Maybe I’m the only person on the planet who will occasionally wonder how other people view me (no, my days are not filled with wondering what people think of me. Most of the time, I could care less. This is why I publicly blog: I don’t much care what people think of me), but somehow I doubt it. I always find it strange when someone has a perception of me varies wildly from who I actually am. Sometimes, it makes me want to correct the misconception, yet other times it tickles me pink to let them think what they want. Life is absolutely filled with more humor that way.
When I got pregnant with my first son, I had a role in my family: The Fuck-Up. Disregarding all of the surrounding circumstances (my mother’s relapse and subsequent torture of me), the blame for all of my actions fell squarely on my shoulders, at least as far as my family was concerned. Although many of my actions were not *ahem* the most mature, my family gave me far less credit than I deserved, especially considering that I was 20 years old.
When my pregnancy was announced, my parents were shockingly supportive of me, well, at least until I found out (much later, of course) that they had asked my brother (who is 10 years my senior) and his future wife if they would adopt my child in the event that I “freaked out.” They had such a low opinion of me that they honestly believed that I wouldn’t assume responsibility for my child (note: I am amazed that the keyboard has not ignited with the fury of a thousand suns as I type this).
As my family (save for me, of course. I get a special CHARGE when I get to confront people who have pissed me off.) is so non-confrontational that one might assume that each member is far meeker than they really are, I rarely heard about what a Fuck-Up I was considered to be. Aside from snide comments here and there about responsibility, everyone was pretty mum.
When I met, and subsequently married The Daver, was the point in which I realized just how poor my family’s opinion of me truly was. You would have thought, by their reactions, that Dave had rescued me literally from the streets, where I was selling crack and dancing badly for spare change (Dance Monkey, DANCE) and somehow turned my life around for me. You would never have guessed that I was at the top of my nursing school class, TA’ing for Organic/BioChem AND tutoring for A & P, while working as a waitress 20 hours a week BEFORE Dave walked into my life.
My brother, who I have a long and sorted history with, decided that if Dave (whom he adored/s) liked me, then I couldn’t be all THAT bad. My parents finally accepted that I had become a more mature and responsible person, although their time line was off by a factor of about a year and a half. In their minds, I only began to turn my life around once I had met my husband.
I do, of course, appreciate that my family loves my husband as one of their own (honestly, if we were to divorce, I have a feeling that holidays would have to be split up into Dave-time and Becky-time, or more likely, just Dave-time. I’d have to find myself a new family to celebrate the holidays), but I just wish that they could see that as wonderful as Dave is, he did nothing to change who I am and what I will do with my life.
It dawned on me, as I prepared my home for hosting Thanksgiving this year, that if asked, my family would probably mention that they were “having dinner at Becky’s house” and something to the effect of “she’s really turned her life around, hasn’t she?” Like I was some sort of street urchin in a Lifetime Original Movie who had some sappy predictable plot line: unmarried, younger girl gives birth to a child out of wedlock, heads down the “wrong path” until she meets “the man of her dreams,” and she miraculously changes her path, learns to cook and clean, and becomes a responsible upstanding citizen with an immaculate home. Who can, and does, crochet platitudes to hang on the wall.
While I can never discount Dave’s role in my life, the Lifetime Original Movie would be completely wrong (and not just the part about crocheting platitudes), but because I never, ever open up to my family about this sort of thing (in my family, despite the mental illness, we almost never talk about our feelings, because that would be too corny), it’s what they think of me. It’s incredibly doubtful that I’ll ever change their misconceptions of me, try as I may or may not to show them my true colors (I see your TRUUUUUUEE COOOOOLLLLLORS, and that’s why I LOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVE you.). I’ll chalk trying to explain who I really am to my family as yet another exercise in futility, because, honestly, it’s probably going to be easier to train my cats to unload the dishwasher or teach the coffeemaker to speak Ebonics than it would be to change their opinion of me.
It just sucks that they have to be so off-base with their perceptions, I mean, why can’t I be mistaken for a Fighter Pilot rather than a Fuck-Up (more accurately now: The Becky Formerly Known As Fuck-Up)?
I know that I’m not alone here. I just can’t be.
What do people think about YOU that is completely inaccurate?