I’m forgettable

It’s a core wound I’ve carried with me since very early in my life, and I only just discovered it.

Sometimes big trauma comes in small packages.

I was in Grade 5, 10 years old. Excitement filled the air. I was proudly wearing my Brownies dress in the gymnasium at school with all the other Brownies who were old enough to get their wings and ‘fly up’ to become Girl Guides. We sat huddled on the floor in the middle of the gym, while our parents sat in rows of chairs near the back wall, just in front of the wall panels of wooden rungs and the retracted basket ball net. Sweet anticipation, celebratory rite of passage as we grow just a little taller and a little closer to womanhood.

One by one our supervisor called us up, shook our hand, gifted us our wings. One by one, each girl smiled big, walked up to the supervisor, received the wings, the accolades and the moment of glory, shook hands, then sat down again, a new young lady in her place.

So eager to grow up, I could barely contain myself, waiting patiently for my turn. Rita, Nicole, Jenny, Jennifer, Shannon, Kelly…name after name, smile after smile, applause after applause. And then it happened.

“Well thank you so Brownie Wingsmuch everyone for coming to this event, we’re going to wrap up now” beamed the supervisor. A small part of me died inside in that moment. My name was never called. I walked up to the supervisor as she continued to address the parents. I tugged on her sleeve. “You forgot me” I quietly choked on the words.

“My goodness, of course! I’m so sorry” she exclaimed. Unintentional and innocent, I know she felt terrible about the slip, I know she meant no harm. Yet the damage was done. They gave me my wings and shook my hand and the parents applauded. And it felt unceremonious, disingenuous, and unimportant.

Tears flow freely down my cheeks as I write this. This was about the time that I shifted from being someone who delights in the details, taking her time, appreciating every moment. This was the time I started pursuing straight A grades, achieving, perfecting, rushing. I started creating my avator, the ‘outgoing, smart, good-at-everything, caring, worthy’ girl.

My whole adult life I thought that the core wound I was chasing was “not good enough”. I felt like I had to stand out and excel in order to be ‘good enough’. What I realized last week was that it was never about being good enough. It was about my very existence. I just want people to know I exist. That I take up space in the world, and that I am here. Come the tears again. I just want to be included, seen, recognized, known. Remembered.

I have a core belief, “I’m forgettable”. This belief has created who I am today and how I perceive the world. It is suddenly so clear. Hello, core belief.