Sunday, June 12, 2011

The name I won't let them call me

Me, right, as an unhappy teen.
The slicing, cruel words that formed the blueprint for the first batch of self-esteem that underpinned my teenage and young adult years are unforgettable.

"Stupid! Ugly! Loser! Dumb!"

Whether hurled by the boys or by the girls, to my face or behind my back, I would try for the next several years to shiver, shake and squeeze out of their mold.

Like millions of pieces of gum stuck to my body forming that mold, I would spend time each day, slowly peeling off one sticky little piece of embarrassment and untruth at a time.

Maybe someday I'd be able to see what I really looked like underneath the world's casting and coloring of me.

The great news is that I did. That journey is another blog post, but a new lease on life in college, some maturity that comes through experience and, most importantly, the saving grace of Jesus gave me a much-improved, second batch of self-esteem.

Even with a house full of self-confidence these days, on occasion I hear those words in the air, caught in the breeze between two nearby trees, usually on a cloudy day.

I don't hear them for long.

Me, front center, with friends in Slovakia after college.
It is, however, the word that was never used by the kids that lingers with me most days; like a soft ghost sitting in the corner of my room, her legs crossed, her elbow on the back of the chair and her hand gently resting on the side of her face. "Are you sure?" her gaze seems to ask of me.

That one word they could never cast my way, an arrow of such outrageous fortune that I do everything I can to this day to avoid it being thrown my way by a new cast of characters.

One less word with which to hurt me.

They could never call me fat. If I could at least control that, I would feel ahead of the game ... at least until the next insult.

I was always a skinny kid and young adult. At my heaviest I weighed 140 pounds for about a year in college. I found a way to get motivated and I soon dropped 20 pounds putting me back at Lora size, which is approximately where I remain currently.

You see, if I could stay skinny, that would be one less weapon in their arsenal.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, everyone makes stupid or dumb mistakes, comments, decisions. Loser is a nice general term which covers everything negative you believe to be true about yourself. If you're a bully, it's really a nice catch-all term that I would personally recommend.

Though when someone is thin, fact certainly must reign over opinion. It's rarely in dispute, at least in Flyover Country.

Toyota Olympic Tri on 9/27/09.
It's no secret that I train for triathlons because the workouts are so intense that weight loss/maintenance is nearly inevitable. I also enjoy eating, so I choose to alter my physical activity more than my diet.

I've been able to move past from the things that were said about me in so many ways. I just hadn't realized until recently, upon thinking about graduation during this graduation season, and about my school years, how I'm still living my life because of that one thing unsaid.

I've been able to forgive those kids (they were kids, after all) and I find myself grateful (not happy) at times for those experiences. They've made me tougher.

I'm not proud that I still allow this part of the past to affect my present, especially when considering how much I've been able to leave behind, and care even less what people say about me (90% of the time), but there does exist a silver lining with the cloud.

Though the name they didn't call me might be the underlying compelling for training and racing, it has brought me in to a sport that I have come to love as a big part of my life. I love to run, I enjoy the challenge of swimming for a couple miles and I enjoy the courage cycling for long miles pulls out of your soul.

Now, if I could just find out what that lady ghost wants, I'll have good material for another blog post.

3 comments:

Meredith said...

Wow, Lora. You take challenging life experiences and bring them to life with color and emotion as you remind us, me, of the importance of what we think about ourselves... not what those "kids" think. Your words resonate into the heart and I could feel each one with a life I can very much relate to. Control one aspect of our lives can at times make us assume we are in full control. In reality, we may keeping ourselves in a very unhealthy place mentally, and physically too, if we live trying to prove wrong the opinions of others. Very nicely written and I am glad I could be around to witness your epiphany.

Love,
Meredith

Meredith said...

*controlling one aspect
*we may BE keeping...

sorry... typos :-(

Mike said...

kids (and young adults) can be so mean. Many of them making fun of others to take the spot light off themselves. Glad you can see the silver lining in the experience.

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