Being Different

“You’re different.”

After 26 years of marriage, I finally got the wife to tell me why she married me.  But that isn’t much of an answer, is it?  I mean – it really doesn’t tell you anything, does it?  It’s more like a warning.  It certainly doesn’t sound good!  “He’s different.”  That certainly wouldn’t make you want to marry someone, would it?  (An honest question here.)  After all, we apes have reasons to be wary of something ‘different’.  In the past ‘different’ could be something ‘unknown’, therefore dangerous – or even deadly.

“Different.”

“What makes me different?” I asked.  This was last week. I’ve been asking for years why she married me – something beyond that standard “Because I love you.”  “WHY do you love me,” I wonder and ask.  “What is it about me that made you fall in love with me; keeps you in love with me still?”

“You’re different.”  It took this long to get an answer.  LOL.  Women.  You know the deal. Talk your head off on one thing; totally silent about another.  (Okay – bracing for the hate mail!)

She looked at me, head cocked and smiling in that twisting quizzical puzzling way of hers.

“You’re just different,” she says.  “I knew on our very first date.  There was something . . . different – about you.”

We chuckle.  This is an old joke.  We knew she was out to deball some man – and ‘I’ was the man.  Yet ‘I’ avoided that swinging knife by being “ourselves”.  The ‘difference’ showed.  Because we understood even then: this was a woman in pain.

“Different how?” I ask.  (I can be quite persistent, as you see.  And a pain in the ass to her.)

She looks at me.  I see a puzzled veil, almost a befuddlement in the back of her eyes, as though I’ve asked her to explain the unknown; what can’t be known.  I might as well be asking about differential equations on a quantum star . . .

“You have long hair – most men don’t – and sometimes you smell . . . sexy.”  She breathes and/or sighs this last with a loving longing look.

“So I look funny and smell funky,” I say dryly, grinning.  “That’s why you married me . . .”

She laughs then scolds.

“No – you don’t look funny – and it’s a sexy smell!”  ‘Funk’ is what I am thinking.  The long hair?  Just lazy.  I hate paying a barber to waste my time sitting in a chair just to sit there in a week or two again.  Plus, after twenty-four years of crew cuts (courtesy of a military father and six years in the Marines) I think I’ve had enough hair cuts to last a lifetime.

But ‘different‘.  Go figure.  I still haven’t gotten an answer.  Nothing I could put my finger on.  ‘We’ still haven’t figured out why this woman loves us.  “Different” doesn’t tell me anything more than it tells you.  But I’ve heard it all my life.  Felt it.  The whispering of the other mothers, by the teachers some of the time.  The principles at one school.  By the time I was 13 I knew I was different from the other kids.  It was like there was something broken inside.  In some ways I was more mature than them – and yet a lot more behind in others.  I never quite ‘fit in’ – and yet I could fit in anywhere.  Everywhere.  Always alone, even in a crowd – but apparently fitting in.  Coming up, as a teen; then later on as an adult, and as a Marine . . . different . . . It even says so on my original records from boot camp, right there in the Drill Instructor’s (and Series Commander’s) notes.  “Different.”  An individual.  Uniquely so, apparently, in some kind of weird strange way.

Being different makes things lonely sometimes.  Makes LIFE lonely.

Think about it.

Ever since I can remember I’ve been ‘different’.  Whether it was due to my place of birth to having to be naturalized despite having American parents – making me (officially, anyway) – an immigrant – making me ‘different’.  Disappearing in or from a German hospital makes me ‘different’.  Being born ‘dying’ made me different . . .

I’ve heard the whispers sometimes . . . ‘different’ . . . and sometimes they are much louder.

I remember my first grade teacher telling the class:  “Anyone can be President . . .” then wheeling and pointing a crooked finger at me she’d declare, eyes hateful and stern: “Except YOU, you little Nazi!”

I didn’t know what she meant, but I knew one thing: I was different from the other kids.  It separated me; set me apart in some strange intangible way.  The blind girl in our class was different – that much you could SEE  . . . but me?  The difference was another one; a deeper one, one that ran to my soul; perhaps a darker one: invisible to the naked eye, but detectable after a time . . .

Different.

I’ve worked hard all my life to “blend in” though I try not to (it’s a function of our DID system: building temporary ‘alters’ to suit a particular situation).  I am a perfect mirror of just about anyone I meet after awhile.  I get along well with others; make jokes.  Folks say I’m a real ‘hoot’ . . . but it’s no secret amongst my friends and family . . . “Yeah – he’s different.”

I know this because word gets around.  I hear some things, overhear others.  (I know how to play stupid and I can.)  When I got locked up last year (1013’d, meaning involuntarily stuck in a mental museum) – one of my buddies, talking to his friends, told them: “It ain’t right.  Yeah, he’s a little . . . different – after all, what guy would make a lamp out of old dog bones? – but he’s a goodhearted guy . . . they shouldn’t have done that; locked him up . . .”

