Friday, July 20, 2012

Why am I so weird? Why are we all so weird?

No song for this post.

I want to talk a bit about human relationships today. Sorry guys, but it's not very funny.

Recently, someone asked a friend of mine why they hang out with me...because they thought I was weird. This affected me a little more than I let on. Being "weird" has always been a point of hurt for me. It started when I was little and, even at 30, I've never quite gotten over it. Do I appreciate that I'm not some drone? Yes! But that doesn't mean that having it pointed out by a practical stranger that I'm not the most normal person on the planet isn't hurtful.

This comment was also well timed with some issues going on in my personal life and it all got me thinkin' a great deal about my situation. If I'm one thing, it's that I'm hyper self-aware.

Everyone has pet peeves. One of mine is people who name call and judge without having the vaguest idea of the situation.  The other is when people chew with their mouths open. So let me clear it up for you:

Why am I weird?

Well, I didn't have a normal childhood. I don't mean that my parents were hippies and I was raised on a boat with occasional stays in ashrams. What I mean is, I have 8 parents.

You heard me. 8.

Here's the thing:

My mother had kids before she was even of drinking age. She divorced my father when I was an infant and then remarried 8 months later. As a child, my sister and I were pawned off on a lot of family members. I lived with 2 sets of aunts and uncles, my grandparents, and my father and stepmother a number of times. At 14 she divorced my stepfather. At 15 my high school English teacher talked to the local police department about getting temporary custody of me. That same year my best friend's parents became my legal guardians and I moved in with them. At 17 I got my first apartment. My friend Maggie's parents co-signed for it since I wasn't a legal adult.

So, while you were all enjoying the latter part of high school and going to dances and staying up late, I was working graveyard shifts 40 hours a week and going to BOTH high school and college full time while holding down my own place. I slept maybe 3-4 hours a night if I was lucky. I never went to prom. I never walked at graduation.

Ya. I was weird. I still am. Events like that, at a young age, create difficulties in how people interact with each other. For the majority of my early twenties all I understood was looking out for myself, no matter what lack of personal integrity that costed me. I hurt a lot of people as a result. But I also hurt myself. I don't condone my behavior back then but I don't blame myself either because, honestly, would you have known any better?

My upbringing ingrained some powerful truths very deeply in me that I'm just now starting to understand and try to work through. It taught me that the only person I can rely on is myself. It taught me not to get close to people and CERTAINLY not to let people get close to me. Because closeness=vulnerability and if there is one thing that's held true in my life, it's that vulnerability WILL be exposed by the people closest to you. And, when it gets exposed and you get hurt, everyone else around you won't care. Combine that foundation I was given with some traumatic life events and I've basically become an island.

My sister has often joked that you should be careful of hurting my feeling...because I only have one.

I'm not sure why no other family members stepped in when my best friend's parents practically adopted me.  I don't understand why another family became my family instead of my own stepping up and BEING MY FAMILY. I never asked. I never asked because...I guess I was afraid of being angry at the people I had left in my life...even if they were at a distance. And I'm not angry, to this day. I feel a lot of disappointment, but not at them. Just at the situation. Sometimes I feel bitterness because I feel cheated. I'm always SO thankful for my foster parents and the amazing people they are. I'm SO thankful for my father and step father for having such a great relationship with them now.

I just don't have room in my heart to hold something that happened so long ago against anyone.

But there's still a lot of sadness, a lot of isolation, a TON of distrust, and even more jealousy of anyone who had a good childhood and was given the opportunity to forge their way as an adult with some kind of support system. I struggle in relationships now partly because, deep down, I know that once they find out about the non-traditional situation I come from, they'll see me as a weight or a freak or damaged goods. How could I possibly understand how to be a good wife and mother and friend given the situation I come from?

Last week my mother emailed and said she wishes she'd never had children; that we've been nothing but a disappointment.

There aren't words for what goes through my mind when I read what she wrote. My eyes well up but thankfully, the dysfunctional defense mechanisms she instilled in me so long ago prevent me from relating any kind of strong emotion to her statements. I know I feel sad...somewhere inside of me. When I focus on it, feelings of failure sting me. I've never felt good enough for anyone. I can thank her for that too.

So, ya. I'm a little weird. I'm fucking terrified of human interaction. I'm paralyzed by my own emotions. I'm paralyzed at the thought of someone close to me disappearing. I'm afraid of everyone and everything and, as a result, I say the wrong things, do the wrong things, come off as cold and unfeeling, play things off as funny and sarcastic to avoid saying anything real or of value and live the majority of my life like some emotionless robot.

I'm weird. Deal with it.

I'm certainly trying to.


  1. And you're doing brilliantly.
    It's amazing to see you put something so raw out there. I couldn't be more proud of you, sissy. I love you so much, it's like OW.

  2. Lacious B.July 20, 2012

    You're not weird, love. You're brilliant.

  3. To be honest, I'm a little bit taken back by this. I mean, there were a few things I was curious about, but I never believed you to be weird, or even believed that you considered yourself weird. But I can certainly identify with that, because I don't think anyone who has ever known me would say that I was "normal." Here are some examples:

    -Tossing an invisible grenade and ducking behind a chair in band (freshman year)
    -Always wearing a black fedora at every Jazz Band concert
    -Knowing military aircraft just by their outline by 4th grade.
    -Dressing up as Afro-Man, the Defender of Disco, on Halloween (and stayed in costume during marching practice) (junior year)
    -Knowing about the Cold War when asked in history class (sophomore year)
    -Making a video presentation about the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa with actual footage (senior year)
    -Making a recreation of the lost city of Atlantis out of dominoes (4th grade)
    -Riding in the Community Days parade in the Ghostbuster uniform (2nd grade)
    -The Mother's Tea Incident (which me and Cy paid penance for by not drinking caffeine for a month) (junior year)

    And these are isolated from any of our Flannel Clan (Trombone section) behavior. It's any wonder that I was able to date anyone at all in high school in light of all of this. Plus all of the certified nerd hobbies (gaming, science fiction, reading, anime), and... yeah. I'm an oddball. But I've grown to embrace it because that's exactly who I am.

    As far as my home situation was concerned, I was luckier than most, actually. It was a little bit tough when I was younger, having to explain why my Dad never showed up to the open houses, why I didn't have any siblings, etc. But my Mom and my Great-Grandparents were always there for me, and raised me to the very best of their ability. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be standing here today.

    But I have to say that I am truly humbled by your experiences. Sure, I worked after school and during the summer, but I don't know if I could've handled literally being on my own at that age. That is a huge responsibility, and the fact that you have pulled yourself up by your bootstraps and made a successful life for yourself is a testament to your hard work and dedication. You're a fantastic person, Danielle, and I'm proud to know you and consider you a friend.

  4. AnonymousJuly 20, 2012

    You are one of the bravest, most intelligent, and well-collected women I know.

    You're not weird. You're just right.

    I love you, sister.


  5. If you're weird, then I'm weird. :) You are awesome Elle, and you have the greatest voice EVER! **hugs**

  6. If you're weird, then I'm weird too, Elle. :) Screw those people who call you weird or the people who don't like you; for you are an amazing woman who has a fantastic voice!

    <3 your long lost singing buddy,