Words are powerful things. My mom used to tell me, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
I thought sadly to myself, “Yeah. They only hurt your FEELINGS”. And somehow concluded that feelings didn’t matter. Or they weren’t supposed to.
So I began dismissing my feelings, ignoring them and certainly never admitted them to others.
I know I’m not alone in this. How do these kinds of things happen?
I was raised by a loving mom and dad who weren’t abusive, extremely self-controlled and highly intelligent people. Maybe too intelligent?
At the age of 3, I distinctly remember crying and the rest of my family standing all around laughing at whatever it was that made me cry. I guess the reason wasn’t important to them, but it just left me feeling that they didn’t care how I felt.
Another time I must have been whining about something. My dad flexed his biceps in an Arnold Schwarzenegger pose and said staunchly, “BE A MAN!”, as though somehow any kind of weakness was a sin — and certainly being a woman meant being less than a man.
The good news is, I got over it!
It took me years to rejoice in my femininity, to allow myself to be vulnerable, and to express my true feelings without thinking I had to be Spock-like.
My own kids were part of the cure. Seeing their innocent expressions of feeling made me realize that mine were valuable too. And beautiful to behold.
I’m never going back, either!
After 27 years in the Animation Industry, Ruth founded the non-profit EDU DESIGNS to create media for children’s character development. www.edudesigns.org