Friday, April 17, 2009

Popeye's Daughter


Popeye image found here.

I had only few plans to set up a blog, however - in following my sister's request to become a follower of her blog, I found myself setting one up (Sorry Jocie, stole your limelight). This being the ground-breaking of my little blog, I decided to share my own groundbreaking moment for myself and one that I believe, defined the kind of person I am and have been, for all my life. I was born with what is often incorrectly referred to as a "lazy eye". My dear right eyelid, try as she might, has always drooped a little lower than my left (yes 'droopy eye' would be a good term for it - the incorrectly and commonly used term "lazy eye" is never for a droopy eyelid - lazy eye is when one eye is constantly adrift, the eyeball/pupil itself). It's always been kind of an issue, but then again never an issue. Here at age 24, I've had 2 surgeries - one at age 11, one at 20- and my eyelid still droops a little, mainly when I'm tired. Though I by no means will try to pretend like it's my favorite thing in the world, it's truly something that doesn't affect how I feel about myself or my self-esteem. Ask me about it and I'll tell you, laugh about it and I'll laugh with you, make fun of me for it and I figure you just wasted an insult because being hit about my eye, never bothers me - however it wasn't always this way.

Children, bless their precious souls, are the most honest creatures on earth. Though their honesty comes from their ignorance of social norms at such a young age, when you're young as well and lacking your self-empowerment - this brazen honesty can become the purest form of torture one can experience. Pre-2 surgeries as well as pre-self confidence, kids constantly asked me about my eye - "What's wrong with your eye?" "Your eye is weird" etc. - this hurt my feelings often and made me cry or sulk into myself. One of my oldest and dearest friends to this day Shannon (goes by "Shanin"), was my best friend even at age 6 and often witnessed many incidents when this happened. She would say what she still says to this day - "Caitie, I don't even notice it!", whether or not that is true, I don't know, but I do know that she definitely witnessed how upset those comments made me.




One day, while having an afternoon snack at home after school, I was talking with my Mom about the eye dilemma. Wondering why I had to do this and why, of all people, MY eye had to be the slightly droopy one. My Mom, armed with her love for me, her adorable infallible nerdiness and her desperation to protect me from insult, told me to simply say when kids asked - "Because, I'm Popeye's Daughter!"


Beloved Popeye, quite popular at the time and well known for Spinach, Tattoos, Olive Oil, Sailors attire and one eye always shut, became my greatest ally and my source of strength.



The next day, on the daily walk to school, I remember telling Shanin what my Mom had said and how I should respond to those "why is your eye like that?" questions. It couldn't have been more than 2-days later that I was sitting in the Cafeteria with Shanin eating lunch when someone asked the inevitable question, I readied myself for my Popeye's Daughter debut, preparing to fervently hold my fist in the air as well - when sweet, blonde, adorable Shanin broke up the opportunity- "Because she's Popeye's daughter, ok?"



Important life lesson #2: Few things shut up a child or an adolescent quicker than a pretty blonde girl sounding like a confident diva.



From that point on, when kids asked me that question, I never had an ounce of qualm about responding with my Mom's line. Granted it was weird, granted it made little sense to the recipients but I was armed that day with my Mom and with Shanin - armed with the knowledge that I didn't have to talk to people who ask me rudely, armed with the notion that I have friends who will be there to stand up for me, and most importantly, armed with the courage to recognize that I only felt weird about my eye when others rudely asked me about it. On its own, my eye never bothered me, I considered it a unique quirk of my assembly, it only bothered me when others reflected that on to me. Having the power to see that I own how I feel about myself, meant starting a path of respecting and understanding myself and for those few times when I do feel a little down, I have the Moms and the Shanins of the world to help me out.



PS - In my later years, I discovered that the beautiful Ashley Judd has the same condition as me only on her left eye - it's always slightly lower. I wonder if she's my sister? Popeye must be one smooth talking Sailor. :)

Ashley Judd photo found here.



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6 comments:

jociegal said...

I never knew any of this. Thanks for sharing!

Shanin said...

I knew this but didn't remember. Haha. Except that I never noticed. That part I do remember and it was true! Love it. Love you and you have always been so beautiful they were all just jeal.

Amanda said...

I would never have noticed from your pictures :) Thank you for sharing such an inspiring and personal story!

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Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

i love this post so much <3