I’ve tried to spend the last few weeks actively reviewing what happened in my life over the past two years. What happened when I was with Clarity and the kids. It’s hard to read my journal entries or archived text messages, I don’t want to know that I had a good time with them I don’t want to remember that. I also hate remembering all the bad that happened and the treatment I allowed myself to accept. Seeing how I interacted with my emotions and own well being is horrid. I fought suicidal thoughts and self-harm tendencies for years in both therapy and my life only to ignore those same symptoms for over a year before I got so close to death I had to do something about it.
The thing that drew me to the kids at first was Clarity, she was my people and I hadn’t been around my people in so long. She listened and saw what was going on, she was a real person of which I feel like there are so few. I was so drawn to her that I didn’t care what I had to do to get her attention to get to spend time with her. I went on many smoke breaks with her at work just to see her for a few minutes. I saw what she was doing with the kids and wanted to help out, it was so obvious that there was a lot of need. I always knew there wouldn’t be money in it, at least up front.
As time went on I started to see that all the progress they all seemed to make would be undone almost immediately. They needed me to be around them all the time or any effort I put in felt pointless. Their need kept drawing me closer that and the reward I got when I showed up for them. I was good at what I did, I liked the challenge and felt in awe of my ability to be so good at showing up for the kids, at first the middle child, then the younger child, it always felt like a challenge I could take on, but I lost almost all of my energy and couldn’t figure out how to crack the oldest one. He knew what I was trying to do and would tell me I wasn’t his family.
And there I was in a weird in between. I didn’t want to be forced into their family but I wasn’t part of their family that was clear. Clarity treated me like family but it only felt like I was family to her. At first she called me her wife or her platonic femme-dyke partner. But the words and explanation got to be too much and I just became a nanny. Erasing so much of the work I did, care I gave and the fact that I didn’t have any life outside of them. Within 4 months of living with them I had begun to almost never see my friends. Clarity became scared of me not being at home with them and tearing myself apart from them to visit my parents for only a day felt impossible for all of us.
I ground myself in other people, I know that about myself. And I grounded myself and my self worth and my meaning up in them. In January a friend of Clarity’s asked me if I was going to stay in their life for the long-term and if not I needed to leave. I said “yes” as though “no” was a preposterous answer. In return Clarity agreed to make space for me to live my life so I could have friends and not have my only experience be with her and the kids. My promise hung over me like a contract, to me my word means something and I stay true to what I say I’ll do. Sadly in return I never did get time to see my friends.
When living with the kids I started feeling overwhelmed before I officially moved in, we would try and take turns decompressing, though at first I gave most of my turns to Clarity for she had been through more. By March I was having constant suicidal thoughts, that’s 6 months into meeting this people. A month later I cut myself on my forearm. I stayed because I thought it was going to work out I thought it was all temporary and it was gonna get better. I began looking at my growing debt and shrinking bank account and began to feel trapped. At first I would think about leaving and spending my remaining money doing whatever I wanted, 16 months in I no longer had access to any money, not that we had any money amongst the two of us to access at that point.
Clarity grew apart from me pretty quickly. I’m not certain exactly when but it’s around the time that she starts working fulltime, probably 6 months in. She doesn’t have the time for me. That and she knew I’d stay. I began to feel like a burden to her and she tried to avoid me or at least I imagined that’s what was going on. I tried to hard to get her attention, cleaning, buying random helpful things from the internet, being really nice. I would desperately try to get her to talk to me or like me after she comes home from work. She would just goes into her room. She only talked to me when I do things wrong, when the house is messy, when I fuck up something.
There was always a corner we were gonna turn and it was always going to work out. The kids were gonna be back in school, we were gonna move into a new house, she was gonna switch her position at work, she was gonna get a new job, we were gonna implement a new system. It was always on the upswing but never really swung upwards. After holding out for things to get better for months it became clear to me that it was never gonna get better and I was going to die if I didn’t leave. I waited 22 months for it to get better and it did, we lived in a home we rented, had 2 cars that were legal. But I was miserable and not treated well. I was never good at setting boundaries but I began to realize it was because I knew they wouldn’t be listened to. Oh my last day I set a boundary for Clarity’s new boyfriend to not come over, and then he did. So I left.
It was the beginning of a new story that has been really difficult thus far but is finally going to be my story. Not anyone else’s story, not a story where I’m a side-kick but a story where I am the one leading it. It’s great, I’m doing things I only dreamed of. I’m standing up for myself in new ways, and since digging through a good chunk of what happened I’m excited to begin figuring out the question I’ve been wondering forever, Who is Jenny? I don’t know the answer yet but she definitely likes riding bikes still and she likes music a lot and can play at least a few songs on the Ukulele (even singing along to them while she strums). I’m anxious and kind of excited for the future. I think it’s gonna be an alright place for me.