There are many challenges in being different. It seems that, to many in the world, being different means being defective in some way. Because of this, those who are different have to face greater challenges because, in a sense, the odds are against them. They don’t fit into any one category or box. Because of this, in a sense, they are a threat to those who aren’t different. Someone to be attacked as well as neglected because they don’t seem to have what it takes to become what they are expected to become.
Life for me was a life against the odds. All the way down to simply surviving this life. There were people, people who supposedly loved me, who made virtual bets against my survival. I wasn’t expected to survive and not because of some medical condition or illness. It was because, in their eyes, I didn’t have what it takes to survive in this world.
I was never really good at anything. I wasn’t good a sports. I wasn’t good at math and science. I didn’t make friends easily. I was shy and more introverted as a child. Most of all, I was very sensitive.
Those who supposedly loved me decided that this meant I was a defect of some sort. They decided that if they made my life as difficult as possible, pushed me hard, placed me in difficult situations with people of little sensitivity, that these things would make it possible for me to survive in this world.
Some felt that calling me names such as worthless, a punk kid, stupid, that these things might motivate me to not be these things. The truth is, from the very beginning, no one in my life knew what to do with me. As I look back, there was one thing that I needed most but they themselves didn’t seem able to give me this thing. I needed love.
My entire life has been based on this desire for love. When i did find people that I liked, I became very needy of them. I wanted all the love that they might be willing to share. Well, of course, this overwhelmed them and they would go away. This would hurt me and, after I experienced this several times, I did realize that it was because I was so needy, so I stopped being needy. I stopped trying to find love at all. Love, for me, became a bad thing. So I simply went inside myself.
My heart seems adamant that I explore these things. Finding that, just as my journey started long before the official start of this grand journey she has been taking me on for the past year or so, so did my pain. I can see where my pain became so terrible after my mother died. It was strange that this pain became so terrible at that time when I really didn’t love her. She had been so cruel to me in life. I was also a burden upon her. I really wasn’t wanted because I was born so late in her life, an accident. She had other plans when I arrived. I changed all of those plans.
She wanted me to be “healthy” and self sufficient. She didn’t want to have to take time to love me and give me the attention that I craved. She wanted to divorce my father, go out into the world and get a job, become a professional and live a life of a strong, independent woman.
Well, she did this the best she could even though I was there. When I was little I saw books like, “Looking Out for #1.” and “Swimming With Sharks.” She dragged me like baggage from city to city as she sought to improve he new career. Leaving me for long periods of time with strange people while she went off to trainings and other things so as to further her career. Just as my own family didn’t know what to do with me, these strangers had absolutely no idea what to do with me.
They too just expected me to be self sufficient. They were kind people but I was also burdensome on them. They would take me to places where I could learn new things that might help in my survival in this world. I went to ranches where they tried to teach me how to brand and slaughter cattle. Ride steers and, the only thing I truly enjoyed, riding horses.
It was interesting when one of the ranchers but a rifle in my hand and told me exactly where to shoot the cow that we were about to slaughter. All I had to do was pull the trigger. It pained me deeply to do this. I was so terrified. I closed my eyes and pulled the rifle back, missing the cow, even though he had nearly placed the barrel on the cows head. This caused the cow to panic and he pushed me back, grabbed the rifle, settled the cow down and finished the job himself without any effort.
Others tried to teach me how to work on car engines. I had no idea nor any interest in how a car operated. So I cleaned a lot of parts in solvent.
In many ways, the very fact that I had little interest in the things that made this society function made me different. How would I survive in this society if I had no interest in the society. I enjoyed reading, collecting rocks, mostly because I could get away on my own without anyone pressuring me and looking out at the stars.
It is no real surprise when that question that ended up defining much of my life entered my head when I was around 12 years old. “Why am I here?”
All the while, had I been able to understand it at the time and, when I look back in my life, there was someone in my life who didn’t seem to be in the lives of all the other people in my life. It was my heart. I must have been a true challenge for her. She always had to protect me. Always had to provide for me. A person like me who should have died before I was 25, like my brother and step brother bet on happening, who, at best, should have lived a life of being homeless a discard from society, most always had a roof over my head, except a short period of time when I chose to live on the streets simply because I knew so many homeless people that I wanted to experience it.
