As a child I rarely went places other than school. My school was about 20 miles away from my home and, at the time, no school friends lived in the small town I lived in. Extracurricular activities after school were out of the question as my parents were not happy to change their schedule to accommodate such things they thought were frivolous.
I was invited to a birthday twice in the five years I was at the school. I think apart from being a nerd it was also a given that I wouldn’t be joining in in any thing after school hours.
Twice I went to these birthdays: my parents capitulated as one was not too far away and the other was at a weekend. Both of these birthdays were great, the food, activities, people, cake! For a loner like me it was great to see what it was like out of isolation.
However, from even before we left the house and all the way there I was in an oppressive environment as my father who drove me, was less than happy about doing so. The occasional snide comments to the bursts of temper for having to drive me somewhere he didn’t know, it was all extremely unpleasant as I was already on knife edge anxiety being out of my comfort zone and going anywhere at all.
The way those journeys made me feel stay with me to this day. However, thinking back the worst part is remembering a 12 year old me, putting on a fake smile I didn’t feel whilst meeting my friends. I carried those feelings of worthlessness, hurt and not belonging generated by my own parents into those rare social settings and school. I’m not a parent but I’m surrounded by many who are and when I see the way those parents cultivate their children’s confidence and well being, I realise how I was treated wasn’t healthy or conducive to my social development or growth.
The work I have to do isn’t about addressing my self-esteem. The work I have to do to counter this experience is forgive and release. I have to let it go. Holding onto this isn’t helpful or in anyway useful to me. So I have to bow to the experience and release it. That does not mean forgetting. It means observing, acknowledging how it made me feel, but letting the experience be what it was an experience in the past. I don’t live in the past, I don’t live in the future, I can only live in the present.
In the present no one is berating me, no one is allowed to be oppressive towards me. I can go where I want to I have my own means to travel. I lift myself and love myself to build my confidence and say nice things about and to myself. I protect myself and promise myself I won’t let anyone hurt me and I certainly won’t hurt myself.