Have you ever been in a situation where you were made to feel worse? Like when someone at school gets a better grade and brags it. Or when somebody compares you to somebody else and implies you are the one who is lacking. We’ve all been made to feel worse as some time or another. That feeling sucks, huh? Some dwell on it, repeat it over again in their thoughts, words, or actions trying to understand why or how it happened, or figure out who was really responsible. Some make it worse by reacting without thinking and snapping at innocent bystanders or loved ones in an effort to share that ‘I feel worse’ sucky feeling and get it off their own back rubbing it onto someone else’s in the process. All this does is allow the sucky to cling on and hang around. Others live through it and shrug it off like a coat that is suddenly disgustingly dirty. It’s sucks! Shed it! Because you realize it’s not about worse, or fault or blame, it’s just what IS. No comparison. No worse. Just IS.
You should never feel worse in comparison to someone else. To never feel worse, you have to erase the possibility of worse, and to do that you have to erase better. You have to erase the comparison, leaving no possibility for you to be judged (or judge yourself) as worse than. In turn, you are not better than anyone else. So doing things with the intention of outlasting, outshining, outperforming, outsmarting, outDOING is pointless. These intentions imply an outlier, the one who stands out in comparison to everyone else. I’m imaging that outlier didn’t get itself out their by knocking down other data, or people as it were. Not by standing among the other data and thinking,
I’m better than you.
I’m worse than you
But by already being there. Already being what it is. Whatever differences being natural or hard-earned. Even if differences are contrived or connived they ARE. The outlier didn’t get there by being better or worse in comparison. It got there by BEING an outlier.
There is no better. There is no worse. There is only what is. No point in comparing. No point in lamenting. If you don’t like it, instead of begrudging others, plan and work toward better. Or if you love it, instead of shoving it in someone else’s face enjoy it and count your blessings.
Dresses just don’t look good on me. The important ones I mean. I was looking through some old pictures today, my prom pictures among them. I recall looking through dozens of teeny bopper magazines to find the perfect dress. I found pieces of dresses I liked but not one I could fall in love with. So I had my dress made. A red velvety, concoction with a white airy fabric connected at the throat by a jeweled brooch, that flowed over each shoulder all the way down to my ankles. I believe it had a small train as well. I was proud of it and took several pictures playing with the trailing white fabric. I was a size 5. Flat stomached with budding breasts. And I felt beautiful in it. But when I saw those pictures today, I thought it was fairly shapeless. The heavy fabric adding nothing to my figure. Still love the airy strips of fabric flowing down the back though. Did I mention the dress maker made three dresses? One for me and two for sale on the racks. It must have been a decent design.
Another dress I regret is my wedding dress. I went out of state to buy it so my mother could be a part of the experience. I tried on one dress, out of her price range. But she loved it on me, and that made me happy. So we bought it. I had it altered to change the zipper, that helped the dress hug my curves, to a corset tie on the back. I had always wanted a corseted dress. But on my wedding day the corset didn’t hold tight enough and the bodice of my dress was ill-fitted. I noticed later when I looked at the pictures. Too much space between the dress and my breast.
So, I chose these dresses. At first I felt good about my choices. I felt good when I wore them on the day of the event. But, when I see pictures after the fact I become regretful and self-critical. I blamed the dresses. But maybe it wasn’t the dresses after all. Maybe it’s what was inside the dress. Maybe it’s just me. I imagine one day wearing a dress that makes me drop dead gorgeous. Somehow forgetting that ultimately it will still be draping my body. And at the heart of my dress problem is really a body problem. Or should I say an image problem? I don’t much like my image. Now, what to do about it? First, stop blaming the dress.
There I was. standing in a floating castle on a shiny 20×20″ piece of beautifully inlayed marble flooring. And with one bad decision and a great rendering shutter, the floor started to splinter and drop in a thousand pieces into a deep abyss below me. Not only the floor, but the walls, ceiling, pillars, everything surrounding me just abandoned me on the descent. I through my arms up to catch and support the piece that mattered most before it fell. Resting on the palms of my hands I held my husband and only months old daughter. When the cacophony and desertion stopped I was left, floating in space, supporting my family, yet somehow utterly alone.
