Wrong

“There’s something wrong with me chemically, something wrong with me inherently,
the wrong mix in the wrong genes, I reached the wrong ends by the wrong means.” 
~Depeche Mode

IMG_0807
Little me before I understood I was wrong

For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve operated under one irrefutable certainty: there is something wrong with me. That belief germinated in my early childhood when I was regularly told how imperfect I was. I couldn’t be still in church. I couldn’t behave in a store. I couldn’t act like a young lady. I didn’t use the brain the good Lord gave me. I was too talkative. I was inconsiderate, selfish, and not achieving to my fullest potential. Even things that were beyond my control, like my genetically thick and unruly hair, were wrong. While I knew intellectually that my parents did their best to love me, I accepted that I was off. The messages imprinted, the proof was iron clad, and I accepted it and wore it like a full-length down parka that both protected and obscured what lied beneath.

In my teenage years, I donned headphones and disappeared into music. Song lyrics were the first place where I found belonging. Morrissey’s morose vocals provided a soundtrack for my life. I know I’m unlovable. You don’t have to tell me. Message received – loud and clear. He was proof that there were others like me out there, although I didn’t seem to know any of them personally. As an adult, friends gave me grief over my depressing music, but I didn’t care. The National’s gloomy tunes told my life’s tale. When I walk into a room, I do not light it up. The awkward, the invisible, the alienated, the isolated, these were my people.

It wasn’t until I had my sons that I began to sense that, in terms of who I was, I might have been sold a bridge in Arizona. I started my parenthood career with the same high expectations of my sons that had been applied to me. When I approached them harshly and saw the crushed look on their little faces, however, I was reduced to a weepy mess. I couldn’t do it. Hurting them hurt me, not unlike sticking a pin in a voodoo doll only to realize I was piercing myself.

When my boys, both at age eight, were diagnosed with brain differences, an unexpected and beautiful idea drifted into my purview. These people who had been entrusted to me were meant to show me that wrong was subjective. Yeah, Joe couldn’t tie his shoes or ride a bike, but his intellectual curiosity and ability to retain and regurgitate information was impressive. And Luke, while struggling to comprehend phonics and read, created vast, complicated worlds and endless diagrams and drawings to explain them. I found my boys amazing. Flawed in some ways, sure, but still basically perfect. 

I have been in and out of therapy for five years now as I struggle to remove the coat of self-worthlessness I donned unquestioningly as a child. Yesterday, Glennon Doyle shared with the world a snippet from her upcoming book Untamed: “The only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me.” Whoa. Hold it right there, Glennon. Are you saying that maybe there is nothing “wrong” with me after all? Maybe I’ve been wearing this cumbersome layer of shame and self-loathing out of habit? Maybe I could take it off or trade it for a windbreaker for a while and see how that feels? Hmmmm……

Spring and daylight savings are right around the corner. It might be a good time to lighten up. I can start by unloading the notion that there was ever anything wrong with me. I may not have been a perfect child or teenager or friend and I may not be a perfect wife or mother either, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me. At least not inherently.

 

16 comments

  1. I love when I see a new blog post in my inbox! You frequently hit on topics/issues that resonate even when I didn’t know it was there beneath the surface, in my head.

    Thanks for sharing you working your stuff out for my benefit! 💕

    1. My pleasure, Lisa. It’s the reason I write…to work through my thoughts and solidify my beliefs about them. Writing gives me a chance to say, “Yep. That makes sense to me now,” and then to go forward from that new place knowing others might hold me accountable. 😉

  2. Just, you’re the bomb. You were the absolute coolest person I knew growing up. Glad you are seeing yourself a little more like the way I’ve always seen you. ❤️

  3. For as much as our culture throws around the cliches about how unique we are and ‘to be ourselves’, hmpff – the reality of day to day is a lot of folks looking in vain for ‘normal’ or ‘right’ – sigh, we seem bent, as a species, it seems, to try to stuff everyone into some factory line style ‘normal’ – an inheritance of the industrial revolution, perhaps? But, you have figured it out and sounds like you’ve done your own work, to break the cycle of such things in your line of descendents – and that, I applaud you for – as it takes courage and self-knowledge and the guts to face our inner demons, so our kids don’t ‘inherit’ them – :). Kudos!

    1. Thanks, TamrahJo. I have struggled with being “wrong” for so long. I wish I would have been able to step back and see it as “unique” instead, but there has been since my childhood such a stigma associated with the messages I received about not being right. What has been wonderful, however, is that through communicating these issues in my writing I’ve discovered that many (most?) people feel like they are alone in their oddness. So, ultimately, I am not alone in feeling off. And maybe if we as a human race could accept that different, even in small ways, is beneficial to us all, we would be kinder, gentler, and more receptive to ourselves and to each other. Have a wonderful day!

      1. I sincerely believe as more folks have the courage to share their journey the more likely it is we will reach a time when what you wish for IS true. Until then the community here is great for connecting with a flock that appreciates how you fly! 🙂 So kudos for being a beacon!

  4. I find you to be one of the few genuine people I have met. You’re so real with your words. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Dee. At the end of the day I feel like we’re all just struggling to do our best. No sense pretending that life isn’t difficult. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, some of my fur is rubbing off with time, but that’s how I know I am real. 😊

  5. “To the people who love you, you are already perfect. This is not because they are blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too.”

    -Victoria Moran

    “Just because you don’t know you are beautiful, perfect and precious to this Great Cosmos doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”

    -Chuy The Wonderdog

    Seek peace,

    Paz

    1. Great quotes, Paz. Think I will print out the Chuy one and recite it as my morning mantra. Thanks as always for reading and providing wisdom I am still seeking.

  6. I’ve always been wrong too, similar to all the ways you mentioned. Jesse J’s song, “Masterpiece,” speaks to me in that way: “I am perfectly incomplete. Still working on my masterpiece.”

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