The sea was angry that day, my friends

Today was slow.  I had bad nightmares last night, and still remembered them when I awoke.  I hate when that happens.  The dreams involved family members who have passed away.  Only they were still alive in my nightmares and were rejecting me as a sibling/daughter.  I analyzed it, and have decided it means I feel betrayed by my family members who have died.  It’s proof that I’m still experiencing grief in my subconscious.  The only death that I experienced externally was that of my brother Steve.  When my Mom, sister, and Dad died, I didn’t react in a way I can identify.  Certainly not in the way I responded to losing Steve.  I fell apart completely when he died.  My entire life came to an abrupt halt, and I cried or was on the verge of tears for a whole year.

I remember wanting to hunt down the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic and kick his ass for letting my brother die.  When my Mom died, I felt numb for a long time.  When Heather died, I felt angry.  When my Dad died, I felt alone.  But I didn’t express those feelings.  They all died over a period of five years.  I still have other siblings, but my relationship with most of them is good but distant.  Most of them were grown up by the time I came along.  I was very close to Steve and Heather when growing up, and after becoming adults.  When I left for basic training, Heather was the only one still living at home.  She moved out on the day she graduated.  She was fed up with racism and didn’t want to spend another day putting up with it.  Her experience was different than mine in that regard, even though we were only a year apart.

Most of the racism we experienced was subtle.  This meant it went right over my head for the most part.  When we were the only ones not invited to a birthday party, or when we exchanged gifts at school, and Heather got a wrapped, empty box, it didn’t occur to me that it was because we were black.  In high school, a few black families moved to town, and Heather dumped all her white friends and hung out with the new black kids exclusively.  I remember feeling like she was mean and racist to do such a thing, but she vehemently disagreed.  She entered her first abusive relationship while in high school.  Her boyfriend was the first and last person I ever fought with the intention of killing.  He punched her, and she had hearing loss and TMJ as a result.  I saw red when she told me.  It was the angriest I had ever been in my life.  I took a baseball bat and went to his house.  I walked right in without knocking and proceeded to beat him with it.  I told him if he ever hit my sister again, I would kill him, and meant it.  It scared me how angry and violent I became.

When I was in the Army, stationed in Germany, Heather called me and told me her boyfriend beat her with his belt.  It took every ounce of discipline I possessed to refrain from getting on a plane, going there, and killing him for it.  It made me feel like I was going insane because I couldn’t protect my little sister.  As I was pacing and raging, it hit me.  Heather knew I couldn’t come there and protect her when she told me.  She told me because she needed to know I loved her enough to want to murder the fucker who beat her.  When I realized this, I was able to calm down.  I begged her not to let that fucker into her home ever again.  When she realized I was weeping, I think it registered with her that she was hurting me too by allowing psychopaths in her life who did nothing but rob and beat her.  It all felt very twisted, and beyond my ability to fully grasp at the time.  In hindsight, I don’t really understand it any better.  But I do remember the murderous rage I felt when someone hurt her.  I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I began calling her more regularly and checking in on her.  When she would tell me about some cute guy, I would ask her if he had a job.  When she said no, I’d advise her not to bother with them.  It was a turning point in our relationship.  I was finally the big sister, and she valued my advice.  When she had a job that she didn’t like, she asked me if she should quit.  I asked her if they spelled her name wrong on her paycheck.  She said no, then we both laughed.  I told her that a job is a means of earning money, and nothing more.  Just do what you need to do to the best of your ability, and don’t expect it to be fulfilling.  I told her if she wanted a career instead of a job, she’d have to get more schooling.  So she started going to university part-time, and eventually got a degree and a position she loved.  She kept a journal that was given to me after she died.  In it, she talked about how she looked up to me.  I treasure it now.  Whenever I feel like I’m failing at life, I read it.

I miss the times when she’d visit, and we’d laugh until our faces hurt.  I miss being able to pick up the phone, dial her number, and say something like, “remember the dent?” Then hang up, knowing she would be on the floor laughing from just those 3 words.  I miss her picking out my clothes and making me look a lot cooler than I actually am.  I even miss her teasing me by telling me that I’m the whitest black person she knows.  I would give her a lecture on how culture and skin color don’t correlate, and why her statement was ridiculous, and she’d listen for a while and then burst out laughing.  I’d eventually laugh with her, and realize I was just as silly by taking it seriously.  I miss my Heather.

