One of the many words I dislike being called is a ‘freak’.
It’s far from being the most disturbing word I’ve ever heard to describe me. In fact, some of the insults that have been hurled in my direction would win awards for ‘Spectacular Use of the English Language’ or ‘Greatest Use of the Cussing Thesaurus Known to Humankind’. So in comparison to the multiple f-bombs, b-bombs, s-bombs and c-bombs that have been launched at little ole me over the years, ‘freak’ is relatively nothing.
But it still gets to me. It targets my mental illness, my homelessness, my sexual proclivity, my social anxiety, my isolation and, given my abuser’s love of the word (“You’re not a freak because you’re physically repulsive, if you lost a lot of weight you’d actually be slightly attractive, it’s because you’re mentally repulsive.”) it taps directly into the trauma that I repeatedly find myself locked in.
If you come up with a beautifully constructed insult using multiple swear (and made-up) words, I’ll issue you with a sash (or a crown if I’m feeling generous) for creative abuse.
If you call me a freak, I’ll retreat into my shell and begin flagellating myself for several days.
Today marks day two of ‘The Addy’s alone because he’s an annoying, repulsive freak self-flagellation-a-thon!’.
Yesterday, I attended my third Scrabble group. For those who missed my post, two weeks ago I commenced a series of social groups run through a mental-health organisation designed to break open my social isolation and perchance make a few new friends.
So far, it has been more unsettling than entertaining. Being around other people again has made me realize just how bad I’ve become in terms of talking to other people. I’m a master at talking to myself and my hallucinations, but when it comes to engaging with the outside world I’m clueless. Even the fragile social skills I used to possess have vaporized into the sands of time.
During my first Scrabble group I let other people win. I’m like that. “You’re far too kind for your own good,” Someone told me once, “you need to be crueller, more selfish. Just take what you want and to hell with everyone else.” For some this is a perfectly reasonable philosophy to live by, especially in a world becoming more and more altruistic, apathetic and narcissistic every day. However, it’s not me.
I’d rather give someone who’s hungry a Subway sandwich (as I did yesterday) rather than a self-absorbed lecture on how their hunger is their fault because of a mistake they made eight years ago.
I’d rather sacrifice my own dreams to help someone achieve one of theirs than put my happiness above those of others.
I’ve been this way for decades, so it’s unlikely I’m going to change now.
However, given that I was unable to play in my second Scrabble group (as I arrived late following a meeting with a Disability Employment Service) I had a ‘make random words from randomly chosen letters’ itch to scratch. So as I walked to the group I told myself to just play, after all, I could do with a win.
After ten minutes of playing, one member of the group threw their tiles in the bag and refused to play, leaving half an hour later. Another member left shortly after and, even though they put in a valiant attempt (including an eight letter word on a double word tile) the leader of the group decided the game had to end early as, being 150 points ahead of everyone else, Addy was not going to be beaten.
Now, I rarely praise myself, but there are some things I’m good at: film and movie trivia, cooking omelette sandwiches, recalling Buffy the Vampire Slayer (even though I can no longer watch it I’ve seen every episode at least a dozen times, some bordering fifty), self-flagellation, the history and folklore of Scotland, Zelda games, massaging buttocks, rambling and Scrabble.
I may not consider myself worthy of entering the Scrabble championships but if I did, I’d leave dozens of contestants in my wake. In fact, I am someone you never want to play Strip Scrabble with as you’d be naked within half an hour. Whereas if you dared play Spankrabble with me, best ensure you have a cushion handy as your ass would have no chance!
After trouncing everyone yesterday afternoon they began calling me the ‘Scrabble Guru’ and the ‘Word Master’.
And then, shortly after, the ‘freak’ word was thrown into the mix.
Cue immediate connections with past insults, past abuse and my own insecurities. Connections that, within an hour, tripped me into a depressive mood that not even Tina Fey or 30 Days of Kink could rouse me from. Last night, rather than write any of my NaNoWriMo novel or the myriad of blog posts I want to write, instead of writing emails I keep putting off or reading the marvellous blogs of those I follow, I walked around the darkened streets of my town in the middle of a vicious rainstorm and then, after the rain stopped, sat soaked to the skin wondering why I just can’t be ‘normal’.
Upon returning home I put in a half-hearted effort with writing a blog post, got annoyed, saved it as a draft and went to bed where I promptly had a nightmare in which my abuser slowly peeled every millimeter of skin from my body before forcing me to walk through the streets with my innards on show for all to see and laugh at.
Thus, it’s safe to say I didn’t sleep all that well last night :p
So here I am, flagellating myself with deprecating thoughts, self-aimed insults and endless questions about my worth as a human being. If I react as I did to just one word (which was probably meant as a compliment) how will I ever make new friends? Is it even worth returning to the group if I’m going to clear the room (which may or not have been my fault) by just playing Scrabble? If I can’t allow myself to be happy doing something that always makes me happy, will I ever allow myself to be happy again?
And what the hell’s wrong with being a freak anyway? My mind is a friggin’ awesome place of random kinky bizarreness! Much more interesting than a lot of the ‘normal’ people I’m irrationally jealous of! :p
These groups were supposed to help me connect more, to make new friends, to break this lethal social isolation I’ve found myself in. But if all I do is push people away, is the heightened anxiety that I put myself through before each group worth it? Is this cycle of self-hate I’ve been in for the last twenty hours worth two-hours of indulging in one of my favourite past-times?
This exercise in social inclusion was supposed to make me feel better, not increase my belief that I’m a freak who’s unworthy of having a life.
I’m off to buy a bookshelf!