My Life As A Boy

As a boy, I’d gaze closely at the reflection in windows or mirrors to look at my face. Both the subtle and blunt hostility emanating from my peer group inevitably sowed self-doubt. What made school life even more irksome was trying to decipher what triggered this selective contempt. Why were only some children targeted? Why were others favored? Was it my darker skin, my slower speech or my hesitancy?

In order to psychologically survive in this antagonistic environment, I grew up out of touch with my emotions. By example, I learned to feel pain as little as possible. At least on the outside. I battled silently seeking to understand what made me different. To complicate matters, communication was miniscule in my family of origin. Thus, I felt ashamed of myself most of the time, though I acted cool and tried to pretend none of this was having an effect upon me.

In order to find kindred souls I travelled across time and distance. Along the way I met Charlotte Bronte. I found it at once remarkably soothing to connect with someone who resonated what I was experiencing. Through each word, each phrase, she taught me how to value my highly sensitive nature.

Her Christian faith defined who she was. It helped her question both convention and personal convenience. With the inner-eye of a sage, she knew how to articulate the inner core of her being — the part usually hidden from the rest of the world. What follows is just one excerpt of her magical perceptivity and self-awareness — always sprinkled with a generosity of literary genius.

“What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! Yet in what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question—WHY I thus suffered; now, at the distance of—I will not say how many years, I see it clearly.

I was a discord in Gateshead Hall; I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage (those in position of submission). If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathize with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child – though equally dependent and friendless – Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scape-goat of the nursery.” — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1.2.30)

In some ways that broken child still bleeds inside me, but voices like Jane Eyre help me to reconstruct meaning out of a brutally distorted past. It all started by breaking with the fashionable philosophy of leaving “the past in the past” — a convenient form of white-washing. We are released from past humiliation when we deal with it. For the highly reactive temperament, this requires patient soul-searching and a tender approach to re-parenting the wounded-inner child.
iNtuitiveFEeling iNtuitiveFEeling
56-60, M
Dec 12, 2012