Flourish in the Dark

I don’t know why this sentence floating into my head tonight. Probably because I wanted to fall asleep, and when I feel that need to sleep, my brain feels the need to keep me awake and poke at me to go write something.

Why can’t my brain be a normal brain that does normal things?

Anyway, I was thinking about this synopsis/intro/biography I had to write for a writing submission. I wanted to explain why my story was different from someone else’s. Not better…just different. Because who am I to say if my script is better than yours? I am probably actually literally the last person who would do that. I’m not saying I have no confidence, but it’s…camera shy.

I’m not better than anyone. In my hopes, I’m clinging to average but in reality, I’m probably kind of a lazy asshole. Underachieving should be written on my name tag, right under my name. Like at the theatre when people who work there have their favourite movie underneath their name. Mine would just have that disclaimer: UNDERACHIEVER. But I mean, honesty, right?

Anyway, I was trying to explain why a person should take the time to read my submission. What makes me stand out? It came to me that something someone told me once, might have some real truth to it. It’s hard for me to take a compliment and wear it like a badge of honour. I feel weird, like I’m bragging? And I don’t brag. I don’t think I’m hot shit, okay? I think that much is obvious. But as far as standing out goes…I think maybe I do.

I grew up under a storm cloud. Not the cute kind like that kid from Charlie Brown. A real, dark, all-encompassing storm cloud. My mentally-ill mother had the ability to bring everyone down with her into her cruel abyss. She used to joke about that phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” But she completely lived that. It was her motto. Her slogan. She should have it tattooed on her somewhere. (Except she’s cut everyone out of her life so she actually has no kids anymore, so is she still a mama? She was never a “mama.”)

Mix up mostly narcissistic personality disorder with some borderline personality and a weird, rare dollop of less-cold (not warm–just not cold) and you’d have my mother. She is a psychiatrist’s dream, I’m sure. If she’d ever be honest enough to tell the truth. She has a way of being really nice to outsiders. Anyone who wasn’t related was considered worthy of getting Nice Molly (name changed). Nice Molly laughed and smiled and years later when my friends found out what my life was really like, some of them were floored. What’s the psychological term for someone who smiles at your friends and then tells you she hates you as soon as their back is turned?

She created a tense, negative, black atmosphere in which I and my siblings grew up. There was no warmth, no sunlight, to bask in and grow in. There was no nurturing. Instead, I was raised in the darkness. I developed a dark, dry sense of humour early on. Maybe I realized very early that I needed something to laugh at, so I laughed when I could. Is that how dry, dark senses of humour are born?

I took this dry humour and I lived off of it. I could be starving myself, bleeding, crying, eyeing a bottle of painkillers, and I’d smirk at the fact that whoever found me in my room would think what a pervert I was for the amount of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet posters on my walls. (Titanic ran my life for many years.)

In all of that darkness, never knowing when my mother might explode and unleash her wrath on me, I found a way to survive. I found a way to breathe underwater; to flourish in the dark.

No, I would never be sunshine personified. I would never be Mary Poppins-esque and strut around with a smile on my face. (Who THE FUCK smiles all the time? And what for?) But somewhere in the deep depression I found a flicker. I developed an appreciation for satire and humour. I focused on words and paper and my own hand, reaching the gloomy depths of my mind and letting it flow onto paper. Journals upon journals…. Almost all of these I burnt, after finding out that my mother was reading my diaries. My sister stopped keeping a diary altogether. I just burnt mine, or hid them better. Sure I’d keep that hideous pink thing with the lock on it, under my mattress like a good little stereotype. But my real shit was written in a spiral notebook, identical to the ones holding my poor math skills and other homework. I learned that fast.

At least it took her until I was 23 for her to find that out. I had many years of writing in privacy. I think…

But writing and reading and humour are what helped me flourish. Some days I really can’t believe that I’m still alive. If I had to redo any of those years living under the same roof as my mother, I would die. I could not do that again. I haven’t even spoken to her in seven years, and I still have sweaty, panicky dreams where I’m forced to live with her. That shit is worse than any nightmare I’ve ever had.

Her long fingers of fear and depression and utter bleakness are far reaching and powerful. Still. Years later.

I have a hard time believing in “God,” but I am thankful, to whoever, that I had those things: eyes to read, a hand to write, and a dark and twisty sense of humour to feed.

I may not fit into the mold; I’m no sunflower. But I managed to flourish anyways, in hostile darkness.



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