I began writing as a means of expressing the sort of emotions that my family does not believe exist. The only emotion I truly understand, even now, is anger. When my father is angry, he baits me into arguments. The last time this almost happened, my sister pushed me out the back door and took me to get Chinese food. My sister understands anger as well.
I had a friend in school who wrote about suicide, and I berated her online. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t get over it. I told my mother about the girl, and she said she was just acting dramatic. Eventually, I learned my mistake. The friendship never recovered.
Two years ago, my sister went through a moment of frustration. She did not want to talk to anyone, but one day, my mother asked me to call her. She said, “I don’t want to talk to anyone.”
Both sides of my family have a history of alcohol and drug abuse. The way we talk about these things is the way I’ve noticed a lot of Black people talk about mental illness. There are “crazy” folks, and then there is everyone else. My family finds no connection between substance abuse and self-medicating, even though every story of every afflicted family member runs the same.
Last year, a family member was hospitalized. During the time of her hospitalization, my mother talked about how she had always been this dramatic, and that she always needed someone to take care of her.
“She crashed her car and never drove again,” my mother said.
I immediately thought about how I crashed my mother’s car during my driving test. I failed, and spent less than 10 hours practicing the next month. I was charged with Destruction of Public Property. I went to court where the majority of people there were charged with Driving Without a License. I took another driving test a week later and barely passed. The instructor said my attention seemed to be elsewhere. I thought: I’m just trying to get out of here. I never drove again.
When I told a family member that I went to therapy for a year in college, she said, “How much money did you waste?”
Last year, a friend said that I don’t “feel like other people do.” I told my mother and best friend about this incident, practically yelling over the phone, spitting in anger. I DAMN WELL FEEL. What about all of these journals I keep?