When I was very young I wanted to be special. I didn’t really know what special meant, but I wanted it to mean that I would be different than my parents. I loved my parents, it’s just that I didn’t want their life. I didn’t want to get married young and have a bunch of kids and work my fingers to the bone at a low paying job just so I could make ends meet. Yet, I didn’t know what I wanted.
I talked to my older sister about this one day, while we were doing our homework in the room we shared. I said, “Dar, I don’t want to be like mom and dad when I grow up.” She told me there’s nothing wrong with them and maybe I’m just being ungrateful. I felt very ungrateful then, and very guilty for feeling so ungrateful. So I kept my big mouth shut and kept everything I felt inside, buried so deep I didn’t even know how bad I felt.
I didn’t like my first boyfriend. I only went out with him because I was eighteen and he was the first person who had asked me out. I thought he was gross, quite frankly, and I didn’t want to kiss him. But I did, because I thought I was supposed to. My mother told me I would marry him, that he was “the one”. I was terrified, but I sat on my bed one night and cried because I knew if he asked me, I would say yes. My mother thought I should marry him, and mom always knows best. Better than me at least, who didn’t know what she wanted.
I was working at a job I hated at nineteen. I had quit college because I had landed a full time job already, and isn’t that why you go to school? So you can get a full-time job with vacation days and great benefits? What did I need school for? I felt like an old person at nineteen, working in an office with cubicles and forty-something year olds who talked about anyone who wasn’t within earshot. I spent the money I earned on skirts and button down shirts, high heels and purses that matched them. I spent my Sundays lying in bed, planning on what I would wear to work on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…trying desperately to give myself a reason to feel good about the coming week.
You know what saved me from a lifetime of servitude to have to’s, supposed to’s, right’s and wrong’s? I am a rebel. I have always been a rebel. For many years I rebelled a little and caved a lot, rebelled a little and caved a lot more. But that little bit of rebelliousness helped me to make slow, small changes, and those small changes changed the course of my life. Ever so slightly it seemed, but things are not always what they seem.
As soon as I had an opening I moved on from the boyfriend I felt tied to. I moved away from the job I hated. I moved on from the things I found stifling and the people I felt stifled by. I moved into things that made me feel good, and people who accepted me as is.
One beautiful starry night, about a year before she died, I said to my sister; “Dar, I think I want to take guitar lessons.” I felt silly because I was already in my forties at that time. But with a shrug and a smile she said, “Why not? The world is your oyster!”
Those were healing words indeed.
Today, I realize that my parents lived the life they loved, and they were good at it. But it’s okay that I wanted something different. Today, I abhor the thought of “right” and “wrong”. I abhor being told what I should and shouldn’t do. I don’t even know if I like the word ‘abhor’ but it sounds powerful, doesn’t it? And I think it’s all I’ve got left in the rebel department. But I must still need that little bit of courage; I feel a change coming on.