I never liked me very much. I still don’t, at times, to the point that I occasionally become so furious with myself over my perceived shortcomings—like my inability to comprehend the workings of cyberspace—that I quite literally beside myself with rage. Like many people, I suspect, I’m a study in contradictions. On the one hand, I’m often embarrassingly needy: a sponge for any drop of reassurance or praise (probably one of the underlying reasons I write). Yet on those occasions when someone is kind enough to offer praise, I truly don’t know how to react, and I feel guilty for so readily accepting it while too seldom giving it. For someone with insecurities deeper than most coal mines, I am astonishingly egocentric…although I”ve only recently come to realize that egocentrism is quite different from egotism.
I started out, not surprisingly, as a pretty insecure kid, which was probably nobody’s fault but my own. I can’t blame my parents…they all but worshiped me, though the messages they—especially my dad—were trying to send me were not necessarily the messages I was receiving. Children simply do not realize that their parents are individual human beings with insecurities and problems of their own. So when my dad, who had spent some time in an orphanage when his own parents divorced, once, out of his own frustrations when I had been particularly incorrigible, threaten to send me to an orphanage to see how I liked it, I was sure he meant it. Of course he didn’t, but what do kids know?
I was skinny, and almost painfully shy…though when playing with the neighborhood kids, I always had to be the boss. I don’t know how much a factor my awareness of being very different from other boys had to do with it. I was far too young to know what “gay” meant, but I knew from the moment I had what I consider to be my first sexual experimentation with another boy when I was five, that whatever that feeling represented, it would be with me for the rest of my life. And that belief was cemented, a year or two later during a game of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” with a girl classmate, I was totally revolted to realize just how different boys and girls were. I vastly preferred boys, thank you.
Things weren’t materially improved by the fact that I was also what is known as a “motor moron.” I had absolutely no eye-hand coordination when it came to catching a ball or swinging a bat. My poor, dear dad so wanted me to share his love of sports, and since I did not, I always thought…wrongly…that I was a great disappointment to him. Though I love to watch people …okay, mostly men…dance,I was much too self-conscious to ever do it myself. It was, in fact, kindly suggested by the instructor, after two or three lessons in an Arthur Murray Dance Studio class to which I had turned in desperation, that I was wasting my parents’ money. Years later, in dance bars in Los Angeles, friends would do their best to pry me away from the bar and get out on the floor. “Nobody’s going to notice you!” they’d say. And I would always reply: “I’ll notice me,” and refuse to go, though I ached to watch others move so beautifully, smoothly, and effortlessly.
And therein lies probably the most basic problem of my life: I expect myself to be perfect in everything and refuse to accept the fact that I am not. The fact that everyone else falls short of perfection matters not in the least. They’re allowed to have faults. I am not.
Physically, I always thought of myself as plain at best and downright unattractive at worst; it is only now, as I look back on old photos, that I realize that I in fact was not a runner-up in a Mr. Quasimodo contest, and wish I could go back in time to tell myself so. But it is far too late to do anything about it now.
And if you should by any chance see even the tiniest reflection of yourself in any of the above, I am pleased, for it underscores the purpose of this entire blog: the idea that as strong as the evidence may be to the contrary, none of us is truly alone.
New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. Your comments are always welcome. And you're invited to stop by my website at http://www.doriengrey.com, or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.