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Monday, April 1, 2013

Measuring Up

I have spent a lot of my life trying to measure up. In an effort to avoid abuse, gain acceptance, or receive my family's love, I have tried to be the best I could be in order to 1) please them, and 2) avoid their anger and disappointment.  When I was a small child in Chicago, I would go out on the sidewalk to meet my father as he was coming home from work. I remember being excited that he would be coming home, and afraid that he might be angry at me. 

Then as a child in the Denver area, I did my utmost to please my guardian, whom I have mentioned in other posts. I never knew how to please her, but I always tried to at least not rock the boat. One day when I came home from playing with the girls next door, she spotted some band-aids on my knees. I had fallen and skinned them, as kids do, and the mom next door had insisted that I let her bandage them. Of course, when I got home A was furious. I was just trying to get attention because I was crazy like my father. A beating occurred, and I catalogued the information in my brain so as not to make the same mistake twice. The next time I skinned my knees I refused any help from the neighbor and just kept on with my play. when I got home, A was furious. I had skinned my knees and hadn't gotten any bandages on them? Obviously I was too stupid to come in out of the rain, and crazy, just like my father. Another beating, and the knowledge that no matter what I did, it would be wrong.

When I went to live with Gram I was determined not to disappoint her. If I did, after all, I might be sent back to live with A, or even returned to the orphanage.  While Gram was pretty relaxed in comparison with her daughter, she would not tolerate those she thought of as fools. When my cousin was in Boy Scouts he was working a booth for his troop at some sort of Scouting Exposition. His booth had targets and bows and arrows. Gram asked if I wanted to try shooting, and I was thrilled to. I had seen it on tv and it looked so easy. Naturally my lack of athletic ability shone through and I didn't hit any targets. Gram was furious and labeled me as a jackass, informing me that if I couldn't do it right, I shouldn't have done it at all. So I went through school getting great grades and doing my best to avoid trouble. I had to be smart because I was not the pretty girl. I suppressed my desire to act in school plays because A didn't want any actresses around. They were rough people who lived a rough life. I couldn't be in choir or orchestra because they sometimes took overnight trips, and only tramps didn't sleep in their own beds.

So the idea of not being good enough has always plagued me. When I trained customer service in a bank, I always wished I could do better. If any of my trainees didn't pass the course, I felt that it was my fault. If I had been a more competent trainer, they would never have a phone call that they couldn't handle. There wouldn't be any stressful moments when they just didn't know what to do. They wouldn't make mistakes. 

Even writing this blog has caused me struggles. I often wanted to quit in the beginning because almost nobody was reading it. My readership is still low, but I have the desire to write for those who are faithful readers and enjoy what I put out there. It took a lot of my courage to start posting links to my blog on Google+, and in fact, it took a lot of courage for me to get on there and interact with others in this strange land of social networking. I have a small following and a small group that I follow compared to others, but it usually doesn't bother me. I recently saw a post from someone I follow that was to the effect of, "is anybody out there?" I wanted to be kind and say hello since it seemed like he needed it. I said that it did sometimes seem like there was nobody out there, to which he replied that with me only having x number of followers, of course it would seem that nobody was there. I laughed it off in my reply, but it rather aggravated me. It seemed to imply, to me at least, that I wasn't good enough to have an enjoyable experience. After all, nobody liked me enough to follow me.

Then I remembered some people that I am friends with online who have never treated me as "less than." They have several times the followers of the person in question, and have never treated me with anything less that kindness and courtesy and friendliness. I try to remind myself that having a small following does not make me a small person. I may not have thousands of people hanging on my every word, but the people I interact with know the kind of person I am. I am sensitive. I am kind and try to always be courteous. If I say I care about you, it isn't a load of baloney. I am a person who wants to feel worthy. I will recognize your worth before my own. I am not pretty or rich or super-thin. I don't want any kids to feel they have to be that way either. I am trying to fight the need to measure up. Let's fight it together.