Saturday, May 17, 2014

Being Whole

My status message for today: Reclusive and discriminable.

After being introduced to Connie Sun's blog by Robert Krulwich over at NPR, I've added it to my regular webcomic diet. A lot of her strips deal with the trials and tribulations of being a single, thirty-something, Asian woman in New York City. Being a single, forty-something, African-American man in the suburbs of Seattle, I find it interesting the degree to which I can relate, despite the differences in our lives, and how we came to them. Occasionally, it seems like watching my own interior life unfold from a distance, with someone else playing the part of me. But the really interesting part is watching her lay out some of the same conclusions that I once arrived at, but from a completely different direction.

As someone who was intentionally single throughout my twenties and thirties (and is intentionally single now), I spent a lot of my adult life fighting with people's assessment of me as a broken individual, living a life beset by illness or injury. And on top of it, my refusal to see myself as injured, ill or incomplete was itself a part of my pathology. For me, these discussions, as well-meaning as they were, often took on an ominous undertone of: "You're different, and that's bad." And I feared being bad, and so I often sought to defend myself with "I'm different, and that's superior." And in so doing, I challenged the intelligence, wisdom and thoughtfulness of people I claimed were my friends over a judgment that possibly existed only in my head.

Eventually, I learned that the correct response to: "You're broken," whether stated in as many words or not, was: "So what if I am? I'm good with it."

And reading Miss Sun's comics, as different as our circumstances are (or were), reminds me of the path I walked to that point of greater self-understanding and self-acceptance. Like the understanding that I, on my own, can be whole. But it is also the differences in that path that are fascinating. It's one thing to understand on an intellectual level that the path I've chosen is well-worn. It's another thing entirely to watch someone else walk it under such different circumstances than I have.

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