The Blue Dress

Blue Dress1

A few days ago one of my Facebook friends from  school in California posted a graduation photo from our 8th grade graduation in Fair Oaks. Everyone looked a bit glum (teenage angst?) which showed up even in the black and white photo. What I focused on immediately was the dreaded memory that I was the only one in the class that had a BLUE dress. All the rest were white and you couldn’t tell that from the photo. I was plunged back immediately into arguments with my mother about appropriate dress for public occasions. She was adamant that white was for weddings and of course first communions which as a staunchly Protestant family could not be countenanced. Also, I’d been given the new blue dress by my aunt, so i was outnumbered from the beginning. Add to that the fact that in the year and a half before that photo was taken I had experienced emigration from Scotland (which was not my choice) and attending 2 different junior high schools in Sacramento before we finally moved and settled in Fair Oaks.

I’ve dealt with this displacement trauma which I faced as a twelve year old (or at least I thought I had) and there it was staring me in the Facebook. I mean it was a nice blue dress and it was a black and white photo.

It shows that things that are so important to us are often hardly noticed by others and has taught me that I really have to chill out, move on and not dwell on uncomfortable memories.

In explaining all this to a friend and retelling the story, I decided on a way to let the past go, but not forget or regret the past. I bought a new blue dress. I chose it myself, it fits perfectly and allows me to celebrate the person I’ve become who can deal with a blue dress crisis and come out intact. It’s also a tribute to that young girl who knew how to keep the peace in the family until her own time came later. (well, mostly)

In my last blog I wrote about self-esteem. It is sometimes so difficult to believe in yourself when everyone else has another opinion, but believe in ourselves we must, supported by our own inner spirit.

Have I mentioned previously my passion for sailing and my goal during this physical recuperation is to go sailing again in some way? Well it’s out there as an intention, several steps (literally) from now. Meanwhile I was reminded of a quote I once came across which said anonymously:

“Rescuing our childhood from oblivion and facing the emotional pain

which has imprisoned our spontaneity and mental mobility

might be more frightening and need greater personal qualities than sailing a boat

through a storm.”

I’ll let you know.

Self Esteem

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.

(Fritz Perls, “Gestalt Therapy Verbatim”, 1969)

Self-esteem can only come from within, believing in yourself, your opinions and ideals, your own perception of the way forward.

Support from our higher consciousness always freely given when asked for, strengthens our self-esteem. We are forgiven our weaknesses and selfishness, allowing us to acknowledge our short-comings and learn from them and move on.

Self-esteem is so important to children and young people. It can so easily be damaged by parents, teachers, siblings and other voices of “convention” and “authority”. This damage can last a lifetime and it is crucial as adults that we recognise the damage and take steps to “believe in ourselves”, an actively reclaim our self-esteem through therapy, creativity, practising non-violent assertiveness, being clear about what we do or don’t like, what we want or don’t want and expressing it in a non-threatening or non-confrontational way.

In my own experience, I never trusted my own approaches to things or my own abilities and always assumed that “the other person” knew better.

It has taken many years to accept my strengths and accomplishments as being fuelled from within. Too often I have let people talk me out of “believing in myself”, from my parents onward.

Thank goodness at the age of 69 I can believe in my own wisdom and experience in relating to other people, trying to honour their right and need for self-esteem, including my children, grandchildren, other relatives and friends.

I still have to learn to accept that my self-esteem does not mean that I always understand and see how other people approach things. It’s an ongoing lesson.

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