Saturday, October 13, 2012

Girl Meets Shame. [Part 1]

As long as I can remember my cup runneth over. Not with God's goodness and grace. Not with love, mercy, joy. Instead with immense shame and guilt. 

Fifth grade marked the start of my sensitive battle with shame. I moved to a new school. There were the cool girls who everyone wanted to know -boys, girls, teachers, students, parents, everyone. And I was the new girl. One of the girls befriended me. We grew close and she brought me into the group. I was ecstatic

For her birthday the coolest of the cool had a sleepover. Seventeen girls in all. We piled our bags in one room while we enjoyed the festivities of the night swimming, cake, ice cream, gifts - you know, the elementary school birthday routine. 

Then night fell. 

This was my first sleepover, but I let no one know. They'd been sleeping over for years. And here I stood, the naive virgin -little did I know this would be my role for another decade of life. The horror stories of what would happen to the first one asleep started... Panties frozen in the freezer, hands dipped in warm water resulting in a wet bed "accident", shaving cream on the pillow. I didn't sleep a wink. I laid awake for hours enduring waves of shivering panic and unrequited fear

As the sun rose, I began to relax. Breakfast, goodbyes, and my mom at the door. I lied and said it was fun, I loved the girls, I couldn't wait for school on Monday. My heart ached for home. For a locked front door. For anywhere far, far away from those girls. 

Monday comes. School is as always. Then it's time for lunch. A couple of things were forgotten from the sleepover. A stack of red beaded bracelets. A pink Limited, Too hoodie. A pair of small purple Itsy Bitsy-brand polka-dot panties. Phew, I forgot nothing. 

"Amber, aren't those yours?" As she holds up the small pair of underwear. My heart drops. Denial, though true, looks like lies. Acceptance, though false, insures teasing. I'm damned. 

Denial. She insists. I deny. Giggling starts. It's no longer one, but three, four, five. A chorus of "They're yours." My virgin heart breaks in my little chest for the first time. Shame shatters my hope of being a "cool" girl - later I realized that's not really what's cool, but at eleven it feels like the sky is falling

To this day, the words itsy and bitsy drip with shame. They reduce me to an eleven year old girl who rode home from school in tears the Monday after the AlphaGirl's birthday sleepover. I find my heart bitter, pained, shamed because I wanted to be one of them. And they brought me in, only to feed on my unencumbered trust. 

I met shame in fifth grade. But I've maintained a deep-seeded relationship with shame for many years.

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