See U Next Tuesday You Monster

There’s a shame in me that I can only face in moments of my deepest truth. It’s confronting a monster inside vicious and treacherous and wholly evil, one who waits for me in the dark recesses of my being, who will only reach out and touch if I am strong enough to fight it. Always, I must initiate contact, but then after that, its all about the monster.

The monster of me is my own fear of intimacy, and the monster was born from the packages of Valentine’s Day cards forced upon me as a third and fourth grader, ages 8 and 9, so therefore in the very thick of childhood, that seemingly endless period between recognition of the wonder of being alive and then realizing that disappointment is a major part of that experience and then ending with your period, when the fun/not fun really starts.

At that age you just don’t want anyone to see you, or maybe it was just me, but if I could be swept under rugs it would have been a great relief. Existential crisis isn’t what children are supposed to have, but I had it, like a cold that never went away, infecting and reinfecting me, the virus growing alongside me into the monster, coming to be my exact height and weight. The forced giving of these valentines was a way to feed the monster, because the monster thrived on chaos and insecurity, psychic pain and doubt, fear and rejection and betrayal. This is what the monster brought to school in a wrinkled paper bag. This is what the monster was served in the cafeteria on Valentines Day, along with the chalky candy hearts and chocolate kisses.

There were never enough cards in the package to give everyone, and so there were always going to be some left out, and the possibility of buying an extra set was out of the question for struggling immigrant families like my own. At least my mother saw the importance of buying at least one of these packages in an attempt to make me seem like slightly less of the freak that I was, that I appeared to other children, but the fact that I didn’t have enough to go fully around threw my inadequacy into relief. I had to pick the people I cared for to give cards to, and this was the original wounding, for to reveal my own heart at that time was dangerous and vile, an exposure that felt intolerable. To show my affection was to flash an honesty that once seen, could never be unseen, and it kept me up at night with worry and dread.

When you don’t have friends and you have to give your not friends cards which denote love and ardor and write their names on a paper that you would rather curse than bless and then walk around during class handing these insincere and inexplicable envelopes out in a mock baby version of an adult cocktail party, everyone out of their desks and crossing their arms and standing around, it causes problems later in life, in particular, with love.

When I gave a girl a card, it was the worst, because I knew I had to do it in the most blank way possible, as if I was giving the card under doctors orders or under the gun or at least throw it at her as if to say, “this is out of my hands.” Kids know when there’s something about you that is different. They smell it and sense it and it sickens them because they recognize it in themselves and if they don’t attack someone will soon do it to them. Bullying starts, as it is a form of self hatred expressed outward, and since the cruelty towards ourselves we are capable of knows no bounds, it can be bad. Insanely so.

Lies told about me from the giving of Valentine’s cards were common.

Once, I gave a Valentine to a girl I did feel a deep awareness of. I couldn’t go so far as to say I had a crush, because that would make my feelings seem like they were pleasant. Her name started with a ‘J’. they always seem to have ‘J’ names. J could sense a temperature change whenever I came around her desk. J enjoyed that power. I gave J a card and she told the rest of the class that I had leaned in to ask for a kiss on the cheek and then turned my head fast to trick her into kissing me on the mouth. I was embarrassed beyond belief that she would spread this absolute lie and that everyone totally bought it, easily visualizing me pulling a common child molester’s trick, a pedophile shell game, three card Nonce-y. Fuck you J. I hope you are dead now. You just might be. We are all getting to that age.

The monster was pleased. The monster had a growth spurt every year about this time. The monster, made of red paper hearts and cut outs of bubbly lace and doilies, snails and whales and puppydog tails, equal rights and spice and everything nice. However those rhymes go, they were all about the monster.

Because of the monster, and because of those cards, I can’t love without tremendous duress and medication and processing and counseling and unavailable people and fights all night for no good reason and so of course insomnia. Because of the monster and because of those cards, when I send a text that may not even be romantic in nature, just somehow plainly nakedly affectionate, and I don’t get a response, I feel as if the world is ending. Because of the monster, and because of those cards, I am me, and that doesn’t feel so great sometimes.

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16 Comments. Add To The Mix…

  1. Just yesterday I was telling a friend precisely about this kind of experience…the sense of doom and fear that comes out of the forced rituals of childhood and youth, the way they linger.

    I’ve been in love with the same person for well over thirty years; the worst thing he’s ever said to me (when we were still ridiculously young) was “what do you want from me?” The answer was “nothing,” but I didn’t tell him that until about 19 years after he’d asked. Between the question being asked and the answer being given, many things had to happen. As a sixteen year-old I was ill-equipped to be clear, to be absolutely certain in my response. As an eighteen year-old, he wasn’t mature enough to realize that I could’ve asked the same thing. By the time we got married (many, many, many years and one failed marriage and two children with someone else later,) we were both in a position to tell the world (the one that had pressured us into insecurity and trepidation) to go fuck itself.

    Everything is fraught with semantics…and we inherited those, and we somehow adopted the anchor that comes attached to them. I hated the cards…I was often overlooked by the cards…the little box with the opening on top for people to parade around the classrooms and openly reject you by stopping, looking at your container, not even checking if they had a card for you, smiling smugly and walking by…that’s cruelty that we’ve allowed to have imposed on ourselves.

