All the freaky people make the beauty of the world. -Michael Franti
Growing up I was considered a “weirdo”. It was the 70’s and most parents were involved in their adult worlds – use your imagination. I went to bed when I wanted, watched a lot of TV, forgot to shower and had really bad style. I was unpopular and lived in my own world of books and a few friends. I was a lonely kid. I never felt like I fit in. I hated school. It wasn’t until I was an adult and moved to the open-minded West Coast that I finally felt Free. Free in the most anonymous sense of the word. Nobody raised an eyebrow about what I looked like or acted like. In the Bay Area I found my soul home and cultivated friends who loved me for the quirky gal I grew up to be.
I’m taking a tele-class called “Relationship as a Path” taught by Jayson Gaddis – that meets weekly by phone. Seems kind of ironic that my relationship group is virtual – perfect for an oddball extroverted introvert like me. Last week Jayson brought up a concept that stopped me in my tracks. I’ve heard it before, but this time, I really sat with it. He suggested that our children are the disowned parts of ourselves. Think about that one for a minute. Even if you would like to debunk that, don’t. Just for a few minutes. It’s a trip.
Times have been tender lately at our house. My sweet, smart, sensitive 6th grader has been struggling socially. He isn’t seeming to “fit in” at school. I’ve always prided myself in allowing both of my children to express themselves as individuals. But I’m realizing that I have my limits. “Be yourself, but don’t be too weird, ok honey?” is the message I think I’ve really been putting out there. I see that my EGO has been so proud of both of my children’s accomplishments and their bright beauty. I’ve marveled at their seeming ease in life to be kind to others, to have people like them, to do well in school. All things that were murky and elusive to me. Now, with my son’s struggles, I’ve been in panic mode. “He needs to be home-schooled!” I delcare to his dad. “Stop posting those pictures on Instagram” I hiss at my son – “you know the ones…that make you look like a girl.” Who is this person speaking? What has happened to my open mind? Where has my appreciation and celebration of difference gone? I’ll tell you. It went out the window the day my son came home and said some kid called him “gay” after school and that he was worried about getting beaten up because he has purple streaks in his hair. I panicked. I wussed out. I don’t want him to feel lonely or ostracized (like I did.) The fact is, if I could prevent either one of my kids from ever feeling pain, I would. And I can’t. And that’s probably a good thing because pain can be a catalyst for growth. I would not be the woman I am today if I hadn’t had the life experiences I had as a child. That’s right…as I type this, I mean every word. I am who I am today – somebody I am proud of – because of every experience I had in my life leading up to this moment. So thank you MOM and DAD and STEP-DAD and LIFE for every teaching that came my way. Alle-fucking-lujah!
I asked sonny boy if he would like to transfer to a different school – the one for creative types – the one that is more accepting of diversity. In the meantime, I actually suggested he “tone it down” on being different. His reply…”I like being different.” I confess that I wasn’t happy with this answer. Now he’s testing the waters of his own individuality in a small white town in a traditional middle school. “What child do you know that likes middle school?” my wise husband asked me. “Yeah!” my high-schooler chimes in. “I hated middle school – especially 6th grade.” She did? Oh yeah…
So back to Jayson and my virtual class. The part of me that I have rejected – the painful loner part of my Self that I have disowned – is now surfacing in my kid and making me verrry uncomfortable. Thank you life. Thank you for this opportunity to breathe, to love myself and all the sharp edges, to re-integrate the shadow aspects I would rather not be reminded of. Thank you for letting me love and appreciate the unique and quirky being that is my son. On Christmas day we went to the movies and he wore his mullet wig and his “sipping specs” (glasses that are a large crazy straw where one end goes in the drink and the liquid goes around the glasses and into the mouth) and I didn’t even flinch. Once. Neither did his sister (who actually gave him props for staying “in character” the whole time) or his step-dad. I love my family. The kid has an inner strength, a platform to push off of and I want my butterfly to be FREE. Teach me my beautiful children. Break up the calcification of my judgement and release my shackles of fear. I bow to you.
When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.
But she had wings.