What would it look like if everyone were always happy and accepting of you? If trumpets heralded when you walked into a room? If a blank test sheet garnered you an "A" for neatness? There was an interesting "Twilight Zone" episode made in the 1960's in which a man first believes he has been sent to Heaven because the place is so awesome. He wins every pool game, his hotel room is fabulous, gorgeous woman hang on him. The bad guy wonders what he ever did to get himself so "in" the good place. Gradually it dawns on him, he hasn't gone up so much as down. In all eternity he'll never have a real interaction with another person, he'll never lose a bet, he'll never have tension. Hell is utter and complete boredom! Hell is having every wish granted immediately.
Ok, so are all our bad relationships, and annoying work situations due to our own choices? My metaphysical friends would say yes. As if there were no such thing as free will. I can't "make" my father a more palatable person no matter how I natter on it. We've never been close because we don't share interests, we don't share values. About the only thing we share are bad habits. I've learned how to be overly concerned from him. I learned how to stay too long in a bad marriage by example. I've attempted to "fix" people again and again, although I remember full on resenting his attempts to "fix" me.
Maybe I'm not broken. May be it's just my journey to be hungry and cold and tired and lonely. May be I needed to be underemployed and divorced and a single parent. May be, as crazy as it sounds, that's how my soul chose to amuse itself. We come into life with agendas and then we reach the Earth and start playing games. My life wasn't all bad, only the part he could see. He wasn't there when I crested mile 5 on my 10k run. I smelled the fishy smell from Lake Michigan entering each deep breath and the surge of humanity around me slapped their soles on the hot black baking pavement as we rounded another corner heading for the finish line. Knowing I had to pace myself, feeling the strength of a thousand training sessions, I began to confidently pass other joggers. I felt good. I felt beautiful. I felt a moment no one could share with me, nor take away from me.
Or another time, more quiet than that, when I walked amongst roses in a tea garden. When no one was looking I bent down to inhale the fragrance of a pale pink flower. The odor was so strong and wonderful I longed to have a perfume of no other scent than those tea roses. I was perfectly transported in the moment of inhalation. The buzzing of insects behind me still evokes that memory in full. The cotton of my dress touching my bare legs slightly, the heat on my back from the sun. That's the sort of indivisible success, so unsoiled by any drawback, that my family would not understand. It had no monetary value.
When I was child I was capable of magically thinking. I believed in earnest that animals could and did talk with as much articulation as humans when we weren't around. "How's the family?" One horse would ask another, or "What book have you been reading?" As I got older I imagined their concerns might be more horsy. Something more like, "Is the grass really greener on the other side?" or "Are we getting oats tonight?" I still think they talk, and yet I suppose it's beyond words. Why would it be in English? Perhaps the running of noses, the gentle flicking of tails, nuzzling speaks louder than words. They are content or frightened or hungry in a thousand different shades. When I spent more time around horses I felt infinitely more attuned to them than I did to people.
As a child I had wonderful moments when I was far from the madding crowd. When I was alone and ensconced in a book I could travel, I could fly I could go back in time. I thought it was so thoughtful of Wilkie Collins and Leo Tolstoy to write down their stories and leave them places for me to find. Across all those decades we were still touching fingertips. My hands turning pages in eagerness, their words filling my mind. I was an observer in their world. It suddenly didn't matter any more who I was or what I looked like, or if I was good at sports. The plots unfolded with infinite twists. Themes and motifs were laid down as carefully as tile. I felt such a thrill upon recognizing another reoccurring subtlety , as if two hundred years ago Tolstoy had set it down expressly for me in his writing.
We tend to forget children crave alone time. In our zeal to fill up their time with soccer and school and play dates, we over schedule them. To a point, sometimes, where five minutes alone cannot be endured without a cell phone or a TV or a radio to entertain them. There's nothing wrong with being entertained, it's just a useful skill to be able to entertain one's self. A child capable of such will be less vulnerable to drugs and self abuse. And, not all children crave time alone. Some seem just as happy to make a friend where ever they go.
Childhood is a magical time of lose boundaries between the real and imaginary. What we imagine happened to us, or what we interpret happening to us might just as well have. How many times have you had the experience of checking in with a sibling only to discover they don't remember it that way at all? My brother, five years older than me, had the longest experience of being with my mom before she was a drunk. Lo, and behold, he doesn't remember her as a addict at all! He suspects her death was a stroke or an heart attack. My second brother, who experienced the most drunk dialing, fails to remember my mother was ever straight. And I saw both the before and the after. The beautiful clever capable woman, and the person who threw it all down the toilet.