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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Banishing the Shadows

When I was in second grade, my friend Erica abruptly declared that she didn't want to be my friend. She turned her seat away from mine during art class. She hissed, "Ewwwwwwww" when I walked by. She wouldn't answer when I said, "Hi."

Just as abruptly as it started, it ended. One day, during band practice, she turned to me and said, "Do you want to come over to my house after school?" Just like that, we were friends again.

I know this is classic mean-girl behavior, a part of growing up female. Everyone has a story like this, or has done it to someone else. Possibly both.

But still, it haunts me. Not so much the Erica thing---I'm over that---but the idea that things can shift so quickly, so irreversibly. People wield terrible power, when you let them.

Sometimes I question if I let people in enough. I have a lot of friends, but I don't allow many to know my fears. I don't ever want them to see the little girl who sat alone in the school bus, biting her lip, willing the tears not to fall. I certainly don't want them to cause those tears.

I hide behind my own fences, so the arrows can't reach me.

I communicate electronically, and avoid phone calls. I say things like, "We have to get together," but I don't follow through.  I twist my ring anxiously around strangers, and spend a lot of time examining the spinach dip at parties.

I don't think others perceive me like this. I think I come across as happy and together. But, like my shadow, my insecurity follows me. It steals my light. It prevents growth. It keeps me grounded, when I should be soaring. And, like my shadow, my insecurities often seem bigger than they really are.

It is an act of bravery for me to tear down the fences and banish the shadows. If somebody does not like me, my writing, my shoes, or my taste in music, so be it.

I need to take a breath, trust the wisdom of my thirty-five years, and move onward, and upward.

25 comments:

Beth Zimmerman said...

Oh Sweet Girl!
I could have WRITTEN this post! Same insecurities, same struggles, same uncomfortable me when I have to be around real live people. I'm not sure why I'm so different online. I keep hoping some of THIS me will rub off on THAT one!

SamiJoe said...

Right on Sista--and i totally remember those 'let's be friends/not friends' days. Ugh!

Soon you will be free!

Aunt of 14 said...

I would have sat next to the girl biting her lip trying not to let the tears fall.

Those were rough days. That happened to me a few times growing up. Its brutual.

Like you, I intend to follow through with plans but never do. I don't answer the phone OR the door for that matter. This post touched a deep part of me that totally understood.

I am not the same way in real life as I am online. Online you all get to see the inner me. Outside, not so much. People think I am confident and self-assured IRL, HA, not even.

Little girls can be so mean! And it's those days that you learn how to form trust, right?

Ms. Moon said...

I think many of us can relate to this. We all feel that we are the only ones who don't fit in, who feel so odd.
It gets easier as you get older because you learn who you can trust your heart with and you just give it to them and the rest? Ah, f**k it.

Jenny said...

Love this post. It is so candid.

I've got a few years on you and we share the same heart I think.

The ability to let others views and opinions slide off our backs comes only when we honestly accept ourselves. Warts and all.

And when that happens, the potential for pain from others becomes minute.

It can still happen, but it loses its sting.

adrienzgirl said...

Listen, those people then and now who would ridicule you for being you, don't deserve to know you.

I don't know why people, especially women, seem to tear other people down to feel better about themselves. What seems worse to me is, it's usually someone they are close to, friends with, family even.

I guess most of it stems from jealousy. I am not a jealous person and don't understand how you could not be happy for the success and happiness of those you love. Seems bizarre to me.

Shake those insecurities away woman. You are bright, talented and beautiful woman. EMBRACE IT! OWN IT!

Love ya!

clearness said...

I agree and completely identify.

Mel said...

I can relate to a lot of your feelings. It's frustrating to have my inner insecure child show up when I really want my fascinating, entertaining, brilliant self to be at the party. I always feel like a dolt in social situations. I belong on the Island of misfit toys, I think somedays. Good luck to you, letting that go. Recognizing the problem is half the battle, so the stepping out from behind your own shadow should be the easy part! Onward and Upward!

Coby said...

I can so relate: my hair is too curly and won't feather (in 1982, not NOW!), I'm too tall, not skinny enough, I don't have the right clothes, I don't have enough money, I'm not glamorous, and on and on...You said it perfectly: trust the wisdom of your 35 years, and move onward and upward. I'm kinda figuring out that all those things I'm fretting about and feeling insecure about...they're just lies anyway.

blueviolet said...

Can I ever relate to what you're saying? I am extremely guarded in life and I really won't let people get close to me at all. I hold my family at a great distance too. I am actually FAR more open on my blog than I would EVER be in real life. However, blogging has pushed me into social situations with conferences and meet-ups, etc. that are stretching me as a person. For that I am grateful.

LB said...

You are sooooo invited to come hang out with my girlfriends and me!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I admire your honesty.

And I think you and I could be great friends if we lived near each other. :)

Salt said...

This is such a great, honest post and I can relate to it so much. (Especially the part about being a phone call avoider...that's me to a tee.)

You are facing it totally the right way though. If someone doesn't like you for who you are, then so be it. And honestly that is their loss. Because you are awesome.

only a movie said...

This is a great post. I could have written it... a few years ago. I'm a bit (cough::decade::cough) older than you.

I've finally realized that I no longer need toshould myself about socializing or lack thereof.

I know I need a lot of solitary time to keep myself balanced. If that is construed as anti-social... eff it.

*LLUVIA* said...

aaaww...

I'm in tears.

I could have written this!

Cat said...

I know how you feel... based on the other comments, it seems like you put words to something a lot of us experience! Nice to know it's not just me...

noisycolorfullively said...

We have a lot in common. We should get together and talk about that sometime ;)

Serisouly though, I hear you. Thanks for being real with us. It's good to know there's a place we can be real. Really real and still be liked. If only it were this easy face to face.

TerresaE said...

My husband and I had a conversation about this topic just the other day. I am so insecure and uncomfortable in social situations and he is such an outgoing and center of attention person that he doesn't understand. He says "f*** them if they don't like you, you are wonderful and your family loves you and that's what matters". He is challenging me to overcome 36 years of insecurity and negative comments from most every man that's ever been in my life and I'm working on it, but it's much more easily said than done. Know that you are not alone in your journey to overcome, there are alot of sisters right there beside you.

Minivan Lover said...

To echo what others have said, I totally identify with all you say here.
The ring twisting. The spinach dip.
Everything.

Mrs4444 said...

The remark about giving people power like that is profound. When the exact thing happened to me (the breaking of the friendship, in 7th grade), it was like a door was slammed in my face. I was so taken aback! She had a lot of power, and I had given it to her. You're right; we never forget that stuff...

Great post.

Aunt Becky said...

I'm doing precisely the same thing, actually. It's time to face my demons head on, recognize that I have been affected by my past, and learn to let it go. It's just time.

Jen said...

Really? 'Cause when we met for coffee I didn't see a bit of this. And this is coming from someone who sat in her MomVan working up the nerve to go into Starbucks to meet someone she'd never met before. I guess we all hide it well, eh?
Jen from Laughing at Chaos

Jen said...

Really? 'Cause when we met for coffee I didn't see a bit of this. And this is coming from someone who sat in her MomVan working up the nerve to go into Starbucks to meet someone she'd never met before. I guess we all hide it well, eh?
Jen from Laughing at Chaos

Melani said...

This is a great post. I can realate on some levels with you. I only have a few friends, and some are just blogging buddies.

Yes, some do wield terrible power when you let them. What a profound statement, I need to remember this!

Melani said...
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