Monday, October 10, 2016
So that's what that was
As you get older, you never really stop learning especially if you're an analytical person like I am. I am constantly wanting to know how things work or how X connects to Y to give you Z. I just like to be armed with knowledge even if I never do anything with it. HA!
Last month I was watching some obstacle on American Ninja Warrior I think and it involved a cargo net. I instantly remembered this horrible memory from when I was a kid. I was at some amusement park with my parents (so it would've had to be when I was 6 or 7) and I wanted to climb up this series of slanted cargo nets to the second level like all of the other kids were doing. They all made it look easy so why wouldn't it be easy for me? My mom said she'd be up on the second floor waiting for me. I climbed up the first slanted cargo net without issue to the flat "landing" cargo net before you had to climb up the next slanted cargo net to another landing and roll down climb down slightly to the 2nd floor where your parents gave you kudos.
Well, when I got to the landing and was about 3 rungs up on the next net, my foot slipped through and I basically went crotch deep into the net with one leg dangling through and the other one about an inch from doing the same thing. I panicked. I mean...panicked. I wanted to go back down since I wasn't terribly far up but so many kids, younger than me even, were zooming by me and I couldn't look like a loser. Because I was so low, my mom couldn't see me. (Where the hell an attendant was at this point is beyond me) It was just me and the occasional or pity glance from other kids as they tore past me. I was somehow able to finagle and lift myself back up so I could continue climbing but at this point the shaking had begun. I don't mean a cute little quiver, I mean full on epileptic type shaking. When I stood up, my mom finally got sight of me and was relieved because she thought I lost my nerve and went back down to the first floor and didn't see me there either. She encouraged me to climb and I couldn't. I was frozen. I couldn't even cry, I just stood there shaking, terrified to move because I was afraid my leg was going to slip again and go through the net. I felt utterly trapped and had no control. I could hear her yelling for me to hurry up and was trying to be supportive but in that tone that was kind of like "hurry it up kid" too. (You just know that tone from your parents.)
I didn't know it then but realize now that was my first full on panic attack. The kind that is paralyzing and physically affects you. My dad arrived to stand with her and he's a little less patient because I think we were late meeting up and he was just like "come on! One foot at a time." The last thing I needed was him putting additional pressure on me. I guess they talked about who was going to draw the short straw and come out to get me. Mom said no way in hell was she going out there and he said he wasn't rescuing me, I needed to figure it out myself. (That's what 80's parents did...God bless 'em for it too.) I did keep putting one foot in front of the other and what seemed like hours later, I finally got to them...a weepy, shaking mess. They hugged me and kind of laughed at how pathetic I looked out there but that they were proud of me.
That got me wondering if there were other times I may have had panic attacks as a kid but didn't know that's what they were. I remember in 2nd grade, I was in baton and tap and at the end of tap class, there was a performance. I never performed. I couldn't do it. Mom desperately wanted to her see her baby up there in the same outfit as the other girls so she could brag on me. (Yes, because being the fattest kid in a sequined tube top sounds like heaven.) But I would get physically sick when she'd bring up whether or not I was going to be in the show or not because there was a deadline to order costumes. I made it pretty clear if she ordered it, I wouldn't be wearing it. I remember going to the performance because it was part of a fair so there would be the whole town showing up for it. We kind of stood there in silence because I knew she was disappointed and I felt like I let her down because I was a wuss. When some of the girls left the stage, they spotted me and waved. I smiled and waved back and mom whispered "that could've been you." She didn't mean it in a mean way but in that way when you get in trouble as a kid and you ask if they're mad at you and they give you the ol "I'm not mad...I'm disappointed." As every kid with a conscience knows, there's nothing worse than disappointing your parents. I knew then that if I was ever involved in anything, I was never going to tell her if there was a performance involved. Matter of fact, it made me not want to be involved in much of anything.
