As long as I’m on the subject of cliches, I might as well fess up: my life is chock-full of them. Even saying the word “misunderstood” sounds trite and grating, like nails on a chalkboard and recalls images of uncomfortable adolescence and Pink’s album cover (“Missundazstood”)– her and her pink hair and her penchant getting into trouble and “getting the party started.”
And yet no matter how many cliches exist about a particular concept, the truth remains the truth.
Being misunderstood is, actually, unfortunately common. Most people are so wrapped up in their own pain that they don’t understand what motivates their own actions, much less what drives other people. Most people just aren’t capable of seeing past themselves.
So, the truth: I’m an odd person. It has it’s benefits and it has it’s price. I used to not have anyone in my life that really understood me. Now I have about two and half people that do. Might not seem like much, but it’s a full 250% more than I ever thought I’d get.
For me, it’s a hella lot.
It has taken me a long time and a lot of confused and hurt feelings to be okay with this. I don’t think I could have done it at all if I hadn’t ever met at least one person that deeply connected with, understood, and cared for me. But that’s where we are now: mostly okay with it. Happy, actually.
And every now and again, I forget. I forget that it’s enough and I expect more. Case in point: this past week a friend made a relatively innocuous remark to me that managed to enflame every sore spot of my past. It was nothing mean-spirited and nothing especially derogatory, but something that simply called up all these buried feelings of being misunderstood and unappreciated. I wanted this particular friend to recognize who I am as a person and value me for what I bring to the table. It might sound like a reasonable, harmless thing to wish for from a friend, but we can’t force people to care about us unconditionally. That kind of thing can only be offered freely, and it was and is my intention to provide that for my friends without needing constant reciprocation.
It was a strange thing for me to recognize– this desperate need for recognition– because almost all of my friends here, my current friends, tell me frequently how much they care about me, admire me, enjoy my company etc. And I believe them. They really mean it and I feel so blessed for that.
But at the same time, most of these friends have not had the pleasure of dealing with my inconveniences. With them I’m friendly, I listen, I play with their kids, and then I go home. I’ve gotten smarter about how much I open up to people because I’ve finally realized that it’s the kind thing to do, that most people cannot handle having all of my emotional duress dumped on them at once.
I wanted someone to really know me and still see me and care about me.
For the first time– I think in my entire life– I was utterly struck with appreciation for my husband. I believe that knowing me in passing can be an easy, enjoyable thing.
Marrying me is not.
For the longest time I’ve allowed myself to nourish self-doubt about how much Oliver wants to be with me, since he was less than sure about it for a time. And I have been a blind idiot. This entire time the thing that I have been wanting has been spooned up next to me. Oliver knows better than anyone else on the planet how difficult I am. He’s lived through my meanest and my lowest. And he comes home to me every single day. He’s happy to see me, happy to be with me and entirely devoted to learning how to care about me better each day. I don’t even count Oliver in the list of people that understand me and I don’t give a hoot. He loves me which is worth infinitely more than understanding me. He genuinely appreciate my unique idiosyncrasies, sees how they challenge us and is increasingly aware of how they bless our lives.
I’m overflowing with gratitude for my husband and when I can remember this, I’m satisfied. I have this from one person who really means it and that is enough.
Friends, rejoice. You’re off the hook.