There had to be more. There had to be something I was missing. There had to be a reason why I was uncomfortable. Could this have come from the awkwardness of my youth? Could this have been as simple as age appropriate hazing and bullying that happens amongst kids?
Could this have come from a simple fact that I chose the wrong friends? Or, had I grown up, say, on a different side of town or on a different street, my circle of influence would have been different; therefore would this mean that I would have been different?
There had to be a root to where this all began. And I needed to know this information. I needed to understand, to at least simplify why I learned my trained assumptions and reactions.
I wanted to understand where my trained opinions began. I needed to understand more about my personal biases and subconscious programs, which is what predicted and determined what I thought, how I would feel, and as a result, this is what predicted how I behaved.
I came to the realization that I behaved and interacted on the behalf of my trained and programmed mind. Everything I did was a means of personal protection and survival. I was always trying to save me from pain or ridicule, but was the ridicule actually ridicule, or was this only based upon my perception?
Could this only be because I looked different from the other kids? Was this because I was weaker or not as tall? Is this why I believed all eyes were upon me, that I was less than, that no girl would like me the same as that liked one of the stronger kids?
Is this why I believed I would have to always compensate and compete for attention?
Did my stress come from my silence or my inability to express myself because the truth is; I had been to therapists. I was taken to doctors as a kid. The truth is I had people that would have listened. However, the fact remains that I did not have the words to explain myself.
I did not have the language or the ability to explain myself, which was frustrating to me. Above all things, the most frustrating thing is the inability to communicate. This is why babies cry; they cry because they lack the words to express what they want. In my efforts to learn about me, I learned that we age but we still react when we lack the ability to communicate. We still cry and overreact. Some are worse than others; however, I learned this is a very common thing.
I wanted to be rid of my thinking when I was young but I didn’t know how. Also, I was ashamed. I believed there was something seriously wrong with me —and because this was so, I began to believe that I was a burden to those around me. I believed my Father was ashamed because I was not an athlete. I was not a good student. I was not the “cool” kid in town.
I was rejection sensitive so I never stuck with anything, which means I would always start something and then I would quit once I failed to get my desired results.
I tried Karate but the kids in the class picked on me. So I quit.
I played little league but baseball was never really my thing. In fact, I only played because The Old Man said I had no choice.
I tried basketball, but this will be something for another chapter.
The Old Man said I had to play a sport. So I did. He said that sports teach us discipline. He was a firm believer in the lesson of competition. And that life in itself is a competition. The Old Man believed that we are always competing for one thing or another. Whether it is a job or in business, whether it for a good parking space at the grocery store, or for a romantic interest, we are always competing for something. I tend to agree sometimes, especially when I’m heading to the supermarket.
And my Old Man was good but he was tough. He saw things his way. He was old school. He was raised out of The Depression which meant he saw humbled times.
The Old Man knew what it meant to have to work for a living; whereas my friends, well, they were raised differently than me. My Father had me when he was older, which meant his age set in on him, which means his patience was thin. He didn’t like being older. The Old Man never liked the idea of growing old. He thought this made him weak, which is why he responded to his fears outwardly and sometimes angrily. Above all, The Old Man never wanted to be inefficient or insufficient.
The Old Man had his own defects, which I personalized as my fault. I never knew The Old Man’s flaws were just a reflection of him and his own biases. I never saw him as human. He was Pop. He was my Father.
Like me, you, or anyone else, The Old Man had his share of things in his past which caused him to be on guard. Like you, me, or anyone else, The Old Man was human. He had been betrayed too. He had seen loss. He had suffered consequences. But to me, I just thought he was pissed off. And most times, I thought he was pissed off at me.
One thing that we often fail to realize is that parents are human. They have faults and flaws, subconscious programs, fears and insecurities too.
I never realized this. Then again, none of these topics would have ever been open to conversation. Plus, even if there was a conversation, I would have never known what to say.
First and foremost, I began to realize that above all, I never had a voice. I never dared to speak. I began to realize that I never spoke about my thoughts or feelings and above all, I began to learn why.
I never said much of anything because I did not grow in an open environment that would be conducive to this kind of conversation. Also, I lacked the language to properly and accurately express myself.
Much like the rest of the world, I grew up in a normal, everyday, dysfunctional household. I had an older brother, which I knew and lived with. However, I also had older sisters, which I knew very little about. I had another older brother that I knew even less about. I just knew they had a different Mom.
I knew they were much older than me. I rarely saw them and I knew very little about them or their lives. All I knew is this was hurtful to The Old Man. They hurt my Father, which meant I did not (and could not) like them at all. Therefore, as far as I was concerned, my family unit did not consist of them. Instead, there was just Mom, Dad, my Brother Dave, and me.
I knew that both my Mother and Father were both married before. But this was never (if ever) talked about. Mom came from New Mexico. She was very different from the average New York Moms.
She was a protector. She was a nurturer. She was certainly my prime enabler and definitely a fixer. Mom was open to conversation; however, Mom felt she was Mom; therefore, what Mom said goes, which meant she believed she was capable of diagnosing me, fixing me, and I had no say in this matter.
Like The Old Man, Mom had her own hang-ups. She had her own series of biases. Mom had her history too, which she rarely spoke about.
Mom lost her father, my Grandfather Dave, at a very young age. Her Mother, my Grandmother, was named Lulu-Nell—and I always laughed about the southern names but still, she was Grandma Lu to me.
But Grandma had her problems. And Mom had a tough childhood. She did not like her mother; therefore, she did her best not to be like her Mom, which is where her flight or fight mechanisms were trained.
Mom knew about mental illness. She saw this first hand with her own Mother. She gained her perspective here. This is where her opinions formed. This is where she learned to defend herself and more accurately, this is why Mom moved away from New Mexico.
She had to get away. And as for her first marriage, Mom never spoke about this. I just knew things didn’t work out.
I was never invited to ask much about this. I knew she was separated from her first husband and during the separation, the man died in a freak accident.
I started to realize something. By learning about this and the way people are —and by understanding the training we go through in life; I began to understand why people act the way they do.
And no, this did not and does not excuse all —but at least I began to understand why my parents lived the way they did.
I wanted to understand more. I needed to find a way to stop the blame machine. I needed to understand where this began, which is why I went all the way back to my youth. And there was more to see. There was more to learn. And if I wanted to feel better and be better, I believed this would only be possible by learning as much as I could about myself.
It was my belief that if I could raise my personal level of consciousness, then my level of awareness would improve —and if my level of awareness improved, then my level of understanding would improve, which to me was my link to personal indemnity. This meant freedom.
As I saw it, the only way to free myself from the bondage of self was by learning to understand myself. And I was on my way. But that doesn’t mean this was easy. No. Not at all. This is where the work began.
This is when my journaling took off in a new direction . . .