When I was in 5th grade, I was in choir and I wasn't good. I was put in one of those background roles and didn't really mind, it was just nice to be a part of it. There were two performances for Christmas, one for the school and one for family at night. I never told her about it. I started off the performance in front of the school and I got so hot and overwhelmed, I could feel myself getting ready to pass out and/or vomit. Thankfully this girl Angela beat me to it...all over the back of the girl in front of her. I took the opportunity in the hub bub to hop off the top riser and hide in the bathroom the rest of the performance until the bell rung and blended back into the crowd. Mrs M. found me and asked where I disappeared to. I told her I was a sympathy puker and spent the rest of the time in the bathroom so I probably wouldn't make it to the show because I felt sick.
Mom was pretty excited for me to start high school because it was her opportunity to see what a joiner I'd be so she could cheer me on. At the time, I had a crush on tennis star, Boris Becker and was buying tennis magazines to drool over him. This somehow translated to mom that I would play tennis despite never having played ever except hitting my aunt's tennis balls over her fence with her old tennis racket. Yeah...I'm Serena in the making baby...not. She made it clear I was not going to sit on my ass all through high school. Oh, you'd like a battle of wills would you? I'm half my father's daughter...bring it. She actually called the tennis coach and told her I was joining the team!! Our first match was in 5 days. FIVE DAYS people!! So I got a message that practice was at 3pm right after school and since mom hadn't heard the message...delete. Didn't go. The next day, another message. Delete. Mom would ask how practice went and I'd say good like an idiot. The day before the first match, the coach called mom at work I think and said she'd left messages and I'd never showed up. When confronted, I told her there was no way I was doing that because I didn't know anyone on the team and further more I couldn't tell you what the rules are or how the scoring works. If she thought I was going out to make a fool out of myself for something she tried to throw me into, she was nuts. I think I got grounded for lying. LOL
I'd talked about doing dance team like once when I was 8 and she'd been biding her time to throw me into it. She said I needed to try out for dance squad. Um, look, I know you want to live vicariously through me since I came along and screwed up your final years of high school but ain't happenin'. I begrudgingly did audition with my friend though and I was invited back. My friend wasn't and seeing who they invited back along with who was already on the squad would be me spending all football season with 22 bitches I had a deep disdain for...hence the usage of the word bitches. I didn't go back and just told her I didn't get picked and they stuck with a clique of girls which wasn't really a lie. (That fact I couldn't get picked because I wasn't there is irrelevant! HA!) But seriously, the thought of spending every Friday performing and then 6 days a week practicing with people I used to be friends with until they turned snooty sent my guts into havoc. I was at the point where I put on a very tough exterior then but inside was still that shaky, pathetic girl on the cargo net.
I was a joiner on some level though because I spent my teen years chasing and befriending hair bands. No, mom wasn't there to cheer me on but she did love to see how excited I was, look through all of my pictures and hear stories. It wasn't much but she'd settle for it since I made it pretty clear she could attempt to sign me up for things but unless she was going to hog tie me and throw me onto a tennis court with a remote controlled scooter...I wasn't going to be what she'd hoped in that regard.
It took me being a middle aged woman to look back on those times and realize that all of the stomach aches, head aches and shaking episodes were anxiety and it goes way back! It also makes me wish someone would've noticed but we didn't have the same awareness about anxiety issues like we do now. It was always the mentality of "suck it up" and I always wondered why I couldn't or why I was so damned sensitive all the time. When you grow up in a generation that doesn't have the same understanding that we have now, it can be easy to ignore because no one wants to admit your kid might need some coping skills. I'm not saying I was some shrinking violet, I wasn't but there are times that instances were about more than being a chicken sh*t or being in a goth phase because you're listening to The Cure more often than normal.
So bless the parents who had the answers in front of them but didn't know how to read their kids to know that social issues with them were a little more than met the eye. To those parents now who have more knowledge and more accessibility to finding out why little Emma always seems to get headaches or tummy aches before social situations or why Tommy has bathroom issues or isolates himself after being forced to spend time with certain kids, ask questions. Find out if it's more than just an adjustment period and don't sweep it under the rug like "they'll grow out of it." If you give kids the proper tools they need to cope as kids, they'll end up being much more successful and less stressed adults.
Did you ever realize something big about your personality or habits as a kid when you were much older? What role, if any, did your parents play in helping or hindering you based on their knowledge at the time?
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Labels: Deep Thoughts