At my seventh birthday party I invited all the girls in my class for a sleepover—all the girls in my class and one boy from another school. A year older, and arguably on the “husky” side, as his jeans labeled him, this boy was literally the odd man out among the day’s partygoers.
But in my seven-year-old mind, he was simply my best friend. Since toddlerhood, we’d taken on dragons in the basement and summited the highest trees of the back yard. He was the bomb diggity—always up for my ridiculous ideas of adventure, loyally ready to provide a shoulder to cry on, and down with sneaking orange cream push pops from the freezer whenever I made the suggestion. A friend of the best quality, was this boy.
One of the guests, a whisp of a brown haired girl with a dusting of freckles, we’ll call her Felicia, decided this boy was not like the rest of us. In hindsight, I imagine it was an effort to make Felicia seem as if she had fewer differences, that she pointed out all of his. Jeers and jests were made, fingers pointed, and hurtful laughs released, all at the boy’s expense.
When I realized what was happening, I told the girl to go home.
I uninvited her from my party.
If she couldn’t be nice to my friend, she could leave. It was that simple.
I find it ironic it was easier as a child and teen for me to be strong in this way than it is now as a grown woman.
What is more shocking?
The most vicious and mean-spirited bully in my life, who shames me and makes me feel less-than, is the voice in my own damn head.
I’ve written a lot about The Head Wench (THW). She and I battle on the regular. She is sneaky and persistent…and just when I think I have her under my thumb, she shows up, running loose in my mind. THW uses words like, gross, disgusting, weak, uncommitted, inconsistent, quitter, unhealthy.
One day recently, while listening to THW lament about my “shortcomings,” the thought finally occurred after she’d gone on for far too long…
Who gave The Head Wench the power to define those words? Who gave her the right to decide what is weak, what is unhealthy, or what qualifies as quitting and what qualifies as changing?
Who is this asshole and why has she been invited to the party that is my life?
How have I come to this place—with her? Where did THW come from? Why is she so effing hard to evict?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that what I read, what I see, what I hear on the daily is not at all unlike what went down that day so many years ago on my seventh birthday.
There is a lot of negativity and shaming that goes on in our world…and yes, in my own life, and in my own head. The angry and hurting Felicias of the world, who succeed in their efforts to spread that hurt and anger, make for bad company. And just as I did at seven, I should do the same thing now.
I need to uninvite some quests from my party.
On social media, in flesh-and-blood life, and in my own head, I commit to uninviting the name callers, the insecure demeanors, the negative trolls…the party poopers. I’m staring with THW (again) and then I’m moving on to every other aspect of my life.
If you can’t be nice, you can go. That simple.