Our subject needs no introduction!
Okay, she kind of does.
I’m Cara H, the Cheesy One, The Cheesemeister. I’m Cie, pronounced C. My real name is pronounced Care-ah, as in I care or pretend I do. Anyway, it ain’t Car-ah. The Car-ah is something you drive-ah. If I were a Car-ah, I’d kill you if you tried to drive-ah me.
I write dystopian and Lovecraftian fantasy and science fiction under the pen name C. L. Hart. That’s my first two initials and the first syllable of my last name. I picked it because my literary heroes H. P. Lovecraft, P. G. Wodehouse, and J. K. Rowling asked me to join their prestigious Secret Society of Authors Using Two Initials and a Surname.
If there really were such a society, I would join. We would sit around drinking tea and telling stories.
I also go by Owl. Ornery Owl, that is. Ornery Owl is the persona who pens my poetry and helps me dredge up repressed memories. I am Ornery Owl and I have something to say, come what may. You can listen, or you can ignore me. Whatever.
I was born on February 15, 1965, during a raging blizzard. It was a portent of a turbulent life to come.
I wish people would have listened when the head nurse spoke up and said leave this one alone. People have always made it their business to get up in my business, even though they didn’t care a hill of beans for me. It’s the rare person who gives a damn. The rest are either nosy or evil.
I grew up dancing with the likes of The Beatles, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and The Rolling Stones. Later, I danced in the dark with Bruce Springsteen. When The Kinks said “Come Dancing,” you know I did.
“Do you love me now that I can dance?” I asked my schoolmates.
“You can’t dance. You’re ugly and weird. Nobody likes you,” my classmates said, and my inner critic confirmed it.
My inner critic’s name is Ayce Hole. I named her after an awful diet candy infused with lidocaine. It was supposed to numb your stomach so you wouldn’t feel hungry. I wanted to look like the After pictures in the Ayce ads, so I ate the candy.
When I looked in the mirror after noshing on a couple of mouth-numbing caramels, I hoped to see a gorgeous swimsuit model looking back at me. Instead, I saw an unhappy, bulimic teenager with numb gums, and because the candy had no nutritional value, I was hungry. Like most miracle cures, Ayce was a scam. Quelle surprise!
I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school when Michael Jackson’s album Thriller was released. I dug the Werewolf story set to music. I wanted to create exciting entertainment like Michael. I was an ugly duckling with a voice like a pissed-off swan, but I hoped that the Powers that Be would take pity on me and alter my less than comely appearance and far from crowd-pleasing musical abilities. Barring that, I hoped they would put me on the path to becoming a comedic actress. Character performers don’t have to be drop-dead gorgeous.
What I craved even more than talent, however, was adulation and excitement. I not only needed to be told I was good enough, I needed it reaffirmed constantly. I needed to hear that I was amazing! Beautiful (in an unconventional way)! Talented! Wonderful! Of course, because I don’t really believe a word of it, I needed it repeated again! Again! And again!
I wanted to be the thriller, and I wanted to get my thrills. I was always on the hunt for the next party. I needed one drink to pull me out of my shell, another to lower my inhibitions, and however many came after that to help me forget how much I hated my life and myself. I couldn’t stand for things to be still. I always felt like I was buzzing inside. Being high or drunk helped reduce the imbalance between the way things were and the way I felt they should be. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my behavior was a cry for help.
It literally took more than five decades for me to finally understand what was going on in my head. I had many erroneous labels slapped on me over the years. My favorite of these has to be “hysterical neurotic.” I’ll never forget the clown of a shrink who bestowed that sassy little number on me. I’m proud of the way sixteen-year-old me gave him what for. He was a damn Freudian misogynist who didn’t deserve the respect he demanded. I saw right through him.
My second favorite label is “borderline personality disorder.” Borderline personality disorder is the modern hysterical neurotic. This label is overwhelmingly applied to women and girls. The manifestations of “borderline personality disorder” don’t come out of nowhere. Every single person this label is applied to has complex PTSD. Every “borderline personality” has been traumatized, often sexually.
I was also misdiagnosed as having both type 2 bipolar disorder and OCD. When I was unable to afford Lithium, I expected to have “bipolar” episodes. I never did. With a little research, I discovered that I actually have ADHD and complex PTSD. People with ADHD can manifest obsessive behaviors and negative feedback loops that mimic certain aspects of OCD. However, the approach to short-circuiting such behaviors is different with ADHD than with OCD.
Suddenly the reasons for my thrill-seeking made sense.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been cheated because I could have started making progress a lot sooner if I’d known what was really going on sooner. However, as the curmudgeonly Dr. House observed, you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you get. No amount of complaining will allow me to go back and make my discovery sooner, so I’ll just have to take it from here.
One day at a time.
~Ornery Owl Has Spoken~
Thank you for your honesty. Some days a day at a time feels like a huge ask doesn't it?ReplyDelete
The days when I have a spike in self-loathing are the worst. Most of the time, I've learned to say "well, let's get to it, come what may."Delete
One day at a time, indeed. As a teacher, I've worked with many families who have to learn to deal with labels. My advice is often to accept labels for what they do best -> a means to access funding, accommodations in school, equipment... and then to ignore the label. A person is a person is a person. We're all unique. We all need to find ways to work with our strengths. Our strengths are what will lead us to better futures and happy lives. Wishing you all the bestReplyDelete
Maybe it's because I'm from a different generation (early gen-X), but labels have never done that for me. I was labeled retarded by the school psychologist. Turns out I'm a little bit dyslexic, mostly with numbers. I do poorly with pattern recognition tests, which is the type of IQ test that was administered to me. I also have a bit of trouble with balance because of frequent ear infections as a child. This got me placed in the "special needs" gym class because I couldn't do gymnastics. All good little girls should be able to gymnastics, right? At least, this is what they believed in 1976. I can tell you the other kids had a field day with it. I may not be a genius, but I'm not "retarded." I understood what they were saying about me. They understood what they were saying about me and they knew it got to me. That's why they said it.Delete
I was also labeled a "freak" by one of the nurses in the mental hospital where I met the clown of a shrink I mentioned in the essay. I told her "better a freak like me than a bitch like you." I was treated subhuman in that place. I resolved that I would take myself out before allowing anyone to put me back in such a position. I have kept that promise for 41 years, and I intend to keep it for the next 41.
