The Butcher hung a picture of the five of us–me, him, the recalcitrant brother, and the other Reverend’s two kids–on the fridge a while ago. I think I’m thirteen or fourteen.
I might as old as fifteen, though, looking at the fact that I was wearing a long sleeved sweater and a coat in the house, and I spent much of my first two years of high school trying to work up the courage to kill myself outright without being detected and stopped. I had to keep the evidence of that hidden.
My earliest lame attempt was to just stop eating, which was nice in some ways because I got all these compliments from the people in my church about how good I looked and so I was convinced, in that pathetic, narcissistic way you have when you’re a moody, self-destructive teenager, that if people noticed me, they would feel really bad when I was gone and boy did I want everyone around me to feel as bad as I felt.
My grandma caught on, though. Because you don’t decline Grandma’s beef and noodles without there being some problems. She did not get up at five in the morning to roll out noodles so that you could sit there sullenly refusing to eat.
After that, I made sure to keep what I was up to hidden.
Anyway, the picture.
I think the Butcher likes that picture because the five of us are all together and we’re all doing our best to look bad ass and we’ve all got toy guns and we’re all getting along. For him, it’s a great moment.
I look at that photo, though, and I have really mixed emotions.
I’ve known the other reverend’s boys all my life and I love them like brothers. And, until I got to college and met the Super Genius, there was no one else on the planet I felt like I could talk to about what was going on in our home who really intrinsically understood it–who knew how shitty the job was, in general, and who also got what it meant to be living in the fallout of some nasty family crap.
I look at that photo and I see five hugely fucked up kids at a moment before it’s about to get much, much worse and my heart breaks for them every time I go to get the milk.
And this is a change. For a long time, I had no sympathy for them. I felt like, if only they’d tried harder, they wouldn’t have ended up in the messes they ended up in. But I see now that we were so young. I mean, I really get that we were children and that we were trying as hard as we could and if that wasn’t enough to keep our lives from being shitty, that wasn’t something we really had control over.
It’s weird, but I think it’s that slow realization–that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens to you–that makes it easier to be an adult and take responsibility for the choices you can make. Does that make sense? You can stop blaming yourself for the shit you can’t do anything about and you can get to the business of doing the things you can.
Hmm. I guess I can’t quite articulate what I’m getting at.
Anyway, when Sarcastro was over yesterday, he saw the photo and he asked me if that was during my “Goth” phase and I laughed it off. But I was embarrassed, a little, that it was that obvious how depressed and pissed off I was.
I mean, why would a person look at a picture of a sullen, selfish, thirteen year old every day?
But it’s because I love her.