Monday, December 08, 2008


I was recently presented by Wendy with this "honest scrap" award.  The original idea was to list 10 honest things about yourself.  I knew, however, that I'd be writing an essay instead.  Coming up with a topic took a while, but thanks to a Facebook chat I had with my schoolmate Tim and to some brainstorming in the shower, I am ready to write.

My dad left home when I was almost 7.  (Just about exactly the same age as #4 this month.)  The divorce was final when I was in 6th grade.  It was long and drawn out.  Absence of closure is not a helpful thing for someone who tends to brood over everything to begin with.  Throughout that time, adults (including my parents, or at least my dad) always seemed to comment on how well I was handling the divorce.  That was absolutely false.  But an overwhelming desire to be very grown-up kept me from correcting any one.

To be honest, I was sad.  I had been a bit of a daddy's girl, and to have him gone every night was not easy.  I felt disillusioned.  Divorce had been a fear of mine a year or two before, and one night I'd asked my parents if I would have a say in a decision like that.  They had said yes, and I felt safe, because I knew my vote.  Anger over that "lie" lasted well into my teens.  More anger was directed toward my dad for leaving at all, for then quickly leaving the church, and for frequent miscommunication.  Even more anger was directed toward his new mate for her existence and for being so hard to hate.

I felt embarrassed.  Maybe not quite at first, but by 3rd or 4th grade, I was embarrassed to have a single mom, poor, living in an apartment.  By middle school I was also continually embarrassed by our very old cars.  That is, until I could drive the old cars.  Lots of kids drove old cars.  I was embarrassed to have very generic clothing.  Ironically,  now that I can generally shop wherever I'd like, most of what I own comes from Target.  My kids aren't even embarrassed.

All of this fed what I believe to be a natural inclination toward insecurity.  I felt like I had something to prove.  I had to prove to my friends that I was friend-worthy.  I had to prove to my cousins that I was family-worthy.  I had to prove to myself that I was better than my surroundings.

This is not a good state to be in.  Especially when a little kid decides that the best way to prove all of this is to tell everyone how great she is and show off.  That is actually a fantastic way to lose friends and make your cousins think you're obnoxious.  Losing friends and having family not like you is a great way to think you have something more to prove.  It was, tritely put, a vicious circle.

Gradually through middle school and by high school, I found that the best thing to do was to keep my mouth shut (not only about how great I was but about most things) and hope for friends to find me.  And some did.  I decided that it did not matter, really, what anyone thought.  But if I'm really being honest here, it did matter.  I'm still not sure how to make it not matter.  I acted back then in ways I am ashamed of to fit in and get just a tiny bit of attention with out the bragging.

Being honest, I still continue under the assumption that most people probably won't like me.  Or like me enough to be my friend.  I have a hard time putting myself on the line enough to reach out.  I am always grateful for the friend here and there who reaches my direction, and then once I feel certain the rejection is not, in fact, eminent, I can finally open up.  I am fully aware that this is a selfish way of thinking and behaving.

That has been the seductive aspect of blogging.  Being in a brand new place, I have found it relatively easy to hop over to some one's blog, click "follow" and leave a comment. At least once I figured out that that action would not come off as presumptuous and bothersome. And you know what?  A few kind folks have clicked "follow" on my site.  They even return, some of them, to see what I have to say.  This is the best my social life has been since kindergarten. To be honest, it's some of the best that I have felt about myself.

For more introspection, though hopefully less depressing, click here, here, and here.  Otherwise stay tuned for my upcoming fluffy 12 days of Christmas posts, Dec 10-21.

19 fishy comments:

Tink said...

That was really insightful. I can't imagine being a child of divorce, although I am married to a man who was married previously and so I have 3 stepchildren. I know my husbands kids have been through a LOT and so I can feel for you and your pain and suffering. I've loved getting to know you and I think you are AWESOME! You have a sweet-sweet family and the blessing is, you can make it right with your own! Have an awesome day and I'm looking forward to your 12 days of Christmas posts!

Jillene said...

Oh Mina!! I adore you!! This was such a GREAT post!! I am glad that I follow your blog and that we have become friends--I DO consider you my friend!!

CaJoh said...

I feel your pain, but only half way. I was not a child of divorce, but I always felt that people never wanted to be my friend.

I have a previous post that you may find useful:
The Three Imps.

You do not have to be impressive to get friends, just be yourself— the good ones will sort themselves out over time.

Kristina P. said...

My parents divorced when I was 18. I'm the oldest of 4 kids. But it was my mom who left. I had to really step up and take on a parenting role. My mom and I have a basically non-existent relationship because of this. She also left the church around this time.

I thought that I had dealt with those issues, until I became engaged, and wouldn't you know, freak out time! Adam's parents are also divorced, so we work really hard at not letting ourselves get there.

Thanks for sharing.

Erin said...

Insecurity sucks! Unfortunately, it sounds like you and I have more than our fair share of it. I am continually freaking out about what I write on my blog for fear of people judging me. I even spent an hour yesterday crying to my husband about it.

Thanks for writing this post. It explains how I feel too.

rachel said...

Best "honest" post I've ever read. You are a beautiful writer and though my experience was not the same as yours, I recognized enough about how you felt (feel) to feel a whole kindred spirit (thanks Anne of Green Gables) going on. I consider you my friend and I totally agree with you about blogging. You rock!!

Melanie J said...