My daughter suffered a concussion Sunday. She’s three. She was jumping in a trampoline. One she had happily jumped in several times before. She bounced backwards through the door of the protective netting and three feet down to the cement below. She landed flat on her back hitting the back of her head.
As my family was informing me of the signs of a concussion, she vomited in my lap. As we rushed her to the hospital, I had a hard time keeping her awake. Her speech was slurred, her eyes weren’t focusing and kept rolling to the back of her head. She snarled at me to leave her alone. I had to confront the deep seated fear of losing my daughter. I screamed for the umpteenth time, “Eyes open!” with tears rolling down my cheeks.
She is fine now. Definitely a concussion. But CT and x-rays show no signs of danger. She didn’t even have a headache the next day. I, on the other hand, have not quite recovered. I find myself watching her like a hawk. Telling her not to run, jump, or hop around (like she always has before) in fear she will hit her head again. Brain damage is no joke. The doctor said 3 days of calm activity- but will I relax after that?
I don’t feel guilty that she got hurt, but I never want to be that scared again. And, somehow, I know I will be. So where is the line? The line between protecting my daughter from herself and letting her be herself. It’s the difference between over protective and negligent- smothering her and letting her flourish. Where is the middle ground?
Have you ever grappled with this conundrum? It seems to me a problem that must be solved, yet has no solution.
I remember walking home from school starting in first grade. It was normally with my brother, who is 2 years older. But at some point, which is fuzzy in my memory, I was walking alone.
I remember making friends easily in first grade. One in particular, a girl who lived around the corner from me. We had fun. One night in third grade during a sleepover at her house, holding our Cabbage Patch Kids, we dialed 0 on the telephone and sang “Operator, Operator, on the line . . .” to whoever answered. Those were good times. But one day I went to her house to play and she said, “I’m not your friend anymore. Go home!” I demanded to know why. She couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me. Her brother, a professional BMX bicycle rider, chased me home- on his bike while I ran.
Years later (junior high age) I was walking home alone as usual. Walking, as I did, with my head down- watching my feet. I was just about to turn the last corner approaching my house when some people turned the corner walking toward me in the opposite direction. When our paths crossed, I heard a vaguely familiar laugh. As I looked up, the friend who had rejected me years earlier spit in my face.
I realized then, that walking with my head down prevented me from seeing what was aiming at me. I have walked with my head up ever since. Ready to face whatever is coming in my direction head on. Or should I say- head up?
I wonder what would have happened if I had looked her in the eye when she turned that corner. If I had the appearance of confidence rather than the hung head of the rejected.
I remember being self-conscious about how I walked. Imagined people looking and judging how my feet and legs moved and how my shoulders swayed. Judging my personality by watching my movements. I recall, walking home from school, being told that I walked like a horse. My foot swinging out and forward in an arch with a CLOMP as my foot hit the ground (rather than the heel to toe motion normal people have). I consciously tried to place my feet properly, only adding awkwardness to the whole experience.
Today my feet hurt. I have blisters on the back of my heels from ill-fitting shoes. Over the years of purposeful foot placement I have come to realize that I have a twist in my step (along with that CLOMP). It dawned on me today that these things are cause and effect. It’s the twist that causes the shoe to rub. It’s an attempt to prevent the rub causing me to CLOMP- walking with the weight on my toes so I don’t press the red raw heel to the back of the shoe. Now I get it! I do walk like a horse!
Instead of being hyper aware of my awkward walk. I should have embraced the twist in my step. It should have been my signature sway. Something to own. Not to be ashamed of. Then the comments wouldn’t have been painful memories. They might have been inspiration for laughter and fond memories.
Do you wish you could override your memories and turn them into what they should have been? Can we? Should we?