I’ve been watching a lot of Ted talks lately. They cover everything from personal causes, to professional development to health issues and how to become stronger emotionally. There are some great ones on being yourself and embracing your weirdness. This really got me thinking about my path so far.
As a pre-teen I quickly learned to label myself “weird”. I was called bookworm, my puns and quirky humor got on others’ nerves, my family couldn’t understand why I was so emotional. I escaped into stories of my own making, just to experience a life where others’ criticisms didn’t matter. These stories were full of magic and fantastic creatures and pagan and occult flavors I wouldn’t recognize until later in life. This only added to my “weird” status, because I was in a religion where the occult was viewed as shocking and terrifying (I know this is most religions). Now I didn’t fit in with the religious crowd, but my religious beliefs made me an outsider to the outside world.
One day, when I was 25 and on my own, lonely and broke and desperate for a family of my own, I met someone whose weirdness matched my own. Someone who had, like me, grown up in a family that gave him carefully crafted emotional issues, who had a religion that did not suit his personality pushed on him, who had been denied normal social development due to homeschooling. We watched quirky cartoons and discussed chivalry and psychology deep into the night. We shared puns, chicken nuggets, and ideas about how families should be. Rather quickly we got married.
There was no audience at our wedding. Our families either had better things to do or didn’t approve. Our religious friends each disapproved of the other’s religion. Our non-religious friends, the few and true, were accepting and supportive and proved a new base of social support. And I found myself rejecting that.
You can only get so many crying faces and letters telling you how happy you had made Satan before you get a little defensive. Marrying changed my life in so many ways that I felt disoriented. It was great to hang out with people occasionally, but I didn’t feel I would ever have a close friend besides my husband again. I was used to rejection. I would reject them first.
It has been almost 14 years now, and we are still happily married, still stay up late at night talking politics or heathenry or dogs, watching quirky comedies or… doing other things. We’ve spent quite a few years sorting out our emotional issues from the abuse and other sources. Our kids are actually pretty happy and well-adjusted! And we’ve both realized that our extended families – whether trying to rule our outer choices or inner beliefs – who have given us so much disapproval and criticism and in the end rejected us – they aren’t what we want to be.
They’ve cut us off, and we’re ok with that, because we are very different from them. They want us to be what they dictate, to do and think what they tell us to, rejecting who we really are and what we believe. And we have said NO. We are who we are. We reject their rejection.
So we practice a minority religion. We watch shows with magic and demons in them and aren’t afraid they might be a portal of evil into our house. Because they really aren’t. We listen to the music that moves us, whatever scary costume the band wears, and we are not offended by strong language. And we teach our kids that how you treat people and animals is more important that what god you worship or what political candidate you vote for or if you have tattoos or where you work. Because we are all different, and we all change so much over the years. That changeable, outer stuff, that’s not who you really are. Who you really are is the values you choose to uphold. I choose integrity, defending the weak, honesty and standing up to abuse. I accept who I really am. Rejection doesn’t matter anymore.