Once Upon a Time

It’s officially Thanksgiving Day here.  I don’t celebrate holidays.  I’ve learned too much truth since becoming an adult.  This particular holiday is the worst one in my opinion.  Today marks the day that the genocide of humans with brown skin began.  Starting with the spread of disease to the Natives in America during the festive feast day.  We’ll never know how many were killed in the initial onslaught of smallpox, and the like.  That, of course, was followed up with war, massacre, and the systematic stripping of all Native heritage, which was forcibly replaced with Christianity.  We took their lives, their land, their pride, and their livelihood.  But that wasn’t enough.  We even went after their spirituality.  And when we were done, we forced them to live in poverty on reservations of land we didn’t want.

Of course, there were a few times that the land turned out to have value, such as gold or oil.  Then we took it back, and told them to move.  I can’t think of a single atrocity that wasn’t committed against the Native peoples of this continent.  If I left one out, I don’t want to know about it.  I can’t sleep as it is.  I feel the weight of the evil perpetrated on the Native Americans.  I feel guilty.  I didn’t exist at the time, and had no voice to object to these actions.  But I have always lived on their land.  When I discovered how we acquired these lands in graphic detail and photos, I didn’t run away in horror.  I stayed and continued living my life.  I didn’t know where to go or how to get there when I was a child.

After I got my drivers license and a car, I drove to the nearest reservation and asked to speak with the chief.  An old man came and talked to me.  I don’t know if he was the chief, or if they even had one.  I knew nothing of tribal government at that time.  I apologized for living on their lands.  He didn’t say anything to that.  He didn’t forgive me, or tell me to burn in hell.  Just silence.  I took his non-response to mean, “Live with this knowledge.”  It wasn’t a friendly chit chat by any stretch.  Some questions I asked, he ignored.  After the silence went on for a while, I’d ask a different question.  I didn’t know how to tell if someone was angry or bitter at that time.  I’m pretty sure I still don’t.  So I don’t know how he felt about my showing up with questions out of the blue.

Part of me expected him to impart some wisdom on me, and tell me that they recognized my brown skin as a commonality among us, along with the struggle it causes.  Instead, he told me that most of them didn’t like black people.  It hurt my feelings, and made me feel a little bit unsafe.  He went on to say that he didn’t hate black people.  He said we’re all niggers to the white man.  The Natives are prairie niggers, and I was just a regular nigger.  It was my first time hearing the term prairie nigger.  Not my last.  The entire exchange showed me that I was ignorant of their culture, even though I felt like I was part of it because of my Native foster siblings.  It was a hard day.  I was 14 at that time.  I went back several times after that with more questions.

The east river tribes are Oglala.  They have it better than the west river folks on Pine Ridge reservation.  My Mom refused to accept foster babies from Pine Ridge.  I never got an answer out of her as to why this was the case.  I figured it was too far away.  It’s about a 5-7 hour drive, depending on whether or not you’re afraid of highway patrolman.  It’s flat and you can see for miles in all directions.  You can drive for an hour without seeing a single other vehicle.  So if you want to drive 90 MPH, and your car is in good repair, go for it.  Just slow down if you see a patrol car in the median.  I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, and I drive 90 when I go west.  And south.  I did get pulled over in Nebraska or Iowa.  I just got a warning.  I was doing 85 MPH in a 75 MPH zone.  Like it matters at that point.

I went to a few Powwows.  I liked seeing them fully dressed in headdresses and the rest of the garb.  They dance and sing and beat on drums.  The things I noticed that are differences are that the Lakota people speak with an accent that is very distinct to my ears.  And their urine smells different than African and Caucasian urine.  It’s sweeter smelling.  I know that’s a strange thing to observe, but when you consider how I helped my Mom with the foster babies, it’s easier to understand.  My Mom used cloth diapers, and safety pins with plastic protectors on them.  I never changed a single diaper.  I didn’t have the dexterity and strength in my hands to safely replace the pins.  My Mom would have me stand beside the changing table and make sure the baby stayed on it while she answered the phone sometimes, though.

I’m sensitive to odors.  In my last apartment, the teenaged girl who lived above me spilled her nail polish remover on the kitchen counter, and I smelled it in my apartment.  When I asked her about it, she thought it was amazing that I could smell it.  Amazing is not the word I would have chosen.  Sensitivity to odors is a curse.  Try running in formation while several guys around you are sweating out Tequila from the night before.  They weren’t the only ones sprinting to the curb periodically to vomit.  But I’d rather run with that all day than get in an elevator with a guy who bought into those Axe commercials.

