I am moving out. After 4 years living near Dampoort station, a place unique in the world, I’ll be moving to the other station, on the other side of town. The area isn’t half as awesome as where I’m coming from, but, you know, it doesn’t need to be.
One roommate is coming with (actually it would be more accurate to say, I’m going with her) and one is joining us so I’ll be living together with 2 women in an apartment by St. Pieters station and since you ask, yes, I do think that is going to end well.
So in the middle of getting my papers in order in anticipation of my son, I am also moving all my stuff. I just got down from a recon mission in the attic, nearly breaking my legs, trying to collect everything that I own after it has been moved 6 times by different people and buried under years of about 10 roommates worth of stuff.
I’m finding things I thought long gone, and not finding things I want to find. My old ‘Ghent University’ sweater seems to have gone up in smoke, but it would appear that those millions of empty CD boxes, I decided to keep after the CDs themselves got stolen.
Among this gigantic pile of shit that I may or may not care about, I just found my old photos. A little box from my very first cell phone (the Philips Savvy) stuffed with analog photographs that I forgot existed. Mostly pictures of me, because those are the ones people used to give. And what a sight it is.
I recently had a long, hard talk with my father about my childhood and the things I was put through. He apologized but pointed out to me that my mother and him were often just didn’t know what to do with me. I knew this already but it still hurt hearing it: I was a terrible son. It is hard to elaborate just how terrible, too. This bothers me more and more lately, even though it didn’t used to.
The fact that I will soon be the parent of a little me inflated these issues right up in my face. I am honestly deeply worried about it. There is the element that my son might turn out like me and I’ll be the one wondering how I can possibly cope without making people unhappy, but that’s not the biggest factor.
Mostly, I wonder how I am going to raise a son if I can’t find peace with the child that I once was.
I look at the photos and I am disgusted. I learned to hate that child and it started back then, with the many moments that I was taught to hate myself. Later, as I gradually changed, I had a tangible something to push off from, to be able to say “that was me then, but I am better now”. I concentrated all my contempt for myself into that child, and then left him behind. I always felt like I missed that peace with him, but never had to care much until now, now that he will be reborn into my own offspring. Now that I will physically meet him again.
I am considering going into therapy.
How’s that for a mindfuck? After I learned to hate myself because they tried to force me to change using therapists, I will learn to make peace, forcing myself to change using therapists.
Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.
I might just have to tough it out, find my way through. I have a talent for doing that- thinking something through until it starts making sense. The difference is that before, no one’s sanity but my own was at stake. Now, this new responsibility comes along and all of a sudden, it’s about much more than just me. This selfish was of thinking is another thing I’ll have to let go, and this time without the arrogance of saying that I grew out of it and bettered myself since that synthesized piece of disappointment that I once was.
I’ll have to find the human in the child that I was, who had the right to make mistakes and learned from them. I’ll have to accept that he is a part of me, and I am a part of him.
But riddle me this: How does one identify so intimately with the person that you suspect might have killed your mother?
Yes, that is still an issue. My mother died from stress and outside maybe her work, I don’t know, I was the most stressful factor in her life. Whether that is actually true or not -and there’s no way for me to tell- this is still what was said to me when it happened, and got branded into my mind. That one moment, in the car, when I was told “you make your mother sick with your behavior”, is the pivoting point around which this monstrous carousel turns, a vicious circle of self-loathing and disconnection from myself, the gap between my ego and that despicable child that I, so strongly, deny to know.
He was a failure, I am not.
He was a disappointment, I am not.
He was childish, I am not.
He was lazy, I am not.
He was a liability, I am not.
He was so unmanageable, that he managed to kill the one person who loved him through it all, the proof that he was loveable, human.
I am not him. I never was, I was born who I am today.
These are the rules that I’ll have to break if I want to move forward. I’ll have to accept that I too am a failure, childish, a liability. Sometimes. Because I’m only human. And he, that little boy, he could be strong, sometimes. He was dependable, and worthy of his parents’ pride. Sometimes.
I think I’ll need to have a talk with my father. We’re really good at that, talking, we do it all the time. Except not.
He is the only connection that I still have with my childhood, with my mother too weak a memory to grasp onto. He is the only one with the power to forgive me for the things I did, so that eventually, I might be able to forgive myself.
But god damn it, I can’t get the death of my mother out of my system. I can’t escape the blame, the guilt, even if I learned to live with it before, quite effectively. Even if it really wasn’t my fault, in my mind, in the mind of the child within me, it is. And I blame him, and banish him.
And now he returns, uglier, more grotesque as ever, and I have to forgive him so that I can embrace him, in the form of my own son. So that I can forgive him when he fails, when he disappoints, when he is being childish, lazy, a liability.
My life, the life of my child, and the child that is me, depend on it. There is much at stake.