I remember being very very sensitive as a child, a young adult and into my twenties. The smallest comment would affect me in the biggest way, whether it was to me or to someone I cared about. For those I cared about, I would embrace the stubborn side of me and defend a friend or loved ones’ honor. For me, I would go about and be ultra sensitive. I wouldn’t often defend myself. Instead I would accept the bad comment as truth and absorb it.
Everyone has defining moments in their life. And defining people. I have many defining moments and people, but I find that the negative defining moments and people are the ones that sit on my shoulder whispering lies into my ears, long into adulthood, even when I know better. They are the ones that surprise me by sending a jolt of insecurity so subtle that I’m not even aware of what happened. All I know is that I’m in pain for some reason. Then I remember why. But often, it’s too late and I’ve reacted.
This is going to sound ridiculous to some, but 2 of my defining moments from childhood involve people thinking I was a boy. On two ( probably more) occasions that I can distinctly remember, I had people question my gender. I had unruly curly hair so for my sanity, and that of my parents, it was cut short….so, yes, I kinda looked like a little boy. But imagine how those comments affected me. I have NEVER felt especially pretty. I always question my attractiveness. I even go as far as NOT primping myself, maybe to prove my belief system right? Who knows. I also notice that I hang out with average looking girls….maybe so that I can feel like the pretty one? I hate admitting that.
Another defining moment was about 10 years ago, when one of my positive role models told me “You’re way too sensitive”. Wow. So, I believed that and instead of being a softy, I resorted to sarcasm and cynicism as a way to deal with my hurt. And I put up walls. BIG ones. No one was going to see my sensitive side, or take advantage of it.
My point about defining moments is that, whether you like it or not, they end up defining you.
They sneak out sometimes when you least expect it.
They sneak out and remind you that you haven’t healed.
As a teenager, I hung out with mean girls. I was fairly neutral, but could teeter on the edge of pure meanness. I don’t think it’s unusual for young women to venture into this element. We are taught at an early age ( by whom, I don’t know) that we cannot trust other females; that they are our competition, instead of our allies. We all walk around pretending to like one another while secretly hoping for the demise of our “competition”. That is just gross. And it’s gone on for centuries. It hasn’t changed either. (If someone can figure out how NOT to do this, please teach your grandparents, aunts, mothers, sisters. And grandfathers, uncles, fathers and brothers)
Because I hang out in the neutral zone, I often got overlooked. For positive things, sometimes, but thankfully the hate wasn’t laid out on me too often because of that. I’ve noticed in recent years that I have been hanging out in the neutral zone. I so want to be noticed, but instead I remain the wallflower. When I think of myself in the 3rd person, I see this shy, hurt girl standing against the wall at the dance, by herself, wishing someone would notice her. I feel like the stupid, ugly girl. Even in adulthood. I often avoid people that I know because I don’t think they’ll remember me. And often, they don’t.
This sounds odd, because I have always had a boyfriend, or a husband. I’ve never had trouble meeting men or engaging in meaningful relationships with them. Women are a different story. Even at 36, I still feel like we are all still in junior high school….all jockeying for position, all wanting to be popular….or the MOST popular. My values don’t line up with that thinking. I just want real, honest to goodness friendships with women, as my allies, not my competition.
This has not been happening in my adult life. I have been hanging out with stupid, ugly girls. I realized today that I hang out with stupid, ugly girls because I feel like a stupid, ugly girl. And by ugly, I don’t mean outwardly, I mean inwardly. I have been asking myself, why do I always attract people who treat me poorly? Why do I attract the projects? Because they are a reflection of how I see myself. Wow. Oh, wow.
So, how does this all tie in together?
Well, lately I’ve noticed the lack of good female friends in my life. I can count, on 2 fingers, the ones that would drive my getaway car. And I would need to drive to either coast just to get IN that car.
Recently, something happened that made me feel like that stupid, ugly, worthless girl that I felt like often when I was young. It made me so sad. Skip the mad. Sad. Deeply sad. And then I was embarrassed for feeling hurt. I felt like my feelings were WRONG.
It may not have been a big deal to the perpetrator but it was huge for me. It was huge because it reminded me that I AM sensitive ( yay!!) but that I need to start sticking up for myself and calling people on their bullshit. Even if it costs me a friendship.
I decided long ago that I would try to build my female friends up, point out their beauty and talent ( especially the girls that were prettier and more talented than me). I will never stop doing that. Because it is what I need, too. Obviously.
I’d like to start a women’s ally group. I want this group to consist of women who are strong, smart, beautiful and unafraid to admit that the other women are too. No gossip or commiserating will be allowed. I don’t care if there are 3 people in it. As long as I’m one of them.
We have to remember that deep down, we are fundamentally similar.
We are in this together. It’s time to behave as such.