This one is an emotional one. I was trying to think back the other day on where my fear of success might come from. I hit some pretty scary skeletons, and since we all have a similar story, I’ll share mine with you.
When I was little, I remembered three distinct times where I was silenced or ridiculed for being genuinely excited about something.
1) At a family wedding. I am 8 ish and though we did not have much growing up, I somehow have this beautiful crushed red velvet dress that I’m so excited to wear. I don’t think of shoes until the morning of the wedding. The only shoes that are in the house that fit me are a pair from my mom—black witch shoes. I cry, I protest, she gets mad and forces me to wear them. I am humiliated. I am thankful for the dark reception hall and feel I can relax a bit. When it comes time for the bride to throw the bouquet, I get so excited, that I jump up and catch it and the whole wedding starts to laugh. I’m convinced they are laughing at my shoes, so I go and hide in a bathroom stall for a very long time.
2) After a camping trip with a group of family and friends. I am 9ish? I have the time of my life. At the dinner party after, at the adult table of laughter and drinking, I hear one of the mom’s on the trip say “SHUTUP, CELIA!” and they all start laughing. I don’t understand, but I know they are all making fun of me, so I slip off into the restroom into a bathroom stall and I hide for a very long time.
3) A family member embarrasses me at dinner. I am 12ish and a family member tells the whole table that she’s recognized I now wear a training bra. Where do I go? Yup. The bathroom stall.
Back in the Bathroom Stalls
So, as many of us have learned to do, I go back in time and try to confront these early wounds. I realize that I told myself terrible things in the bathroom stalls—about being too loud, too excited, too grown up, and somewhere at sometime I tried to shut all of these things down.
So, I did a scary thing–I go back in time and I enter the bathroom stalls. I take the little girl at the wedding by the hand and say, they are laughing because you are 8 and the one who catches the flowers is supposed to get married next! And, no one can see your shoes because your dress rocks.
I take the little girl from the rafting trip out of the bathroom stall and say, when you are an adult, you run into this mom and you tell her in your New Jersey confrontational voice that she was insensitive and crude with her comments and owes you an apology. And, she does.
I take the pre-adolescent girl by the hand and with the biggest smile, say – girl, thank goodness for that training bra—you are going to be jeeessst fine in this department ;)