Dan and I are talkers. We talk and talk and talk and talk to each other. If one of us is going to get coffee, the other rides along to continue the conversation. If we have free time during the day, we call each other to talk about what we’ve been dying to share with them all morning but have been too busy to discuss until then. If one of us is in the shower, the other is sitting in the bathroom talking through the curtain.
We discuss everything: philosophy, worries, dreams, business strategies, funny YouTube videos, sports team analyses, a friend’s relationship, a sad news story, politics, old wounds, personal goals, how wonderful the other is when someone has torn them down, and how horrible the thing they did was when we were hurt by it. There is no silence in our house.
All this talking has allowed us to change and grow together, as we form and configure thoughts collaboratively. But as we have gotten deeper into life and faced bigger and bigger challenges, there began to arise a seemingly unsolvable conflict between us. I would say something about the world and my take on it, and Dan would reflect it in a completely different way. This would happen going the other direction as well, and frustration began to take over. We just couldn’t see why we were missing the mark so often.
Then one day while we were discussing world philosophy and good/bad paradigm thinking, I finally understood why we weren’t seeing eye to eye.
You see, Dan and I grew up in two different worlds. His childhood was heartbreaking. So heartbreaking that it is painful to hear his stories even if he’s joking about them. How he survived is beyond me, but he has seen the worst humanity has to offer. And the fact that he is an intelligent, loving, happy-go-lucky, hardworking, generous man is a miracle to me.
I, on the other hand, had an amazing childhood. Idyllic really. We were a middle class, white, Christian, American family. We weren’t rich, and I didn’t have designer clothes or even more than one pair of shoes at a time, but I got to go “school clothes” shopping in the fall, always had a good coat when it was cold and a new swimsuit for our summer vacation supplied by my Easter basket in the spring. I had enough quality food to keep me nourished and never hungry, and my holidays were made special by our family’s rich traditions, my mother’s very high Christmas Spirit, and a large extended family that was fun, positive, and loving.
Do I have issues from my childhood? Yes. But after a dinner with my husband’s brothers last night, I feel like my childhood wound of “being ignored” is a first world white girl problem, and I am so grateful for my wound. Because it’s not a wound of being neglected or starving or never loved. It’s just that I didn’t get as much attention as my older sister, aka: middle child syndrome.
The point I’m getting to is that I grew up in a beautiful world, so my view of the world is that all people are inherently good. There is hope in my eyes and endless possibility in my dreams, and I love people.
Dan, on the other hand, believes that there are inherently bad people, and that we need to guard and protect ourselves from them because he’s seen firsthand what they’re capable of.This causes us to view the same situation or philosophy from two entirely different lenses.
Ironically, you’d think this would make me more trusting and forgiving and Dan less so, but in reality, because Dan expects people to be bad, he is pleasantly surprised by the good in them and he becomes endeared towards them because of it, finding it easy to forgive their shortcomings and even attacks on him. Whereas I have a high standard for people and so when they behave in what I feel are shocking ways, they can easily wound me and fall from my grace.
Recently, as I’ve put more and more of myself out into the world, and consequently experienced a broader and less forgiving realm of people, I’ve felt a little beat up. I can taste bitterness creeping up on me. My rainbows and butterflies get shot out of the sky by the woman next to me who wants to keep me beneath her, or the guy across from me staring at my chest. It’s been a wake up call that I was arrogantly and naively not prepared for.My butterflies get shot out of the sky by the woman next to me who wants to keep me beneath her. Click To Tweet
There are times when I want to forget all about equal rights for women, and breaking out of the “American Housewife” role, and run and hide under Dan’s protective wings again, where he sheltered me in suburbia, and told me the funny stories.
I want to shield myself from Ashley Madison, child abductions, corrupt politicians, abusive parents, desperate drug addicts, catty coworkers, starving school kids, and men who beat their wives and leave their dogs at the park on purpose.
I’m trying to figure out a way to keep my beautiful worldview without hiding away, but right now I feel so raw and exposed that I want to run into the countryside and lay in a field of flowers, smelling their beautiful fragrance and dreaming of happy children who run around barefoot in the warm summer air.
But it’s a fight to keep perspective and remember the great things. It takes a lot to not feel intimidated or afraid.
I wonder, how do you see the world? What are your thoughts? Is the world still beautiful to you, or has the news, personal circumstances, and fellow humans made it a dark and scary place?