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negative self image, self reflectionI have never felt good about my physical self. I am better now than when I was a kid, so there’s that. I’ll take it and be grateful.

Anyway, my relationship with my dad had been bad for years, but by the 8th grade, it began hitting it’s toxic stride. He was cruel in many ways. One of them was to belittle the way I looked. He didn’t like the way I looked.

So I didn’t like the way I looked.

I did like a boy, though. His name was Billy. Billy wasn’t the most popular boy in school, but he had a decent standing. I did not.

When the school year started, we were in the gym being divided into groups for something. Probably dodge ball or something else equally as tortuous. I was tiny. I could have passed for a 4th grader.

I don’t remember the gym teachers name, so we will call her Edna Twatmonster. Edna Twatmonster walked along the bleachers and divided us into two groups with equal numbers of boys and girls. Billy was sitting beside me and when Edna Twatmonster got to me she said “Are you a boy or a girl?”

The question was horrible on it’s own, but she didn’t ask it nicely. She asked the question with the same tone one would make an accusation.

Billy fell on the floor laughing.

I was embarrassed and answered with much sarcasm that I was a boy. Then, I got in trouble for being disrespectful.

Fun times.

I remember what I wore that day. It was the seventies and we were fond of browns, golds, and oranges. My shirt was stretchy material with brown, yellow, and orange stripes. The neckline was attached in the front with a brown wooden bead. Also, rust colored slacks and earth shoes.

Perhaps not the most attractive outfit, but paired with makeup and big hoop earrings, I don’t see how I could have been mistaken for a boy.

I have never forgotten the shame and embarrassment I felt when Billy laughed at me. I never forgot the hopelessness I felt to have my fears confirmed.

As I remembered this, I wondered how many times I’ve said something unkind to one of my kids, a friend, or a stranger and that has stuck with them.

How many times was I depressed or angry or frustrated or tired and said something unkind or cruel?

I feel bad about that. If I can make amends, I will.

Perhaps, I can even consider Edna Twatmonster. Maybe, she was having a bad day. Maybe, I looked like someone she didn’t like. Maybe, she was a horrible person. Who knows? If I forgive her, then maybe I can recognize that her words have been ash for years. Her words were unkind and I didn’t deserve to be treated that way.

All these decades later, it is up to me to decide whether Edna’s words still carry weight.

I don’t think they do.

I’ve carried Edna’s words around long enough. I think I will leave them here.

I will also continue to hope that people I have hurt in the past can leave my words behind them.

And I will remember to remember that my words carry weight and to be careful where I throw them. Because they can leave a nasty bruise.

If you have any old words that still hurt, then please leave them here with mine. They can keep each other company and leave us the f#%k alone.

Which kind of sounds like I’m asking you to tell me your sad stories. I’m really not. I mean, you can if you want. I more meant you could figuratively leave the weight of unkind words here. 

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