Last night, I dreamed I was having a passionate affair with a French Canadian. I was on a plane journey that came in two segments, and I felt worried I might miss my connecting flight. We seemed to be in a car driving somewhere—there were exit signs to watch for, directions to follow—and yet we were also having this affair. Snippets of the dream took place in the French Canadian’s bed. At the same time, I was also on a plane.
I don’t know where I was going, but I seemed to have departed from Montreal.
Everyone here at first thinks I am Canadian: all white foreigners are Canadian, because the charity that sends us here is Canadian. And some people still ask if I am going back to Canada after the school year is over. A colleague asked me that just yesterday. So maybe that is the Canada connection.
Then maybe I was thinking about affairs, because Madame Kay is always telling me it would be better for me to see other places and not remain here in my Y-Town. She told me this again Saturday when she drove me to the hospital for (hopefully) my last and final follow-up from typhoid. The response I always have in my mind—but don’t say—is that she is in favour of one-night stands, but what I am seeking is a long and satisfying affair with a place. She doesn’t wait for a response, so I never give one. I just think about my long and passionate affairs. Including, sometimes, the fights. As in, those periods when I can’t seem to adjust here.
However, the French part I can’t explain. Nor can I pin down the reason behind my obsession with planes since coming to Country X. But it is my fourth or fifth flight dream since coming here that I remember—and I don’t remember all my dreams. But it might be this sense of a journey and my worry about whether I’m getting somewhere that stemmed from a rearrangement in my head.
I noticed this only later in the morning. Initially, nothing remarkable happened. I got up, made my tea, heated rice, hung the laundry outside to dry, sat for a while and wrote in my journal. Then I began making breakfast and lunch—pumpkin today. My colleague gave me pumpkin yesterday, and something similar to black pepper, cherry tomatoes, and scallions. All of this seemed like it was going to cook up very nicely in today’s “curry.” But I couldn’t peel the pumpkin. The peel was thicker or harder or more something than usual. The knife kept slipping and I kept cutting my fingers or almost cutting them.
I got frustrated first, then angry. Very quickly, I became angry about EVERYTHING THAT HAS ANNOYED ME AT ANY POINT WITHIN THE LAST TWO DAYS!
I’m not very good with anger. I don’t like it. I feel I can’t think straight when I’m angry. I don’t really know what to do with it. I seem to be able to ever surrender to it or shut it off. When I shut it off, I solve the problems that are making me angry (sometimes)—I don’t always just forget about it. But the feeling goes underground.
Today, I tried to just let it be. Without obsessing. Without shutting it off.
Eventually, it came to me that I’m angry about everything that has been unfair in my life. I am angry at the injustice of it all. I grieved over this same issue at some point a month or two ago and felt intensely sad. I suppose I have reached the anger stage.
It is not fair that I have to spend half my life trying to calm down because my family’s torture and abuse made everything into something dangerous, frightening, humiliating, or shaming.
It is not fair that I must “heal” from so much or that I must spend so much time doing it, instead of, say, having tea with the other Madames.
It is not fair that I must try to communicate with myself through the divide that being in parts has created.
It is not fair that I have to try to make sense of the parts, or that it is so effortful to do this, or that it takes up so much of my time.
It is not fair that I am not able to reach my full human potential because of this—as a neighbor, as a friend, as a teacher, as a family member, or as a member of society. I could be doing so much more than I am doing now. But I have to do this instead.
It is not fair that I was tortured as a child, rather than nurtured.
It is not fair that I wasn’t protected.
What happened to me was not fair, and it was not just.
We are told from childhood that life is supposed to be fair. Adults tell us life isn’t fair and then read us storybooks where it is. We believe the storybooks.
For most of my life, I have taken for granted that life isn’t fair—at least my life isn’t fair. And that was that. But I am starting to recognize that I was told life would be fair. The naughty child brings trouble on himself and learns the error of his ways. The person who believes in his worth will attract good things. There was also this sense of contradiction, and a consequent feeling of having been lied to.
I didn’t get what I deserved or what I was worth. I didn’t get what I believed I was worth either, nor can I get it now. Things worked out the way they did for no reason at all. Things are working out the way they are now because of what happened then that I had no control over. I can only live now within the parameters the past has given me.
Time to calm down from things.
Work on healing.
Time communicating between parts.
Effort thinking about the parts.
Most of us need to eat, sleep, exercise, and have relationships to be healthy. I must eat, sleep, exercise, have relationships, and work on healing to be healthy. I know we all have our burdens, but mine (and maybe yours) is greater than average. I was deliberately and systematically tortured. It isn’t on the same plane as life’s ordinary bumps and bruises. And it isn’t fair.
I shouldn’t have been tortured.
I shouldn’t have to do any of this.
I know this sounds like nothing more than a rant, but what it puts into place for me is the idea that it’s possible for life to be a little bit more fair than mine has been. A certain degree of justice is possible. No one’s life is perfect, but they don’t have to be like mine.
It turns out, if a psychopath is not in control of things, the world is very different. It’s a little bit fair. At least sometimes.
But I have spent my whole life accepting injustice—both in the past and in the ongoing present. I accepted a cruel and vindictive partner for many years because I thought nothing better was possible, and that none of us gets the treatment we deserve anyway. I accepted critical and power-hungry supervisors because I thought that is just what happens sometimes. I don’t know what I might have done if I believed life can be more fair, but acceptance is not always the way.
Everything in my childhood was arbitrary and capricious. I lost the father-lottery and everything followed from that single stroke of bad luck. And so I assumed that all else would come down to luck. When I find myself in a good situation, I am grateful. “I have been lucky.” When I find myself in a bad situation, I accept it. “Sometimes, that is just how things go.” Arbitrary and capricious.
I don’t attribute good things to my hard work, my talents, or my good nature. I accept blame at least sometimes, but I don’t hold others accountable. All of that starts to look different if I begin to think life can be fair. It means sometimes good things happen because I have done something right. Bad things might be because of what I have done wrong, or they might be because of what someone else has done wrong.
But life isn’t always an endless series of lotteries. Some of it is a direct result of what I and others have done.