After going back into my childhood experiences I see that I was often left exposed and unprotected around adults.
On the other end of the spectrum, I was not allowed to play with children of my age outside of school. I was not allowed to walk with them, talk with them or visit with them. This meant I was alone or around adults outside of school, but most times alone.
I surmise one reason could be that the adults were afraid I might expose the abuses I was under. That was unlikely to happen because I was under threat and afraid for my life and my moms life. Another reason, the one I stuck with all these years, was that it was my moms way of protecting me from bad influences. That is humorous to me as I write it though. Truth is, the why no longer matters.
Whatever the reason, I look back and realize that based on the places I’ve lived, it likely did me much more good than harm to have kept me ‘sheltered’ from children my age. I can only imagine the other influences I would have been exposed to and the related impact. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in were things I did not experience.
Yet, I also did not experience friendship with children my age. I changed schools so often and without warning, that I stopped being friendly to my classmates. I felt, “what’s the point? I will leave anyways.” There was even a period in one elementary school when I became a certified bully. I never hit anyone, but I used big words and got in their faces to make them think I was going to ‘punch their lights out’. That was my go to threat. I was skin and bones back then but felt strong because my words had power to scare other kids.
Bullies truly are afraid deep down inside.
When I got to middle school and high school I did learn how to be friendly. I was social and outgoing when I needed to be. Outside of school, I had several adult friends. For the most part I could not relate to kids my age. I was a loner and generally preferred my own company to the company of anyone else.
My mom tells me I was the same way as a kid. That all I cared about was being alone with books. I find her memory of my childhood very interesting. Surely nurture (vs. nature) played a role but I’ll never really know how much. I’ve done my work with her so I let her hold on to those thoughts as she wishes, it is her memory after all.
Today, I find that only deep connections stir me. All else borders on appearances and is difficult for me to be around for too long. Sure, I put on my mask like everyone else to face the world, but I get drained pretty quickly wearing it. This doesn’t mean I don’t love people or being around them. I do. I desire connection like the air I breathe. More globally it means the energy exchange takes a toll after a certain period of time.
I’m not really sure if deep connections with others equals friendship but suspect it does. I don’t know how rare or how abundant they are for most people to come by. For myself, deep connections fall into the realm of especially rare, and within that, especially special.
What am I grateful for?
- The psychologist who told me to walk around my backyard when I told her I was afraid to walk down the street on the sidewalk. I initially thought her quick advice was too simple and stupid but I tried it and it worked. Today I can walk down the street on the sidewalk by myself , often at night and I’m no longer afraid.
- Understanding that we can never know the struggles one may have endured to arrive at our level of normalcy, or abnormality, and the importance of withholding judgement accordingly.
- The people who instinctively see beyond the masks others wear and talk to that person and not their representative. These types of people are wise though they may not realize it and they always radiate love.
- Understanding the hedge of protection that surrounded me as a child. Though I was exposed to many horrors I know that I was protected from others that would have proved more harmful. He does not give more than we can bear and what we must bear He provides grace to endure.