theradishpress

Wednesday, January, 22, 14

Everything Not in Its Right Place

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradishpress @ 7:47 pm
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I went to visit my Aunt Loretta the other day. She mentioned several times that I was an outgoing little girl. I wanted to be the center of attention. Anyone who knows me now, and has known me most of my life would have a hard time believing that.

I remember, I told her, always wanting to wear a dress my mother had made me: it was white with small purple flowers. It had a small ruffle at the bottom. And all I wanted to do was summersaults and flips while this dress flew up over me. Aunt Loretta said I would laugh and lift my dress up too. Lots of little girls do things like this. It’s funny and innocent. The thing is, the child Aunt Loretta spoke of is so far from who I soon became. I do remember these things – as young as I was. I remember being social and loving attention. But it took me a long time to remember. My outgoing and attention seeking behaviors were squashed at a young age. When I think back to my childhood, so much centers around the year I once referred to as “the year I became cynical.”

The truth of it is, that things that ruined my innocence and changed my outlook and behavior, happened over more than a year. It was so much to handle and all happened so quickly in a short period of time, that I have compacted it into one year.

When I was seven years old I was molested. I was on a playground at night with my siblings and friends – this was behind a family friend’s house. I approached the merry-go-round – a larger one with seats and a wheel in the center you could use to spin yourself around. I had n ever been on one like it before and was very excited. I sat on the merry-go-round and began to spin it. Two men soon approached and offered to help me get it spinning. The men sat next to me, and I don’t remember all that was said to me. What I do remember is the feeling of panic and fear that soon hit me. perceiving the surrounding world to go black and feeling miles and miles away from the other children. A hand reached under my shirt and tried to move down from my stomach. I managed to say “no” and ran away. What I remember next is sitting in the large dining room of the family friend’s house being comforted by my mom while all the men ran out to try and find these two invaders.

At this point I will now admit that the order of some of the next events is muddled. I really don’t remember what happened first. What I do remember is that this first violation happened in the summer. When that summer ended I began my first year of public school. Fat round me in sometimes homemade and sometimes ill-fitting clothes and a scarf on my head and name that no one seemed to even try and pronounce correctly. I was miserable. I was made to feel miserable. I so badly wanted to wear my scarf but felt alienated. It didn’t help that the first invasion of Iraq was underway – 1991 Persian Gulf War as they say. I was called a lover of Saddam and a terrorist. The latter name is something I still get called today. Hooray racism. No matter how much I tried to prove my Whiteness, I was dismissed. That Irish counts for nothing when you’ve got Other blood in you. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t Iraqi – it was all the same to them. (Still is). And I got my first taste of a “Persian.” There was another half Iranian in my class, but he Anglicized his name and made sure to publicly distance himself from me. I was getting my scarf pulled regularly with no help from a teacher or guidance counselor. I was being ridiculed for my weight and the poor kid and sometimes foreign food I ate. It was a fucking terrible school year.

So there’s that. The next two things are what I confuse in terms of timing. That’s the thing about being molested – it has a tricky way of feeling like it’s happened every fucking day of your life. It invades even the happiest of memories. My aunt (not Loretta mentioned above) and her husband were visiting. It was a bright sunny day. I remember that so clearly for some reason. Like damned Rebecca Hall in The Town – how can sunny days feel so shitty? Oh you know, when assholes do bad things. At this point, I was eight. I was walking in the upper level of our house in front of the bathroom, between the three bedrooms. I don’t remember what room he emerged from, but my uncle told me I was sweet or beautiful or some bullshit line, pulled my pants down, and kissed me on the butt. I again said “no” and managed to get away before anything else could happen.

I told immediately. That’s something else I remember vividly. Where I was sitting – the lighting, my surroundings. The reaction was different this time. I was met with a declaration that I was too friendly. Somehow what happened was on me. My expectation that my uncle be thrown out and beaten was not met. Because I was blamed, for years I forgot that the two previous men had been persued. I was devastated. For years I not want to talk about either incident at all. I didn’t even want to think about them. I felt ashamed and at the same time convinced myself that what happened in both cases was so minor compared to violations other people experience that I was overreacting. I hid myself as best I could. Weight seemed to be a good way to evade sexual advances. As was a generally unapproachable attitude. That once extroverted, attention seeking girl diminished into a depressed, anxiety ridden person – fear of judgment, fear of touch, fear of trust, fear of intimacy…. To top it all off, when I was eight, my Amu Hossein died.

