Perception

In my novel, Pop, I describe being extrememly shy and feeling invisible. The more invisible I seemed, the more comfortable I was. My sister-in-law shared with me last night her perception of me as a little girl. We rode the same bus for a short while. She described how I would tiptoe onto the bus quietly, furtively glance around for an open seat and perch lightly on the very edge of the seat to silently wait arrival at school. When she shared this, I remembered how terrified I was of getting on that bus. Other kids and people in general scared me. I was frightened much of my childhood, but thought I did a good job of hiding it. Apparently not. It is ironic that I carried my fear with me every day and put up that brick wall to protect myself. Yet, at the same time, I considered myself to the bravest person (excluding Pop) at home. Several times, during sad or terrifying episodes during the years, Mom and my sister would have a meltdown and be sobbing. I remember standing as stoic as I could, forcing the tears to remain hidden. I believed I had to be strong, because they weren’t. Sometimes Mom would tell me that I needed to cry, but I refused. They needed someone to be strong, and if it wasn’t me, who else would do it? I considered myself Strong to a fault. I tried to present myself as tough and unmoved, while inside I was shanking in terror. Remarkably, as shy and scared as I was, I believed everyone else just saw how tough and strong I was. I cried in the rain or in the shower, where I believed no one would see the tears intermingling with the water on my face. By the time I entered the sixth grade, I was tougher. Although, still shy, with siblings and friends, I would not allow myself to be used or mistreated. Pent up frustration and abuse would appear instantly. We had two step sisters that would shrink in horror when my sister and I fought. It wasn’t a girl fight with hair pulling and scratching. It was an all out fist fight only over when one or both were bleeding. Perhaps it was a fight or flight thing. We had run for so long and always were found by Pop. One of my step sisters I believe still thinks my sister and I were horrible as kids. Maybe we were in others eyes. In our own eyes, we were tough and we were determined to survive. Anyway, it has really got me thinking about how others perceived me. Shy, tough, stubborn, thoughtful? I guess it is all in how each individual person perceives you.

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