A friend called me the other night asking if I had a minute to talk. We had discussed previously how we both suffer with the fear of public humiliation. She wanted to discuss this on a deeper level knowing my story and my everyday struggles. She asked, “how do you get over the fear?” I said, “you don’t.” What you want to do, whatever you desire to accomplish must outweigh the fear. The scary event before you must be part of your journey. This is what you are meant to do. You have a purpose. This purpose gives you the courage to catapult you over the fear, through the experience to the other side where your true self shines its beauty to the world.
I was born in the days before ultrasound. So I was a surprise to my parents when I emerged from the safety of my mother’s womb into the cruel world with a small right hand that was without all its digits. I know that sounds so angry. But that’s what the world used to be for me, scary and unsafe. My close knit Italian family filled with aunts, uncles, cousins and eggplant parm, provided a secure cocoon where I could whack each of them with my little hand and no one flinched. Beyond the smell of baked ziti was a world filled with mean kids and curious onlookers.
I was the last one to tie my shoes in school, had to ask the teacher. I rarely participated in organized sports, too embarrassing to switch my softball glove to throw the ball back, not to mention slow. So what did I do to feel better? I ate and surrounded myself with only the people I trusted with my life and my hand. As I grew, sideways, that is, I became more self-conscious and less active. My favorite pastime became Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley & Welcome Back, Kotter. This is why I can sing every theme song from the seventies and early eighties TV shows on a drop of a dime.
My adolescence and early twenties were more of the same. The nightclub scene was a walk through the lion’s den. I had lost some weight, but I still had a small hand. I would meet guys in a club, introduce myself and they would just walk away. I became the world’s greatest manipulator of my surroundings. I could strategically place myself anywhere in a room, church, club where I could avoid shaking too many people’s hands, or at least avert any children. Kids are the worst…they scream out loud, “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU? MOM, DID YOU SEE HER?”
Fast forward to my forties. A husband, four kids and many years of therapy later, I knew I wasn’t happy. I am an extrovert. I gain energy by being around people and interacting. I love getting to know them. I love meeting new people which means at some point shaking a new person’s hand. I attend church every Sunday. Every Sunday I think about scouting out the pews for the least amount of kids in the area and usher my family in. This is no way to live.
I never even really talked about it with my closest friends. I became the great pretender as well. There has always been another elephant in the room that we didn’t address. So along with therapy, I started boxing in 2008. It was in the ring that I gained the confidence I needed to conquer the world. I used my wraps to help me jump rope and I can finally do push ups and dips. I put on the gloves, and I am like everyone else.
I took off the weight and continue to work at not manipulating my surroundings. I thank God for my challenges. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am the stronger person for it. The world is no longer cruel; it is my playground. Every day is tough. The fear never leaves me. The sting of people’s first reaction to me can still be sharp. But this is my purpose, to show the world what it means to truly step out of your shell and shine your beautiful true self. This is the gift in you and me that the world is awaiting. I don’t want to let you all down by keeping me hidden. Your true self is your gift to the world…Let it shine and let’s shake on it, or just give me a hug.
Tell me what’s going on in your life. I want to hear from you!
Wishing you love, balance and peace.
Amore & Baci (Love & Kisses),