Amu Hossein was my dad’s best friend. He was like a real uncle to us. He was part of family vacations, visited us regularly, and just generally amazing. Turns out we were distant cousins too. I loved him dearly. We all did. When he was sick, he had deteriorated so much he did not want us kids to visit him. I remember the night we were told he had died. We were sitting around the table eating Walt Disney popsicles. I had a cherry flavored Mickey Mouse. Once the news was shared I did not finish that popsicle. It was in my hand, no longer a clear mouse. A sort of rounded mound of what once was. I don’t know that I have ever cried like that again. I felt completely at a loss. It has been over twenty years since he died and not a day passes that Amu Hossein isn’t somewhere in my mind.

I have never, since the first time they happened, told anyone the details of the molestations. There is still a great sense of shame. Sometimes even the word “molested” feels too strong to describe what happened to me. I have to remind myself that that is because I love in a society and world where women are taught that we do not matter, and children are taught to submit to authority. Women are questioned regarding all violations. We are expected to ease up and be happy someone pays us any mind. Any person who thinks like that has no business associating themselves with me.  I am tired of hiding. Hiding behind weight and shame and sadness and mistrust. I am tired of being forced to deal with the reality of what happened to me on my own – and thankfully, in the last few years I’ve found some strong advocates for my feelings, and I am so grateful.

I don’t know that I will ever again be like the child I once was. It’s been so long since she was around. Maybe it’s just a matter of telling her it’s okay to be herself – it’s okay to come out – it’s okay.

The uncle who molested me died when I was eleven. I remember being happy. I would never have to see him again. Of course, despite the years, what he did still violates me – emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and even physically. I have often fantasized about brutally beating him, publicly humiliating him – maybe castration? It brings me comfort. But what I really needed was to be rescued then, to know I was not at fault, to be comforted. The loss o trust that occurred has in many ways had longer lasting effects. I felt completely alone.

Even after all the therapy I’ve had and the ability to do things I once thought impossible, I know I can never escape the pain of what happened and its aftermath. Things resurface. I still manage to forget, until reminded, that at one point I was boisterous and outgoing and loved talking to people. I am glad to be reminded. I think I need to be.  Yes, it causes me to reflect on what changed, but as I continue to navigate my way through self discoveries, I want to know who I was and I want to remember how I got here. I want to no longer feel alone. And who knows.  maybe opening up like this will help even one person. I strongly believe in telling our stories. Keeping quiet is not an option.

untitled

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradishpress @ 6:42 pm
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basquiat spoke truth with simple strokes
dickinson sang songs with a silent voice
hands create what eyes can see
hands feel what hearts can breathe
pages and walls are canvas –
 

Saturday, January, 11, 14

Breaking and Entering

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradishpress @ 2:27 pm

I didn’t realize how terrified I would be, sleeping in a big house by myself. I was fine the first night – the second night I was suddenly so scared. Every sound I heard was alarming. I was convinced that each noise was the sound of someone getting into the house. I was no longer surrounded by the constant noises of Brooklyn (I guess I do miss some things from NY). Normally I can talk myself out of whatever is scaring me, because the things I am generally so scared of are monsters and spirits from movies. I can convince myself they are not there almost as easily as convincing myself they are. For the first time in my life, what’s scaring me is grounded in reality.

Back in October our apartment was broken into – while I was home. Actually, “broken” isn’t the right word because that would mean we had functioning locks on our windows. We didn’t. Still don’t on at least one. But you know, according to the landlord we just don’t know how to lock them. Also, despite the window having been closed, according to the landlord, we can’t just leave it open. Riiiight. So, the burglar/assailant/largely built person was able to just raise the window and enter. I heard a noise from my room, called out thinking my roommate had returned home. When there was no answer, I got up and called out again, to see a large person scrambling out the window. I was terrified. I ran back into my room, locked the door, and called 911. Of course, I had to leave my room, with the operator still on the phone, to let the cops in. Luckily, I did scare the person off. That would have been bad had I not.

Oh, and don’t worry, after some back and forth and victim blaming, our landlord had bars put on windows. Even one she insisted didn’t need it despite being about a foot up from the adjoining roof. Somehow that was not necessary to her? We got the bars.

Anyway, since this incident, I have not been alone. I have slept with more than a nightlight and had nightmares, but never been alone. Having my roommates – even just one – around has been a comfort. 

Then here comes early January – take Andrew to the airport for his trip and head back home to a people free house. Cats and a dog yes, but cats aren’t exactly comforting.. And the dog sleeps in her crate at night. None of the bedroom or bathroom doors lock, so I can’t give myself a false sense of security that way either. I lay in bed for four nights so terrified that someone would burst into the place and I had no dog or weapon to help protect me. Not that I would know how to use any number of weapons mind you. And I certainly wouldn’t want any of the animals hurt either. I was convinced someone might already be hiding in the house, waiting to get me. (I have a vivid imagination). My big sister talked me to sleep more than once. I woke in the middle of the night though, and couldn’t sleep again.

