When I was about 3 or 4 years old, I made a pledge, internally. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I made a pledge to Jesus. See, I had been taught since birth that everyone is born sinful, and being sinful means you deserve to burn in hell forever. I vividly remember thinking, “I’m a little kid. I’ve never lied, or stolen, or done anything sinful. If I just keep not sinning, I’ll deserve to go to heaven even more.”
This is the reason I remember the first time I did anything wrong (that I knew of). The first thing I ever knowingly did wrong was lie. Our foster mom had all of kids line up along the wall, and one by one asked us who used the last of the toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom. Now, even though it wasn’t me, I still knew who it was (my brother), and when it came my turn to say something, I said, “I don’t know who did it.”
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Just like that, I realized I sinned and realized I deserved hellfire like everybody else. What a wonderful thing to teach children, by the way… Anyway, that mindset never left me, despite me knowing I screwed up. Sometime at school, shortly after this event, I heard one of the teachers of my grade level say something to the effect of, “Every kid does bad things.” (I don’t remember her exact wording, but it was something to that effect.) I remember thinking in response, “I’ll be better than that.” I already knew I was sinful, but I still wanted to not be a bad kid. Not for any reward, not for any recognition, I just simply wanted to be better than what “all kids are like.”
That mindset never left me, up to this day. I still want to be the best person I can be, and yes, it is still driven by pride. I will write an essay about pride sometime, but in essence, pride is one of the best things to have. Nothing drives people to improve themselves like pride. Pride is the desire to be able to look in the mirror and not see something that disgusts you.
Still, I don’t fully measure up to my own standards. Still, there are many things about myself I wish were not so. I’ll list just some of them here, in no particular order.
1. I Too Often Forget Most People Are Not Intellectuals
Right off the bat with this one, I have to clarify something, which will be part of my point. In saying most people aren’t intellectuals, I’m not saying “Everybody around me is an idiot.” I’m saying most people around me, and most people overall, are not intellectuals. Meaning, most people don’t have a habit of deep-thinking; most people aren’t fixated day-to-day on understanding as much as they can. I wouldn’t recommend it anyway; it can make you depressed. The truth is depressing more often than not.
I forget most people aren’t intellectuals, and I see that as one of my flaws because I too often forget to be more sensitive with the things I say/do. It’s even worse, because for most of my life (not so much anymore), I myself was extremely sensitive, so this would also make me hypocritical. I too often forget that when I state facts, it needs to be presented in a way that the average person can process it, which usually entails some kind of ‘feelings wrapping paper.’ It’s like giving someone a meal and expecting them to eat it whole. Not everyone can do that, mentally.
So, far too often my words come across as far too harsh. I call myself a blunt person, but I only say that so people better understand me. It would be more accurate to say I’m a factually-oriented person. I want knowledge; I want truth. I already learned how to process facts that I emotionally don’t want to accept, years ago. Being separated from siblings upon adoption was a heavy emotional blow, becoming an atheist was a heavy emotional blow, and so were all of my breakups (except my divorce), so I’m plenty used to getting my feelings to catch up to the truth, which is why I never need to run from truths. But I am still terrible at remembering that is not the case for most people.
It’s also not entirely a feelings thing. This problem also extends to the fact that I shouldn’t expect everybody to be as learned in as many subjects as I am. I keep forgetting that most people don’t spend a good portion of their leisure time looking for something to solve or research. So, when I’m 10 steps ahead of someone in any particular subject, I often assume that person knows what I know, and I get frustrated when they not only don’t know, but also don’t know the thing that led to the thing, that led to the thing, that led to the thing that led me to what I know. (Confusing? Well, that’s part of the point.)
With all that being said, you’re probably going to find this next one very strange…
2. I’m Too Emotional
I’ve always been an extremely emotional person. It took me until well into my 20s to finally have a grip on it. But still, in some ways I don’t and never will.
When I was a kid, it cut deep whenever other kids didn’t want to play with me. Sometimes, it was my own friends, already playing something without finding me to invite me along. Sometimes, it was my own siblings and foster-siblings, and with them it was intentional a lot of the time.
When I was a teen, I used to sit by the home phone (this was before everyone and their dog had a cell phone), and just wait there hoping one of my friends was thinking of me and would call me. I even gave my friends flak sometimes for not calling me enough. I know my best friend remembers those days.
I’d attribute most of my emotional insecurity and instability to the fact that, until I was 25, I had severe mommy issues. I wasn’t even aware I did until I was 24, when my girlfriend at the time pointed it out. I hadn’t realized how severely it damaged me that I didn’t grow up with my mother, and even worse, the fact she didn’t try to reunite with me after I grew up. What gave me the power to break free of her was when she ‘reached out’ to me just to talk. Whenever she wanted to talk, there was (literally) never any attempt to find a way to see each other, or any motherly guidance or comfort for what was going on in my life. It finally hit me that she had no interest in actually, you know, being a mother. She was only attempting to use her kids to make herself feel better about being such a terrible mother. She also couldn’t ever talk about anything except her Catholic faith, which even annoys the rest of our devoutly-Catholic family. Never any true effort to be in our lives, though. None of us. So, I called her out on that, and I told her I’m through with her in every way, as she deserves.
As I said earlier, though, I’m still very emotional. Even though I know how to channel and compartmentalize it better than I used to, all that emotion is still there. And there are some ways it still weighs me down that I’m not so sure I’ll ever be able to control. For example, whenever I feel I’m in a hopeless situation, it cripples me. I can barely function. I can’t focus, I can’t write, I forget easily, my weight drops tremendously, and other things. My best friend says depression is my demon, meaning it’s the weakness I will always carry. It’s brought me to the edge far too many times, and in the past, I too often brought those I love down with me, which I’ll always regret. They say they were happy to be there for me through all the tough times I’ve had, but I will still always regret burdening them with my troubles.
Fortunately, even though I will always have that weakness, I am also far better at handling it now. After going through my divorce, which my ex took all the way to trial because she is someone who needs to win at all costs, especially when it regards something she wants to herself, I thought the trial would crush me, because fathers should never expect a fair outcome, but I was lucky to get a mostly-fair outcome; the best one the judge had the power to give. I’m a lot more savvy when it comes to situations like that. I know to never give up until it’s a loss.
I only made two points, but this post has already gone on too long. I’ll probably write an addendum someday, or several. Overall point is, I’m not the specimen I wish I was, and I realistically don’t think I ever will be, but I still try to reach that point every day. It’s about the journey.
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