It happened! It happened! The universe provided—because I shouted that I will wring its neck if it won't. Namely, I've been invited to do a book reading at Auntie's Books (THANK YOU!!!) in Spokane and had no idea how I would get there (I have no car), but then a miracle happened. Like, a real miracle with thunder and lightning and everything. One of my readers, Katie Lee Cook, shouted at everyone everywhere to find me a ride. Then my other reader, Cassie Rainn, has graciously offered to haul my skinny fundament from Seattle to Spokane and back. And she did. And not only that, she made me dried bananas and strawberries and elephants, and fed me along the way.
The reading went fantastic. About 28 people showed up, or so the lovely bookstore staff told me. I had no idea what I would be talking about, but I dressed up in my tutu outfit, of course. One of the attendees, William Penn, has videotaped me reading the first chapter of ROSEHEAD and doing a silly dance (complete with my own version of Monty Python's silly walk). I have forgotten the little speaker thingy I have that can plug into my phone and make music louder, so I danced without music. Everyone laughed anyway. And then another attendee, Ben Swartout, offered us two rooms in his house to spend the night in, since we had no place to stay. Could it get any better than this?
Yes. Something else happened this weekend.
I'm learning to let go of my fear to be myself.
Talking in front of people, reading my writing aloud to people, listening to myself do it, watching myself on video do it—all of it is slowly shedding the remaining layers of fear I have left. Fear stemming from childhood. This automatic response to, "Don't do this!" "Don't do that!" "Don't jump!" "Be quiet!" "Stop talking!" "You're being stupid!" "Drama queen!" "Liar!" "Stop telling stories!" I have so many of those. Here are the biggest of them:
"STOP FOOLING AROUND!" "BEHAVE!" "STOP SAYING STUPID THINGS!"
And underneath all this, as a logical follow-up to abuse I endured:
"STOP BEING A GIRL!"
That is what I have told myself over the years, "Stop being a girl!" I carefully planned my future devoid of stabbing words, unwanted touch, and physical pain. I have declared to myself the following:
- I'm cute, and that is why men want to touch me and hurt me in sensitive places. If I look like a boy, maybe they will stop. And I proceeded to cut my hair short, so short, I did indeed look like a boy. I dressed in baggy clothes or in plain jeans and t-shirts. Today I bought myself a dress. And I cried after I bought it. Another dress! The one I bought before this was for New Year's party. There are a few more in my wardrobe, the ones I dared to purchase when I forgot that I'm not supposed to be a girl. And my long hair, the curls you see in pictures, that is new. I'm letting myself be a girl for the first time, dressing up in tutus and dancing silly dances. I even did a nose job after my accident to look less like my father, and I've never been happier. It's one of those things you don't want to spend money on because it's considered a luxury. Thank you, insurance money. This was life-changing for me.
- I'm highly emotional, so I learn how to bottle up everything I feel, perhaps people will stop ridiculing me for it. I have mastered this skill to the point of completely turning myself off and not talking for weeks. This is where Siren Suicides' voice theme comes from, and Ed's and Irka's muteness (Ed is a character from ROSEHEAD, Irka from IRKADURA). I would lose ability to talk. It would be self-induced. Now that I've broken through it, I can't shut up. But I still censor myself sometimes (and I censor my swearing). The more I speak publicly, the more this fear will recede into nothing.
- Words can hurt. Mean words can hurt so much, the pain becomes real teeth gnawing on your insides. I can't speak my opinions, what if I will hurt someone? Better not say anything at all. For the longest time I was afraid to say what I think, afraid to let go of my somewhat crass and acerbic sense of humor. People have hurt me so much with words, I was terrified of hurting someone with mine. Since I started writing, I understood that I can turn my opinions into humor. I can be funny, and then I can say my truth through being funny. Yes, inevitably someone will mistake my sarcasm for an attack. AND THAT IS NOT MY FAULT. I can't make people understand humor, but doesn't mean I should stop speaking. So I'm less and less afraid to tell people, "Give me your last money." It takes them a moment, and then they get it, and we laugh. And I know I found my readers.
- I can't enjoy myself, because when I'm enjoying myself, I get yelled at or beaten or used for other purposes. If I am always busy doing useful things, maybe they will leave me alone. And this is where my drive comes from. You see me writing every day like a maniac. One of the things I'm learning is letting go and being okay with simply enjoying myself or doing absolutely nothing. It was hard for me to swallow the idea of losing two days of work by going to Spokane and back. But I loved it, LOVED IT. And I felt guilty for loving it. I'm not supposed to, you know. Only this time the guilt was less pronounced, and in the future I hope it will go away and finally leave me alone. I had fun chatting with Cassie on our way there and back, although I did sneak in an hour of reading. I had fun making a fool of myself on front of people. I had fun talking to Ben at dinner about everything under the sun. And this morning I have blown 4 hours (!!!) on buying a dress for RadCon. Since my budget is very small, it took me forever to pick out something that was both cheap and nice, but I HAD FUN DOING IT. And after I got done, I broke down and wept. I have allowed myself to be a girl. I wasted time! How could I! But I know that soon this phase will be over and I will allow myself to be not just a silly girl but also a grown woman. Until then...
I WILL DRESS UP IN PINK TUTUS AND DANCE CRAZY DANCES AND WEAR DRESSES AND FLING MY CURLY HAIR AND WRITE SILLY BOOKS AND...
Well, I can keep going, but this blog post needs to end at some point. So, why did I share this? To hopefully inspire you to purge your fears. To see how you can do it through making art. It's scary. It's a mirror that shows you who you are. Sometimes you don't want to see it. Sometimes it's too painful. Do it. It's worth it. When you get through the torment of shedding that shit that got stuck to you over the years, you will come out a shiny new self, and it feels wonderful.