Story of a Failed Mind Control Subject

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Chapter 11

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Chapter 11
Independent Living

For the remainder of my high school years, I lived in the top of a duplex. I worked and went to school and got a small stipend from the State. It wasn’t enough to keep me alive, really. It didn’t pay my bills, budget though I did. So I got a second job and lied. I wasn’t legally supposed to work as many hours as I did, so I had to lie. I worked late into the night, and went to school during the days.

I’d like to tell some of the things that happened then. They’re fun stories. Feeding my ‘boyfriend’ dog food because he slapped me. Then friends coming over and (even though I specifically asked them not to) eating my chili. It was my meals for the whole week, and once it was eaten, my life was very, very difficult for that week. So I let them watch me ‘clean up’ after them by letting the dog lick the plates clean and putting them into the cabinets.

Don’t worry; I washed them after my friends left. And sent the dog back to his home downstairs. All the benefits of owning a dog, no poo cleanup! WIN!

Aside from the fact that I was always tired, and I still had no friends because I was weird, life during that time was relatively easy. I don’t underestimate the pain of loneliness, though. It was pretty serious for me during that time. I often hear autistic (asperger’s syndrom, I guess it’s called now- I think I liked autism better, I’m not sure I want to be an ass burger. Wonder if they’d allow us to name our own disorder so we don’t get stuck with ass burgers, huh?) people talk about loneliness, and I so understand and relate.

Loneliness is a happiness killer. My life, while easy at that time, wasn’t really good. It was overlaid with a loneliness that has characterized nearly every bit of my life. There’s something very stark, very stripped, and very brutal about a lonely life. I hear people downplay loneliness, and I’m forced to wonder if they’ve ever genuinely experienced it.

This was one of many times in my life where something shifted inside me. I realized on a profound and real level that nobody cared if I vanished. I was living, but forgotten. I was a number in a book, and nobody cared. My family did care when I was with them– they would have been glad to be rid of me. I always knew it, even though they didn’t say it and would deny it. I was one of those people whose relatives secretly hope will die.

And now I was totally alone in the world. While perhaps no one was longing for my death, no one cared, either. I was a shadow, lost on the edge of civilization, yet living within it. I went through the motions, I read books, and I stared out the window and pretended that somebody, somewhere, gave a damn.

In many ways, this was a more honest loneliness than I’d experienced for my whole live. Now there were no false Holidays in which suddenly everyone remembered that they were supposed to love me– even though they didn’t find me in the least little bit worthy of it. There were no more lies. No more pretenses of caring. Ever.

There were strangers who tried very hard, but also couldn’t really bring themselves to love me. They invited me into their lives for brief glimpses, and then I was gone again and they could go on freely while telling themselves that they’d helped me. And in a way, they had,┬ábecause at least someone was trying to care. It does matter, that someone tries to care.

But it doesn’t take away the fact that, at the end of the day, I was alone. I’d always been alone; it was just that finally people could really believe I was alone. When someone tells me that they feel alone in the midst of a crowd, I really get it. It’s not something that I understand; it’s something that I relate to on a deep level. Aloneness is about more than an absence of other people– and doesn’t always even need that.

Aloneness is about not feeling loved or wanted. It’s about sensing that the people in your life– if there are any– would feel better off without you. The inherent, deep knowledge that they’d mourn you more because they were supposed to, than because they really did. Loneliness is that feeling that settles into your soul and won’t come out. It’s a crisis of the heart, in which the heart begins to realize that every experience you have with other people is either negative or intrinsically meaningless.

That’s where I was in those days. I was surfing the wave of “really getting it” with regards to loneliness. I was in the middle of the experience of being unknown and uncared for. Had I quit showing up for work, they’d have bitched about it, hired someone else, and gone on with life. They might have felt a wave of, “Oh no, that’s too bad” if they’d later found out I was dead. And at school, they would have been glad I was gone– sorry I died, but glad I was gone. If they even noticed beyond thinking that yet another foster kid dropped out of high school– oh noes. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, new chalkboards for 10-A.

My social worker never had time to see me, so one less on her caseload would have been, again, “Too bad, but whew.”

This is the life of the foster kid. An inconvenience to everyone. A lost and forgotten stray, wandering the streets of life and the town we live in. A hungry heart, often coupled with a hungry body. The silent epidemic that walks among us all, generally unseen. When we are seen, we’re seen as a nuisance. A mistake. A problem. One that can always wait for another day, though.

My care was inadequate, the state giving me less and less the more I worked. So I could never get ahead, and wasn’t smart enough to realize that I could quit trying and I’d get more money from them. I thought I needed to make something of myself. Be responsible. This is the grand paradox of State Aid (and Federal, at that). The harder you try to better yourself, the more you’re punished by the system.

Our welfare system doesn’t help, because it penalizes the hard workers.

And our foster system doesn’t work because nobody wants to do it, except those who see a material (or sexual gratification) value in it. Even I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do it because I know that the system even defeats foster parents who care and really want to help. It’s designed in such a way that it breaks their spirits. Mine’s been broken enough.

But whenever I think about it, I cry. I cry that I’m not strong enough to do it. I cry that even if I were strong enough to do it, the system would destroy all my good intentions. I cry because there are people I know working right now to become foster parents who desperately want to love and care… and can’t, because the system is created such that truly caring people get crapped on.

“It’s not fair!” I want to scream. But I already hear the echo, don’t worry. “Nope, life’s not fair.” So there’s no use in pointing out the obvious. Yet sometimes it feels better to say it. It’s not fair. I want life to be fair. Please, though, don’t think that you need to tell me, of all people, that life’s not fair.

Believe me, I know.

And that loneliness that started then followed me into my life. Independence. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? But I’ve learned through the years that, while we all are expected to strive for it as if it were God’s greatest gift to mankind, independence often goes hand in hand with loneliness. I’ve learned that people love to help each other. And when you let someone help you, you can actually ease his or her loneliness.

I’ve lived that loneliness. And any relief from it, however brief, is a great gift. Very great.

Written by sandit4glp

July 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Chapter 11