Compelling. I'm glad you've found answers. Writing a memoir is difficult. I've been trying to write mine for years. I still don't plan to publish until certain individuals are no longer here. Although at this rate maybe I'll be gone first. :)ReplyDelete
I actually have many more questions than answers. But I have found a way to function and not despise myself most of the time.Delete
I've been trying to write a memoir for years. I have many iterations of it. I've decided I'm going to take my story decade by decade and see if that will work. I wouldn't want my mother to see it, but she's never taken an interest in my writing, and I wouldn't publish it under my real name.
Congratulations on writing your memoir! You are a courageous person to share your life with the world. Your story matters. I bet your story will help someone who is the same place you were. Keep going! I wrote about just one year in my life. It sounds easier, but it isn't, but oh so satisfying. BTW, may I have a membership in the Authors Secret Society? My Pen Name fits the rules for membership. J.Q. RoseReplyDelete
Oh, I've written the blasted thing multiple times. Getting it to the point where I deem it worth publishing is another story entirely!Delete
Of course you are welcome in the Secret Society. Your name is perfect! ;-)
I'm sorry you went through so much shit in your youth. Teenage years could be brutal. I hope everything is better now.ReplyDelete
Things are better, but it took becoming disabled and moving to the middle of nowhere before I started to understand myself.Delete
Thank you for your candour. Always greatly pleased to read a non-fiction entry. One day at a time is a good modus operandi.ReplyDelete
Thank you. It works for me--usually.Delete
You should never despise yourself. And I don't think anyone ever gets all their questions answered. I'm glad you have the attitude - "well, let's get to it, come what may." I saw this in one of your replies. Memoirs must be hell to write. I've always wanted to write a travel memoir. That's as far as I'd go.ReplyDelete
Of everything I've ever written, I think the memoir has been the most contentious.Delete
It's a funny thing. Those who have done truly awful things are often quite arrogant, while people who have harmed no-one but themselves are often filled with self-loathing. This world is weird.
You know what I like? That you have the guts to keep going and to find out who you are. It doesn't mean that your journey is over, but you have said, that's enough! I like that.
Thank you. :-)Delete
Thanks for sharing openly with your fellow writers. It takes a lot of courage to talk about such serious life issues. Sometimes one day at a time doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s one minute at a time, one second at a time, one breath at a time. I’m glad you’ve found the correct diagnosis. Makes it easier to understand your feelings and behavior and help yourself cope and find ways to move forward.ReplyDelete
I always had to do the one second at a time approach with panic attacks. Also, while sitting in the dentist's chair trying not to have a panic attack! I do okay with cleanings, but I wasn't able to go to the dentist for seven years and I had five cavities. Not my idea of a good time!Delete
Perhaps each day brings just enough hope and commitment to continue our healing. And our acceptance of who we are and how we became to be truly ourselves. I, too, have drafted a memoir to find it a healing process . . . but, like you, I'm not at all ready to go public. Instead, my writing takes me other places, and, like here, sharing with others, one story at a time, only sometimes. Perseverance. Your stories and experiences will help others as well.ReplyDelete
I prefer writing fiction, but for some reason part of me feels like airing my dirty laundry. I have hopes that it might help someone who's going through what I went through, but there's part of me that always says "who would want to read about YOU?"Delete
This is so real and honest. Thank you for sharing. It's awful it took you so long to get the answers you needed, but I like your outlook. One day at a time.ReplyDelete
Thank you. I wasn't in a good place to be able to look at my experiences from a somewhat objective perspective until recently. There are benefits to getting older and angrier. Although these days, my anger has less of indignance and more of sadness that anyone should have to suffer as I did.Delete
Hi Cie - it's often difficult for us (the outsiders of your life) to understand ... I must say after my year in Canada where I was with someone who, I eventually worked out, had bad Autism ... and I could through my own rationalisation once I got back to the UK work out what was happening - but obviously I'm in the wrong now ... as my family can't see it - well for me it's a funny old world - for you most definitely not. I'm glad you've worked out what's what ... and we've learnt lots from your story here ... thanks for sharing. With thoughts - HilaryReplyDelete
Actually, one of the reasons I didn't end up offing myself is my sense of humor, and I definitely haven't worked out what's what as far as life goes, I just understand my past actions better than I once did. The other reason I've survived is I didn't want the people who would gloat over my suicide to win. In other words, being ornery saved my bacon.Delete
Hi Cie. I came back for another read and I just want to say, keep going. As you say, you may be able to help someone else.ReplyDelete
Thank you. Now, if I could just pull something together enough to make it publishable! It's somehow harder with nonfiction than with fiction, at least for me.Delete
Good, honest writing. Thanks for sharing. Labels can be crushing and what happened to you as a child is trauma. It's encouraging to read about how you've taken control of your life and found ways to overcome your PTSD. Carry on, fierce and strong!ReplyDelete
I don't really think I'm either fierce or strong, mostly too ornery to let the bastards grind me down completely. And I really don't feel like I'm in control of my life. I'm on disability, which is very demoralizing. I'm hardly a role model. I just keep telling myself I'm not going to let any more bastards fuck me over. Except the government, I guess, but I'm hardly a special case there.Delete