The places I lived were not always the nicest places. In fact, they were sometimes nothing more than a cupboard under the stairs, with cockroaches and spiders wandering around all the time. Other times they were little rooms rented in homes of other people.
I always had food of some sort. It wasn’t always the best food. There were times when I didn’t have food for periods of time but I would always come upon food again, even if it meant going to the Catholic church where they handed out lunches for those in need.
For some reason, I never got into any trouble. Not real trouble. I got drunk a few times and got into trouble. An occasional fight but they weren’t very substantial. A few good cuts and bruises. For the most part, I didn’t fight, unless I drank tequila, which for me, was named, “to kill ya” because I would always want to fight after drinking it. I can honestly say that I usually stayed away from it. Drinking it maybe 5 or so times in my life.
I would always just miss the trouble. Where people I was with would be arrested, for some reason I had to go to the bathroom or had left for some reason just before it happened. Looking back to see the flashing lights, only to simply speed up my walking away from the situation.
I went to places like San Francisco and literally terrorized the place, drinking heavily and pretty much doing whatever I wanted as I expressed all the anger I had pent up inside of me and, after several years of doing this, came out unscathed. No police record. Only a couple of interactions with police who knew me by face and would just push me in the direction of my room in the hotel.
Even I noticed this strange protection that I had. I began calling myself “God’s spoiled child.” It was also why I began living a rather “spiritual” life, just not in the traditional, societal sense.
The reason why things changed after my mother died is that this protection, seemed to disappear. Not so much on the outside, where for some reason, even though I didn’t work all the time and spent so much time in hiding away from the world because it seemed to be attacking me all the time while I was in this vulnerable state, I still had a place to live and food to eat. I can’t tell you have grateful I am for this. The problem was that I didn’t accept this protection. I had no idea how to accept it. Why was I being treated differently from others when I was trying to be like others so I could be loved by them, even though they were never going to accept and love me.
The fact is, I didn’t understand love. I thought love came from others. At the same time, I had learned early in my life that asking for love from others didn’t work. Being needy didn’t work. So, I just accepted that I was unlovable and that I simply didn’t belong. Thus, I hated myself for this, blaming myself for being unlovable.
I saw myself as just an ugly ogre that no one wanted. I couldn’t act in ways that they appreciated. I couldn’t go to parties and talk about all my accomplishments and desires for greater success. All I could do is sit at the table and listen to them talk of such things then later overhear them say things like, “He’s a strange person.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard things like that, I would be a wealthy person.
Months after my mother died, I called a church pastor. I had read that they were a very loving and embracing church. They said had people who volunteered to come out and visit people who were in need. I was in such a desperate place. So desperately alone. I wanted to find some people who might take me in and embrace me with love.
As I talked with him I said, “I’ve lost my faith.” He literally started laughing. This loss of faith feeling within me was a nearly fathomless empty hole that was within me. Where I couldn’t feel any “spirituality” within me. He had no idea what I was talking about. No one ever showed up to visit me.
Believe it or not, this happened with at least 5 other churches who I contacted during this time. They seemed to be afraid of me for some reason. Where I heard all of these amazing stories of people being brought back from the brink by them, for me, they simply wouldn’t welcome me into their embrace. I was different. I was strange. I guess that meant that I was a threat.
At one church I was attending, one that prided itself on being people who cared for others and it was part of their message and obligations that they visit other people in need, I was asked to speak in front of the congregation at a meeting. I was very nervous about doing this. I prepared things I wanted to talk about, which was filled with metaphors and analogies.
I got up that Sunday and stood in front of all those people, the first time I had ever done anything like this in my life. I was dizzy. Yet, when it went quiet and it was time for me to talk, it was like I went into another world. They actually recorded my talk. I spoke of helping the homeless, of visiting those both elderly and others who are alone and afraid in the world. I spoke from my own experiences without relating them as my own experiences.
Throughout the entire talk I was completely unaware of the people in the audience. I didn’t seem them other than blurs of color from their clothing. I was truly in another world. Then I finished, stepped back and took a deep breath. I nearly fell down as I sought out the chair I was sitting in.
After the meeting, as I stepped down from the stage, to my surprise, I was surrounded by people all telling me what a wonderful talk I had given. Smiles everywhere. Pats on the back, hands shaking mine.
