Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about Devils Encountered and From Hate to Love.
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Hello and welcome to episode #56 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Devils Encountered and From Hate to Love.
Devils encountered could be family members, partners, friends, acquaintances, or strangers; they could be anyone you interact with or contact. The devils I refer to are not those who commit crimes or conduct illegal activities that would require prison sentences. The demons I consider are those who hurt you, give you grief, or make you suffer; they scar you, and they get away without a scratch. They don’t pay for their atrocities or misdeeds; they instead put you in an invisible jail. You can’t see it, but you can feel the irritation, discomfort, or excruciation.
Devin betrayed my love and cheated on me. He went on to be with another woman and cheated on her too. He will probably continue the pattern because he went unpunished. On the other hand, I unknowingly imprisoned myself for ten years until I learned to forgive and move on. He should have been penalized, but instead, I punished myself! I was an unaware victim.
Anson was controlling. He wanted to control my purchases, hold my paychecks, demand that I agree with all his viewpoints, and keep him company with whatever he was doing. Anson was also emotionally abusive with hurtful words like how could I be a teacher when I didn’t have all the answers to his problems or inquiries. He even screams at his own father. There have been no serious consequences for his behavior, so he will probably persist with such behavior since he thinks he is always right. On my end, I tolerated it for seven long years and endured a divorce.
Mom abandoned her responsibility as a mother by sending me to live with Grandma. It must have been a relief for her to have one less thing to do. She never got locked up for her irresponsibility. And so she later also sent my other two sisters elsewhere too. Maybe she thought she got rid of having to be a mother to too many children, but I wonder if she ever thought about how her actions resulted in tossed children who resent her and do not love her. Unbeknownst to me, I gave myself a life sentence feeling unloved and unwanted. Once aware, I finally freed myself.
Bullied by the big boys in elementary school because I was quiet and looked weak, I said nothing. I never reported it, and they continued to bully other kids too. I suppose it made them feel strong and superior. They got away with their actions. Immobilized by being bullied and not knowing how to handle it, I was jailed for many years before I learned to stand up for my rights or refuse to be pushed around. With a voice and grit, I stood up and unleashed my power.
Name-calling, profanity, teasing, heartless words, gossiping, assuming, and accusing without evidence inflicted by perpetrators are all hurtful. Frozen by pain as the victim, the perpetrator gets away with it without being held responsible. And they continue to wreak havoc. On the other hand, by refusing to be a victim, I break the locks and speak up. In your face, I say, “It is not okay with me for you to call me names and be disrespectful towards me.” I have also confronted, “Please ask; don’t assume.” The evil-doers shall not suppress me.
Josie, a former co-worker, wanted to know what unit or chapter I was working on with my students and wanted us to be on the same page. She wanted me to ask her for help and consult her as if she were my superior. Josie even wanted to see the homework that I gave my students. She would secretly ask my students to let her see since she knew I was not too happy with her meddling. As an experienced teacher, I didn’t need help, but she was needy and wanted me to need her. I didn’t; it upset her. She claimed I didn’t work well with her; I think it was more like I had no need, but she had a need. She needed me to need her, and I needed to be independent. My work life became so uncomfortable with her interference that I quit. Josie won’t realize her wrongdoing and will likely continue in her manner and have no respect for her equal or an experienced teacher. I tossed myself out while the brand new teacher who replaced me needed her help, and Josie got what she wanted. I may have gotten the short end of the stick, but good riddance!
As a beginning teacher, my assigned mentor often hurriedly stopped by my classroom and asked if I needed help. It was like lip service with no intention of sitting down to talk. However, she would quickly look around my room and see if there were any new ideas she could steal and use in her workshops. “Oh, this looks innovative. Can I use it in my workshop?” asked Jill. I was a novice teacher. I knew she was stealing my ideas, but I didn’t know what to do about it at the time. I was not a tenured teacher and didn’t think I could retaliate. Glued in a position, I said nothing, and she got away with it. With that experience, I can spot when someone tries to steal my ideas and take credit. And then I would leap and roar like a lion. I refuse to be a victim once more.
Betrayal, emotional abuse, bullying, controlling behaviors, irresponsibility, and cruelty should all be punished with jail time, but unfortunately, they aren’t. So they can persist. But by being mindful of them, we can stop some perpetrators by speaking up and taking action. Respect for ourselves and our worthiness is paramount.
From Hate to Love
Before she became my mother-in-law, I already had a dislike for her. She wanted to meet me after dating Anson for only a month. She tried to decide when we would get married. She said Anson didn't ask her for permission, but he insisted he told her. Though there was a miscommunication, and Anson was to blame for it, I hated her for her attempts to control her son. I began to feel that Anson was a jellyfish with no backbone to stand up for himself and say, "I want to marry Emily, and these are our plans." A spineless man was not someone I wanted as a husband, so I called off the wedding soon after we were engaged.
