He was cocky and gallant in a self-assured way, but not by the same physical presence of a jock, more so he seemed thoughtful to the point of imperious, thereby, intentionally above you. I took the bait like a girl with hysteria acquiring oil from a charismatic huckster with a twisted mustache. We bantered, I sassed with intrigued schoolgirl immaturity. I made a glossy mental impression of him through gazers eyes and a “what can you do for me lately,” and the cry of youth, “the world owes me” attitude. My war of destruction with him, or really, myself, my nemesis, didn’t actually begin that afternoon, however, the rendezvous was indeed a prelude for what was to come-years of hell and hard lessons.
I walked away from him temporarily, I stepped off the corner of the Greek revival inspired porch, as I swung around a swelling white column with one hand. I took my fearless teenage attitude back to my friend’s car and spent the next two years of my life in mirror image of my mother- a pattern of drugs, religion, and drugs. (I’ve decided to refrain from divulging too many details about this part of my life. They’re too provocative and significant, and possibly damaging at this point in time. However, I’m still committed to exposing myself entirely, if not recklessly at the appropriate juncture.)
By the time I’d reached my junior year of high school, I’d seen and done more than most in a lifetime. I managed to rein it in enough to diabolically, and ironically, seduce and befriend a “good Christian boy.” I met him at a Southern Baptist summer camp I’d attended a few years in a row. He and his friends were the source that first told me about Don’t Answer at a party one night. (I think Don’t Answer’s name came up in regards to having a “cool car.”) In any event, Christian boy and I began an eighteen-month relationship during the time in which I practiced curtailing my buck behavior.
I tried my best to hug tight the straight and narrow stereotype, but my rigid posing eventually gave way to the scratching nails of the demons inside me. The good boy left for college and I had more idle time for the devils work. We both new the end was inevitable but we held on as long as we could; I needed someone to hold me accountable, and he, I assume, wanted the comforts of home as he started his freshman year.
A month or so before our breakup, by chance, (or not) just when I was starting to unravel from a secure and settled place, like a harnessed mustang set free, was reunited with Don’t Answer. It was Thanksgiving night, my senior year in high school; he was home on a break from his sophomore year in college, and his antithesis, my then Christian boyfriend was also home from college for the weekend. C.B. heard from a mutual friend that D.A. was having a get together; I was intent on going and in search of an escape.
We finished our traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and three with my “better than fiction family,” and I, in my black tights, mini, and ostentatious, rainbow jeweled sweater, long red nails and sprayed nineties hair-looking like a mock Tammy Faye, ushered us and our relationship out the door, and set my dark glint on a new adventure in self exploration.
My childhood and adolescence were prime breeding grounds for being impressed upon the master manipulator inside, and all the reasons to be that way were effectively seared in my brain like second skin. (I’m referring to just how sick and (Insert explicit here) up my mother’s side of the family was, the type of dysfunction that created auxiliary disorders birthed out of historically proportioned mental chaos, and mental illness.) The warped ways of thinking and altered sense of reality didn’t just start with my mother. Behind every addict is an enabler-the most extreme form of control, and the cycle is as vicious as a barbwire collar affixed chokingly to a chained pit-bulls neck.
The world I knew wasn’t safe; nothing ever seemed real except the turbulence. I learned how to get my needs met based on necessity because my mother couldn’t give me the loving guidance I was looking for. I watched her manipulate people and found that it came easy to me as well; it also allowed me to remain detached from any emotional ties other than the fears of my own demise.
I listened to my grandmother testify to the importance of the almighty dollar, and how having more money would turn life into a great big bowl of bright red, bing-cherries. “If only your mother could have a house of her own, if only your mother could find a good job, rich man, better car, blonder hair, etc, then everything would be OK”-spit. “Shannon, it’s just as easy to marry rich as it is poor.” She constantly circled my mother like a honey- bee to hive fixing her clothes, touching up her make-up, telling her to change this or that about her appearance. She watched my mother like a falcon, out of the corners of her blackish, brown eyes, eyeballing the mishaps, making harsh and timely corrections to her unsightly behaviors and manners. “If I had the money, I’d buy this material thing and that material good for your mother.” (What about rehab and therapy-just a thought?)
“Whatever you do, don’t have sex and end up poor and pregnant like your mother?” “I know your smoking THAT GRASS, and if you keep it up you’ll end up just like your ——!” “Do you want to end up like your mother? Do you?” But then sometimes she would have a moment of clarity and say, “Stay in school so you won’t have to depend on a man like your mother.” Everywhere I went everything was always, “Like your mother.” (What a message, it’s hard to get that out of my head.)
It doesn’t surprise me, nor should it you, that I did indeed somewhat end up like her, at least for a while. I blindly fulfilled those prophecies completely unaware of myself, all I saw was green and the stakes were high. I wanted so desperately to get away from my life and where I came from, even if it meant allowing myself to be mistreated in order to change the landscape. And that’s just what I did for the seven years I dated D.A. I hurt myself more than anyone or anything ever could when I condoned and made excuses for the mistreatment. To be continued.