In reference to the stop motion animated movie Rudolph (the red nosed reindeer) & the Island of Misfit Toys; I always saw myself as the train with the square wheels. I believe if there was such an island I would be stuck on it. In the movie, Rudolph and his friends find themselves on the Island of Misfit Toys. Each toy on the island was a reject. I, like the train with square wheels, was all wrong. I grew up with two older brothers and a neighborhood full of boys that taught me how to belch the alphabet, climb a tree while holding a jar of bugs (don't ask why. I was a kid and have no idea of why that was a useful skill), how to catch fireflies, newts, salamanders, and caterpillars. I was also shown the correct way to spit long distances and make fart noises with my armpit. I joyfully did all of these things to the dismay of my mother who wanted a dainty little princess. I also received frowns of disapproval from my peers. “You chose to play the trumpet? But you're a girl”. I acquired objection for wanting to play peewee football with my brothers. “No. Girls don't play rough games like that. Here's a cheerleader uniform. That's what girls do”.
The whispers I remember overhearing throughout my childhood and adolescence started to make me very self-conscious. The way women would squint their eyes and tilt their heads to the side in order to take me in or figure me out. They'd suck their teeth telling my mother how round I was or odd I was. My hair was too big, and so was my body. My knees and legs were usually covered with dirt, bandages, or scratches. Their poison hiss in my mother's ear ”She was such a pretty baby. What happened?” “Better do something about it now before it's too late”. Me feeling overwhelmed by the feeling of bursting at the seams and leaking out contaminating all that was pure, beautiful, and girl-like. I was apparently too much. How could this be? All of this time I thought I wasn't enough. Not smart enough, not thin enough, not tall enough, not pretty enough, The list goes on but in reality I had this realization of my muchness. How can I be not enough and too much all at the same time? (Hmm...does that make me an overachiever?) I began to hide and shrink myself. My hair long and thick would be pulled in front of my face to protect others from this hideous creature who takes up too much space and is too much to have to deal with. Along the way I developed unhealthy coping systems that resulted in self injury and an eating disorder among other things. (that's another blog for another time)
The critical, cryptic language of girls and women began to constantly ring throughout my head and made me a bit neurotic. Have two X chromosomes? Then you know that conversation all too well. I feel ugly. I feel fat. These statements constantly roll around in your brain. If you are alone they pierce the silence with icy sharpness numbing any semblance of truth. If you are in a public place they buzz wildly over the din crushing any crumb of self worth into dust. If you are simply standing in front of a mirror applying makeup, brushing your hair, or any other grooming ritual they shoot daggers and shatter your already thinning confidence. Good heavens! What are we doing to ourselves?? The
truth is “ugly” and “fat” aren't feelings. We as women use these words incorrectly but why? It starts early, this veiled language of sabotage. I remember in 8th grade watching some of my classmates stand in the mirror in the girls restroom during a school dance. “Oh my lord, I feel so fat!” (I actually being a fat girl secretly rolled my eyes at the twig like being commiserating with her ilk). The other young females join in some anthropological tug of war on who feels fatter or uglier. The truth peeks out a bit later before they leave the loo. Apparently one girl is nervous because the boy she likes hasn't asked her to dance yet. Therefore she feels nervous (not fat) that the boy doesn't like her. Her friends in turn, instead of saying “Fat isn't a feeling. What's really bothering you?” (Like that would ever happen with a gaggle of pimple clad middle school girls). Instead they chide themselves with “I feel __insert incorrect negative word “ in a rite of adolescent communication. What's that smell? It's not teen spirit. It's the distinct smell of bullshit and it's sadly passed on from girl to girl and woman to woman. Let's take some inventory of our true feelings. Fat and ugly are not feelings. They are physical descriptions used in most situations as opinions (everybody has one). “I feel fat” and “I feel ugly” become a wet blanket statement for any unfavorable thoughts we have about ourselves. When I refer to these statements as wet blankets I see them as a cover to extinguish the flames of true emotion under the surface. As women we are mature enough to fully express ourselves. We need to teach and be an example to the next generation of girls that we can communicate our needs in order to have them met or to be understood. To help set this in motion I submit words that are real feelings. I've taken some of these words from the Feelings Inventory list by Center for Nonviolent Communication for full list please visit their website at www.cnvc.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: +1.505.244.4041.
Feelings when your needs are not satisfied:
Now to follow through with this example I will share a true feeling with you that I have been struggling with. I am nervous because I am job hunting and I need encouragement so I will stop throwing wet blanket statements at myself. My confidence is broken. *Deep breath*
It's almost Spring so open up those emotional closets and do some cleaning! Blessings!