Anson began his wooing tactics, like picking me up after having all four wisdom teeth removed. Since my teeth were numb from teeth pulled out, and I wasn't up for chewing anything, Anson cooked me some porridge which took a while to cook, and fed it to me spoon by spoon. Sounds romantic and enticing, and indeed it was heartwarming. No one had ever taken care of me like that.
Besides thinking that Anson was still attached to the apron strings, I wanted to vomit from the idea that if I were to marry him, I would also have to live next door to his parents. Many years before I met Anson, he had the chance to buy the house next door to him because it was on sale for a reasonable price. Anson bought it but never lived in it. He planned to move in when he found himself a wife, but that didn't happen until five years later.
In my mind, if I lived next door to my mother-in-law, it would be like walking into a horror film. She would invade our privacy because she lived so nearby. If I were to have children, she would give her two cents on how I should raise my kids. This horrible scenario was a nightmare for me. I majored in child development/child psychology and had strong feelings about how to treat children; I was not about to have anyone tell me how to raise my kids. I was fiercely independent since I was seventeen and was not keen on anyone telling me what to do or how to run my life. I thought all this would happen if I lived next door to my mother-in-law.
Anson said I never tried living next door to his parents, so how would I know how they would be? Though that was true in reality, my ideas of how it would be were more of an actuality to me. It was difficult to shake off that reality in my mind.
Furthermore, since Anson and I got engaged, I felt animosity from this woman. She appeared angry that we didn't formally ask "permission." She took her anger out on me when she should have been more mad at her son. I told him to tell her, and he said he did, but according to her, he didn't. So, since Anson and I got engaged, I felt the bad vibes that you could say should have been red flags.
Since the invitations were out and I had told everyone I was getting married, I took the risk of going through with the wedding. After our afternoon church wedding and evening dinner banquet, we were on the way home to our house. Instead of feeling that the in-laws were invading our privacy, my mother-in-law's anger subsided as she and my father-in-law stood on the sidewalk, watching us go up the stairs and stop at our front door. Anson then carried me through the threshold. I could sense their smiles of joy that their son had gotten married.
Like a miracle, my mother-in-law changed her attitude and treated me with kindness from that day forward. I was officially her daughter-in-law; I was family now.
Married life began with the two of us having a full-time job and coming home to my mother-in-law greeting us by the garage with containers of cooked food ready for us to eat for dinner. I suppose anybody would appreciate it and say I was a lucky girl to marry into this family, but not me. Independent me felt that she was dictating what I would eat for dinner, and I didn't have a choice. I mentioned it to Hubby, and the next thing I knew, she started buying groceries for us instead. Yes, she was a kind homemaker happy to be of service, not knowing that this girl was not used to this kind of treatment or kindness.
My in-laws, both retired, went to Hong Kong every year for food and shopping fun. Mom-in-law would buy lots of things to bring home. Whatever she bought Anson, he didn't like or appreciate. I called him a spoiled brat. Whatever she bought me, I greatly appreciated it. Whether I liked it or not, it didn't matter. I was grateful because no one in my family ever showered me with gifts. Over the years, she bought me more and more things and fewer and fewer things for Anson. I felt like I had my personal Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Mrs. Claus bought me dozens of underwear all at once. She bought me three silk jackets at once. Mom-in-law even bought me a stylish leather coat. She also bought me many tops, sweaters, pajamas, and pants. She never measured me, but somehow whatever she got fit me!
Before marriage, I felt like Anson treated me like a princess; after marriage, his mom treated me like a princess. In this marriage, I was a lucky girl when it came to material things.
I didn't begin to appreciate or "love" my hated mother-in-law until she said something to me one day. One day, Anson was screaming at me about something; I don't remember the content. When angry, he'd be on a rampage for about two hours. Luckily Mom-in-law was stopping by and heard his rage through the thick wooden front door. When Anson opened the door, she said, "What are you shouting about?" And before he could explain himself, she shushed him and said, "Do you want the neighbors to hear?" She didn't care for his explanation. It was eye-opening for me to see her powerful hold over her son. No one else could ever shut him up when he was in his angry, self-righteous mode. I even witnessed him yelling at his father when he told him to complete tax forms yearly before the deadline.
After Mom-in-law shushed her son, she quietly said, "Does he scare you? If he screams at you again or frightens you, just come to my house and stay with me." Without warning, I realized my mother-in-law loved me and would be there to care for and protect me! I abruptly moved from treating her as my enemy to discerning that she was my ally against her son!
Henceforth, I found family comfort from my Mom-in-law when I had problems with my husband. I appreciated our small family outings when she sometimes called and said, "Would you guys like to go out for dinner?" And then we'd come out our doors and walk down some blocks together to a local restaurant to have a meal together. Maybe nothing unusual to you, but for a girl like me who has always craved a family, it meant the world to me. She certainly cared for me and treated me better than my mother ever did. I am grateful; my feelings for my mother-in-law shifted from hate to love.
Though I have encountered many devils, I have learned that it is up to me to stand up for myself, take action, and respect myself more.
Though I initially hated my mother-in-law, I came to love her like the mother I never had.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Surviving Emotional Abuse and Street Smart vs. Book Smart. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!