Still, no one ever visited me. No ever asked me over for dinner. I still had to hear of their outings with each other though I wasn’t invited. When I would ask to enjoy one of these experiences with them, their faces would drop and they would make excuses as to why I couldn’t come.
I found this so strange. How so many people could enjoy such things with each other but not with me. Again, I resorted to the only explanation for it all, I was unlovable and undesirable. Therefore, I went into the deepest state of self hatred of my life. For the first time, I began contemplating suicide. I was coming to accept that I wouldn’t survive. I didn’t belong here. I had no reason for being here. Again, the question came up, as it regularly did, “Why am I here?”
The one thing that I always found interesting was those relatively rare experiences when I might meet some people, usually very poor people, who would invite me over to their homes. I would enter into homes that weren’t all that clean, filled with cheap items rather than expensive and up to date items. Their homes often had a not so inviting smell about them. Old, worn furniture.
Yet, these people would treat me like royalty. They would serve me like a king. I would often have to tell them that they don’t need to treat me as such. Let me help. Let me do the dishes. They wouldn’t have it. They seemed to find great joy in serving me. I would finally give in, letting the serve me, stare at me with bright eyes of seeming admiration, their children gathering around me as I would play with them, though I felt a little uncomfortable doing so.
The irony of all of this is that I could have pursued these people so as to attain the love I felt I needed. But there love was not the love I was seeking. There love felt like they were looking up to me. Like I was someone special who deserved to be served and catered to.
One might understand why life has been so strange for me. Why I have said this phrase so many times in my life. The strangest part is that I survived. Survived all of these things that, to me, seem unnecessary. It is all based on how others view others based on what they expect others to do and be. Not for what is within their hearts.
As I sit here today, having passing through this amazing journey with my heart, feeling completely loved and cared for, though there is no other person in my life, looking back at a life of pain and suffering simply because I was different, strange to others, knowing that I was very much protected in this life no matter the circumstances of my life, where, for the most part, I really had nothing to worry about in this life yet did nothing but worry, live in fear and anxiety, desperately seeking love that was always within me.
My life and everything in it had nothing to do with the outside world that most people live within. They universe that I lived within was within me. I simply didn’t understand how to bring these two worlds together. Throughout my life, for me, it seemed I had to choose one or the others. That one is in conflict with the other when, as I’ve learned through this journey, they interact with each other. The work within each other.
It truly is a “spiritual” world, where the “spiritual” does interact with the physical. The “spiritual” even intervenes with the physical. This is what perplexes many people as they go to church or seek out spiritual lives in one form or another, often seeing one as different from the others. Following the ideas and concepts of others so as to feel some sense of belonging within their lives. Believing that other have something that they don’t. Believing that there have to be leaders or those more informed to guide them. When, in fact, it is all within them.
In many ways I am seeing why my heart has brought me to the Harry Potter series. For nothing more than being “The boy who lived.” when he should have died. His life was lived as being someone special, who defied the odds of imminent death by a great and powerful wizard.
I lived, even though the world around me seemed to do everything to make it differently. My life has been spent defying the odds. Pushing against a fierce headwind that others don’t seem to have to deal with. Hot coals beneath my feet. Whips slashing my back. Still, for some reason, I kept walking on, going forward, most of the time not knowing what I was going forward to or if there was anything to go forward to. Yet my heart coaxed me on. Protected me. Cared for me even though I myself wanted nothing more than to die. In the end, answering all the questions I had in this life, including, “Why am I here?”
And now she has me look back at it all, with a kind, forgiving heart. In some ways, I can’t help but see myself as higher being than others. Simply for what this “weak” person, as defined my most of the people throughout my life, has endured. Being able so see the world differently than how others seem to view it. Separate from it yet still able to interact with it. Knowing that there is much more to this life than buying and possessing things.
Yet, none of this makes me a higher being than anyone else. In many ways, I am nothing but a servant in a world that is not my own. An unwelcome visitor to a world dominated by a species that is driven to destroying itself. Knowing that there is nothing I can do to stop them. All I can do is love them. Care for them. Do all the things that I had spent my life desiring from them, yet never receiving it from them.
A strange irony to say the least. Yet, I survived all of this, against all odds, simply to realize that we are all the same. The same within the heart.