Random header image... Refresh for more!

Tinkerbell…Stinkerbell…Stinkin’ Thinker-Bell

When I was a little girl, I ADORED Tinkerbell. My brother even bought me a little necklace with a tiny figurine of her on it (she was painted white, I think, and the chain was silver). There was just something magical about the way she flitted about, and of course, I loved her little fairy dust trail…and the way she pouted with Peter Pan when she didn’t get her way. I distinctly remember watching in utter fascination as she tapped the top of Sleeping Beauty’s castle during opening of The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights….Maybe I identified with her a little bit, I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is, my dad used to call me “Stinkerbell” (heaven knows I’m not going to get into the particulars of why he called me that, so don’t even ask…)

ANYWAY — I have this memory from way, way back…I must have been about 4, but I can’t be sure. I was at Disneyland with my mom, dad and brother, and it was “very late” (probably 8 o’clock – at least an hour past my bedtime!) We were on Main Street, surrounded by a crush of people. Now, from my perspective (from way down there), I was surrounded by a forest of legs and rears, but those things were connected to real people – whom my dad could clearly see (from way up there).

So, there we were, rushing to get…somewhere – (who knew where and far be it from me to ask, because my dad was tugging me along so fast, my feet weren’t touching the ground and I couldn’t catch my breath.) At some point, I clearly remember hearing that I needed to look up because Tinkerbell would be flying from the Matterhorn! This was very big news, as evidenced by all of the rushing to get to THE prime viewing location.

With mom and brother setting the pace up front, and I in tow (mostly airborne) behind my dad, we hurried to get to THE PLACE where I’d be able to see HER fly! Apparently, all of my dreams would come true (or something), if only I’d look.

Well, somewhere between “here” and “there,” I encountered a very unkind curb and I hit the ground with a splat. Don’t worry, though, my dad didn’t leave me there to be plowed over by the human avalanche: He snatched me by my elbow, nearly pulling my arm out of the socket, and willed me to WATCH TINKERBELL.

But, I looked down, while she flew over, and the rest is history.


Of course, it was my own, damned fault. I should have hurried. I should have run faster. I should have watched where I was going. I should have seen Tinkerbell so my life would be complete.

But I blew it, and all I had to show for it was a bloodied knee and a bunch of sticky tears streaming down my face.

At least, that’s MY version of the story.

Now, as an adult, I can tell you with great certainty that my dad wanted me to see a really wonderful thing, and I know that he probably felt I was dragging my feet (pretending to be tired so he would hoist me onto his shoulders and carry me – which frustrated him to no end). I know that he never intended to hurt me, and that his disappointment was not directed at me. My dad was just like any other parent…he was sad because I had missed a magical moment.

But, the 4-year old can’t understand that…even 44 years later. The 44-year old carries with her a misconstrued truth shrouded in undefined fear. You see, 4-year old Cari, being dragged (against her will) through a scary tangle of angst and legs, was afraid she would fall. She was afraid because she couldn’t see what was coming. She was afraid that her dad would be mad at her and not love her because she was stubborn and missed the big thing.

Well…guess what? After my tumble, he was mad…and I was scarred for life…all because I didn’t understand his reaction and filled in the blanks the best way I knew how: With fear, uncertainty, guilt, blame and shame.

I did it to myself. I deserved it. I was to blame. Shame on me for missing Tinkerbell.

And that is how things go awry while people are growing up. That is how we become the adults we are…by witnessing other people’s adult experiences as children, and then projecting our ignorant and incomplete child’s perspective onto our own adult experiences. The sad thing is, we don’t always know we’re doing it.

Until we come to a place…maybe in therapy…where we realize that we’ve been seeing things as we thought they were, and not as they really are.

So, why the sudden memory of Tinkerbell?

Well, I believe I have been living my life, fighting to keep up with everyone. I believe I have allowed people to rush me so I would be somewhere they thought I should be because I believed that they knew better, and I needed to go with the flow. That’s why I followed them – I struggled to keep up…struggled NOT to fall, struggled not to fail…I just wanted to be okay so everyone would like me. I heard them say, “Do it now! Do it like this! Don’t miss out!….You’ll be sorry…”

Those horrible words have churned over and over in my head and I have allowed them to scare and propel me for my whole life: You’ll be sorry if you don’t keep up.

Why??? Because…

  • I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
  • I didn’t want anyone to be mad at me.
  • I didn’t want to do what they wanted me to do, but…I thought this was what I was SUPPOSED TO DO.
  • I thought that, by keeping up with people, I’d finally see Tinkerbell.

