Saturday, January 25, 2014

the question~

I've worked with and lived around a lot of really broken people. Myself included. But one of the oddest, most awkward questions I get and still do is How did you turn out so normal? 
No, really. I'm not joking. I get that question all the time---in "real" life and in emails and comments on this blog. In fact, I'm writing this blog post because I just got another email from an anonymous, curious follower of this silly little blog asking me, You've had basically a whole lot of fucked-up people around you and somehow still came out normal. How?
Dear reader, you bother me. (I'm laughing) For obvious reasons. The high schooler in me wants to say, "hey! what's normal anyway?!" but I do understand the question. Despite what we all like to say, there is a margin of normal that keeps us healthy and connected to other people. And, if we choose or are made to step out of those norms a little bit, we're ok. If we choose or are made to step out of those norms in an extreme way, we feel extremely isolated, depressed, disconnected, misunderstood, and disliked. This is what ultimately leads us to self-harm. Because self-harm is not based on a desire to self-harm. It's based on needs that are not being met and so we attempt to feel connected---to ourselves, to others, to The Great Big Something. Funny how that desire is so primal and so healthy but gets so skewed by our pain.
I wish I had the supermagical answer, but I don't.

The only thing I can say is my typical story-within-a-story:
I had terrible boundaries growing up but there was a crack in all the drama and trauma and displacement and it let the light in. It was also the crack in The Story I was being told---the lies, the myths-made-realities. Inside that crack I peered and pulled and could see very little, but if I focused my eyes hard enough I could see there was a whole world out there. And I was just inside this teenytiny one that had been made for me. And I believed in it. So I hid that little part of me that believed in me but strangely, constantly looked at my hands as a child all the way into my late teens finding myself saying, I want so much more than this. Eventually, we're all handed a chisel. We can cut out a life for ourselves or we can cut into ourselves. I took it to that crack. I scraped and scratched and stabbed and gouged, realizing it was inside a boulder. A big rock was slamming me up against a wall and there I was, crouched around it, holding on for dear life. So what do you do? You carve a life out of that rock. You make windows you can see out of and doors you can walk out of. Then one day, you'll look back at that big boulder and there you are, bruised and beaten but whole-- and you finally see that it was never going to move for you. Never. Do you understand? The boulder is never going to move. 

So that's all I have to offer you for advice. When your boulder slams you up against the wall (and come hell or high water, one eventually will) you find the crack. It's there, keep looking.
Then carve the life out of it that you know is on the other side. That tiny chisel is bigger than the boulder.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

money can't buy my love~

He never did come.
After a lot of confusion and misleading conversations, I realized he never wanted to come. Not here at least.
Everything has to be on his terms. Most would jump at the terms:
I'll fly you and your family here. You can stay in the same hotel. I'll take you all over the place. 
Translation:
I'm uncomfortable and need some semblance of control. If you let me pay for everything and determine our entire schedule, I can more easily steer the conversational topics. I can tell you I have plans I have to attend to. You won't have any plans because you'll be on my clock.

You might think I'm overreacting. Sounds like a nice offer, right?
I hardly know this man. He abandoned me as a baby. I have never met him. Simply put, I don't believe it's too much to ask that he meet me in a place that does not involve a logistical nightmare to bring my entire family with 3 days notice. He is one man. Who also has a personal assistant and a driver. I am technically an undetachable 2 member party. And I can't meet my birthfather for the first time alone with my toddler. I need some help. So that makes me a 3 member party.
We live very, very different lives, needless to say.

From the get-go of finding him, he has thrown money at me. Lavish gifts, the offering of cash I have continued to refuse, asking me to visit him in cities any person would like to visit. But I cannot accept any of it. Somehow getting to any city I live in is impossible for him, though. I hardly know this man. He abandoned me as a baby. I have never met him. I'm not asking too much. Or am I? He's still running from me, 33 years later.

My life is comfortable. We're not rich, but have never wanted to be. Frankly, I don't really like rich people and if ever I was a wealthy woman, you can be sure I'd be putting my money where my mouth has been all these years. And it wouldn't be on mansions or fancy cars or vacations in the Maldives.
You can hold me to that, trust me.

He told me that he still sensed sensitivity about...our situation... and that the time had come to let it go.
Wait, what?
I hardly know this man. He abandoned me as a baby. I have never met him. I'm not asking too much.

But you can be fucking sure if I asked him for money, he'd hand it over to his bastard in a heartbeat.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

terms of endearment~

Sometimes when my birthdad, M, and I speak, the thing I am floored by the most is the similar way in which we tell stories---long winded, a bit too drawn out, somewhat convoluted. Ok, I know this might be most people who try to tell a story, but the thing about us is we've always got a punch coming for you right at the end. It makes it worth the wait. To be sure, the people who know and love us patiently stand by, having learned to hold their breath (sometimes for astonishing lengths of time) while others give up and just ask What Happened. Don't you know the art of the tale? Just when you start boring people is when you rope them into the end.

He called me from D.C; he was visiting, doing his think tank work; which, by the way, always causes me to crack uncomfortable jokes like, I hope you enjoyed your lunch with Chuck Hagel because I would've just started arguing with him if I was there. Aren't you glad I didn't come now?
Ah, the visit. We've been trying to meet since, well, I found him. Strangely enough, for such a suave and well-traveled man, he has yet to find his way to any city I live in. His terms or mine, we are both clearly stubborn and inflexible at times. I think I have a good reason, I'm not always so sure about his.

He begins to tell me about his mother. Her name means "star" in Arabic. She was stunning, he says. Stunning. The Star. The Star divorced his father when she was pregnant with M. Quite scandalous for a Saudi woman. Left the man and broke his heart, apparently. Not too broken though, because he went on to have multiple wives, but hey. Some people like variety. (Ok, I'll stop with the snarky jokes). His father was quite detached and he was raised by his grandmother who beat the shit out of me and everyone around her (his words, not mine.)
M met his mother when he was 5. Then again when he was 16. They became very close after that. His parents never reconciled and died within a year of each other. This is when he tells me, So you see, Reem, we are much more alike than you realize. Aren't we all much more alike than we realize?

He has an uncanny understanding of my birthmom, MW. It's as if he plucks the very thoughts from my head as I sit there awkwardly trying to avoid talking about her (or him to her, for that matter.) But then it hit me like an embarrassingly slow-moving mack truck that of course he would understand her. They always speak of the same guilt. As much as they don't like each other---nay, what they remember of each other---they speak the language older than words. They made a person together.

He says he's begun the application process for getting his eldest son a visa to study in the U.S. He hasn't told his three other children about me yet. Before you, dear reader, begin to have a conniption fit, I must share that my feelings also pendulum. It's either incredibly wise or terribly foolish. I guess I'll have to wait and find out. Young minds can get overly defensive and scared when things like Dad had a baby with another woman 33 years ago come out. And hell, I'm scared, too. They're all so young, barely into and out of their teens. They barely know what 33 years really means yet. Do you remember the first moment you realized you could recall things from your childhood at the same time another person was just being born? People need to be out of this phase to develop that thing called Perspective. All in due time, though. All in due time.
He goes on and on. They're all going to love you! (Really?) They'll love having an older sibling they can look up to! (I'm seriously nothing like these people) Especially your sister! (Oh my god, I always forget I have a little sister now!)

Then he sheepishly shares of how he was walking out of Georgetown and a palm reader hassled him into reading his palm. He was appalled at himself for finally giving in but did (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.) She told him he came from far away to do a business venture because his family business was full of strife (true) and that he was also on a journey to try and reconnect with someone.
You have 4 children and there is one you haven't met yet.  You've waited far too long to meet her.