Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Am Not Contrary

I don't know why it is, but often times what one really wants to do runs contrary to what everyone really wants to do. —Mojo Shivers, california is a recipe for a black hole

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

Painfully shy isn’t a euphemism. Anyone who has ever been knows. I was painfully shy. I know. I've seen half-pictures of me as a tiny child peeking out from behind my mother. I didn’t want people looking at me, not for any reason. There wasn't a why. Nothing caused it. I came that way. It had to do with picking up information from the air, being able to take in more than I could comprehend.

I grew up being told I was too sensitive, that I had too many feelings, that the world was going to eat me up. I saw too much. I thought too much. I over-analyzed, and I was contrary. I knew those things before I could read, and I could read early. I wasn’t contrary. I was just scared of everything. My computer sensors could pick up the slightest twitch. That didn't mean my mind knew what to do with it.

My mother used to sing to me, “I’m just a little petunia in an onion patch.” I didn’t know why I so much liked that silly song. How I still remember it. It made nice pictures in my head.

People who understood called me “Bashful” and “Mushy.” Those names brought out the best in me. Those names told me what being a three- or four-year-old was supposed to be about. The folks who said them were like magic friends. I’d find myself inside my skin when they were around. I have such memories of playing, giggling, making faces that would get them to laugh.

But grown-ups with no patience were like the witch in any fairy tale. They would find me difficult, and turn away from me. Truth is I learned to expect that bad response. It was the one more usual. It was the one that took less effort on their part.

The response I hated most of all came from adults I didn’t know. It happened when my mother introduced me, and I hid instead of saying the expected polite hello. Adults—people who should know better, people who shouldn’t be thrown by slip of a child who’s too afraid to say hello—would answer by chanting that nursery rhyme at me, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary . . .” Thinking on it now, I see they acted like they were still in junior high.

I didn’t know what that little rhyme meant. I was small, but I was smart enough to know their tone, to know that it was not a nice one. How could a garden with silver bells and pretty maids make me feel bad? I didn’t want to be contrary—I didn't even know that word. Obviously I must be though. So many strangers thought I was. They were grown-ups too. So they must be right.

Now I’m a grown-up. I know I’m not contrary. I can tell that little girl so, and sometimes I do. Contrary means that you choose the other thing.

I didn’t choose. I came this way.

I wouldn’t wish it any other way either.
—me strauss Letting me be


mergrl said...

I didn’t choose. I came this way.
I wouldn’t wish it any other way either

amen to that Liz, what a great post that I can relate to more than I like to admit (hugs)

ME Strauss said...

Hey mergrl,
You are like my good-night friend.

I wouldn't wish you any other way either. You are great just the way you are.


mergrl said...

:0) I usually do one last round of reading right befoe I go to bed, and you always seem to have something waiting for me to read about that time, I look forward to it.

have a good night my friend (hugs)

ME Strauss said...

Good night friend.
Thank you for all of your wonderful words. They mean so much.
Sleepy swell.

Trée said...

Thanks for the tea Liz. Kyra will be along soon. I think she's still looking at her shell collection.

On the subject of shyness, I was so shy in first grade, my mother had to pin a note to my shirt telling my teacher that I went by my nickname (Tre'e) and not by my given name Alfred. Believe me, I've never lived that one down. But it was true, I was shy beyond the red part of the shyness scale.

mojo shivers said...

I don't think you're contrary. I don't think you do things just because people tell you not to.

Me, I've been told I do things just to get a reaction out of people. But even that is not being contrary. Like I said in my post, I decided to be weird in fourth grade.

I think one can be what one wants to be without apologies. If that means running with the pack, so be it. And if that means being the lone wolf, then so be it as well.

Bluesky_Liz said...

I thought Mary Mary quite contrary, was a jab against unmarried women named Mary. :D Most kids are shy of strangers. It always takes some time for them to warm up to people. Those people just don't know kids. Maybe they were the noisy kind when they were young.

