Target Practice

Last night I was talking to my Analyst and he asked if he had ever told me about the five topics. I said no. It seemed strange, him volunteering any information that way, seemingly apropos of nothing. Also I've been seeing him for several years now and this has never come up. But the five topics, things to talk about in therapy are:

- Sex life
- Dreams
- Your past
- What you're feeling/thinking when you're on the couch
- Thoughts/feelings about the Analyst

I told him I felt at a bit of a disadvantage because I don't have much of a sex life and do not have any dreams, but he explained that these can refer to fantasies, even non-sexual fantasies, and that I do in fact have dreams I'm just blocking them from my memory. I very rarely speak to or about him, directly. I was a little bit miffed because he hadn't brought these things up before, and I've been quite vocal about sometimes not knowing what to talk about, or how to 'do' psychoanalysis. But he did make a good point last night. We were describing this predicament I'm in right now, or in general, and he described it as being a situation in which I cannot win.

The situation is that I do not know how to be angry or feel disappointment without a) lashing out and projecting it onto someone else and telling them about it and starting a fight (which is rare but becoming increasingly and troublingly common) or b) directing the anger back at myself. I have no right to be disappointed or frustrated or angry. It's because of something I did or did not do. Everything seems to come down to some failure on my part. Choosing wrong, or not choosing right. Everything-- my inability to feel or my constant feeling bad, everything comes, it seems, from inside. I don't know another way to think to explain it. Everything arises from some fundamental dysfunction within me. Something about me that is abhorrent and which everyone else seems to react to but which I am incapable of locating. All I know is I drive people away.

He said it sounds like I'm stuck in playing smear the queer. He mentioned this because it's a memory I often return to in analysis and something that feels really real in the present tense.

When I was little my family moved to the suburbs and I was queer but I didn't know it yet. But the other kids at school definitely did. I remembered early on wanting to play with some kids in my fifth grade class after school, they were running around and I wanted to play with them. It was after school, during a baseball game, so the younger kids and parents were nearby at the baseball diamond but we were on the blacktop, the slightly older kids. I was a new kid I wanted to be friends. They told me I could play with them but they were playing smear the queer. I said okay, I must have agreed. I did not understand that this meant that I had to be the queer. I didn't even know what this game was. Basically it's that I'm the queer and they all take turns jumping me. it was like football but without the football.

I'd roughhoused with my little brother for years, so I knew how to scrap. I was totally bewildered. I quickly ascertained that we were fighting dirty; that the game as such was to just hurt each other as much as possible. I think I kicked one of the boys in the crotch and I think I may have bitten another one. They were furious. This was against the rules. I didn't understand. They doubled up on their efforts. I don't think it was a matter of punching me in the face, per se-- I wasn't bleeding or anything, but it was a lot of tackling, a lot of actual smearing on the ground. Lots of arm holds. I remember being overpowered and running away to try to find my mom who I think was watching the game.

This is a pattern that I feel like has continued throughout my life. I'm deeply skeptical of the narrative of "only one thing happens to you over and over again"-- I'd like to think that a couple different things happen to you all the time, with gradations of change, of course. I very much feel like I am still playing smear the queer. I don't feel like I know how to be if I am not a target. Even as much as I resent being a target.

This is a photo of me and Betsy Heavens right before I did a performance, probably in 2004. It's funny to think that I've been harping on the same stuff for so long. Probably that was a clearer, if messier, way to get at what I am always trying to get at. I painted a target symbol over my chest and I tried to do my eye make-up to look like I had a black eye. I wanted to look tenderized.

I feel like the world only wants me as a target. The world only wants me as queerbait, fagbait, crimebait. Deathbait. I feel like I exist only to prove the limits of more powerful people's aim, range, and force. Even in ideal circumstances, where I should feel good or welcome, I need to make myself a target. I need to be more flamboyant, obscure. I cannot accept that someone would actually love me; I need to immediately, repeatedly and forcefully throw myself against the edges of their love to prove its boundary. I know, on some deep dark level of my most mistrustful heart, that all love is conditional. I can see other people only as they are not me. You can love me only if I know that you love someone else more than you love me.

I went to the bar last night and I felt kind of out of it. I said hi to some people but mostly I avoided people. A couple people stopped me to say hello, which I kind of felt bad about. I feel like I'm sick, like I'm a sick person and everyone can see it.

I need to tell myself another thing. I wanted, I was telling my analyst last night, to try a different thing. Why is it always that my fundamental make-up is the problem? Why is it so bad that I naturally want to be a target? Why is it so bad that I either lash out inappropriately (fight dirty) or else resign myself to become the object of my own rage? Isn't there a place for me to have these qualities? Isn't there a job that requires this exact skill set? Maybe it's not being an artist but that seems pretty close.

I just want to feel a different way and I guess I can't feel a different way until I think a different way about it first.

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