“…And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
“…they have grown like flowers—bright thoughts along the psycho path that I can pick and gather when the forest feels too dark. It’s not always going to feel like it does today.” Cat Marnell, How To Murder Your Life
“I feel free when I see no one and nobody knows my name.” Lana Del Rey
To quote David Bowie, I am deranged.
How so? My mother told me I never FIT IN. I fought this all my teens but she was right. In my teens I was a destructive rage-filled terror. People were compelled by my appearance – I did fashion modeling from age 17 to 21 and knew how to bat a lash, charm a stranger. But then my mask would slip, I’d seethe, snarl or toss an unladylike fit. Nothing has changed, only now I’m “too fat” and “old” to model…or get away with half of that shit.
Trapped within a bimbo-looking face was a ticking nervous intellect. I play this card. I smile beguilingly at the stranger who mansplains how I should live and think, go to hell motherfucker. I possess a dualism that I still can’t comprehend. Half bleeding heart liberal, half vengeful harlot bitch. Tellingly, the Benbow family crest features a harpy. My bloodline has some interesting mad folk. Notably, the notorious John Benbow who laid foundations for other ancestors such as Sir Roy Dowling who sought naval honor and personified the intensity that my family is known for. My Scottish great-grandfather, also a Navy man, returned to infantry despite having shrapnel in his ass. He gave zero fucks; he just wanted to whoop some more enemy butt.
My mother also has interesting relatives in her past. Her German father, surname Bartsch, was a part of a rebel alliance against the Nazi regime and was assassinated for his involvement. My grandmother, Eileen Bartsch, fled to Australia for a new life for her and her young children, most of who she gave up for adoption. A poor German immigrant and young widow could not raise 4 children alone. I think my mother accepts this now. And she has always appreciated the upper-middle class couple who adopted her and her twin, raising them as their own. We’re meeting our blood relatives now and they’re as zany and fabulous as my eccentric mother.
I love the painfully relatable Courtney Love and my favourite Hole song is ‘Doll Parts’. I always felt like an amalgam of pretty meat, stitched together with anger, pain and denial. My mother is the beautiful one, a career model. My father was the smart one, a charismatic academic with uncanny illustration skills and musical genius. I am a weak imitation. I ape their brilliance and their gorgeousness. My brother stuns me with his brilliance. I am the black sheep. I am doll parts. I am a fraud, a pretend Bartsch-Benbow who lives in the shadow of talent and self-assuredness.
“I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much it just turns to hate
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache” – Hole, Doll Parts
I love too much. I think too much. I am too much.