Planet Waves | Just Too Dang Much | Jeanne Treadway



"Talisman" by Via at Studo Psycherotica

Just Too Dang Much! | By Jeanne Treadway

It's an interesting phenomena, this "too"
stuff. When people say "you're strong,"
it's a compliment. When they say "you're
too strong," it's a criticism.

I'm one of those bad-broke, rode-hard-put-up-wet kinda gals. You know
'em. Fire sparks from their eyes, smoke streams from the nostrils, and
they're just generally a handful. Sometimes gentle, sometimes a cross
between a treed bobcat and a lady. Always keep you edgy wondering how to
approach 'em. I don't know if I was born this way, but it seems like it.
My opinion is that the world deserves me just the way I am on account of
the way it treats me and everything else. I'm kinda like one of the
Earth,s walking consciences, always reminding people of what happens
when they treat other people mean.

I'm sure you know someone like me. I'm strong, opinionated, pretty,
lucky, independent, self-assured, smart. Oh, I ain't a stunner dripping
with money and gently holding the cojones of the world; no way. I'm one
of them strong, independent types who's got everything nobody else
really wants. I'm one of those bitches who makes everybody nervous and
that everybody calls touchy or crabby. I am too damned much for anyone
to handle, or so they say.

The first time I remember having that odd little "too" adjective applied
to me was when I was about five and was told I was too young to
understand, too small to do it, and too hard to get along with. In the
first case, a five year old should never be sacrificed to nuns for
education. Secondly, I could ride any horse I got on, sort of. And
finally, if they would talk to me reasonably I might not be so damn hard
to get along with. But all this was just a portent, a hint, of what was

By the time I was eight, I was too smart, too dumb, too much a tom-boy,
too serious. I kept the smart, dumb, serious part and became known as
Little Miss Priss to my family by age ten. Puberty found me weighing in
at 85 pounds, heft that was stretched across a five six frame, with a
mouth full of teeth that wouldn't fit until I was about twenty, braces,
and the self-esteem of a mouse. No tits, no hips, just elbows and knees
and braces. Gorgeous from any perspective. My mom always told me I had a
great smile, though. Very small comfort to a human tree.

Kids were mean and stupid and I found solace with very old people; they
had something to say and knew how to listen. The first love affair I
ever had was with my grandmother who died when I was nine. I played
dominoes and jacks and could skip high waters/hot peppers with the best,
but I also read forty to sixty books a semester from second grade on. I
loved Hank Williams and Patsy Kline when Elvis was king. Vincent Price,
who was better than John Wayne every hoped to be in my book, introduced
me to Poe. Our twit of a librarian refused to allow me to check out the
collected works of that dear alcoholic because I was only in fourth
grade, but she poured the first shot in a life-long addiction.

I knew rocks, snakes, trees, water, rabbits, cats, and horses had souls;
I was uncertain about people. I wanted to be a ballerina from age six
until I dropped that nonsensical dream on my twenty-eighth birthday when
I did an arabesque and semi-permanently sprained my ankle.

I fit well in high school, too. I had to take the high school entrance
exam twice because I scored higher than the male genius and the first
score was obviously a fluke. By fourteen I had fallen in love with a man
who was to fill my dreams to the present, some thirty years later. We
were an item during my twenties, but that story best fits in later. I
dated three guys in high school, none of them him, and scandalized the
town with my supposed promiscuity (you were only allowed one man every
four years back then). I wasn't selected to cheer for the team because,
as the kind president of the pep squad told me, they were afraid I might
become too egotistical. My algebra teacher made certain I was never
elected to senior honor society or chosen as an honor student because I
was too loud in the halls. I was asked to run as secretary of the senior
class, but wanted to run as president. Girls names were never entered
for that position so I didn't get to run for anything.

I kept thinking I was going through a phase, that some time in the near
future I would be just good enough. In fact, it wasn't a phase and it
expanded to include too sensitive, too loving, too good, too bad, too
intense, too modern, too wild. Let's see, what did I miss? Oh yeah, too
sad, too happy, too mad, too glad. Too much a hippy, too old-fashioned.
Don't get confused here, these were certainly not words I applied to
myself. Good-intentioned professors, friends, therapists, bosses,
unknowns told me these things, for my own good, of course.

