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Smilin' For Good

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Growing up, I was told that questionably wonderful (and terribly wrong) ditty: "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me." Yet, as a child, teen--even as an adult-- I braved many a torrent of insults, and I smiled--even laughed. I was not happy, but you sure couldn't tell by looking at my face!

Why is it that people think it's okay to be rude to others? To say hurtful things? Today, it's called "bullying" and rightly so.

I have had much time to reflect on the emotional damage caused by careless remarks, and I wonder why I didn't speak up initially and maybe thwart further attacks. I guess the words of the above ditty hold my answer. I held my tongue because "words can never hurt me." Maybe kids were trying to get a reaction, maybe they were trying to feel better about themselves by attacking me, maybe they were victims striking out at someone they saw as vulnerable. It doesn't really matter any more--damage done.

I smiled for years and, quite frankly, have been told on numerous occasions that I have a lovely smile. I'm glad. The tears I shed in the quiet of my room were never evidenced in the facade I presented to others. Friends, well, they really weren't privy to my inner pain either. I was one of those "jolly" fat people, the "jolly" an unspoken invitation to make fun of me--an invitation that was just there and, obviously, not easily passed on.

I've lived most of my life feeling unworthy because others saw fit to tease me and make rude remarks about my weight. Even through my education, my marriage, my job...I kept not feeling good enough about myself because I believed and internalized all of their remarks; I made their remarks my own. I believed they were right about me...I was so very wrong.

I'm sad that it took me so long to realize that their words weren't the whole truth. I'm sad that it took me a very long time to be who I am and to discover that I am not a number on my scales. Today I smile...and I smile because I want to. Funny, but it's apparently not as much fun to make fun of people who feel good about themselves. I'm not where I want to be, but I will get there...and I'll smile the whole way.
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