This is a borrowed conversation.

I listened to the first 3 min of a video where a person was talking about how well they treated their significant other, but it wasn’t appreciated. I could only bear a few min of it. What got me the most was that she said, I’m not perfect but, you guys know me, ……..” I figure, if a person starts a conversation with, “I’m not perfect but…” then you can be pretty sure they’ve done something they need to apologize for. What she said in those few minutes got me thinking about the way I think and the way I communicate.

My first and most intimate lessons in communication had to do with figuring out what was expected of me from a woman who had a singular agenda that did not include me. My first and most intimate lessons in communication included weaving in and around insults or crafting my statements to avoid being accused of disobedience. My chief instructor, the person responsible for every aspect of my life, was crazy.

I walked thin lines and broke them repeatedly. I’d go over in my head how to do it better, say it better, how to keep from being a disappointment. I was one of those kids that tried all sorts of creative ways to be who she needed to be. I couldn’t figure it out because I was missing one piece of information; her agenda doesn’t include you.

It is clear to me that youth was nothing more than a performance lacking true emotion and conviction.

After taking my freedom, after being in therapy half of my life, I still struggle to show on my face what I’m feeling inside. I use words or I paint to explain myself. I can be suicidal and laugh in the same conversation, but this time I know to tell the person ahead of time that I’ve not broken the conditioning in this area. I have to tell them to listen to what I’m saying, please don’t look at my smiling face.

The Last Laugh
The Last Laugh

The Last Laugh: The painting includes a sad clown figure with a wild animal and a figure that stretches the length of the face. Its a visual record of freedom from the role I was cast to play. Every line spoken were words not my own. They haunted me and concealed my real voice and my real face from the real world. The story of my life today is a simple one; I only play the role that is me.

Who am I today? Complex, broken in places, solid in others. I still struggle quite a bit with my childhood and early adulthood. And I struggle with overturning my earliest lessons in communication.

I don’t do well with hinting, beating around the bush or reading between the lines. What’s even more difficult is lack of information or having a person withhold information. Lack of information sends my head spinning. I become impulsive, angry! Lack of information rekindles abandonment issues and control issues. It feels like a struggle, like a punishment.

I am not as flexible in my actions or thinking as I would like to be. And at times, I am too open with my lack of confidence. However, when others show lack of confidence in me, it makes me angry!! The lesson of being inferior to her was instilled early. Being told point blank, “You’re never going to be equal to me,” being told that this group will never accept me, that group won’t either, all played a key role in helping define not just how I speak, but how I feel when I speak.

Apologetic words were plentiful because I was so aware of my disgust and humiliated position. Being overly thankful was routine because someone of value gave me something of value that should have gone to someone with value. I didn’t know just how much the words used against me, the messages given, the lessons in how to speak to her, all molded me. I thought I was a warrior. I thought I was coming up strong and fighting off all those missiles, when the truth is, I was a kid. I was a child who became the role for which she never auditioned.

I have every intention to strip away scar tissue, to wipe away old tears and be the real version of me. I know the real me will change and I will let myself change, evolve. Everything and everyone changes, but my own underlying authenticity should not.