This is blog is written at a desktop computer, Doogie Howser style.
Before I get all philosophical and into the deep shit, here’s a random story:
The first time I ran away from home I was two years old. I didn’t actually run away, I wandered off into the woods following my friend Boots, who was our neighbors cat. I honestly don’t know what kind of relationship I had with my neighbors pet, but I’m guessing I had followed him around before since we were on a first name basis.
My mom was frantic, her 2 year old daughter had just vanished. She drove up and down the street asking anyone in sight if they had seen me. Nobody knew anything. She walks across the street to the neighbors and hears my voice coming from the woods.
“Momma!” I exclaimed, I was excited for her to be in the wilderness with me and “Bootsie!” the magnificent creature bestowed beside me.
“What do you think you’re doing?!”
“He’s gonna get lost..” I said.
“Get down here! You scared me to death!”
I was probably twenty minutes away from being the kid on the news who followed a cat into a storm drain. I could have been hero or killed during a very heavy downpour.
The Terrible Two’s they call it.
I also jumped into a six foot deep pool with no flotation device whatsoever and immediately knew how to swim, because I was 100% my own person and possibly a witch as well.
That much determination and resilience is hard to train out of somebody completely.
“Stubborn as a mule” was a phrase I’d heard a few times, but back then my brain always jumped to Francis the Talking Mule, which was a knock off of Mr. Ed, which in turn just made me think about horses. So it never made sense to me.
They put peanut butter under his tongue to make it look like he was talking. Don’t worry, I asked right away.
Was I highly imaginative or was that just a nice way of my 5th grade teacher saying that I probably had ADD..?
I made it this far.
Zero storm drains.
When I started experimenting with medicinal cannabis at the end of 2018 I learned what it’s like to have one thought at a time. Granted, I pondered if I were actually experiencing psychosis and it freaked me out for about an hour.. but it turns out it’s possible to focus on one thing and not five million all at once. Which means: you can worry about one thing at a time and not EVERYTHING.
Cue the opera singers:
Sounds great, right? It truly is, but now you also have this ability to focus and whoa, dude, do you have a lot of work to do. What is all that shit you’ve been carrying around?
Maybe start with what’s bothering you.
That’ll be fun.
That’s like wandering off into the woods again and hoping you’ll be able to find your way back.
Sounds spooky.. but you like spooky shit.
It’s incredibly easy to follow your own insecurities down into their rabbit holes, half the time we don’t even know that that’s what we’re doing.
You will repeat cycles until you start paying attention.
“But it hurts!” Yeah, no shit. Everybody hurts, bro, there’s a song about it. Well, there’s probably trillions of songs about it, but I just really wanted to say that.
How do you get out of these rabbit holes?
You drink water, you cry a ton, and you fucking swim.
Not everyone is a natural born swimmer like the feline species and myself, so you may have to take lessons, and it may take longer than you expected.
You’re going be so mad sometimes.
You’re going to isolate yourself.
And you’re going to going to keep breathing.
You’ll probably make some poor choices and feel bad about it, which is actually a good sign. It means you’re not a sociopath, so you got that going for you already. Accept that badge and keep moving.
You’ll meet up with everyone else later.
Why on earth would anyone want to do that? Because if you don’t know who the fuck you are how is anyone else going to?
Journey to the center of the earth, bitch.
A year in between posts is always a good sign, right?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses
Do you remember the kid from grade school that wasn’t allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance? Or the kid who wasn’t at school for any of the holiday parties? The kid you weren’t allowed to sing happy birthday to because it was against their religion?
That kid was me.
This organization is hard to understand unless you were a part of it. It’s really not so different than other Christian faiths. You, of course, have the same patriarchal leadership and predisposed guilt. However, there is no trilogy. There are no holidays, only a memorial that takes place in May. There is no wine. Blood transfusions will make you impure. Your birthday is not important so much as your death, because what have you ever done with your life?
There’s also no special subsidiary for children. Everyone sits together in what any child could perceive as the most boring book club ever.
The Elders were men who gave all the talks. Women were NOT allowed at the podium.
There may be a correlation there of why I enjoy speaking my mind on microphones from time to time, or why I have this need to feel seen.
You know damn well I got on that stage when services were over.
The men with dramatic voices were sometimes the only source of entertainment.
I distinctively remember a man shouting “DIAMONDS” multiple times at one of the large conventions and my brother was hushed for mocking him and making us all laugh.
“Brother So-and-So whistles when he talks!” That’s what you called them, it wasn’t Mr. So-and-So, it was always brother or sister, because we’re all just children of whatever the hell this is.
I later found out false teeth can make you whistle when you speak, so I definitely wanted some of those.
“Did you have to go door to door?” Oh, indeed. I still kind of have this irrational fear of knocking on doors. What an awkward introduction to rejection.
