At risk of being misunderstood

We are all at risk of being misunderstood.  Even two people, who have lived together for decades can find themselves at odds.  She, perhaps because she needs two comforting arms around her just when he turns his back and goes away to be by himself; he, because he was only giving her some space that she was so obviously crying out for…And when he is upset, he likes to be alone.  Misunderstandings can so easily proliferate, like pins and needles after sitting too long with our legs tucked under us.

It is trite to say that we write memoir because we feel misunderstood.  And I have said that I wrote Trapped because I felt misunderstood.  But in fact, I simply didn’t understand anything.  That despair, nestled at the root of utter incomprehension, turned me initially guarded, then defensive, then prickly, then isolated.

In retrospect, and having had the courage to spell out as much as I could for myself and the reader, I feel that much misunderstanding and sorrow might have been avoided, or shed more easily, if there had been more people around who were unafraid to grasp me in their arms, speak to me as I needed to be spoken to, firmly and kindly, in order to break through the self-imposed isolation that becomes one consequence of being misread.

I find I am still grieving for the obvious reason that life was awful, and for the less obvious reason that I have wasted so many years being unhappy.  There is another, more insidious pain of knowing that my perceptions – like those of others! – were often greatly mistaken, and that if I had been less fearful and stood my ground, no-one would have minded terribly.

Sure, the world is full of insensitive oafs, and cruel people who are casually unjust, and it is our focus on such people that turns us inward.  But as I have since learned and continue to discover, the world is also brimming with delightfully kind, forgiving and thoughtful people.

I have missed so many opportunities for joy, and for love, fun, humour and sheer delight.  Meeting wonderful people, knowing they can see past my social awkwardness, my stumblingly stupid statements, to the smile that hopes it will be accepted, is so liberating.  I am sorry for all the wasted opportunities to show kindness and caring.  Life is full of inexplicable contradictions, isn’t it?

Without having gone out of my way to excavate my experiences by writing them, none of this would be clear.  Muddy confusion would all be sitting still, at the bottom of a dark glass, festering muddily.


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