When I got to the mental museum (that’s my word for the mental hospital today) – ‘they’ (the doctors AND patients and whatnot) were saying I was ‘different’.  Not quite insane . . . but not quite ‘straight’, either; like someone who is walking fifteen degrees off standard – but the difference was invisible.

Even ‘they’ can’t tell me what that ‘difference’ is now.

When I ask folks: “What about ‘me’ makes me so different?” . . . they stutter and stammer – and you can see puzzlement as they attempt to find the answer – and don’t.  They might list things I’ve done that strikes them as weird or strange – but that difference?  That, it seems, they cannot define.

When there’s a baby around it doesn’t matter what the crowd – it seems their eyes are drawn to me.  Am I that different?  Even my wife has commented on this: how babies and little children seem alternately drawn to and/or afraid of me.  The latter bit I encourage; it helps with handling them later on . . . but even going to a store or restaurant, my wife and I will find if a baby sits near to me – they are watching me, eyes on and in fascination . . . as though . . .

It’s like being an alien.  Really, and I’m not kidding.  A “Stranger In A Strange Land” kind of thing; an insider looking out kind of thing – like this body is just some vehicle I am traveling in while I am looking at you human beings – and wondering (puzzled somewhat myself) why you do what you do . . . wondering “why?” when it comes to so much human cruelty, hypocrisy, and lack of human kindness . . . towards each other, your fellow adult human beings.  (Most of us all seem to treat children with kindness, though that’s not a universal trait, I have seen.)

I don’t ‘feel’, ‘think’, or ‘see’ things the same as other folks it seems – but sometimes I do.  It aggravates my wife: my ability to ‘see’ two (or three – or four) sides of one thing at once.  She doesn’t understand that being able to understand doesn’t mean I condone; it’s just that I can ‘see’ – and feel these things as well, all at the same time.

It’s like I’m outside looking in sometimes.

A thing that makes me different.

I’ve heard these phrases all my life: “He’s the smartest person I know.” (I’m not; I know persons who are much smarter.)  “The most laid back . . . most easy going . . . most talented . . . most blah, blah, blah . . . but he’s different than other folks you know . . .”

“Daddy?  You’re probably the only person in the world loves unconditionally like you do.”  (This from my daughter on the way I love the world – and her – and everything else.)  “I feel sorry for you.”  Because she knows: I can’t turn love to hate sometimes.  Anytime.  It’s just stuck there.

“How can you forgive them?”  (This from my wife, who cannot understand that I understand them and their human weakness . . . me having some of my own, lol!)

“How can you still LOVE them?” (This regarding the fact that yes – I still love my abusers, the ones who sexually molested me sometimes . . .)

And they don’t know – this ‘difference’ . . . what in the hell about it? – about ME? makes me so radically different than them?

Apparently ‘they’ can’t nail down the difference.  Neither can I.  I don’t know what to tell you.  All anyone offers is examples, oddities in my behavior . . . yet no emotional context at all.  Nothing to set me apart from anyone else – and yet I’m there.  Fifteen degrees off to the left (or right, depending upon your point of view).  I’m there – at the edge of your vision, the back of the room (or front: I really like the front nowadays, since I believe sitting up there gives you more room for inquiry, doubt, and ability to learn). . . .

The wall flower and the shadow; sometimes finding myself the center of attention, I rapidly fade from view . . . but if you look you might find me standing right behind you . . .

Different.

What a pain to be.  I never planned it; never ‘wanted’ to be different . . .
but different I must be.

(wry grin with a bit of a bitter twist in there . . . )

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About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3IVKK ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Boy-J-W/dp/1461022681). JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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11 Responses to Being Different

  1. Marty says:

    you are perfect and exactly the way you are supposed to be. relax, Jeff, accept and enjoy your union. Life just is and we have so many breaths then we die. life has suffering, it does not define us.

    We all have our crosses and they seem enormous to each one of us.

    You are different though I believe. You are special, you endured and came out like this. I think I am really different always have. Now I Accpet not fitting in as me. No right or wrong no good or bad life has so many breaths and then we wither. Enjoy them and be present.

    You have accomplished so much, if you do not know how strong and powerful you’re now, you will never know.

    Marty

    Like

    • jeffssong says:

      (wry smile) Thanks, Marty. Everyone is unique, just like everyone is special. No two are just the same. And I am what I am and accept that, albeit with an eye towards changing those things which make me . . . sad, or indifferent sometimes. Or things which make ‘things’ in me fight all the time. I do have to be pretty conscious of right and wrong, tho, LOL, having some psychotic sides to myself which simply MUST be kept under restraint at all times. Which (shrug) – is no big deal.

