Not that my middle name was much better in my eyes - Irene. I didn't look like an Irene (to me) and I hated Wendy. (I also hated being called "Carrot Top" and the red hair that brought it on - I had lots of issues as a kid!) The only thing I really liked about me was my freckles. Go figure.
My father never even called me by name until I was an adult or unless he was pissed. He used to call me Ajax or Junior, pretty much reinforcing the conflict I had with my name. Not to mention the fact that my parents didn't even have a girl's name in mind when I was born. They were expecting a Sam, not a Samantha.
Add that to the fact that until I was 31, my father made it a point to remind me that when the doctor asked him what he wanted when Mom was in labor his answer was, "Anything but a redheaded daughter" and you can see how I might not have had the greatest self-esteem in the world.
I escaped into books and dreamed about being Kitten on Father Knows Best. When I discovered music, I listened to that for hours on end, being pulled into whatever storyline was present in the song.
I began writing in seventh grade. My stories were almost always about me and my best friend. She would always get caught up in something dangerous and I would always rescue her. I became the hero in my stories that I couldn't be in real life. I only shared these stories with my English teacher (not even my best friend knew about them) not yet realizing that I was reaching out for a lifeline that I hoped someone would throw.
Fast forward to an abusive marriage and eventual divorce after which I decided to return to school and get my degree (FYI - I still don't have it.) I began writing again. I found it to be both therapeutic and cathartic. When I entered (and WON!) the college writing contest in poetry, I realized how much I'd been trying to say for so many years. You can read that poem here.
I encouraged my kids to write, to express themselves, whether their pain or their joys or their problems, in the written word. The concept didn't work with my son. If it involved reading and writing, he was dead set against it. But, my daughter filled notebook upon notebook, writing about her anger, her pain, her loves, whatever needed an outlet. She vented about me, about horrific events in her life, about betrayals and fears. She went through some deep depressive periods and I sincerely believe that, if she hadn't had writing as an outlet, her thoughts of suicide might have become actual attempts.
Initially, I only wrote during my darkest periods. That seemed to be the only time I could extract any level of creativity from myself. I wasn't able to maintain a steady period of writing. I tried, but anything other than serious, reflective prose sounded more like the childish drivel I wrote in junior high. As time has gone by, though, the problems of the past have faded enough that I can focus on the present. I can find humor in the past that I didn't before. I can find a normalcy in my life that I never found before. I accept things about myself and my life that I would have hidden from before. For the first time in my life, I LIKE myself. I ACCEPT myself. I present myself as I am. Sometimes deadly serious. Sometimes righteously angry; other times a social or personal advocate for others. Sometimes socially inept and awkward; at other times a screwball comic. But, I am ALWAYS me. And, that ain't half bad!
I want to thank the A-Z Blogging Challenge for helping me find a rhythm with my blog, Marie Anne for pointing out the obvious, and the two other writing challenges (TGIBBF and Succinctly Yours) I've joined for allowing me to find a creativity I was afraid I wouldn't know.