i have been feeling a bit angry at the world lately. angry at people and circumstances and things that mean that things are a certain way. usually a difficult way. i’m finding it more difficult to remain polite and civil about some things.
like, i know that it’s not stephanie’s teacher’s fault that she has to ask for proof that stephanie was at a doctor’s appointment last week, which meant that stephanie missed a lesson that was part of a planning thing for an exam. so stephanie asked if she might be able to get an extension since they were supposed to specifically use these few classes to pre-write their essays, and then squish enough keyword notes into 100 words that they are allowed to take into the exam to allow them to rewrite it during the actual exam. (yeah, it sounds pretty convoluted to me, too. but whatevs.) i did not know that we would have to prove that we were at a legitimate appointment so i didn’t think to ask the guy for a medical certificate. as it happens, i did take some photos of the pathology request forms because there was a big list of tests and i wanted to look up exactly what they all are. so i said that was really the only proof i could offer, and they said, yes, send that. so i did. but why do i have to? why are they treating stephanie (and by extension, me, as (one of) the adult responsible for her) like she has done something wrong, has skipped out on school for kicks, and placing the onus on us to prove that we were not doing the wrong thing, rather than accepting our word that we were not? that’s not how “innocent until proven guilty” works. and if it’s good enough for courts of law, then why is it not good enough for schools? so, yes. i am angry. because my daughter has worked hard her entire time at that school and had consistently good results, which continued even through the last year or so despite the fact that she’s got this mystery chronic pain causing illness, and that is apparently not enough to demonstrate our trustworthiness. i am angry because it is fucking hard enough trying to get people to help and figure out what is causing this and if anything can be done to improve it without being treated like a freaking criminal for doing so.
and actually there is a list of other reasons why i am angry at school. many of them are related to what i believe to be sexist and outdated policies which place different requirements on students depending on their gender. which, you know, most people realise that in this day and age is not acceptable. but apparently if it has been like that way for a long time and the p&c have approved it then little things like gender equality and discrimination don’t matter. but most of all i am angry about how unaccommodating they have been in regards to stephanie’s needs. last year, after her doctor at the cymhs called the school and explained to them that she really did want to go to school but she needs some adjustments made, and they finally made some effort to make changes to enable her to be going, one of the things we asked them was if she could have her uniform modified somewhat. because extreme fucking pain in her legs that hurts whenever they are touched. that hurts when she has to put socks and shoes on. no, they said. not possible. the uniform is an immutable law, it cannot be changed or circumvented in any way. it’s as unavoidable as gravity. no exceptions can be made. not even for things like CHRONIC FUCKING PAIN
TURNS OUT, the education department of queensland instructs principals and schools to “develop a process for managing special circumstances of particular students” and to “consider students with physical impairments requiring greater flexibility in interpretation of dress codes.” now, it could just be me, but somehow i don’t think that when they say about “developing a process” they mean that they process should be flat out saying NO to everything you ask. so, angry? yes. because i am the one that bears the brunt of most of stephanie’s moods when she is tired and hurting after a day at school. i am the one that has to watch her sob and scream and fade as this goes on and on and we still have no answers. and they are so hung up about their fucking “reputation” that they think it is fine to make a 15 year old girl experience more pain just so she can go to school.
i am angry at myself. always angry. disappointed. the thing is that i work so hard, to do what i do manage to do. to take care of my children and my husband. but it isn’t ever enough and i don’t know how i can possibly ever be enough. i don’t want to be a burden. i don’t want to be the reason that we might never be able to have our own home because we only have a single income. i don’t want to be the reason that my children resent us because they don’t have their own bedrooms or their own computers. (those things, i know they don’t need. but it would be nice to have the ability to give it to them.) i don’t like saying no all the time when they ask for something. (and yes, i get that sometimes kids ask for shit and you have to say no. but when it feels like you are constantly saying no, it gets hard.) this guy, several years ago, when i applied for the disability pension, listened to me lay myself bare and explain all the problems in my head and in my body and he still said to me, no. sure, you have problems but you can get some counselling and be better. but i have already spent pretty much my whole adult life striving to be better than the voice in my head, the pounding in my heart, the sweat on my skin, the cloud over my head. i AM better. not better looks like me trying to curl into a tiny ball under my desk or my bed, too afraid of the world to look at it. my better is me still having to sometimes tell my children that i can’t take them to the park because it is too hard. my better is me starting from morning on thursday, working all day up to having the ability to drag our bins from where they go to put them out onto the street for collecting on friday morning, because people will see me. my better is not being able to hang washing onto the clothes line because people outside can see me and because it hurts my back to repeatedly lift my arms up to peg things up. my better is getting a sharp pain in the lower part of my back while i am washing dishes, and having to slowly back away from the bench while holding onto it, gradually bending until the pain eases, then go and do something else for 5 or 10 minutes until i can do some more. my better is seeing the grass get longer and longer and knowing that trying to mow it will mean not only working myself up to the exposure that being outside brings but resigning myself to feeling especially creaky and decrepit for several days afterwards. my better is being bothered by a hundred things that should only be a minor inconvenience, but in reality cause a rising panic that everything is spiralling out of control and i can’t reach to grasp onto anything solid. so when that guy essentially implied that i wasn’t better because i hadn’t tried enough, it was a hard blow. it took a long time to get to the point of understanding that this is who i am and what i am like and that there might not be any better better than what i already have. and having that realisation made me feel alright about asking for help. turns out, the voice in my head that always tells me i am not good enough, that i am doing it wrong… is right. i am even not good enough at being anxious and depressed and deformed and in pain. and that is why i am angry at myself.
i am angry at the person who put that voice there. who found it so impossible to believe that accepting her could truly be as simple as knowing that someone i loved loved her. who pushed and picked at every insecurity a child had and then added more, just to make sure that she was doing a thorough job trying to alienate me so much that it would prove that i didn’t mean what i said and that i had hated her all along after all. the words of someone i trusted that told me so often that i was not normal and not like other people and selfish and strange and disappointing. and when it is someone you trust, you believe them. and then your own voice learns to tell you all those things. and i don’t know if it can ever learn not to, and that makes me angry.
i am angry at a society that forces me to opt-in to allowing my husband to do things on my behalf. i should not have to authorise him to make an enquiry for me. i have already authorised him with my heart, every time i tell him that i love him. i have authorised him with my soul when we stood together and exchanged vows and rings. i have authorised him with my body, every time that i use it to share in pleasure with him. the default setting should not be one that assumes that people’s spouses cannot be trusted with information. how about, if you don’t trust your spouse to ring up a company or government department on your behalf, then they maybe should not be your fucking spouse. i am angry at the backwards asshole parts of this world that will not grant equality to same-sex couples because it would destroy the “sanctity of marriage”. news fucking flash: they have already destroyed the sanctity of it, themselves, by refusing to accept my husband as my voice, my proxy, my advocate unless i explicitly request so. that is what it means for him to be my husband. it is supposed to set him above all others in all matters pertaining to me.
and that all leads back to more being angry at myself. because things wouldn’t be a problem if i was a normal person. a not anxious, not depressed, not introverted, not me person.