It’s been a while, right? When I first began writing Becoming, I felt no inhibition, no fear, no insecurity. But that’s because I hadn’t gotten to the hard part yet.
And in writing it all down, it brought back pain and hurt that had eased…I had forgotten what it felt like to be in the middle of my story. Again, it’s not a terrible tale.
But there has been major healing in these last 10 years of my life…and as I wrote, the hurt became very real again. Very here.
I don’t have the same hurt, but I hurt for the young girl I am writing of. I hurt for her heart. For her sweet spirit.
So I took a little break.
I’m sorry for those of you who were waiting. I want to write for you. But I’m sure there will be times along the way where I’ll disappear into reflection. But I’ll be back.
For those of you who are just coming around, I realize this may sound heavy, and you should know this–I am a writer at my core, and design and painting allowed me to begin writing and make the kinds of friends I could write this story for. Hence, Becoming.
If you haven’t read the first two chapters, you’d better start there…
Love people first, and ask questions later.
In the fields of farming cotton and in the orphanage they ran, my grandaddy coined this phrase– lived this way. He taught his son to be that way. So, as we were growing up, my dad would remind my brother and I of this truth all the time. On that day back in ninth grade, my dad had sadly looked into my eyes and said, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I’m sorry this is hard.” Okay, good one, Dad. That sounds good…just the pity party I need. But then, gently, he said, “Do you mind if we talk about what you could have done to contribute to the situation?”
WHAT? Me??? What about me…what about them?
In truth, as hard as it was to hear him implicate me, his wisdom to remind me we are the authors of our own course was invaluable. He talked to me that day about empathy…to identify why they acted the way they did. “Why did she say that? Do you think she could have thought you felt too highly of yourself?” He in no way indicated it was all my fault, but he did not allow me wallow.
To shut down in bitterness.
And bless my dad, the very thing he and mom taught us to do…love people first and ask questions later…was exactly what I did.
It was a Thursday afternoon in January…right after we had gotten back from Christmas break. We were sitting in Coach Ryan’s history class, probably reliving some part of the Civil War that thrilled him much more so than the rest of us. I remember I was sitting still, picking up my pencil and letting it fall over and over again. Listening, but not. I heard the squeaking of the opening door before I saw it.
And he walked in.
His name was Brent. Well, for this story anyway. He was around 6’0, thin with tanned skin. His hair was as black as smut and his eyes were all chocolatey velvet. I remembered him. Didn’t he go to our school before? What was his name? He’s kinda cute. Looks kinda like trouble. Hmmm…
He strode in on lanky legs and quickly handed a yellow slip of paper to Coach Ryan, stuffing his hands in his pockets, his gaze sweeping the room and back up to the ceiling. He was already bored. Coach Ryan told us that Brent would be joining our Junior class–Brent, that was his name.
He sat down beside me-the only empty desk in the room- and so gallantly said, “Sup?” Oh my….he’s certainly a winner. I remember despite his obvious bad boy persona he rocked so well being quite intrigued by him from that first word between us.
That spring semester, Juniors were granted off-campus lunch on Friday’s. Most of my interaction with Brent up until this point had been quite superficial and no real conversations were had. We caught each other’s eyes here and there, moved on to talking to our friends. He wasn’t in any in-between. He played hard, and other than what he did on his dad’s farm, worked little. He got in trouble A LOT. Many of his Friday off campus lunches were spent in one of our homeroom classes in detention. Because I happened to be neck deep in the lie that I was still hugely overweight (at a size 8), I stayed in many Friday’s to slowly sip on a SlimFast.
It was then we began to talk.
Not really about anything important at first. He’d joke with me about my skills on the basketball court, poke fun at me for being a nerd. I told him he needed to get himself together and get out of detention for once. I felt mildly attracted to him, yet I knew I had zero business thinking about him that way. He was t-r-o-u-b-l-e with a capitol “T.”
I’m not sure how it eventually happened. He asked me out.
It was in April, towards the end of school, and prom was fast approaching. For some reason beyond me, I had agreed to go with my ex, and while I wanted to be his friend, I learned in two and a half seconds that you don’t step into romance induced coma holding your ex’s hand.
It was bad.
Brent and I had agreed to go out the night after prom, as we both had previous commitments to our ex folks. Prom came and went, and my amazing friends and I (along with my ex) headed back to my house to hang afterwards. It was so much fun and my sides hurt for days after all the middle of the night laughter. I was safe, the night was safe, the fun was safe.
The next morning I awoke to a million cell phone calls…and at the time, I wasn’t even allowed to use it that often. I remember being so worried my phone, but quickly my hands went numb and tears stung my eyes.
Brent had kissed someone else. I forgot about the phone.
She was one of my friends, and not the ex he brought to prom. Good grief. What’s his problem? Does he not like me? Will we go out tonight? Was I not beautiful last night? Am I not enough?
Even now as I write, I hear how silly it all sounds. I hear how juvenile it seems…how unimportant.
But my heart tells me differently.
It, like everything else in a teenage girl’s life–and any other girl, for that matter, was important. In fact, it was the most important series of events in my life up until that point. I write because of its weight, its heaviness, and the realization that one day my daughter will have her own important, and I better be wise enough to see it.
It’s why I look at her while she sleeps, whisper to her while I brush her hair, “You’re beautiful just as you are…and not because of your face. Your Spirit–it’s captivating. You are adored, enjoyed, treasured.”
She is perfect just the way she is. And so are your girls.
So are you.
To be continued…