personal reflection & growth
"Getting on the Team"
by: Edward Naughton
Do you remember those early childhood frightening moments of aloneness when you felt small, hurt and left out. I still remember seeing the loneliness of a child who was not picked when the kids were choosing teams for a game. He had tried so hard to be a good player, felt he was as good as the other kids – even better than some of them – but left out again.
Of course no one was going to know how he felt. “Didn’t want to play anyway.” He could get through not being chosen but could not own his weakness or vulnerability. It was easier to blame those kids than to acknowledge his own feelings. At such an age kids didn’t think much about feelings or what they could do to them.
As we grow I think we begin to recognize and learn from our experiences of “handling feelings.” I remember one day trying to fix a radio in an old ’49 Plymouth. I had unscrewed the radio from its base on the dashboard and had it hanging by its wires as I tried to replace a part and I sneezed. Unfortunately I was upside down under the dashboard just inches from the radio and the jolt from the sneeze bashed my forehead into the chrome base of the radio. Blood spurted, pain seared, and I saw stars. And what did I do? I acted out my hurt by blaming my brother for not being there to help me – He, of course, had no idea I was working on the radio.
My anger was really at myself for not knowing better. I suppose the basic fear people experience in so many different ways…of not doing a good job…of not being “wantable”…not being lovable.
As important as it is to recognize those paralyzing fears and what they can do to oneself, it is equally important to acknowledge how those fears can affect one’s treatment of others. Those kids who did not pick the boy were not bad kids and my brother who was not there to help with the radio was not selfish or unhelpful.
The experience itself, such as being left out, has its own reality – hurt, fearful, too difficult to own. It is easier to be angry and to blame, “it’s your fault,” and end up expressing for safety, “I don’t care,” or silence or flight.
A short time ago I felt rebuffed because of what seemed to me an unfair accusation by a friend. I began the mental game of denial – “This is not happening to me” –and I began to recognize the beginnings of anger and tendency to blame. I knew I should relax and find a healthy way to deal with this incident that was getting bigger than it actually was.
I started looking over little odds and ends on my desk: “Keep the wound dry for 48 hours. You may bathe or shower, whichever is possible, without getting the wound wet.” Instructions from the doctor’s office following a minor surgery
stared back at me.
I began to think, “How long will I keep this wound?” Whatever had gotten under my skin had to be re-examined, scrutinized, retouched and kept bleeding. I felt the need to be in charge and in control of own injury and decide what to do about it.
As I read the instructions again I began to feel the trickling of mirth in the corners of my mouth as I considered the various possibilities. You may bathe or shower whichever is possible WITHOUT GETTING THE WOUND WET. I moved around this thought for a bit with the irony in mind: Keep the wound dry and don’t be picking at it. And “remove the dressing tomorrow!”
So it is not really just leaving the wound alone entirely. There are things to be done – personal care to be taken in a delicate and sensitive manner. A gentle Qtip of hydrogen peroxide with a bit of sting to this care. So tomorrow it’s “Roll up your sleeve and let’s have a look.”
As for today it’s time to know your pain but remember that with sharing tender care and love the healing is certain tomorrow.
Acknowledging our hurts or fears is never easy but with thoughtful self-acceptance and recognition of our strengths and weaknesses we find not just solace or balm for our wounds but we find the deeper reservoir of who we are and can be. Our gift is not to depend solely on how others see us, choose us or not, but to be aware of the value of ourselves. It is our authentic joy as we journey in relationship with family, friends and fellow players to know that we are all on the team.