      However, when it comes to my social life . . . well, that’s a bit of a problem. I have to be careful there. And I am odd enough – blunt enough – and confident enough in my own self nowadays – that some folks . . . well, they don’t know what to think, which is okay by me, cuz’ I don’t care. I am very into not letting others define who I am, how I should feel, or what I should be doing. (The ‘should nots’ I must listen to, for I can engage in some pretty outrageous, outlandish, or just plain bad/nasty behavior.) Just a part of me, tho! LOL. But as a result? I don’t have a friend I can sit down and talk to – not about everything, not about anything to some – even my good friends here. I’m always set some distance apart – by my own thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. I try to control it – but I wasn’t conditioned “like you” (meaning most of mankind). I had some weird ass training back in my youth. My parents – and apparently some military function – had ‘something’ to do with me. Odd connotations and associations fill my mind – I can laugh at odd times and all the wrong things sometimes – because I ‘see’ something about it others haven’t seen. Maybe the good in something bad that’s happened; maybe the other way around. I’m learning not to comment on them . . .

      Odd. An instructor I met last year – one of my old MKULTRA kinda instructors bumped into me – and was trying to teach me to become ‘human’ (his words, not mine). Fitting in somewhat with the rest of society . . . he was retired and so am I . . . I guess he knew what he was doing; I am ‘fixed’ somewhat in some ways as a result of that whole experience (tho’ his momma died, poor thing; won’t go there, this was in PR) . . . but

      I don’t know. Everyone is different, but not so much everyone notices it about them. But they do me. At least after awhile in my association. Each and every one of them.

      Thanks for dropping by – and yes, I understand what you are saying 🙂 I AM what I am, as Popeye used to say. And so am I . . . and I . . . and “I” again, LOLing!

      Like

  2. Marty says:

    Yes, I understand that things maybe as your perception tells you. maybe not. My father suppressed my real personality with beatings at times for nothing. My life or me I thought was scared for ever. Damaged and unlovable. What I am saying that judging anything ties us to that judgment. if I would judge certain things about my childhood or father, my life would carry that cross.

    Now, our job is to extend the greatest gratitude and loving kindness to us. yes us. Accept all of you without tensing up or excuse. never say a negative thing about you. Just be here and that crap fades more and more.

    You have so much more to grow and enjoy let go some more be vulnerable to your emotions and thoughts. Surrender to them and master their delusional story.

    What is real is our actions and the way we choose to live.

    today at the store in the parking lot, I noticed an older lady in a wheel chair waiting for someone.. her middle aged daughter appeared from the side of the car. I remembered how a smile and a greeting and good word can raise someone’s spirits.

    So I in a strong voice greeted her with a good afternoon, it is sure a beautiful day isn’t it?

    She went from slumping over to a straight position with a big smile appearing. her voice had a hint of thank you for caring and treating me just like a human. her eyes, smell and hearing and her mind are fine. Sheinly lacks the ability to walk.

    Our vulnerabilities and fears keep us chained to our judgments. We lose so many opportunities , letting the ego direct us.

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    • jeffssong says:

      Marty: “Damaged and unlovable.” – I thought that until I was 24. Then I met a child who changed my mind completely; proved to me I *could* be loved. It changed my life around. Broke me completely – and had to completely remake my mind. LOL.
      “extend the greatest gratitude and loving kindness to us.” This I got last year – on April Fools day, no less, LOL! – and the lesson was finally beat into / burnt into us during our trip in Puerto Rico – big time! We’ve been much better than then. “We” learned to love one another more deeply – *depend* on one another (inside) – and now the system as a whole works much better. Even with the insane ones inside. (We managed to love them as well.)
      I liked the part about not making a judgement because a judgement binds you to your thoughts and emotions about an object/thing/person whatnot. It’s something I learned in engineering/ISO training and one of the reasons why I keep on asking “why?” . Because I know that that first instinct may be wrong. Instinct (or ‘gut feeling’) can often lie, or mislead you in the wrong direction. So I tend to analyze things – and then settle on accepting something or changing something, depending upon what I believe must or can be done. In many cases it is nothing: just ride with the flow. I’m good about that. 🙂

      I also tend to dish out compliments and such wherever I go. In the late 1990’s or early 2000’s I managed to convert from an introverted person into an outgoing one (mostly by not caring what people think anymore and with the help of some Paxil) – and am well known in the family for going up to a person – a complete stranger – and engaging them in some sort of conversation. It’s taken time to develop the talent – I did it the ‘first time’ as an experimental function of my newest personality (didn’t know it at the time) – and have had much more fun since. And I know I’ve left quite a few people laughing who were scowling or bored before, LOL! I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But it still doesn’t change the fact: If you are too different, you will find yourself alone.

