Monday, August 17, 2009

Memories of Me Monday

If you saw yesterdays brief post you know that the memory jogger for today is: "What is your personal secret for happiness?"

Interesting question because one of my goals as an adult has been to be happy, purposely, by enjoying and treating each moment as precious, no matter how ordinary.

As a child, naturally, I didn't do that. At that time in my life, with so much of my life ahead of me, my happiness came from anticipation. I looked forward to 1st grade so I could play on the "big kid's playground" and not in the "baby yard," I anticipated the fun of Christmas, birthdays, and family vacations, I couldn't wait to be 12 and go to junior high school, 16 couldn't come soon enough because then I could date. Looking forward to these Big Events was exciting, and it seemed there was always a milestone ahead to look forward to.

I do remember, though, having a little trick -- and I suppose you could call it a secret -- that I used to help me through sad or scary times, but it still drew upon the concept of anticipation.

Although I loved school, there were a few things at school that were decidedly NOT fun for me; in fact, they were traumatic. Giving an oral report, for example, or doing a math problem on the board, reading aloud in front of my class, even my turn for Sharing Time in the early grades was an occasion for heart-pounding fear.

As I mentioned last week, I was very shy as a child. I much preferred sitting quietly in my seat to doing anything -- and I mean, anything -- that would cause my classmates to focus their attention on me. I can well remember that dry-mouthed fear, clammy hands, and fluttering stomach, when it was time for me to perform.

I also clearly remember that, once I was on my feet and had begun to speak, thoughts of home would float through my head and help calm me. The rational part of my brain would send me images of the front door of my house opening to welcome me. Inside my mom would be in the kitchen baking bread or cookies and the smell would fill the house. Through the kitchen window I'd be able to see our clothesline with a double row of snow-white cloth diapers snapping in the breeze.

In reality I was still in front of the class with knocking knees and trembling hands clutching my book report carefully printed in pencil but, as I paused to lick my lips and try to get a deep breath, I'd think to myself, soon this will be over and I can go Home.

I got through a lot of scary situations this way, by looking past it to the refuge of home. I saw my home as a sanctuary and, truly, it was the one place where I was completely protected, loved unconditionally, and accepted for just who I was. I wasn't shy around my family, I felt important, and I was surrounded by the people and things I loved best.

A lot of the things that frightened me as a child, still do. I still don't like speaking in public or being the center of attention. I much prefer to be in the audience than on the stage. But when it's necessary for me to do something that scares me I still use that same trick -- I cast my mind ahead and imagine myself at home, perhaps curled on the couch with a book and a cat, and I still feel that little lifting of my spirits as I think to myself, this will soon be over and i can go home.


Anonymous said...

Debbie, That was beautiful. On a day when I am a little down, your story really gave me a lift and made me think I wasn't such a bad mother after all. Thanks for the beautiful words, and for sharing your memories with me. I love you. Mom

Bonnie said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my Benicia post, Deborah! Love that sweet little place. Any recommendations for some other good restaurants in the town for lunch?

Your post on remembering your childhood seems like a great idea. I have a hard time remembering mine but the little jar with the prompts would help a lot! Great idea, thinks!

Judy said...

I enjoyed this, Debbie! I also felt safe and loved in my home -- and for that matter, I felt safe and loved in YOUR home too! (Remember sitting in front of your parent's stereo listening in wonder to Ringo walk across the stage? Or was that John ... hmmm). I didn't know you used that feeling to get you through difficult situations. What a great idea.