“I don’t understand why you like me.”
As a kid I loved to untangle necklaces and chains that somehow got rolled up or kinked into a ball.
“Give it to Pam. She’s good at that.”
And I was. I would sit with a safety-pin and gently roll the knots between my fingers with care to loosen them up. Then I would use the pin to pick through and separate the kinks. It was a meticulous puzzle and I got such satisfaction at trying to figure it out. As I worked at sorting out the chaos, all I could think about is how did it get this bad? How does something so beautiful get so twisted and tangled?
I didn’t have much as a kid. My mother got me a charm holder necklace for my communion. It was the first piece of jewelry I ever owned. I wore it every day. I was careful with it when ever I took it off. I loved it. I cherished it. She would buy me little charms whenever she could. Then one Halloween as my brother, cousins and myself were trick or treating, we were ambushed by older kids. They ran passed and grabbed our candy bags. Three of the bags were snatched instantly, leaving my brother and cousins in shock as they watched their chocolate round the corner without them. I held on for dear life. My tiny arm was yanked as they held one end of the bag and I held the other. I fell to my knees and then was dragged on my stomach as my costume ripped across the concrete. I never let go but thankfully they did.
We were all scared and ran up the street to tell our parents. They were upset as they listened to the four of us frantically tell the story through tears as our high-pitched words stumbled over one another’s. My mother assured us that everything would be alright.
“Look guys, there is more than enough candy in Pam’s bag for everyone to share.”
I looked at her like Arnold from the show Different Strokes would look at his brother when he said something utterly ridiculous. “Whatcha talking about Willis?” In my head I was thinking:
‘Let me get this straight. Five huge kids come charging down a steep hill for us. They grab our candy filled bags that we spent hours knocking on doors and begging for. My cousins and brother give up their booty in a matter of seconds. I fought and held on as if my life depended on it. At that age and that amount of sweet delicious treats, it did depend on it. And my reward for protecting what I had worked so hard to get, for protecting what was rightfully mine, for being the smallest of the group and taking on THE MAN, my reward for this is to divide MY share four ways?’
I was devastated. The tears rolled down my eyes. As my mother went to console me, something caught her eye.
“Where’s your necklace.”
I grabbed at my neck.
It was bare.
“Where is your charm holder?”
I cried even harder.
“I don’t know!!!”
We sped-walked down the street together. My stomach was churning. We began to see charms scattered on the sidewalk. First one, then two, then three and then there it was the open charm holder with the chain all tangled and knotted up where I had landed and the villains took off. I had saved the treasure but broke the grail. I cried even harder. My mother convinced me that we could fix it.
“You love getting the knots out. It’s not broken. It can be fixed.”
I did get the knots out but the truth was that it was broken. The latch kept opening and the charms kept falling off. The chain looked like it needed to be ironed. It wasn’t the same. It was broken. Beautifully broken. I say that because at 45 I still have the charms and in that experience I understand that it is the careless, often cruel actions of others that make chains, charms, and people broken.
“I don’t understand why you like me.”
There it was again. I wasn’t sure if that was a question or a statement or both. Maybe it was a questment. It was not the first time I had heard it. In fact, in most relationships (all but a few) and even in some friendships I was given this questment. I looked at my friend who had become slightly more than a friend and all I could think about was my charm holder.
The men that I ended things with, with lame excuses weren’t broken like me. They were confident. They handled life’s issues as they came. They came from good families and had very little trauma or tangles to sort through. Being with them made me realize what an utter cluster fuck I was and who wants to realize that? So I left. The one’s that asked the questment are the ones I worked harder to stay with.
I may not look like a disaster but I am. I hide it well. You see, control (or the art of looking in control) is my secret. In keeping control I get to hide my knots and tangles. Yes I’m a mess but I portray confidence always. I make sure I’m always the hardest worker, the best friend, the over achiever. I learn a lot but sometimes know nothing at all. I smile even when I’m sad inside. I don’t know if I’m coming or going but I walk with a steady gait and as if I have direction. In working on other’s kinks, I have the chance to work out my knots through theirs without showcasing my vulnerability. This is why I became a teacher and a healer.
There’s a part of me that is jealous of them. They admit that they’re a mess. That they don’t know which end is up. That they make mistakes that they will probably regret, sometimes that includes me. They fall apart and to them it’s a sign of weakness. To me it’s a sign of freedom. I don’t know how to go there, to completely let it go and fall apart. I’ve been close and I let it go more now than in the past but I always have to pull it together. Control and confidence is all I know how to do to survive.
So in answer to your questmemts both past and present, I like you because you’re like me. We have similar stories although different life experiences. We are sad but try to be happy. We feel unloved and are not sure how to love. We fear abandonment but also abandon. We are scattered, confused, tangled and knotted. Some days feel like they are torture to get through but we manage. We are broken to let the light shine in.
I am broken.
I just glue the pieces back together differently.