Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Neurosis Rewind

I'm the youngest daughter of eight children. There are two additional boys via father's second marriage post madre's passing. Confused? Don't be. The only thing in consideration for this ramble is this fact: There are five daughters in my clan. I am the youngest. I am the only brunette, green eyed girl. The elder four are beautiful blondes with blue eyes. You'd think I'd be a stand out based on aesthetics alone. However, from this girly's point of view, I was lost in a sea of confusion.

I'll give you a quick synopsis of why I felt overshadowed in an already hectic household.

  • Martha: The eldest daughter. The ground breaker, rule shaker. Tall, thin, blonde, blue eyed, flirty, had the world by the balls. Before I could develop memories of her living at home she was off to college and traveling the world. My recollection of her is the excitement that fluttered about the house when she'd be making a return. She was the one who had the boyfriends and excitement.
  • Karen: The nurturing sister who had a zest for life, the outdoors and kids. I was her flower girl. She made me an aunt at age 9. Very cool to be in 3rd grade and announce I had a niece. Many of my fondest memories is hanging out at the park where she was the recreation director. There was a time when each park in our town had someone to oversee activities. Karen fit the bill. She's still married to the man she wed at age 19. Four children and six grandchildren later she continues to have that verve for creating and strengthening family. Karen's home was always the playground to neighborhood kids. She organized playtime. She made it educational and exciting. She is our family's mother earth.
  • Maureen: My best friend. I was a few hours short of being born on her 10th birthday. An instant bond. Moe, as she's affectionately called, has always been a friend and mother to me. She is the level headed one. She is the hometown girl that was/is the glue to our family. Everybody loves Maureen. Accepting and loving. She is righteous. Flawed, but I hold her sense of commitment and values with great regard.
  • Mary: Mary let me hang out with her even though I was the little sister. She and her friends never made me feel like I wasn't one of them. Mary was the defiant one. She'd stand her ground and go 'round and 'round until her case was heard. Mary is also the one named after our Mom. She is the singer. She's also the shortest girl. High school musicals were her oyster. The leading lady. In our family being in a musical was everything. At least, to my childhood ears it was the end all to beat all if you were cast. Mary didn't tower over the leading men. She was the songbird. Her voice fills the heavens and hearts.

I know to all of them I managed to forge my own path. I have my own label or place in the family scheme of things. However, this is my perception of life as I knew it. This is how I cope with coming out of their shadows. Quite frankly, I have, but periodically those childhood insecurities still manage to rear their ugly heads.

I have found that, in my daily life, I continue to compare myself to others. Rather than being my own gauge for success, I weigh in for how I am assessed and revered. That's not in every aspect of my life. At work, I don't worry. I am who I am and the rest be damned. I am, without a doubt, very good at what I do for a living. Employment isn't a worry. It's within my personal latitude where I struggle.

I've never been the hot girl to date. With the exception of Junior Prom, I was dateless in high school. I was timid and shy if I wasn't in a group. I hadn't experienced a lip lock until I was 19 years old. By then I learned that my breasts and small waist would garner me attention. I allowed myself to be objectified and forgot that it was acceptable for me to prove there was more to me than an hourglass figure and a penchant for making out. I was getting attention. Remember, I grew up in an ocean of kids. Getting noticed wasn't easy.

I don't know if my parents subliminally drilled it into my head that as long as one is pretty life will be easier. I know my father would get very frustrated with me when I was in my late teens/early 20s for being too hard on myself. He hated the fact that I dated (and married) the first guy with whom I became serious. I had untapped potential, but I never fully accepted it. I wasn't ready for the challenge. I just wanted to be adored. I wasn't, but I pretended that my boyfriend did.

I have never felt like the prettiest girls. I had enough friends that didn't worry about guys to give balance to those who were never without a boyfriend. My close male friends were gay. So, they were never considered a threat. I did, however, have one friend in high school that was the drop dead gorgeous girl. She always had a boyfriend and she always 'put out' for love. I was her dorky, less than fashionable tag along friend. There was always this insistence that I change my manner of dress and thinking. I didn't know I was a fixer upper. I just knew that when walking through a bar, we'd put her first because she could divide the crowd like Moses parting the Red Sea.

One particular afternoon she and I went to Merle Norman for pre-wedding make overs. Her wedding, not mine. The cosmetic specialist was raving over how gorgeous my friend's eyes, lips, skin, and teeth were. She was fussing over the bride to be, naturally. But when she came to me, she said, "you have nice eyebrows. Do you pluck?" Now, I know I'm not the stop traffic sort of good looking girl, but I think I have more attractive features than my 'nearly never need plucking brows.' I was dying inside. I just smiled and pretended she'd told me I had perfect features.
In retrospect, I think about how many times I had been given attention from the hairier sex, but she'd go out of her way to embarrass me in front of them. With that, the blossoming girl would become the shrinking violet. I never let her know how belittling she was. I never let her see how much it hurt that her own hunger to be the center of attention caused my already ailing ego to wither.
I have always had cheerleaders in my corner. My sisters and close friends have always given me countless reasons for why they adore me. Most of my co-workers, past and present, find that working with me is always an adventure. In reviews on my performance it's always notated that "Marissa's mood directly affects the workplace." Now, I hate feeling that I have such emotional control, but it was explained to me that my personality is so big that it encompasses the entire area that I occupy. Whoa! With great power comes great responsibility, Peter Parker. With that being said, it's an oddity for me to be seen really unhappy or discontent. I battle to not let it show. As of late that doesn't apply (in the workplace). I digress.

The bottom line of this rant is that regardless of how I was raised, or with whom I was reared, I'm my own person. I'm the one at the controls. Despite the number of people in my corner, I'm powerful enough within to breakdown the greatest amount of praise with the flick of my hand. One instance of disappointment and none of the accomplishments matter one iota. What the hell is wrong with that picture?

Stuart Smalley ~ I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person. I am fun to be with.

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