My life is taking a turn towards turbulent rivers these days. The night before yesterday, my at-home internet connection was completely severed (and yet I continue to be billed for services). Yesterday afternoon, without invitation or warning (unless you count the few hundred hits from a “non-existent” website with RCMP in the URL), a couple of RCMP officers arrived at my door to discuss the content of the blog post I wrote about Jim Brown, and to probe deeper into some of my writing and experiences. And that same evening, my housing situation finally collapsed in on itself. My immediate and long-term future are uncertain.
The presence of those two RCMP officers triggered much of my (somewhat) latent memories of being visited by RCMP who hoped to investigate a letter I wrote to Edmonton Police Service, concerning a film I had been exposed to and was convinced (for years) was snuff. At least one of the officers looked into that file as well, prior to arriving at my home yesterday, and agreed that what I saw sounded horrendous and disgusting. That was my last interaction with RCMP, and though it finally ended a year ago, the film clip I was shown still runs through my head –- the laughter of a woman who sounds identical to one of my biological sisters still brings a chill to my bones. My nerves shot up when they told me that they were not there to follow up with me about the 9-1-1 call I had made when my friend and I were gay-bashed at our weekly demonstration last Saturday. And that’s where my nerves stayed through much of the awkward audio-recorded statement I proceeded to give over the course of at least two hours. Every step of the process of my relationship to Jim Brown was speculated about. No detail was left unturned. Someone wanted to ruin this man’s life, and emailed his photos to CBC. Now someone wants to crucify him for misconduct and whatever involvement (if any) he is determined responsible for, with respect to the most notorious serial murder case on the West coast in recent years.
When they finally left, my flatmate and I went for a walk to try and redirect the energy we have both been feeling consistently since September, when our life paths crossed. We have been unable to establish assistance for him from social services, and because of this, we already went an entire month both living on my benefits alone (with little bits of help here and there, to keep us from starving). I told him in the beginning of the month that I can’t keep this up any longer –- I’ve sold everything I owned that had any monetary value to another human being, apart from my camera (and a single lens), and a few things that I might get little more than a bottle deposit for (such as DVDs, books, and my computer monitor). Everything that’s left is going to a pawn shop or some other vendor. I’ll have my clothes, a bunch of paper work, a few really important films and books my heart would break to part with, and little else. I told him we will have to part ways if he can’t secure the means to contribute his share of the roof over our heads. And as it is already the end of the month, and that matter still remains ambiguous, we are both beginning to live in a constant state of anxiety and fear at the prospect of (one or both of us) becoming homeless. I’ve been homeless twice because I’ve been in his exact circumstance twice. I’ve become a resident of a homeless shelter, and I’ve dragged a mattress out of someone else’s trash heap to sleep on it in my tent (in the back yard of a condemned house literally teaming with meth addicts).
It’s been ten years since then, and it still hasn’t been long enough to shake the memories of washing my hair without even so much as a drop of warm water, just days before the first frost. Or of losing all of my material belongings, collecting a mere few packages of ramen noodles and a change of pants, a bicycle that someone didn’t lock up, and even having that raided and stolen when I wasn’t keeping a close watch over it. I’m preparing for becoming constantly exhausted and utterly depleted of energy again, and need to put my protest sign down to store up what little I can before I make some big decisions. I’ve already been losing a lot of sleep and waking up from vivid dreams to spend the greater part of an hour fighting myself to find my way back there again. And it breaks my heart that I have to prioritize something so basic as sleep or secure housing, over taking a public stand against woman-hating bigots. As one of my friends pointed out tonight, sexism is, unquestionably, the most divisive action a person or group can take. It just seems like such an equally basic thing, to stand up against it.
Now this brings me to the nagging trouble in the back of my mind: every time I’ve been in this situation, and for all the months leading up to it, I’ve been picked out of a crowd of people by multiple psychopathic and sociopathic personalities, who choose me because they can tell who I am. When they say something that brings a chill to the bone of anyone who is even remotely emotionally present, that person runs the other direction. But not I. Not when I can’t feel the emotional gravity of the unspeakable thing that was just said out loud. It just doesn’t hit me until long after it’s too late (in some cases, years later). I don’t know who to trust, and yet at the same time, I also don’t know how or when to keep my guard up. I am about to step out onto a tightrope – on one side, there is clear and immediate danger from trusting the wrong person; on the other side, there are burning bridges that once offered much-needed support. For the past year, I have been consciously facing the decision to balance myself as I try to move forward, or to stay paralyzed in fear of the consequences for trying and failing. Now I no longer have the option of paralysis, as all my defences and instincts are pushing me out onto that tightrope. The only thing I have to keep my balance is years of prior experiences navigating among the Robert Picktons of the world, and just barely managing to survive it. And remembering is no simple task.
I have to remind myself daily that no matter what I am being targeted for, it’s all about power in the end. I am simply the means to an end in the eyes of anyone who chooses someone like me for the reasons I have been chosen so many times before. Anything and everything they can do to establish a power dynamic –- to make me feel threatened, insecure, afraid, guilty, ashamed, or weak –- they will do it at all costs, because they have nothing to lose by trying. That’s what Jim Brown was doing by looking up my files and telling me all about the RCMP’s exploits with local criminals, losers, and stalkers. It’s what the man who showed me that pseudo-snuff film was doing by tightening his hand around my neck and wrapping my hand around his penis at the same time. It’s what anyone in a life-threatening situation tries to do, but these men (and many more, and even some women) do it for amusement. They get off on watching someone like me try to navigate my way through it blindly while they paint my perspective of anyone who shares my path even briefly. Anything to prevent us from sharing with each other, the half of the puzzle the other is missing. And I don’t know if being aware of this is going to help me hide from them for the first time in my life, or if it’s going to help hide me from everyone else (as it always has), until the day I finally just don’t get so “lucky”, and disappear entirely. It’s about keeping my balance and not letting another person have power over me. The irony of it all is that I don’t even smoke cigarettes or drink booze, even when I’m in a bar surrounded by people doing the same. This perpetual cycle of being re-victimized and re-traumatized is due entirely (on my end of it) to my inability to feel my own emotional states.