Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tales of the 4th Grade- Fall From Grace

I was in 4th grade, Mrs. Chinigo's class. Every report card I had received up until that point read, to some extent, "Zen is too chatty and needs to focus on her work". I had black bangs and long hair with a fun and sassy smile.I was the one picked to be the girl's captain for the Dodge Ball team. I had lots of friends and was sailing through school in that blissful time of childhood when you live in the moment and learning is fun and chatting with your friends seems like the point of school. I had new brown leather horseback boots and I loved horses. I also loved chasing boys.
That day, in my boots, I walked in like Queen of the Class. A circle of classmates gathered around as we looked down at the honey colored leather and square tips. I told them, "Go ahead, step on my toe. It's steel tip." They did, and ohhed and ahhhed that it didn't hurt me. I was impenetrable. I was beaming.

At recess I made up that today was the day I was going to kiss Scott Pinckney. He was short, funny and had glasses and slightly curly hair. He was also one of the two fastest boys in my class. I didn't care though, I was going to kiss him or kick him in the shins.I gathered up my posses of girls and we streaked out of the school building like a swarm of bees. Scott ran for his life across the huge expanse of the Connecticut field. Soon he had made it to the pack of boys on the basket ball court, unspoken "boy territory" and my girlfriends and I decided to veer away. Another day. I would get him.

As we walked back into the classroom, panting from the exhilaration of being a playful nine year old, I heard the sing song-y voice of Michael Rich cry out, "Hey Zen, who's your boyfriend, Zen?"
Michael was the coolest boy in class and he leaned back on two legs of his chair, rocking and smiling with glee. The class burst out in laughter. The laughter circled around me, suffocating me. They were laughing at ME. All my friends. Everyone became a fuzzy blur and I hung my head to avoid seeing them. I glared at Michael, although he was even cuter than Scott, and slunk to my seat. I want to hide and cry and die. I had fallen from grace.

I didn't know it then, but in that moment I made up that having fun was a bad idea, that I couldn't trust people and that there was definitely something wrong with me.
From then on, my report cards read "Zen is a very conscientious student." Every year. I was serious, quite, and determined to be better than everyone to protect myself. I read endlessly because books were safer than people and I loved escaping into those imaginary worlds. I had a reading level of a 12th grader in 6th grade and I read a book in two days that my reading group was still reading two weeks later. The one sleep over party I had my friends had to hide my book in the freezer because they were so bored of me reading. People became mostly annoying. I became boring.
The one best friend I did have and the few close friends that I occasionally hung out with me never, ever, betrayed me or got me mad. There was just a line you didn't cross with me and they knew that. I became bitchy.

Of course I stopped chasing boys after that. I still liked them, but when I told the non-runner Brandon Macko that I liked him through the school mail system and got in trouble for writing XOXO and kiss marks on the letter...I found myself surrounded by the teacher, the aide, my father and the principal, looming over me, all telling me it was inappropriate.... and I made up I was BAD.

I created myself, (no one else did, they just said what they said and did what they did, what matters is what I say about myself) I made up my "real" self, the one underneath everything, the one I hide by being a good girl, a smart and hopefully interesting person who knows alot of information and trivia, by being leader, and doing big things, the self I hide is really boring, bitchy and bad...a bad friend...a bad sister... a bad wife... a bad leader...
Whatever it is, I will mess it up.

And then I wonder why I am never really satisfied with the results of whatever I produced...I have a string of coulda, woulda, shoulda's. Well because, obviously, I messed it up somehow. I either could have said something more witty or funny or I could have been less weird and bitchy or I should have done something more gracious to be a better something... friend, leader, mother etc.

I created myself. I see that now. It's all made up. I am still stewing, for the moment, of the impact of seeing this. If you have read this far, perhaps you relate. Perhaps there was a moment when you made up something about yourself and you are beginning to see it. Or maybe you don't see it. The point is, we get freedom in wondering about what we made up our SELF to be. Freedom. Because until we see that, we are simply reacting and living inside of a context that we made up. I made up being smart to survive being boring. I made up being a good girl to avoid being bad. I made up being "sweet" to avoid being bitchy. My context of myself in life was boring, bitchy and bad...I was even told as a fashion designer that I was "too nice". I was so afraid that people would see the real me that I even jeopardized my job...my friendships...everything. As a human beings we do this. We strive to survive.

Until we see what we really think about ourselves, and how we are compensating for that, we have no real freedom or satisfaction in life. Now we don't have to, most of us have great lives in reaction to what we made up about ourselves and are very successful. Heck, I wouldn't change anything, I love my life.
The point is, we can love ourselves more if we are aware of who we think we are. And after being aware of it, and getting to a place of no blame, no shame, no regret, just accepting ourselves and our lives and getting to a space of nothing...can we create.

It's a new day...I can create myself to be anything ...every moment. So can you.
I hope it's a day of freedom and creation!

Zen Honeycutt

Thanks again to Fred my coach and Shala my seminar leader for the contribution you are to my life.

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