Or you can start speaking up

I am not the sum total of my trauma. Most days I can walk around divorced of its implications that once kept me from living a full life. But today I just need to talk. And I am sorry for bringing it up again, but the only way out is through.

I’m watching Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers on Amazon Prime. It’s about young American girls with fortunes who were married off to British nobility who had nothing but titles to their credit. American fortunes mixed with British snobbery was all the vogue in the second half of the 19th Century. Churchill was a product of one of these marriages of convenience.

The women in the story are subject to the whims of men and older women conditioned by the patriarchy to enforce it for the benefit of men. I watch it and feel it very intimately. I was forced to marry, you see.

I’ve probably written about it before. The lack of choice in my life growing up. My minor rebellions to upset the balance of downward flow of order. When I was 22 I moved in with D to the house he bought for me to get me to come back to him after I’d left. I didn’t get a say in the house, and I didn’t really get a say in the relationship. Not because I legally couldn’t say no, but because I was compliant to a fault and no one ever taught me to stand up for myself. If anything, I was told my opinion about my life was of little consequence.

So I moved in. My parents (well, my mother mostly) came to the house, demanded to talk to me. D let them in. My mother called me every variation on the terms she’d been using for years to shame me and then told me I could not live with D, with whom I’d been for five years. I would lead my sisters to ruin and I could never hold my head up in society or even visit my grandparents. If we wanted to live together, we’d have to get married.

Sounds like Wharton, doesn’t it? At 22, as an American, I should have been old enough to make my own decisions, while still being too young to even consider marriage. But as a Mexican, I was too young to be making my own decisions and too old to not already be considering marriage. No matter what path I’d have taken, it would have been wrong.

The worst part is that no one even thought to stand up for me. D saw the whole thing go on. I had locked myself in the bedroom while my mother pounded on the door to let her in. Just a glimpse into her dark madness, borne of being the daughter of a woman as equally mad and back until the dawn of Eden’s shame. D could have talked it through with me. Told me that he’d have my back if my parents disowned me (in spirit…no pot to piss in had they). He knew how savage they were. He knew my mother was evil. But instead, we just got married and had a wedding so awful I still cringe at the thought of it. I was shackled to decisions made for my benefit without any consideration of what I wanted, needed, aspired to, cared for, dreamed of, dreaded.

So it has now come to me to parent Vene. I’m trying to be there for her and be what she needs. Hannah Gadsby has talked about autistic compliance. Tethered by our innate trust of people, we can find ourselves in places we never expected to be doing things we never expected to do while on drugs we never expected to consume.

I’ve had some of these adventures of late. But only because now, I’ve added the word ‘no’ to my lexicon. For an autistic it’s a huge deal. I’m not here to please anyone who would ask me to do something against my internal nature. I’m not here to be anyone’s pawn or victim or enabler or sidekick. I’m here to listen and learn and grow and share and contribute. ‘No’ is what will save my soul. ‘No’ is what holds me accountable to myself. Now that I know the word and how to use it, I can only look to myself for blame if something goes wrong. The responsibility is liberating. I know, what a conundrum.

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up

Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly, I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
See you be brave

I just wanna see you (yeah)
I just wanna see you (oh o)
I just wanna see you

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: