Dear Diary

January 1, 2014

Winter Breakdown

Katherine

I just sent an email to my advisor asking for the code I need to register for a January class. Most students take the month off, but the school is still officially open, and you can elect go back early to make up some credits or work on an individual project. I want to go back early to avoid being home, even if it means I have to take a random course and read Ayn Rand or some other torture.

Being home has been nice in a lot of ways. I got to hang out with my brother and our baby cousin (the only acceptable baby in the world). I’ve gone to the movies, driven my car around, taken advantage of having food around 24/7, and watched a lot of TV. But I need to leave. Here’s why.

1. My mom is treating me like a child/idiot. I went out to dinner with her one of the first nights I was here, and when we were done eating and I started to ask the waitress for a box for the rest of my food, my mom cut me off and asked for one on my behalf. Then she smiled at me and said, super condescendingly, “I know that’s hard for you.” O. M. G. Like, I know she’s trying to be sensitive to the fact that I hate being in public, but I haven’t had significant difficulty talking to restaurant staff since like 2008. Yes, sometimes I panic and want help doing stuff like that, but I usually ask for it when I need it. Plus, if she truly cared about my fear of interacting with strangers, she would have ordered for me at the beginning of the meal, right? There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie brings Miranda bagels to be “a good friend,” but she forgets the cream cheese. Miranda calls her out on this, because it’s evident that Carrie just wanted to come over to talk about her own recent breakup, or else she would have remembered the cream cheese. My mom wanted to be helpful, but it seems like she really just wanted to demonstrate that she “understands” me, without actually doing the work of understanding me.

2. The way my mom is treating me reminds me of how angry she’d get whenever I wanted to stay home from Sunday school or social gatherings. She used to talk about how sin and doubt were signs of the devil’s influence.

I remember all of the things my family and friends took it upon themselves to diagnose me with: anxiety, depression, Asperger’s, ADD. It made me feel defective, like I was born spoiled the way food can be spoiled in the making. I imagined a black tumor rapidly growing inside me, representing whatever made me feel afraid of and distant from others.

I used to picture myself at the bottom of a series of dark, labyrinthine subterranean tunnels that glowed red and emitted red flames. I imagined that God had left me there, and that the only ways out were to be morally pure and to socialize, or to reject God and his “plan” for me outright, whereupon I could find happiness in this life but would be condemned to spend my afterlife in hell, which terrified me. I thought that I might one day write about all of this, and that the second option would make for better writing.

I think I came up with the labyrinth in fourth grade. My friend and I got into a series of books called Daughters of the Moon. It was about teenage girls who had magic powers because they were secretly goddesses. We copied the moon-shaped necklaces they wore with yarn and tinfoil, called each other Serena and Vanessa after two of the main characters, and pretended to be them at recess. When we wrote down the names of these books for a class reading competition, our teacher was alarmed. When she learned that they included witchcraft and—worse—sex, she contacted our parents.

I remember crying as my mom yelled at me that night. I remember not knowing what about those books she was so afraid of but figuring it out later. At the end of our talk, she held up the second book, Into Cold Fire, and asked me what color it was. The cover was red. “Do you know what that is?” she asked. I didn’t answer. “It’s the color of the Devil. This girl”—she pointed to the girl on the cover, who happened to be Serena, the character I pretended to be—“is the devil.”

This incident is really, really, really funny to me now because it’s really, really, realllllyyy funny, but it was horrifying to me then because it confirmed all of my fears about myself: that I was unfit for society and also morally bad, condemned to hell. It also set the template for how I would think about sex once I found out what it was: as a dark ritual that your soul would be punished for engaging in. It’s taken years for me to release my self-image from the grip of these ideas. They made me so miserable for so long.

I know that I have some social anxiety and a disposition that favors observation over participation, but I also have the ability to work through my anxieties and confidence so that it’s possible for me to be with other people, because there is no tumorous mass of evil within me. Being home makes me remember how I used to feel. Being at school means I can continue progressing.

3. The mundane here is worse than the mundane there. Saturday night at dinner my mom recounted a hilarious story that a woman from my grandmother’s nursing home had told her at the home’s Christmas party. The woman listed everything she’d made for Christmas breakfast the year before. She’d made a bunch of really good food, but when she sat down to eat, she realized she’d forgotten to make eggs. My mom repeated the “zinger” (SHE FORGOT TO MAKE THE EGGS) and laughed, and my dad laughed his fake laugh.

At school, there is much that is mundane and plenty of false laughter, but I would rather listen to an infinite number of people talking about studying than hear this kind of story again. If I’m going to be frustrated and bored in any capacity, I would rather do it there, where there are people I like and where even the boring things at least have a point. ♦

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24 Comments

  • Abby January 1st, 2014 8:03 PM

    Katherine. KATHERINE. I legitimately cannot handle how well your post reflects how I feel about being home. I couldn’t have said any of that better than you. Thank you.

    • Idonotknow January 6th, 2014 11:54 AM

      Same ^^^ I feel stuck and I don’t understand what to do about it.. v_v mundane things are mundane .-.

  • momobaby January 1st, 2014 8:39 PM

    Britney, I totally get what you mean. Everyone makes like the beginning of a new year is some great accomplishment or milestone, but its just another day. It doesn’t even begin to break up the monotony of school.

    http://littlerebellia.blogspot.com

  • dojo45 January 1st, 2014 8:50 PM

    Omg Naomi I totally connect with you I the winter break thing. I never like hanging out with people on winter break but I still feel like a loser for not doing it.

