Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vulnerability


Where am I vulnerable? Oh let me count the ways.

I fear I'm not that smart. This perhaps stems from exactly this. I was in grade four and I adored my teacher. I mean, I was completely besotted. It was her birthday and somehow some of us students convinced a mom to bake her a cake and bring it to school as a surprise. I went home and told my mum this, at the supper table, and said my teacher was turning 25. My mum said, she looks more like she's turning 35. So the next day I repeated that to my teacher. I told my parents I had done that at the supper table, at which point I got a sharp lesson in how things spoken at home weren't to be repeated at school. Fine, point taken.

Many years later, I think maybe I was in grade 11 or 12, we were recalling this incident. My mum was talking about her embarrassment; right after this went down she had to go to parent-teacher interviews. She was sick with nerves. The teacher was, understandably, cold. She said to my mum, Kristen is average. She won't have any trouble with school, but she will always be average.

Now, I know this was spoken in anger and revenge, and I knew it at the time. But somehow this stuck. Somehow, this found a soft spot, a tender spot, and from that moment on I knew I wouldn't be the editor of MacLeans. I knew I was destined for normal, for average, for nothing special. So on matters of intelligence, of feeling worthy and smart, I'm vulnerable.

I'm vulnerable with friends. I love wholeheartedly, unabashedly. Completely. I found my first best friend in grade 4 and she saved me. I was going through some serious shit at home, and of course that translated over the years into some serious shit at school, and she lifted me up like nobody's business. She was like a fiery little feminist, making sure that I was okay and I knew I was good enough. We grew apart, nothing dramatic. My second best friend was through high school, I loved her in that high school way best friends do. We were inseparable. Happy. That is, until she completely shunned me in the second half of grade 12, refusing to speak to me or spend time with me. I think at grad she let me take one photo with her. For memory's sake, not because she loved me anymore.

I'm vulnerable with feeling stupid (intellectually), feeling left out (like the kid not invited to the birthday). I'm vulnerable about what kind of parent I am (too involved? not involved enough? not enough patience? a yeller? occasionally sarcastic?). I'm vulnerable about my stomach, which always seems huge to me and crisscrossed with silver stretch marks. I'm vulnerable about my husband being really smart. I'm vulnerable about feeling like I'm lazy if I'm not doing something.

There is more, of course there is. But I need to start naming this shit, to get a handle on it. And then I need to go back to the birthdays, or whatever those two posts have morphed into, because that needs to be finished. But for today this will do.

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