I watched a documentary the other day about broken children. I think it was actually called “Broken Child” and it’s gotten me thinking, stewing really, as I tend to do whenever I cant figure something out. Why arent I much more screwed up than I actually am? Or at least than I appear to be?
By all accounts, according to that documentary, I should be a drug addict or in jail, or homeless. Thus far Ive managed to become none of these things.
Ive been to jail, sort of, on a traffic issue, so I dont think that counts.
Ive dabbled in the drug thing but Im too control freaky to let it consume me. Im also kind of poor and have responsibilities that just arent very drug friendly.
I live in an RV. By choice. Not sure if that qualifies as homeless or not. I think Im probably closer to this qualification than any of the others. Ive never been one to put down roots, I have no intention of ever owning a house and tend to freak out if I get trapped in any sort of seemingly permanent situation.
That extends to living situations, relationships and jobs. The second I feel locked into anything I get very antsy and it takes every bit of control I can muster not to literally tuck tail and bolt. No particular destination, I never really have a plan but I bolt all the same as fast I can manage it.
Still Im a little perturbed as to why Im not a whole lot more screwed up. The fight or flight thing seems pretty minor in the grand scheme of all the stuff that could go wrong.
As usual Ive put far more thought into this than a normal human being probably would.
This is what Ive come up with:
Ive never been a victim. I always refused to acknowledge that part of my history, or rather Ive never accepted the victim role as being my defining characteristic. For the most part Ive tended to move on with life and forget things, repress them I guess. It works, mostly. I think because of that Ive never really felt like I was damaged. I know I am damaged, pretty heavily, but it doesnt seem to impact my ability to function.
It comes back to “if you never tell a child they’re screwed up are they actually screwed up?” question that I asked in an earlier post.
I was told I was screwed up. A lot. That I was damaged, broken, unloved, unwanted. That I would never be loved or wanted. That I was so horribly broken that I debated even continuing my existence a couple of times as a teen. My foster care file is riddled with those terms and all the examples that go with them.
The same things that got me labelled as ‘broken’ are the very same things I now view as strength. I was rebellious. Not in a teen partier sort of a way, but somewhere a long the line in my pre-teens someone told me I was smart and had me IQ tested. Twice. I took that one good thing and ran with it, clung to it as though it was the only thing keeping me alive and armored myself against the world with it. That became who I was. I wasnt a victim I was the smart kid. I buried myself in academics, joined (was invited into) Mensa, and devoured books on any subject I could get my hands on. The adults that labelled me as broken were viewed with contempt and only useful in that they kept me fed and housed.
The best way to get me to do something is still to tell me I cant. Tell me I’ll never be worth anything and I will spend my life trying to prove you wrong. I might not succeed but I’ll die trying.
As a smaller child, when the opinions of adults mattered, I still tried to prove them wrong. They wanted a broken little mouse, scared of the world, of grown men and unable to interact normally. I was outgoing bordering on obnoxious and not even aware I was supposed to be scared of men until I was told by a camp counsellor when I was 14.
I spent five years of my life labelled as ‘terrified of men.’ I had no idea and, as far as my memory serves, had no issue with them.
Someone had forgotten to give me the memo.
That seems to be a common theme in my life.
The strangest part about being ‘broken’ is all the people determined to fix you.
Even now, as an adult, I find people fall into three distinct camps. They avoid you as though they’ll catch it or you’ll rob them blind, they pity you and want to fix you and baby you like some bird with a broken wing or they dont seem to know exactly how you’re broken either so ignore it and carry on like normal. The last is the rarest and Im fortunate to have managed to surround myself with that group at this stage in my life.
They dont want to fix me. They like me fine just the way I am.
Scars and all.