Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Love Myself Today! Week - Lovin' Leopard

Since I did my speech today, I wanted to keep all the interest in my outfit on the bottom, since my audience would only see me from the waist up.
Hi-yah! But the bottom is kick-ass: my favourite brown lace skirt and my classic leopard pumps. How I love these.

A close-up:
The speech went well, thanks for asking. I made one of the women cry - and I did not cry myself! A victory!

In case you are interested, this is my speech (I have removed identifying details, but otherwise, this is a true story):

Found on the Ferry

For the past 14 years, my husband’s been saying that eventually I’ll run into someone I know on the ferry. My reaction? “Yeah, right. What are the chances?” But this Christmas, it finally happened...and it was far more than I ever expected.

The crossing was rough. As I was walking down the aisle, a man bumped into me. I excused myself, but he held my arm. “Sheila?” He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. “It’s Blaine,” he said.

Oh, my god. Blaine.

Flashback. It’s 1973 and I’m in Grade 2. There’s a new kid this year – and he’s really cute, like Davy Jones of the Monkees. He’s a soccer player and instantly becomes one of the “cool kids”.

Blaine.

I haven’t seen him in nearly 25 years, since we graduated from high school. We spend a few minutes catching up: “What a small world, meeting on the ferry! Gosh, how long has it been? Hey, did you hear about so-and-so?” He sits down with his co-workers, and I return to my seat, but I just can’t get back into my book.

Blaine...The memories flood into my head, overwhelming me.

We’re choosing up sides for softball in PE, and again, I’m chosen last. No one wants the skinny little girl with the thick glasses on their team. I’m put in left field where I miss everything that comes my way. I can’t catch or throw very well, and when it’s my turn at bat, I strike out. Sometimes I cry, which makes them jeer even more.

A couple years later. Recess. Some kids are playing squareball with one of those red rubber balls. I sit nearby with my nose buried in a book, hoping they’ll invite me to play. Finally, I hear my name. But they don’t want me to join the game. The ball’s gone down into the stairwell where the custodian goes to fix the boiler. The kids call it the Spit Pit. “Hey, Sheila, you can play with us if you go get the ball!” I know what’s going to happen, but I do it anyway. I just try to scramble up the stairs before too many of them can spit on me. I pretend it doesn’t bother me, but I can’t look at anyone when I hang up my coat in the cloakroom. They whisper. They point. They giggle.

Grade Seven. I sit alone at my desk, I walk by myself at lunch, and I pretend nothing the kids say can penetrate my invisible shield. One day, the bathroom stalls are painted...and on impulse, I write the initials of the two girls I hate the most plus the two most popular guys. One of them is Blaine. I get caught, and everyone knows it was me. Blaine comes up to me after school and softly asks, “Why did you do it?” This seems like the stupidest question ever – how could he not know what I went through? I can’t answer; I don’t know how to express all the years of hurt.

That was the last time I spoke to Blaine.

Sitting on the ferry, trying to read my book, my eyes swim with tears. I realize I need to say one more thing to him.

When the announcement comes to return to our cars, I tell my husband I’ll be right back. I touch Blaine’s arm and I take a deep breath. “I don’t know if you ever knew how hellish elementary school was for me, but I just wanted to say...you were always nice to me. Thank you.” He looks shocked, then he gives me a hug.

I’m crying in the car as we drive off the ferry, but they’re good tears. In saying those words to Blaine, I’ve found something I didn’t know I needed. I’ve forgiven those kids for picking on me. I’ve forgiven the kids who didn’t know or who looked away. And I’ve forgiven that lonely little girl for not standing up and defending herself.

So it’s true: eventually, I did run into someone I knew on the ferry. But I got a lot more than I bargained for. I found a piece of my past, like a sliver of glass that had been buried in my soul. And finally, after 30 years, I found that I could let go of that weight. I found forgiveness.

Sweater (Tobias), skirt (Planet), fishnet hose (Hue), shoes (Steve Madden), necklace (Plum), crystal stud earrings.

22 comments:

  1. Sheila, I think that you are an amazing woman...thank you for sharing this, it really hit home with me and you came through beautifully!

