Last night at dinner I was telling L-squared a story from my childhood, and both of us were red-faced, laughing so hard there were tears in our eyes. I’ll put the story below a separator, because it’s kind of gross.
But before I get to that, I want to talk about something that’s been weighing on my mind ever since last night. I don’t have a whole lot of memories of my childhood. There are a few, but not a lot. And there are other memories that have been flooding back into my mind all week, some good, some not so great.
One of the assignments I am to do before I go back to see Jamie on Monday is, 2 or 3 times, spend some time alone with my Miranda doll that we made, and find out what she wants to say and what I need to do. I’m learning that one thing she is telling me is that it is all right to remember and, even more importantly, acknowledge. I don’t have to let pain overwhelm me, but I do need to acknowledge what I felt when those things happened. My stuffing things down and stuffing my body for comfort, I think, stems back to those childhood days when for whatever reason I couldn’t fully express or acknowledge what I was feeling.
Here’s an example. My mother had tons of books at home, old books, new books, books about everything you can imagine. I was a voracious reader, and dived into old children’s books. We had a set of Childcraft from, I don’t know, the 50s maybe, and I was fascinated with it. I read the old-time Bobbsey Twins books as well as the more modern updated ones. I read Elsie Dinsmore and sobbed along with her. I read Anne of Green Gables and Chronicles of Avonlea from old battered hardbound books that were starting to fall apart–this was before they regained popularity in the 80s. I read The Unwilling Vestal and thrilled as Brinnaria sternly chose to retain her virtue even though it meant being separated from her beloved for the 30 years she was forced to serve as a Vestal Virgin. None of my friends had read any of those books, and I was patterning my thoughts and life after a manner that no longer existed.
When I was in 6th grade, I had illicit chats via notes passed furtively to the girl who sat in front of me. I idolized her. Wanted to be her friend. I did not understand that I was a figure of fun to her and her friends. She was nice to me, and played along, and didn’t tell me how weird I was. I got the idea out of one of those old Childcraft volumes to have a tea party with planned little games. I told her my idea, and she went along with it, and we planned the whole thing. My mother, instead of being angry with me for planning a party without consulting her first, was delighted that I was going to have friends come over. We set the date, got decorations, had refreshments ready, and no. one. came. Finally another kid, M, who used to mow our lawn, took pity on me and came over and hung out for a while.
I was so stung at my friend’s rejection of me, and convinced that she and all her friends were laughing about me, that I don’t recall talking about it anymore. I know I never addressed it with her. When I saw her in school next time she ignored me, and I ignored her, and that was the end of that. We pretended like it had never happened.
I think every time I handled a situation that way a little part of myself died. Or maybe it just went into hibernation. I stuffed it down, as if my body were just a hollow shell, and I could tamp any unwanted emotions all the way down, pack it tightly in, never to be seen again.
I can look back now, and realize that I exuded weirdness. None of my peers knew what to make of me. I was smart. I read a lot, weird stuff that no one ever heard of. I’d rather go to the library than anything else. I dressed funny. I may as well have welded a sign to my back that said, “Kick me!”
So I think I have to remember. I think I have to realize what I was feeling, and how it was all right to feel that way. I’m not interested in casting blame on anyone. I just want to pull out the stuffing, let it get a good airing, and then put back in only as much stuffing as I need, enough to cushion the shocks but not leave me like a Weeble. Do you remember Weebles? “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” They couldn’t fall down because they were so round that they just wobbled back and forth. But sometimes in life, you fall down. It’s a necessary part of life. You get hurt, or you trip, and you fall down. And maybe you need to cry for a minute, and get someone to soothe your wounds, and then you get back up.
I’ve always prided myself on getting back up. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time letting the sounds be soothed, though.
Okay, enough of that. Now I have to put up a separator and tell you about a particular incident when I was probably in 5th grade. Read on only if you have a strong stomach and a good sense of humour.
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