Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Every neuroses has its thorns.

Every neuroses has its thorns.
Every neuroses has its thorns.

Every neuroses has its thorns.

There is a woman in my world who loved to use the word “neurotic” when I was a kid.  It was a label she tossed around like a conversational Post-it Note and stuck often — wherever and whenever she deemed it necessary.  If she saw a woman who dyed her hair multiple colors throughout the seasons she must have been neurotic.  Any woman who grew her hair longer than shoulder length after the age of 40? Neurotic.  Her list was long and varied and I knew to not copy the people or the behavior that wore the badge she applied.  It didn’t even occur to me, until later that this habit of off-the-cuff, curbside diagnosis was, in and of itself… neurotic.

In our house this word was not used in a clinical or compassionate way.  It took me a while (after a bit of maturity and time well-spent in therapy) to figure out, but this word was used to describe someone who was just different.  To the person applying this sticky-note of judgement — different was perceived as something to be suffered from.

As for me, despite that upbringing, I appreciate and celebrate differences.  Thank goodness I had an amazing counselor and a few dynamic mentors to help walk me through the giant pad of temporary labels pasted on me since childhood.  Yes, even emotional Post-it Notes are applied with temporary adhesive and can be, if not permanently removed, moved out of the way.

Living in a household where differences were not celebrated, meant that music, household furnishings and clothing (to name a few) were to be classic.  Not different. However, being a teenager in the early 80’s meant anything BUT classic.  Everything outside our home was a big and varied box of tricks.  Life was bright, vivid, large (hair, shoulder pads, furnishings) and set to the soundtrack of artists like Michael Jackson, Madonna and Punk Rock.  Even if you visited houses on our block the interiors ranged from country to chintz to Southwestern to black lacquer, mirrored walls and surfaces.  The senses reeled from it all.  It was as if the whole world was dealing with multiple personality issues.  While I found it exhilarating and liberating, I bet by now you can imagine what label was applied to just about everything that that decade contained.

Being the scrappy girl I was (okay, am), I managed to plug my ears enough to dress, sing and furnish my home the way I wanted to, while my heart heard the words hurled at me I worked really hard to make them not stick.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

No, but words can be difficult to remove.  Especially words that imply that something isn’t quite right with being different.  My son has a clinical neurological diagnosis of autism and that means he’s different – but sometimes, being different is the most delicious thing about him.  Like when he recently informed me, when I told him he was growing up to be quite a wonderful man (he’s 18), that he wasn’t a man yet.  “Mom, I’m a pre-man.”  He might have tagged it differently than the average bear, but he certainly got it right.

A lifetime has taught me that differences make for a most beautiful world. I refuse to trust or believe the labels that get attached to people and things that are different, especially the hurtful labels. I choose instead to believe that like Post-it Notes, the labels applied by others can be moved by me to a place where I don’t have to pay attention to them and with any luck, the adhesive will wear out and they will flutter away, never to be used again.

xo – t.

I prefer neurotic people. I like to hear the rumblings beneath the surface.” – Stephen Sondheim

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton

The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.” – Freya Stark

Post-it Notes were invented by accident, given out as free samples in test markets in 1977 but not sold in stores until 1980.

[BTW – I often write late at night, so please forgive any typos. My heart is in the right place, but my fingers… not always.]