Part 1 of 2
Growing up I was always a rule follower. Even going into college, I was always the hesitant one of the group, asking “should we really be doing this?” But as I kept testing my independence, trying on new personas for size, trying to figure out who I really was, I did start to get a little defiant. For me, anyway.
We’re not talking drugs or theft or anything crazy. We’re talking about smoking cigarettes while out drinking with friends, streaking the IM fields on campus, pranking boys, cheating on boyfriends, just what most would consider “growing up crap.” I was always tired of being known as the “good kid,” but I never did anything bad in front of people I respected and wanted respect from. I always “hid” my bad behavior – because I didn’t want to get caught.
I really don’t know why I have always hated getting in trouble. Likely because I was born a people-pleaser. Even at a young age I would never take risks with being wrong. I remember any time I would attempt at being “cool” or acting out of the norm for me, I would end up getting caught and feel so incredibly ashamed. So much so that I can still literally FEEL the shame from two specific incidents – one in first grade and one in third grade.
In first grade, some of the “cool girls” were throwing food across the table at lunch. They did this almost every day – mostly because I guess they thought it was funny. Nothing ever happened because they were always doing it behind a teacher’s back. Well, on this day I decided to join in. And guess what happened? A teacher saw us, reprimanded us in front of the entire elementary school lunch crowd, and put us all at our own tables to finish lunch. I was by myself at a table crying into my food tray which had mashed potatoes and an orange left on it. I didn’t look up at anyone. I felt stares from my classmates. Giggles. I could just hear them saying stuff like “Wow, I can’t believe Brooke got in trouble” and “Gosh, she’s such a loser.” Did they actually say stuff like that? I really have no idea, but that’s what was going on in my head. My face was red and swollen from embarrassment and crying. I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. I never wanted my teacher to look at me again.
In third grade, I was riding in my carpool group on the way to pick up the last of our kids on our route. There were 4 of us in this carpool group – one boy and one girl my age, me, and another girl who was a year younger than the rest of us. She was the one we were picking up last that day. The other girl my age and I were sitting in the back of the station wagon (who else remembers those days?) when the younger girl got in. She climbed in the back seat and instead of sitting right down stayed on her knees and turned back to my friend and I. She started talking to us I guess and for whatever reason the conversation led for me to blurt out, “No babies allowed back here, only big girls!” ——> WHAT? Even now, I have no clue exactly what came out of my mouth, I just remember it was something random like that. What I DO recall and still FEEL even to this day is pure embarrassment when the mom driving the car patronized me saying that we don’t talk to each other like that, I had to apologize to the little girl, and that she was going to tell my parents what I had done.
These two instances have never left me. I don’t know why. I wish they would go away actually. But 30 years later, I still think about them. Why did I care so much about what those adults thought of me, when in reality, there were kids who did MUCH worse things than I did and those kids didn’t give two shits about what anyone thought about them. If anyone reading this wants to psychoanalyze me, by all means, please do.
I have let shame or fear run my life for the most part. I’m too afraid to go for what I want or to say what I really feel because I am literally ashamed of who I am. I don’t think I am worthy. Worthy of love maybe? I really don’t know. But I have rarely dealt with these emotions in a healthy way. I always turned to alcohol to numb those feelings of shame. Alcohol didn’t make me afraid – it made me capable.
Stay tuned for Part 2.