Today I’ve just filed a restraining order against my mother – which was surprisingly (or unsurprisingly depending on your perspective) difficult. My name is Star and I am 23 years old. Sometimes I need to visually as well as verbally remind myself of this, because I wasn’t always who I am today and frankly I am not certain how I managed to live this long, or to come this far. I am a nonbinary transgender individual who is mentally ill. I know right? Another queerdo with mental illness, my friends and I are pretty sure trauma (and resultant mental illnesses) has informed a lot of our queer identities. There are probably a bunch of small sample studies that point to the same conclusion. WHICH just so you know (whoever you are) doesn’t make them any less valid, or real – it just is.
My feelings towards my mother are complicated as fuck. I used to think the only thing I felt for her was hatred, but parental abuse messes with your head in so many ways – I’d laugh here because it’s just so horrible – that your emotions get manipulated into this really confusing toxic ball that gives you a headache trying to figure out and leaves a heavy weight on your chest. Some of the ones I’ve been feeling today are a sort of sad regret that it’s come to this, guilt (maybe I am just blowing everything out of proportion, Maybe I’m just the ungrateful sour teenager that she always said I was), fear (overwhelming fear that this won’t keep her away from me, that she will see what I’ve said and deny it to the legal system and that they’ll believe her) so much fear it’s blinding me. Anxious worry that people will tell me I’m wrong to have done something so severe, “she’s just your mom. I’m sure deep down she cares – she just doesn’t know how to express it”, that everything I remember about my childhood – which is more and more every day now … is a lie.
I’m 5 or 6, linear timelines are hard to pin down, (note: it’s not until Summer of 2017 that I realize that’s related to autism and start that line of discovery) and something is changing. Mom and Dad seem to fight a lot and I don’t remember them doing that before, not where I could see, and Mom cries a lot. It’s scary. I don’t know what’s going on. I wait up in my bed for either of them to kiss me goodnight but I don’t know how long it’s been. I don’t think they’re going to come and I’m crying and getting up to investigate because this is bedtime tradition and it makes me feel good. I think they’re mostly resigned and annoyed when I call to them.
We moved around a lot but I guess we’re living in Beaumont now. I miss the old house in Calgary. It was blue, and my bedroom was pink with lighter pink hearts all over the walls. I have one friend, a boy the same age as me named Joel, he lives in the neighborhood. I don’t think I’m in school yet, we seem to play together every day. I race to his house after supper and we play until it gets dark. Joel is really nice, he might have blonde hair, I hope we stay friends forever.
I think it’s thanksgiving, Grandma and Grandpa are here and there’s a lot of food and there’s no snow on the ground. I race off to Joel’s house and knock on the door. Joel’s mom answers the door. She looks… I don’t know. Sad maybe, or vacant. I ask if Joel can come out and play. Her face does this thing, and are those cuts on her face? “Joel is dead.” She tells me and I don’t understand, I’d just seen him yesterday. He died in a car accident. I don’t think I really knows what that means, but I walk home and I think everybody is loudly coversing (it’s the holidays) when I come inside – someone is surprised I’m back so soon. I tell them my friend is dead (more of an echoing of a statement than an understanding probably). I don’t remember anyone comforting me, or mentioning Joel again after that. I still think about him obviously. A lot of the time it’s sadness that he never got to grow up. Sometimes it’s guilt, like I wish it’d been me. His mom seemed to like him a lot.
Time passes. Mom seems angry all the time. Mostly at dad, and I don’t like that because dad is nice and Mom’s being really mean and calling him names all the time. Useless idiot, Stupid Asshole, Ignorant Cocksucker, Jackass…I wish she’d stop. I think I tell her that. She doesn’t like that very much. She calls me a Daddy’s girl, and never seems to shake the idea that I’ve chosen a side. We spend a lot of time running errands at banks, where mom goes inside and we stay in the car. Probably because Douglas is so annoying – he doesn’t grow out of it.
Mom really likes her horses. She and Dad race them for money, and she really likes that about them. She spends a lot of time feeding them, watering them, bathing them, petting them, praising them. I’m bored and too small to be any real help. And anyways the horses scare me because they’re big and tend to kick their stalls and make loud noises. I feel like mom loves the horses more than me and when I complain about them she reminds me all too clearly that they pay for my existence and I better not say anything about it anymore.
Abuse is a funny concept. Funny, in that it’s not funny when people only look for signs of one kind and mom never left bruises on my skin. She has a really bad temper though, like she’s really volatile and little things seemed to set her off that when you’re a child perhaps you don’t pay much attention to. Messes, spills, accidentally knocked over items – she hated that. Doing so was sure to get you called something awful, are you retarded? Are you stupid? How could you do that? Haven’t you outgrown that? Maybe you really are special needs (most of those were directed at my youngest brother, he always seemed to be growing and wasn’t really able to pay attention to what his body would do. He spilled a lot.) Or leaving shoes in the middle of the carpeted entrance way. I remember her getting so angry and throwing a pair of shoes from the back door, across the living room to the front door, so hard that it shattered the glass pane beside the front door. I think we made that into a joke. Making light of her abusive actions was something we all did pretty often – it was a useful tactic for survival. She didn’t take serious criticisms well.
I remember we had this solid backed plastic brush with the poofy front bristles. That my mom loved to yank through my hair, which was long and I was bad at taking care of so brushing my hair hurt and I would cry pretty often and maybe that was why, or maybe Douglas was irritating her at the same time, or maybe both (or even Kellen) but she slammed that brush down onto the table so hard that the back cracked in several places. We continued to use and kept that brush in a drawer by the mirror in the kitchen for years.