The gospel children’s song, This Little Light Of Mine, was one of my personal favorites as a child and still is. I remember how small and big I felt, as I clapped my hands and sang along with the popular melody. Creating oneness with all the other children who were experiencing the same peace, joy, and love that I was. I never thought about what it meant to shine my light…probably because it was very natural to do so.
Until the 7th grade…
I know, I know…we all have stories of growing into our own, but please stay with me as I describe one of the worst years of my life. A year that taught me many fearful lessons that I have held onto until…NOW. Crazy, huh? Why would I hold onto fear for so long? Because I was in denial; unwilling to take responsibility and see MY reactions to the cruelty of pre-teens.
It is 1982 and I have boobs….oops, I mean breasts. No, I mean boobs (I like that word). My “Ugly Duckling” days of missing teeth, greasy hair, and wearing my worn-out-beaded-campfire-vest in the 6th grade, were slowly fading away. Boys, boys, and more BOYS, were the thought of the day. Except when I was studying in class. Except when I received a letter from the most popular 8th-grade girl in the school. It said, “W/B.” Little did I know that she meant, Write Back NOW…or else!
After not receiving a letter, she told the entire Junior High School (well, it seemed to be everyone) that I was…STUCK-UP! Almost every “so-called” friend fled. This may not seem so tragic to read, but to an immature 13-year-old-girl who had been dumped by her first boyfriend? It was EVERYTHING!
“Kathleen kisses like a DOG!’ he screamed in first period. Or at least that’s what I was told by a semi-sweet, freckle-faced and red-headed, 13-year-old-boy (who happened to be in my soon-to-be, ex-boyfriend’s class-that fateful morning). Unfortunately (or fortunately), the innocent by-stander was telling me the truth: my FIRST real boy-crush was about to break up with me. Later that day, my first kiss ended up sending his friends to do the dirty deed. All because I did not know where to put my tongue! My mind immediately defended…I had gum in my mouth. He did not know how to kiss me; he’s the BAD KISSER! If the truth be known, I am sure it wasn’t my best tongue teaser..but, “DOG?” I sure hope not…
So, here I am with ONE friend and scared to kiss any other boy…EVER! How could things get worse?
Besides having boobs that year, I had “Miss Beezly”…oops, I mean my period or as Margaret (from Judy Blume’s classic) says, “menstroo-ation.” My mom did not inform me about the existence of tampons (never mind teaching me on how to use one). Probably because Playtex Gentle Glide was yet to be invented back in those days (Dear God, am I really that old?) Anyway, it was all about the big ol’ SURFER PAD. Yep, it seemed to be as big as a surfboard.
Maxi Pads were not easy for me to get used to, and I created worry that they would show in the back. I remember continually feeling my butt; after all, I needed to make sure I was sportin’ a smooth-pad-transition. I definitely did not want my (now) ex-boyfriend to see that, too. So, what did I do? I pushed it up to the front. Yeah, that will hide it.
It is 3rd period. As I am sitting on a counter stool in Art Class, minding my own business, I started noticing some boys whispering to each other. Did it leak through? I thought, as I cleverly looked down and took a sneak peek to make sure there was no blood. Nope, I’m in the clear. The bell rang. As I was getting off my seat, one boy looked straight into my eyes and said, “Is it a DICK?”
I had pushed the pad just a tad too far forward-producing a huge bulge (and quite the impressive package). Throughout the rest of the day, kids (who weren’t in the class) strolled past me (looking at you-know-what) to see if they could get a viewing of the (now) fixed and inconspicuous…PAD. Sorry folks-show’s over.
I embarrassed myself and my EGO was in full control. In looking back, I can actually laugh. But then? Not so much. I remember viewing the dull kitchen knives while unloading the dishwasher at home. You know, to end it, once and for all. It was either me or the scary gang at school who was threatening to do it.
So, here I am: friendless, kissed like a dog, threatened to be beaten up on a daily basis, and sported an unwanted prosthetic penis for a few hours.
And then one day, I got my lucky break. Or was it?
Remember the popular girl who had started my 7th grade year off to pre-teen Hell? Well (most likely feeling sorry for me), she no longer deemed me as: unworthy. Lucky me. I went along to get along and lived in the victim-poor-me-story (since it seemed to work), and all my “so-called” friends “gave me the honor” of coming back. The head gang leader seemed to have changed her mind as well. As for the boys? Boys will be boys (and no…I am not letting them off the hook).
So, I learned a very significant, life-changing lesson…
Misery LIKES Company.
The age-old adage, “Misery LOVES Company,” could be seen so differently. Misery had forgotten Love. And so did I.
In order to acquire friends and survive, I subconsciously “thought” dimming my light was the way; abandoning the love for… “This Little Light Of Mine.”
Are you dimming your light to fit in with others? With your partner, family, friends, co-workers and peers? Dimming it, so that they are more comfortable in your presence? I am here to support you in letting your light shine.
With all my heart,