Monday, July 29, 2013

Ramblings From a "Different" Point of View

I love my family.  Really I do.  With all the crazy ups and downs, laughter filled dinners, cold stoney after-fight silences, hugs and rough-housing, raucous cheering at sport events, and quite admiration at award ceremonies.

But they don't always get me.  And after years of feeling so out of place, black sheepish, anger at myself, I've arrived at a place in my life where I can say with confidence that my family may not always get me, but I'm okay with that.  I'm not ashamed to be me because I am different.

And that's what I think my mother has come to accept in my too.

I've been childless for the past month as The Growing Boy has been down in Fl visiting the bevy of aunts and uncles.  I know he's been having a blast and missing me at the same time.  I can't wait to pick him up later this week.  I've missed him so much more than I ever could have imagined. 

I was filled with much trepidation and anxiety last month, waiting for my mother to show up for a week long visit before she would fly back to Fl with The Growing Boy.  I was half prepared to drink or Xanax myself to sleep every night, frustrated and exhausted from her disapproval and judgement.

But something happened on the third night she was here.  We stayed up until 3AM talking about everything under the sun.  Mental Illness.  Child rearing.  Diet.  Love of food.  Life decisions.  Relationships.  And it finally clicked for the both of us when we started talking about defiance.

One of my younger sisters is going through a difficult time right now.  She feels lonely and friendless, out of place and angry, mixed up with adolescent emotions and dreams of her future.  My mother said to me that my little sister was "defiant."

I challenged her to look at my sister as different, rather than defiant.  Mom countered that she thinks I'm defiant because I have blue hair and that I hold onto the silly idea that I should be loved for my individuality, when in reality life would be a lot easier for me if I did more to fit in with the mainstream, rather than fight it.

When she said that, a bulb went off in my head.  Everything I've read about every wonderful, crazy, intelligent, emotionally wounded, talented person came to mind.  And I realized that I fit there, too.

"I don't see myself as defiant.  I'm just different.  To me defiant is the Russian rock band Pussy Riot that climbed up on the alter of an Orthodox Church for an impromptu performance, calling for the ousting of Putin."

I continued, "Look at all the lovely works of art that have been created over the ages.  The music played, the stories written.  All that came from artists.  Artists who were considered weird, who didn't fit in with society.  And some of them were kinda bastards that no one wanted to hang out with.  Sometimes with one side of their brain being open to such creativity, their social side was crap.  Michelangelo was not a really fun person to hang out with.  But out of his differentness, came amazing beauty.  Look at Van Gogh.  That man was a tortured, mentally-ill nut case.  He died penniless, yet The Starry Night, painted from his asylum window is one of the most recognizable works."

So as we continued to talk, late into the early morning hours, my mother got to know me a bit better.  And I got to know my place in the world a bit better.

And I'm so happy.  Happy knowing that the imagination I have, the dancing in the aisles of Wegman's, the bursting laughter, the blue hair, that's all me.  I am different from the next door neighbor.  Not the same mother as the mom from karate class.  And as I work hard to raise a wonderful, scary intelligent, Tourette tickish, loving and lovable little boy, I can take pleasure that my differentness, my weirdness, my individuality is a strength.  Not a defect.

 (Side note, I am a firm believer in hate-free, freedom of speech, and public protest, but storming the alter at a church whether it be Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist is just wrong.  Wrong time, wrong place, wrong audience.  If you are going for shock value, you aren't going to convince your enemies that you argue is valid.  If anything, it will solidify your opponents believe that you are a total douche bag.)