Sunday, May 6, 2012

I'm a FREAK!

About a year ago, a friend posted a question on facebook asking if you could get rid of one word, what would it be?  My immediate response was "freak".

I have felt like a freak for probably as long as I can remember.  Freak to me meant that I was so different, so "wrong" that I would NEVER belong, I would NEVER fit in.  I would always be alone, rejected, misunderstood and beyond that I was so strange I didn't even deserve to be understood.  I was a freak in kindergarten because I went to Falk School, and the kids on my soccer team teased that I went to "the Incredible Hulk School".  I wasn't very good an soccer and preferred to pick flowers while playing defense.  I was a freak in first grade because I went to three different schools in three different states and I was so shy that I didn't really make friends at any.  I think second grade was the first time I was actually called a freak- there were a bunch of older girls who liked to tease me and make fun of my clothes at recess.  My "hand me down" clothes were apparently an easy target.  My mom told me to tell them "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me."  Except they did.  A lot.

I was a freak because I loved cats, and liked to wear clothes and earrings with cats on them.  I was a freak because my house was always messy.  I was a freak because I read too much.  I was a freak because I wore these really awesome shoes that I begged my parents to buy while we were in Denmark the summer after third grade.  There were saddle shoes- magenta and teal (my favorite colors!) and suede.  They were not a hit with the American kids.  They spent the rest of their life at the back of my closet.  For some reason I felt like less of a freak in fourth grade- I went to a private school that year, we had two teachers and about twelve kids in our class.  Despite the fact that I knew nothing about the Beatles (the most popular girl in the class loved them), I couldn't figure out how a kid got a condominium to school when another kid said he had brought a condom, and I didn't read Sweet Valley High, I felt much less out of place there.  I was back at public school in fifth grade, and while participating in the talented and gifted class once a week was awesome, that was also the year I was put on antidepressants.  I cried so much, was so unhappy, was so sensitive, was "chemically imbalanced", was so much of a freak, that I needed medicine to "fix" me.  It made me feel both better and worse.  In sixth grade I was a freak because I got my period before everyone else.  Other girls would stand on the toilets of the stalls next to me to watch me while I went to the bathroom.  I was a freak because I got good grades, was in band, did Odyssey of the Mind and Future Problem Solvers, was still a Girl Scout in High School.  I was a freak because I wasn't pretty and didn't have a nice body and I had frizzy hair that would NOT do the big bang thing no matter how much hairspray I put on it.  I was a freak because I was a Christian and didn't hide it.  I was a freak because I said things that really upset people without realizing why.  Writing it out here makes my problems seem so trivial, but they were not trivial to me then.  They were heart and soul crushing and left me with no option but to know deep down that I really and truly was a freak.  There were times that (even though I was on medication) I thought it might be better to be a dead freak. 

I was called a freak by others because of things I did or said or looked like.  The worst part, though, was that there was so much I had hidden, so much of the REAL me, so much of my own truth that would have just made me stick out even more, so much that IF ANYONE KNEW. . .  I would just have been rejected forever, eternally unlovable.  Sometimes I was aware of things others weren't, sometimes I knew what was going to happen before it did, sometimes I knew things I just shouldn't know, knew things about other people that I shouldn't know, communicate with people and animals I shouldn't be able to communicate with.  I remember sitting on my bed in middle school, doing a devotion in my Bible, and saying to myself "Well, maybe some people can see the future, but it certainly didn't come from GOD." In effect, demonizing myself.  I loved the character Topenga on the show "Boy Meets World" and so wanted to have the courage to be like her, because she was true to herself.  She was hippie, and "out there" and weird, but was still sure of who she was.  I just pushed "who I was" farther and farther away because of how "wrong" it was, how wrong *I* was. 

And, seeing my response to my friend's question, this was a feeling that I carried into adulthood.  Even with the healing I had been doing for the five years prior, that had brought me out of the depression I had been in since before I was put on medication in fifth grade, the healing that had allowed me to release my anxiety, the healing that had helped me accept parts of myself that I had hidden away. . . even through that, I still had the very painful wound of FREAK.

(Warning- if you are easily offended, you might want to skip the video below. Maybe find the radio edit song without any images.  But definitely listen to the song.  :) )

And then one day I hear P!nk's song "Raise Your Glass" on the radio, and it changed "freak" for me forever.  All of a sudden I realized that I could be a freak according to others, but that didn't mean I had to be miserable for the rest of my life because of it.  I could be a freak and still enjoy life to its fullest.  That I would always be ME, and there will always be people who consider ME to be a freak.  A dirty, nitty-gritty little freak.  And that there was a certain freedom that came with that- if you see me as a freak, as being so different that I don't fit into what you consider acceptable, then you will always see me that way, which means I can stop trying to fit myself into what you consider acceptable, because there is no point in trying!  From "freak" spoken in disgust and repulsion, to FREAK! spoken in celebration, without those old feelings attached.  As a FREAK! I'm free to be whatever I want and to stop worrying about what you think of me, because I KNOW what you think of me, and I can say that I just don't care and I choose to (and have every right to) be happy anyway.  (Getting to truly not caring has been, and still is, a bit of a journey.  But I get to go on that journey because I'm a FREAK!)  As a FREAK! I am not "less-than" I am simply outside the circle of the majority. I GET to operate outside the box!  I don't have to try to prove why I belong in your circle, which is honestly quite a relief because constantly proving myself worthy to you is completely exhausting, and doesn't give me the time to see my own worth.  And anyway there are some really amazing people out here to hang out with who I don't have to prove myself to! 

A wonderful friend posted about flying her rainbow sparkly freak flag high, and as soon as I read her words I knew I had to paint one for her.  Looking at it has given me courage to be true to me, to speak my truth, to stop even trying to "fit in".  Because having the freedom to not fit in can be freaking awesome!  :D

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