On a side note,
I'm often feel comforted by your writings. I haven't left comments lately, so just to let you know, this one and the last one really connected with me.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Tree,
I understand that my son was as shy I you and I were. I guess he had one thing going for him--a mom who "got" that he wasn't doing it just to tick everyone off.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Mojo,
Thank you for being the inspiration for this post and for your words just now about it. As a writer, I've been having the most interesting occurrence lately, I keep starting to write one piece and ending up with another. This in not unusual of itself I know, but it is unusual so many times in a row. hmmmm. My brain is telling me I have things that need writing about I guess.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Liz,
Thank you for comment. I know everyone is so busy right now. (Actually the rhyme is a bloody tribute to the executions of Bloody Queen Mary Tudor, who killed so many Protestants during her reign.)

It's so nice that you tell me that my writing serves as a comfort to you. You're a dear friend that makes me feel good.

Jennifer said...

Ahh...adults can be so cruel. My sister was just like you. She hid behind mom's she's the social butterfly of all of us. Where my brother and I would sometimes try to avoid people she's there making friends with complete strangers :)

And I like you this way!


ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer!
Good morning, I like you your Jennifer way too.

I'm pretty good with strangers now too. Still a little less good with people who know me just a bit.
What can I say?


Cheryl said...

Oooh! Grrrr! My blood is boiling for you. Outrage.
Even as an adult, I have had two people tell me I 'worry too much'.
No, I don't worry too much, I see too many possibilities, think too much, at least too much for them to keep up. Not too much at all really, just too much for them. Its an awfully unhelpful thing to be told, though, even in your thirties, so what it does to a child is beyond me. I think you saw more, or what they would call 'too much' and naturally expected that others were just as insightful.
Those poor, crass, RUDE adults, to be like that. Rather your life than theirs, eh?
Hope you have worked out how few people have eyes, how, mostly, being looked at doesnt mean being seen, at least not in the interrogative way that you feared. Some (lots of)people are only skin deep, especially the silly ones who misuse a nursery rhyme about Mary Queen of Scots. ;-)

ME Strauss said...

Thank you!
What powerful things you say.
Hope you have worked out how few people have eyes, how, mostly, being looked at doesnt mean being seen ... That is a wisdom so many people need to hear. Thank you for that. I mean it. Thank you.

toadman said...

People can say and do things that make no sense to me. Perhaps they only see the world through the filter of their own biases and expectations.

I was a troubled child, but there was a trauma in my life when I was young...still, I was expected to just be able to get over it...I knew I couldn't, and I still haven't written about it...

It makes me angry when people set up expectations for me, that I know, and they know, I cannot meet.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Toadmaster,
I used to be in such awe of my son. He had the same painful shyness, but was somehow more evolved. One day he said the wisest thing, "I'm not a people, I'm just a kid." (AGE 3)

It was a great way to tell someone to BACK OFF.

Why so many expect more from others than they do from themselves just baffles me. I can't get my head around the things that they can't see.

The unfairness and the cruelty that come from their own weakness in particular.


Betty said...

Hi Liz- It's good to visit you again during this period of crazy work scheduling and computer problems. I, too, was painfully shy (there are lots of us out there, apparently) and I have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to figure out why. To this day I often can't bring myself to speak up in a group, or if I do, it's not without eliciting the "fight or flight" response (heart racing, face flushing, etc.). I sure as heck didn't choose this affliction. After reading your post, I'll now be considering the possibility that I came this way, and maybe, who knows, it's not a bad thing. You seem to have turned out just fine!

ME Strauss said...

Hi There!
I would say the same for you. I think you have turned out more than fine. That being shy thing is a good quality for a writer. It lets us stand back and observe and the details we see serve us well later when we need them to fill up and fill out our stories with realism and authenticity.

Melly said...

Seems you've attracted people who are similar to you here as everyone seems to have been a shy kid ;)

I don't think I was shy but I was always very opinionated, something that just doesn't go well with adults...

Actually, come to think of it, being opinionated never goes well with adults (regardless if I'm four, sixteen, or thirty :)

ME Strauss said...

Hey Melly,
Your opinions go just fine with me.
I like them they let me know right where you stand and I find that very refreshing to say the least.

Doug said...

I'm still contrary. I never grew up. Don't ask me to.

ME Strauss said...

No worries, Doug,
In my world no one has to grow up. I see no logical reason why they should.