Finally on the fourth night I had a breakdown. I felt exhausted from being scared and restless sleep, not to mention little sleep. I could barely function outside of the house, and all the adventures I had planned were being cut short to half days or blurred experiences and groggy drives. The next morning I cried again. I had to reach out to my therapist and take sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can make me groggy too, but at least I would sleep. My therapist recommended EFT/tapping exercises that helped almost immediately. I’m still scared, and my second night with tapping and sleeping pills wasn’t as easy as the first. I was woken by a crying dog needing to go out and then kept awake by rowdy cats. Something (almost comedic) about my head hitting the pillow and my brain flooding with fearful thoughts. I couldn’t and can’t keep them out, but can tap them away. 

Here’s the thing, ultimately, that whole robber experience could have been a lot worsse. I am grateful i wasn’t because I don’t know how I would cope. I would be a complete wreck. As it is, I’m scared I can never live alone. I know from childhood experience with molestation that I am not equipped to handle violations on a grand scale. Who the hell is, right? What I mean is that I was molested twice as a child, both incidents were minor compared to things I know could have happened and other people have had happen. Thankfully, nothing further did happen because I’m a bit of a wreck from those incidents. It was the actual violations coupled with responses to them from people who should have protected me that made me so fearful and lonely. So my landlord responding the way she did – didn’t even ask if I was okay and then made the whole thing a headache – brought back a lot of that mistrust and pain. 

As a child, I retreated into myself and thought that if I hid from the world than no one would touch me, literally. So this robbery was another violation. Space I occupied was invaded. All I could do was retreat, call police, and wait. I was glad I did not see the person’s face. I wanted them to be gone – to have never been. So here I am, far from where this happened, terrified it will happen again. It’s amazing how being alone just makes it worse – and each violation happened while I was alone. And my biggest fear is to be physically violated again. The worst thing about how I am reacting is that, as in the past, I feel stupid for being scared. As if fault lies in my feelings, and not in the actions of the perpetrators.

What kind of society do we live in where victims feel responsible for things done to them? Seems to me like it’s a society that excuses invasions – be they of the body, mind, space, heart, or any other piece of existence. And I guess we do live in a society built on invasion, don’t we? That’s how “we” got this land anyway.

Monday, January, 6, 14

I Do Not Miss New York

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradishpress @ 6:53 pm
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I don’t miss New York. Took me about three days to realize that. I was looking around Denver and suddenly thought “it used to be that at this point I was missing home.” I don’t know that New York qualifies as home though. Yes, it’s where I have lived for the past 6 years and 5 months, but is it home? Truthfully, I don’t know that any one place qualifies as home. My two closest friends and my parents are in Virginia, the state I grew up in. But I don’t consider Virginia home. My partner is in North Carolina, and while I am considering it as an option to settle into at some point – possibly, maybe – I don’t call it home either. New York is full of friends and a sister. California is occupied by three siblings. Arizona has a cousin I consider a sibling. I guess all these places are some strange variation of home. People I love live in these places. I am on a trip that will take me to at least seven states, possibly four countries, and I am not certain where I will end up. I have belongings in New York, Virginia, and some soon to be in Maryland. Maybe I don’t need all those belongings. Why does any one person need that much stuff? But I digress. Maybe the point is that anywhere I go becomes home. 

My mother’s family came to the United States from Ireland, escaping the Potato Famine. As far as I know, after settling in New Jersey, they never really left. My mother seems to be one of the very “strange” to have left. Not only did she get out of New Jersey, she’s lived in a few states, traveled to almost all fifty states, and other countries, and she’s lived in Iran. My father came to the United States about fifty years ago from Iran. He’s also lived in a few states – having started in New York – traveled this country, and even more of the world than my mom. He’s been to five continents. That is impressive. Apparently the Iranian side of the family has some Bedouin blood from way back when – nomadic blood. Then of course there’s the fact that the Iranian/Aryan people migrated some thousands of years ago west (from present day Russia) to present day Germany and Iran.

Point is, movement is in my blood. That’s nothing special, I know. Doesn’t particularly set me apart from anyone really. What does though, is the feeling within me to move. I feel connected to all the past experiences and identities – as if they’ve been leading up to this point of travel. But I don’t want this to be my only big trip – it can’t. I want to go to Iran in a few years. I want to visit Vietnam and South Korea. I want to see Serbia and Peru. I want to go to Ghana and Australia. Everywhere. I want to go everywhere. 

I want to live in a world without borders and where travel is easy for everyone. 

And I don’t miss New York. I miss certain things – like the strange comfort in a never quiet street. That fact that everywhere is crowded. I miss that.

Image

Art outside the Denver Public Library

 

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