What the hell is a twenty-year-old supposed to do with this kind of
knowledge? I thought love might help me figure it out. Believe me, it
doesn't. It just adds to the list. Drugs don't help either. They mirror
the words back onto your soul and write them into your heart with a
bitter, indelible ink. Alcohol is a socially acceptable method of
drowning, but that leads to alcoholism and, dang, that's a tough one to
get rid of. Thank God for the rare soul who believes in you, without
strings, without wanting to own or change or manipulate.

I'm not certain when I started thinking I might be okay to look at, that
my nose wasn't too big or my cheekbones too prominent or my lips too
big. Somewhere in my mid-thirties I decided my eyes were really quite
nice, but pretty? Never. In fact, I settled for exotic. That's better,
anyway, isn't it? I think getting sober at 32 unlocked the gate for
several revelations, including that I was bright, could be charming and
okay to look at, and might have something of value to give to friends
and lovers. It's a theory I'm still testing, twenty years later, though.

Briefly back to the love of my life. He just got married for the second
time, obviously not to me, and that's because, he says, he would rather
be comfortable than passionate. Ergo I am too passionate. He's probably
right that our marriage would have been tough, but damn him anyway.

What the hell is wrong with being too passionate, too sensitive, too
everything? Why is this silly little adjective thrown at me in
explanation for each aspect of me? My beloved sister once told me I was
too supportive. Jeezo peezo! Was I supposed to become less smart, less
pretty, less lucky, less sensitive, less passionate? Would that ensure
that someone would love me? That I would find a place I fit in this
world? That the pain would abate? What was I supposed to do with this
stuff? How do people want me to react, to change? I was simply befuddled
by this. It ebbed and flowed. I could go a whole three, maybe four,
months without someone using that adjective to describe something I had
just done, some feeling I had just expressed, some thought I had just
expounded. But without fail, that well-intentioned look would descend on
someone's face and the next "too" would pop out.

It's an interesting phenomena, this "too" stuff. When people say "you're
strong", it's a compliment. When they say "you're too strong", it's a
criticism. It implies that you are supposed to do something about it,
that somehow you have stepped over an appropriate, social boundary and
that, if you were a "good" person, you would do something to correct
that faux pas. When you first encounter it, it stings but you don't
spend much time thinking about it. You have no idea that little word
will become your personal Chinese water torture, wearing your heart away
drop by drop. You start hearing that word in every conceivable context.
Is there something wrong with you? Do you have some major deficit? Were
you born missing some key ingredient that would allow you to understand
this too stuff? The weight of that silly little word is extraordinary
because not only is it used to put you in your place, it is also
invariably used to explain why someone treated you abominably and why
you should be big enough or strong enough or gracious enough to let that
rudeness pass. In essence, because you are "too" you have to accept
every form of abominable behavior imaginable. People are allowed to and,
according to their moral precepts, should bring your "too" behavior to
your attention, just in the off chance you were unaware that you're a
"too" person.

I spent years shaving off parts of my personality. You know, trying to
speak softer, act nicer, be stupid. I even wore suits and coiffed hair.
Jeez. I figured if I kept shaving I'd eventually get to the "good
enough" part and then everyone would start saying I was just strong
enough or smart enough or whatever. It doesn't work that way, but dang
it takes some learning to figure it out.

Finally, though, it comes to you. They ain't never gonna be satisfied.
They just need to break your spirit for some reason. When you get to
that understanding, and believe me it don't come quick, you have
yourself a year-long cry, dust off your boots, and start living for
yourself again. Now, just like I love those delicious little power
surges they call hot flashes, I glory in being too much. It reminds me I
am vitally alive, full of piss and vinegar, raring to go. It lets me
know that they haven't broken me to saddle yet. Oh sure, they still want
to but, until they figure out that wounding an animal's pride only makes
it mean, they'll never get this mare in their corral.++

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