Ruined, not Spoiled

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Barbara*, 1939-

“My most blessed treasure is figuring out the difference between spoiled and ruined; it totally changed my life. . . I am not spoiled, I am ruined.”

“You are spoiled,” they would say. “That’s your problem, sss-poiled!

I was labeled by my family as spoiled. My most blessed treasure is figuring out the difference between spoiled and ruined; it totally changed my life. I was 50 years old before I figured it out. It took five months of meditation, day and night, two hours meditate, two hours off. It cast a shadow on my entire life, and you never quite get over this. I am not spoiled, I am ruined. What a realization! These are two very different identities, you know.

Growing up, I was a wreck. Mom did not have the courage to face the music, dad didn’t talk to me. I thought of myself as crazy, crazy and unlikable. That was the burden I was carrying. When something good happened, like getting a job, I thought I was faking it well. “They haven’t figured it out yet,” I’d tell myself. It has been a difficult life.

To this day, I still see myself as unlikeable. When you have lived with an idea for 50 years, you just can’t shed it easily. I led a life of being invisible, I strive to be invisible. But I survived, and feel that I am the luckiest of us three [siblings]. If I had to credit it to one event in my life, it would be the moment I understood the difference between spoiled and ruined.

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[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos]

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