Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Grade Indiscretion

This is a journal entry from Thursday 9/11/2008

I recall a dramatic shift in the way I relate to people in the first grade. Before that, I recall being open and unafraid of people in general. Sometime around that time, I learned to be afraid of people and their opinions and to try and hide as much as possible to escape attention. The unwanted negative attention may have started when I kissed a boy. We were friends and I liked him, so it seemed natural to me. But this was in a full classroom and everyone let me know that it wasn't acceptable, and he was no longer my friend.

So perhaps I learned that expressing myself openly and honestly lead to be ostracized and ridiculed. And being afraid to express myself meant not standing up for myself and so becoming the one the kids picked on.

After that, everything was hard because every action I take had to first be evaluated to make sure I would not be hurt so badly again. Controlling my emotions seemed like a necessary thing to do, which attracted me to Spock as a role model and science as a career objective.

What if that had never happened - or if I hadn't been hurt by it? Who would I be today?

It's very hard to remember what I was like then. I remember setting up the living room like a stage and being on stage - I don't remember if it was magic or singing or whatever.

What would life be like if I hadn't shut down in first grade - if I had held onto my nature? What would I need to do now to feel comfortable in bringing out the Rex Harley lifestyle?

At one point, I didn't fear people. I gave myself permission to completely be myself. I've longed for that freedom. How do I reunite with it? I have to give greater value to my opinion of myself than the opinions other people have of me. But I am very critical of myself now. I have learned to critique myself to be as inoffensive as possible. How do I turn off my self-judgment? Maybe all I can do is become aware of it when I do it, and remind myself that I am an innocent child of God, and remind myself that I can't actually harm anyone else by anything I say - that I'm not hateful and sometimes I have the right to be angry.

Maybe I can begin by forgiving myself for kissing that boy in first grade. Maybe I can recognize that I didn't harm anyone, that it was simply a sign of affection for someone I liked, that there was nothing sexual about it at all ever, and that I didn't have to take that burden on - the burden of ... what is it? Guilt? A fatal error in judgment? I had expressed the most authentic and uninhibited act, and it was harshly judged in my mind. If being myself could be so horribly painful and embarrassing - how could I ever trust myself again? That is the burden a little first grader took on - aging him and making him older than his physical age. It's one thing to feel threatened as a child and not knowing how to protect yourself. It's another thing not to be able to trust yourself. Oh - and I also accidentally flooded my classroom when the water was cut off and there was a fire drill. How could I ever trust myself indeed?

The fact is, no one in that classroom remembered that kiss the next day, except maybe the boy I kissed, because it was so unimportant to everyone except me.

Since then, every little gaff that anyone else would have shrugged off became an example of why I had to keep a tight lid. I didn't trust my emotions. When I saw Star Trek and the character of Spock - I saw an example of emotional control that I had to emulate. I learned not to laugh, and to control my emotions and to pursue logic and science and physics.

No comments: