Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Unexpected


I’ll start here: “I’m wondering how long I’ve been living my life expecting rejection instead of seeing possibilities.” That was a Facebook status that I updated as I walked away from my gym after a decent if not pushed to fatigue workout. 

I followed that statement with “Hmmm...” both written and vocal.

Let me now take you back to what prompted it. I was standing in the gym watching people. The gym is a great place to watch people. You have built in breaks between reps with mirrors everywhere. It’s hard not to watch people. There was one man in particular who I had seen enter the locker room while I was still getting ready for my workout. He entered wearing a cap and aviator shades. I remembered him because all I could see of him was the bottom half of his face and that bottom half had two perfect lips. When he was decapped and deshaded I got the full picture. He didn’t have the lush head of dark hair that his dark cap allowed my mind to create for him, but a shaved head instead. His face was slightly more narrow than the aviator’s revealed, but he was very cute. I watched him as he walked out of the locker room singing to himself, looking twice at the friend I was talking to and never at me. 

Later, down on the training floor, I saw him again. I saw him see other guys, but never me. It was in that moment between reps, watching people, that I realized I don’t often look for the possibilities but am always prepared for the rejection. I say rejection because that’s how it feels to me when someone I find attractive doesn’t notice me. I create the scenario where they don’t think I’m attractive therefore they reject me. My crazy leaks out at some of the most inopportune moments. Anyway. 

I never give myself enough credit for being someone that others might actually want to get to know or like hanging out with.

I’m going to make a leap now in an effort to determine if there’s a connection.

Here’s what I’m wondering: I have a guilt complex regarding my birth. I’ll explain. I was conceived out of wedlock, but born post wedding. My parents got pregnant in high school, got married in high school, then became parents within weeks of graduation.

None of this is my fault. None of it. But I possess the guilt of a child wondering what his parents’ lives might have been like had they not been tied down with him just as their lives should have been experiencing the post high school lift off. I’ve often considered myself a mistake; an accident. My parents have never made me feel that way. Those are my words and my feelings. 

I began a dialogue with my therapist about this at the end of my last session. He compared these feelings to those children sometimes adopt when their parents get divorced. They blame themselves for the separation even when it has nothing to do with them. My being born is not my fault. When I think about my family, my being born was the only option. Abortion would not have been an option and I can’t imagine adoption was a thought that tipped the scale on the possibility side. No, I was to be born and that’s that.

I think the guilt stems from the idea that I wonder what my mom might have accomplished had she been free to go to college. I don’t even know if she wanted to go to college. I know that I wanted to go to college so I’m projecting my thoughts onto her teenage self. My dad said to me one time that he and mom were going to get married but I hurried it along. That’s probably the truth. Maybe my parents were going to get married, but maybe they wouldn’t have gotten married so quickly. To put this in cause and effect terms: I’m making myself the cause in a scenario where the effect is a life without choice. I’ve created that scenario complete with self bashing guilt without one example of truth that my “cause” produced a negative “effect”. 

I saw my mother’s grades once when I was in high school. She was a good student. Smart. Popular. She didn’t get to walk at graduation. There was no cap and gown for her. My dad got to walk in cap and gown no problem, but not my mom. That double standard hurts me for her. My parents were married and had been for 4 months by the time their graduation rolled around, but in 1971 the pregnant girl couldn’t walk. 

I cannot explain why any of this should cause me guilt. I did nothing wrong. The pregnancy is not my fault. Really I should take fault off the table. I could ask why protected sex wasn’t practiced, but if it had been I wouldn’t be here.

Have you ever wondered where the red brick road leads in the film The Wizard of Oz? I have and quite often. I think a perfect example of what could have been lies down that road. For my mother, she didn’t take that road. She took the yellow brick road and on her journey toward Oz she was given me. Her path includes me and probably always did.

She didn’t reject me--not at birth, not when I came out. My father didn’t reject me either. Why then do I find it so easy to think the boy with the great lips (a stand in for any boy) is never going to notice me? The minute I saw him I felt I had nothing that would draw his focus. Why have I cast myself in the long running saga of my life as “the boy who gets rejected”?

Where does this idea of it being easy to think I’ll be rejected and therefore it’s not even worth the effort to try come from? Is it because I think I’m unworthy? I can tell myself everyday that I’m worthy of love, happiness, health, wealth, friendship (the list goes on), but I’m not sure I believe it. That is a sad realization. Yet I do get out of bed every morning and say, “Thank You” to the Universe for a new day to live and love and learn. That means I have to know there are possibilities for good (and bad) things to come into my life every day.

My therapist says that instead of seeing myself as a mistake I should see that the Universe made room for me. Space and time opened up and welcomed me with open arms just like my parents. I should except that my mother’s path includes me and that without her unexpected pregnancy I wouldn’t even exist. Unexpected is the way my therapist wants me to view my existence. He’s right. Mistake and accident are negatives that I’ve put on like a heavy coat in the middle of summer. They’re dark, heavy, suffocating words.

I was unexpected and instead of preparing for expected rejections I really need to open my mind and eyes to the possibilities. They can be unexpected too. Unexpected things can be good things. Just ask my mom.