Jade Burdette Sep 14, 2005
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After the fog of anger concerning my arrest dissipated I was left with fear. I had been under the law for three months dealing with the separate case brought on by my continued choice to shoplift. I was nearing the dismissal phase of that charge and was heartbroken, in a way, to have incurred another one. Most of all I was terrified. At first, my terror centered around the possibility of getting convicted of Battery and doing jail time for it. As that fear eased up, a problem I didn’t know existed within me began to come into focus. I started remembering other times in the past few years when I lost my temper and nearly got myself into trouble. Once I was at the welfare office and a security team member threw a claim ticket in my face. Maybe the way I spoke to her was rimmed with attitude, most likely it was. My response was to start climbing over the counter in an effort to get to her. My blood was boiling all the way up to my throat. I was not thinking clearly or intelligently. I was going to attack her, I have no doubt and was stopped from doing so only because a huge member of her team put me in a chokehold from behind. When I was released, still in an elevated emotional-brain state, I demanded to speak to the security supervisor. When she came and promptly dismissed me, no doubt because of my hysterical state, I retaliated by hurling a racial slur at her. Racism is not something I feel to be a part of my genuine self. I wanted to disrespect her in response to her and her team’s disrespect of me. Like I stated, I was not thinking clearly or intelligently. Had I made it across that counter I know I would have swung at that employee. She probably would have knocked the fuck out of me and I most assuredly would have been held and arrested. I would have had another charge of Assault and/or Battery against me. I suddenly remembered another time that I had all to easily forgotten, neatly focusing at the time I’m sure on the particulars of the situation rather than realizing that there were deeper waters swelling beneath. It happened three years ago when I was living in Houston. I was strolling home from a walk down Westheimer when a short, very huge young guy called out to me, “FAGGOT!!!” Me and my 135 pounds didn’t even think, turning on him and reacting, “WHAT THE FUCK, YOU FAT FUCK?!!! BRING IT THE FUCK ON?!!!” Again I was saved by Grace and not my own. An acquaintance of mine came out of a nearby restaurant and calmed the guy down, apparently a friend of his. In the past few weeks since my arrest there have been other incidents that have crept back into my active memory making me aware this has been in me for a long time, this rage. I know where it comes from and I think I know why it sticks around and why it rears its hysterical head more and more, too often. As an obviously queer person since childhood, I have been harassed and verbally abused incessantly throughout the course of my life. In addition, I started out with problems dealing with authority figures. My parents, grandparents, teachers and fellow members of the community I grew up in were generally authoritarian and domineering. I was never allowed to communicate my anger towards them or decisions they made for me. I therefore never learned how to voice my anger. The torturers at school and later those I encountered in adult life were horrible. They unloaded their own fears and hostilities on me. Early on in school I was told to ignore the abuse and I did, not because I knew it was beneath my genuine divinity to react to my tormentors but because I was terrified of them and what they might do to me. I was constantly afraid of being physically hurt. All of this carried over and compounded during my early adulthood. I was still without a voice. I was too scared to speak up and didn’t know what to say. I knew how to re-act out whatever they had acted out towards me: fear/anger/violent words. I couldn’t fight to back my angry words up. I couldn’t fight to defend myself. When I opened my mouth, the shit that came out only escalated the situation and left me with more anxiety than I had originally felt upon being called “FAGGOT!” or “FREAK!” While it’s clear this approach is counter-productive, I have continued to use it because I have continued to be afraid in confrontational situations…and I haven’t completely known anything better to do instead. It is something I am working on now; understanding a better way to communicate and putting that into play when hostile situations present themselves. It seems so difficult. I really hope I can get it.
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