“Studying” was a term used when another member would come to your home to catch you up to speed.
I was forced into studying when I was thirteen after I started asking questions my mother could no longer answer. I managed to get the woman who didn’t believe in dinosaurs. That’s not a Jehovah’s Witness teaching, it was more of a personal preference. It was also recommended to me that I remove my picture of the Suicidal Tendencies from my wall because “that’s not the kind of talk you want to surround yourself with.”
My walls were covered with pictures tattooed musicians with strange haircuts. I’m sure that’s not surprising at all, but it was then. I was genuinely asked why I would want to look the way I did if I wasn’t actually a Satan worshipper. I spouted back with “even the devil can wear a tuxedo.”
I had no interest in Satan, I just really loved punk rock and learning how to express myself.
It’s got to be a real pain in the ass to have a kid who excels in science while you try to force Christianity down their throat.
“But Micaela, don’t you own tarot cards?”
“Occult sciences aren’t real science.”
It’s all psychology, probabilities, and semiotics, baby. I do what I want.
There’s always an alternative.
The last convention I ever attended was not by choice, so I wore all black complete with a fishnet shirt and paratrooper boots. I believe at this time I had the haircut that was often referred to as the “dyke spike.” I had no interest in fitting in with people who’s core values were so far from my own. I was not stoked to be there and I didn't care who knew.
My mom’s close friend tried to ease the tension by telling her to just think of it as if I were in mourning.
“It’s just a phase, she’ll grow out of it.”
Luckily no one was holding their breath.
It wasn’t so much as a choice to no longer attend it was more of a refusal. I wanted to know what was going on with the world nowadays and what was going to be done to make it better.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses stay away from learning “mans law.” They don’t vote or participate in politics. I passed government class in high school with a D, because I had no idea what the fuck was going on or, again, why we were still listening to old white men who only care about power.
Christianity turned me into a feminist while government class turned me into a liberal anarchist of sorts. I was well on my way.
I sit here at 30 years old with a haircut that I’ve been known to describe as a pompadour/mohawk/mullet. I still listen to angry girl music just about everyday and I refuse to accept bullshit as an answer.
Sylvia Plath got it wrong with “..don’t ask me who I am.”
Oh no, sugar dumpling.. don’t you dare tell me who I am.
"Miss Mohr, you've been dealt such a dirty hand, but it's what you do with that hand that determines who you will become. You can either let it hinder everything you've ever wanted out of life and become just like those who have hurt you or you can play the hell out of that hand and learn everything you would ever possibly need to know to be whoever you want."
"Hmm, I'll take the latter for 500, please."
"Ah yes, silliness. One of your favorite coping mechanisms. I believe you've already mastered that one, so maybe just give believing in yourself a real chance."
Trauma does incredible things to our brains. It can instill fear in situations where fear isn't necessarily common, it can give you the memory of an elephant which in turn makes you remember things right down to the smallest detail. It can cause hyperawareness to every bit of energy going on around you. The smallest change in someones tone or deameanor can force you into being a contestant on my least favorite game show called What Did I Do? You didn't do anything, this is just how your brain works with post traumatic stress disorder. It's a real mother fucker to say the least.
PTSD can be somewhat short lived or it can be chronic. It can also be caused by one incident or by several, and it wouldn't be a real disorder if it wasn't accumulative would it? That's where it gets tricky.
People have been studying fear for years upon years upon years. There's seriously someone out there walking around with a PhD on fear. They are literally a doctor of FEAR! For what sounds almost menacing is actually pretty badass, for lack of a better word. I'm not one of these people with a PhD, but I'm still pretty fucking cool, if I may say so myself.. and I will, because I live with this and I'm not ashamed to talk about it.
Social anxiety has never been part of my world, it's referred to as general anxiety. I am generally anxious about everything all the time. Imagine trying to express this as a child. I tried and was prescribed heartburn medication. I mean, what else would you give to a kid who looks like they eat too much and is always complaining of a stomach ache? Probably a nice lesson on how the food pyramid works. Add in a little bodyshaming and boom, cured! Diet and exercise can make all your problems go away. The problem was that I didn't have heartburn, I don't know that I've ever had heartburn to this day, I was having panic attacks. Panic attacks in childhood? Oh, indeed.
This occured mainly at school, therefore school sucks so I'm not going. Brilliant idea, but it's a pretty tough plan to execute when you're in elementary school. I tried almost everything to be able to stay home. Gagging excessively loud and dumping water into the toilet, therometer under the hot faucet, heating pad on the forehead, etc. I would even willingly go to the doctor, I didn't care. Just keep me away from that soul crushing institution.