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  2. Your speech was touching to read. Congrats for not spilling the tears. Such a relateable story. Oh, btw - I love the outfit today. Kinda classic & traditional on top then wow-zers on the bottom half *g*. Love those shoes and they are the perfect spark to this outfit.

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  3. Love the red, pearls and leopard print heels!

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  4. I'm not surprised that you made one of your audience members cry! Your speech was lovely and touching.

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  5. Perfect outfit for your speech. Just a little of your fun personality poking through in the shoes. Love the necklace too!

    Your speech is really touching. That would be a tough thing to speak about, let alone experience. I can totally see why one of your listeners cried. And good for you for keeping it together, I don't think I would have been able to do that. After all that you went through as a little kid, you sure seem secure and comfortable in your skin now. As a little kid, my brother, who is 8 years older than me gave me a piece of advice that has always stuck with me. He said that it doesn't matter what others think of you, it's what you think about yourself that matters, and you are a great kid. I think he was probably 16 when he gave me that advice.

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  6. Such a touching speech, lady. And I'm so glad you were able to get that closure.

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  7. MS: Thanks so much!

    DawnB: Aren't they awesome shoes? Thanks very much.

    Cat: I love your red hat!

    Kasmira: thank you.

    Alison: thanks. It was a really hard speech to do. Running into Blaine really knocked me for a loop for a few days. It took a lot of self-examination to figure out why.

    I wish I'd had an older brother to give me that advice when I was a kid.

    Sal: thank you, m'dear.

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  8. Sheila, I would cry If I was in the audience ( I am blaming it all on hormones) what a great way to have a closing to that little girl in you!
    Keep up the fun poses,and I love the skirt with the shoes..STUNNING!! Erin

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  9. Sheila,

    This is my first comment here but I've read for a while now. Your speech struck a chord with me when I read it. I was that same lanky backward kid everyone made fun of. I understand.

    I'm 40 now and confident in myself but sometimes the memories still sting. Congrats on being able to deliver your speech without tears. I don't think I could have. You go girl!

    Lisa

    P.S. Great shoes!

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  10. You are simply amazing! You look great (love the shoes) and congrats on not crying and i'm not surprised your speech had some of the women tears. Thank you for sharing your story (its beautifully written)

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  11. WONDERFUL speech.

    And those shoes - awesome.

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  12. Hi, i b erin - thanks for your kind words.

    Lisa, thank you and welcome. I heard that from a lot of people after I spoke: that they had also gone through something similar. It is sad how many people had, but also good to know someone else understood. I'm 41 (nice to see another 40 yo chick!) and yeah, it still hurts.

    Lady D: thanks very much.

    Goober: thanks!

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  13. Thanks for sharing that experience, although I don't know you, I can see you're a great woman, God bless you.
    Elena from Mexico city.

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  14. Elena, thank you - and welcome! I try to put a little of myself out there.

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  15. Hope those shoes don't go missing someday when you're not paying attention

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  16. Ruth, they are way too big for you. Now, back off, woman.

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  17. Sheila, you’ve touched me to tears. We are biologically hard wired for sameness. It is how individuals in our species can pass down and protect our genes from one generation to the next. If we are too different, we take the chance of our genes being wiped out/over by the others. Fortunately, civilization helps us combat this biological urge. Unfortunately, kids often don’t have this ability (yet) and those of us that are different suffer greatly. Even more unfortunately, many adults don’t either. And they don’t have the excuse of youth. Thank you for sharing your story (and re-sharing it by linking to this post). It’s nice to see what a wonderful person you have become, and how you have shaped yourself into a person that cares. Stories like this help give me hope for mankind.
    - Tessa

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  18. Tessa, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment. I believe that it's not what happens to us that shapes who we are, but how we deal with what happens in life.

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  19. You're really something! I wish there were more "Sheilas" out there in the world... It would have been a better place. :)

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  20. Aw, thanks, Dimi. You having fun digging up these old posts? :)

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Comments are so incredibly special, and I love them and hug them and treasure them forever. Please feel free to tell me what you think! I try to respond to every one, so please check back!

Cheers,
Sheila