It was late summer 1963 when it was made clear to me that I was different. I had no idea until the moment she told me to move my pad to the far end of the row that I wasn’t like everyone else. I had never been made to feel that way before.
I was in kindergarten and it was the first time I experienced judgment and began to understand loneliness. It was the beginning of a life driven by the need to prove myself. To work harder, be kinder, stay later, and dive deeper in order to feel accepted. It was a heavy rope wrapped around me for decades. Then one day, I set that bitch on fire and took back my self-worth. The little warrior was alive and ready to fight.
I imagine the compassionate side of my personality was seeded that day as well. Sowed by an old woman sporting a bun so tight she couldn’t smile. From that moment on, I gravitated toward those who were ostracized, judged to be without value, or were victims of abuse.
I grew up to find I had little-to-no use for human beings who exhibited my first teacher’s behavior. The older I got, the more I stood in opposition to people who abuse others in ANY way. I have been known to fight them and not always in a fair way. Perhaps some might think I should be ashamed of that. I am not.
There are two things that will trip the warrior sensors in me: people moving toward me too quickly OR people who exhibit aggressive or rage-filled behavior towards others. Both have always sent an immediate signal to my soul to grab hold of my sword.
The beauty of aging is that I don’t respond to that signal the way I did a few decades ago. I suppose my kind of introduction to the big, bad world produces a variety of personality traits. Me? I came out of childhood with two very strong personality traits that can & will go to war with each other from time to time.
When that happens, I just step back and let them go at it until I am at peace. The alternative is not nice.
One outcome was that I rarely meet a stranger. I’ll start conversations with anyone, anywhere. I give everybody an ‘open-arm’ welcome into my circle of acquaintances. I don’t assign motives to anyone based on anything other than their direct relationship with me. I don’t give a shit about their lifestyle choices, love preferences, political or religious leanings. Those are actually the things I find most fascinating in my friends. What a boring world it would be for me to be surrounded by the same fucking colors, mindsets, and behaviors all the time. No thank you.
The downside to that part of my personality has been that I can find myself quickly enveloped in disasters not of my making. So, I had to learn to establish boundaries. That was not an easy chore being a child of alcoholics. We’re not known for great boundary setting. But I did – and they are built of brick.
I’m not in the least bit shy about meeting someone in the middle while we figure out our conversational style; but neither am I shy about letting them know if they are crossing the line with me. Some take it well. Others see it as a declaration of war. That’s not my problem.
The other (and quite dominant) side of my personality also rears its head when someone who is not in my tribe pushes at my boundaries. The warrior goes on alert. She has been my internal alarm system for decades. I depend on her. When I was new to the ways of my warrior personality, I came out swinging and didn’t much care about who got hurt.
That has matured with age and experience. I do care now, and have no desire to engage in hostilities that are not relative to my daily life. Having said that, there are times I will most definitely come out swinging and won’t give a damn about the outcome.
Since venturing out into the online world in 2014, I’ve experienced everything from having a budding real-life friendship end in suicide to trolls to aggressive/narcissistic personalities that took too long (and several blog dumps) to free myself of. (BTW, I don’t mean ‘social media’ buddies. I mean folks who pursued real life relationships and proved themselves to be true friends.) There has definitely been a steep learning curve for me out here because of the open-arms part of my personality. But I’m a fairly quick study.
If I engage in affectionate or naughty banter with someone – male or female – on my diary, it is because they are real life friends. They are a part of my every day life. They know about my life, family, profession, everything. In fact, they are family by choice. They know and respect my boundaries.
Last week I found it necessary to step back and let the warrior retreat. She was starting to rattle that sword and I simply saw no reason to let her run loose, when stepping away was the smarter move. I changed what needed to be changed.
The thing about me is that I’m open to getting to know anyone. Until I’m not.