      Like

      • Marty says:

        Goes back to the old adage by John Wooden “Do not get wrapped up in approval or disapproval.

        Life is not a journey of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The most valued lives have been much different and had suffering and people judging them harshly.

        I am working with a retired Marine captain now. he said the other day some people will hate you for your culture, looks, money, talent or maybe a bully preying on you. If you Accpet this premise and do not judge things or people, then we are free.

        Judgment Jeff is our culprit the ego is excellent at it.

        It can rate every donut or roll we have eaten. That is not living though. We are not here to judge or try to be the same or not so different. We are here to live the best we can with our abilities and situation. There is not failure but actions have consequences.

        Worry about how you fit in and waste some of the time you have left.

        I will stick to things I have an affect upon. Others thoughts are out of my control and are worthless to me. I will not grab another’s venom or get to involved in seeking approval.

        Need to,fit in to bad and we become needy targets for others to manipulate. The fewer desires we chase the happier we will be. Any possession has loss to it. We wither and die and there is suffering. Approval of others I have outgrown. Actually have childhood abuse has trained me to seek freedom of the mind.

        To be able to sit here calmly not doubting or thinking but experiencing the miracle of life and nature. The cognitive brain lacks he ability to ind happiness. It bends to nfluence disapproval and approval influence moods and anger. Things should not rule us. That goes for the ego also.

        I am here with all my emotions at my ready, each time ai greet you it is brand new. I bring as few judgments with me as possible. The unknown is the beauty of life. What extraordinary will I witness today.

        Open up your heart and surrender o his desire of bein ine way or another. You just are and you are perfect, so relax and try your best without doubt. Then go sleep easily

        Like

  3. Noel says:

    I rather be different than to blend with the crowd. This society usually teaches us to blend, to comply, to imitate, and to give in. I understand following rules and regulations. But I don’t agree with simply being like everyone else in order to be liked. We all want to belong to something, and we all want to be accepted. That is why we tend to try to avoid being different. We want to be like others, i.e. cool, intelligent, dressed in fashion, etc. But I have tried to resist such tendencies and simply be me. Be different. Jeffssong, good for you for being different. If you weren’t , then you would be boring.

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  4. The Hobbler says:

    Okay, you know that I love to overanalyze, but with this one, sometimes it’s better not to know. The best part of a good mystery novel is when you still aren’t sure what is going on. It keeps you excited, wanting more.

    Being different is an interesting thing. I was different before I ever became disabled, and the real difference is something I still don’t understand. Just let her enjoy the mystery that is you. 😉

    Like

  5. jeffssong says:

    Here’s the thing: yes, it’s nice to ‘be different’ – and everyone IS different, unique in some way(s). It’s prized in American society because in America we support individuality. However, I’ve think it should read: “Be different . . . but not TOO different!”. Otherwise . . . you will be isolated.

    People appreciate a bit of difference – but get too far ‘off track’? They start looking at you funny. And Hobbler might understand that ‘pity’ thing (which I struggle with as well; I can’t *stand* pity and have trouble accepting sympathy or praise for what I’ve done.) That’s part of the reason I DON’T divulge in ‘real life’; one of the reasons I like this outlet (internet and blogs) – because most people in real life? Oh, we have fun for sure, and most folks say I open their eyes to new ways to see some things . . . but at the end of the day I’m still left alone. I can’t tell them about the child abuse or the DID. I’ve learned – a lot of people can’t handle it, ‘these things’. I don’t blame them; I don’t blame me. But it sure makes ‘real life’ a bit . . . alone.

    Like

  6. Michael says:

    I often go with “Well I am not average. Not above average and not below.”

    If pissed I go with. “Well I could be like you if I wanted. You on the other hand have no choice”

    I am slowly and painfully coming to I enjoy being different I am not different because I find it enjoyable.”

    I say “Sometimes I just do things.” a lot as of late.

    I like to keep track of what is told to me about me. Especially the contrasts in one day. “You seem like a mellow guy.” “Well you are a triple type A personality.” in the same day.

    I am now all good with the labels people give me. The latest is “autistic” better than needs to learn to pay attention. Here is the thing I tell people you can call and imagine anything you want. Just understand it is your problem when you are proved wrong and not mine. I just do not care anymore.

    I also say. “Well if you are going to make up stupid shit about me at least make something up nice.”

    I am pretty easy to get along with. I think I only have two arguments. One when someone tells me about me and the other when they tell me about the world.

    Many people will tell other people. Nothing is wrong with him he is just different.

    A classic was a 83 year old former 1st grade teacher. “Oh Michael is not stupid he is just crazy”

    “It is not he she or it that I belong to.” Dylan
    “It’s all right Ma it’s life and life only.” Dylan

    Like

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