Healing Begins Now (Or Childhood Tales of a Crazy Crazy Mind)

Scary Life... Must Have Courage!
Scary Life… Must Have Courage!

First of all, I really don’t want to write this post.   It scares me.  It’s a relaxed Saturday early afternoon, I could go buy the razor refills I need, that will be a nice little walk, that would be better than this.  I don’t want to write this.  I really don’t want to do this.  Please don’t make me do this…  Please please please….

Sorry, dude.  You know you must. 

(Sigh) And so I press on.

Here’s the deal:  I have a crazy, crazy mind.  It gets in the way sometimes of me accomplishing what I want in life.  My mind is so terrified of some things that it will literally press the STOP button on whatever I am up to (even really GOOD things) if it thinks it has to protect me.  It has been doing that all of my life.

When I was a child, my siblings and I attended a school that uniquely fit our family’s creative, unorthodox character.  My parents are free-thinking artist types who were lured west to California by the bohemian culture of the Bay Area in the late 1960s.   The school we ended up at was a reflection of this: an alternative K-8 program with a creative approach, where we got to do things like go on camping trips and put on yearly musicals.  In the upper grades class (5th through 8th), we held daily meetings after lunch which consisted of agenda items such as “selling” books we were reading, voting on that month’s P.E. game, planning our holiday parties, and expressing resentments and appreciations towards the other classmates.  I was pretty much in love with the entire structure of the school, and considered it my home away from home.  In some ways it was more “home” than my home, especially once my parents split up when I was nine and all of a sudden I and my two siblings became permanent nomads wandering back and forth between two houses.

Let me be clear that I loved this school.

However, I had some serious trust issues.   As you probably know, little kids, especially in a group, can be loud, outspoken, and exuberant.  That’s putting it positively.  To me though, they seemed aggressive (both verbally and physically), obnoxious, unpredictable and unruly. In a word, they seemed dangerous.   Without ever thinking it through, I made up my mind that I would keep myself protected from them at all costs.  I mentally constructed a fortress, comprised of blue plastic chairs with silver metal legs from class, behind which I would hide, never to come out from, lest I be attacked in some way by these strange freaks.

Sadly, this was how I operated for my entire eight years at this school.  This is one of my biggest childhood regrets.  Because I actually loved this school!   I cherished my family away from home.  I loved my teacher, Bob.   I loved the camp outs and parties.  I was good friends with another kid in the class, Jeremy, for most of my eight years there.  When I played the lead in the musical “Oklahoma” in fifth grade (a picture from this performance currently serves as the banner at the top of this webpage), I sang and acted my heart out.   And when I played kickball, football, or basketball with the other kids–the same.

That didn’t matter.  Because I had sentenced myself to hiding behind a permanent defensive wall.  There ensued an uncomfortable waiting-period for my grade school years, during which  I was usually reserved and guarded,  not truly free to be myself (outside of aforementioned school activities).

A lot of kids learn to defend themselves or otherwise deal with other kids.  I have always admired the people who find away to be (or at least look) free around others.  To survive, I chose withdrawal.   Too often I didn’t let myself speak up up 100%.  For one thing, I never said the ugly truth.  I never told that one kid who got in a fight with the teacher that I thought he was being an idiot and should learn to respect his teachers.  Or that loud girl that I thought she was obnoxious and wished she would shut up.   My true thoughts were always to some degree hidden,  because I feared that if I rocked the boat, I would get shot down by some uncaring, aggressive twerp…. and then what?  Maybe die, or something.

I knew on some level that this behavior was a self-limiting facade, a prison of my own devising.  But I really had no idea what to do about it.   Instead of checking in with anyone else about it  (Hey, I think my classmates are dangerous and that I should do anything I can to avoid ever getting attacked, criticized, or made fun of by them.  Do you think this represents a healthy social strategy for me in my youth, or do you think I might be missing something?),  I spent the next seven years in a box of my own construction.

And that sucked.

I still feel the presence of that box today.  But recently, I have been catching that part of me in the act. I have dubbed that voice of extreme self-protectionism Mr. Trashman, and I am  doing all I can to dethrone it.  It shall not control me.

I’ll start today by forgiving myself, not for the first time, for how I chose to be in those days.  Because I just didn’t know any better.  I was a kid.  And now I’m an adult.  And I am bigger than this shit.  I shall overcome.

Healing begins now.

Thanks for reading.

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