The Real Me –
I’ve been trying to figure out who I am. I was the bad seed in my family; the one who didn’t quite fit but gave others a great laugh (not with, but at). I’ve worked hard all of my life to not be who I am, and now that I’d like to know who I really am, I find I have little idea.
In addition to therapy, EMDR, meditation and writing, I recently started reviewing the pictures of my life. There aren’t many, but most tell the same story. I am working very hard to be still, sit up straight, and behave properly. I did find one picture that I think is authentic. In it I am jumping off a pier into the sand. I am captured mid-jump, and it appears that my presence might have been unexpected; I am in the far right corner of the picture. It is, without a doubt, my favorite picture, because I think it is the most genuine.
In my family of origin, I didn’t fit because:
- I was the one who went to the arts & crafts program in the park. I loved doing arts & crafts, something the others found silly.
- At the outdoor trampoline park, and while the others stayed on their designated trampoline, I was the one jumping to other trampolines (and getting in trouble)
- I was the one who wanted more toppings than ice cream at the make your own ice cream bar. I also wanted to turn my hard ice cream into soft swirls, stirring and stirring till it was soft and runny; why was this bad?
- I was the one who was running around, speaking too loudly, and getting messy.
All of these traits gave my siblings and parents reason to laugh at me. Add to them my over-sized ears (which I did grow into), my lisp, my fear of opening my eyes underwater, my love of trolls, and my tendency to make friends out of strangers, and I became the source of humor at our dinner table. Because I was sensitive, I hated it. I remember quite clearly the tension building in my stomach when I was called to the dinner table, afraid of what I might have done that day to cause laughter.
Over the years I became someone else, someone that couldn’t be laughed at. I was very successful too. It is rare for my family to laugh at me now. If they do, it is with me, not at me.
Even with all of my efforts though, I am still different. I am still the one most likely to cause angst with my presence. I am the one most likely to be yelled at, told I’m wrong, or sniped at; you know, those sideways statements, clearly meant to be an insult but phrased in a way that causes doubt?
A few years ago, most of my family, which now includes in-laws & children, were at the shore together. We woke to pouring rain. When I went upstairs my mother was groaning, saying how much she dreaded rainy days, because there was nothing to do and we’d complain. I said “are you kidding? these are the best days ever!”. I pulled out a stack of board games and decks of cards, and by 10AM we were on our way to the best day ever. By the end of the day, several people remarked that it was one of the best days they’d ever had all together. My mother tells that story with pride. Within minutes of telling that story though, she is back to chiding me for being too loud, being hyper, or making a mess.
It seems to me that most personality traits have positive and negative aspects. Yes, I can be annoying with my boisterousness. I can also turn a dreary day into the best day ever. My mother is extremely controlling, which can be frustrating, but she always has meals on the table, a clean house and the ability to welcome guests with flair. My sister can be obtuse, but she’s exactly who shines in moments of crisis, the one we all turn to when overwhelmed with emotion.
We all serve a role. Each of us bring something different to the party. How boring families would be if this weren’t the case!
I am working on taking every personality trait and viewing it for the positive role it plays. My mother is not controlling, she is tenacious, capable, and remarkably effective. My sister is not insensitive, she is objective and calm. I am not out of control, I am fun.
And, I like summer movies. I won’t apologize for it. I like the big blockbuster, special effects Independence Day type movies. Yes, I know – they are not considered “films”. These movies can’t be compared to “Unbroken” or “The Imitation Game”, movies considered worthy of the price of admission by my family, but I don’t care. I’m going to see every last summer blockbuster. And, I’m going to eat popcorn while there.
Because that it who I am.