Monday, August 13, 2012

Snowflake and the Seventy Dwarfs...

When I was a girl in the seventh grade, I was teased and called "Snowflake." Why? I'm really not sure. That was my first year in a racially "integrated" school in the little town of Star, North Carolina.

I suspect I was called Snowflake by some of my new white classmates because I was classed as "African-American" or "colored"  but I looked as white as any of them. Teasing can be a way for kids to deal with their bafflement I guess. But it was frightening and humiliating for me at twelve years old to be taunted. It made me want to hide under a rock and never come out.

The reason that I bring this up now is because the transitions of the past six months - specifically my move to Canada - have for some reason caused a massive insurrection of unresolved fears and internal resistances.

What does a massive insurrection of internal fears and resistances look like? Well mine look like, or sounds like (might be more accurate), a hailstorm of dwarf voices. All of the little voices delivering some kind of nudge towards that rock.

An interesting and effective exercise (suggested by my personal coach Trish Lay when I told her of the paralysis caused by my overwhelming generalized fear) has helped me. She suggested I merely name each fear or "dwarf" as it emerges. (Trish encourages play.)

Meet some of my dwarfs.

1. Blamey (He says "It's <you name him/her but it's usually John's> fault.")
2. Needy (Says "It's too scary to be all alone.")
3. Sneaky (Says "Just check it out when nobody is looking.")
4. Iffy (Says "If you do that, it will end in disaster. Don't do it." - This one sounds familiarly like my older brother's voice from our childhood.)
5. Don't Deservy (Says "That's not appropriate for you anyway. Forget it.")
6. Sleepy (Says "Just take nap" as a solution to just about anything.)
7. Shamey (Says "You SHOULDN'T do <some wonderful thing,> Why? Because <any shaming excuse will do>. )
8. Opposey (Says "I'm not going to do that!" Why? Just because!)
9. Dialoguey (This one just gets into imagined back and forth conversations with someone - often John - then tells the next two to come in and deal with the situation.)
10. Meany
11. Bully
12. Rushy (Just tells me to "Hurry up." Why? Just because. There doesn't have to be any reason at all. Just rush through life.)
13. Pleasey (Says "Just smile and act nice." As if this works in resolving a  problem.)
14. Homey (Tells me that the only comfortable and safe place is back at home if I'm out and at home if I've not gone out yet.)
15. Go Alongy (This one tells me that everyone else's idea is better than mine so just go along with them.)

You get it?

It was quite enlightening to learn that I could name more than seventy dwarfs just on my first day of exploring my mental landscape of fears and resistances. No wonder I became paralyzed! Who can function happily with all that going on in her head!

The best lesson I learned from this exercise was that as soon as I named my fear (dwarf), the fear melted away and the little dwarf lost its power over me. I could act again, with confidence.

I wish that I'd known about naming the dwarfs back in seventh grade when life was so new and so frightening and all I'd had to prepare me for what was to come were pictures on television of armed soldiers escorting little black kids through angry white crowds into their classrooms at their new "integrated" school.

Oh well, better to grow later than not at all. Ay?

Do you have any dwarfs?


  1. You are so courageous to share your inner world with so many. You verbalize for others who may too be living in fear and not even know it. Bravo!
    Nancy (ngb)

  2. I am so proud of you! You rock!

    Big hugs!

  3. Seventh grade sucks!!! All those uninteresting pathetic bullies people who missed out on getting to know you. Their loss. Great post.

  4. Children can be so very cruel. I'd say you came through it quite well considering... :) This was a great post. Everyone has, are conquering yours well. Congratulations!

  5. i think hell must be having to return to junior high... sigh...

  6. I'm going to have to try that!

  7. kids can be very mean..but where do they learn that from?..hmm..
    good for you for sharing your thoughts!

  8. Levonne, it's odd how children change at different stages. When I was in kindergarten and 1st grade we lived in an apartment in the commercial part of a town in New York. There was a "colored school" and a "white school" though as you know, "There was no segregation in the north." Right.

    We were living in the colored school district which I guess was divided "purely on geographically lines". Right.

    Even at that young age I wondered why my cousin's white school was brick and had fancy desks while my school was wooden and had wooden floors and old desks (I can still hear the footsteps). I was the only white child in the school, but oddly enough I didn't notice that--I just noticed that the buildings were so different. I do remember the little kids coming over and touching my hair (I was a tow head) the first day I guess it was. They were smiling--such white teeth they had, I remember. After that, we were just friends and we played.

    After 1st grade we moved and I went to a "white school" in another town that didn't have any "black school". I remember crying because I wanted to go to my other school with my other friends. Soon forgotten at such a young age.

    Now, had I been in 7th grade, like you, I'm sure I might have an entirely different story to tell.

    Naming fears. Hmmm...never thought of doing that, but if it helped you maybe it would help others. Thanks for sharing. Interesting stories on these blogs, huh?

  9. i like the idea of naming the dwarfs, and will try it, because i have most of yours and a lot of others. i am fearful of any and all things and am truly a Homey... loving all things home
    I am 68 and white, when my boys were in 7th and 9th grades we lived in Savannah Ga and all the schools were segregated. they bused my kids to an all black school and the black kids to the white school and it was total chaos. there were fights with chains and completely a mess. i let my son quit at age 16 because of all the fights he was in.
    i thought the years had changed things. but i guess not. my granddaughter is 27 and has 2 little girls, her boyfriend is black, so both my great granddaughters are bi-racial. and the same thing goes on now as when you were young, plus other things. i had hoped the human race had gotten past the mis treatment of others because they are not the same. thank you for sharing your story. it is heart breaking to read, and i do hope your new home in Canada and your dwarf list will enable you to be happy.

    i will try making a list of dwarfs and see what happens, i am know as Chicken Little, the sky is falling and have a what iffer as big as the Empire State Building.

  10. My what a heavy burden to be saddled with at such a young age. Being 12 is difficult for either gender as is changing schools, but to have to hear this name calling and confusion it brings can leave lasting scars that little girls do not need. I am so pleased that you have found a way, with the help of your life coach, to meet and understand a way to overcome your uncertainties in order to lead a beautiful life today with John.
    As far as fears go, I believe we all have fears from time to time, what makes the difference is in how we as individuals have learned to deal with them or not!

  11. Blessings to you, Levonne. May all those dwarves skedaddle, except for the ones that keep you safe!

  12. Great post Levonne! I think everyone has a ton of hidden fears and "dwarves". My worst offender has always been "Girls can't..." followed closely by "If Only...". My cure has become a simple evaluation: "What is the worst that can happen if I...?" When you contemplate for a moment the very worst outcome the fear soon becomes laughable. Now if only I could do that with my Claustrophobia! :-)


I always love to hear your thoughts.