Elementary School was a challenge for me. Unlike most of my classmates, my family moved often. I was not taught how to establish long-term relationships and conflict resolution. This never became more apparent than in my seventh grade year.
That year two new girls joined our class. Both were named Carol. For the first time I was not the new kid.
The two Carols could not have been more different and alike. Carol S. was tall, already developing physically, had a gorgeous head of long thick silky dark brown hair and beautiful puppy dog brown eyes. When she smiled dimples formed. She was instantly inducted into “The Group.”
Carol C. was shorter, skinny and lanky, wore horn-rimmed glasses and battled an unruly crown of wavy brown hair. She was also born on my birthday. For some reason I took this as a personal affront. The only redemption was the fact she was born a few hours earlier securing my place as the youngest person in the seventh grade. Something I prized!
Both Carols were extremely self-confident. Carol S. although an instant member of “The Group,” never snubbed anyone, which endeared her all the more. Carol C. wonderfully generous and extremely funny; was the consequential definition of an awkward geek, but she did not seem to notice.
Initially I befriend both. I seriously doubt if my motivation to pursue a friendship with Carol S. was pure. After all, if I was friends with Carol S., I would be accepted by “The Group.”
I still remember the day I was put in my place by Cheryl…another member of “The Group.”
Cheryl had barely maintained her status with “The Group.” She saw any intrusion into “Group” territory as a threat. She might be replaced!
“Who do you think you are?” Cheryl asked that day, “Think you can be nice to Carol and become a part of us?”
She cut in front of me, defining the demarcation line. The Group closed ranks insuring their purification and validating her comment. Carol S. however continued to be kind.
I was so humiliated. I also felt exposed. Had I been that obvious?
I decided to “lower” myself and return to the “Ranks of the Rejects.” Funny, my attitude toward the “rejects” was the same as those who had rejected me; but I did not see it.
Hypocrisy can really distort your view.
Carol C. was the first to restore me to the “Ranks of the Rejects.” She had always accepted who she was and was free to accept everyone else. I should have been paying attention.
Carol C.’s family were not believers, they were scientists. Their world was facts, reasoning and logic. They had no place for a superstitious faith in an invisible god.
Despite our obvious differences, Carol C. became a regular visitor in my home. She would spend weekends and attend church services. We often had “god” discussions. She even started going steady with one of the boys in my church. Soon we both had boyfriends and were an inseparable foursome.
Then I blew it. I had never spent the weekend with Carol C.’s family. At first I was excited at the invitation, but as Friday approached my feet developed a chill.
To this day I do not know why I was so afraid to go to her house. I just know I was. I felt embarrassed by my fears, so that afternoon, I lied to Carol C., told her I was sick and went home.
That night I felt awful. I knew I had lied. I knew what I did was wrong, but I did not know what to do. I was too embarrassed to admit to my fears. Admitting my hesitations seemed crueler. Who wants a friend who is too afraid to spend the night?
Monday I was cornered and chastised by several mutual friends for hurting Carol C. Already guilt ridden, instead of trusting the strength of our friendship, confessing my fears and working through them, I simply ended the relationship.
Carol C.’s family was transferred. Our relationship never resolved.
The Bible says confess our faults. It took years of relationship failures to learn that exposure is the best way to unmask harmful deceptions.
I was “clueless” the opportunity on that elementary playground and friendships died.
© 7/24/04 Lissa M. Lee