I know a lot of people who have no idea that Native Americans still exist.  They live their entire lives without thinking about them a single time.  It’s a hidden problem.  Most stay on or near the reservations.  Many join the military, but are often thought of as Latinos.  I don’t fault them for the misidentification.  It’s purely ignorance, not malice.  So many people grow up without ever being exposed to people of color.  They see us on TV or in movies, but that’s the extent of their knowledge.  And TV and movies are fantasy.  You can’t rely on the information, and should probably assume it’s wrong until you have a chance to do your own research.

I grew up in a city that was named, The Whitest City In America, by U.S. News and World Report magazine.  I wasn’t surprised.  I was the only black kid in my school district at times.  Heather was a year behind me, so each time I advanced to a new school, I had to be the only black kid all over again until my Junior year in High School.  Then a few black families moved into town.  I hated school until university.  I did well on the Iowa Basics, PSAT, and SAT.  I made the honor role each time.  I also had the record for most days missed.  I skipped a lot.  My Mom got tired of fighting to get me to go.  My last semester was at Augustana University as a compromise to my desire to drop out.  I liked that much better.  I lost my High School Diploma after only looking at it once.  It probably ended up with Heather.  After she died, my sister, Greta, went through her things.  I was too stunned to be of any assistance at that time.  I don’t communicate with Greta.  She’s a sociopath, and tried to kill me when I was an infant.

The last time we spoke, she told me that my Mom should never have adopted us. (Me, Heather, and Steve).  It was creepy.  She doesn’t communicate with any of my remaining siblings.  My Mom had a strained relationship with her.  She came to visit once, and stayed with my brother, Guy.  While he was at work, she snooped through every inch of his house.  I don’t remember how he found out, but he vowed to never allow her in his home again.  The older, birth kids were not close.  There’s a lot of history that I probably won’t get into much.  My oldest brother, Gary, was forced to get shock treatments when he was a teenager.  I think it had something to do with depression and drug use.  I wasn’t alive yet.  I overheard that he never forgave my Mom for putting him through that.

I only saw him a few times in my life.  My impression was that he was my coolest brother.  I was completely fascinated by him, and loved him immediately.  He was soft spoken, and quiet, but when he did speak, it was deep and wise to me.  He even looks gentle.  I’m glad I got to meet him, even if it was just those few times.  I never met Skip.  He was my Dads oldest son from his previous marriage.  Skip moved to Canada during the Vietnam war and never came back for obvious reasons.  The 60’s had a clear impact on my older siblings.  I have mental images of how they dressed, and the music they favored when I was young.  Bell bottom corduroy pants in a burnt sienna brown that made a swoosh noise when my brother walked.  But I don’t remember which brother, or any other part of the clothing.  Weird.

I should be sleeping as it’s the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.  I couldn’t sleep knowing today will be celebrated by millions of oblivious or callous Americans by stuffing themselves with food, watching football, and the like.  I doubt the vast majority will think about the Natives at all.  And if they do, they will think of them as Indians, even though it’s an incredibly ignorant way of thinking.  It blows my mind that it’s 2015, and most people still refer to Natives as Indians.  There is even a school debate topic titled Indian Country, that was drafted here in South Dakota, within a few miles of a reservation.  When I told them how astonished I was that it was being used, they told me that it was okay, because the Indians are okay with it.  Unfuckingbelievable.

Reality is more like, they asked 1 Native about it, and he or she didn’t care either way, and just wanted to go about his or her business.  They became the spokesperson for all Natives on the issue, and validated the ignorance yet again.  Obviously, it wasn’t going to get changed no matter what the Native they asked thought about it.  If 100 Natives gathered outside the building where this decision was made, and peacefully protested to show their disgust at the ignorance, it wouldn’t have made any difference.  They do what the fuck they want to do, and we have no right to feel offended by it.  America.  Where you can buy absolute power in order to practice absolute corruption.  The peasant majority doesn’t know they are the peasants yet.  Denial is strong.  White people are not used to being subjugated by other white people on this scale, and have a hard time recognizing when it’s happening.

So we peasants, in our denial, fight against one another, causing the corruptors to gain even more power. Until finally, many band together in order to kill off the rest of us with brown skin.  And then we all lived happily ever after.  The End.  Sigh.

