When I was a kid, my home life was no fairytale. My dad worked a lot, and my mother drank a lot. I didn’t think many people knew, and my mother had devoted a huge amount of time presenting herself as June Cleaver, albeit an unsteady-on-her-feet June Cleaver. Apparently we were wrong, and we were living in a fish bowl.
My savior from my own personal Dysfunction Junction was my best friend, who we’ll refer to as Suzy Sunshine, and we’ll call her mother Polliana. I spent a lot of time at their house, and I had a few mishaps in their conservative,’ perfect family’ home. One time, I gashed my head open on the corner of their vanity in the bathroom when I had bent down to pick something up. It was a pretty hard hit, but in my house, I didn’t dare bother my mother unless one of my limbs was dangling off my body, and sometimes not even then.
I was dizzy after I bumped my head, but still standing, so I didn’t think I had to say anything. I guess the gash was bleeding, which I didn’t notice, but Polliana paled when she saw that my blonde locks had a tinge of red spreading through my bangs. She got all bent out of shape when she saw the gash, and couldn’t get over the fact that I had hit my head and not gone running into her maternal arms for help and nurturing.
She called my mother, made a big deal, and I was under surveillance after that. A few months later, I was there for a play date, which Polliana grew less and less fond of since the gash incident. (The only thing shadier than that, in her eyes, was Suzy going to my house for play time.) Suzy’s sister also had a friend over. When we both went home, Polliana discovered that someone had taken her lipstick and drawn all over the inside of the bathroom drawer. Guess who got framed and blamed? The kid with the bathroom history, queen of the head gash, me.
Now, my home life might have been cause for alarm, but I was no lipstick graffiti artist. I was a good kid, eager to please and respect others. The kind of kid who responded to positive encouragement.
Suzy’s mother decided that she wasn’t allowed to be my friend any more. She said I was troubled or something, that I had issues because of my upbringing. I was devastated when she told me, whispering behind a tree as she darted her eyes nervously about, since she lived across the street from the school. We talked occasionally in school after that, but our friendship was never the same.
So it struck me as peculiar when Suzy sent me a Facebook friend request. I pondered the concept for a few days, squirming in the memory of bad and shameful feelings I had experienced because my best friend’s family had shunned me for things I had had no control over. I decided to accept. After all, she had been a kid, under the influence of her overbearing mother. It wasn’t her fault.
The reason for this blog post was Suzy’s Facebook post today. It was a quote that read: Judging a person doesn’t define who they are, it defines who you are.
I think that sums it up, Polliana.