Motorcycle Therapy: Scars of 7th Grade

Motorcycle Therapy: Scars of 7th Grade

My motorcycle is often a stand-in for a therapist. While riding home from work today, I was so deep in the clutches of memory that it seemed like I must’ve made it home on autopilot. Does that ever happen to you?

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When I was in 7th grade, I was an awkward, gap-toothed girl with frizzy hair. I’d always had friends and people who were nice to me so I moved through my life blissfully ignorant about the commerce of beauty. I did not yet know that beauty was a power that could be wielded ruthlessly or traded to satisfy your desires. I didn’t know that it could provide definition or that it was a way for other people to determine your value. No, I didn’t know any of those things. In 7th grade, I was just a girl. A naïve girl.

While taking the bus to and from school, kids would hold court. You’d cover all the hot topics of the day: who you sat with at lunch, who passed you a note folded like a football, who kissed who, who wore what, what you’d wear the next day – all the important stuff!

My time in junior high was during the late 80s. In those days we didn’t wear seat belts on the bus, or stay seated or do anything that resembled a safety precaution. We were just hurtling towards the 90’s without a care in the world.

One afternoon on the way home from school, I stood in my seat with my back to the window, my arms on the backs of the high seats. To my right was a freckle-faced boy named Stanley. He was also standing up as the bus bounced along. When I turned and looked at him, his face betrayed no sense of malice, no sense of humor, it just wore matter-of-factness. He looked at me and said, “Damn. You are ugly.”

That was it. There was nothing further. No explanation, no laughter, no sense of teasing. It was just a statement of the truth as he saw it. My insides shattered into a million tiny pieces but like many of my childhood hurts, I just stood there and silently took it.

Little did I know that at 41-years old, I would still carry around a junior high war wound on my heart. You don’t know you’re ugly until someone else tells you so. And then, you can’t forget.

 

 

10 Replies to “Motorcycle Therapy: Scars of 7th Grade”

  1. Rachael, having had a similar childhood experience, I share your pain. My older brother once said to me that we are the sum total of our life experiences, and as adults, we are free to take that “baggage” and discard it, let it drag us down, or use it to make us stronger. If only it were that simple. Bob

    1. Hiya, Bob 🙂
      I agree with your brother in theory, too. And also agree that it isn’t always so simple to let go of things.

      You have to be consciously vigilant in killing some bad thoughts or behavior off. But it seems like there are things bubble under the surface and eat away at you silently until you’re ready to stare them down. Only then can you put in the work of letting go. There can be a lot of time in between when that baggage is a problem.

  2. You are beautiful inside and out. Your writings are awesome. I hope Stanley has matured over the years and gained the ability to appreciate the beauty around him.

  3. Stanley was a d*#k and hopefully life slapped him around a few times and he changed his ways.
    Leave that memory where it is, in the past. Remind yourself that your opinion of yourself is the only one that matters. Some days it’s hard to do but find a way to distract yourself so you don’t go backwards, always look to the good things you want to come into your life. Feel it 😉
    You, my friend, are an amazing & beautiful person. 🙂

  4. Ugh, that is awful.

    Though there’s no excuse for folks treating others so poorly, it’s likely that life has since taught Stanley a lesson or two: As you’ve lived with the hurt of his cruel words all of these years, maybe he has lived with nagging regret for the way he treated you and others.

    I don’t recall that I ever said anything that mean, but I was a stupid kid, as most of us were stupid kids. I live with what I said and did to others and with what others said and did to me, and because of that, as cliche as it might sound, the Golden Rule has become my sole principle for my interactions and relationships. I believe that the Golden Rule is the only religion that the world needs, the only religion that we all should practice (and boy does this poor little world need it now more than ever).

    Yeah, there’s no better lesson than being treated like shit. It’ll turn one into either a heartless bastard or an infinitely compassionate soul.

    1. I assure you, I have been cruel and careless with people’s feelings so I’m not an innocent party in this life.

      I’m thankful I’ve come to understand just how horrible a human I have been in the past. I’ll be working for the rest of my life to rectify that.

      This particular exchange staying with me is kind of a surprise to even me. I’ve heard FAR worse things uttered in my direction that I don’t give a second thought to. It probably had a lot to do with timing.

  5. As a former junior high school teacher of 30+ years I’m painfully aware of defining moments kids have that aren’t always positive ones. How many times I saw or heard things happen that I wished I could have erased for the kids who were bitten by caustic remarks, or worse sometimes, abysmal silence.

    Then again, I had a crew cut, A’s on my report card, had all too pleasingly plump cheeks (to old ladies who liked to pinch them), and played the accordion in junior high in the early 70’s. Thank God that I grew up to be an old man who’s all too awesome looking on his scooter!

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