Once upon a time in a land not very far away, there lived a little girl named Bonnie.
Who would name their child after a little girl in a popular book and later a movie? Especially if that little girl breaks her neck jumping her pony after being told not to. Not only did they name me Bonnie, but they bought a pony for me when I was two and a half. That would have been creepy to me. (if I had understood it). My mother loved the book, Gone with the Wind, and she loved the idea of naming her child after little Bonnie Blue Butler. Now, the very idea makes me cringe. However, I have grown to love my name. It is so youthful and sounds “pretty”.
My Daddy was from Texas. He believed little girls should all have ponies. At least he saw it as an expression of love for his daughter, just as Rhett Butler did in the movie. My mother dressed in lace and silk and velvet and fur. So she dressed me the same way. Her favorite color was blue. Most of my clothes were blue. I had a pale blue velvet coat and leggings which I sometimes wore riding my pony. There was a hood that could be pulled up over my head to shield me from the weather. I had several of these all over glamorous children’s confections. I loved pretty clothes but I did not respect them. Climbing trees in a ruffly dress seemed easier than changing clothes first would have been. Getting dirty didn’t bother me at all.
We were dressed in velvets and silks. My little sister and I wore matching dresses much of the time. Sometimes we matched our mother as well. We were adorable. People told us so all the time. We were a charming picture of a happy family. Our parents loved each other completely. In fact, it was obvious to me that our mother loved our father more than her children. She admitted as much. And she said, wisely, that she and Daddy would be married far longer than just during the years when their children were young. “You need to have a good relationship with your husband so that when the children leave you are happy to be alone together,” she said.
The early riding experiences were not all successful. My first pony was Gypsy. She was a pinto Shetland pony who loved children. Being so young I was not aware of what went wrong but I believe she foundered and had to be put down. In any case the succeeding ponies were not all as nice as she had been. Finally, my last pony was Topsy, who threw me regularly to the ground and ran away as fast as he could. After that I graduated to large ponies. And I fell in love with a Palomino, large pony, named Peanut Butter. Oh how my life changed after that. Instead of casual interest in horses, I was completely obsessed. This went on for several years.
My life was marvelous. Literally it was a marvel. But when I look at photos from that time it makes my tummy feel queasy. Sometimes there have been stories and memoirs of people who say they felt as if they had been raised in the wrong family. That sounded so strange to me. How could someone grow up in the wrong family if you were born into it? Now, though, after 3/4 of a century of introspection, the study of self, that is how I feel. There have been years spent honing the honesty of my views up to today, and the fit is all wrong.
I managed to fit in, but I was always acting. I knew the rules and I obeyed them. It never paid to make waves or complain. If I did complain about anything, my parents (and everyone else) told me that I had no right to complain because I was so lucky to have been born into the charmed circle of my family. It was decades before I understood that my feelings were “my feelings” and they were valid no matter how wonderful my family was in the opinion of everyone else in the world.
Life is a series of lessons. You either learn them early or they will beat you over the head until you learn them late. I love my life these days. My ability to see myself and my family through a clearer lens is a great relief to me. I am not crazy. I am just different. What are you?
Copyright©. 2020 Bonnie B. Matheson