Friday, December 4, 2009
I was looking out the window when I noticed my reflection looking back at me. It made me think of when I was growing up and feeling uncertain of myself. That feeling that I was not pretty enough compared to the girls with the peaches and cream complexion while mine was covered with bumpy teen skin. Or the awkwardness of my chubby child body during my grade school years. I had a hard time in grade school. I dreaded having to do anything at the chalkboard where my back would be to the class, trying to answer a math equation or an English breakdown of a sentence. The feel of all the eyes of my classmates watching and waiting for a correct answer or a wrong answer. If it was wrong then I would have to go back to the front and be subjected to the class and teacher doing it with me. I feared the times that my teacher would assign us to mesmerize a poem or read a report we had to write in front of the class. P.E. was terrible as I was one of the those in the last pick line-up. What a cruel decision for those teachers to set the popular girls to choose who they wanted on their teams. You wait in a line as one by one the favorites were picked first, laughing and smiling, while I cringed to see the unhappy face they would make when the last of us were chosen.
Nicknames haunted me. My mom use to call me Ellie which wasn't awful but when kids at school took to calling me Ellie the Elephant during my chubby stage it hurt. Those taunts don't leave your memory. In my early teen years I was called PT, which stood for Pyramid Tits, as I had nipples that stood out but no boobs. Pretty insulting for a young teen girl. I hated being called Ellie and my mom did stop calling me that. It's a shame a nickname could evolve into a dreaded name as Ellie is a sweet name. PT faded away thankfully.
That reflection followed me through most of my first 18 years. I felt so ill equipped to participate in conversations. I didn't feel educated enough or confident in what I could say. While dating, my love brought out the best in me. He encouraged me to make eye contact when speaking and to try to engage in conversations. I found comfort in his genuine interest in me and who I was. I had an overpowering mother who had a tendency to make me not feel good about myself. I didn't dress the way she wanted, I didn't have friends she wanted me to be friends with, I didn't have the brains like my brother or the talents he had with sports and extracurricular activities. When my love came along she really liked him. It was like suddenly she saw I was there! She still didn't appreciate the person I was or take interest in my pursuits but for once she talked to me like the young woman I was becoming.
I still can see the reflection only now I see the person I am is on the right side. She is not the one trapped in the image on the other side of the glass though at times she tries hard to come out and take my place. I still listen more than I talk and I do love being behind the camera rather than engaging in conversations many times. I enjoy watching a good conversation going on, hearing the laughter, or raised voices of determination in their talk. I always have learned much by listening. I appreciate my quiet side who doesn't feel I need to engage in every conversation. I tend not to put my foot in my mouth. I listen more with my heart and try hard not to say what may hurt but to say what I feel that is more loving. It is a can be a struggle to not say the wrong thing when you feel angry or are in a bad mood. But I keep trying. I want to look at myself and know that I am honest of my intentions and that I don't bring the hurtful words from my past out to my loved ones who don't deserve them. I want my actions to be of loving open arms and that the return towards me are as open, loving and honest. My struggle is that I take too much personally. It is hard to let the vain, hurtful, dishonest words roll off me like drops of water that can evaporate from my heart. Yet when I do it affects me in such a rush of peace and joy that I believe it helps when the next time those words come my way.