Fifth grade. It was the year I got chickenpox, broke my wrist playing kickball (and I must tell you, I got Rob Zook, the biggest kid in our grade, out and won the game), and got my first boyfriend. His name was Mark, and he asked me to “go with him.” I didn’t know what that meant except that we shared gum, and he sat by me in lunch.
I also wanted people to like me. I would do anything to be popular. I wanted to belong, to be a part of something, but I instead felt disconnected and alone.
So I bought the book, 10 Steps to Becoming Popular, from the Scholastic Kids book fair.
Jumping ahead to present day.
Jack’s been asking me to tell him stories about my past before bedtime. The chicken pox and kickball are easy, but I must say, I’m running out of stories as it’s not quite appropriate to tell him about Jagermeister in college or dancing all night on fraternity row.
But there was one story that I was hesitating to tell. Every time I go back to this story, it reminds me of the hurt. But ironically, it is the core of my being, my mission.
I told Jack last night, and he cried. “It happens to me too, mama. And it doesn’t feel very good.”
I’ve only been able to tell my story recently so this is all new to me and quite frankly, a bit scary. To admit I was never really the popular one. To open up about my shyness and feeling inadequate growing up. To wishing that someone would yell, “You’re it!”
As far back as I could remember, I felt alone. Or maybe lonely. I can’t tell the difference. I was afraid of my own shadow, as I was told many times by teachers, my parents, relatives, and even other kids. I never spoke, and if I tried, my voice was so soft that I was asked to repeat but louder. “What did you say? Speak up!” I would flinch and just try again, feeling defeated, feeling alone.
Why doesn’t anyone “get” me? I wondered.
(I now know that I’m highly sensitive so I can tell how someone is feeling a mile away, don’t like loud noises or bright lights, and I hate anything around my neck so I don’t own one turtleneck.)
I can remember crystal clear, a time when I felt so disconnected from the world. I can picture it now. I can also feel the pit in my stomach as I write this to you.
It was 1977.
I made my communion with my cousin, Keith. I had on a pretty white dress with fancy shoes. I felt like a princess. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the ceremony, just some prayers and songs. Seems like I was all about the dress, really, not too concerned with learning the Bible or what Communion meant anyway.
After the ceremony, there was a big party at my Aunt Louise’s house. Tons of people were invited. We are Italian, and I had many cousins, all boys except for my sister and my cousin Carmie. And they were all older and bigger than me, and loud, you know, Italian.
My sister was the youngest, and I tended to rely on her to hang out with since she fit in so well with this crowd. But she ran away from me to play with all the kids at the party. They were playing tag. I tried to join in, smiling, asking politely, but I was told, “No. Get lost.” My heart ached. I can remember sinking down against the wall in the dining room in my pretty little dress with my head in my hands.
I felt so alone.
My dad came over to see why I wasn’t running around with the others. I couldn’t admit I was left out. That no one wanted to play with me. So I kept quiet.
At that moment, hearing the words, “You’re it!” would have made me feel connected and in sync with the others.
I noticed that this was a trend that happened in each stage of my life. In high school, I wasn’t invited to drink “over the hill” with the popular kids (probably a good thing!). Or I would find out that my girlfriends went to the mall and didn’t invite me. In college, my boyfriend and I were inseparable so I didn’t have to take risks on being rejected by others. When we broke up, well, let’s just say I lost it, and it took me a long time to recover.
Over the years, however, I began to realize that I’m not a weirdo. My sensitivity, my shyness is actually a gift.
I’m really good at making sure no one is left out. I love to include everyone, make them feel like a part of something. I can immediately tell if someone wants to play so I make sure to invite them.
Welcome. Join. Embrace. Play.
I now feel so connected to others, and while I might feel lonely or alone at times, I am able to speak louder, in my own voice and honor my story. That unwanted feeling doesn’t linger as long as before.
When I include others, tell them to come with me, I can feel the vibration of peace. This connectedness is so powerful, even with animals, nature, living things. I like how we are all in rhythm with each other. Like a heartbeat. A pulse.
By including others, I am able to be my truth. I’m able to honor my story.
Come play with me! Tag you’re it!
Drinking my green juice has been a big part of my shift in honoring my story. As the green goodness enters my cells, my blood, I’m connecting, vibrating, and feeling at peace. Might sound a bit woo woo, but as your cells change, your thoughts, actions change, too.
Beauty Remedy Juice Recipe
(My signature juice which helps me serve up my truth plus gives a glow inside and out)
Ingredients to juice:
1 bunch of kale leaves (1 cup); remove stems, approximately 6 leaves
1 apple (Granny Smith is my favorite)
1/2 lime, peeled
1/2 inch ginger root
Juice up all ingredients. Drink up!
Makes 12 oz. of green goodness
So the Popular book talked about being nice to others, asking about their lives, and not gossiping. Good advice. Well, it’s not about being popular. It’s about your health.
Starting with your food, eating and drinking real, whole food, can assist with building community. Belonging is a human need crucial for good health. Many get sick when they feel alone, disconnected, and unloved.
There’s no need for that.
I’m so grateful you are here with me. You belong. You matter. You are a part of something.
You are invited, included and never left out. Ever.
Does my story resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments.
(And make that juice…really, it’s delish and I drink it daily! I swear it gets me closer to that belonging we all crave).