How wrong I was. Think about it for a moment…

A lot of people think you can only see Tinkerbell from ONE vantage point and for ONE moment in time. They fear that if you don’t see her when they think you should see her, then you won’t ever see her at all. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I will be sorry. Sometimes I will miss stuff because I don’t keep up, BUT — You know what? (This is a biggie): I have learned that sometimes I don’t want to see Tinkerbell, I just think I do, because I don’t want to let anyone down.

In case you were wondering, that is what a people-pleaser says: I don’t want to disappoint you. Yes, sometimes perfectionists say that too, but other times, well…the people-pleaser is terrified that someone won’t love them if they don’t keep up.

Ouch. Emotional growth is a funny thing…just when you think you’ve got it mastered, something else pops up to take the place of that nasty behavior you just got rid of.

But I digress.

Here’s what I need you to know (and I need to remember): Recovery happens one breath at a time, and sometimes, you run out of breath. Sometimes, you chase something you think you’re supposed to be chasing, and then you realize…when you stop to hold that stitch in your side and catch your breath, that you just might be chasing someone else’s Tinkerbell — OR — you can get there at your own pace and you won’t miss a thing! Just because you don’t see her when everyone else does…doesn’t mean you’ll never get to see her; it means you’ll see her in your own time. (Although…if you’re stubborn, it could take longer…just sayin’.)

Since I love to end things on a happy note, I will tell you that I eventually did get to see Tinkerbell, and I didn’t trip over a curb in the process. I planned and positioned myself where I knew I needed to be and – miracle of miracles – I saw her fly from the Matterhorn! Okay, I saw her wires too, but that’s not the point. The point is, I found a way to do it without falling down in the process. And, no, I don’t think I “let anyone down,” either.

Isn’t that really the goal in our Bariatric After Life™? – No…I don’t mean we aren’t supposed to to fall or let anyone down! I mean:

  • WE have to set our pace.
  • WE have to set our sights,
  • WE have to go for it.
  • BUT – NOT because we want to please someone else.
  • NOT because we are afraid someone will get mad at us…

We have to do it because…we get to experience the magic that we all deserve.


1 Nikkie { 11.08.11 at 2:22 am }

Wonderful, Honey! It’s so strange that I don’t remember that incident at all. My guess is most likely you and Dad were very tired. It had been a long day, after all, and he was also probably getting annoyed at push, thoughtless and selfish people around us who didnIt care if ANYBODY saw Tinkerbell except them! Excellent writing, as usual! I can really “see” it as you tell it. I love you and am so proud of you. Post what you wish of this. God Bless, Babe.

2 bariatricafterlife { 11.09.11 at 7:37 pm }

Some folks have asked whether I thought my dad was wrong to drag me to see Tinkerbell. My answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOT. I know he loved me and wanted me to see something magical. What he didn\’t understand then was, I was tired and stubborn and also a little afraid of all the people. That didn\’t make him wrong, and that is not the lesson from the post. The lesson is that I am a grown-up now and need to separate the \”Tinkerbells\” from the \”Stinkerbells\” (And Thinkin-Stinkinbells). I need to decide whether or not to do something — not based upon whether or not I will \”get in trouble\” or whether or not \”someone will be disappointed in me.\” <— gasp! That's a biggie for me…I need to decide to do or not to do something based upon whether it makes sense for me. It's about drawing and respecting personal boundaries, but doing so as a grown-up, not as a 4-year old 😉

3 mydailydetour { 11.08.11 at 2:34 am }

GREAT BLOG….You have to run your own race. Make your decisions for your own journey. On your own time table with decisions that are right for you. I remind myself of this constantly. Surround yourself with people that love you and support you. The rest….let them run their own race, on a different track etc. xoxoxo

4 bariatricguru { 11.08.11 at 7:25 pm }


5 Sine { 03.07.13 at 7:36 am }

I actually cried reading this.

6 bariatricafterlife { 03.07.13 at 2:20 pm }

Me too…but I think it was because I felt that familiar stabbing pain in my knee…and arm socket 😉

7 SINE { 03.07.13 at 8:18 pm }

LOL…Okaaay. Mine was more I totally related to little Cari (not the actual situation), but the splat, the disappointment, the horror at “not doing well enough” and this huge spence of RESPONSIBILITY that really should rest on your shoulders. I related to that.

Leave a Comment