Sunday, June 10, 2012

I will not look you in the eyes.

I have a problem that causes me problems at work and in various social settings. I live in a culture that likes a lot of eye contact. Even as a child, I was told that I did not make enough eye contact. Unfortunately, our society thinks that if you do not make eye contact, you are being dishonest. You would think that after having politician after politician, and crook after crook look into a camera and lie, that people would realize that eye contact, or a lack of it, does not mean that one is dishonest. In fact, in Japan, a lack of eye contact is not considered a bad thing but I digress.

I was different hairless ape from the beginning, and I paid for my differences (I will explain why later). Sometimes, I was yelled at by adults when I was not as coordinated as they thought I should be. I would pull out a chair, go to sit in it, and miss the chair completely. Every spring break I was taken skiing and I used to hate skiing with a passion. I would fall and fall and fall and I could barely get up. The whole time I would be screamed at to get up. Now, the screaming did motivate me to keep trying and I eventually did become a good skier, but the yelling also hurt…it hurt a lot.
In ways, I had a great childhood, and in ways, I had a hard childhood. I had a gross motor problem, and I had to take an extra PE class every week.  Sometimes, in the second PE class, I would have to fight another student with a foam bat. For the longest time, I would get the living daylights beaten out of me. Until one day, I had enough and me and the other student beat each other bloody. In fact, the teacher of the class had to end the sparing sessions because we (the other student and I) would get so bloody.

As a kid, and sometimes as a young adult, people would take the fact that I did not look people in the eye as sign of weakness. One kid found out the hard way, that his belief was sorely misplaced. I put him out of school for a few weeks. I believe that event made me more timid than I already was. I hurt someone very badly, even though he started the fight and had friends there to help fight me.

When I was a teenager, I was very depressed and suicidal. Instead of killing myself or deciding to get revenge, I sought out help. My therapist said that I acted like a person who was sexually abused. I have never been sexually abused (God, I hope that I do not have repressed memories); however, sometimes I do feel like my soul was raped (I apologize to those that have actually been raped). Furthermore, my stepfather was an alcoholic and called me a nerd and a geek every day. Combined with the mental abuse at home, I was often called a nerd or geek at school. Needless to say, my self-esteem was very low. My next blog entry will tell the story about how a teenage monster gained the confidence to leave the house. To find out what I mean by Teenage Monster click on this link to find out:

So, what does all of this have to do with not looking someone in the eye?  A whipped dog or a beaten person will not look you in the eye. I will always struggle with my self-confidence, and I have to work on it almost every day. All that I ask is, if you ever meet someone who does not immediately look you in the eye…do not assume that he/she is up to no good.

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