Out of one hundred and eighty school days I generally missed about 60. I'm pretty sure my teachers were impressed I could even read, let alone at a college level by the age of 12. I always did my homework, I love learning, just on my own terms. I'm one of those people where if you try to force me to do something I'll either do the opposite or nothing at all.
One day in the sixth grade I took everything out of my locker, went home, and begged my mom to never make me go back there again. She said she couldn't afford to home school me so I ended up in a private school for a semester.
It was incredibly bizarre attending a school that had crucifixes everywhere since I was raised in a Jehovah's Witness family where crosses and pictures of Jesus were not allowed. Getting a black cross put on my forehead for Ash Wednesday scared the living shit out of me. I felt somewhat dirty and waited to be struck down by a bolt of lightning until I could wash that damn thing off. That was by far the creepiest thing I'd ever endured until I saw the movie the Exorcist for the first time. I slept with my overhead light on for a month straight.
Eventually I ended up back at public school since private school is crazy expensive and my mom and I moved away from my childhood home, leaving my siblings to live with our dad. So, of course, everything started all over again. A new school, full of one thousand strangers where I was supposed to be just like everyone else, but I didn't know who any of these people were, how on earth was I supposed to be like them? Why was I supposed to be like everyone else in the first place? Why do I have to share a locker with someone who isn't even in any of my classes? I sat alone at lunch and didn't eat anything, because I was so uncomfortable I was constantly nauseous.
"Just give it time." Yeah, okay. No.
I enrolled in a program called Home Bound, which is usually for kids who are injured or too sick to attend class. A teacher came to my house and went over lessons with me. I remember asking her if she thought I was crazy. She assured me I was not and I was just another normal kid. I get it now, but at the time I thought she was just being nice. I really admire people like her. I couldn't imagine what it'd be like teaching such young kids that have psychological problems interfering with their everyday lives to the point where all they want to do is hide away and hope the world forgets about them.
She was tough and knew things about the world that the other adults I knew didn't. She looked at things with empathy and so did I. Someone finally understood me and didn't think I was just being a baby.
A month or so later I was back in regular classes, doing well and making friends. I still knew I was different and it wasn't always smooth sailing, but it got a little easier as time went by. It's perfectly normal to have a shell, but you don't have to hide behind it completely, in fear of thinking you have nothing to offer the world. There's a good chance you have some of the answers someone else is looking for.
The subdivision I grew up in goes by the name of "the Shadows." Unfortunately that didn't make me a ninja no matter how hard I tried. In the Shadows there are quite a few steep hills and in the Shadows there were also quite a few children with bicycles. If you were tough enough and cool you attempted to ride yours down one of these gnarly hills and not die. Guess who thought that sounded absolutely exhilarating?
I rode a pink generic bicycle that I ripped the streamers off of right away because those are unnecessary and equally ridiculous. The fact that I had to ride a pink bike in the first place made me feel ridiculous enough. There were no sparkly stickers as I had torn the majority of them off long ago. The tires were white and at one point I had one Ninja Turtle spoke ornament on my front tire that I was very fond of.
My brakes worked perfectly fine, but to me there was nothing like the sound of hearing your own shoe skid across the asphalt to slow you down as you leaned into turns. It was like being on a motorcycle in an action movie, minus any explosives. It was extra cool if you could get your back tire to slide out from underneath you and still stay on. Having a dirt bike would have been an honor.
The first hill into the Shadows subdivision appears in front of you like you're about to drive off of a cliff.. but that one curves to the right and isn't all that steep, so clearly, not badass enough to ride your bike down. The second hill is like a 50 degree angle inclined plane. It was perfect.
No one else was accepting this dare, partially due to the fact that they probably had more common sense than I did and also because it was TERRIFYING. I lived just a few blocks from this monster and I was going to conquer the shit out of it.
Your starting point would be at the big storm drain that went across the whole street, that has big enough grates that you could get your foot caught in and likely break your ankle. Which was a great preview for what I was about to experience next.
I took off, leaving my brother at the top of the hill so he could witness all this coolness of mine that was about to unfold. No helmet or any kind of safety precautions were taken except that I watched out in front of me in case there was a car.
Here we go.
Deep breath, keep true.
When you go down that steep of a hill as fast as I was going your front tire begins to shake like crazy, which in turn makes your handlebars shake like crazy. The tiniest flinch propelled me forward, over my handlebars, face first into the pavement and my poor child body skidded down the street. Utterly defeated by physics.
I didn't make it.
My brother rode to our house right away to go get our mom. I honestly have no idea how long I was waiting face down in the street, because I was so incredibly disoriented I could hardly move. I was so shocked I couldn't even cry out.
No one was coming to get me, I thought.
