Not allowed to speak my thoughts or show my feelings, I was driven by my family of origin into art. More like, taken, tied, threatened, and gagged, and left in a desolate valley, a wilderness where either I could learn how to live or shrivel and die alone.
I danced even when the dance teacher abused me because dance was the only outlet I had, a temporary escape from the iron bonds of my family, where I was free to move and emote, if only I was perfection, a kind of feminine ideal, starved and silent, but so beautiful because of all that I renounced, because of all the work and the discipline I embodied.
And there was music that I certainly danced and even tried to sing, community and school musical theater. Music was a wave that absolved me of always controlling myself, music was outlet, balm, and release. Music was beauty that, like ballet, I could only aspire to, but the task was endlessly alluring. A quest I could not win, a star I could only hopelessly follow.
And when I suffered from cancer that grew and thrived despite a year of chemo, my parents kept on enforcing the no talk and no emotion rule. I was alone and not allowed to show fear or weakness. As I endured a bone marrow transplant to finally be cured, as I confronted misery and death at age 15, my parents never asked me how I was feeling, never acknowledged what I was going through, never said the word cancer, never discussed the meaning of my life or my possible death, forbid me to cry or complain. I had to manage cancer alone to protect my parents, who did not offer a word of comfort, sympathy, or encouragement.
I assume their parents fucked them up in major ways, but I do not forgive their utter lack of sense and empathy. Why didn’t they manifest a modicum of self-awareness? Why didn’t they learn from their parents’ mistakes as I have learned from my parents’ mistakes?
I became a writer because I had no other outlet. I was forged as a writer from my family’s dysfunctions. This is who I am, no matter how torturous the path to here. My identity and my vocation are things I now celebrate, far from the scarring manacles that drove my desperate flight to freedom.
I answer to nobody. I create myself as a creature of expression.