Friday, June 14, 2013

Grammar nazi no more.

It's been said that I was reading books when I was 4.  I was the eldest of three girls, and loved to read, I loved words, spelling, English. I loved comprehension exercises. I loved reading the dictionary and finding new, cool words. I started school at 4 and 9 months and I loved the work....even if I was terrified of the kids.

Some of my favourite words are "nebulous", "ephemeral", "zeitgeist","supercilious" and "cathartic".  When I was 12, we moved to a much smaller town, and I struggled to fit in.  I didn't really enjoy puberty and resented having to try to fit in again, so I escaped to a world of books and language and daydreams.

I might not have been the prettiest girl, I might not have been popular, I might have been terrified of boys, but by heck, could I spell. I loved to punctuate, and considered a sign with a misused possessive apostrophe an abomination. I considered a boycott of the local shop that advertised "Pizza's", or "Video's".

No, no, no. You're wrong. And I can hide in my ivory tower of correctness and judge you. I can make it be about the words, and use them to make me more and you less.  I judge you when you use poor grammar. I can actually remember just about having a panic attack if I ever sent out  an email that was incorrect.  It was a lofty standard to live up, and judgement breeds fear.  I was always looking for ways to prove that you were wrong and I was right.  

I didn't think I'd ever be able to consider someone who couldn't spell or punctuate a friend or boyfriend. How shallow and misguided I was.

I met my husband, who is smart, funny, honest and loving.  And you know what? He is much more of a do-er than a writer.  And I love the heck out of him. 

However, I didn't really begin to see the error of my ways until my beautiful, beautiful, amazing son Alex started school.  In the middle of his first year at school, his caring teacher alerted us to some potential problems with his learning.  We needed to help him more and we had his learning assessed.  I'm not going to go into too much detail, because that is Alex's story to tell, not mine - but the upshot of it was, that he will have to work a lot harder to have a level of learning that some kids find second nature.  The reading and learning that I found so easy, he will probably always struggle with.  And at first, I took that hard.  I didn't want my boy to struggle, I wanted him to find life easy... but I quickly realised that my job as a parent is not to wrap him in cotton wool and protect him from circumstances...but to build in him resilience and the ability to face tough things piece by piece, and without running from challenges.

Sure, I may have found learning easy, but there are many life skills that I struggle with. Seeing Alex learn, and the hard work that he puts in to every concept that he learns, makes me realise that this is just the way his brain works.  Accepting him for who he is and how he learns has been paramount to helping him.  I can't make him a different child any more than he can make me a different mum.  And I wouldn't want to make him different to the beautiful boy that he is.  The strength and resilience that he has shown in the past eighteen months make me realise that he is building character, and that triumph over his circumstances has made him grow a lot more than shielding him from troubles ever would.

So, if someone misspells a word or uses grammar incorrectly, I try not to judge them. We all have different talents and abilities, and for some, language comes easier than others. Do I judge you when you use poor grammar? No.  I celebrate that you are using language, I try to accept you and I hope you will do the same for me.  These days, I see that we are all a work in better than, no less than.  On a good day, I try not to judge at all.

Deb :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I didn't regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

I did it - I went to my 20 year highschool reunion.

I didn't go to the 10 year reunion, as I'd just met Richard, and I was living in Canberra, he was living in Finley, and the reunion was in Taree. Love of your life versus awkward chit chat? Of course, I took off to Finley and spent the weekend in a love haze.

This one was different, though, 20 years had gone by.  I got an invitation to the Facebook group last year, and was undecided whether I'd go.... my best friend Jennie was moving back to Wingham some time soon, so I knew that we could hang out.  I'd also reconnected with a lovely girl called Shauna, who I was never friends with in school (we both thought the other hated us!) but have become firm friends with her over shared experiences and thoughts on Facey.  I was hoping that Kristy, Liz, Renae and Richard M would come, as they were part of our posse in Year 11 and 12, but the distance was too great for them.  There were lots of lovely people there that it was great to see.

It's hard for me to talk about my schooling without mentioning that I was seriously depressed and anxious for a lot of it. I suffered terribly from low self esteem, and I didn't know who I was, or who I wanted to be.  The most I thought I could hope for was to be a housewife - I knew how to do housework and I felt sure that I couldn't fail at that. I was terrified of trying new things, terrified of seeming silly and wrong, terrified of myself and sure that other people had the answers that I was lacking.

I wouldn't say that I took part in much of my schooling - I'd say that I was an observer.  I have the keenest memories of all the events that happened in school, probably because I was so aware of others and watching what they did. I thought other people had the answers, and watched how they interacted and talked and joked.  If my friends were away, it wasn't uncommon for me to spend the entire day not talking to anyone.  Yet, the moment that I came home from school, I'd come alive, I'd start performing.  I'd laugh and joke and talk and express. I had so, so many feelings and thoughts, but I somehow thought that they were too intense and too much to share with other people.  I was furiously angry at popular people, thought they were sheep, and clung to disdain of those who dared to be happy.

I can't imagine why I didn't get invited to more parties.

In the 20 years since then, I've grown into myself.  I've become more me and less me at the same time.  I'm aware of my boundaries and my limits.  That is such a good and healthy thing.  The times when I say "no, I'm sorry, I need help", empower both me and the person I am asking for help.  I alone can do it, but I don't have to do it alone.  There have been many many wonderful and amazing people who have shared my journey of self discovery and my quest for the prize of contentment.

I was surprised when people recognised me at the reunion, because the girl that I was at that school is someone who I don't feel like. Apart from the red hair, brown eyes and tall frame, I feel like I have little in common with her.
She agonised over what she said - I mostly let it go.
She was terrified of what people thought of her - I realise that I can't control what others think
She was angry at the cards fate had dealt - I realise that gratitude and acceptance are the only things I need to make sense of life
She didn't know who she was, but was sure it was wrong - I know exactly who I am, and I know that I am enough.
She hated people because she hated herself - I love people today (imperfectly), because I love and cherish myself.
She thought life wasn't fair - I know that life is what you make of the things that happen.
She hated Taree because coming there had ruined her life - I saw that Taree is a beautiful town, with beaches and lush green valleys. I saw that the sadness that was in me was what had ruined my outlook.

I know I've still got a long way to go, but just for today, I am happy in the journey, and contented in who and where I am.

There is a passage in one of my favourite books, where it says "We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it" - and that's exactly how I felt.  No, I didn't feel the need to stick around.  It was nice to see people and hear some stories of what they were up to..but there were no lightning bolt moments that resolved any deep seated issues.  I realised that, as always, the answer is not in other people. It never is.  Other people don't have my answers.  My answers come from deep with in me, in a higher consciousness that I choose to call God.  I carry this with me at all times, and wherever I go...there I am.  And I like that.