When I was in 7th or 8th grade, there were a of couple guy teachers who palled around together. They were the “cool” teachers, who thought they were hipsters who related to the kids, while teaching us a bunch of stuff I frankly can’t remember any longer. I can’t even rightly remember classes they taught. Social studies? Science. Who knows.
One day during lunch, in the cafeteria that was also our gymnasium and also where we held our school sock-hop awkward social soirees, one of the Cool Teachers walked by me as I was eating an apple and stopped and said in his very loud teacher voice, “LOOK at that HUGE BITE MARK in your apple! That’s a HUGE chomp!” And then, after all eyes at the cafeteria table were upon me and my huge-mouthed-bite-marked apple, he cackled at his cleverness and sauntered away.
Reader. Now sometimes – in the interest of storytelling – I’m known to possibly not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me Garth, or I may engage in a bit of fanciful hyperbole.
But listen to me now and hear me later: THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES.
*he may not have used the word “chomp.” Whatever. It was SOMETHING VERY SIMILAR. And it was forty damn years ago.
Now, two parts of this story are important. One, pointed out above. It was FORTY DAMN YEARS AGO.
Two. What kinda teacher makes a statement like that to a 7th-ish grade, impressionable, awkward, insecure, bad-teethed, freckled, be-speckled girl who thought she was fat and now her mouth is called into question?
An asshole, that’s who, Reader.
Or maybe just someone who wasn’t “woke” all them years ago, back in 1979 or 1980.
I mean, we thought we were cutting edge and hip with our Sony Walkmans blaring out My Sharona. But really, we didn’t have all sorts of technology to educate us to when our behavior was assholie.
Now, again with Point One. It was FORTY DAMN YEARS AGO.
And that still-awkward, less impressionable, fairly secure, still freckled, fixed-teethed, laser-corrected eyes, now actually fat girl? Still remembers that random comment and can’t help but notice her giant-mouthed bite marks into foods and it’s been taking up space in the back of her thoughts like, “Of course I’ll never be a dainty small girl, I take GIANT bites!” and, “Yes, I’m destined to always be a fat, big mouthed girl because I haveah HUGE mouth that EATS ALL THE FOOD in TWO CHOMPS!”
Literally those thoughts were always just back there in my brain.
Several years ago I went to a new dentist and he repeatedly mentioned it was hard to get to my teeth because I have a SMALL MOUTH!
And I laughed and said, “Yeah, well, tell Mr. Pooper* that!” Except I didn’t say that outloud, but I did think it.
*not his real name, but rhymes with, and so there, haha, I will mock YOU to my dozen fans, Mr. Pooper, like a 12-year old school kid.
Now, Reader. They say awareness is the first step to working through your bullshit. I think that’s the exact quote printed on a piece of whitewashed wood that you can buy at TJ Maxx Homegoods for $12.99 and hang on your wall.
So in my last eight months of really working on my mental happiness, I’ve made it my mission to finally release the power of those randomly thrown words and get over some dumbass comment made to 7th grade me by someone who sauntered off and never gave it another thought.
I started taking control of this comment by making it a point to take GIANT bites out of everything.
And then I’d look at whatever it was that I giantly bit into and would study that mark and congratulate myself on having such a big fucking mouth.
And after a few times practicing this exercise, the laughs started to follow.
And then after a little more time, I began to truly feel the absolute absurdity of this situation, that I had dragged that random comment around with me for ALL THE REST OF MY YEARS SO FAR.
And after a little more time, I started to take absolute GLEE in the size of my giant bite marks left behind in all the foods.
One day My Mister watched me open my mouth as wide as possible and cram every last crumb of a whole cupcake right into my cake hole.
He thought it was just another ladylike maneuver on my part.
He was unaware he was witnessing therapy in motion.
I share this story completely realizing that there are so many many truly awful things that happen to kids, and being laughed at by a “cool” teacher for the size of my chomp is certainly probably only a 7 out of 10 on the Awful Things Scale.
Yes, Reader. A solid 7. It’s my made up scale so you can’t dispute me and win.
But in all serious-ish ness, I have been doing some thinking into how randomly tossed comments – even those made by me, I have no doubt – can really latch into someone’s insecurities and take hold and spend years in their brains doing damage that the random comment tosser has no idea that it even hit the mark, let alone landed and took up residence.
I absolutely don’t have any good advice here. If you’ve made it through any years in life interacting with people, there’s probably a 100% chance you’ve tossed someone a comment that still bugs the fuck out of them, and there’s also probably a 100% chance that some bullshit comment is stuck in your head from someone else.
I guess at the end of the day, it’s Peoples fault that we can’t just always say the nicest things to each other. I have no problem whatsoever and every single day telling DJ how he’s the best and cutest and softest cat in the entire world. And he TOOK A SHIT ON ME and still doesn’t get a harsh word in his direction. There has GOT to be a lesson in here, somewhere.
If you find the lesson, let me know.
If someone has made a random comment that now floats in your insecurities, maybe spend a moment thinking about and making up your own therapy to congratulate yourself for being that way in the first place. If it doesn’t work, try cramming an entire cupcake in your mouth just for fun.
Really, every single day, we alone are responsible for the thoughts we allow ourselves to dwell upon. Why let someone else tell you what to believe about yourself?
I’ll tell you why. Because it’s hard not to, after the words have left the mouth and hang out there in the air and swoop into your ears, which directly funnel into your brain.
Except you can retrain your brain not to believe the lies you’ve been told about yourself. If YOU don’t think you’re awesome, why would anyone else?
For me, I’m going to take large chomps out of everything until I’m damn good and ready not to, which may be never, and keep trying to work on being more thoughtful with my own words. I know My Mister will appreciate this effort because in full disclosure, I’ve said some rather shitty words to him over the years, lashing out at him I’m sure due to my own dissatisfaction with those seasons of my life.
It’s taken a hundred years* to learn that he is who he is. Just as I am who I am. He can’t change me as much as I can’t change him.
*no hyperbole here in this blog, no sirree.
As an aside, I JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE with My Mister and the conversation went down with him trying to tell me what to do, my telling him to stop bossing me, and then my telling him I’m just now writing a blog talking about how I’m trying to use nicer words towards him so DON’T MAKE IT FUCKING HARD FOR ME TO BE NICE TO YOU.
So I think the lesson here that I couldn’t see before, Reader, is to #1/ take responsibility for yourself to not act like an asshole, and #2/ because it makes it harder for people to speak to you the way they speak love words to their pets and finally, #3/ cram as much in your mouth at a time as you want. I’m not here to judge you. Mostly.
There’s probably a point #4 here along the lines of you’re responsible for what you think of you, do some homework to change the negative talks in your brain, figure out a way to release the power someone’s random comment has over you, blah blah. If you’re the asshole commenter, try not to be. If you are the commentee, positive talk yourself until that’s the track on repeat in your mind. Something like that. Take from this what suits you. Or nothing at all. I’m not here to boss you. At least not right now.