I spent a lot of time in my childhood listening to people who had low expectations of me. Quite often I heard things like “You’re so lazy you’d not bother to pick up a $1000 bill,” or “you don’t care about anybody but yourself”. If a kid hears these kinds of things long enough, and no one ever contradicts this kind of abuse, then they start believing it. Fall for it hook, line, and sinker, then actually start acting like the character failure their critics think they are being.
For the longest time I thought I was lazy, stupid, and didn’t care about anyone. My mother said my dad didn’t care about anyone but himself, so perhaps that’s where the faulty genes had come from. We were a pretty cutting edge family back in the early Sixties. Deadbeat dad who made a huge amount of money as a union welder; mom who taught school and tried to keep a roof over our heads, and food in our mouths; sisters who never acted like they were related. We were a preview of what was to come for many Americans.
No one except a teacher or two seemed to think I had any kind of spark, and I usually was intent on letting them know how worthless I was actually. My life is littered with broken friendships, estrangements, misunderstandings, and yet I managed to find my husband, Dan, and mother two boys.
I find my fractured humanity troubling, knowing the mistakes I’ve made rearing two boys, marrying a man who’s far nicer than I deserve, but count myself infinitely lucky. I found someone who accepts my fractured humanity and loves me despite it, is my friend knowing my short-comings and frailty. Somewhere in the cosmic meaning of things, my life worked out despite myself, and I feel humbled by that. Loved despite not deserving love, achieving happiness even though I’ve sown unhappiness in other peoples’ lives.
Life is a wonder, and I’ll never understand the meaning of it, or the generosity of the human soul.