Carrie On, My Wayward Son
When I was a teenager, the scariest movies to come out were “Jaws,” “It’s Alive,” and “Carrie.” “Jaws” I saw on my first date ever. “It’s Alive” I saw alone when I was eight months pregnant with my first child. “Carrie,” however, I did not see until many years after it was released. In fact, I heard about it from my friends and ended up reading the book before I saw the movie. For those who are unenlightened, the movie/book is about Carrie White, who is about the most tortured, white trashy, nerdy, victimized outcast you can ever imagine. Her mother is an abusive, fanatical Christian. The kids from school never, ever give her a moment’s rest from persecution. Day in, day out, that is Carrie’s life. When she starts her first period in school after gym class, the girls pelt her with tampons taunting, “Plug it up! Plug it up!” She is covered with blood and has no idea what is happening with her body. A sympathetic teacher explains to her what is going on and how to manage it. With the start of her period, she finds that she has telekinetic powers and can move things (hurl things, more like it) with her mind in times of extreme emotion.
One of the girls feels bad for how Carrie was treated on period day and decides to talk her own boyfriend, Tommy, into taking Carrie to the prom. He does and Carrie is delighted and has a splendid makeover that brings out Sissy Spacek’s best features. The other kids rig the election so that Carrie and Tommy win Homecoming King and Queen. The image above is Carrie reveling in the knowledge that she finally made it; she finally has her moment in the sun. Seconds later, a bucket of pigs’ blood is dropped on her. The bucket hits Tommy on the head, killing him instantly. Carrie is covered in sticky blood and everyone laughs (just as her mother told her they would). She goes berserk and uses her mind to burn the school down with all the kids in it. She then goes home and ultimately, her mother dies, she dies, the end.
Of course, the story is actually about female empowerment and basically how powerful and ultimately useless it is. The story was written by a very young man, the famous author, Stephen King, who at the time presumably knew not quite a lot about female empowerment. Although I cannot move things with my brain and have
never not yet had pigs’ blood dropped on me, I am Carrie and have been since the minute I was born. The fanatical Christian was not my mother, but my grandmother. I was teased every single day I ever went to school. I did not have my first period at school, but I got pregnant during high school in an era when that was not as commonplace as it is now.
I have always been the kid on the outside, the last one chosen for any team sport, the one who does not get invited to the other kids’ parties, the one who wore homemade clothing and hand-me-downs, and the one who never, ever fit in no matter how hard I tried. My set up was with the FHA (Future Homemakers of America) girls. Janet Hansen, who had a voice like an angel, graduated and was no longer the song leader. I wanted desperately to belong to something, anything, and even though I could not sing a lick, I auditioned and was completely surprised to find out that I was selected. Long story short, it did not go well and I came away from the experience fully aware of my place in the high school social structure.
I believed that such behavior was confined to high school and was tremendously excited to leave it behind me. Of course, we all know that this is not high school behavior and this is not kids’ behavior, this is people behavior and those kinds of lessons have followed me throughout my life. As the decades have flown past, I have mostly learned how to handle them better. I do not let other people define my worth to me, but I am often sadden when I learn that someone I care about does not share my opinion of my worth. As I have come up in my own female empowerment and found my own ego, I have learned that I am predisposed to overestimating my worth with people.
Like Carrie, I have those moments of believing I am in the cool kids’ group and being shown under no uncertain terms that I am not.
The past two weeks have been a struggle for me because I have gone through one of those times. A part of myself that I hid away for many years for fear of being vulnerable got dusted off and shined up again a few weeks back. I told myself that I had enough self-confidence to fully embrace who I am. Now I debate the wisdom of that move and the seductive allure of hiding away again beckons. The chest in the attic where the real me hides is cozy and safe and never, ever hurts.
Now this sounds like a pity party, but truly, it is not. It is what recovering alcoholics refer to as “a moment of clarity.” It is when the filters of ego and addiction and other mind-altering conditions fall away and you see things clearly for the first time in a long time. You come out of your fugue of self-delusion and get the reality check. The final consensus is that I am not nearly as clever as I think I am, not as sexy as I think I am, not as fun as I think I am, and absolutely not as valuable as I think I am, at least in the minds of some of the people closet to me. It should make me think less of myself, but it doesn’t. It makes me think less of them.
It makes me look at myself more objectively, of course, and find the areas that need work. It makes me know who I can trust and who I cannot. Even though it does not change how much I value myself on any of the levels in question, it still makes me sad that I somehow did not earn the gold star for the day…or the week…or in this case, likely 2014. We all want to be loved and accepted and when it turns out that you invested your gifts poorly, it can’t help but hurt. When you open up to the wrong people and it backfires, man does it sting. Just because you do not think less of yourself does not mean that the fallout doesn’t burn.
