Waiting for today...: Much of the Same

Wednesday, September 3

Much of the Same

con’t from: Welcome Back

When I was a small child living with my "caretaker", I would remove a trinket or two from her daughter's dresser each day and hide it.  I thought myself to be inconspicuous.  Little did I know all one had to do was sit on the bed and they would find my treasure trove of lipstick, perfumes and jewelry piled behind the chair.  I don't remember ever getting in trouble for that.  I would up the ante a couple of years later, however, by stuffing a bag of Skittles in my underwear as my “grandma” and I checked out in the grocery line.  No one ever knew.
I cannot recall any reasons in my young mind why I began to steal or why it escalated once I relocated.  I guess as with many children, I too wanted to push the boundaries my mother set for me; it was a game of wits.  I believe that over time, it was a misguided attempt to relieve the anxieties of peer pressure and rejection.  Whatever the reasoning, it became a habit just like pretending.  First, it was a quarter here from the change purse on my mother's mantle to a dollar there from the leftover change after purchasing the bread and the milk.  Later, my theft ranged from snacks at convenience stores to clothes at department stores.
While the transition from elementary school to middle school was socially challenging, school became more fun than stressful as time went on.  The friends I made from 7th to 8th grade made up for the loss of neighborhood friends or the gain of neighborhood bullies as my mother and I constantly moved about the city.  I never experienced serious bullying where I lived until we moved to a southwest neighborhood in Philadelphia.  To add insult to an esteem already severely injured, I still got bullied in school.  The bullying from this point on was strictly emotional.  Whether it was my "flat chest" or my "big gums", the stream of insults were steady and often had me to the point of tears.
Self-esteem is your overall opinion of yourself — how you feel about your abilities and limitations. When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. When you have low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas.

Despite the embarrassment that comes with bullying, having a loyal group of friends helped to buffer the pain.  Of course, when the bullying became too much to bare I skipped school. Cutting was much more fun in middle school than in elementary school.  In middle school, I had a cut buddy, my adventures were more interesting and I also found more ways to finance my days off.  By this point I didn’t care who I stole from.  My mother, her friends, their children even my friends and their parents, no one was off limits.  As should be expected, this caused major conflict between myself and would-be-victims, especially my mother.  It was at this time, that our relationship began showing signs of strain.
Within that group of loyal friends was my now best friend of many years.  I call her my “bestest”.  From the eighth grade on we were thick as thieves.  No pun intended.  We were so close that many said we were joined at the hip.  Although high school would separate us, we did not allow the distance to affect our friendship. There were many sleepovers since meeting in middle school.  I met and found myself with a special attachment to her family and their church.  With my mothers and I’s relationship beginning to crumble under the strain, our relationship came right on time.
I kept all the pain bottled up inside me.  Not knowing how to express myself, I kept it hidden away from everyone.  I chose instead to act out in ways that would garner disappointment and frustration from others as opposed to compassion and support.  That disappointment and frustration intensified my insecurity and feelings of rejection.  As I approached high school, I began to lash out under the pressure I put myself under.  I would continue to steal. Continue to skip school.  The wedge between my mother and I would continue to grow causing me I draw closer and closer to my “bestest” and her family.  Not long after, however, I found myself caught in another vicious cycle.

next: Trying Times