The terrible thing, she'd always thought, were that there were so many rules.
Rules about how to speak and how to behave. Rules about what to wear and when. Rules about what to do in a certain situation, all different rules for what to do in another.
And those were just the obvious ones.
There were also rules about what was acceptable and what was not. What sort of background you should have. Who your friends were. Where you lived.
Who you knew. Who knew you.
Rules, endless rules. And life was governed by them absolutely.
If you could follow these rules – follow them all, exactly the way you were supposed to, then you could fit in somewhere. Find a niche. Have a little space in the big wide world to call your own.
Best of all, on every side, you'd be surrounded. Never really alone.
She was a gymnast, and that put her on the cheerleading team of her working class public shool. That made her popular.
In college, she was blonde and pretty and fun and joined the drama club as well as the cheerleading team. So she was popular there too.
She was glad. Being popular meant there were always people around. People to talk to you and walk beside you, to nudge you in class and come see your shows, people to study with you and drag you out to the bar, and laugh when you stacked it.
People to believe in you.
At home there was never anyone around, even when there was. At home, she hid in her bedroom to hide from the emptiness of that house.
At home, when she was alone in her bedroom with the door shut tight, she practiced so hard to learn the rules by heart.
She was constantly terrified of discovery, certain one day someone would look at her and say: you are not one of us. You do not really belong here.
Somehow she'd always known she didn't really belong anywhere. It wasn't simply that she wasn't truly part of the in-crowd, being working class and Jewish and an orphan. Despite the issue of her birth, they had just been the easiest to assimilate to.
No one ever knew how hard she worked at it, how much she had to put into it to fool them all. To never arouse their suspicion. And though she could tell her friends about her first kiss and her first heartbreak, she knew she could never tell them she was an Imposter.
Such honesty could lead to only to rejection. Exile. Solitude.
Her identity was something she obscured in order to know community. She learned quickly the most palatable and personable aspects of herself and crafted them carefully into what they expected of her. Bubbly but not as effusive as she longed for. Talented but not as exceptional as she wanted. Wild but never as unrestrained as she yearned to be.
Holding the heart of herself, fluttering and thudding, a prisoner buried in the darkest recesses of her being. Cannibalising herself to survive.
Somehow she hadn't thought it would last. Somehow, she'd been led to believe there would come a time when that aching slow devouring would come to an end and she would joyously regenerate, emerge then her fullest self and finally whole.
But in adulthood there were more rules, yet more to add to the never ending pile, seeming to heap down upon her in quantities so vast she felt smothered; every inch of her crammed full of details to remember. Rules about rent, about debts, about bills, rules about work and travelling and keeping it together.
Sometimes she thought she'd go mad beneath the mass of all those rules. But then she remembered that the mad were just those who broke the rules and terror would constrict her throat and her true self would be the flutter of a bird's wing somewhere deep in her chest. A single flutter, and then stillness, the clawing need for survival stronger after all.
He walked a solitary path and yet he never seemed alone. He was glorious and respected and never feared anything, least of all discovery.
He was mad and had no more rules left to break.
It made her quake to think of it, made her gaze upon him with wide and disbelieving eyes, wondering how he'd ever found the courage to do it.
She knew she certainly never could.
It was just as well, in the end, because being by his side was better than going it alone.
Under his guidance, beneath his hand and the glow of his smile, she released herself and her liberation was like death in how absolutely it obliterated all she had ever known.
But in that destruction she was split open and stepped forth from her ruins, reborn and brilliant.
He pushed her into madness and the pressure of his encouragement as she fell was all the support she had ever wanted. Now fully she became herself as she had always been within her head, the person she had dreamed she could be, had wished she could be, had wanted to fight to be. She was as bright and as bouncy, as careless and as carefree and finally as passionate and perverse as confinement had made of her restrained soul, now bursting with the excess of freedom.
He encouraged it. He delighted in it. When all others around her despaired, his laughter was her driving force, his approval her only barometer, his pride the only bastion worth striving for. She gloried in it and gave herself over completely and in doing so found herself increasing in realisation, becoming more even than she had dared to believe.
The petty drudgery of normality, of day-to-day-to-day, of following the rules and fitting in fell from her like a shell and she was spun instead into the realm of the truly elite. In all the world she was unique and even her madness defied normal classification. For her, they had to create new definitions and new words and she was on the front page of countless papers, had photos taken and documentaries made of her. And all the while he was beside her, holding her up next to him and she knew he was her deliverer.
She no longer had to fight for a space in the world to call her own. She no longer had to wonder if she could truly lay claim to what she had, or that she'd be discovered as an imposter.
He made room for her. Within his own generously carved out space in a crammed-full world, he gave her a spot and she knew she would never have to be anything again but what he told her, and that what he told her would be what she wanted anyway.
Within that niche she could stop fighting, could stop battling the overwhelming crush on all sides that was the unbearable struggle of all other searching creatures and simply float, at peace and fulfilled, within the world he had created.
Manifested by him, she was free of trying to be anything else and as his creation she was finally actualised.
Beside him, with him, for him, she was never alone, not even when they were apart. The wretched, aching emptiness she had felt hiding in her bedroom, alone in her dorm, waiting for the next time she saw her friends and then even when she was in the midst of them, was finally filled and she knew she would never truly be lonely again. So long as he was there and she knew he was there.
To him she belonged and in that belonging she knew herself.
He knew her. And through that, so did everyone else.
There were rules. Rules about how to behave and how to dress, rules about what to do in one circumstance and rules about what to do in another. Rules about how to treat him and when to touch him, when to act in his name and when to stay simply silent.
They governed life completely, but she never had to learn them. She knew them like she finally knew her heart.
After all, they were his rules.
And in that, they didn't feel like rules at all.
Hey everyone! I've got myself into a bit of a rut. It's been so long since I really sat down and wrote anything that even though I've got dozens of ideas, it's a really daunting task to try and get started again. I don't want to let anyone down either.
Anyway, I'd love some encouragement and nudging, so if you would like to come over to my eljay at clownyprincess .livejournal. com (remove the spaces) and let me know what you'd really like to read – boy, would I ever appreciate it!