Some people are just irregular

Irregular. That’s right, irregular. My definition of this word is, something that is not right, not normal. It does not fit. It is painful to identify with or acknowledged by an individual.

Relationships can often be that way. People may appear to be friends, but are not friends at all. They use the relationship to get whatever they want. They use words, like a knife, to cut, maim, wound. They are adept at creating wounds with words, so deep and precise, to cause maximum harm, yet leave no trace behind at the point of incision.

Do you know someone like that? I do. In fact, I know more than one. I suspect everyone knows that many as well.

Joyce Landorf, author of “Irregular People,” takes the subject of irregular people into the realm of family and their relationships. Friends and acquaintances can be left behind, if we so choose. It is not so easy with family.

Imagine, if you will, making plans for a family gathering for the holidays, or perhaps making preparations for a wedding, a baby shower or a funeral. Surely, one or two people may come to our mind that create a little more than mild anxiety, and it becomes a momentous task to move around the “obstacles” to oversee a memorable occasion.

Relatives, cousins, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers, not to mention siblings and spouses, all possess the ability to become irregular people.

In her comparison research, Landorf discovered irregular people have similar, if not identical, personality traits. Their responses and reactions to us, whether verbal or nonverbal, physical or passive, deliberate or unintentional, fall in the same ruts and follow the same patterns.

She concludes: “It’s as if they all are hiking along the same well-marked path.”

The following are common traits identified by Landorf of an irregular person:

• Irregular people are emotionally blind. More correctly, while blind to us, they can see with 20/20 vision with everything else. It is “selective” blindness.

This person, whether a parent or sibling, cannot see your gifts, talents, skills or accomplishments, but rather, when presented with evidence of success, choses to talk about his or her own success, or worse, point out your glaring failure.

Years ago, a young family was celebrating the birth of their first born. Gathered around the child, the extended family greets him for the first time. The grandfather exclaims in a loud voice so all can hear, “He is a beautiful baby. It’s too bad he doesn’t have a proper last name!”

The young parents try to maintain a sense of decorum. Privately, they feel the gut-wrenching, jab-in-the-abs, like a verbal knife. They are wounded, bleeding within, slow-to-heal, feeling unquenchable pain.

• Irregular people are emotionally deaf. They are not only selective in their blindness, they are either unwilling or unable to hear. Perhaps it is because of their emotional upbringing that they are unable to listen and interact in a “normal” conversation. They cannot connect and respond as we expect.

• Irregular people have badly damaged vocal chords. They are severely handicapped, saying all the wrong words at the wrong times. They cannot apologize or ask for forgiveness. Even if they try to apologize, the apology turns into a litany of excuses, blaming someone else for their behavior.

Landorf suggests that even a Christian irregular person will lie, rather than take responsibility for being wrong.

Why should we talk about this subject at all? We all live in an imperfect world. We are broken and each individual can relate to this through some personal experience.

Before healing can begin, we must acknowledge our broken state and how badly we are in need of restoration. Otherwise, this behavior will continue, regrettably through us, and more people will suffer needlessly.

Paul Penner, former president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, farms in the Hillsboro area. He has been active statewide and nationally regarding agriculture policy.