I had been thinking of writing that “others” post for a long time. Then several weeks ago, I got an email from Traci. Her email and my response made me want to write about those kids even more. And after I wrote about them, and heard your responses, I decided to share selected parts of Traci’s and my email exchange (with Traci’s consent; thank you, Traci).
I’ve worked this email out in my head a gazillion times. Each time I sat down to write it, I either didn’t have the time to make it the way I wanted it, had too many tears over something else entirely or I would write “Dear Susie” and think “I just canNOT do this today.” . . . I think of you every single day and send a little prayer your way and tell myself “Write the freakin’ email” and I don’t. There’s just so much…stuff. . . The truth is we all have our “stuff” and I’ve simply been overwhelmed by mine . . .
. . . Several weeks ago, I left a comment at your place about thinking I wouldn’t like you or something and being pleasantly surprised that I do. You replied that my comment made you laugh for some reason (which made me laugh btw) and that if the spirit took me, I could write and explain . . .
. . . When I was a young girl in school there were…issues…for lack of a better word. I was an ugly kid and weird on top of it. The reasons are many and I’m not even going to go into them. To say I had a hard time in school would be downplaying it in the extreme. If there was a popular group, you could say that my end of the life spectrum was so far away from that it may as well have had its own spectrum completely. When I visited your blog, my first reaction was that it was one big clique-y kind of place (there are those in bloggerville) and I’d never comment…just read…anyway, there was just something about you that kept drawing me back. I lurked for awhile and you just kept touching my heart . . .
It’s funny how things that happen to us early on can affect us so deeply that later, when we really are different people than we were, they still affect us in ways we don’t expect. I didn’t expect to be touched by you and I was and am and it surprises me still. I shut so much of myself off even now that when something opens my heart it is amazing. Thank you for that gift. . .
And part of my reply:
Dear, dear Traci,
First, I won’t be able to respond to your email in the way it deserves, because it evokes so much in me. Stuff I’ve even wanted to write a post about. I was a popular kid, pretty much throughout school. But I was a popular kid who had no friends. They probably wouldn’t say that; but that’s how I felt. Because no one really knew me. They knew I dressed nicely enough and I got good grades. They didn’t know about my parents’ various addictions . . . domestic violence . . . . abuse. So, on the inside, I was as weird as they come, honey. I was never unkind to the “target” kids. I had no idea why I wasn’t one of them. It was a “there but for the grace of God go I,” kind of thing, before I was even old enough to understand or articulate that sentiment. I think the kids that were mean to unpopular kids also had a sense that at any minute they could become the target; but their way of handling it was to go on the offensive and not give anyone a chance to notice their weirdness, their vulnerabilities. I handled mine, as best I could, with humor and kindness. Not sure why. I give credit to God, to a Sunday School which, while very conservative, was also very welcoming and loving. Jesus has always been my friend. That’s partly why it hurts and angers me so, that religiosity was used against you.
If people come to my blog and leave, it’s because they get bored, or pissed, or whatever, but I hope it’s not because I’m not welcoming to them. We are ALL dealing with some shit. It takes different forms, we express it in different ways, but I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t have something big and scary somewhere inside, past or present. And if not, then it’s future. None of us get through this life scot-free (is that the right word? I don’t know that I’ve ever written that, it looks funny).
I remember a post of yours about your being an ugly kid, in a restaurant. I don’t know whether you posted a picture, but in my mind, I see you, and you’re cute as can be. We all have pictures of ourselves that make us cringe. I had a unibrow and buckteeth. But when we grow up to have a heart, and we look at little children, we can see that there’s no such thing as an ugly child. Ugly is in the heart of the beholder. Ugly, as far as a child is concerned, is only what’s projected onto her from ugly adults. And that projection makes her carry herself in a certain way, express herself (or not) in certain ways, develop mannerisms, etc.
I’m not a visual person. I remember what people say. Somebody has to look almost ALARMING (good or bad) for me to remember what they look like. I honest-to-God don’t remember if you’ve ever posted a picture of yourself, old or current. But I know that you’re beautiful. *You sang to me. You shared with me, a stranger, a gift that God gave you. Beautiful.
The post I have thought many times of writing, is about the kids who got picked on. I remember them all: Rose, Barbara, Joyce, Bonita, Mary… and I hope that they are living well, as revenge . . .
Thank you for taking time, Traci. I know what it means to take time when you’re overwhelmed. It’s no small thing, and I am very thankful . . .
*Shortly after I “met” Traci, she emailed me a recording of her singing Amazing Grace. It was lovely, and meant a lot to me that she would share herself in that way with a stranger.
If you want to read more, Traci’s Spingle post is a continuation of this subject matter.
I’ll be at least a little bit funny in a couple of days, I promise.