I’m getting to be in the “heavily tattooed” category, so when I was teaching, kids would always ask me, “Do tattoos hurt?”
“Of course they hurt! It’s needles jabbing you until you don’t feel it any more. But they also feel kind good–wait, you don’t understand that yet–you’re only fourteen….or…no, you probably do.” I knew about some kids who were already starting to cut on themselves (they’d tell me)–those were never the kids who asked since I’m pretty sure they made the connection. I’d be candid with kids in our one-on-ones. They knew I had depression. I knew which of them did too. We were all practically adults here; sad, confused, adult-children.
While teaching sucked ass, at least the money was nice (says a person who has minimal bills). I used the extra cash for tattoos. It had been I could only get work done when I got money for my birthday or Xmas. I had never had extra funds for bullshit before and it was alright. Plus, I hated that school so much and cried more often than not while home that the three hour plus sessions on a holiday Monday felt nice.
Yes, I know it’s gross, but I think tattoos feel good. I used to be best friends with a cutter–I read all the books on her–I get it. I tried to cut once. Threw a picture frame across the room and put a shard of glass to my arm, but I couldn’t do it. It hurt, so I stopped. Like immediately. But if someone else is in control of things–I get it. The sensation is “big adrenaline,” a fearless, indestructible surge. I wonder if that’s how it feels to cutters. They say it’s to let the feelings out or to feel anything at all, but I wonder if it’s the same; a numb rush, almost a non-feeling. I love to be able to get a tattoo when I feel really depressed, but it almost never works out that way. It seems now that I’ve been getting them more often, with less time in between, the pain is starting to mean less. I don’t want to ruin what I have, my socially acceptable self-harm coping mechanism that comes with pretty pictures.
In my family, it’s difficult buying greeting cards for the men. You aren’t a father who taught me things, nor were you there for me. To say you’re the best dad in the world is lying and we both know it. Our cards always end up on the vulgar side, mostly about farts. There aren’t cards for people like us, so many of us without fathers. So I get one ingenuous card that contains no “feeling words” that takes me too long to find, just like my mom and her two dads. Only difference–one of mine doesn’t even get the obligatory sentiment. Live with your decisions, old man.
I raised children; I have three younger siblings. The firstborns know this story. My mother had me at twenty years old and I’m six years older than my brother. Of course I took care of my siblings. You have to. You’re supposed to. What kind of child are you if you don’t? When I was in high school, I told my mother that I had no interest in having children. “You’ll change your mind/No, I won’t/We’ll see” went the fight we’d have until last year. When I became sexually active, the story was, “You’re going to end up just like me” and no teenage girl wants to hear that shit. So when I did at nineteen, still living under my parents’ roof, I did what I had to do. I was only three weeks pregnant. That abortion was the best decision I ever made and I’ve been on birth control since. No regrets. My mother thinks she knows things, but I will never confirm, not even on her death bed.
Not long after the procedure, my mother was snooping through my room while I was out and dropped something in my trashcan and accidentally read a receipt for birth control. Not knowing I had been bleeding for a month straight after terminating a pregnancy, she apparently wasn’t going through all the trashcans in the house. She confronted me which lead to a fight. I had outright asked her for birth control three years earlier, but she said that would give me an excuse to be a whore. Cool…
My very best girlfriend in high school was adopted. In my twenties, my core group of friends contained four adopted kids–all dudes. I became surrounded by it. “Why don’t people adopt kids more?” Because people want a baby who’s a part of themselves. “Why? Seems pretty selfish.” You don’t know what you’re getting. “You don’t know what kinds of crazy shit your biological kid’s going to have.” Then I figured it out, it’s just easier having your own. There’s no paperwork, no money has to exchange hands, no home visits and surveillance. Anyone can have a kid, but only with the least possible effort. Also, you should only have a kid if you are definitely not financially capable of affording one. I think it’s in the rules somewhere.