No

I’m so shaky today.  It’s raining/snowing really hard, and wind is blowing so hard it sounds like thunder.  Okay, this is probably why I’m shaky.  Loud noises that I can’t predict mess me up.  I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I lay in bed and listened to Evanescence, The Open Door on repeat for 3 hours.  I love every LP by Evanescence, and they get better with every release.  But something about The Open Door really reaches me.

I don’t have the words to explain it.  I just know that sometimes, I have to listen to it in a pitch black room with my best (Grado) headphones on full volume.  I don’t dance to it.  I stim to it.  My cat lays across my lap as I rock back and forth to the music.  Slowly, the tension I didn’t realize I was holding loosens.  I stop clenching my jaw.  And tears start to fall.  The tears that I held in all day as I forced myself to exist in this world.  I cry because I miss my family members who have passed.  My parents, my brother, and my little sister.  I know I’m capable of surviving without them, but it’s hard sometimes.

I miss having people in my world who I could trust to care about my existence without my having to do anything for them, or give anything to them, or be anything other than who I am.  I miss being protective of my little sister, and doing anything I could to make sure she was safe and happy.  I never realized how important that was to me before she died.  It was when I could assert the fact that I was 13 months older than her, and felt a deep sense of responsibility for her.  In so many other ways, she was the big sister.  She was my opposite.  She was so outgoing, comfortable to the point of being flirtatious with strangers, loud, and flamboyant.

When I was in fifth grade and she was in fourth, she saw me standing in a corner of the school building facing the wall during recess.  I was crying, because the teacher I had that year hated me, and I was aware of it.  She asked me what was wrong, and I told her my teacher hates me.  She marched into the building, dragging me by my hand behind her, and went into my classroom.  She went up to my teacher, and told her off, loudly.  I was shocked.  I froze.  Heather told my teacher that she had to like me because I was her student.  She said it like it was a well known law.  She was furious, and threatened to tell our mom if she didn’t start liking me.

My teacher just stared at us.  I can’t imagine what she was thinking.  We went back outside until recess was over.  I remember thinking that Heather was going to get in trouble.  She didn’t.  We never talked about it until the next year when she got the same teacher.  She pre-hated her on my behalf, and I loved her for it.  Elementary school was the closest thing to torture that I’ve ever experienced.  I didn’t have any skills to cope with it at the time, and it still to this day can cause me to wake up in tears from a nightmare.

I hate how things that happened in the past can still haunt my present.  I hate that they haunt my sleep, when I’m most vulnerable.  I’ve been practicing lucid dreaming, but I’m not yet to the point where I can completely prevent nightmares.  I’ve had some success though.  I’m absolutely getting more sleep.  That makes a big difference, especially when working.  I think I need to figure out a way to stop working on coding projects before they are completed, and continue the next day.  It’s good to be able to complete them so much faster than my peers, but I think it’s taking a toll on me.  Marathon coding sessions broken up by Twitter flyby’s and bathroom breaks are taking their toll on me.

I’ve always struggled with not having a natural off switch.  I’ll continue doing a task until my body demands I stop,  I’m interrupted, or it’s completed.  I’ve completed 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles in one sitting on more occasions than I’d like to admit.  My cat has gotten really good at interrupting me.  I hate to say that it was probably necessary for her survival.  I get so focused on what I’m doing that I ignore everything else.  She’ll jump up on my desk and lay across my arms while meowing loudly.  I always go through a quick second of rage at the interruption, and then I look down at her, and she’s so beautiful and sweet that it dissipates immediately.  I pick her up and cuddle her while I get her the treat she wanted, or refill her water dishes.

In the morning at around 4:30-5:00, she’ll literally lead me to the kitchen to fill her food bowl.  I have poor coordination when I first wake up, but I manage to follow her down the hall to the kitchen.  I give her a scoop of dry food and a spoonful of wet food.  It’s funny, because she’ll stand in front of her food container, then her bowl, then the fridge, then her bowl, then she starts eating.  She purrs loudly while she does this which is so cute.  After she eats, she goes back to bed until afternoon.  She starts by getting under the blanket on my bed.  Then when I make the bed, she gets into her cat bed underneath my bed.

She’s slightly better at keeping track of time than I am.  I suspect it’s because of her metabolism.  I’ve had her for 3 years now.  I’m worried about moving her to Denver.  She’s only ridden in a car when I brought her home initially.  Her veterinarian is down the street, and it’s easier to put her in the soft carrier and walk there than cope with her crying in the car.  I don’t know if it would be better to take my time and drive her there in increments, or to fly and just get it over with.  Either way, she’s going to cry, I just know it.

