Thursday, December 9, 2010

30 Days of Truth, Day 8

Day 8 - Who made your life hell, or treated you like shit?

Well now, that's not a loaded question or anything!  One thing I have come to appreciate about these questions is the complete lack of subtlety.

This is yet another one that could be answered so many ways...most of which I would never actually write about. 

I have to say that there is a very short list of people that come to mind when I think about this answer though, and the funny part is that many of them are complete strangers.  My only experience with these people was so bad that it's stuck in my mind forever.

This one is the winner.

I've written here before about all the things my cousins have that I don't, namely their beauty, their metabolisms and their gorgeous blond hair.  Me...well, I'm the stumpy brunette.  Always have been, always will be.

I adore my cousins completely and miss them all, but I have to tell you that growing up next to them was hard for an awkward kid like me.  There were six of us girls in a four year span.  I was the only one of the group who had super dorky glasses.  The only one that a perm made look like a poodle.  The only one to have acne.  You get where I'm going with this. 

My grandfather passed away after a massive heart attack, and it was a shock to everyone in the family.  The man was still very much in the prime of his life, or so we thought.  He could still hold himself out perfectly perpendicular to the tether ball pole in their backyard!  And then, just like that, he was gone.

His funeral was hard enough on us all, the group of us huddled in the front pews leaning on each other sobbing through the entire mass. 

But if I had to tell you one thing I remember more clearly from that day than anything else, it was the words of a woman I didn't recognize. 

All us girls were up hugging Grandma Helen at the front of the church after mass and a woman came up to offer her condolences. She said she was very sorry and all that, looked at the group of all us girls then asked who I was.  Grandma of course introduced me as her granddaughter. 


Then, this woman, one I'd never seen before and have not ever seen since, said this:

Oh really? I never would have guessed.  She doesn't look like all the rest of them.

The words of that one woman, a total stranger, did more damage to my self esteem in 10 seconds than anyone or anything else ever has.  My being, my soul, my family, my grief...none of that mattered to a person who judged me on one thing alone.  My looks.

Do not ever underestimate the power of your words.  They can do far more damage than you imagine.

2 comments:

  1. WHAT A POST, MY GOSH!!! There are so many things I could say about that, I'll just say this cause it's flowing. The vulnerable state, especially a child's, at a time of grieving is immense. Many people don't know what to say to others, period. Grown-ups, however, are expected to think a little better on their feet. That is something a five year-old would say. Just a simple observation. As an adult with no mind, that person was a complete weirdo who should have been banned from funerals from then on. I mean really? No one else noticed you weren't blonde. Really.

    I'm trying to pick. lol This is HARD! Well there are just too many as a kid, especially at Valley View, so I'll go later. Dating.
    There's been something about me that allows myself to date emotionally abusive guys. One in particular we were on/off for 3 years. Lived together three times. He was 7 or 8 years older than I and at 19-22 that was interesting to me. He had a kid too, who liked me a lot. My boyfriend saw his Alec only once a week and ended up moving from Colorado to North Carolina for a job...actually leaving his son. I followed. It's weird when you're 'emotionally abused.' You've been brainwashed, I suppose, into feeling you cannot be without them. It doesn't feel right. Anyway, one special fight, he says "I wish I never let you meet my son."
    It's hard to describe that moment because the air was taken from my lungs. By words. I had an established relationship with Alec and his mom was always telling us how much he talked about me at home, and that I'm a "keeper". It gets uglier than this instance, BELIEVE ME. I think I picked him today because my experiences with him taught me about Red Flags. I've since made similar yet smaller mistakes and got out in time. Recently, in fact, I was tested. Now at almost 35, I can spot them very quickly. I literally hate dating, I don't give my number out... or even talk on the phone with anyone really. That's the way it is. That's how it has shaped me, and any relationships since him I would try and sabotage. Until it felt like home.

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  2. For three years in Junior high there was a contingency of girls that lived to bully me. They would follow me down the halls kicking and pushing, threatening me and my friends. I have never been quite sure why they chose me as their scape goat per se, but they got caught ditching P.E. and the only plausable explanation they could come up with was that I had to have told on them. Not that the teacher took role, and when we went to an assembly an entire group of loud trouble makers were missing...so they went looking. One girl, in particular was extra mean. I wished the worst kinds of things on her. I thought Karma got her back when in High school she got pregnant...but everyone just saw her as an inspiration. But those girls' cruelty stuck with me. When I went into teaching on of the things I vowed to end was bullying...well at least in my classroom or whenever I saw it. It was my personal mission to prevent and stop the torment. I believe I succeeded in some ways and made a huge difference in at least two kids' lives during their time in middle school.

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