The Art of Always Being Right

 As my mom liked to tell the story … my parents were awakened one morning by howls coming from my bedroom.  My mom rushed in, only to find me on the floor.

“Anzie fell off the bed-DAH,” I announced. 

Indignant!  Righteously indignant!  With special emphasis on the second syllable of the monosyllabic word ‘bed’ … to make the point that not only was this NOT RIGHT, it was terribly WRONG .

I was two years old.

In the 3rd grade, I was sent home from school for being disrespectful to my teacher, Mrs. Griffin.  She made the mistake of announcing one day that since Senator Saltonstall lived in the same town, all our parents would vote for him in the upcoming election.  When I told my mom, she said, “Nonsense.”  (Senator Saltonstall was a Republican, and, my parents were two of the five registered Democrats who lived in the town.)  So, next day I informed Mrs. Griffin, in front of the class, that she had gotten it wrong, and that my parents would not vote for the Senator.

I was sent to the Principal’s office, and he drove me home.

Most of my time in the 4th grade was spent missing recesses, as punishment for not keeping my mouth shut.   My teacher Mr. Chatman (I called him Chapstick behind his back) sentenced me to copying countless pages out of the dictionary.  My friends, who wanted me to have recess so we could play together, would cheer me on, and encourage me to be quiet … all to no avail.  I was rarely able to refrain from sassing him, and he willingly added more pages for me to copy.

Welcome to my childhood!

Those early years were spent learning to navigate the unpredictability, the chaos, the loving (as best they could), the gut-wrenching sadness of home life … and I learned early on the skills of being RIGHT, of finding the RIGHT way, of saying or doing the RIGHT thing, in order to control other people, myself, situations. 

How did I do this rightness thing?  By trying to control outcomes, constantly correcting, trying to prove, trying to fit in, making myself be small and not good enough, having significant points of view that I would emphasize (whether people wanted to hear them or not), holding other people responsible for choices I made 

And I honed those skills over the years …  how to walk on eggshells, to not upset anyone, to anticipate what could happen (and to deter potential disaster), to correct everyone and everything, to disappear, to pretend ... The list goes on …

Does it work?  No!

Is it exhausting?  Yes!

The necessity of always being right comes at a price that I am no longer willing to pay.

Some questions I have been asking:

  • What does being right mean?
  • What does being wrong mean?
  • What’s the value of always being right?
  • What’s the value of never being wrong?
  • If I weren’t right, who would I be?  What would I be?
  • If I weren’t wrong, who would I be?  What would I be?

I have no answers … just more space.

It’s an adventure … not always comfortable … and yet so welcome! 

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