I know I should be practicing with her in the car, but there’s no way I’m going to do something that I know will upset her just to get her used to being upset.  I think I’m going to get my nephew to drive us while I hold her.  If we divide the drive into 2 days, I think she’d manage.  I could put a litter in my trunk and lower one seat so she had access to it.  I’ll do some research and see what others have done when it’s closer to that time.  If she doesn’t go, I don’t go.  It’s not negotiable.

Things have changed yet again with plans.  I lost a friend who was going to occupy one of the units in the building with her family.  At first, I was upset about it.  But now, I can see that it’s for the best.  It wasn’t a good idea in the first place.  Once I recognized that, I’ve been able to muster a little excitement for the future.  I’m mostly excited that I’ll have a home that is tailored to me and my needs.  I won’t be as independent, but that doesn’t bother me.  I’d rather have help from someone who understands, than struggle all the time.  I’m so tired of struggling.

I’m going to  take a vacation from work effective immediately.  I’m not going to let this state of overwhelmed sadness spiral into anything worse.  I’m going to take this time to do the things that make me feel joy.  I’m going to go back to making music and art.  I’m going to create things purely for the sake of creating.  I’m going to express feelings I don’t know how to put into words in order to release them into the universe and outside of myself.  I’m going to banish mean people from my world.  I’m going to stop forcing myself to pass as a neurotypical person.  I’m autistic.  It’s not something I’m willing to suffocate in an effort to make others feel more comfortable any longer.  I’m done with that.

I’ve learned an important lesson in the last few months.  Just because another person is autistic, doesn’t mean they are a good person.  Or that I should go out of my way to be kind to them, when it’s not reciprocated.  Or go out of my way to support them, when they ignore me.  I don’t deserve to be pushed aside.  I don’t deserve to be treated unkindly.  I don’t deserve to be disregarded and ignored.  I don’t owe anyone anything.  I will no longer tolerate it from anyone.  It’s wrong to treat a human being as if they are an annoyance, or invisible.  I don’t do this to people, and I won’t allow others to do it to me, and remain in my life.  Being disabled is not a free pass to treat other people like shit.

I was taught to respect everyone, and treat everyone just as I would like to be treated.  Well, I tried that, and I’m rejecting it.  From now on, I’m going to continue to treat people well, but I’m also going to observe how they treat me back.  If they mistreat me, I will cease to acknowledge their existence.  I’m done being nice to assholes.  Life is too long to put up with bullshit.  Life is too short to pretend it doesn’t hurt when someone mistreats me.  Life is too real to live it without fighting for my right to experience joy.   I don’t show it, but I’m a fighter to my core.  I will fight for my rights with a fierceness that will make my enemies flee in terror.  I’ve been fighting to exist for my entire life, and I’m really fucking good at it.

Kind Hearted Woman

I watched a show on PBS today that wrapped itself around my heart and tugged.  It’s called, Kind Hearted Woman.  I caught it in the middle, but was instantly hooked.  Its a real story about a Native woman from the Spirit Lake reservation in ND.  A woman was comforting her daughter before she went to sleep.  Her daughter had spoken up about being sexually abused by her Dad.  Everything her Mom said to her was so perfect.

She knew exactly what her daughter was feeling, as she’d experienced it herself when she was a child.  I have never seen someone help a child cope with this so well.  It’s not a scripted show. These are real people living within driving distance of me right now.  I immediately picked up on the Native accent.  I grew up with foster siblings from various reservations in SD, so conversing with their families during visits was common throughout my childhood.  They were like extended family to me.  Their kids were usually in foster care because they had a medical condition that couldn’t be properly treated and accommodated on the reservation.

Watching this woman cope with her past, and present while battling for custody of her two children felt like listening to one of my sisters.  She had a lot of things working against her in the episode I watched.  Tribal council law was so unjust.  They blasted her character in an attempt to cover up the sexual abuse issues going on behind closed doors on the reservation.  I haven’t yet seen how it will play out as this was filmed 2 years ago.  I ordered the DVD’s on Amazon, because I have to know that things worked out for her and her children.

I’m so used to being the outsider who never fits in, and is baffled by the behaviors of other people.  I feel a connection with her because I can relate to her struggle in feeling like the world is so confusing, and actively working against her, yet getting up and living life anyway.  It’s a nice feeling.  Like there is someone on this planet with whom I can understand and root for, and hope for her to find lots of joy in her life.