Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the Outside Looking In

Fraidy Cat in Training
Given my auspicious beginnings on that 'pennycostal' piano bench, It makes sense that I've spent a lot of my life feeling one beat out of step with the folks around me. If I didn't feel that way before my teens, I sure felt it by the time I had rubbed spiritual elbows with the Bible College student in the park. 
Wouldn't you know? I was just ahead of my time. During the 80's and 90's, Charismatics were the new, cool fad in a lot of places. By then, however, I had decided it was time for me to find some answers to life's questions on my own. I appreciated and respected my spiritual heritage. Still do. But, I needed some answers I hadn't found in my years of Pentecostal tutelage.

That journey wasn't any prettier or lest angst filled than the one I've walked since 1997. In some ways, I think that arduous, bone-crunching journey prepared me to endure the events of the last decade. At the time, I thought I found the answers I was looking for. Today, I'm sure I found a lot of them. I'm wondering about the others.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I'm still puzzled about how I've come to the place I find myself now. Why the wrestling? Why the looking for my good God and trying to find my place and roll in his plan? You'd think, at my age, I'd have it all worked out by now. I guess I'm a slow, hard-headed learner?

As I've worked my way through this 4.5 month long writing project, I've realized the recurring thread in my life really has been feeling 1 step out of sync with those around me. It was as if I never could quite catch up or fit in even tho' I had loads of friends and, by world-wide standards, a comfortable life.

All I wanted to do when I grew up was get married and live a 'little life'. I wanted a little family, house, and yard with emphasis on the word 'little'. By the time I got married, most of my friends were married and had as many as 3 kids. I never did catch up. I was simply too far out of sync.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
As a newly-wed, I had a wonderful 'church family' and was comfortable adjusting to newly-wedded bliss. Suddenly, Jeff decided it was time to look for a different church to call home. Looking back now, I know that his discontentment was one of the first signs of the monster in the shadows. At the time, I just felt confused and lonely. The stresses and strains the hidden monster put on us made me feel estranged – not just from him but from others around us. That sense endured until the monster was flushed out of hiding almost 2 decades later. I'm still in recovery. I guess you figured that out?

At the time I should have been enjoying baby showers with friends, I lost my community of friends and had to start all over. I'm not sure I ever got over that jolt at such a pivotal time in my life. I went on and kept functioning...that's what long distance runners do. But, I never again had a sense of belonging like I had in the church where we married. I always felt I was on the if I couldn't trust my circumstances.

Before Son #1 was 4-years-old, we were on the move. We'd move, and I'd adjust. Jeff would have his life cut out for him with the new job that occupied and preoccupied him. I'd be left adrift to find my way as best I could. In each place we moved, God did provide one pivotal friend that served to anchor me. Those friends remain as vital now as then. I really don't think I would have made it without them.

I guess I thought that having kids, when they did arrive, would serve as an additional anchor if not a pathway to other friendships. Never one to be able to march in formation, I found myself dealing with complicated kids with a complicated diagnosis. It was the kind of thing that added to my sense of separation and confusion.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
We couldn't go and do the things other 'normal' or neurologically typical families enjoyed. I once served as the director of a preschool and arranged a field trip to Sesame Street Live. I left the performance within the 1st fifteen minutes because the sights and sounds were too overwhelming for my sensory-fragile child. That was my normal, and it was lonely.

Asperger's Syndrome was not a well known term when my boys were young. Most folks assumed Aspie kids struggled because they had at least one very neurotic parent – you guessed it: the mother. It never dawned on anyone to think the mother was a wee bit whacky because she was dealing with so many confusing issues behind the closed doors of her home and heart. I didn't know anyone who could understand or identify with what I was going through. Life got lonelier.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
So, no matter where I looked, I generally felt I didn't have a place to call home. It always seemed as if I was on the outside looking in wishing there was a place for me where everybody knew my name. The guy who wrote the Cheers theme song sure knew what he was writing about, didn't he? Thinking back through these things tonight, I'm even more amazed that when the time came to make some fraidy cat choices, I made the one I made...and stuck to it. Choosing to walk away would have been so much easier.

Oh my, these pages fill up quickly as the thoughts that are trapped in my head and heart come spilling out. I cannot tell you how humbled I am that you don't leave me alone out here in this invisible corner of cyber-space. Come back again? If you think you know someone who has always felt 1 beat out of step with the world, tell them you know a place they can call home. Ok? I'll be here tomorrow...waiting for you – and them. I promise.
Psalm 10:17 (New Living Translation)
LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.


  1. Being one beat out of step with the rest of the world means a lot of different things to me... All the great ones who ever lived marched to the beat of a different drum! I try very hard to be off at least one step off beat at all times!!!