This is me musing about abuse I dealt with when I was a kid, so if that would bother you please don’t read.
Yesterday, I was chatting to a friend on Facebook, and I kept randomly apologizing. This is nothing new; it’s a habit I have. I want to stop it, because it annoys others, and I hate annoying people or making them uncomfortable.
My friend, however, looked at it a different way. She told me to think about what had happened when I was young to make me feel that I had to apologize for everything I did. She said it wasn’t that me saying sorry made her uncomfortable. It was that she was thinking about how I must feel to have to apologize for everything, over and over again. I agreed that it felt pretty awful. I feel like I have to make up for whatever I did, even if I have no idea what that is, or I might end up being hated.
When she suggested I think about what had happened when I was younger, I had a pretty pat answer. I was physically and emotionally abused, mostly by parents who were themselves struggling. When I actually thought about it, though, I couldn’t really remember my childhood thoughts about that. I couldn’t really remember my thoughts and feelings about anything, besides wanting others not to hate me. When I tried to think back to a time when I wasn’t extremely nervous about how people saw me, I had nothing. I was always like that. I had to be perfect, but I also remembered being very uptight about others’ behavior. I judged my peers very harshly. I couldn’t have really been insecure if I thought I had the right to judge other people, right? I also had a very hard time dealing with the word “no.” That meant I was spoiled, right?
As I continued to think about it, my anxiety rose until I was one step away from a panic attack, and I had no idea why. I started remembering things from my childhood not as a bystander or storyteller recounting events, but as myself, in my body, with my thoughts. They were mostly extremely mundane events, though. Not wanting to dance because I looked stupid. Feeling lonely and wanting someone to come talk to me. Sitting places where I thought people could see I was lonely and come talk to me, but not actually approaching anyone. Being told by a sixth grade classmate (a good friend) that I was annoying. Wanting to be friends with someone but being mean to them because I thought they could tell I wasn’t good enough for them. Refusing to sit with peers I wanted to be friends with, who invited me over, because I didn’t want them to know how lame I really was. Peeing my pants in school repeatedly, up to like 5th grade, because (besides having a small bladder) I didn’t want to interrupt the teacher to ask to go to the bathroom. Feeling like I couldn’t say no to anyone, about anything. Working up the courage to ask an adult if I could have a small piece of candy I saw in their house, then feeling devastated when they said no, and being confused at my own reaction.
I finished this drawing in a completely different direction, but when I look at it again I think I want to go back to this point and leave the face in the upper right corner alone. I didn’t notice how cool the eyes on that face looked- they were a lucky accident- but now that I have I’d like to finish the drawing again with them in tact. Maybe I can do a bunch of different drawings using this as the base. I have become addicted to downloading and making brushed for GIMP, and using those brushes was really the only point of this drawing at first. I don’t always trust my ability to draw without a reference. I think a background and clothes are needed, to push myself a bit. I’m very focused on faces.
Whenever I draw without a reference, I end up with something creepy and confusing. My best friend always looks at stuff and says “Yep, that’s classic Meighan.” It’s funny because I’m a giggler, I have a very high pitched voice, and people around my age censor themselves around me because the think I’m delicate. But I’m off reading horror novels or drawing possibly abusive situations most of the time. It’s cathartic I guess, plus Stephen King novels are the shit (or at least they were, but at least he wrote 1700 of them before his stories tanked.) Anyway, I was having a pretty difficult mental health day, and drawing helped. So that’s good.