I have just gotten off the phone with my mother. I love my mother. She has made a hobby out of saving my ass. She’s a good person, a strong woman and a hell of a Euchre player. However, I can’t help but feel sometimes like she is talking AT me and not WITH me. I wish I could enjoy having entire conversations about weather and sales on things at TJ Maxx. Instead, I just sit on my end of the phone wondering why I can’t have a real conversation with the woman who raised me. I don’t even care what the conversation is about; I just want her to tell me something that matters, something that doesn’t make me feel like I’m at arms’ length. Tell me something, anything, that isn’t about the cute little purse you got or what your dog did today. Please. I’m dying. We’re all dying. I try to bring something up, try to pick her brain on some issue that could use some wisdom. I throw out a topic, and she answers with, “well, sometimes that’s how it is.” That’s the mom equivalent of saying, “tmi dude…I’m not having this conversation today.”
The friends I frequently converse with during the day are busy doing 100 different things because work has picked up, the holiday season is crazy and the World of Warcraft expansion has come out. I still see them. We hang out all the time. I am spoiled by my friends in 200 different ways, and I love them to death. They put up with my stupid bullshit more than they should. But, still. I can see things, invisible topics, sitting on their coffee tables, begging to be talked about. I don’t know how to bring up those topics. Instead, we watch tv.
I try to remind myself that there is no such thing as truly wasting time, that there is no such thing as truly meaningless conversation. Still, I want to grab the remote, turn off the tv and say, “I don’t care what we talk about…just please…something…I’m dying.” It reminds me of a relationship I had once where I found myself lying in bed one night, unable to sleep, crying for what I thought was no reason.
The reason, it turns out, was that I had been spending every waking second with him, and he wouldn’t talk to me. He was with me all the time, and I still felt so alone. I never saw my friends. When I did finally see them, I would just sit limply in a chair, looking drained and staring at the floor. I didn’t know why. They thought I was being verbally abused and I thought I was just really tired. I couldn’t tell them what was wrong because I didn’t know. If you don’t know what’s missing, you have very little chance of finding it.
I used to be very good at keeping my own counsel (as Sandman Morpheus would say). I used to run around, feeling my feelings, and keeping my fucking mouth shut. I never told anybody anything because I was afraid that I’d get judged for it. Or that the friendship would go south and they’d use my words against me. Or maybe the topics just never came up. Or maybe I was afraid of trying to talk and then being rejected. Or maybe I spent such a long time having feelings being a terrible tangle that I couldn’t even figure out one specific feeling to discuss. A tangle of wires. You give it five minutes, then just say “fuck it” and go buy a new cord.
Whoever my creator is made me a tangle of wires but he/she/it also made me creative. It kept me alive. In the same way that blind people learn to hear really well, my tangle of wires learned to peace out on reality. I didn’t have the words to talk about what was wrong, not even when I had to break down and call in the professionals. They sat there trying to help and I just spoke in metaphor and waved my hands around.
I didn’t know how to talk.
I held off the problems by playing.
That is to say, I played in secret. Whenever I had the house to myself, I was playing. When my parents left town for the weekend, I never threw a party. Never raided the liquor cabinet. I sat at my piano until I was finished. If the sun was down, I put the dimmer on low and played ballads in half-dark. I played with reckless abandon and horrible singing, safe in the knowledge that no one was coming home and I needn’t listen for the mechanical grind of the garage door. I would have died if they’d come home and caught me. There were a couple times I didn’t hear them unlocking the door, and there they were standing in the doorway of the dining room. It was only slightly less horrible than if they’d caught me masturbating.
It was that kind of playing where you can actually feel your brain shift into neutral.
I played because I didn’t know how to say, “I am pissed off…I am confused…and I hate you for bringing me to this town.” “I am frustrated.” “I miss my friends.” “I think about dying every day.” “I am scared.” “I feel alone.” That’s a lot of stuff to have to have swirling around in you while you’re just trying to take the SATs, avoid that guy who throws fries at you at lunch and write a paper about Crime and Punishment without actually READING Crime and Punishment. I didn’t have time to deal with “issues.” I was just trying to get through Calculus.
I eventually found my words.
Now, I can’t live without them.
On the need scale, it’s right there between air conditioning and music. I lose my shit in 4 days without air conditioning. Without music, roughly 9 days. Without someone’s hands in my brain (or vice versa), I start to wither and die in about 7 days. I start to feel horrible, lonely and frustrated and have no idea why. I start looking at my friends, just wanting to grab them by the ears, pull their forehead to mine and say “I need you to talk to me.”
Then again, it’s not always particularly socially acceptable to go around grabbing people (even friends) by the ears. You just have to wait out the busy times, the holiday seasons and the WoW expansions. Sit at your computer. Type all of the things you would have said.
I love you all dearly and I miss you.
Even if you are next to me on the couch.