Not long after, a car comes up the road and literally just honks at me. I motioned my arm as if to signal "I'm dying here, go around me!" My bike is a several feet away from me and I'm a bloody child, lying in the street, a little help would be a fantastic gesture. Eventually whomever was driving got fed up with me not moving out of the way and got out to help me. They asked where I lived and I just pointed forward. I managed to get back to my house and threw my bike in the front yard. I walked in the house with a bloody face, scraped from head to toe, with ripped clothes. I. LOOKED. AWESOME.
My mom was in the kitchen doing dishes when I approached her with my new look. She was not very pleased with my choice of recreational activities that afternoon. We cleaned up all my wounds and I went to lay on the couch, because I had the worst headache I've ever felt in my child life. I could hear my mom on the phone talking to our neighbor down street about what happened and if it were possible I had a concussion. I was told not to go to sleep just in case, so I let everyone know I was just closing my eyes. Of course I was sleeping! I just landed face first in the fucking street!
My neighbor came up to give her evaluation. Evidently blunt force trauma is totally fine as long as you're not vomiting. I remember our neighbor brushing my hair gently with her fingers saying "How is she? Poor thing.. She looks so pitiful.. Try not to go to sleep, babe." It was somewhat like experiencing what it might be like if you were conscious at your own wake. Very bizarre, yet oddly comforting.
The enormous scab on my forehead was by far my favorite of all the battle wounds I acquired that day. It made me feel like I earned a merit badge and I wore it with pride. Strangers stared at me and wondered "what on earth happened to that little boy?"
Unfortunately no one actually thought I was any cooler afterward, but they were all still too afraid to even attempt that hill, so I knew better.
I was tough as nails and force to be reckoned with. Don't you dare step to my Tweety Bird high-tops.
"Did you really ride your bike down that hill?"
You're damn right I am.
I attempted that son of a bitch once more, on my own to try and prove to myself that I could make it to the bottom this time.
Not. Even. Close.
Halfway down, the same thing happened, but not nearly as severe. I still scraped up the entire front of my body again, but I managed to keep my head from hitting the ground. I heard several teenage neighbors nearby all start saying "ooh!" and "eesh!" And since I was completely conscious this time I was more embarrassed than anything. Moments later my mom drives by in her station wagon, stops and rolls her eyes at me and asks me what the hell I think I'm doing. I didn't have an answer. I put my bike in the back of the car and we drove off like nothing happened.
My Evil Knievel days were over.
Throughout my childhood I was frequently mistaken for being a boy. Honestly, it makes sense now. I hated everything that society considered "girly." Girls have pig tails and barrettes--I had the Jamie Lee Curtis bob. I had the same hair cut as the neighbor boys down the street who I played sports and climbed trees with. I hated girly stuff, but I still needed everyone to know I was girl.
"I'm a girl, god damn it!" I screamed at the Wal-Mart employee who just asked me "what's the matter, son?" while I was crying over a pile of Ninja Turtle t-shirts my mother refused to buy me.
I always made it a point to want the opposite of what girls were supposed to want. Remember the Pretty Pretty Princess game? If you get the gaudy black ring you lose. I was the girl who clearly lost on purpose, because the black ring was obviously the only cool one. I was like a more chatty Wednesday Addams personality in neon colored clothes--because early 1990's fashion was a bit cruel to the younger kids. You would never think ballerina if you saw me, but that is in fact what I was destined to enjoy according to my mom who enrolled all three of her children in dance classes, one of whom is my older brother. I was an awful dancer, my heart was never there.
My main beliefs were that brushing your hair is a waste of time, always sleep in your dirty clothes, and that my prized possession black Converse hi-tops always looked better covered in dirt and mud.
Getting your first pair of Chuck Taylor's was the greatest feeling ever, it was like a right of passage. I cried when I grew out of them and learned I wasn't receiving a replacement pair.
Barbie's were not welcome in my room. Any toy that was not a plush stuffed animal that had an actual person's name was no toy of mine. My first favorite toy was a pink stuffed bunny named "Bunny" who I decided was male. After I lost Bunny in a grocery store I came to the conclusion that my stuffed animals needed real names so everyone else would know how important they were.
Being as gross as possible was something I loved so much. I adored anything that especially wasn't for girls. I always wanted to learn how to burp ridiculously loud and make fart noises with my armpits on the first try. I usually practiced these things alone in the back yard or when no one was in the house, just in case.
I was alone a lot, but I never noticed until my second grade lunch lady asked me why I was sitting by myself. I always sat by myself, why does it matter now?
My imagination was never not active. I'd spend hours in the backyard with a paint brush in the dirt pretending I was excavating dinosaurs ever so carefully, or you could find me hanging upside down from our swing set until too much blood went to my head. Five subject, spiral, college ruled notebooks were the greatest things ever invented, I practically lived in them. I was voted "most imaginative" in class one year and that wasn't even a given category, they had to specially add it for me. "Where does this kid fit in?" In her own world.