My friends started telling me they were having babies. The time had passed for “oh no” to be the response and I learned “gross” was also out. “You’re supposed to say congratulations.” “Congratulations, you performed the simplest of biological processes resulting from fuckin”. You did it.” People were having kids who shouldn’t even own a dog. I was appalled and genuinely afraid for some of these children. If I were to have one, what kinds of mental bullshit would I give my kid? Legit mental illness aside, the crazy shit my parents put me through, the meaningless things you remember forever, the unintentionally emotional and psychological abuse.
My childhood was not as traumatizing as it could have been, but still pretty shitty in a way that gave me intense anxiety in all facets of my life. “We did the best we could” I don’t feel makes up for some things, but you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. I’ve learned not to drink so I don’t give in to the rampant alcoholism in my family. I’ve learned the best is sometimes not good enough and everything is still scary and terrible, so why would I want to bring a child into the world? Just because I’m built to doesn’t mean I have to.
There are too many children in the world as it is who need families to love them. “Then why don’t YOU adopt one?” Ok, I will if I want to. No one’s making you have a baby just like no one’s making me adopt one. The most unexpected fight I ever had was with a close male friend when him and his wife started trying to have a baby. Number one, who tries to have a baby? As far as I know, they happen and you come to terms with it. I told him my thoughts, which I assumed we shared, and by the end of it all, he was telling me how I was going to die alone. Neat. “Hey, shit for brains, we all die alone and your kids are going to put you in a Geraldo level nursing home.”
I found a husband who feels the same way. I knew I would. He has no desire to have children, doesn’t care about his family name, but is giving me shit about getting a vasectomy (I’ll just do it myself, like everything else). Of course, his mother had trouble conceiving her two little miracles and thought of me as a walking womb who’d deliver her grandchildren on command. Her and I haven’t spoken since she told me I must “have no maternal instincts.” Um, fuck you lady, I’m nurturing as shit.
I love children. I really do. And they love me. So do animals and mentally handicapped people. I’m just one of those types who exude patience and trustworthiness or whatever. My teen career dream was to be a child psychologist and after my stint teaching 8th grade last year, feel like I may continue in my studies. Those kids came to me on a daily basis with their problems. Kids who’ve never trusted anyone trusted me after a few months. I have a bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Education. I’ve volunteered at summer camps, worked in children’s behavioral hospitals, and had various positions within the public school system. I’m fun. I have pretty tattoos. I don’t talk to kids like they’re peons. I know I’d be a great mom. I love kids, I just don’t want to have any of my own.
I don’t really use Facebook anymore. Yeah, I’m old and everyone has gone away. But I see a friend suggestion tonight, while I’m on for 3 minutes, and now my brain is all fucky about it.
This means he unblocked me. What made him do that, I wonder?
Still, fuck him.
It’s not like this magically means we’ll be best friends again, I know, I’m jumping the gun. He knew unblocking me would have his existence alerted and make me travel down the road I’m currently on. Or not?
You just don’t have the relationship we had and then, in the end, side with someone you barely know as well so I can finally fit the role you twisted me into. Sorry I never loved you. Sorry I got mad when you left your best friend for the first girl who’d sleep with you. Sorry I never liked her and she took you away from me.
What the fuck do you want from me?
Nothing. He probably wants nothing.
The Devil’s Chair in Cassadaga, FL
After one year of teaching 8th grade, I’ve figured out that I NEED to keep on my original track of child psychology. These kids talk to me, everyday, about some really big and scary stuff. Kids who’ve not talked to me all year in class open up about some really heart-wrenching shit in private and want me to help them.
They don’t want to go to Guidance. They want to come to me.
Was this a correct step in the meandering pathway to my original career plan?
My (sometimes begrudging) life lesson: If children, animals, and the mentally handicapped are immediately drawn to you, don’t ignore the gift.
the inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like
“This mizzle fits me like a sad jacket.”