It started in the eighth grade, as some nightmares often do, and her name was…let’s call her Nancy. Nancy and her sidekick…Annabel. They were very mean to me. I never could figure out why because I was very nice. Not only was I nice, I was perfectly content in my own little world that was consumed with horses and exploring the woods with my childhood friends after school. I had nothing in common with either Nancy or Annabel. In fact, we didn’t even sit on the same side of the cafeteria. These girl’s worlds were different than mine. They had designer clothes and liked to have slumber parties and shave their legs together, while I liked reading Archie & Veronica comics or Sweet Valley High books all night long on the weekends. There was no reason for them to single me out and be so mean to me. In fact, I don’t remember ever saying anything to them or there even being a confrontation to bring on any of the attacks, yet they encircled me like pack animals. Daily. What was worse is they would have their entire posse standing behind them the entire time. No one would say anything while they went on their tirade of course. In fact, I wonder what Nancy and Annabel would have done if they knew that behind their backs the other pack girls were actually nice to me.
Several years later, I came to find out that these girls were facing some pretty harsh challenges at home. Nancy’s parents were divorcing, and Annabel’s parents were afraid of her out of control behavior. This made both of them unsupervised by a parent during formative years. Maybe then, they singled me out for having something that they didn’t. While they had the designer clothes, I had both parents at home that loved me enough to parent me. While I wish I could say that the heart sting that they caused me is lessened by my knowledge that they lacked parental guidance, I can’t. I can however see it now as a chance to grow my compassion, empathy, tolerance, and self-acceptance.
I thought that I would be home free after middle school, but now that I have entered my thirties, I have encountered more Nancy’s and more Annebels than I care to count. Sometimes they were even worse than my middle school nemeses’ because they would become my friend and then axe me in the back later. I have found that my older bullies walk softer than their younger counterparts. They talk maliciously behind my back instead of confronting me in a teacher-less hallway. IM’s and emails rather than attempting to physically trip me as I walk up a stair case. Two girls wanted my husband, one my first husband, and one Michael. One wanted my career. One wanted my entire life, while another wanted nothing that I had, exchanging jealousy for resentment and a desperate desire to see me to fall on my face. What did I do to warrant this kind of hatred? Who knows. They may not even know. However, in the meantime they managed to divide and demolish what was going to be an amicable divorce, nearly cause my then unborn son to grow up fatherless, nearly cause me to get physical for the first time in my life with a wonton disregard for any legal ramifications, trigger a nasty depression, and test my boss’ patience with me as I became a hollow and irate version of myself. They made Nancy and Annabel look like amateurs. Turns out though, that all of these deep feelings manifested into drama were just muck that was already latent within me. Never having healed from the Nancy and the Annabel, I fell victim to these girls and allowed this destruction in my head and heart because I ran from the lesson that I could have learned the first time around. A peaceful “hey…I ain’t taking your shit.” As well as a “what you think, say, or do to me has absolutely no bearing on my self-esteem.” From the girl in a embroidered horsehead shirt to the two blonde manipulators. Instead, I allowed it to effect my self-esteem and I got mad and just stayed there. Both in my tweens, and in my thirties.
Here is the most important lesson in all of this: When you don’t face a personal pattern head on in life, the Universe has a funny way of bringing it back around to you again. Kind of like a nice teacher giving you the chance to make up the flunked quiz. There is something within that pattern/lesson, that is meant to grow you as a person, and it almost always will grow your empathy. However, the Universe doesn’t care how long it takes you to learn the lesson, for it will keep bringing it around for you until you learn it. The next lesson that I learned while looking back and examine my present, not unlike Nancy and Annabel, I have come to learn things about these girls in women’s bodies that sought to bring me down. They too lacked fundamental things in formative years that would allow them to now have joy in their heart. They are stuck in some sort of childhood trauma that leaves them at that emotional age. For at least right now, they don’t have the inner and emotional knowledge necessary to keep an open and compassionate heart for others. Especially women. For if they did, they wouldn’t seek to judge, compare, and manipulate in a desperate attempt to make others feel, or at least look to others, smaller against them. For if they did, they would realize that kind of behavior only makes them look small. As I have come to observe the world, to me a woman is someone who rises above the fray. When she stumbles into a hater, she knows that they don’t have her best interests at heart. She allows her vulnerability and isn’t afraid to show the world how badly it has cut her. But she will never allow it to stop her. A woman will evolve right past a girl. What separates a woman from a girl is a emotional capability, not a physical one. To me, a numerical sequence has no bearing on whether or not a female is a girl or a woman, I have met 18 year olds that are truly women and 40 year olds that are girls. I try to only judge people on how they treat others. It really is a learned art to allow people to be who they are without allowing them to stomp all over me, and I am still learning. But if I meet a woman who emotionally presents like a young girl, then I leave her be. I can only show how I expect to be treated by treating myself and everyone else in a good way. I can’t change her, but I don’t have to sink to her level either.
When I made it part of my soul’s mission to expand my comfort zone, I focused on becoming a better me and like magic, great friendships starting appearing. Both of men and women. Full on supportive, collaborative, and long term friendships. These people helped me to realize that my bullies are who needed my compassion. I deeply believe that they don’t know that it isn’t the world with the problem, it’s the world reacting to them. When the day comes that they actually learn that harsh reality, they will need even more of my compassion. I should know, for I have been there.
You may feel that loving someone that deliberately attempts to hurt you makes you look like a sucker to those without understanding, but that is your lesson, to keep the vulnerability and love them anyway. The fact that you accept them and are compassionate regardless, is theirs. One day they will come to realize that the entire world isn’t brutal, unforgiving, and unsafe. Maybe you will be the first compassionate heart from which to draw an example from. I realize now, after all of the above examination, that when you are walking your path the Nancy’s and the Annable’s are always going to be there. You then learn how to set personal boundaries, how to speak your truth no matter what name you are called, and how to keep self respect. Ultimately, that is what Nancy and Annabel can teach you if you let them. Also, allow them to teach you about who and what is important. For me, they taught me to be compassionate to everyone, no matter how they treat me. For how a person treats me speaks greater volumes about them then it does me. I cannot control them, I can only control how I react to them. Ghandi said that we should be as joyous to see an enemy as we are a friend, because it is the opportunity to grow our heart. While I agree with the theory, it is a lot harder to practice. However, recently it has really been getting easier. Perhaps I am becoming a women.