I just looked back over the things I've posted since I started HANDPRINTS IN THE ATTIC earlier this month and smiled when I realized how disjointed my posts are. Perhaps I need to go back to the beginning and put my life's story into chronological order so it makes more sense. Being scattered is indicative of what lurks just below the surface. It's like a game of dodgeball. Being scattered makes the reading more difficult and the reliving it even more difficult. I tell one story, but I skip over the before and after...those parts are most likely more important than the story I selected to tell. Those parts were the true catalyst for what drove me, so here's my second attempt to right a wrong by starting my story in a better spot.
I was born into a family with a mother who was a seamstress, a father who was a fireman and three older brothers who were jocks by the time they reached high school. That sentence depicts a rather normal family, but the period after the word "jocks" is where the normalcy ends. I look at photos of myself from my childhood and I never see what I would call a happy child. I never smiled except during school photos and then it was forced. I felt ugly and awkward growing up. I was always the tallest in my class. During that era it wasn't fashionable for woman to be tall, so when I started wearing jeans I had to buy boy's jeans to get the inseam long enough. I bought Levi's at Freese's Department Store on Main Street for $4.95 a pair. I can remember licking and sticking green stamps in books so I could buy blue jeans that fit my curveless physique. I was so relieved when tall super models hit the scene and changed perceptions of what beautiful looked like.
I don't ever remember being teased about be tall or for wearing glasses except from my brothers. They would tell me I was going to be 6 feet tall when I finished growing. I would cry and feel like a freak. They made it seems like I'd never be called beautiful or looked at by a boy. In fact, they made me feel that I looked like a boy. I was doomed to be an old maid! Perhaps that's a brother's job to keep their sister from getting too full of herself. If so, mine were excellent at that job. I do have to reveal that their prediction about my height was wrong. At my tallest I was 5'10 and now, I've begun to shrink. The last time I was measured I was 5'9". By the time I'm an old woman, I might be considered of average height. Horray for the golden years!
Looking back, I don't know why my mother didn't take me under her wing and show me what girls are supposed to do. She dressed nicely and wore make-up, but by the time I reached my teenage years I wasn't interested in learning to be prissy. I always hated make up and rarely wore any. I hated the way it felt on my skin. My closet was full of nice clothes my mother had made, but I wasn't interested in dressing to the nines. A pair of holey jeans and a T-shirt seemed to suffice. When mini dresses were in style I wore them, but I was never comfortable with showing off my long legs. I never felt like I had any redeeming physical qualities because no one ever told me I did. I just assumed when you look like me people say nothing to be polite. When you look like me, you have no reason to primp or smile. You just learn to keep it all in and suffer in silence. When you look like me, every other female in the world is prettier. You envy your female friends and feel horrible because you can't hide the ugly you were given.
The same went for all my other qualities and potential talents. I never realized I was smart and that not everyone was capable of getting A's. I just assumed because I got A's, everyone else did too, but by the time I reached 7th grade I knew I'd never finish high school. It was like a dark cloud hovering over me preventing me from seeing the good in myself. I longed for recognition, but I wasn't good at doing anything. I was never patted on the back and told "hey kiddo, I think you have something there. Maybe you should pursue that." When the dark side took over completely, I discovered I was excellent at hate, discontent and sorrow. I had a gift for getting into trouble and being outrageous. Ah! Finally recognition!
From a very early age I loved to write and often times sat in my room writing little stories and drawing pictures. Paper was in abundance at our house because my grandfather worked at the Eastern Papermill in Brewer and one of the perks was free paper. As I wrote and drew, I always felt as though I was just wasting paper and that it was awful being so wasteful. I tried to hid how much paper I used by stashing away everything I created under the bed, in the closet and in my drawers. Surfacely, my room looked presentable, but like my life it was actually cluttered and disorganized. As I wrote and drew, I assumed everyone could do the same. It wasn't until much later in life that I made a startling discovery and at that moment I was filled with so many emotions I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was angry because I didn't receive any encouragement when I was growing up and I was sad because I had wasted so much time living behind a wall. I made myself remember how my creations were never showcased, but thrown away each time my mother decided my room needed a thorough cleaning. Our refrigerator door was bare except for the occasional newspaper cartoon that was tapped there. The void I grew up in wasn't loud and maddening. It was dark and cold. There was no praise and encouragement. There was only waves of pain and disappointment.
As I got older and could no longer avoid making certain realizations, I felt worse the more potential I discovered I had. You would think a healthy person making those types of discoveries would feel elated. They would open their wings and soar amongst the clouds. Not I! I stopped writing and drawing about the same time I stopped doing drugs around age 30 and didn't start again for almost 15 years. I had this overwhelming need to punish myself, to stifle myself and to deny myself any recognition for a job well done. I called myself stupid I was for not seeing obvious things and for allowing my inner demons run amok. I hated being weak and I hated me!