  • honorarygilmoregal January 1st, 2014 9:21 PM

    I can relate to Katherine’s post so much. I’m sick of being home now. Blahh

    http://perkstobeinginfinite.tumblr.com

  • dollish January 1st, 2014 9:21 PM

    K–Remembering empathies. When I would go home over breaks, i would feel like a trapped animal, and I’d do anything to be free range again

  • Milala January 1st, 2014 9:51 PM

    Ruby, you’re such a good writer.

  • lotusmarina January 1st, 2014 10:46 PM

    I DON’T THINK IT’S SANE TO BE as OBSSSESSED WITH ROOKIE AS I AM I CAN’T EVEN

    all i can say is thank you rookie-staff, you guys rock & capture what it is to be a teenage girl so freaking well. xx

  • Izza January 1st, 2014 10:49 PM

    Britney, you have captured my thoughts exactly.

  • Hales January 2nd, 2014 12:21 AM

    Wow, I have not read something so relatable in a while as what Britney wrote. I’ve felt like high school is a never-ending, dull purgatory since freshman year. There’s rarely any excitement and as a senior I am so ready to say goodbye.

  • paige.xo January 2nd, 2014 4:55 AM

    katherine i relate to your post so much. i can’t wait until i can move away to uni

  • lexilikes January 2nd, 2014 9:12 AM

    Naomi that’s so true. I never bother to make any plans whilst I’m on holiday but I can’t help feel like I should be doing something. <3

    http://www.lexilikes.com/

  • mangointhesky January 2nd, 2014 2:17 PM

    Naomi: “Being home for winter break makes me feel 14 again.” I feel you entirely. I do things that I now never have time to do when school is in session: lounge on the couch, stare into space, and be happy by getting bored and doing nothing.

    http://perfectlittledaisy.blogspot.com
    http://mangointhesky.blogspot.com

  • Rilynn January 2nd, 2014 2:28 PM

    Britney, I can relate with you on so many levels. I’m only a freshman in high school and it really sucks that I feels this way towards school already.

  • Sophii January 2nd, 2014 7:45 PM

    Naomi, I know what you mean about desperately feeling the need to document everything. I wish that it were possible. Katherine, I too wish that I was back at school now. I despise school but I desire some kind of routine and something to fill my time rather than just moping and procrastinating. I still do those things when I’m at school but there is less time to do so.
    Britney, this sentence sums up exactly how I feel about my school, ‘it is more or less an absurd purgatory where each day feels like a copy of the last. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to be at a different school, far away from this one, one that does not make my life feel so unbearably stagnant’ but like Katherine said, it’s nice to know that, at school, even the boring things are working towards something

    http://prettypassionsfinefashions.blogspot.co.uk

  • dobby_is_my_hero January 3rd, 2014 1:45 AM

    Ruby- your entry gave me even more teenage angsty weird confused angry happy sad feelings than usual

  • adana January 3rd, 2014 3:17 AM

    NAOMI I FEEL YOU. The part about writing and how it can’t convey everything, especially the essence. Yes.

  • boughsofholly January 3rd, 2014 9:40 PM

    Naomi- this entry made me feel so relieved. I feel the same severe desire/need/urge to document everything. Even at night before I go to bed, I am afraid of forgetting special details about the day. Lately I’ve felt like I’m carrying around too much inside, yet I haven’t been able to express it when I write and that makes me even more depressed, so I feel you on that. Also, London in general had the same buzzing effect on me and I miss it terribly. This article completely validates how I’m feeling.

  • ungrula January 4th, 2014 12:54 AM

    Britney I feel u
    Not as much as I would have last year, but I changed schools this year because of a lot of factors but partially because I couldn’t connect to anyone at my old school really; I had no friends other than three people I already knew, also because I wasn’t learning anything and I had the power to change that. So I’m at this intellectually stimulating place right? And I’m in an elective that I’m more interested this year, so I should have a group of friends thats bigger than 3, right? Lol nope. I’m still kind of dreading having to go back and deal with everyone’s drama and pretending to be friends with people and not having real friends and ugh I just don’t want to

  • dragonfly January 4th, 2014 3:44 AM

    Ruby, Caitlin, Katherine, Naomi and Britney, your diaries are one of my favourite bits of Rookie, and I often look forward to them so much. You all make me feel a lot, but in particular understood. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  • diniada13 January 7th, 2014 4:38 AM

    Britney, I could totally relate. I don’t have much optimism on high school after the new year, everything is pretty much the same. It’s like high school never ends. I’m growing tired of it–not in a ‘school sucks boo’ kind, it’s just too boring and static.

    http://sorryimoutofgoodurls.blogspot.com

  • lucybubs January 7th, 2014 7:45 PM

    BRITNEY: I totally totally get that and reading your short but absolutely perfect entry made me feel a kabillion times better. And reading the comments above that other people feel the same pushes it over the top. I always thought high school was supposed to be exciting. Being a teenager is amazing, right? Then why does every day feel the same and new things seem to be happening to everyone in the world but me? lots of love

  • zoesunicorn January 10th, 2014 11:32 PM

    I want to wear more black too. It’s a more mature color and I feel more confident in black. :) also trust me I’m not goth, I’m a super girly girl but I just really like black.

  • zoesunicorn January 10th, 2014 11:40 PM

    Btw Katherine your mom sounds like a Puritan!