If I could click "follow" twice, I would. I love your comments. And while my insecurity stemmed from a different place, I totally relate to how you dealt with it. Deal with it, still. I wish it could go away but I guess I'll settle for it getting a little bit better with age. I should be fine by the time I'm 200 years old.

The Boob Nazi said...

That was great, thank you.

Lara said...

I haven't been to your blog before, but had to come check it out after reading clan of the cave hair today.

I loved what you have to say. And I honestly, really and truly believe that we ALL have those insecurities, whatever the reasons. Or at least most of us. I know I certainly do. I could relate to the things you said, even though my reasons for having those feelings are different than yours. Thanks so much for sharing!

And now I will click follow...because I like what I read.

Diane said...

I didn't have many of the same experiences as you did growing up, but I share a lot of the same insecurities. I feel like I have a lot of friendly acquaintences, but not a lot of real, deep, bosom friends. I know it is my own fault. I am an introvert, who is mostly content to do my own thing. If I hear about others having fun without me, I may feel a little left out, but it is only because I feel like I am being left behind. It may not even be something I wanted to do in the first place.

To answer your question on my blog. The only other German tradition we do is the advent wreath. President Uchtdorf talked about it last night during the Christmas message. We light a candle for four Sundays before Christmas. My wreath isn't very authentic, but I can't find one here where I live.

Heatherlyn Colt said...

Wow. What a great entry, for it's honesty. That is so fantastic. I can relate to a lot of what you have to say. My parents didn't go through a divorce, but I think that insecurity can develop for any number of reasons. And I too usually have waited for people to reach out to me. I don't know if it is a fear of rejection or rather just not wanting to bother people who I don't know if they want to be bothered, or even more likely, just not knowing what to say. As I look back on my life, I realize that I should have relaxed a lot more and just been more interested in the people around me and less self absorbed. I think I still struggle with that. This is why I love blogs too! I finally can see what people are doing and can care about what is going on in their life! Passing someone in a hall just doesn't get me far. It's not like I can have a real conversation. So I enjoy the blogs and I'm grateful that you are a "real" person. Not only that, but you seem to think a lot. That's nice. One other comment about your post (sorry, I tend toward prolixity) is the way you noted that what you put out was not what you feel. When I look back I see how clearly I did this as a kid and teenager, not necessarily intentionally, but how often I didn't say what I really was thinking about. I sure hope that my kids don't do this! Again, thanks for your post! We all go through life thinking that we are having such a unique experience and I'm always pleasantly surprised to learn how much we have in common with others in the way we feel.

Jenn said...

A part of me can really relate - not to divorce, so much, but to generally feeling insecure and like no one really likes me - and part of me is completely confused that gorgeous, confident, in-control, cooler-than-I'll-EVER-be Mina could feel that way. Perhaps we all do, on some level. Just know that I have ALWAYS thought you rocked (even if I was a smidge frightened the first couple of weeks I knew you, via your redhead "friend" and mine, You-Know-Who, LOL).

So said...

I love your honesty. Honesty is a big thing to be able to be honest with yourself and others. Big.

Thanks for the post.

Grammy Staffy said...

Dear Mina,
Oh my goodness. I felt like I was reading from my old journals when I read this post. My father left me and my mom when I was 7. That was in 1951 when I thought everyone lived the life of Ossie and Harriet. My life was thrown into a tail spin and so was my self esteem. My sweet mom was amazing and did the best she could but it was very hard not having a dad. I did not see my dad until I was in my teens. As years past I told my friends he was dead because I could not admit that he was just gone. Then he popped back into my life when I was 16. It was hard to explain a "dead" dad then.

But alas, my sweet mom finally got through to me that hating him only hurt me. I can now say, after many prayers I am not upset with him anymore. I feel sorry for all the things he gave up. One of the tender times in my life was when we did his temple work. I felt like I had a great burden lifted from my soul. I learned when you really can lay your burdens at your Saviour's feet, He really will carry them for you. It worked!!! Yeah!!

Have a great holiday season as we celebrate His birth.
((hugs)) Grammy Lura

Kelly said...

And I feel like I have known you for a very long time but never really knew that side of you. I guess I came into your life as you began to give up that side of you. And actually I can not even imagine you acting the way you said you did but I believe you. Like other comments, I think we all have insecurities, some of us don't even admit to them.

Thanks for the post. I learn more about you everytime I read your blog. And I think that is great since we have been friends for a very, very long time.

Wendyburd1 said...

Mina this was so good, you filled the honest qoutient way over 10 things! I feel the same ways, insecurity wise, and have also found better friends HERE than anywhere else since I was really young! I consider you a friend and can;t wait to read Christmas fluff!! :)

Erin said...

P.S. I have decided I like you even more after you wrote your comment about your throw up bowl on my blog. Why can't we live close so we could hang out?!?

Colleen said...

Mina--you amaze me! How I relate to you and how I would love to compare halloween costumes! Actually I could use more I won't think I do everything wrong!

Sher said...

Mina- I know I was supposed to go back to Septmeber, but this one caught my eye. I can't imagine what it was like to go through that. My boyfriend in high school broke up with me right after he found out that his dad had moved out and his parents had gotten divorved secretly without telling the kids. He would come over for dinner just for the facade, then after the kids went to bed, he would leave.
I'm ashamed to say that I wasn't much support to my friend, and had no clue as to how much he had to have been hurting.
I just want to say I'm glad to have gotten to know you through blogging, I think you are a wonderful person, and hopefully someday we can be friends in person, too!

ps.. Word Verf: unityp. Drop the p, Unity!