So if the time of revelation is now over, I am going to hope for the blessing of healing and moving forward. Better aware of my standing, I will forge different alliances and have new experiences and move through the world as a stronger, wiser person. My heart and my head will eventually stop aching. My wounded pride will heal and I will again greet the morning with a smile. Life..cycles.
Meanwhile, it never hurts to keep in mind that no matter how much empowerment you get, no matter how many people you take down with you when the schoolhouse burns, you still end up pulling down the house on top of you and skewering your crazy mom to the wall with kitchen tools in a mock crucifixion. Life is just like that. Meanwhile, here’s REM!
5 thoughts on “Carrie On, My Wayward Son”
You are terrific! You are my most notable friend (Facebook and otherwise). Your joie de vivre is unrivalled by everybody in my orbit. You nurture and take wonderful care of your family and your empathetic nature extends to the entire human race. You gave me (a virtual stranger) comfort as well as terrific advice during a particularly dark time on my journey and I am grateful. You have indicated a desire to work on your physical appearance throughout the years. You’ve made significant advances in this area in recent months and should be proud of what you accomplished in this regard. Plus you are now as prolific an author as is Stephen King. I admire your firm grasp on spirituality. I can only dream of grabbing that bull by the horns. There is A LOT of work involved when anyone embraces and attempts to understand ecumenical endeavors (and courage, too, be able to wholeheartedly and effectively keep such an unorthodox and outside-the-box belief system and be able to make it work. I would love to be a witch, if I only I could have the pertinent information instantly uploaded to my brain. I am sooo hoping your current level of discomfort is not a result of any misfeasance on the part of your husband’s insecurities and dalliances. Stiff upper lip. And all that jazz. Now, there were a go!your
What she said, Katrina. (and so well, too) Your story is so similar to mine, except I waited until I moved out to get pregnant. Couldn’t date while at home…even after I was 18. Wasn’t worth the effort of getting my mom’s approval or time off from chores. Any guy that tried to date me was put off by my weird family. My mom has always had odd expectations of how things should be, and the boys just did what they wanted. Not me. I always had to be a good girl to get mom’s approval…I am 60 now, and still don’t have it. Because I quit trying, I finally learned that there is no way to have her approval if I have a single thought of my own.
I am now the black sheep of the family, and the subject of many rumors, of which I have given up on trying to correct. I have removed all of my relatives off my facebook friends list, save one cousin and my own children. I no longer attend family functions. It drives them crazy because all they get now is mom’s version of things, and she only gets what I let her know. My family is my children, their spouses, and the grandies, and the dear friends I hold in my heart…the ones who love me without conditions, and whom I love back the same. The people on my facebook are my family. And what I post is who I am…I don’t hold with creating a false persona to the world…I try very hard to never lie, not even ‘white’ ones because they all hurt so bad in the end. Honesty also causes separation from some people, I’ve found.
My heart goes out to you, Katrina, because I feel your pain. Your heart will stop hurting so much, because you are a strong person and because you love yourself enough. You have the insight to see that this is something that is put in your path for a reason. Just know that you are not alone. I wish I could be there to hug you in person. I wish we could sit in your kitchen or on your porch and just commiserate to our hearts’ content and until we purged it out of us. Talking with someone who has been there, done that is the best because they get it…and they don’t judge you and they won’t walk away and leave you hurting, and they won’t add to it, either.
My doggie is getting very old. I promised my hubby when she was gone, before I got another dog, that we would take a trip. (If she were younger, it wouldn’t be an issue…she could stay with my daughter) She won’t be with us for too much longer…sadly enough, and that makes it a bittersweet trip, but such is life. He wants to go to the Ponderosa stuff at Lake Tahoe. I told him only if we drove through Sacramento up through the mountains so I could finally meet you. When that time arrives, that will be the sweet that gets me going. Until then, consider yourself squeeze-hugged, as my 3.5 yr. old grandson calls it, when he holds on tight and pours all his love into me for a few seconds. ((( <3 )))
The end of my last missive became rather ragged. My apologies.
My advanced age affords me the luxury of shinning on my stupid mistakes.
NOTE FOR MISS HELEN (above):TEAM
I, too, am 60 years of age — and I am okay with that! However, I was dragged kicking, screaming, crying with much teeth gnashing into my 50s. The angst was unbearable and lasted for most of the decade. Happy to make the acquaintance of a like-minded compassionate woman. TEAM KATRINA!!!!
It brings me tremendous happiness to bring together special people together who are like-minded!