Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thinking about...

I have been doing a lot of thinking. A lot of introspective examination. A lot of tryng to remember. A lot of trying to understand. It may, on the surface, seem a sad process. There certainly are sad moments in this journey, but in actuality this is a joyful process-- I am learning to accept and understand things I have long cut off from myself-- I am learning to beccome the full person I need to be. I am learning that many of my long-held assumptions were incorrect or incomplete; In doing so I am discovering how to correct and complete my experience.

I am remembering the joyfulness, the wonderful love and acceptance, of my childhood. Instead of seeing only the failures; I am discovering the many successes of myself and my family. For years I harbored anger toward my mother for what I saw as her failures as my parent, now I am discovering that she did not "fail" me in many of the most important ways-- and perhaps as important, I am coming to empathize with her and how difficult it must have been for her to experience my childhood with me.

One of my most important blessings, as a child, was that I was born into a "gifted" family. I was lucky enough to be "normal." I was lucky enough to be seen as an individual; to be cherished and respected for who I was. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that didn't ask me to conform to preconcieved ideals of thought or personality-- I was exceptionally lucky. And this acceptance and love prospered throughout my family-- mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents... We were, none of us, conformists. All had lived, loved, experienced, life in different ways. Some of us were exceptionally talented in music, in art, in academics, in emotional understanding, in self-understanding-- we were all unique, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that we.

I never felt "different" as a young child-- I never was. For we were all different-- that was the norm. My feelings of difference came later-- 7 on-- and while they started outside of my family culture, they ultimately fractured my sense of sameness in every situation. This is an important realization-- one I am struggling to understand and integrate (so I apologize for repetition of this realization) into my current identity.

For I am coming to understand that my normal emotional development was stunted and in some cases halted, probably around the age of 7. I have, for years, been trying to understand and solve the inner struggles that have plagued my life for so long. I believe we each have an inner drive, an imperative really, to reach our developmental potential-- in all ways of development; intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, and social. I have been struggling with that drive and my impediments to that development for too long. I feel, though, that understanding (finally) where my development fractured will allow me to retrace the milestones I should have reached and ultimately integrate the fractured areas of self-development with my non-fractured self.

The reasons I share this experience, whether it be of interest or not, are varied: 1) it is hepful for me to write and organize my thoughts, 2) I have some hope that sharing my experience might in some way help others who have had similar experiences, and 3) because it might be interesting to read about :)

My recent revelation that my emotional/social problems are likely rooted in my school-age life has been a supremely freeing and joyful thing for me. It has allowed me to empathize with myself as a child, and also with my caregivers. It has also given me a specific point of reference in understanding my emotional/social deficits and a means of developing a plan of recovery from them.

Most of all, though, it has given me an understanding of the imperative of learning to accept myself-- all of myself-- and understand my unique needs and abilities.

I started this with the idea of how I was "normal" in my family because I believe that feeling accepted and respected as an individual was the most important developmental foundation I had, and that, perhaps, being singled-out or otherwise made to feel "different" is detrimental to one's development-- in all ways.

As I grapple with trying to accept my differences and their causes, I am largely dealing with the psychology of highly-gifted children and adults. In many ways I am dissatisfied with the term "gifted" to describe this population of individuals. I believe that, in the American culture at least, it engenders an almost automatic bristling of feathers-- The very term suggests that this population possesses something better, or is better, and is too-often percieved as describing people who have an "unfair advantage" over the rest of the population. Beyond that, though, I believe that it is a completely inadequate descriptor of the experience of "gifted" people; in particular, of the proundly giifted.

For the experience of being "profoundly gifted," for most, is anything but a gift or advantage. We are often taught (by society and our experience) that we are strange, wierd, incomprehensible, and unaccepted by the world. We are often taught that we should be ashamed (either implicitly or explicitly) of our "giftedness" and that we must hide and deny large parts of ourselves in order to "fit in."

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I have, in most of my life, hated that I was different, and would have gladly given up my "gifts" in order to just have friends, be liked, and "fit in" to a society which I had to live in but never felt a part of. Honestly, I have lived my life HATING myself because I could not live up to the expectations and demands of the society I lived in. And I still dislike myself, deep down, for that, but am working hard to learn to understand and appreciate my differences and potentials, now that I can CHOOSE what society I will live in.

And so I will end this with a promise/warning that coming closely on the heells of this entry will be my account of my "gifted" experience and the ways I attempted to deal with my desires to fit in-- particularly by cutting off parts of myself that I believed the worst offenders of my "difference." I hope that my experience will help others deal with their own experience and/or help you understand and protect your gifted children from the experiences I contended with.

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