I can make people feel adored and despised in the same sentence.
And this is why, on a bad day, a raised eyebrow feels like a slap across the face. Because a misunderstanding might as well be the Trojan War.
This is why, on a bad day, I will ask for reassurance as annoyingly and persistently as a three-year-old. But why? Tell me. Tell me again. Why? Tell me again. Please make sure that what you're telling me is the truth because I will take you for your word, very literally. It's all I know.
This is why I want to save the world but can’t get a blood test. Because I forget my age and place in this universe.
This is why, on a bad day, I will beat myself up for not being able to grant, give and secure everyone what they want, even if they never asked it of me. Because I apparently need to feel holier than Christ and be responsible for everyone’s happiness.
This is why, on a bad day, I feel like I am not allowed to express insecurity. Because the confidence that friends and family apparently have in me makes me feel guilty for admitting that there is a shit-ton of questioning, backpedaling and uncertainty behind every "achievement." Because, who am I to claim weakness in the face of all elsewhere-existing adversity in this world?
This is why, on a bad day, I will feel like the Chieko girl from Babel. Remember her? The one who spreads her legs from underneath her schoolgirl uniform and throws herself at police officers her father’s age, desperate and exasperated from lack of connection, getting empty stares, rejection and contempt no matter how hard she tries. I raise my emotional skirt and flash intimacy at those I feel connected with, and yet, on a bad day, I feel like I still come across as deaf and dumb. What language do I speak, that it is so difficult to convey? How can all this excess that I pour out be understood as a lack? And what fiction am I after, that I should feel so threatened to fall off the mark?