Being No One

The first lie I told to better fit in was when I was seven years old, I remember it clearly. I was sitting at the lunch table with my second grade class; it must have been near the end of the calendar year. My classmates were discussing their lack of belief in the existence of Santa Claus. At that time, I was still a believer and it almost sent me into a state of panic listening to what they had to say on the topic. However, the idea of these other children thinking I was stupid was more appalling to me. When I was asked if I believed in Santa Claus, I told them that I did not. On the inside, I said a silent prayer to Santa telling him that I did still believe in him, that I just wanted these kids to like me. My entire life, from that moment forward, was characterized by lies I told to and about myself to fit into the social group I wanted to belong to.
I do not remember a lot of my childhood, just wisps of feelings, scents, and still shots. I can see myself in Kindergarten, sitting Indian style with my girlfriends–all in a row, playing with each other’s hair. I can recall my sixth birthday party, jumping on the trampoline with several girlfriends and one boyfriend. At some point, there was an argument and I sided with the boy, against all my girlfriends. I remember the first time I felt embarrassed for another person, it was my father. He was teaching me to ride a bicycle on the grass and had a hold of the back of the seat. Then his hand slid off and he fell face first in the grass. I remember my mom chasing me, I cannot recall if I was in trouble or not. I was running in tall, unkept grass with her quickly approaching saying she can run faster than me. I remember being astounded that she was right. I remember my very first bikini and my grandparents being there when I tried it on. I remember the old turn dial TV and water bed in my upstairs bedroom. I remember my best friend’s mom breast-feeding her little brother.
In the second grade, I remember experiencing my first real embarrassment. We were playing heads up-seven up and I was picking my nose while my head was down. For some reason, I brought my head up and it was apparent that I’d been picking my nose. I cannot remember the details, only the feeling–the look on the boy’s face. I remember his name. I remember being in music class and being jealous of the people who could sing, and then believing that I could sing well–briefly. In the third grade, I remember my mother leaving my father and my fear of never seeing him again. I remember the girl who ate crayons and wanting to wear the tightest pants I could get into–at eight years old! I have always craved attention, I have always wished for everyone to like me. From first grade forward, I consistently got in trouble for talking in class and then being a smart ass to my teachers–it was more important that my peers held me in high esteem than to stay out of trouble. I can recall my parent’s fights, the way I felt. I was consumed with fear about what would happen to us, feeling a complete lack of control over the decisions or outcome. I have always wished to have control over my life.

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