Earlier this week I had what my husband would call an Aha moment. To explain it to you, I need to go back to my childhood….
As a child I was raised in a town of about 55 people, yes it is a town, and about one half of those people were my aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a simpler time when kids could go out and play for hours and no one worried about them. Bike riding, rock hunting, exploring was how I grew up. Most of the kids in town were several years older than me, except for one other girl who was a couple of years younger. Her name was Jeanie also, and her last name was Larson. Which is kind of funny now, as that is my name. The two of us spent many hours riding bikes and searching the train tracks for beautiful rocks. I remember one time when one of the trains was derailed and one of the older kids, Steve, told us that it was our fault because we had put rocks on the tracks. They were pebbles actually and they had nothing to do with it. He and his friends had done something, not us. Anyway, he told us that the police were going to come and arrest us and put us in jail. Being two young girls, maybe 10 and 8, we were quite frightened by what he had told us, so we decided to run away. We packed some clothes, a little food, took my dog and off we went. We were able to get about 5 miles away to the country cemetery, where we decided we would spend the night. Why in the world we ever decided on a cemetery, I do not remember. We pretty much were set up for the night before our parents found us. Jeanie and I did not get to play together for quite a while after that and the kids who had derailed the train were the ones that got in trouble, though Jeanie and I were in trouble for running away, no matter the reason. I got spanked with a fly swatter.
Those same older kids built a tree house and that was most amazing to me. I wanted so badly to be able to climb up there and see the world from that tree. They told me that I had to know the secret password before I would be allowed to come up. They told me it started with “F”. I tried for quite a long time guessing every word that started with F before they told me the word was “f–k” and that I could not come up. I went home and asked my mom what that word meant and then I was in trouble again for using such language.
I was an only child, so spent most of my time alone. Books became one of my best friends, I could be anyone and go anywhere in a book. They became my escape. As the older kids taunted me non stop, and then in school it continued with the “IN” crowd doing the same. I never stood up for myself, as I deserved what they did and said to me. I found chocolate to give me comfort and became the “fat” girl, who never had any of the “cool” clothes. I was not allowed to join any sports in school, because my parents both worked and they had to be home at night and go to bed early. I did well in school, my need for knowledge was never ending. I graduated from high school with honors and was inducted into the National Honor Society, though at the time I had no idea what that was. I do remember my dad took the day off of work to be at the ceremony, and he never took off of work for any reason. Even with that being said, I honestly do not remember my parents ever telling me that they were proud of me. I know that they loved me, it was just expected that I do well in school. I was never told anything about scholarships and I knew that my parents could not afford college, so it was never expected. I had worked in a restaurant since I was 13 and when I turned 18 I became a bartender, while a senior in high school. The bar’s owner had a brother who was the first male who ever paid any attention to me what so ever and I found that I lost weight quickly, to try and be more appealing. The other kids in school thought that I must be on drugs to have lost weight so fast, so that became the rumor in school. Friends that I had known since kindergarten also passed those rumors. Well, I am here to tell you that I have never used drugs, and never would. First they are illegal, which heaven forbid if I broke the law, second I have never had any desire to try drugs and third what they can do to you really scares me. I found that I ended up dating more of the “bad boy” types, as they must be the only ones who would be good enough for me. I didn’t deserve anyone better.
I am happy to tell you that my life did turn out OK, but my AHA moment came the other night while I was thinking about my childhood. I am always seeking praise, wanting to know that what I do it at least good enough, if not the best. I think those years and years of taunting made me truly insecure and feeds my lack of self-confidence. I accept things in my life, that I should not. I should stand up for myself and be proud of who I am, whether it meets anyone else’s expectations or not. At 55 it is time to grow up and let go of all of those old labels and just be myself. I also wanted to share this with all of you, as we may not know how important it is to a child to be told that you are proud of them. I am happy to say that I can look back at my own children and I think I did tell them, a lot of how proud I was and am of them. No one can ever hear that enough in their lives, so tell your children, your spouse, your friends. Smile at a stranger on the street, it may be the only one they got that day. Thank someone who holds a door open for you. Hold the door open for someone else. Basically, be kind… be considerate. You have more influence on every single person you meet than you will ever know…