When I was in first grade, a girl knocked me backward (metaphorically) with her cruelty, and I careened with shock.
When I was in second grade, a boy cornered me in an isolated area of the playing field at recess and ordered some of his friends to hold my arms behind my body and another one to lift up my dress.
When I was in third grade, two girls a grade higher than me sneered at my family’s dilapidated station wagon the moment I ducked out of the car and stepped onto the curb outside the school office.
When I was in fourth grade, my parents sat us down at the kitchen table to tell us they were separating.
Each experience took me by surprise.
I didn’t see them coming.
And so, I learned to be watchful.
Guarded. Alert. Untrusting. Prepared with extra contingency plans. Convinced that the world was an unsafe, cruel, cold place, and it was my job to protect myself against it.
It’s no surprise to you, I’m sure, for me to say that significant experiences form us.
What significant experiences formed you?