When I was in kindergarten, I was sent to stand out in the hall for getting angry during some activity. I don’t believe I had a tantrum; I just got angry. Back then, a time-out was to be kicked-out.
This is one of my earliest memories.
A few years later, second grade I think, I got a “D” for “Behavior”. Can you imagine: Telling a child they literally and officially failed at being good?
I took these lessons to heart, but not in the way they were intended. Expecting a child to become a different person is a cruel thing to do, and I wasn’t able to do that. Instead, I accepted the proven fact that I was a bad person. Becoming angry – feeling my emotions, which have always run hot whether it’s anger or hope or love or fear – was proof that I was a bad person.
The lesson remains to this day.
Then, as a teenager, the lesson took deeper root when I became “born again” and came to understand that I never stood a chance: I was born to go to hell regardless. The original lessons were already hard-wired into my brain; born-to-damnation was a god-sanctioned reinforcement of those lessons.
My parents were clueless about what was going on with me as a small child; they were clueless about their own lives. The people who led me to Jesus really did care about me, but they also were clueless. Back then, in the early 70s, the kinds of mental health challenges I was dealing with as a 14-year-old were not recognized as such. It was just growing pains or other nonsense.
The fact of the matter is that by the time I was 14, I was broken. I have yet to heal.
These days, I fear exposing myself to the world. I have been betrayed by too many people. Too many people either don’t understand what I live with or they don’t know or they don’t give a damn. Whatever it might be, it’s a lot safer to stay at home.
Unfortunately, I also want to be part of things. Facebook allows that to some degree, but it also allows my addiction to “having my say” even when I know, as I post, that I’m not doing a damn bit of good. I say things carelessly, angrily, pointlessly. Whatever good things I do say tend to get lost, either in all the noise, in the lack of desire a lot of people have to read something that is reinforcing of their beliefs or just inflammatory, or my own lack of skillfulness. It often ends up being a mess.
But it does reinforce the one thing my brain knows to be undeniable fact: I am not a good person.
And it loses no opportunity to tell me so.