Odd Girl Out

Spirit of the Bath | Viveca Koh

I always felt like an outcast; the odd girl out. I grew up in a home that was held together by secrets and abuse and too much shame to name within this space. Let’s just say that I realized at a very young age that I would never be able to bond with others in the way I saw them bond with each other.

My secrets were bound and I feared if someone came too close, they would see through the facade I called my life. I was OK with this, mostly. People have always been difficult to understand. I’ve never fully understood social cues which has always caused me to overthink, to second guess, and to question. I guess you could say that I’ve always been a seeker at heart.

Most of my friend’s parents were still married. Mine were divorced. My birth mother abandoned me at a very young age. This left me with no other option — I was raised by my father and stepmother. I had a wicked step-mother.

She was mad — but not in the endearing ways of The Hatter. I endured things that wove the very fabric of nightmares. Only unlike Alice, there was no Cheshire cat, no Tweedledee or Tweedledum. There was no white rabbit or magic potion labeled, ‘Drink Me.’ There was only the Red Queen. And there was no escape.

My inner world was a graveyard. Crags and stone. I was reborn time and time again — resurrected from bones and ash. Pain. Hurt. Mistrust. Unlike the Phoenix who knew how to rise, my wings remained clipped.

I so desperately wanted to be like everyone else. To fit in. To be accepted. I longed to know what it felt like to be loved and adored.

I was always an introvert — labelled as shy. But also, manic. Impulsive. And on some occasions, outgoing. I have always walked the tight-wire between chaos and insanity.

Upon my birth, a star shot across the sky. Maybe it was a meteor shower or an asteroid? Either way, it would seem my DNA was enchanted with complete contradiction and symmetrical opposition — creating me — the perfect storm.

I have distinctive moments of animation wherein a puppet master in some other dimension would enter my body and for a short time, I would be the happy-go-lucky all-American girl. I would be outgoing and audacious. Bold.

This ability to maneuver and to become the chameleon seemed to draw people to me. Like a moth to the flame. Only I never understood if they were the moth and I the flame as it seemed inevitable that it would be I who would eventually get burned.

Many people have said I have an old soul. I like that. I never did like small talk. I was far more interested in the secret’s others kept. For I knew if I had so many, others must as well.

I remember my favorite conversation openers of, “Tell me a story,” — asked countless times — to see how creative and imaginative one might be. The other was, “Tell me something you’ve never told another soul.”

The year was 1991. I was fourteen years old and in that weird space of adolescence — no longer a girl but not yet a woman. It was the year I became a freshman. My first year away at boarding school. It was the year I would experiment with drugs and alcohol and cigarettes for the first time. It was the year I lost my virginity. It was the first time I had ever been suspended from school.

The thing that sticks out the most in my mind, though, is the summer before school began. I was in the work-tuition program. I worked the grounds and got a wicked tan. There were only a handful of students who stayed on the grounds and we were all so close. Thick as thieves.

My best friend was named Jamie and she was from Utah. She dressed stylish and had an easy manner about her. We would stay up all night talking and laughing. I admired her. I looked up to her.

She was worldly. She had traveled and seen places. So many places. I had never really left Idaho — except to make a few summer trips to California with my family. She had already lost her virginity and was the first to explain oral sex to me — in detail. She said a boy who really knew what he was doing would spell out the ABC’s with his tongue.

A week before the work program was to end, two weeks prior to the school year beginning, I remember her coming to talk to me. She no longer wanted to be my friend.

I remember feeling so hurt and betrayed — and as she talked about wanting to begin the year fresh making new friends, all I could hear was, “You’re not good enough.” She swore I had done nothing wrong. “It’s not you. It’s me.”

School started and sure enough — lines seemed to be drawn as students divided themselves into categories. Jamie became one of the “cool kids” while I ricocheted somewhere between nerd and wannabe. She had become a big fish in a small pond, whereas I seemed to have transformed into a minnow — just trying to survive as I traversed the depths of the sea. Like a wave, I was drowning — sinking back into the ocean.

After that, rejection became my normal. I embraced the word and did my best to live up to it. I schlepped it around and wielded it as armor — a sword to slay and maim anyone who dared get too close.

I let it define me. I hid behind books and words. The library became my sanctuary. People my competition and my enemy. This memory and this pattern — of people and friendships — has followed me all the days of my life.

While I’ve grown up and changed and done so much more — living — one thing has always remained the same: I struggle with friendships. I struggle to maintain them. I crave isolation and have an inherent need to spend a lot of time — alone.

So many friendships throughout my life started strong — full of trust and loyalty and promise. But something inevitably shifts and the friendship changes — dying a too slow death.

And while it hurts when this happens, I can’t help but also feel a deep sense of relief. I find myself coming alive in the deep sigh of breath and exhalation.

I’ve been called haunted. Cursed. Others have said I isolate too much. But here is what I know: People will let you down whether they mean to or not. People love the best way they know how — which sometimes, isn’t much at all.

I’ve also come to realize you may know someone your entire life and never really know them. Some secrets run too deep. Too many are taken to the grave.

And when the world rages around me, the only thing I know how to do is to pull into myself. To traverse the vast inner landscape within. It’s the only way I know how to get completely still — completely quiet. To hear the voice of my soul when others threaten to drown her out with their own noise and drama and opinions.

I’ve come to understand and know that I love the silence. I crave it. For I am The Hermit. And while to others — I may be the odd girl OUT — if you ask me — I’m the odd girl IN.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Hermit

her·mit/ˈhərmət/ noun

  1. A hermit, or eremite, is a person who lives in seclusion and solitude from society.

In Tarot, The Hermit (IX) is the ninth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. The Hermit suggests a phase of introspection — drawing your attention inwards and looking for answers within. You are in a period of inner reflection.

Keywords: Introspection, Solitude, Seclusion, Withdrawn from society.

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Mary Rogers Glowczwskie

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