Remember the tagline of my blog? These posts are supposed to be my therapy sessions. Ranting about the demise of Thanksgiving and gloating about making shotgun Christmas ornament is not very healing. The following is one of my therapy sessions. I am getting on the coach now. You have been forewarned…
I am not quite sure about the whole Twitter and the blogging thing any more. First I have the follower counts to obsess about. Then I agonize over how few of the @’s I have been getting. Now there are the LISTS that scream “Popularity Contest” more than ever. The same with this blogging thing. I installed the WordPress Blog Stats plug-in. Now I get to watch the pot boil.
Don’t worry. I am not going to whine. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to die. There is actually a funny story I want to share with you. I want to explain why I am scared to death of popularity contest. Literally. Anxiety attack type of reactions. Chest closing down on me. Disorientation. Hard to breath kind of thing.
As soon as I sense that something is in essence a popularity contest, I never bother trying. I just give up. I am scared to death of popularity contest. I am also scared to death when I have friends. When people take a liking to me.
In short, I am afraid to disappoint.
I am not a shrink, but my guess is that you would be scared of popularity contest if you went through fourth grade through sixth grade with NOBODY in your class speaking to you. The entire three years… Silence. As if you were not even there.
No violin in the background. I will save you the drama and just list the facts:
- I was one of the popular kids in my class from first grade to third grade. I remember that because I remember being one of the first ones to be chosen whenever a game demanded such cruel device of pitching innocent children against each other.
- One day, out of the blue, during fourth grade, I noticed that nobody in my class would talk to me. They willfully ignored me. I was suddenly invisible to them.
- Since all the kids stayed in the same class throughout the remaining grades, this silent treatment lasted till I graduated from grade school.
- I thought about running away from home because my mother would not believe me. I was unable to convince my parents to transfer me to a different class or school.
- I started thinking about suicide early on because I had no idea how to end THAT. Please don’t be alarmed: When you believe in reincarnation, the thoughts of suicide do not carry the heavy concept of sin and ending.
- This childhood experience affects what I do, think, say from that point on.
- I still have nightmares about THAT.
This is actually a funny story. Well, what happened AFTER the grade school is. As the years went by, I would see some of my tormentors classmates in the senior high school we went to. Apparently there was going to be a class reunion the year we entered college. “You are like the ugly duckling turning into a swan now.” Code for: you cleaned up good. Mind you: we all went to same-sex senior high schools so the person that said this to me was female. Would you like to go?
Of course, as needing therapy as I am, I went. I was curious. I wanted answers. I of course also wanted to show that I turned out ok. Despite everything. Somehow I also managed to charm.
On the long bus ride home, the man-child sitting next to me was very obviously smitten. I have been wondering for six years why they all treated me like shit, actually, worse than that, like NOTHING, back then, but I was also lucid enough to have guessed that probably nobody else remembered THAT but me. I took my one chance and gingerly brought THAT up.
“Do you remember when in grade school, none of you talked to me for three years?”
“Huh. Oh. Yeah. You still remember THAT?”
I proceeded to describe in simple terms how it felt to be me in those years. I was looking out the window when I spoke. The last thing I wanted to see was the expression that proved my suspicion that none of my sufferings were real to anybody else, that I might as well have imagined them. Soon I heard sobbing. I turned and saw tears streaming down his cheeks. Then came the Confession of the Century that I was not expecting:
“It was ME!”
“It was me that told everybody to stop talking to you.”
Then I remembered that we were best buddies in the third grade. I recalled watching him hogging the Pacman machine until the store owner came out to give him his coin back. I even recalled going to his house and playing with him and his younger brother, and his mother saying, “Come back again soon!”
“Hmm. I guess because I liked you.” More sobbing. “I am so sorry. I didn’t know it was so difficult for you.”
“There. There. It’s ok. I am ok now.” I ended up having to console him.
The truth of course was: I was not ok.
Later, through college years, he wrote me several love letters. I did open them but could never bring myself to read them.
Hi. My name is L. I am forty years old and I still have nightmares about my friends not talking to me. In my nightmares we are all still 10 years old.