I Grew Up on a Fence
To Everyone Who Grew Up Without Two Feet on the Ground
I grew up on a fence.
Of right and wrong, of religion and none, and of celebrating things and abstaining from them, simultaneously. One house where I had to be extra careful not to upset the dragon and the other where I had to be extra cautious not to let my secrets be known. In both, I had to pretend I was not trying desperately to let people see/not see the pain and shame I wore like a uniform.
I grew up with a parent who couldn't begin to know how to show love, and who more often than not, chose to make me scared, hurt, and feel so small. I grew up with another who led a righteous life, who tried to instill in me how to have faith, and who brought a whole family into the picture one day when I looked away. I grew up not knowing how the hell I should act, or look, or talk, or think, or what I should do or not do.
I'd been told lies and half-truths, anger-driven stories that I didn't know enough to look past. I clung to murky versions of things and to the wreckage of affection, and I shunned loved ones because I believed so much. Waves of garbage. It boggles my mind to see through the junk and lies now, but then it all seemed so easily the truth. In my other life, I was slowly shunned by family in return. Because I couldn't get with the program. I questioned faith and belief, and how just to survive. My inabilities, my questioning nature, and my hardening heart shot all development of relationships down.
I grew up on a fence... and there I sat astride it for most of my life.
My fence wasn't comfortable, it wasn't the right place, and it certainly wasn't helping me live the life I wanted or needed. But it was familiar, and it formed to my being, and it kept me somewhat safe from the world, I guess. I grew comfortable—or least something that looked and felt like comfortable—and I sat on it. It took a long time to realize comfort had become numbness, in more than just my butt. I'd grown numb in all my places.
One day, I stepped off the fence onto a familiar tree limb. And, in some ways, it was so, so too late. And in other ways, it was just in time. My heart is softer now, almost to the point of leaking daily. It battles my mind on the regular. But tears are bittersweet when they come from growth instead of pain.
My fence allowed for a lop-sided view it turns out. It shaded where it should have enlightened; it froze where it should have thawed.
It took me half a lifetime to recognize I had a faulty manual I was living my life by. I can't say precisely how or why I got there, but I'm glad I did. Admitting I'd been dealt a lot of hurts and life wasn't fair, and that I screwed up my share as well was a good start. Trying to repair things from a distance in time and space isn't easy, and sometimes it's also just that easy. It isn't too late when you want to make it happen. And, sometimes you have to stop trying and just be a little bit. Just sit with the shit a little bit and let it all go.
You can grow up on a fence, and you can stay on it. But, sometimes, you can come down and run through the field and feel the sun on all your parts. Sometimes, you can walk backward and mend the pieces that are falling. Sometimes, you can sprint forward and be amazed your fence isn't as tall or reliable as you recall. Sometimes—just sometimes—you can lean over your fence and discover it isn't what you want or need, and you can put your feet on solid ground for good.