I’ve been watching a lot of House, MD lately. (Yeah, the show’s finished. Watching it through on Netflix.) And I realized something.

He had a rough childhood. He was abused by a father who wasn’t his biological father. He’s a literal genius, or pretty close. He has a terrible fear of being wrong, which sometimes manifests in saying things as fact when he doesn’t really know and other times manifests in refusing to make a decision because he doesn’t know and doesn’t want to give the wrong answer. He’s wise beyond his years and peers, and yet somehow also stuck in the mind of a middle school boy, or maybe an early high school boy. He loves like crazy, cares and feels more deeply than perhaps many people ever do, but hides his feelings because showing them will make him vulnerable. And he uses physical problems he can’t control as an excuse for avoiding dealing with the much greater emotional pain he doesn’t want to face.

No, I’m not talking about House. I’m talking about my father. There are decided differences between House and my father. For one thing, my father is no where near as crass. For another, all of his medications are taken legitimately and as prescribed by a doctor–he’s not an addict. And for a third, his deep feelings and his fear of being wrong are hidden behind a little arrogance and a lot of extroverted bonhomie, whereas House’s are hidden behind his addiction, rapid-fire insults, and cruel ways of jerking other people around.

Still, the similarities are many and, to be honest, a little frightening. Actually, mostly just amazing in realizing, by observations of the similarities, just how accurately House is written.

I’ve also been studying another character a lot–Foreman. Frankly, Foreman really irritates me. Like, a lot.

Arrogant. Insistence of being different, but really so much the same. Aware of and horrified by the similarities but not sure what to do about it. Also very smart, though maybe not genius level. Also wants to be right, but with maybe a bit less of a fear of being wrong–more a sense that the only way to break with the past is to be able to be right. A sense of being chained to the past no matter what, of never leaving that terrible growing-up place. More connected with humanity, but with a sense of never quite belonging anywhere.

Yeah, that’s Foreman. That’s also me. Honestly, I can’t tell if Foreman drives me nuts more because we’re so similar or because of the ways in which we’re different. (Actually, I think he mostly drives me nuts because he’s so racist even though he’s constantly accusing others of being racist–which, in the way he does it, is often in and of itself racist.) Seriously, though, again, way too many similarities. I never realized how many until I reached an episode where someone said that at least he’d gotten out of the ghetto, and he said, “I’m never out of the ghetto.” It’s amazing how the traumas (yes, I’m using the word “traumas”–I realize there are greater traumas, but just because it’s less traumatic doesn’t mean it’s not a trauma) of growing up in the ghetto, and the traumas of growing up as a COH, are so very similar. Not the same traumas or results of being physically abused or sexually abused. Lots of similarities.

Honestly, I’m not just extrapolating all of this based on fictional characters. It’s based on years of observations, it’s based on my sister’s ex who was always SO much like my father (and is also so much like House) and is also a literal genius (or very close) who was abused as a child. It’s based on conversations with my siblings and realizing just how much at least two of us took away in exactly the same way. It’s based on observations of other people who grew up in bad situations, and it’s also based on people who grew up in really good situations.

I know this. As I’ve been able to face things and deal with them more, that sense of never belonging has dissipated tremendously. As I’ve been able to face things and deal with them, that fear of being wrong has dissipated . . . well, maybe not as much, but a lot. The shame I carry on behalf of my family has also dissipated some, though again, not as much. Having a husband who loves me so much makes a huge difference. Having friends who are there no matter what makes an inexplicable difference. Being able to look at my house and see, not just how much further I need to come (and it’s a lot!) but also how far I’ve already come, makes a huge difference too. Especially when other people notice it.

I do know one thing that many people on House regularly say and I completely disagree with. They say people don’t change. Maybe change doesn’t usually happen all at once, but when I look at who I was a few years ago and who I am now . . . people definitely can change if they put their minds to it and have really good support in it. Definitely.