Where Does It Hurt?

January 16, 2018

I was seven years old the first time I felt I wasn’t good enough. A teacher came to my classroom to separate me from my friends. I was taken to a special, smaller room to receive help with my math and reading skills.

I couldn’t articulate what was happening to me at the time, but I knew I was different.

I remember feeling sad whenever I was removed from the class, taken away from all of my friends while they watched. When I got to the smaller room with the few other students who were there, I struggled. Reading was hard and basic math didn’t make sense to me.

I knew I wasn’t good enough.

That feeling followed me into my fourth grade class. I remember staring at a paper cup of brown beans. Today, I know it was a visual method to teach division. At the time, however, all I could do was stare at the paper cup and the brown beans in front of me wondering why I would never be smart enough to leave the low level math group. What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I good enough? Why couldn’t I change? I sat there, praying my teacher wouldn’t come over and ask me how things were going. I wouldn’t be able to hold the tears back if she did. “I just don’t get this. I’m dumb.”

I wish I could go back and give that little girl a hug. She wanted to be smart, she wanted to be enough so badly. It hurt to struggle; it hurt to be pulled away from my friends. That pain has been a weak spot on my heart ever since. It hasn’t healed completely. It has certainly been covered up by achievements and two degrees, but the pain and the fear have only morphed into other areas of my life.

I still hate math, but that’s because I’m afraid of it. To me, numbers remind me of every reason why I’m not smart enough, good enough, or capable of stepping into my full potential. Put me in front of a large number and watch me retract to a seven year old girl who knows she’s different because she’s not good at addition and subtraction. I will literally curl up into a ball and hide my face. Seriously, I’ve done it before.

I’ve pulled into panic enough times to know that my fear has turned into hate, which has only resulted in limits for myself. Today, I know that I don’t have to be afraid of numbers. Amazing things like calculators and the internet and accountants exist. I can counter that fear easily every day. The real work is in giving that little girl a hug and telling her that she’s so much more than her ability to add and subtract. She’ll grow to love books and words. Words are actually her gift. She needs to know she’ll be okay and she’ll be able to do anything she sets her mind to. She doesn’t have to prove anything. She is already a beautiful gift. She is the universe in the form of a girl. The pain she felt is what needs to heal. Beliefs made at 7 years old don’t have to last for my lifetime.

Your beliefs don’t have to shape your entire lifetime. Your fears, worries, and anxieties don’t have to be your reality every day. It’s time for your heart to heal so you can free yourself to receive what you’re meant to receive. Running away, burying feelings, and numbing yourself is blocking your ability to really live. I wish I could go back and ask that 7 year old, “where does it hurt?” Today, I’ll ask you, where does it hurt? That’s where the light needs to enter. Be brave enough to let it.