Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Turning Points

As an insecure child who had recently begun to find herself, starting her first year in high school at age 12 with a back brace was a serious problem. She hadn’t managed to fully connect with her new found confidence yet, and this new factor only brought about a deeper and scarier lack of acceptance of herself. She was too self conscious to be honest and up front; she couldn’t admit to anyone that she had a condition, Scoliosis, which required her wearing the brace to correct her spine. She, instead, drew closer to herself and farther away from all of the new people she was faced with in the classrooms and hallways. She dreaded the rush between classes, afraid that someone would bump into her and notice that beneath her clothing, something felt odd. She tried, effortlessly, to avoid gym class; not wanting anyone to see her remove the brace, she would hide in the shower stalls to change clothes. She certainly couldn’t get close to any boys, for fear that they would judge and tease her. So, for the most part, she kept it hidden. She changed her clothing style, she adopted a different way of carrying herself and interacting with others. She hid the most delicate parts of herself then…and still does in many ways…

I look back now and can see what an injustice I did myself. I allowed myself to remain silent and to be an unwilling participant in so many opportunities; out of fear. Fear of the unknown I can only deduce, because now I see what a small part of our lives that time really is. I watch the new movies and tv shows about high school, and honestly it makes me kick myself EVERYTIME! While of course I recognize and have gratitude for the way I spent those years instead, but in other ways I sometimes feel that I robbed myself by allowing my insecurities to turn me down a different path.

Just as it was when I “broke free” of the spell my parents held over me as a child, I exploded onto the scene of my life when I lost that brace. I really AM grateful that I have walked in my own shoes, but, there are times when one takes a moment to pause and wonder…

Would I trade it now; would I choose to do it differently?

A loud and clear “NO” flashes before my eyes.

Oh, this is causing the wheels of the mind to spin; deeper into the insight I go...!!


It's interesting that, in your first paragraph in which you set the scene and drama, you write about your past (tense) self in third person narrative, "She began... She was too..." Then in your remaining paragraphs you write about your present (tense) self from the first person narrative, "I look back... I exploded."

I'm wondering if, perhaps subconsciously, you wrote that first paragraph as if you were talking about someone else because today you feel removed from those emotions and have changed so much that you can no longer identify with your childhood self. While I read your first paragraph, it was clear to me by the emotional tone and level of description of that first, third person paragraph that you were talking about yourself.

It feels like you wrote the other paragraphs in first person, present tense because they reflect your current appreciation and knowledge about yourself. It also feels like you changed the narrative from third to first to emphasize the change in your perception, and your acceptance. Now you are looking back. Reflecting. It can be easier to do these things when we look at ourselves from a different perspective, when we detach ourselves from something that we feel no longer represents who were are, like you did by using third person narrative in the first paragraph.

Did I get this right, or did you write it this way for another purpose?

As a child growing up with invisible disabilities, I can identify with not wanting to feel different and trying to escape from situations where that could happen. You had a visible marker of disability, but there were things you could avoid, like situations that had the risk of bringing attention to your condition (provisions you required or were offered in those situations). Perhaps you especially craved getting away from these experiences because getting away let you reduce the visibility of your disability whereas the brace did not, literally confining you, physically controlling you. A reminder you could physically feel that reminded you of your difference and your health condition.

I'm glad you've changed your opinion, as I have changed mine. As I mature and become more introspective, I find it even more pointless and detrimental to have hid and to hide who I am. But I understand why I felt how I felt and did what I did. Life could and still can get hard.

Lately I've been having a particularly difficult time with spinal problems that are either getting worse or just becoming more symptomatic. I completely acknowledge that our spinal conditions and experiences have been different, but I can relate to spine related pain and mobility issues. I imagine you went through a lot as a kid, especially if your condition was so bad you required a brace. I'm sorry you went through that, but I think it's cool that you now appreciate how your spine and conditions are a part of who you are.

I'm thinking of my own childhood issues with self-esteem that came from knowing learning new things, performing certain activities, etc. were difficult for me than for the other kids. Like you it seems, my desires to escape grew in high school. I think when you reach that age, you you become more self aware. Acceptance becomes more important to you. I think part of my desire to escape was not only to try to avoid being different, but to try to avoid perceptions that I wasn't good at certain things or that I needed help. What caused your fears and desire to escape?
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Fear cheats us of so many things. I know.

It's wonderful when the lessons of pain are not wasted, but are used to grow us.

Waving and smiling...
I so agree with you Rhonda...

It can be really hard sometimes, but as you grow, you begin to realize that is exactly what the pain was: a lesson.

Thanks for coming by!
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