    The monster…I understand you. I have one of those. I stomp on it from time to time, along with the bluebird of happiness and hope that likes to chirp out of turn. I’d rather have the sturdy Dodo bird of “this is what it is and I am ok as I am” nesting in my household.

    Thanks for this post…and, please, know that some of us (even in the midst happy, healthy, blossoming relationships with truly amazing people) still carry a brown paper bag to either help with the hyperventilating or the sudden bouts of “monster rearing ugly head” that make us want to hurl.

  2. People can be so cruel.. and children the cruelist.

    I remember the mortification when all the girls in my class decided to corner my crush and tell him I loved him.. and forced him to say whether he liked me back. Of course he said no, and they all came back delighted that they could “console” me. It’s all an elaborate parody of life at that age.

    Rejection is a scary beast. I wish more of us could just let love in, and remind those around us how much they are loved, too. We all need it.

  3. At my school, the rule was that you had to give a card to everyone or no one. So while the direct feeling of rejection wasn’t there, it still felt very fake and forced since half the kids hated my guts and the feeling was mutual.

  4. I feel the same way about valentines cards, we had to give one to everyone. They didn’t mean anything. I don’t know why they never put enough in a box. I guess to force you to buy 2 boxes so they can profit even more. Bastards.

  5. I understand only too well. You have this day every year that gets turned into a judging point event: for some reason all the love you showed throughout the year doesn’t count if you don’t go all out on a day chosen by other people. I despise being forced to do something that I should want to do, and it makes me resent this day and how it adds to the problems I already have with displaying affection.

    As an aside, I’ve found you attractive in all your manifestations from “American Girl” going forward. You’re why I watch “DDD”.

  6. I’d be your Valentine in a hummingbird heartbeat! You better have one. Every make and model has to e attracted to you! Love your style Cho! It scares me how much I understand what you blog. Feels good pal! I mean it when I say I love your stuff!

  7. Magaret,
    Happy Valentines day!! IF you send me an e card or even an email, I promise I will fight those monsters with a heartfelt reply and take those monsters away. BTW, u are not alone with those monsters. I have them too, but sometimes u have to say “F*** ‘EM!” And then go to an underground fetsih club in NEW York City. That usually boosts anyone’s confindence and keeps those monsters away. LOL! See u in New York!
    Jim
    youtube site name: skinheadfunboy

  8. just to share . . . my 4 year old and i were working on her class valentines. i printed named labels and she was in charge of putting on $ store valentines and putting smiley faces on them. for each one she’d ask who’s this for?, she had comments for everyone such as, oh he/she’s in my class, oh he/she’s nice to me, oh he/she’s my friend. except for 2, Dakota and Zahara. her comments for these 2, oh they’re not nice to me, they always laugh at me. why do they laugh at you? i don’t know, they’re mean to me. hmm. i ask if she doesn’t want to give valentines? her 9 year old brother having overhead while playing wii immediately shouts out, i wouldn’t. but no my sweet girl says, no that’s not nice. so we made valentines for these bastards and i had to restrain myself from not taking their 2 valentines out from her bag. i hate other people’s children. i think we all have inner monsters. keep thinking the next time during pickup/drop off i’d like to stick my feet out and trip the shitheads. oops. good thing i don’t really care to learn other kids names.

  9. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. hope you are with some AWESOME people through life and not pedophile, molestors, or crack heads playing redundant idiotic games as such.

    peace be with you.

  10. Your post opened up some old wounds for me. I remember the enforced participation on Valentine’s Day. What adults seemed to think was cute, was horrible for me and a lot of other kids. Kids can be cruel to other kids in a way that is unequaled by any cruelty received later in life. I still feel the scars of those years. I was almost always the last kid picked for whatever game, and the whole valentine thing is a dim memory because it was so painful. I just remember the laughter of the kids when I seemed to think a valentine they had sent actually meant something, and how I hated them for that. I also have a very difficult time with Love. As I often say, I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand!!

  11. I don’t know you, but I want to mention some things. For all your pain and fear, that I believe is real, what I see most in you is positivity and love. You inspire me to be more positive. You have, give and are so much love. You seem to love harder in spite of pain. Also, a friend of mine who knows you and has worked with you a little bit said to me that you would ALWAYS return calls. And you are always very nice to him when he runs into you. Not that he doesn’t deserve that, but he doesn’t always get it, so the validation is appreciated. Finally, one time I was standing alone waiting for someone and you walked by. I looked at you and you said hello. It was simple and maybe it didn’t mean much, it was just the way you are, I think, but I appreciated that simple gesture. So, maybe not entirely relevant to what you wrote, but love to you. Every day.

  12. You stirred my monster. How and why this story touched me, I am not quite sure. Maybe it was the I was different and everyone knew it, but me. I think that is where the shame came from. I felt ashamed for being different after I realized everyone thought I was different but me. And the bullying, and the teasing, and the teasing and the bullying living in fear, and teachers not protecting… After all elementary school was in the 60′s, early 70′s. THanks for dragging that up Margaret. You know the weeks of therapy I will have to endure for this blog post. GEESH!

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