I'm pretty sure the way the story gets told, is I didn't know how to tuck my chin when doing a tumble, and the big, black, male gymnastics teacher yelled at me (I was like... four years old... so he probably didn't really yell. But that's how I remember it.) and I never went back.
I don't participate in group classes at the gym, unless it's a group cycling class, which is held in the dark.
Actually, I don't really work out at the gym at all, unless I have proper headphones, a good sense of direction, a decent male to female ratio, and can trick myself into thinking I'm the only person there. Or that I'm invisible.
I never took a foreign language in college because I didn't want to take oral tests.
I have never been certified in CPR.
Basically, as I sit here reflecting on these memories, I learn something about myself. Something I've been very aware of my entire life. But perhaps not quite enough of to give it a name.
I don't like learning in front of others.
I don't mind learning -- I love learning.
I don't mind admitting I don't know how to do something.
But I don't want you to watch me learn it.
I want to take written directions, take a manual, take a text book, go into a quiet room by myself and learn how to do what it is I need to learn how to do.
But I don't want an audience.
I will fail and fail and fail again. But if given time, I will learn. If given space, I will learn.
Maybe I am too proud, and I don't want others watching me fail. Too proud and don't take direction well. Too proud and am just afraid of being embarrassed.
But this has been the hardest part of the last nine months of my life.
Ever since the EPT said, "pregnant", people have been watching me learn.
At first it was a small audience. But ever since, it has grown steadily. Grown to encompass strangers and acquaintances and family and dear friends. All watching. All witness to the learning process.
Some, acutely aware of the steep learning curve. With just enough information to recognize the inevitable failing.
Today I was supposed to go to a labor class. It was free and two hours long. Complete with lessons on breathing techniques and pain management and yada yada yada. Bring two pillows, they said. Wear comfortable clothes, they said. Bring your partner.
I signed up for it, because the nurses and Dr's were telling me it would be beneficial to take a class. I signed up for it, in completely self denial, with the best of intentions.
But yesterday rolled around and my phone alerted me. Saying, the next day I was scheduled to take this class. And I panicked.
I felt like I was four all over again. Like any sort of social skills I've learned, any sort of progress I've made over the past twenty years, just flew out the window. With a great flapping of wings, leaving me in a heap of insecurity and blubbering tears.
There were multiple, there are multiple, reasons why I didn't and don't want to go to this class.
#1 - I don't want to.
#2 - I don't want to.
#3 - I think it has something to do with being single and not wanting to look like a lesbian or a teenager by coming without a partner, with a girl friend, or with a parent.
#4 - I don't want to.
#5 - I'd rather go to the library and check out books or watch youtube videos on nursing and breathing techniques and pain management than sit there with this huge pregnant belly, cross-legged on the floor.
#6 - I don't want to go and watch all the happy couples learning this together.
That's what it boils down to.
I don't want to learn in front of anyone. I know in a crowd of pregnant women, I'd blend in easily. No one would think twice about me strolling in without a wedding ring, or with another woman. I don't think I'm so important I'd make a huge impression on anyone.
But I am reminded, daily, of the unconventional way in which I am doing this. The reminders are not sweet. The reminders are not friendly. The reminders are not easy to swallow. I must, and have had to, take extra measures to guard my heart against the painful triggers.
Some pain is unavoidable.
But I've had enough of learning in public. I've had enough of learning in front of people, with all my shortcomings and failures on display. There's some more growing up to do before I'm even slightly comfortable it. It's the exposure I'm uncomfortable with. All my secrets, too close to the surface.
This is self-preservation at its finest.
Desperately I'm trying to hold on to myself and my dignity. To carry myself well and maintain some self respect during this whole process.
And protect myself whenever possible.
This is, however, something I recognize as one of my fatal flaws.
An inability to laugh at myself.
One day maybe I'll get it right.
But today, I'm not going to that birthing class.