I wrote yesterday about the drive to become non-poor, the need to separate oneself from one’s past and childhood environment.

But there is more to it.  Over time, I became aware that it is not so easy to completely shut out what I saw around me in my earliest years or the emotional traumas in my family of having no money and all the associated strains that brought on.  Until I was 9  or 10 I identified very strongly with my friends.  I truly believed in the ethos of brute strength and the use of violence to silence my enemies.

I despised the rich or rather, those who had more than I did.  I saw them as soft, dishonest, corrupt, not having gone through the fire of violent encounters. 

I grew to have a sense of pride in this aspect of myself without being aware of it.  As I moved up the grade system and began to encounter more middle class and wealthy teens, I kept that feeling as a sort of rock of resistance to change while at the same time, beginning to feel a sense of shame at my uncouth manners.  After all, I was trying to leave one world and move into another.  I was confused.  Even as I achieved the highest academic standing in my high school I continued to have a secret doubt about my worthiness.  By the end of high school I was basically depressed.

My physical strength and agility gave me less and less pleasure.  I could not motivate myself in school.  I could not grasp the point or meaning of what I was doing.  I could not completely reject who I had been and for some reason, felt guilty about leaving my other friends behind.  Why was I no longer part of the gang?  When I learned how one of our friends had gone to jail, I felt anger and a sense I had betrayed him.  This was especially true when I went over to a classmate’s house in Rosedale or a Jewish friend’s house in north Toronto.  What did all this politeness and distant inquiry about my health have to do with me?

I started to feel that I had a secret identity that could not find expression in these more refined, sometimes more academic circles.  I was not happy in my skin.

I wanted both utter physicality and intellectual and spiritual connection.  But my brain or psyche was not fully formed and for many years I swung between that yin and yan(g) in a way that did not really allow me to achieve either. I found it almost impossible to articulate this.  I was almost fifty before things clicked.  I could suddenly find words to say what I meant and what I felt. 

There must have been a chemical change in my brain.  Synapses connected with each other and writing began to be a pleasure instead of a long drawn out torture.

This has changed and I feel, saved me.  Will this new state last?  And how long do I have anyway? 

Oh what the hell.  If I only have one life to live let me live it as the me I am now.