Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

Carmon tagged me to write about six things I'm proud of and I have to say this is one of the most difficult things I've ever written! This took an enormous amount of soul searching this weekend.

I think the reason this is so difficult is the constant criticism I've dealt with my whole life. And when I ran away from home at 23 to start a new life here, I picked up my mother's charge and carried it quite well. I am my own worst critic now and there are days (months?) I find it simply impossible to hear a positive voice in my own head.

That being said, I set my own self-prejudice aside. Here goes:

1) I'll start with the easy ones. That I have my own business. It is very bittersweet to write this as, I am looking for a job. But I have been on my own since November 2001. And I hope somehow to keep things going while I work elsewhere.

2) I am a damn good dog mommy. My dogs all come from rescue and then I bring them home and spoil them rotten. Lots of petting, dog beds in every room, long walks, and good food (including nibbles from my plate). And knowing that I saved them from death row makes it even more special.

3) Vanity has never been a strong suit of mine. Every time I think I'm all that, I fall on my face...literally! And it doesn't help that I've had really pretty friends my whole life. Talk about a red-headed, freckled faced step-child... that was me. I have hated my looks my whole life and can run down a list of "wrong" things but this is about pride.

I have mighty fine hair! Yes, I've finally stopped hating it for being red and realized that these curls of mine really are something people pay a fortune for. My hair can enter a room and make a fine impression long before I do! Never mind that most days, it's up in a bun to keep me cool or stay out of the torch. When I need my hair to work for me... it does. And it's only taken me forty years to admit that.

4) If you ask my friends about me, they will tell you that I am the most honest and loyal person they know. That I am non-judgmental and have the memory of an elephant comes up as well. (Several of my friends refer to me as their personal hard drive!) Those are all nice things and I'm proud they think of me that way.

5) Getting harder here... I have a "Get 'er done" kind of attitude. Surprisingly, in spite of all that criticism I spoke of, one of my best memories of childhood was crawling in bed with my mom. She would take me in her arms and whisper in my ear, "Holly, you can do anything you want to as long as you have love in your heart."

It was years later when an astrologer friend read my chart for me. (I sort of thought of this as poppycock but hey, I support my friends.) She said to me, "You have a tremendous amount of love to give. have an almost foolish belief in yourself. You actually believe you can do anything." That was in my astrological chart? I guess I must have believed my mom.

But that attitude has served me so well in my various careers. Anticipating the next move, not taking "no" for an answer and dealing with anything and everything are skills that have come in so handy. And... realizing that not taking "no" for an answer doesn't mean I have to get my way. It means helping someone realize something can work for both of us.

6)Super hard to write about this one. It was 15 years ago that I stopped calling myself a word I had heard whispered about me my whole life: Bastard. This may seem like no big deal in age of baby mommas testing 30 different potential baby daddies to see who the father is on national television, but when I came of age, it was a shameful thing. And it's terribly hard to let go of life-long shame.

I didn't let go of this word easily but it happened suddenly. The occaision was my mother's 70th. I had invited one of my favorite cousins from Gonzales, LA. As more than 70 people filled my sister's house, I barely realize my cousin had not arrived. When she finally walked in, she was followed by her mom. After greeting Mom, my cousin came over to hug me.

As she approached she said, "Mom told me all about your dad in the car on the way up here."

I froze with shame as she embraced me. What would this person I so adored think of me now... Now that she knew?

My cousin gives the best hugs. She is one of my top two favorite people to hug in the world. You know you've been hugged by someone who loves you after she embraces you.

And as she hugged me, I know she felt my shame. She pushed me back from her and looked at my face, my eyes full of tears. I could barely whisper the words, "I'm a bastard."

With that, she pulled me into her again. "Holly, I don't ever want to hear you say that word again. I heard your parents love story. They loved each other. They loved each other for years before you came along.You are a love child.

And that's all it took to let it go. There's plenty of other crap I need to let go of but that was the first and the biggest. And it put a little pride in my backbone to stand up straight and say, "I'm a love child."


Now I'm supposed to tag three and I don't have three. I'll tag Becky and Patrick.


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Anonymous said...

oh, wow! You really have a good list, after all the moaning and groaning that you couldn't think of anything, I was kind of afraid to read it, but this blew me away!

I was just saying to Mom the other day that when I was little, I got teased about having red hair all the time at school, to the point where I started being ashamed of it, and then I had a teacher who had red hair, a more unfortunate shade than mine, I thought-bright orange. She made me realize that having red hair wasn't so bad if you had red hair and could still be a teacher. (remember, this was back when teachers were next to God in our minds.)

and hey, being a love child is something to brag about nowadays! ;-) No more B-word now, not even to yourself, you hear?

Anonymous said...

Wow Holly...that was so very heartfelt. Thank you so much for being willing to share your deepest feelings. Carmon

Linda@VS said...

Holly, this is powerful! Thanks so much for trusting us with feelings that are so close to your heart.

You know, you told me about your parents when you visited here last year. I can understand how stressful this might have been for you as a child, keeping a secret and not understanding the finer points of it, but it's obvious that you had a very close relationship with your father and that he and your mother stayed together for a very long time. Given the circumstances, it couldn't have been easy for any of you. Ever since you told me, I've thought about how hard it must have been for your mother to love a man like that and not be able to tell the world about it. I definitely think "love child" is the correct terminology, and I understand why hearing that made you feel proud.

The other things on your list are pretty special, too.

You go, girl!

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Janet, Red hair is the reason I adored Lucille Ball and would you believe, she was one of the first celebrities I met my first week in Hollywood! She is one of only a handful that left me speechless to meet.

Carmon, This was bugger to write. Thanks for the challenge an the support.

Velvet, As always, your kind words mean so much. I really enjoyed your list and thanks so much for your support!