the thirty-fourth question

this post is one of many for a creative nonfiction project i began several years ago. i call it the griffin inquisition. i’ve asked my friends and family to pose questions, things they want to know about me that would require more than a yes or no for an answer.

the most recent addition comes from my friend, caleb.

you strike me as the kind of person who has a very negative outlook on life, almost cynical. where did it start; what do you think the root cause of it is; why would you continue to think that way; and what are the first steps to repairing the issue.

it’s not always that way. i’m capable of seeing good. i do strive to do this, and yes, i know my efforts aren’t always the best. i think the biggest issue, really, is that i’ve grown accustomed to a certain…

people treated me a certain way in my youth and adolescence. and it was exceptionally rare for that way to resemble anything like kindness. this mistreatment started at a very early age, so that by the time i’d reached my teenage years, it was all i knew.

but you want me to tell you when that outlook began to be negative…

i can tell you that, with all the medical issues i faced in infancy, with all the poking and prodding doctors did to determine the necessary remedies for correcting those issues… that when the poking and prodding by my third-grade peers began, i must’ve been overly susceptible to it. maybe my mind had already begun constructing defense mechanisms. maybe it had subconsciously begun to anticipate pain. i know when my friends stopped being friends, it hurt, and my inability to discern the cause made it hurt even more.

it doesn’t take much to make me happy. because any kindness shown to me is such a welcome surprise. like today. i got a box in the mail. i’d forgotten that i’d ordered something. i stopped by the store i use for shipping things (where my mailbox is) to send out a copy of a manuscript to a friend, and, seeing an envelope in my box, i stopped to collect my mail. inside was this tiny, bright green slip of paper telling me i had an oversized package. FOR ME! YAY!

i’m not hard to please.

but it’s easy to hurt me. it’s what i’ve come to expect.

the other day, as i walked from the kitchen to the stairs, i looked out the windows–it was a beautiful day, the kind that warms your heart because it’s so perfect. i saw a school bus pass and wondered if, in my childhood, my mother had waited there for me. if she had stood where i stood in those rooms, watching me come off the bus and crossing the short distance to our house. i stopped, stared at the road, at the sunlight and shadows upon it. i thought of her standing there, watching my remarkably tiny self… i asked her if she stood there, waiting for me. yes, she’d said. i asked her if she could tell how my day had been before i’d gotten to the door. yes, she’d said. and then she asked me when i was going to put this down.

i hadn’t thought of it because i wanted to remember my pain. i’d stood there, thinking of what it must’ve been like for her. how it must’ve disappointed her that i couldn’t’ve come running to the door, eager to share what i’d learned that day. my mother was a teacher. she loved school. i did not.

i can’t tell you that. it’s like it’s stored in some wreckage that had sunk to the bottom of an abyss. and some unpleasant experience in my day, some thought, something like a passing school bus will trigger it, jostle it so that pieces of it rise up to float on the surface, and i’m not strong enough to carry them to shore and dispose of them.

why would i continue to think this way? because so often, now, i feel as though i’m invisible. in my childhood and adolescence, too many people made a point of noticing me and my flaws. and then it got to be that they’d rather not see me at all. so they don’t look, now. they don’t care to.

if i’m going into a building and a gentleman’s coming out, he won’t hold the door. and all i can think is that if i were prettier, he would’ve. i know this because i’m a people watcher. i’ve learned how the world works.

and i don’t know which is worse… animosity or ambivalence.

what are the first steps to repairing the issue? oh, i suppose it starts with being better to myself. shucking some pounds and keeping tidy spaces. and trying harder to be more courageous.

the first two things are easy enough.

you get what you give, right? i’ve been given a whole lot of negative…

after i wrote this, i went outside to sit on one of the benches in pappadeaux’s parking lot. it made me sad to write it. and i don’t cry in front of people anymore. it’s gray out today. and breezy. but it was peaceful, sitting out there, with the clouds and the breeze and the quiet.

i came back in, and tinkered some more with this blog. i was looking at the pictures from my project self love post when another of my friends, aidan, came over and badgered me about taking a happier selfie, so…

2 responses to “the thirty-fourth question”

  1. Don't be sad. There are people who love you. I love you for the kind of work you have taken on hand. I see you are part of Tina's Terrific Team. And yes, you are pretty.
    You should make an effort and work out to leave things and get goings. Keeping on experiencing the pain will keep you in pain. Let go. Life is much better and you sure deserve good.
    All the best lovely.

    I hope to see you around in the April '14 A to Z Challenge.

    – Kripali
    (AJ's wHooligans)
    Sumptuous Living

  2. Wow. Came by for a quick AtoZ visit and compulsively clicked all over. Your fiction is very cool but the Griffin Inquisition project really fascinates me. I look forward to more clicking and reading in the future!

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