I have taken way too many wrong turns to track, followed scores of emotional impulses rather than making plans. I have described myself to myself as “spontaneous,” sugar-coating the truth of disorganization and lack of foresight. And, wow, I have been stubborn about it.
Now it’s late, and looking back I can see that many of the tools I picked up as a little girl I continued to carry unquestioning far into the future. And, I didn’t listen when people encouraged me to change direction or to reach out for resources beyond my childhood roadmap. I protected my right to stay small. I defended my defenses with all of my strength, and I lost sight of opportunities in the exchange. I stayed loyal rather than break those early contracts. I stayed behind at important junctures, afraid to step out with the others moving forward. I let thousands of days and nights crumble and disappear.
But in these last years, the most difficult years, I have accidentally bumped into myself. I have begun to build an identity out of the threads and colors and connections gathered over time. Slowly, incrementally, I have let myself face the truth of not having moved through my life in a deliberative way.
Here it is. I am a loser. What a relief … to take myself gently, but certainly and finally, off the hook of the golden child. This moniker of golden child was a natural displacement from the first born, from my brother, who by virtue of birth was such a deep disappointment that he had to be hidden away, even from memory. Nobody had been given language or permission to mourn and so grief rippled and got stuck in the layers beneath knowing. It held us all.
It occurs to me only now — now that there is more life behind than ahead — that I could never have lived up to what my brother could not be. I believe I gave up immediately, and then lived daily giving up again and again. And in the stop-and-go of dreaming and waking, a whole past has filled in and filled up.
Still, now is a more mindful time. It’s time of gratitude — for the love that has been so generous to me even when I have been self-centered. It’s a time to sort through and account for, to finally separate from my brother, from my parents’ silent remorse, their guilt and sorrow. Being a loser isn’t so bad. Without having that shining crown balanced so precariously on my head, I am able to move more easily, speak more openly, understand my heart better. Being a loser feels like freedom.