Another week, yet another defeat in the Mystery Topic Challenge. “But it is the taking part that counts” some of you will tell me. No, it is not, I am all about the winning. My competitive streak is a mile long (a rare trait in lawyers). Although it might seem like I have treated both challenges so far with a measure of disdain, nothing could be further from the truth. I am also a very bad loser, but as Vince Lombardi once said “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”
This challenge comes from well-deserved winner Some Go Softly (I voted for her myself). The topic is “You have a t shirt. You have to wear it all day, every day. It has one word about you, describing you in some way, written on it. It is from this word that strangers and friends draw their conclusions about you. What is your word and why?”. Before I begin to answer it can I just say what is it with the word counts of these topics? Having said that it’s a great topic.
My initial answer was going to be a word I need to star out (but which I suspect you will all be able to work out). It was going to be c**t. Why? I am one (and if you hadn’t gathered that, you should stick around). I am brutal, offensive, crass, mean, horrible and cruel. Not that I’m ashamed of any of that, I’m actually pretty proud of being a “See you next Tuesday”. It keeps people at bay. Choosing that word would warn people what to expect. It’s only fair to give people warning.
It would also highlight another of my character traits; my brutal honesty. I had considered the word “honest” but without the word “brutal” it would not have worked. Many people claim to be honest, very few really are. People tell “little white lies” behind a myriad of motivations, ranging from sparing feelings (also known as tact) to just deciding certain things are better kept to yourself.
Although everyone says they like people to be honest I wonder sometimes if they do. Those who claim they want people to be honest with them are often the first ones to start crying if you tell them what you think of them. My belief has always been that honesty is the best policy. If you are boring me and ask me “Am I boring you?” I won’t lie (like most would) and say “No, of course not” my response will likely be “Yes, so much so I am considering blowing my brains out”. When women ask “Does my bum look big in this dress?” I reply honestly “Yes, did you think it wouldn’t? It’s a lovely dress but it’s not magic.”
Whilst c**t would actually describe me pretty well the question says the word is also one that friends draw their conclusions from. Some of my friends do think I am a c**t but those who have actually taken the time (and great effort) to get underneath that rough exterior have come to realise that it really is not a very good description. I was recently likened to a hamster, cute and cuddly but with sharp teeth, and that is actually a pretty good comparison (although “hamster” would not be a very good word for the t-shirt as it would need an explanation).
This thought coupled with two recent posts by one of my favourite bloggers in the world made me rethink my choice of word. It is incredibly rare that I open up, even with friends. I learnt my lesson the painful way. The very fact I blog under a nom de plume is testimony to my desire to remain a closed book, but Jayne has opened the floodgates (so blame her). You are about to get a very uncharacteristic personal insight into the man behind Mr President.
There was a time when I was actually quite nice; sincere, genuine, caring, even loving. Looking back at photographs I was a happy baby, always smiling. Like so many children I was oblivious to the harsh realities of life, but where most learn about that during their teenage years I was forced into learning it much earlier.
Starved for attention by the birth of my baby sister (not her fault, of course) at the very same time as I was entering school for the first time (and thus going from the one-on-one attention I got as a toddler to having to share a teacher with thirty children) my response was the natural one; misbehave.
All children crave attention and suffering (as none of us knew then but I know now) from ADHD I was probably worse than most. My mother’s response was beating the living heck out of me. Being fair to her I probably deserved it, but her approach was the source of many arguments between my parents.
Looking back I can remember some of the thoughts that went through my head. I had always thought that children were meant to bring their parents closer but here I was causing problems between mine. Was I not doing my “job”? Maybe I was “defective”, maybe something was wrong with me.
Of course I didn’t know what I know now, that my dad had a drinking problem and took it out on my mother physically, that her beating me was actually her perpetuating a cycle begun by her own mother, continued by my father and, I hope, stopped by me. I didn’t know about that until I witnessed it first hand.
There is still a really vivid memory of a time when my father and mother were in the midst of a violent (literally) argument. My sister and I were cowering by the front door. She was crying and although I was every bit as terrified as her I had to be strong for her. At the age of ten I learnt that sometimes you have to put up a mask, hide your true feelings. It’s a lesson I have lived by every day since.
My mother was actually driven to attempting suicide and I still remember visiting her in the hospital after she had had her stomach pumped. The later arguments often turned into her threatening to do it again and me having to talk her out of it. The strangest thing is I followed both of their paths later in my own life, firstly following my father into drinking and then my mother into trying to kill myself.
Throughout my time at school I was a victim of bullying. In fact I felt worthless for a great deal of my life and if it were not for the therapy I received after my suicide attempt I doubt I would have any self-esteem now. That took a great deal of strength, hard work and a lot of help. Before I lived under the mask of false arrogance to hide my true, deep, insecurity. Despite feeling secure now wearing that mask is an old habit that refuses to die completely.
What I’ve spoken about above is very much the tip of the iceberg in every sense of the word. Not only is there a lot more, it gets a lot worse. Those were milder aspects of my life story but serve as an illustration to why I am the way I am. My harsh experiences have taught me to keep my emotions locked up, to never let anyone close enough so that they could hurt me. If I am a c**t it is because too many have abused my trust, too many have used my good nature against me.
That is why I changed my choice of word. I was once described as an “enigma” and considered this. I never let anyone get to really know me because if they really know me they also know precisely which buttons to push. This leads to being quite a mystery even to my close friends. However the word I choose is “misunderstood”. When I finally pass from this Earth I expect many will call me that. Of course if I am misunderstood it is because I want to be.
I keep the real me out of view but hope that you enjoyed this rare peek at it.